Letters – 25 June

‘Old bangers’ not so cheap

I don’t want to disappoint Mike Carney (‘Taking Stock’) when he thinks that his Ford transit will be exempt from road tax in August (when it is presumably 25 years old).

The rules have been changed, however, and now only vehicles manufactured pre-1973 are exempt, which is obviously a blow to anyone who has a vehicle approaching the quarter century mark!

Rumour has it that it was a Treasury decision due to the flood of old cars being kept on the road and costing millions in lost revenue. Incidentally, if anyone has a vehicle registered in 1973 or later but can prove that it was manufactured in 1972, for example, by reference to factory records of chassis numbers, then I believe that the vehicle is exempt.

Jonathan Morris, St Leonards on Sea, East Sussex

Still, the split-screen VW camper which illustrated the piece would qualify and (given the newly acquired connection with Rolls Royce) should prove even more impressive to the clients.

Robin Wager, Prestbury, Cheltenham, Glos SWLCA, not a social club

Richard Murphy’s piece on the role of the district society (4 June) is a travesty of the true position in South-West London. It is ironic that it appeared in a week when English ICA members voting at the agm threw out by a margin of nearly two to one its motion proposing the withdrawal of central funding from district societies.

Murphy portrays the South-West London Society as little more than a social club. This is untrue. First, course provision is an integral part of our activities.

The reason why the society had to disband the courses sub-committee, of which Murphy was a member, is that it had persistently refused to co-operate with the main committee.

No society can operate with sub-committees making a unilateral declaration of independence and refusing to accept that they are part of the whole.

Now the society will set about the task of developing a course programme under a new committee.

Second, the society has long organised other activities, which Murphy chooses to ignore, including discussion groups in taxation, general practice and IT matters.

These groups provide valuable networks and support for members locally, as well as being a means for communication between the institute and its grass roots, without which the profession is vulnerable. As an additional example, in the last year we have published through the LSCA a directory of South-West London chartered accountants and their specialisms, which has proved popular with members. The committee continues to seek and develop other relevant and practical activities.

The vote at the agm was overwhelmingly against the old guard of the ex-course sub-committee. Goodbye to the old guard and welcome to the vision of 2005.

Paul Druckman, SWLCA, Cobham, Surrey

Egypt uproots to Azerbaijan

An amusing piece on Egyptian belly dancers’ depreciating assets (‘Taking Stock’, 11 June), but the photograph is many miles from Cairo – in fact it was taken in Baku, Azerbaijan (former Soviet Union).

The restaurant is called the Mogham Club, and is one of the 16th century caravanserai in the ancient city where travellers on the silk road used to park their camels for the night – now very popular for tourists and office parties.

Phil Naylor, Baku, Azerbaijan

Have a taste of MP’s medicine

I have read the regular attacks on the accountancy profession by Jim Cousins MP in the ‘View from the House’ column.

In the latest (11 June, page 13), Mr Cousins refers to the failures of accounting and audit practices highlighted every week in the newspapers. There are about a hundred times as many qualified accountants as there are MPs. On this basis, how do we compare to the newspaper reports of MPs’ failures?

Mr Cousins is also critical of accountancy training and education. Chartered accountants are required to have a basic level of GCSEs, a university degree, some years of on-the-job training, and pass a fairly difficult final examination before being admitted to the institute. The other accountancy bodies have equally high standards.

Perhaps Mr Cousins would like to outline the level of academic achievement, professional training and what examinations an MP is required to take before being allowed to practise their profession. This is particularly important, as the majority of accountants do not achieve the level of income paid to an MP nor do they have the same influence on our lives.

Edward Russell, FCA, South Shields

Not a concrete jungle in sight

I read with interest your article (‘Taking Stock’, 11 June) and I am concerned about your apparent lack of knowledge of Milton Keynes.

To describe us as ‘maligned’ is a somewhat disparaging comment; I would like to ask when you last visited Milton Keynes and how can you compare us with Witney which on initial appearance had more concrete per square foot than Milton Keynes.

Having lived and worked in Milton Keynes for 27 years, I have seen a town grow up and outwards, yet maintain its philosophy of not becoming a concrete wasteland. I would like to invite your readers to visit Milton Keynes, where I will personally show you our national parks, lakes, half a million tree-lined avenues and national stadiums – need I go on?

As a professional recruiter of senior accountancy staff in Milton Keynes and a regular advertiser in Accountancy Age of vacancies in Milton Keynes, I have to say the tone and words used to describe the city was somewhat discouraging to potential applicants.

Tracy Webb, senior consultant, Cooper Lomaz Recruitment, Central Milton Keynes

JMU wards off punters

May I suggest that Liverpool John Moores university redesigns its advertisements in Accountancy Age (11 June). As prestigious as the university is, seeing ‘JMU’ written in large letters at the top of the ad may mislead many into reading no further.

Kevyn Jones, Hornchurch, Essex

Mysterious tax increase

Last week, you reported a Revenue spokeswoman as saying: ‘The top rate (of income tax) will only be 47%’ (18 June). Even I didn’t think it was that bad, as the effective rate for partners paying the catch-up charge would only be 44%. Shurely shome mishtake here.

Mark Lee, lead tax partner, professional practice group, BDO Stoy Hayward, London W1

Editor replies: The Inland Revenue has not announced a new tax increase; the phantom hike was a transcription error. The top rate remains 40%.

We’re not boring in Fakenham

As a member of a profession that has suffered from the uninformed accusing it of being boring, I call on us all to stand up for the town of Fakenham, Norfolk.

The town has a market superior to most towns of its size, several pubs, a bowling alley and a couple of social clubs. There are many sports teams, and a biennial arts festival (on last week, featuring national and local music, film and drama performers).

There are several firms of accountants in the town (always a plus point) and many other highlights.

Those of us wrongly accused of being boring should stick together.

Tim Vogel, Fakenham (of course)

Related reading