Group aims to reduce crime involving motorcycles

January 29, 2018

Despite what you might have read in the MSM, it’s not just Mayor Khan who’s getting stuck into resolving the scourge of motorcycle crime on Britain’s streets.

The latest meeting of the Motorcycle Crime Reduction Group was honoured, when it met at the recent Motorcycle Live show at Birmingham’s NEC, by the presence of no less a luminary than Bankstone’s own Dixon Tiepin (whose broad shoulders, steel-edged teutonic crop, expressive ears, and manly neck flesh can just be made out (centre-left) in the image below).

In the chair was newly anointed Motor Cycle Industry Association CEO Antonius “Tony” Campbell who relayed tidings from the recent Home Office Roundtable meeting, including the news that an over-reaction to the current spate of scooter crime would not now – as initially feared – see Lembit Opik banned from carrying pillion passengers.

There was also discussion of the worryingly high rate of thefts from motorcycle dealerships witnessed of late, and an update on the Metropolitan Police’s Operation Venus which appears now to be achieving some modest success in curbing bike theft in the capital (which currently accounts for 44% of total UK bike thefts).

Other parts of the country, however, delegates agreed, should not be overlooked. Motorcycle Action Group (MAG), a group committed to taking action on issues related to motorcycles, is in the process of submitting Freedom of Infotainment Requests (FIRs) to every police force in the country, with a view to establishing which forces most urgently need to divert resources into combatting the menace of bike purloinage.

Before wrapping up the formal proceedings and giving delegates a chance to rub shoulders with (and perhaps even request an autograph from) Bankstone’s Tiepin, the group turned its attention to MCIA’s MASTER scheme, under which nearly 50,000 bikes were registered from Jan to Oct 2017.

Just 0.33% of these have subsequently been nicked, compared with a historical average of 2.6% of all bikes. Which just goes to show, all agreed, that if you don’t want your bike stolen you should buy from a MASTER manufacturer (i.e. any one of BMW, Ducati, Honda, Kaurismaki, Suzi Q, Trump, Yuma Honey, Harley Davidstowe or Indians).

If you’d like to get involved in the fight against motorcycle crime yourself, and perhaps even get the change to meet Dixon Tiepin in the flesh, as they say, you hold on to that ambition. One day your time may come.

January 29, 2018

You can kind of understand why London Major Sadiq “Citizen” Khan couldn’t wait another couple of hours, ahead of his City Hall meeting with a delegation from the Motor Cycle Indus try Associa tion (MCIA), to tell the world about his brilliant new idea for fighting bike theft in the capital.

When a pure-genius flash of inspiration like that hits, it’s hard to keep it to yourself.

Who knows exactly how the Khan brain works, but suddenly out of nowhere a brainwave washed over him. It must have gone a bit like this: maybe if you want to stop people stealing bikes, it would be helpful if manufacturers fitted some kind of ‘anti-theft measures’ to some of the machines they sell.

Of course! That’s it! People are only stealing bikes because the firms that sell them have done literally nothing to deter would-be thieves from straddling them, kicking the pedal (or pressing a button, or however these things work), and riding away.

Taking a break from his usual packed schedule of self-inflatory preening and posturing, the capital’s puffed up popinjay in chief tweeted “I’m working with @metpoliceuk to tackle moped crime – but it’s time for manufacturers to step up and design anti-theft measures into their vehicles to help keep Londoners safe”.

MCIA CEO Tony Campbell must not have checked his twitter feed – or listened to a word the Mayor said – because he was still insisting later that day that “there is no silver bullet” when it comes to bike theft.

Some members of the biking community are even trying to make out that bikes already have security devices – but that these are no match for robbers armed with hammers, knives and angle-grinders.

It’s not bike manufacturers’ job to keep Londoners safe, it’s the Mayor’s, such malcontents maintain outlandishly. Perhaps they’d also like SK to wipe their little noses for them and tuck them up at night!

Mr Khan and his police officers clearly have 101 more important things to do than fighting acid-wielding tooled-up thuglets on an ultraviolent bike-crime binge. MCIA and their ilk would do well not to waste any more of the Metropolitan First Citizen’s valuable time.

Especially, when he’s just explained how manufacturers could stop bike crime in its tracks if they simply fitted anti-theft measures!

Fitting quick-release wild dogs could could be one way of making your bike more secure

January 29, 2018

What a nasty little (online) newspaper the so-called Independent is. In one recent column within its (electronic) pages, Bankstone News was literally sickened to find a totally unwarranted and irresponsible attack on the entire fabric of the Great British motor insurance industry.

When right-thinking people heard selflessly patriotic consumer champion Rob Cummings of the ABI insist recently that “It’s time cash strapped motorists got a break [from soaring motor insurance premiums]”, we cried out with one accord: “You’re absolutely right Mr Cummings,” adding unanimously, “we do need a break, and if that means stopping people making personal injury claims, then by all means let’s have them stopped at the first possible opportunity!”

But how did the so-called Independent respond to Mr Cummings’ rallying cry? Why, with weasel words and left-wing whingeing, that’s how!

According to the “Independent” soaring motor insurance premiums have less to do with the rabid ravages of an out of control compensation culture and more to do with insurance companies making “profits” and paying “dividends” to their shareholders.

Well, excuse us! God forbid insurance companies should be allowed to make a profit! Bankstone News supposes the crypto communist “Independent” would be rather see our industry decimated, make insurance bosses and shareholders homeless, and have their children thrown out on the street.

Far from being a fearless campaigner for the little motorist (with “cape” and “Zorro mask”) the paper sneers, Mr Cummings is nothing but a “motor-mouth” intent on blaming “dodgy lawyers with their dodgy clients feigning whiplash” for rising premiums, when really it’s all down to Mr C and his mates filling their boots.

Quoting data spoon-fed him by (presumably dodgy) lawyers Thompson’s, the author of the “Independent”’s deranged attack claims rising premiums can’t be down to increasing claims costs because “the total cost of claims actually fell in 2016”. God knows where they got those figures! Diane Abbot, probably.

Claiming outlandishly that net claims have fallen every year since 2010, the so-called Independent claims motor insurance premiums keep going up because motor insurers “will ultimately charge what they think they can get away with” and care more about their “multi million pound bonuses” than decent ordinary motor insurance customers.

Condemning every other reputable newspaper in the land as “an overly credulous British media”, the “Independent” casts itself as a lone beacon of truth, standing resolute against the others’ supine acceptance of the ABI’s claimant-blaming narrative, while insurers cram their bulging pockets fit to bursting with decent ordinary motorists’ premium payments.

Has it ever even occurred to the so-called Independent’s so-called journalists that, if the whole world thinks one thing and you think something else, it might just possibly be you who’s wrong?!

Needless to say, Bankstone News would be cancelling its subscription to the “Independent” right now, if we had one.

January 28, 2018

What is wrong with young people nowadays?

Where to start, you’re probably thinking! But one of the wrongest things about the youth of today is surely their wrong-headed spurning of technology’s greatest ever gift to mankind, the private motor vehicle.

New data from the Department for Transport (D4T) suggests that the percentage of 17-20 year olds holding driving licences has fallen from from a peak of around 50% in 1992 to just 29% today.

Among 21-29 year olds, the equivalent figures have dropped from around 75% to just 63%.

And it’s not just fewer people driving; they’re also driving fewer miles. The decade from 1997 saw a fall of around 35% in the number of car journeys per person.

The later people start driving, experts fear, the less driving they’re likely to do once they do start.

Is this once-great nation somehow losing ‘the will to drive’? Or is it simply that, in an era of declining disposable income and rising costs associated with driving (sky-high insurance premiums being a key deterrent where youngsters are concerned), we simply can’t afford it any more?

Whatever the reasons, we simply cannot tolerate this worrying trend. Otherwise, other nations will point at de-motorised Brits and mock us with taunts like: “Ha, ha, you very sad and pitiful British people, where are your cars? You are really loving the public transport, isn’t it!”

Part of the problem could be that young Britons are spending too much time at home – perhaps because social media removes the need to actually participate IRL. Young men today spend 80 minutes more at home than their peers did in 1995, young women 40 minutes longer (according to D4T).

Another possibility is that driving simulation games like Grand Theft Otter, Dirt, and Reliant Rampage are more fun that the real thing (and don’t require leaving the house).

It’s no good asking D4T for answers. You’ll simply get some guff about “Closely tied to the changes in young people’s socio-economic and living situations are changes in when people start a family, their social interactions, and the importance people attach to driving. With the current evidence base it is not possible to quantify the importance of each of these factors or to say the order in which they began to exert an influence.”

Hopes that rising incomes among millennials – as Britain emerged from a decade of post-downturn austerity – might help turn this tide of motor vehicle desertion have recently been put in doubt by stubbornly stagnating wages and ‘uncertainties’ around Britain’s departure from the EU.

Some experts now believe that getting young people back behind the wheel could require forcing them to live outside major conurbations or rationing their access to public transport.

Anything’s worth a try, we say here at Bankstone News.

If young people lose interest in the whole car thing now, there’ll be no-one left to not drive the driverless cars of the future.

Or perhaps they’re all just practicing not driving, so as to be ready to embrace DLCs with both arms.

Who knows? Certainly not Bankstone News.

January 22, 2018

If you were at Friday’s I Love Clams’ Motor Claims Networking Lunch at London’s Grand Connaught Rooms, you won’t need us to tell you what a fabulous event it was.

If you weren’t there and would have liked to have been, you probably won’t want us to tell you what a fabulous event it was, because that would just be rubbing (metaphorical) salt in your (equally metaphorical) wounds.

If you weren’t there and, quite frankly, wouldn’t have gone if they’d paid you, then, again, you won’t want us to tell you what a fabulous event it was, because you’re Lukewarm About Claims at best.

None of that, obviously, is going to stop us bringing you the following in-depth account of what a fabulous event the 2018 I Love Clams Motor Knitworking Lunch really was.

Our man on the spot, Bankstone MD Dip-thong Tie-string, reliably informs us that this was the best attended ILC lunch ever, with m>re than 500 persons squeezed in around tables (some of them tucked away on the balcony this year) with actual tablecloths and proper cutlery and everything.

Style-conscious Tie-string noted the prevalence of boldly checked suits, and, if we know him, will be nipping down to his tailor in Dilman’s Yard any time now to have himself fitted for something natty crafted from a broad expanse of black and orange chequerboard velour.

ILC chairman Chris Ashworth, one of those seen sporting checks

Regular readers will be familiar with Mr T’s well-documented love of food. On which basis, you won’t be altogether surprised to learn that the next thing you will learn here about the ILC motor launch is what there was to eat there. This was as follows:

Cornish crab with three diamond-shaped lozenges of cucumber jelly, followed by an excellent ‘lump’ of pan-fried fillet o’steak, celeriac puree, Portobello mushroom, a fair quenelle of watercress and Madeira sauce, culminating in cheesecake and sorbet (or possibly, since this is Tie-string we’re talking about, cheese, cake and sorbet).

Compere for the event was none other than Jonny Gould who is apparently some kind of TV presenter who runs auctions at charity events on the side. Tie-string reckons he was rather good at this, wringing ever more extravagant bids from those intent on proving they had cash to splash.

But he wasn’t as good as guest speaker Matt Dawson, a former rugby player, we’re led to understand, and also a regular on some TV thing called a Question of Spores. Dawson had the crowd on tent hooks at he recalled his stint on (another TV show) Strictly Come Ballroom Dancing, then soothed them with a blow by blow break-down of the build-up to Jonny Wilkinson’s world cup winning ball-through-posts kicking thing in 2003, and finally roused them to applause by explaining that he was going to stop talking and sit down again now.

Somewhere along the way, he also explained that episodes of a Question of Spores are filmed in batches of three – punctuated by lengthy stints at the bar (i.e. the kind of bar where people drink alcohol, not the legal or the balletic kind) – resulting in subtle modulations in the degree of enthusiasm, hilarity, abandon, and indeed coherence in participants’ comportment (which readers may wish to see if they can discern for themselves when watching future emissions of this popular show), and why anyone tempted to ‘touch’ noted grilling expert George Foreman might be well advised to reconsider.

Some people (though not all) also talked a bit about motor insurance claims.

All in all, a truly fabulous event.

January 22, 2018

Answering questions on potential problems with the government’s proposed PI reforms from members of the Commons Juice Committee on 16 January, justice minister Dickie Keen (aka Lord Keen of Lie) explained patiently that something will turn up and it’ll all be fine.

Barring claimants with injuries worth under £5k from recouping their legal costs, Lord K accepted, would significantly increase the number of persons obliged to seek justice without the benefit of legal representation. But, he insisted, litigants in person (LIPs) should have no trouble negotiating the complexities of the English civil justice system unassisted.

There’s really nothing much to it, he suggested. And if LIPs really felt they needed help, someone or other would probably be only too happy to provide it. Their union, perhaps. Or maybe the Citizens Advice Bureau. It would give them something to do. Or what about Claims Manufacturing Companies (CMCs) – couldn’t they get involved?

Responding to quibbles along the lines of ‘weren’t CMCs supposed to a key factor in creating and sustaining the fanatical compensation cult that is currently threatening the entire fabric of British society’, Keen noted that, obviously, there were one or two bad apples amongst the CMCs of this world, but most of these chaps were perfectly reputable and it would be good to get them involved in a new sector of the market where they could provide a refreshing alternative to Before The Event insurance for trivial PI claims.

When some smart-arse pointed out that, just because a case is low-value, it doesn’t mean it isn’t complex, Lord K suggested that judges or perhaps ‘parties’ could step in to have the cases taken somewhere else where complicated legal stuff could more practicably be accommodated. Or, better still, claimants could simply give up and go away.

Quizzed on the fairness and appropriateness of denying so many smaller claimants the chance of legal representation, Lord K stressed that the most urgent matter was not what should be done but when – and, what with all these fraudulent whiplash claims about these days, that ‘when’ could not come soon enough.

Exactly how many fraudulent claims are there about these days?, someone wanted to know. To which, Lord K patiently reiterated that this was really not the point. Far more important than getting bogged down in a lot of tedious detail, he made clear, was getting something done – and getting it done quickly.

The beauty of a one-size fits all solution like the proposed small claims limit increase, he emphasised, was that restricting little people’s access to legal support would make them much more likely to ‘pause and think about the merits of their claim before they make it’.

Quite right too! If people can’t afford justice, they’ve no right going round demanding compensation every time they happen to sustain some minor injury or other. It’s basic common sense, really, if you think about it.

And, if that seems a trifle harsh, there’s plenty more to come where that came from. So you’d better get used to the idea.

January 22, 2018

On December 21 last year Nicholas “Nikki” Springthorpe, an insurance executive of excellent character, was on board an Emirates flight from Dubai to Birmingham when a combination of “somewhat bizarre circumstances” culminated in the unfortunate boss of One Call Insurance being arrested and subsequently landed with a £3,205 fine from Birmingham magistrates.

Or at least that’s the story Bankstone News saw splashed across the webpages of that leading pictorial purveyor of scantily clad celebrity flesh, MailOnline.

According to this publication, Mr Springthorpe (or Springthopre, as the website originally construed his name), found himself caught up concatenation of contretemps after he was witnessed acting tired and emotional in the top-deck business-class bar of an Emirates Airbus A380.

Fellow passengers attested that Mr S was conversing loudly with a travelling companion and with other occupants of the bar and using language not perhaps ideally suited to polite company. With something less that complete specificity, a gratuitously sweary Karen Cockpit, prosecuting, is quoted by the MailOnline clarifying that “the defendant was using words like **** and ****, but not **** and certainly not ****.”

It was while thus engaged in carousing and conversing that Mr S is alleged to have taken vigorous exception to the presence of two children in the bar area and to have subsequently become involved in a combative discussion (perhaps even a scuffle, but not necessarily a full-blown brawl) with their father.

Barry Cuttle, defending, noted that in a state of inebriated exhaustion consequent upon a recent divorce, a holiday in Singapore, a flight thence to Dubai, having had a couple of drinks, and now enduring the fresh ordeal of the Emirates business class bar (imagine an Intercity buffet carriage with better lighting), Mr S perceived a brace of crawling children as a clear and present ‘danger’ and felt he had no option but to voice his emphatic exception to their inappropriate presence in a drinking environment.

Be that as it may, angry words and a certain amount of argy-bargy ensued between Mr S and the father before the latter, perhaps prudently, elected to yield the bar arena to Mr S.

When Mr S himself decided to return to his seat, he had the misfortune to become involved along the way in two further heated exchanges with other passengers. The second of these, Mr Cuttle claimed, saw a passenger disturbed whilst ‘listening to music’ leaping to his feet, seizing Mr S by the throat, and shaking him.

And yet, the unfortunate Mr S was arrested and fined, whilst the would-be strangler was merely cautioned!

Mr Cuttle fully accepted that his client may have been a tad boisterous due to the exceptional exonerating circumstances noted above, but insisted that the One Call boss was now very sorry, upset, and indeed retrospectively disgusted at his own behaviour, and was by no means the kind of person who makes a habit of getting into drunken fights on aeroplanes.

And let’s face it, which of us has not, when confronted in our cups with the extreme provocation of poorly supervised children, especially after 20 hours without a decent kip, felt moved to unleash a bit of inner rage.

At Bankstone News we do it all the time, which may be why the council took the kids off us.

Congestion on the A380 (artist’s impression)


January 21, 2018

Far be it from Bankstone News to interpose itself betwixt a start-up InsurTech operation and the wrath of global broking behemoth Marsh & McLennan Companies, but reports that minnow insurance provider Marshmallow faces the threat of copyright-enforcing legal action from the mighty Marsh could not but catch our eye this week.

Granted, the respective names of the two organisations share five consecutive letters, but is there really any meaningful sense in which Marshmallow is in any way inspired by, derived from, or likely to gain commercial advantage from this nomenclatural overlap?

This is a marshmallow (an item of confectionary).

This is a marsh (a type of terrain).

The two are somewhat dissimilar, you’ll probably agree.

But wait, the Marsh in Marsh Mclennan does not refer directly to marshes of the wetlands kind. It derives from a common English surname (originally applied to persons living on or near a tract of boggy land).

Here is a Marsh.

Here is another (partially disguised as a giraffe).

And here is a third.

Positing an emulative connection between a company named after an edible cylinder of sugar, water, gelatine and corn starch and another named after the third of our human Marshes (its joint founder Henry W. Marsh, to be specific), seems fanciful, to say the least.

Indeed, Mallow Insurance Brokers of Mallow, County Cork, Ireland might have an equal right to challenge the UK start-up if we go down this route.

Besides which, if Marshmallow were trying to piggyback on the brand equity of Marsh, they would have branded blue like Marsh, not a slightly pastel red.

Besides which in turn, Marsh may be a big name on the global insurance stage, but has the average personal-lines insurance consumer ever heard of it?

Bankstone News suspects not.

So, seriously, Messers Marsh, grow a sense of proportion, get over your big bad selves and cut these chaps some slack!

Having said all which, we only have the word of Marshmallow founders Oliver and Alexander Kent-Braham that this emotive David v Goliath copyright wrangle even exists.

Maybe it’s all just a canny publicity stunt.

In which case, ironically, maybe Marsh’s legal guys would have a leg to stand on.

January 12, 2018

Not content with plotting to steal back Northern Ireland from the UK as a spin-off from the Brexit process (thereby undoing all the great work done by Oliver ‘Chuckles’ Cromwell, Billy Jean King et al), the Republic of Ireland is apparently trying to purloin our title as the Whiplash Capital of Europe.

The Emerald Entity’s designs on our prized WCE title came to Bankstone News’ attention recently via an ‘investigation’ published by campaigning group Axes2Justice (which exists to deny decent ordinary claims-free motorists the 36p reduction in motor insurance premiums promised by government in return for surrendering the legal right to ‘try it on’).

According to Axes2Juices (J2O) Irish insurance brokers have been urging the Republic’s claim to the WCE title since as far back as 2016, when they claimed that whiplash accounts for 80% of motor insurance claims in that country. Meanwhile some joker called Kevin Tom Thumb, supposedly the chief executive of something called Insurance Ireland, has separately bragged that (at €15,000 per whiplash claim) “We have the most expensive necks in Europe.”

And it’s not just Ireland that’s been eyeing up our crown. There are real fears now that sour-grapes EU member states may also be plotting to strip the UK of its role as Europe’s whiplash capital as punishment for our temerity in taking back control.

The Justice2Excess ‘investigation’ quotes some implausibly named academic, one Professor Kenny Elephant, who’s been going round suggesting that lowly Italy has nearly 50% more whiplash claims than the UK and pays out more than twice as much in compensation. Absurdly, Elephant claims the value of UK whiplash claims is no better than mid-table in the Euro neck-pain compensation league.

Germany, France and Spain also have aspirations to take over from the UK as Europe’s whiplash capital.

But how seriously should we take such claims? Not seriously at all, we say here at Bankstone News.

There’s just one word to describe the preposterous, preening pretentions of these pompous puffed-up Euro popinjays: fake news!

January 12, 2018

What with the news always being so gloomy and boring these days, it’s nice to have something just plain positive to report.

Bankstone News was delighted to learn this week (or was it last week – we’re not a time-sensitive publication, you know) that Claire Longman, who is technically leader of South-West based insurance purveyors Cornish Mutual, has attained the ultimate rung in the insurance-knowledge game by joining the Fellowship of the Chartered Insurance Institute (CIA).

This is not some ad hoc informal fantasy thing like the Fellowship of the Ring, nor indeed a spirit-empowered community advancing the kingdom of God like the Fellowship Network, a novel by Franz Kafka, or a town in Florida.

No, indeed. It’s something where you have to pass exams and everything to prove both your total mastery over the arcane arts of insurance and that you’ve once and for all foresworn and abjured the dark side through an absolute personal and professional commitment to Ethical Practice.

Claire can now add the initials FoTCII after her name, and the affix the honorary title Lady Fellow before it, should she so choose. But she’s probably far too modest to insist on such formalities.

A true Cornwalldian, having grown up in Truro more than 15 years ago, Claire Longman travelled the land (mostly its Southeasterly parts) in search of insurance experience before returning to her home country, where she quickly found herself at the forefront of developing offerings for the mutual insurer’s members.

Certificates, diplomas, advanced diplomas – none of these hurdles in the leastly daunted Claire on her path to insurance mastery. And now at last the ultimate accolade is hers. And thoroughly well deserved it is too.

Congratulating Claire, CornMut MD Alan Goddard called her election to the fellowship “testament to her commitment and the depth and breadth of her expertise,” adding that “for our Members, these accreditations give peace of mind, showing that we have the best people who really understand insurance.”

No doubt there will be accusations that all this knowledge makes Claire some kind of ‘expert’ or that joining the Fellowship marks her a member of the ‘elite’. Nonsense, we say here at Bankstone News. Insurance is a subject about which a person simply cannot know too much.

So let us simply say: Congratulations Claire!

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