plum communications ltd
Celine would like to say hello to everyone at Plum Communications and all our customers!
As Plum Communication's new Marketing Manager I am currently undertaking market research in order to gain a deeper insight into the specific services that our customers require with the aim of further improving our service to them.
On another note, i would like to express my grief over the weekend's Manchester derby result, we were robbed! (:,
Celine Woodfield has today joined Plum as Marketing Manager.
Celine is a graduate in Management (Marketing) from the University of Manchester (Manchester Business School) and will be responsible for helping shape the marketing strategy for the company.
She will also be talking to our customers to find out what they like about Plum and asking if there is anything we can do to improve the service we provide.
During the next months you will hear more from Celine as she takes over the blogspot.
Please help us improve our service to you by taking part in the surveys and by providing us with your feedback.
Rhodri Lloyd has left Plum Communications and moved on to pastures new.
Rohdri joined Plum Communications in September 2008 as marketing manager and was responsible for improving our customer communications. He was responsible for introducing our presence on social networking sites facebook, linked in and twitter.
Part of the challenge he faced was to keep customers informed of new developments in our services such as Voice Over IP telephony, fax to email services, call conferencing and inbound call handling. He made improvements to the Plum Blog and email communciations to deliver this information to our customers.
We thank Rhodri for the work he has done with us and wish him well in his future career.
You can now view and download fact sheets and tariff sheets in PDF format from Plum Communications’ website. We hope that this will make it easier for visitors to find information on our products, services and tariffs with less difficulty.
The downloads page breaks down our products and services catalogue into 5 categories:
The page also shows our tariffs for:
In addition, you can view the UK and International landline and mobiles rates for Plum Mobile Saver, a FREE piece of mobile phone software which allows for low costs calls from mobiles to 08 and international numbers.
You can find the downloads page through the ‘Downloads’ link on the left hand side
navigation bar of our homepage http://www.plumcom.co.uk/ or by visiting www.plumwebsite.co.uk/downloads directly.
Plum created this downloads page and a sample home page, http://www.plumwebsite.co.uk/, using our SiteBuilder service. If you are interested in creating your own, or getting us to create your website for you, at a low monthly cost, with a content management system included in the price, feel free to contact us.
You can view a fact sheet on our SiteBuilder service and see some screen shots of the service in use through the following links: Website Design, Plum Website Screen Shots
In a bid to ease the financial strain, on-street car parking charges in Oldham town centre have been reduced by at least 50%. It follows concerns expressed at meetings of the Oldham Business Improvement District (BID) and Oldham Town Centre Partnership that parking charges were unreasonably high and driving away customers. It is hoped that these new lower prices will encourage more customers to visit Oldham town centre and therefore increase local business.
The new charges are: Up to 15 minutes — 20p (was 40p); Up to 30 minutes — 40p (80p); Up to one hour — 70p (£1.40); Up to one hour and 30 minutes — £1.10 (£2.30). The maximum stay has been extended by 30 minutes to two hours — for a £1.50 fee.
Councillor Lynne Thompson, cabinet member for finance and resources, said: “It is crucial that Oldham Council listens to and acts upon the genuine concerns of traders and residents who use the town centre. Customers are more likely to visit their shops specifically for a one-off visit rather than browsing and we’re confident — based on what traders and shoppers have told us — that slashing these charges will help promote the health of the High Street.”
Many local traders have expressed their delight with the new lower charges. Let’s hope that the charges do help businesses in the town centre.
The Bank of England has announced that interest rates are to be kept at 0.5% for the time being, only the 5th month that the rate hasn’t changed since last September. This stall in changing the interest rates highlights how highly the Bank of England is prioritising its attempts to encourage banks to start lending again, therefore boosting credit and raising the ‘nominal spending’ (the cash value of spending) in the economy.
The Bank of England has also injected a further £50bn of fresh money into the economy this month, therefore meaning that £175bn has now been spent on quantitative easing. In a statement, they said that the UK recession "appears to have been deeper than previously thought". Similarly, the European Central Bank (ECB) has kept its interest rates in the eurozone (i.e. those countries who use the Euro) at a record low of 1% for the 3rd month in a row, after it was cut from 1.25% in May, its 7th cut since last October, in an attempt to help restore economic growth in the eurozone.
You can watch a news broadcast on this topic below:
Ofcom's sixth Communications Market Report into the £52 billion TV, radio, broadband, telecoms and mobile industries has found that Britons are more willing to cut back on holidays and meals out than on spending on communication technology during the recession.
When the 862 people surveyed where asked which items they were likely to cut back on, 47 per cent said they would choose to cut back on going out for dinner, 41 per cent on DIY and 41 per cent on holidays. This compares with only a fifth (19 per cent) who would cut back on mobile phone spend, 16 per cent on TV subscriptions and 10 per cent on their broadband services. To view the full report please click here for a PDF version or a detailed summary. For a breakdown of the report in a particular region in England, click here.
Some general findings from the report found:
• 50% of internet users use Facebook
• There were 2.6m Twitter users in May 2009
• Men are more likely to watch catch-up TV
• Leeds has the highest take-up rate for mobile broadband (29%)
• Mobile broadband take up was lowest in the Scottish Borders (3%)
In relation to telecoms, 7 key themes have become apparent in the report:
• A decade of change: the shift towards mobile and data services. The transformation of the telecoms market over the last ten years as mobile phone and internet services have become mass-market.
• The growth of local loop unbundling is reshaping the internet service provider market. With the cost structures associated with providing LLU-based services determining that 'bigger is better', the broadband market has been transformed since the introduction of LLU, both in terms of market size and the subscriber shares of the larger players.
• Super-fast broadband becomes a reality. The emergence of the UK's first super-fast broadband services, which are now being implemented after much anticipation, and consider how these services might impact the ISP market.
• The maturity of mobile broadband. Around three million people in the UK now access broadband services provided over a cellular network via USB modems (or 'dongles'). The relationship between mobile and fixed broadband services has matured.
• Smartphones and applications drive more sophisticated use of 'mobile internet'. The rise of the ‘mobile app’ and advances in mobile handset technology is affecting the way in which we use our mobile phones to access online services.
• SIM-only contracts central to new focus on low-cost tariffs. The changes in operator strategy and consumer behaviour have resulted in a growth in the share of pay-monthly contracts, driven primarily by the take-up of sub-£20-a-month tariffs.
• New MVNOs gain market share. The market conditions that have seen a raft of virtual network operators and service providers launch in the last couple of years and win market share
Figures regarding the use of mobiles and broadband have also been released:
Mobile phone facts and figures
Broadband facts and figures
Government funding has been granted to build two new Metrolink stops - Queens Road and Abraham Moss - on the Bury line. Transport Minister Sadiq Khan announced the funding on Tuesday as part of £30m million allocated to new transport projects. A Manchester Evening News broadcast of the news can be viewed here. Also, plans to add a tram line from Rochdale to Manchester via Cross Street in Manchester City Centre, as a means of bypassing Piccadilly Gardens and St Peter's Square, have been sent to government officials for approval. Please scroll down to read more on both events.
New tram stops
Following news of new tram stops being introduced in Oldham previously, new stops are to now be added in Bury. Councillor Keith Whitmore, chair of the Greater Manchester Integrated Transport Authority Chair (GMITA), said of the new tram stops: “This is fantastic news for people living in North Manchester. These new stops will open up transport opportunities to thousands more households in the area.”
Council leader Sir Richard Leese has said that the new stops should be in use at the same time as the wider Metrolink expansion, which is due to be up and running by 2012. Commuting times from Abraham Moss to Victoria will be five minutes by tram. The Queens Road stop will be located close to Collyhurst and the journey time to Piccadilly Gardens will be seven minutes. The new stops will open up Metrolink services to 34% more people living within 400 metres of a stop.
2nd city tram line
A 'business case' has been sent to the Department for Transport (DfT) for a second city-centre tram crossing to help cope with the hundreds of extra services which will become available when the `Big Bang' extensions are built to Rochdale, Oldham, Ashton and the airport. Transport bosses believe that the current Metrolink line from Victoria to Piccadilly and Manchester Central does not have enough capacity to cope with an extended system, so they would want a new line to bypass Piccadilly Gardens and St Peter's Square.
A new map of the extended Metrolink network showing the new stops can be viewed here. A map showing the proposed 2nd line between Manchester Central and Victoria through the city centre can be viewed here.
Home Secretary Alan Johnson has unveiled the final design of the new national identity card. Ministers plan to launch the £30 biometric ID card nationwide in 2011 or 2012 - but it will not be compulsory. As former-Home Secretary Jacqui Smith had confirmed back in May, the card will be offered to members of the public in the Greater Manchester region from the end of this year. However, they will not be compulsory for pilots and airside workers at Manchester and London City airports, as it had been previously hoped that an 18 month ID card trial would take place at the airports. What do the people of Greater Manchester think about the ID cards? Below is a news broadcast featuring the views of local residents.
Are you confused what information an ID card will hold? View this guide to find out. The ID cards themselves will look like this:
Speaking at St Pancras Station in central London, Mr Johnson said the card would provide people with a 'safe and secure' way of proving their identity. He hopes that the card will help combat identity fraud, enable the holder to travel to Europe without their passports and remove the hassle of using bank statements or gas bills to show who you are, he said. Below is a news broadcast of Mr Johnson talking about the ID cards.
However, various politicians and groups have spoken out against the ID cards:
What do the people of Greater Manchester think about the ID cards? Below is a news broadcast featuring the views of local residents.
Ofcom has today published the results of their research into fixed-line broadband speeds in the
The research found that nearly 20% of
You can view the full report here. In summary the report found that:
It's not just which provider you're with - or what deal you've signed up to - which can affect the speed of your connection. If you get your broadband via a phone line, then something as simple as how far you live from your local telephone exchange or a missing filter can affect the speed of your connection.
Ofcom have released the following video guide on how to improve your broadband speed:
Plum Communications provide a range of Broadband Internet Services, most popular are the ADSL services which have a different higher download speed to the upload speed. These start with standard ADSL (up to 2Mb), rate adaptive ADSL (up to 8Mb) and fast rate adaptive ADSL 2+ (up to 24Mb). Distance from the exchange, line quality, interference or a missing filter will reduce the speed available. A line check can be carried out for any proposed connection to determine the potential speed of the line.
The ADSL type of connection meets most needs as in general customers will download more than they upload, however some customers will have special requirements, for instance remote hosting of services and files, back up routines, camera access, gaming, streaming and in these cases a higher upload speed is required. This can be provided economically by bonding multiple ADSL circuits together.Alternatively SDSL connections are available with higher upload speeds and where guaranteed bandwidth with Service Level Agreement is required we provide direct internet connections and leased lines. For advice on the most appropriate method of connection for your business contact Plum Communications on 0161 622 3500.
From 1st August 2009 0871, 0872 and 0873 numbers will be reclassified by Ofcom as Premium Rate Services and will be subject to PhonepayPlus regulation. All 0871, 0872, 0873 and 09 numbers costing above 5ppm will be subject to PhonepayPlus’ Code of Practice.
How the code will apply to 087 services is set out in the Statement of Application to be found here: http://www.phonepayplus.org.uk/upload/087app.pdf
The Code of Practice can be viewed here: http://www.phonepayplus.org.uk/output/code-of-practice-1.aspx
If you have any of these numbers and need guidance on how the changes will affect you or if you are considering ceasing a number and having an alternative prefix please contact your account manager at Plum Communications. Should you have any numbers with another provider you may wish to consider transferring them to Plum Communications.
We have added some new links to our various social networking pages, in order to make things a bit easier for our customers. From our blog (Plum Blog) you can view the latest updates from our Twitter (@plumcomtwit) and Facebook pages, as well as viewing our LinkedIn profile. Additionally, you can view the latest blog entries and Twitter updates through the ‘Notes’ and ‘Twitter’ tabs on our Facebook page.
If you use any social networking sites already please feel free to visit our pages and follow us. If you currently don’t use any social networking sites, now could be the time to introduce yourselves to them.
To celebrate the first Moon Landing on 21 July 1969 Plum Communications are offering all customers free calls to the Moon throughout July 2009. This offer applies to calls to Moon landlines only, not to mobile or ISDN lines. Roamed calls made from the Moon surface will be the same rate as calls in the UK throughout this period. We feel that this offer will benefit our customers who have business or leisure interests in this area.
Keeping with the theme we nominate our Top Three Ring Tones:
The Moon is Mine – Fairground Attraction
Fly Me to The Moon – Marvyn Gaye
Blue Moon - Mud
If you are not visiting the moon this year or have no one to call there, fear not as you can still benefit from low cost calls every day with Plum Communications. Dial to any UK landline at anytime for less than 1p per minute (plus VAT).
Watch the first moon landing here
Plum Communications recently received the following email from one of our customers, John Cox of Its Property Services Ltd, who was thanking Plum for their “honest advice” regarding his mobile voice and data usage.
Peter,Do you want to save money on your mobile voice and data bill too? Feel free to contact Plum for advice and a free bill analysis on 0161 622 3500 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Thanks for the advice about Orange and data usage - spoke to them and £300 refunded and perhaps more £ on the way - really appreciate your honest advice and will be in touch when contract expires so I can check what is best to do.
Its Property Services Ltd
With the train lines in Oldham set to close at the start of October in preparation for the new trams, the GMPTE have finalised a special package of enhanced bus services, in order to cater for passengers who would normally be travelling to and from Oldham on these trains. The changes will provide a mixture of express and high frequency services that reflect the types of journeys currently made on the Loop Line. In addition, GMPTE has modified its subsidised services to support these changes to ensure that an appropriate level of service is provided. Transport bosses used the results of two surveys detailing the journeys that passengers are currently making to create the new timetables, which will be in place for 2 ½ years.
Commuters can look forward to up to 18 buses an hour between Oldham and Manchester and a doubling of the number of buses that will link Milnrow, Newhey and Shaw with Manchester, including a faster service at peak periods that will also serve Buckstones. A new link is also being provided to Rochdale railway station from Shaw, Newhey and Milnrow, as rail services will be running as normal between Manchester, Rochdale and Leeds. Normal bus fares will apply on all the services, including special value tickets.
Over the summer, public information events will be held, and leaflets and timetables will be widely available. Information will also be sent to local businesses and employers, as well as to community centres and libraries. For more information you can visit GMPTE or view the changes to the bus services below.
Changes to services:
Service 20 (renumbered X82) (Milnrow/Buckstones/Shaw/Manchester) will have some extra peak hour journeys added giving a semi-express journey into Manchester.
Service 24 (Rochdale/Royton/Chadderton/Manchester) will operate every 30 minutes (instead of every 15 as at present) to accommodate increased frequencies on other services.
Services 181 and 182 (Manchester/Chadderton/Shaw/Rochdale) will double in frequency to every 15 minutes and will operate every half hour via Rochdale Rail Station; the Bluebird service twice per hour will also continue.
Service 159 (Oldham/Chadderton/Woodhouses/Failsworth/New Moston/Middleton): hourly daytime service re-timed to improve links from Failsworth and New Moston with Moston Rail Station.
Service 419 (Ashton/Chadderton/Werneth/Mills Hill/Middleton): half-hourly daytime service re-timed to improve links from Werneth and Chadderton to Mills Hill Rail Station, where a number of passengers may choose to travel from once the line is closed.
Service 408 (Stalybridge/Oldham/Shaw/Buckstones): the hourly evening and Sunday service will be timed to co-ordinate as closely as possible with the main bus service at Shaw.
Also available: Services 58 and 59 (Rochdale/Rushcroft/Shaw/Oldham/Mills Hill Station/Middleton/Manchester) which operate every seven to eight minutes between Shaw and Middleton, and every 15 minutes on other sections of route.
People could soon be able to call a single memorable number when they need medical help and advice. Ofcom has today published its proposals for a new single memorable phone number for the Department of Health, 111, to make it easier for patients to access non-emergency healthcare in their local area.
The Department of Health intends to introduce the service in England which will provide advice and information to the public when they need medical help urgently but the situation is not life-threatening. The price of calls will be determined by the Department of Health through negotiations with communications providers, and the consultation sets out a range of pricing option. These include making calls free to the caller, 10p per call, 3p per minute or charged at local or national rates.
999 and 112 will continue to be the numbers to call in an emergency. The Department of Health intends to pilot the number in certain parts of the country from spring 2010 and expects to roll out the service across England following these pilots. Health authorities in Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales may consider whether to introduce the 111 service following the outcome of the pilots in England.
To view more information regarding this proposal, please click here.
The Bank of England has announced that interest rates are to be kept at 0.5% for the time being, only the 4th month that the rate hasn’t changed since last September. This stall in changing the interest rates highlights how highly the Bank of England is prioritising its attempts to encourage banks to start lending again, therefore boosting credit and raising the ‘nominal spending’ (the cash value of spending) in the economy. The Bank of England has not injected any fresh money into the economy this month as part of its quantitative easing process, as it wants to allow itself to pause and assess economic data to measure how successful the quantitative easing is going.
Ilona Krohn, principal economic advisor at Greater Manchester Chamber of Commerce, has supported the decision to hold interest rates: “The decision to hold interest rates was widely expected. The pros and cons of quantitative easing are still a major topic of debate among world economists. For the time being, it is important that the Bank of England maintains a transparent and consistent policy in order to restore confidence in the financial system and assist businesses with their forward planning."
Ofcom has for the first time published UK maps of 3G coverage. 3G (or third generation) services allow people to connect to the web via a mobile network, either directly through a mobile phone or by plugging a USB modem (or 'dongle') into their PC or laptop. Millions have signed up for mobile broadband deals over the last few years, with over two million new connections between February 2008 and February 2009 alone. Ofcom hope that they can assist the Government on its proposals to make more hotspots available for mobile broadband, as well as the work to improve 3G coverage on key transport routes.
Ofcom’s findings have shown that some areas, particularly in rural areas, are still failing to get any coverage, or notspots (a play on words of hotspots). Ofcom also investigated mobile broadband speeds, which vary tremendously in different areas and at different times of day. To view the 3G map visit the Ofcom website here and a snapshot view of the map below:
Since we last posted a blog entry about Ofcom’s new regulation for 0870 numbers, we have received some more information regarding pricing and the various options available to 0870 number owners come 1st August 2009. We recently sent out an information sheet regarding the changes to our customers, below is an extract from that sheet, which can be viewed in full at www.plumcom.co.uk/0870
Following a review by Ofcom the charging method for 0870 numbers will change from 1st August 2009. From that date there will be a charge made on the person calling a 0870 number (Origination) and another charge raised on the person receiving the call (Termination).
Origination - The cost of calling 0870 numbers is likely to fall although this is not compulsorily on providers and at the time of writing very few carriers have published their rates. From 1st August 2009 Plum will charge 2p per minute for calls made to 0870 numbers from fixed landlines.
Termination - From 1st August 2009 Plum customers will be charged 2p per minute for incoming calls on their 0870 numbers.
NOTE - Plum will no longer refer to 0870 calls as National Rate and will not include 0870 calls in any bundled minutes or packages billed by Plum.
What options are available?
There are 4 options available:
1. Leave the 0870 number live and accept the new charges. The service will continue as normal and routing will not be affected. (This is the default option which will be taken if no other option is specified).
2. Cease the 0870 number. There will be no charge for ceasing a 0870 number. Callers will receive unobtainable tone or network message advising that the number is not in service. The number would be available for another subscriber to use if the number were ceased.
3. Play answer message on the 0870 number and advise caller of an alternative number to call. No charge for set up, calls would be charged at 2p per minute.
4. Play an introductory message at the start of each call advising that the number will change and then connect the call as per existing routing. No charge for set up, calls would be charged at 2p per minute.
In conjunction with any of the above it is possible to migrate to a new number prefix e.g 03, 0800, 0844, 0845 or 0871 or local prefix. No cost for set up. New number prefixes can be run in parallel to ensure business continuity.
In the absence of any instructions from you the number holder we will apply option 1 - Leave the 0870 number live and accept the new charges. The service will continue as normal and routing will not be affected. Charges will be applied to the customer's invoice.
Where the customer does not have an active account or an account is unpaid and we cannot establish contact with the account holder we will cease the 0870 number. Callers will receive unobtainable tone or network message advising that the number is not in service. The number would be available for another subscriber to use if the number were ceased.
The Plum Inbound Portal allows numbers to be managed and call routing changed. The Plum Inbound Portal costs £10 per month irrespective of the number of lines controlled by the portal. For more information you can view a factsheet at www.plumcom.co.uk/plum_inbound, call Plum on 0161 622 2500 or send an email to email@example.com.
Do not hesitate to contact us if you have any queries regarding this new legislation OR would like to discuss the available options for your current 0870 number.
The Best Practice Challenge 2009 awards took place last night at the Banqueting House, Westminster, London. The Best Practice Challenge is an annual competition, ran by Nominet (a partner of Plum Communications) that recognises those organisations, groups or individuals who have embraced the challenge of making the Internet a secure, open, accessible or diverse experience for all.
A well-known panel of judges, led by Rt Hon Alun Michael MP assessed the entries, looking for innovative initiatives that successfully addressed the key Internet Governance Forum (IGF) themes: security, access, diversity and openness. Amongst the winning organisations were charities, trade bodies and public sector departments.
This year’s winners showcased a variety of world-class projects from Screenreader.net, a small organization that has created a free software tool to help the visually impaired get easy access to the Internet, to the British Library, which has developed an interactive online tour that is central to its exhibition about individual freedom in the UK. Plum Communications would like to congratulate all the winners on their success.
Best Development Project: Rafi.ki
Rafi.ki provides an online community for secondary schools that enables pupils and teachers from around the world to work on education projects.
Best Security Initiative: Business Crime Reduction Centre
Business Crime Reduction Centre has implemented a broad range of e-security initiatives and provides practical advice to small to medium enterprises.
Raising Industry Standards: Internet Service Providers' Association
Internet Service Providers' Association has raised the standards of the ISP industry by promoting competition, better self-regulation and tackling issues of concern to the public.
Personal Safety Online: Childnet International - KidSmart
Childnet International’s KIDSMART web site offers a wide range of interactive activities for young people to educate themselves about online safety issues.
Internet For All: Screenreader.net
Screenreader.net develops free software tools to enable the visually impaired to benefit from computer technology.
Open Internet: British Library
British Library created an online interactive tour for people to enjoy a virtual experience of its 2009 exhibition 'Taking Liberties: The Struggle for Britain's Freedoms and Rights.'
Special Award: Get Safe Online
Get Safe Online campaigns to educate, inform and raise awareness of Internet security issues amongst consumers and businesses. The judges praised its good interagency relationship with the private sector.
We are currently watching and testing out Facebook and other social networking sites carefully, as they would seem to offer a low cost form of marketing, an alternative method of communicating with current customers and networking, and significant potential for highly targeted advertising for SMEs. Consequently, you can now follow and communicate with Plum through various social network websites. Plum has created pages on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn, in addition to the existing blog on Blogger. If you use any social networking sites already please feel free to visit our pages and follow us, and we will return the favour. If you currently don’t use any social networking sites, now could be the time to introduce yourselves to them.
After what has seemed a very fast 18 weeks since they last gave blood in February, three staff members of Plum Communications gave blood again yesterday at Queen Elizabeth Hall in Oldham Town Centre on behalf of the National Blood Service. Suzanne Cain, Plum’s Customer Services manager, has been donating blood for 13 years, while Peter Savic (Managing Director) and Rhodri Lloyd (Marketing Manager) were making their 2nd donation. Thankfully everything went smoothly and all 3 are pleased to have made their donation for such a worthy cause. In at least 16 weeks time they will be able to make another donation. For those interested in giving blood themselves, you can find more information and book an appointment on the National Blood Service website.
Following the announcement that the European Parliament had approved such legislation in April, it will now be cheaper, as of today, to use your mobile phone abroad. The cost of sending a text message from Europe back to Britain has been slashed from 28 euro cents down to 11 euro cents (approx. 10p) per text message, the first time that text charges have been capped. In addition, mobile phone operators will have to provide clearer information on the cost of surfing the internet and downloading data when abroad. Data roaming and call costs will also be going down. From next year mobile phone users will receive a reminder when they have spent 50 Euros - currently £45 – whilst using these services abroad. Mobile phone operators will now also have to charge for calls by the second after the first half minute, rather than by rounding up to the nearest minute. Below is a list of the new reduced charges:
NOTE - price caps do not include VAT
If you would like some advice on using your mobile phone abroad, whether it be for sending texts, making calls or downloading data abroad, do not hesitate to call Plum on 0161 6223500.
Ofcom have put a pdf guide and a video together highlighting some key issues you should consider when using your mobile abroad
Simon Mould, a friend of Plum Communications, is hoping to raise £2,000 for the MS Trust by kayaking 100 miles in the sea off Cork over a weekend at the start of September. The MS Trust is a charity which works with and for the 85,000 people in the UK with multiple sclerosis, to help them live their lives to the full, providing relevant information, support, education and research. We’ll let Simon explain what he’s doing:
“I am raising money for the MS Trust by kayaking 100 miles in the sea off Cork over a long weekend at the beginning of September. The date is a little bit weather dependent - don't want to pin myself down to a date and then drown in a storm. I would be very grateful if you would support me by sponsoring me - any amount however small will do just fine. I won't be publishing league tables, just give what you can and try not to be tight.”
Simon has so far raised £411 out of his desired £2,000. If you would like to sponsor Simon please feel free to visit his JustGiving fundraising page below…every penny counts!!!
GMPTE bosses and local businesses are holding talks on how to make the most of taking trams into Oldham. Work has already started to convert the Oldham Loop railway line to Metrolink by autumn 2011 with the existing train stations at Werneth and Oldham Mumps being converted into tram stations, and other new tram stops being built between Manchester Victoria and Rochdale (click here to view the tram route). However, last month's announcement that a new Metrolink line will run through Oldham town centre itself, creating 6 tram stops instead of the initial 2, has forced a rethink, as it could result in trams running parallel through Oldham. Therefore, people could be able to catch one tram into Oldham town centre or a different one to send them round the outskirts and towards Manchester or Rochdale more quickly (as this route map here shows).
Oldham Council leader, Councillor Howard Sykes, explains the problem: “If we had both [lines], one would assume some trams would go round the town centre and some would go through. It means the existing site of the railway line is kept, while the original plans were that it would be given up”.
Greater Manchester Passenger Transport Executive will now discuss with local businesses over the new few weeks whether there's a future for both lines or should they scrap the 'outer' line (Oldham Werneth to Oldham Mumps) plan when the town centre line is built. There are 3 proposals which will be discussed:
1. create a new ‘Mumps’ stop between Bell Street and Brook Street, next to Mumps Bridge, which would enable the two lines to co-exist. An artist’s impression of the new Metrolink bridge at Mumps roundabout can viewed here:
2. create a new stop at the Rhodes Bank end of Union Street which would serve the town centre line
3. refurbish the existing Mumps train station
A planning application will be submitted next month for a new ‘Mumps’ stop between Bell Street and Brook Street. Once this application has been submitted, there will be a formal public consultation regarding the issue.
As part of the Digital Britain report, outlined by Culture Secretary Ben Bradshaw in Parliament yesterday, it was announced that a levy of 50p per month, which equates to £6 per year, is to be put on all fixed phone lines to help fund the Government's plan to bring broadband internet access and faster download speeds to every home in the country by 2012. The report proposed that the charge would help to upgrade the country's fixed-line network, a project on which BT and Virgin Media have already embarked. The charge would raise between £150m and £175m a year to extend next-generation broadband to the "final third" of the country that will not be reached by the market. Antony Walker, chief executive of the Broadband Stakeholders' Group, believes the tax will mean that 90% of the UK will be able to benefit from broadband of up to 50Mbps by 2017. The full report can be viewed in PDF here
In the BBC broadcast below, Lord Carter explains the need for a 50p levy:
However, many have questioned the charge, suggesting that the charge will not raise enough money and that Gordon Brown's vision of "access for all" is unachievable. Below are video links to an interview between Newsnight presenter Jeremy Paxman and Lord Carter, the man behind the Digital Britain Report, and the Shadow Culture Secretary Jeremy Hunt speaking about the 50p levy in Parliament:
In summary, the Digital Britain report highlighted the following points of action:
The Bank of England has announced that interest rates are to be kept at 0.5% for the time being, only the 3rd month that the rate hasn’t changed since last September. This stall in changing the interest rates highlights how highly the Bank of England is prioritising its attempts to encourage banks to start lending again, therefore boosting credit and raising the ‘nominal spending’ (the cash value of spending) in the economy. The Bank of England has not injected any fresh money into the economy this month, but it is predicted that £125bn will have been spent on the quantitative easing process by the end of July. A closely-watched survey on the service sector released earlier this week suggested that the recovery may be coming faster than expected. Similarly, the European Central Bank (ECB) has kept its interest rates in the eurozone (i.e. those countries who use the Euro) at a record low of 1% for the 2nd month in a row, after it was cut from 1.25% last month, its 7th cut since last October, in an attempt to help restore economic growth in the eurozone.
Many new customers are introduced to us by referral from existing customers who understand the service we are able to supply to businesses. We would like to provide a small token of appreciation for each introduction and have introduced a customer referral scheme.
To take part please click here to download the referral form. On completing the form please fax it back to us on 0161 6223501. We will credit you £10 for each new customer who takes business from Plum. The credit can either be a credit to your account or a donation to a charity of your choice (please state preference on the referral form).
This referral scheme applies for any new customers who take business with Plum Communications prior to 31st December 2009. Thank you for recommending Plum Communications.
If you are not a Plum customer, feel free to visit our website http://www.plumcom.co.uk/ to view information on our available products and services. Alternatively, click here for a Plum Portfolio fact sheet, which summarises our products and services.
This week we have added 2 new links to our website (http://www.plumcom.co.uk/) to allow customers to keep up to date with Plum Communications more easily.
After training and collecting donations for the last few months, Plum’s Marketing Manager Rhodri Lloyd yesterday successfully completed the Bupa Manchester 10km run. Running as one of 33,000 runners, Rhodri completed the run in 55 mins 49 seconds, finishing in 10,425th position in the top third of all the runners. “As pleased as I am to have successfully completed the run in under an hour, I am a bit disappointed with my time as I had hoped to do it in nearer 50 minutes. Regardless of that though, I had a great day. The atmosphere and support from everyone, from the spectators to performing musicians to fellow runners, was brilliant. I would recommend the run to anyone, even if you don’t rate yourself as a long distance runner, simply for the experience on the day itself. I’m sure this will be the first of many runs I do for charity”.
Rhodri had originally aimed to raise £300 in the process of running the 10km race for the Alzheimer’s Society, in memory of his grandfather who died from Alzheimer’s in 2003, but has so far exceeded this target with the current figure standing at £355. “Up until about a week and a half ago I was worried that I wouldn’t meet my original target of £300. Fortunately however, people have been extremely generous over the last week, in particularly Plum Communications, which has seen my fundraising figure shoot up past £300. I still know of many people who have promised to sponsor me post event, so who knows what my final fundraising figure will be”. You can still make a donation or view his Justgiving donations page at www.justgiving.com/rhodri10kmrun.
The men’s 10km race was won by Ethiopia's Haile Gebrselassie in 27 mins 39 seconds. The women’s race was won by Kenya’s Vivian Cheruiyot in 32 mins and 1 second. Another event held as part of the day was a special 150m street race, featuring the current 100m and 200m world record holder Usain Bolt. He won the race in a world record time of 14.35 secs.
Below are two videos showing the highlights of both the 10km run and 150m race events
Despite failing to gain funding from the government following a resounding ‘no’ vote in the Congestion Charge referendum in Greater Manchester in December, Great Manchester is to now get a £1.4bn transport fund from the Association of Greater Manchester Authorities (AGMA) and government, in order to carry out a number of currently stalled transport projects across the region, as well as creating 21,000 new jobs.
This funding will now help with the following transport projects:
The new funding will see 6 tram stations being created in Oldham town centre, instead of the original 2 at Mumps and Werneth- Mumps, Oldham Central (Clegg Street), Union Street, King Street, Westwood and Werneth.
Oldham Council Leader Howard Sykes has explained how the £84 million funding given to Oldham will reap many benefits for the town, “This has the potential to transform Oldham into an aspirational 21st century town and send out the message that we are open for business. This is about creating an infrastructure for those studying in Oldham to find work across Greater Manchester, giving them easy access to work areas across and within the city region.” The Metrolink extensions will help to link up the key higher and further educational establishments in the town - Oldham College, Oldham Sixth Form College, University Centre Oldham, and the planned Regional Science Centre - and therefore provide students with a transport network that will help them exploit their skills.
A broadcast of the above news can be viewed below
Ofcom have announced that the proposed changes to 0870 numbers will come into effect on 1st August 2009. The aim is to rebuild public confidence in NGNs (Non Geographic Numbers) by restoring the geographic link for 0870 ‘national rate’ calls and will require mobile and fixed line providers to charge the same or less for 0870 calls as they do for calls to geographic numbers (starting 01 or 02) and be included in any call packages. The Ofcom change will mean that revenue sharing will no longer available on 0870 numbers. Calls received by 0870 number owners will become chargeable. A pricing announcement will follow shortly; however, this is likely to be in line with current Area-Call charges.
There are 3 main options available:
1. Leave the 0870 number live and accept the new charges. The service will continue as normal and routing will not be affected.
2. Cease the existing 0870 number. This can be ceased immediately or when the new regulations come into place on 1st August 2009
3. Migrate the service to another non-geographic number. Should you require revenue sharing Plum would recommend 084* (0844, 0843) or 087* (0871, 0872) numbers.
Numbers can be run in parallel to ensure no loss of business, for example, continue to run the 0870 number with an announcement that the number is changing, to enable your customers to get used to the changes gradually. When the changes come in to affect, either cease the number or leave an announcement on advising customers to dial the new number. Plum offer both of these services.
Ofcom have also announced that once the 0870 changes have been implemented they will consider whether a review on 0845’s is necessary and advise on the appropriate timing of this. An announcement will be made on this in 2009 or 2010.
•0843 is an extension of the 0844 range with price points from 1ppm to 5ppm
•0872 is an extension of the 0871 range with price points from 5ppm to 10ppm
(subject to PhonepayPlus regulations)
For a PDF version of this announcement, please click here.
Do not hesitate to contact Plum on 0161 622 3500 or at firstname.lastname@example.org if you have any queries regarding this new legislation or would like to discuss the available options for your current 0870 number.
Ofcom have recently announced that PhonepayPlus will take over the day-to-day regulation of 0871 numbers on 1st August 2009, when numbers beginning 087 - with the exception of 0870 - will formally be recognised as Premium Rate Services (PRS), putting them under the remit of PhonepayPlus' Code of Practice. This will mean that there are changes on the services for all 0871 numbers provided by Plum Communications. Please note that these regulations only apply to numbers targeted to consumers. Business to business communication is not covered under current PhonepayPlus regulations.
4 areas covered by the PhonepayPlus regulation
1. Clear pricing
Customers must be clearly informed of the price that a call to a 087* number will cost. This should be included clearly on all advertising and literature relating to the 087* numbers which is aimed at consumers. PhonepayPlus does understand that there may be advertising and literature out in the marketplace currently. They have advised that in the short term a message at the start of all calls to 0871 will be acceptable.
2. Undue delay
PhonepayPlus have advised the “services must not be unreasonably delayed or prolonged” this means that consumers must not be unnecessarily delayed when calling 087* numbers and need to be advised of their expected wait time or position in a queue on the phone if there will be a long waiting period. This will allow the consumer to decide whether to continue to hold or not especially during busy periods.
Promotions must not mislead or take unfair advantage of consumers. All advertising should be clear and concise and not mislead or aim to mislead the consumers in any way or take unfair advantage of any characteristic or circumstance which may make consumers vulnerable.
087* services will now be treated as PRS services and as such come under the constraints of PhonepayPlus which means that consumers will be able to make complaints if they feel that they were mislead in any way.
For a full PDF version of this announcement please click here.
PhonepayPlus have advised that should a provider be found in breach of its code it has the power to issue formal reprimands impose fines and even shut down the service. Plum Communications Ltd. as a registered service provider are ultimately responsible for the 087* services and will work together with PhonepayPlus should any services be subject to investigation. Plum Communications Ltd. as the service provider reserves the right to pass
on any fines / sanctions to any customers who do not conform to PhonepayPlus code of practice guidelines, which can be found at http://www.phonepayplus.org.uk/codeofpractice/default.asp
Guidance on the new regulation is available at
Should you have any questions or queries on the new regulations please do not hesitate to contact PhonepayPlus directly
telephone: 0845 0261060
OR do not hesitate to contact Plum on 0161 622 3500 or at email@example.com if you have any queries regarding this new legislation
The Bank of England has announced that interest rates are to be kept at 0.5% for the time being, only the 2nd month that the rate hasn’t changed since last September. This stall in changing the interest rates highlights how highly the Bank of England is prioritising its attempts to encourage banks to start lending again, therefore boosting credit and raising the ‘nominal spending’ (the cash value of spending) in the economy. The Bank of England also reported that some £54bn has already been injected into the economy, with this figure expected to increase to £75bn by the end of June, with overall spending to be extended to £125bn instead of the expected £150bn, as the Bank continues with its ‘quantitative easing’ lending process. Leading economists believe that this smaller extension suggests that, “the recovery is going to plan". Similarly, the European Central Bank (ECB) has cut interest rates in the eurozone (i.e. those countries who use the Euro) to a record low of 1%, down from 1.25%, its 7th cut since last October, in an attempt to help restore economic growth in the eurozone.
Ofcom have released their telecoms report for the fourth quarter, or last 3 months (October - December) in 2008. The report aims to highlight emerging trends in the UK telecoms sector, in order to generate a greater understanding of the sector amongst consumers and businesses alike. As stated on the Ofcom website, the main trends in fixed lines and calls, internet, and mobile phones, were as follows:
As rumoured in a previous blog entry, Home Secretary Jacqui Smith has now confirmed that residents of Greater Manchester will be the first in the country to get identity cards. As of autumn, anyone over 16 in the city with a UK passport will be able to apply for a card online from the Home Office. For the 1st 2 years the cards will cost £30, then after this there will be an additional cost of £30 for each card bought in a post office or pharmacy. For now the ID cards are voluntary, but they are expected to become compulsory in the next few years.
Smith claimed that the ID cards, "will deliver real benefits to everyone, including increased protection against criminals, illegal immigrants and terrorists". In relation to why Manchester was chosen, James Hall, chief executive of the Identity and Passport Service, said: "We wanted a sizeable metropolitan area with a good diversity of population and a large number of young people. Manchester fitted the bill, particularly with its universities and colleges”. Oldham East and Saddleworth MP Phil Woolas has identified another benefit in the card in that it would, “replace up to six other documents” as it would carry all the same details of a passport and driving license. Are you confused what ID cards are? Click here for some answers. View a News Broadcast of the story here
However, there has been some opposition to the plans for ID cards. The Conservatives and Liberal Democrats want the £5bn scheme scrapped, and some Labour MPs have expressed doubts about its cost. For example, Shadow home secretary Chris Grayling said: “Manchester is being used as a guinea pig. It makes no sense that if you live in the area you will pay for an ID card, but not if you are just visiting. ” He also stated that he believes people on low income shouldn’t have to pay for them, and that in the current economic climate can people afford to purchase new ID cards.
Here’s what the people of Manchester have had to say about it
As previously reported on this blog, Plum Communications’ Marketing Manager Rhodri Lloyd is running the forthcoming Bupa 10km run in Manchester on Sunday 17th May on behalf of his late grandfather Charles for the Alzheimer’s Society. Rhodri set himself an initial target of £300, but as of yet has only raised £110, so he’s going to be spending the next 2 weeks chasing people up on promised donations. To sponsor Rhodri visit: www.justgiving.com/rhodri10kmrun
According to Rhodri training has been going well, and he’s even lost a bit of weight along the way too. “Since I started my training in January, as I had hoped, I have lost weight. Along with a healthier diet and the regular training, I have managed to lose about 11 pounds so far, which I’m very pleased with. I have also seen vast improvements fitness wise. Back in January I was struggling to run 2 miles without stopping several times, but now I can run non-stop for an hour”.
He is very thankful for the support he has received from family, friends and work colleagues. “Everyone has been brilliant in supporting me and raring me on with my training, whether it be through advice, moral support or their donations. I would like to thank Peter Savic (Managing Director of Plum Communications) for reporting my run on Plum Blog, this has really helped in letting people find out about my run, as well as promoting the fantastic cause that is the Alzheimer’s Society”.
To find out more about Rhodri’s cause and to sponsor him, please visit his Justgiving page. For further information on how his training and fundraising is going please feel free to visit his Facebook group.
He is not the first member of the Plum staff to run for charity in recent years. As reported on in a previous blog, Customer services manager Suzanne Cain ran the Bupa Great North Run in 2007, raising a total of £600 for Leukaemia Care over the 13.1 mile course.
Following a vote in favour of such a bill last month in the European Parliament, the European Parliament has now approved legislation which, as of July, will set a maximum charge of 10p a message for a UK customer sending a text from Europe. In addition, mobile phone operators will have to provide clearer information on the cost of surfing the internet and downloading data when abroad. Data roaming and call costs will also be going down. From next year mobile phone users will receive a reminder when they have spent 50 Euros - currently £45 – whilst using these services abroad. Below is a list of the new reduced charges:
NOTE - price caps do not include VAT
If you would like some advice on using your mobile phone abroad, whether it be for sending texts, making calls or downloading data abroad, do not hesitate to call Plum on 0161 6223500.
Ofcom have put a pdf guide and a video together highlighting some key issues you should consider when using your mobile abroad
It’s that time of year again…the Budget is announced! The Budget is the UK's annual financial statement, including a review of taxation levels and announcement of spending plans. It is the responsibility of, and delivered by, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, Alistair Darling, who works closely with his team of ministerial colleagues and senior civil servants.
Here are the main findings from the budget:
1. New top tax rate of 50% for those earning more than £150,000 as of April 2010
2. The number of people out of work in the UK rose by another 177,000 to 2.1 million between December and February.
3. UK government borrowing at £90bn
Here are some of the taxation levels and spending plans changes:
· Alcohol and cigarettes taxes to go up 2% from midnight - one estimate is that it would put 5p on the average pint of beer
· From next month until March 2010 motorists to get £2,000 discount on new cars if they trade in cars older than 10 years
· Income tax for those earning more than £150,000 to rise to 50% from April 2010
· Economy forecast to shrink 3.5% in 2009
· Government support for economy to protect 500,000 jobs
· Child tax credit to rise by £20 by 2010
· Annual limit for tax-free ISAs to rise to more than £10,000 for over-50s this year and for everyone else next year
· £525m for offshore wind projects
· Loss-making companies to be able to reclaim more taxes paid in the last three years
· Grandparents of working age who care for their grandchildren will see that work count towards their entitlement for the basic state pension
A full list of the changes can be found here
Confused by the budget will help you? Click here to get your questions answeredFor those interested in social media, HM Treasury has even set up Twitter and YouTube channels with extra information about the budget
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