The Scottish parliament is accusing Westminster of intransigence over the halted building work at the Scottish car ferryport of Cairnryan. Work to build a Border Controls Post (BCP) started after getting a government green light last year. Since then, construction has ground to a halt, as Westminster has refused to give a binding commitment to fund the BCP in full.
Sailings from Stranraer were transferred to the nearby Dumfries and Galloway port of Craigryan back in 2012, for operational reasons. Wholly-owned by Larne Harbour Ltd, Craigryan is a part of the P&O landside portfolio. It can operate up to 16 sailings a day, serving destinations in Northern Ireland.
While Brexit negotiations were in progress, Westminster was committed to funding border infrastructure in full. The Scottish parliament is concerned that it may end up footing part of the bill for port infrastructure on a privately-owned facility. There are also political sensitivities about a requirement for customs facilities on what is currently an internal border.
The implementation of Sanitary and PhytoSanitary (SPS) checks that are the reason for building a BCP in the first place has not happened. Successive start dates in 2021 and 2022 were announced and cancelled: Westminster is currently planning to start SPS checks on livestock and animal products in July, although the BCP site at Cairnryan might not be operational by then.
From a commercial point of view, ferry traffic patterns have changed since Brexit, making the business case and the requirement for a BCP a moot point. The introduction of inbound SPS checks for the UK cannot be evaded forever.
Following an early end to industry consultation, lorry trailers on UK roads can be two metres longer. This will allow hauliers to carry larger loads and require drivers of all vehicles to make allowances for greater tail swing, to borrow the industry jargon. Details on the Department for Transport website.
The 1925 Royal Commission on Food Prices was tasked with investigating food industry prices. Urban Food Chains is running a series of analytical case studies for subscribing members, drawing on the detailed statistical evidence that was heard by the commission during its deliberations.
Board of Trade statistician Mr A W Flux* told the hearing that the UK food economy grew by about two billion pounds (thousand million) in 1907. This comprised goods consumed in the UK , which were valued at between 1,248 and 1,408 million pounds; services between 350 and 400 million pounds and additions to capital of between 320 and 350 million pounds.
2. Of the goods consumed, some passed directly from producer to consumer (e.g. bread), and in some cases the produce was consumed by the producer (e.g. farm and garden produce consumed by the families of the cultivators). A second class of goods, while passing through merchants’ hands, was not the subject of retail trade, while, of the goods that passed though merchants’ and retailers’ hands, it was estimated that the charges of distribution, including cost of transport, amounted to something between one half and two thirds of the value of the goods at the place of production or importation.
The First Report of the Royal Commission on Food Prices, Volume 3, Appendix 1, paragraph 2
UK fresh produce wholesalers were among the first adopters of end-to-end database-driven stock management. In the early 90s, when multiple retailers were rolling out electronic Point Of Sale systems, overnight there was enough reliable data to drive ordering and procurement systems.
To maintain year-round availability of core inventory, wholesalers needed to be very granular in what constitutes an SKU. By the standards of the day, the databases they developed were ahead of their time. By around 1994, one wholesaler was tracking product grades by (16-bit) colour, calibration range, farmgate and dockside Brix, crop/season dates, with regional adjustments for weather bringing seasons forward or holding them back.
The SKUs were effectively large matrices, with a very long tail of incremental detail that went far beyond grower details and crop varieties. The database effectively became the business and was stored in triplicate on hard drives that were lodged in rotation with the bank: one active, two off-site, rotated daily.
With a global reach, shiploads of third country fresh produce were being sold while the goods were still on the water. Title remained with the consignee until after the ship had docked and unloaded.
For third country fresh produce, the transition from the Common European Tariff to the UK Global Tariff is a detail for which the variables are knowable in advance. For third country produce, the UK already has the PEACH system (Procedure for Electronic Application for Certificates) which is run by DEFRA. Visit https://www.gov.uk/guidance/automatic-licence-verification-between-defra-rpa-and-hmrc where you can download a spreadsheet that maps CN numbers on to plant varieties and gives handling details for importers. The back end of PEACH is currently plumbed into TARIC-3, so a UK-based replacement is doubtless in hand.