Review of the year - March 2011

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March kicked with a good row about police play. Home secretary Theresa May revealed plans to slash police overtime and travel allowances. May ordered expenses to be cut by a massive 20%. She claimed that the only way she can do this while maintaining front line policing was to take a red pen to perks and allowances, including overtime payments - often paid at double-time - rather than huge job cuts.


Ken MorrisonMorrisons boss Sir Ken Morrison also faced a full-blown FSA investigation into how he reduced his shareholdings worth potentially around £500m in the previous 18 months without disclosing the details. Under FSA rules, a major shareholder has to notify the company of share sales within two days of the transaction with public disclosure following a day after.

In the event, the FSA fined Sir Ken £210,000 - small pickings for Sir Ken.

Then BP announced it was handing two of its bosses, Iain Conn and chief financial officer Byron Grote, hefty bonuses despite the company's grim year, beset by the Gulf of Mexico disaster which killed 11 workers and saw the share price freefall.

Next, what price a lollipop lady? Given straining school budgets, some school crossing patrols - as they are tagged now - came under threat in March. Northampton County Council was on the verge of giving its lollipop ladies the chop, saving it more than £200k a year. Step in the Big Society?

Last year, Judy Gaisford, a Worcestershire lollipop lady, was told she was not allowed to hold her lollipop upright while standing on the pavement for fear of distracting passing motorists. So if you're going to volunteer, we advised, be careful what you do with that stick.

A different law for rich immigrants? If you had £5m in readies than the government said it would welcome immigrants with open arms. New "super-investors" were to be given the right to live in Britain indefinitely after three years.

And if you had £10m, you win the right to stay in the UK after just two years. The Home Office clearly preferred immigrants to arrive expensively dressed and cologned - but also if they could provide jobs straight off the boat.

Then to the land of sunshine, olive oil and humungous debt. Greece crashed into the credit rating junk yard following a Moody's Investor Services decision to reclassify her debt rating - her new 'B1' grade was humiliatingly even lower than Egypt's.

Unfortunately the Greek finance minister, shortly after, made things rather worse when he said he was "clueless' as to how many people the state actually employed. The sort of remark that bought home the scale of Greece's problems.

Towards the end of March we finished with a complaint from Waitrose. Waitrose, it transpired, was bored of being seen as 'posh'. It preferred to be seen as 'aspirational'. Marketing director Mark Price was irked by seeing the supermarket branded as upmarket, thereby deterring would-be Waitrose customers from stepping inside.

But if you can price-match Tesco on a range of goods, then complain about your upmarket image, frankly, we said, you could have worse problems.

Finally, a boss who was suffering with the rest us, and prepared to take a massive 80% pay cut. It came to light that the boss of Finish dishwasher detergent operator Reckitt Benckiser, Bart Becht, took a salary hammering for 2010.

His total pay plummeted from £90m in 2009 year to just £18m. We called Reckitt's Derby factory and asked the press office how much the average wage was. We didn't get a response though they did tell us that Becht "does give a lot to charity."

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