How does privacy stay our business?

No-one was quite able to assess the implications of GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation) when I mentioned it in this column last year. That situation appears to be unchanged. The EU-inspired legislation is a means to an end where the aim is to safeguard privacy and security in the face of corporate intrusion. The measures are proving a right pain in the proverbial for business but there are other consequences too. For instance, it quickly turned into an effective way of dumping unwanted junk mailers. I can’t be the only one rejecting pleas to “stay in touch” from people I’ve never heard of. There’s also a lot of peddling out there. Firms who were flogging business advice this time last

Getting heated up over green energy

You probably missed it among all the royal wedding coverage, but a group of MPs are questioning whether ministers are serious about green energy. That’s because no-one seems quite sure. The Environmental Audit Committee is upset that investment has more than halved in recent years, while the Public Accounts Committee reckons Whitehall efforts to reduce emissions are having the opposite effect. It’s a tough time to be in the green energy sector. There’s been a ban on new onshore wind farms plus a scrapping of subsidies for solar power. Added to that is how renewables are now subject to taxation while the Green Investment Bank has been sold off. Other zero-carbon initiatives have been quietly

Opportunity knocks at the Senedd

I’m not a frequent visitor to the Senedd building on Cardiff’s waterfront. As a result I wasn’t quite expecting the distinct change of atmosphere. Things are as frenetic as usual but get past the stuff about sackings, lobbyists, deleted tweets and investigations and the prevailing sense in the place is one of opportunity. A relentless progression of events has prompted the departure of Labour First Minister Carwyn Jones from frontline Welsh politics. You can almost see the marks on the walls in some places. Now the name of the game is “succession” – and maybe something else if opposition parties get their act together. The only would-be FM replacement so far is Finance Secretary Mark Drakefo

Decoding the latest English lesson

A basic rule in my line of work is never, ever, think you can translate local election results into Westminster numbers. Unfortunately, this sound advice tends to be forgotten the moment the first ballot box is opened; last week’s battle for control of English councils being no exception. It’s true that the same electoral wards make up parliamentary constituencies. From then on however any correlation is an illusion. Different loyalties and different candidates go into the voting mix regardless of whether the motivation is bins or Brexit. Other variances are that elections held the other side of Offa’s Dyke are staggered over different years and that local government is a mish-mash of coun

So what’s going wrong with retail?

I’m betting most people wouldn’t be too surprised to learn that the retail sector accounts for a third of all UK consumer spending. What might come as shock however is that top business analysts now say it’s a sector in “broad decline”. Earlier this year, Toys R Us and electronics chain Maplin went into administration. Last week, the Carpetright chain announced about 80 store closures. All of them cite rising overheads and a weaker pound as reasons - but when an established discount operation like Poundworld says “falling consumer confidence” is behind poor performance then you know you’ve got trouble. As it happens, Poundworld is owned by private equity firm TPG Capital, which also controls

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