Taking a contrarian view as an investor certainly isn’t easy. There are occasions, however, when doing so pays off handsomely. A great example of this is FTSE 250 retailer Pets At Home (LSE: PETS). A little over a year ago, the company was in the doghouse as it fought against weak sales and rising costs. Since then, however, the turnaround under CEO Peter Pritchard has been nothing short of superb. From a low of around 115p in November 2018, shares in the Wilmslow-based business have appreciated a touch over 150%.5G is here – and shares of this ‘sleeping giant’ could be a great way for you to potentially profit!According to one leading industry firm, the 5G boom could create a global industry worth US$12.3 TRILLION out of thin air…And if you click here we’ll show you something that could be key to unlocking 5G’s full potential…Today’s trading update suggests there could be more upside ahead with the company reporting a “record-breaking performance” in its Retail division in Q3. Revenue here rose 7.2% with omnichannel sales (which includes orders placed online) rocketing 23.4%.Highlighting just how lucrative anything related to our furry (and not so furry) companions can be, a 14.4% rise in revenue at its veterinary services was also logged “with mature practices growing ahead of the market“.All told, total revenue growth of 7.9% to just under £256m was recorded for the 12-week period from 11 October to 2 January. Based on this performance, Pets made no changes to the financial guidance it issued back in November, stating that expectations for underlying pre-tax profit remained “in line with current market consensus“. Clearly not the bargain they once were, the shares were trading on 20 times earnings before the markets opened this morning. While I wouldn’t necessarily fight to build a position at the current price, the resilient nature of the industry leads me to think that those already holding shouldn’t dash to bank profits either. A projected total dividend of 7.53p per share in the current year gives a yield of 2.6%, covered almost twice by profits.Back on trackAnother stock that’s recovered well in recent times has been laser-guided equipment manufacturer Somero Enterprises (LSE: SOM). Available for 187p a pop back in October, the shares now trade a little over 50% higher following today’s reassuring update on trading. Thanks in part to better weather in the US allowing previously delayed building projects to commence, Somero announced that it had seen “strong, profitable trading” in the final quarter of its financial year. As a result, management now predicts annual revenue will come in “modestly ahead of the top end of guidance” provided back in July 2019.Looking ahead, it said that it expects 2020 will be “a profitable year” for the company. That said, revenues and earnings are likely to be similar to those seen in 2019 due to increased investment in its SkyScreed product. Issues in non-US markets already impacted by economic uncertainty are also likely to “slightly temper” growth expectations, the small-cap said.Somero’s shares were changing hands for a little less than 10 times forecast FY20 earnings before markets opened. Even after taking today’s 10% rise into account, this kind of valuation still looks cheap for a firm with operating profit margins and returns on capital of around 30% and 50% respectively, The bulletproof balance sheet is also worth mentioning. Net cash of $23m at the end of 2019 — far better than the $18m predicted last July — should ensure that Somero is able to stick with its generous dividend policy going forward.The cyclical nature of the business may still be enough to put some investors off but, like Pets, I see no reason for relatively new holders to bag profits just yet. Paul Summers | Wednesday, 22nd January, 2020 | More on: PETS SOM Paul Summers owns shares of Somero Enterprises, Inc. The Motley Fool UK has recommended Somero Enterprises, Inc. Views expressed on the companies mentioned in this article are those of the writer and therefore may differ from the official recommendations we make in our subscription services such as Share Advisor, Hidden Winners and Pro. Here at The Motley Fool we believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. I’m sure you’ll agree that’s quite the statement from Motley Fool Co-Founder Tom Gardner.But since our US analyst team first recommended shares in this unique tech stock back in 2016, the value has soared.What’s more, we firmly believe there’s still plenty of upside in its future. In fact, even throughout the current coronavirus crisis, its performance has been beating Wall St expectations.And right now, we’re giving you a chance to discover exactly what has got our analysts all fired up about this niche industry phenomenon, in our FREE special report, A Top US Share From The Motley Fool. I would like to receive emails from you about product information and offers from The Fool and its business partners. Each of these emails will provide a link to unsubscribe from future emails. More information about how The Fool collects, stores, and handles personal data is available in its Privacy Statement. Our 6 ‘Best Buys Now’ Shares Image source: Getty Images Renowned stock-picker Mark Rogers and his analyst team at The Motley Fool UK have named 6 shares that they believe UK investors should consider buying NOW.So if you’re looking for more stock ideas to try and best position your portfolio today, then it might be a good day for you. Because we’re offering a full 33% off your first year of membership to our flagship share-tipping service, backed by our ‘no quibbles’ 30-day subscription fee refund guarantee. Click here to claim your copy now — and we’ll tell you the name of this Top US Share… free of charge! Simply click below to discover how you can take advantage of this. “This Stock Could Be Like Buying Amazon in 1997” See all posts by Paul Summers Enter Your Email Address This FTSE 250 stock isn’t the only company bouncing back to form
11 August 2011Waitrons can keep their hard-earned tips for themselves and don’t have to worry about the taxman, the South African Revenue Service (Sars) has confirmed.Confusion had arisen over whether tips kept by employees were taxable.This has been dispelled by a ruling made by Sars last week, according to which the transfer of tips handed over to an employer by an employee for “safekeeping” does not constitute a payment of remuneration.“The Binding Class Ruling recently issued by Sars declared that the transfer of tips (handed over to the employer by the employees for safekeeping in terms of the employer’s proposed Group Tips Policy) from the employer’s bank accounts into the employees’ bank accounts does not constitute a payment of remuneration by the employer,” Gillian Lumb, an employment law director at law firm Cliffe Dekker Hofmeyr, said this week.“Binding class rulings are intended to promote clarity on the interpretation and application of the tax laws to a class of persons who apply for a ruling in respect of a proposed transaction to which it is a party.”An employment associate at the firm, Pranisha Maharaj, said the ruling was valid for five years as of August 2010.She said the proposed Group Tips Policy sought to address the security risk of having employees take receipt of tips during their working hours.“In terms of the policy, tips are seen as gratuitous payments to which the employees have no entitlement or an expectation of receipt as a part of the performance of their duties,” Maharaj said.Sapa
Get the Free eBook! Learn how to sell without a sales manager. Download my free eBook! You need to make sales. You need help now. We’ve got you covered. This eBook will help you Seize Your Sales Destiny, with or without a manager. Download Now Sales is one of the few endeavors in business where you are literally working against the clock.Your operations team is not judged or compensated on how they did in the last quarter. They may have KPIs, but they don’t have a quota. The folks in accounting and finance don’t have the same time constraints either. Nor does the marketing department. Very few people have the same pressure to perform within the constraints of time like salespeople.Why then do salespeople avoid the work that is necessary to reach their goals within the time they are being measured against?If you need to create 4 average size deals each month to make your number, and you create only 2 of those opportunities, you start the next month with a deficit of 2–and a new goal of 6 opportunities. If in the second month you create only 2 opportunities, you go into month three needing 8 opportunities. If it is difficult to create 4 opportunities, then it is twice as hard to create 8 new deals.You didn’t feel like prospecting very much this month? The clock ticked away while you resisted your work.You found other work that kept you so busy that you didn’t have time to prospect? Time marched relentlessly forward without you. Time is unsympathetic.You were burnt out and in a funk? Time doesn’t care about your feelings, your energy level, or your excuses. Seconds always turn into minutes, and minutes turn into hours, and hours turn into days, and days turn into weeks. Weeks turn into months. There is no way to stop, slow, or turn back time.The only way to make the clock your ally is to meticulously manage yourself and your commitments. You have the time you need, but only if you do what is necessary between the ticks. If you aren’t going to make time your ally, your inability to manage yourself will make time your unbeatable foe.When you aren’t working, the clock is working against you.
LOOK: Venues for 2019 SEA Games Gavina blows his top after yet another Kia loss: ‘I’m tired of this’ UPLB exempted from SEA Games class suspension And these attempts were point blank floaters and layups that Castro, who finished with 15 points, usually makes.“Everybody has off nights but I think our mistake was our transition defense because once they get the ball we let them start running,” said Castro in Filipino.FEATURED STORIESSPORTSWATCH: Drones light up sky in final leg of SEA Games torch runSPORTSSEA Games: Philippines picks up 1st win in men’s water poloSPORTSMalditas save PH from shutoutThere were also some calls—or lack thereof—that seemed questionable for TNT but Casto would not comment on the officiating in the loss.“We can’t do anything about it, that was what the referees called so we just have to focus on the game next time around,” said Castro. LATEST STORIES View comments The KaTropa failed to stretch their winning streak to three with the loss as they dropped to 4-3. Kammuri turning to super typhoon less likely but possible — Pagasa MOST READ Catriona Gray spends Thanksgiving by preparing meals for people with illnesses PBA IMAGESANTIPOLO—–TNT point guard Jayson Castro had the coldest hands inside Ynares Sports Center in the KaTropa’s loss 119-112 loss to Globalport in the PBA Governors’ Cup.Castro went on a decent 5-of-12 clip from the field but missed multiple crucial shots in the fourth quarter when the KaTropa attempted to come back against the Batang Pier.ADVERTISEMENT Don’t miss out on the latest news and information. Typhoon Kammuri accelerates, gains strength en route to PH SEA Games in Calabarzon safe, secure – Solcom chief Brace for potentially devastating typhoon approaching PH – NDRRMC Read Next WATCH: Streetboys show off slick dance moves in Vhong Navarro’s wedding Sports venues to be ready in time for SEA Games PLAY LIST 00:59Sports venues to be ready in time for SEA Games01:27Filipino athletes get grand send-off ahead of SEA Games01:42Police: California school shooting took 16 seconds01:37Protesters burn down Iran consulate in Najaf01:47Panelo casts doubts on Robredo’s drug war ‘discoveries’01:29Police teams find crossbows, bows in HK university01:35Panelo suggests discounted SEA Games tickets for students02:49Robredo: True leaders perform well despite having ‘uninspiring’ boss02:42PH underwater hockey team aims to make waves in SEA Games
By Kathleen MartensAPTN InvestigatesWINNIPEG –The work Calgary lawyer David Blott did with Indian Residential School survivors is being reviewed by his peers.The Law Society of Alberta (LSA) confirmed to APTN Investigates it has done an investigation and is now putting David Blott through its “conduct process.”That’s law society-speak for a process that could result in a lawyer’s suspension or other discipline.Alternatively, the lawyer could keep working but with conditions attached to his practice, said LSA spokeswoman Ally Taylor.“I verified with our conduct manager that at this point all we can share is Mr. Blott is proceeding through our conduct process and unfortunately we’re restricted by confidentiality from sharing anything further,” Taylor said from Calgary.Blott has been on the LSA’s radar since the fall of 2011. That’s when officials with the Indian Residential Schools Adjudication Secretariat obtained a court injunction to stop him from working on survivors’ files.Officials were responding to complaints from survivors living on the Blood Reserve in southeastern Alberta. Blott represented them and thousands more across Canada in their individual Independent Assessment Process (IAP) compensation claims with the federal government.Blott succeeded in getting the injunction lifted but then became the subject of a court-ordered investigation into allegations he breached survivors’ trust, wrongly loaned them money, charged inflated interest rates and fees, and breached IAP rules by compensating third-parties he was in business with directly from compensation awards.Blott has denied all of the allegations as part of this on-going investigation into residential school lawyers by APTN.But investigators say they confirmed survivors’ complaints in their resulting $3-million report. A report Justice Brenda Brown of the B.C. Supreme Court relied on in the spring of 2012 to bar Blott from any further, lucrative IAP work. However, he was allowed to keep practising by the LSA in an advisory role, meaning he couldn’t meet with clients directly the way other lawyers in his Blott & Co. firm did but could share in the profits.Recently, the LSA was allowed access to that report to assist with its own independent investigation into Blott’s work. It had to battle Saskatchewan-based lawyer Tony Merchant to get it. Merchant, who is one of the parties to the Indian Residential Schools Settlement Agreement that spawned the IAP, opposed the move on several grounds.Among other things, Merchant argued that the affidavits in the report “cannot be equated to civil proceedings such as the transcripts of examinations for discovery…” He also worried that “personal and private information provided …by former clients of Mr. Blott, could be put to inappropriate use.”Merchant concluded: The court does not “have in place a procedure for disciplining lawyers participating in” the settlement agreement.The judge released the report to the LSA anyway.Taylor, the manager of communications for the LSA, wouldn’t speak directly about the Blott case citing member privacy protection, but did explain the process in general.“Once we’ve gathered all the information and concluded an investigation, an investigation report is then prepared and served on the…counsel or his lawyer. And then that person would have an opportunity to reply,” she said in a telephone interview. “And that’s basically for clarification; did we get the facts wrong, that sort of thing.”Taylor said it all culminates in a final report making recommendations on discipline. A panel then meets to determine the outcome.“Sometimes in parallel,” she added, “there can be negotiation with the lawyer whether or not they’re going to resign, because some lawyers do choose to resign rather than be publicly disciplined in that manner.”Any disciplinary action taken is posted on the LSA’s website, Taylor [email protected]
Follow @HealingSlowly on Twitter. Painted Pony Energy Ltd. reported recently it was using some of its own natural gas to replace higher-priced diesel fuel in some well-completion operations, a move it says could save $100,000 per well.Meanwhile, Perpetual Energy Inc. reported shutting down wells producing two per cent of its total output because it was more profitable to buy cheap gas on the market to satisfy its supply contracts.In Western Canada, “dry” gas has become an unloved byproduct as producers continue to drill wells seeking the light petroleum liquids produced with the gas, especially in the Montney formation that underlies the northern Alberta-B.C. border, said Ian Archer, associate director of North American natural gas with IHS Markit.One product in particular, condensate, commands prices in line with U.S. benchmark crude oil because it is needed to dilute oilsands bitumen to allow it to flow in a pipeline. Canada produced 417,000 barrels per day of condensate in March, up from just under 150,000 bpd in March 2013. Meanwhile, it still imports condensate from the U.S.“They’re drilling for condensate and sometimes the volume of condensate is only, say, 20 or 30 per cent of the well (volume), but it’s going to be 40 or 50 per cent of the revenue,” said Archer.“Then they have that 70 per cent gas volume they have to deal with.”There have been more than 20 proposals to build LNG projects on Canada’s West Coast but construction has only begun on one, LNG Canada, and it’s not expected to open until 2023 or 2024.It would take in up to 2.1 billion cubic feet per day of natural gas but most or all of it is expected to come from northern B.C. wells owned by partners in the project.That’s not good enough for the long-suffering members of the Rockies LNG group, said Kist.“If you look back over the history of LNG projects worldwide and certainly in Canada, they’re pretty much controlled by major international entities. Those entities tend to look after their own opportunities, not necessarily the opportunities for the producer groups.” But that hasn’t happened. In March 2013, Canada produced about 14 billion cubic feet per day of natural gas. Six year later, the National Energy Board reports production had increased by 16 per cent to 16.2 billion cf/d, despite no rise in pricing trends.Meanwhile, Canada’s largest gas customer, the U.S., is experiencing a shale gas boom that led to domestic production reaching 109 billion cf/d in March, up 35 per cent compared with 81 billion in the same month in 2013. Near-term prices in the U.S. have recently dropped to three-year lows on a glut of gas.In mid-July, a group of nine Alberta producers — unrelated to Rockies LNG but with some common membership — released an open letter demanding the province support a plan under which royalty credits would be issued to producers who voluntarily cut production to boost low gas prices when supply overwhelms pipeline capacity.Complaints about poor gas prices and interruptions in gas sales due to pipeline outages are common as Calgary-based natural gas producers roll out second-quarter results. Companies mentioned in this article: (TSX:BIR, TSX:PONY, TSX:PMT)Dan Healing, The Canadian Press CALGARY — Greg Kist admits he was burned out when he resigned as president of Pacific NorthWest LNG at the end of 2014, as the Vancouver-based venture led by Malaysian energy giant Petronas advanced its ill-fated mission to build a liquefied natural gas project in B.C.“I needed to decompress,” the 57-year-old gas industry veteran says of his decision to return to his home and family in Alberta.Once hailed as a voracious new consumer of western Canadian natural gas, the nascent LNG industry was staggered by project delays and all but halted by declining global price trends, leading to Petronas cancelling its project in 2017. Meanwhile, Kist went into retirement mode and avoided the natural gas business for the next couple of years.So it’s surprising that Kist now finds himself back in the thick of things as president and CEO of Rockies LNG Partners, a consortium of nine natural gas producers who invited him back with a promise to try again to jumpstart an LNG export project.The hope is that the former college basketball players’ experience in LNG and the natural gas business will help them to move their gas from the oversupplied and underpriced markets of North America to the promised land in Asia.“I think the next six months are critical for us,” Kist said in an interview in the downtown Calgary offices of Birchcliff Energy Ltd., one of the consortium members.The gas producers want to attract partners to build and operate what could be a 12-million-tonne-per-year LNG project to open by 2026, when forecasts suggest LNG demand will exceed supply. That means an investment decision must be made by the end of 2021.Gas industry insiders used to say the solution to low prices is low prices — when prices go down, less is produced and scarcity makes prices go up again.
Mumbai: An elated Bengaluru FC skipper Sunil Chhetri termed his team’s maiden Indian Super League victory against FC Goa as a “sweet one” especially after his side had faltered in the summit clash last season against Chennaiyin FC. Courtesy Rahul Bheke’s championship-winning header in the second extra time, Bengaluru defeated FC Goa 1-0 in an edge of a seat thriller last night here to win their maiden ISL title. Bengaluru had last year lost last year’s final to Chennaiyin FC Also Read – Puducherry on top after 8-wkt win over Chandigarh”Last year after the final, I said next year we’ll come back. Right from the ball boy to Carles (Cuadrat the coach), everyone wanted this. We wanted to win it (the title) badly. When you lose the way we did last year, it’s sweet to win this one. Asia, we are back,” Chhetri said at the post match media conference late Sunday night. Now by winning the ISL, Bengaluru FC will play in the AFC Asian Cup next year. Chhetri also said it was “commendable” that a player like Ferran Corominas, who bagged the Golden Boot award, did not get any chance against his team on all the three occasions when the two teams clashed. Also Read – Vijender’s next fight on Nov 22, opponent to be announced later”The message from the coach was that we should try to attack but as soon as we lose the ball, we should fall back and defend and have numbers (at the back). For players like me, Miku and Udanta (Singh), it was not easy because we are attacking minded people,” Chhetri said. “I am happy we did it because Nishu (Kumar) and (Harmanjot) Khabra got that security when Udanta and I traced back. It is commendable that a player like Coro (Corominas) did not get open chances against us in three games,” he said. “Last year, we conceded off set pieces and we were dominant until those two goal, so we were sure on not letting it happen today,” he added. Asked where he would rate this win, Chhetri quipped, Top-two. Number 2.” The winning coach Carles Cuadrat said that the team was trying not to take the game to the penalties as then it can be anybody’s game. “We were trying not to get into tie-breaker as it then becomes a lottery a lot of times. We are happy that one ball in the box gave us the victory. This is the seventh goal done by a set-piece and it shows how important set pieces are in the game, Cuadrat said. Meanwhile, FC Goa coach Sergio Lobera termed Ahmed Jahouh being sent off the field after earning a red card as the key moment of the match. “The key moment was when were reduced to 10-men in the first half of extra time. It was a very tight game was going to be a matter of small details and the sending off was a big handicap for us,” Lobera said. Despite the loss, the FC Goa head coach said he was proud of his players. “Till today, we were focused today only on this game (the final). From tomorrow onwards, we will start working towards the (upcoming) Super Cup. I said to my players in the dressing room that I am proud of them and (what) they have done in the season.”
The third phase of Lok Sabha elections today will mark polling in 117 constituencies spread across 13 states and two Union Territories. While all constituencies of Kerala, Gujarat, Goa, Dadra and Nagar Haveli and Daman & Diu will vote in the third phase, some seats from UP, Bihar, West Bengal, Karnataka, Chhattisgarh, Maharashtra, Odisha, Assam will join the fray with a solitary seat of Anantnag in Jammu & Kashmir witnessing second part of its three-phase voting. Due to security concerns, polling in East Tripura was deferred from the second phase to the third. A number of key constituencies feature in the third phase as stalwarts of the political spectrum fight it off to secure the maximum seats. A comprehensive win for either Congress or BJP in the third phase will be significantly beneficial in the cumulative tally with regional parties hoping to amass a significant share. In Gujarat, as many as 573 candidates are in the fray for 26 Lok Sabha seats. While the state campaigning in BJP’s bastion has been largely around Modi and his second term, making local BJP candidates irrelevant, there is no Modi from Vadodara this time. However, one simply cannot rule out party president Amit Shah making his electoral debut from Gandhinagar replacing senior leader LK Advani. BJP continues to maintain a strong hold on Gujarat’s urban constituencies – Gandhinagar, Ahmedabad, Surat, Vadodara and Rajkot – which means that it should not be much work for Shah. But same may not be the case in the Saurashtra region, North Gujarat and the tribal belt. Adding uncertainty on a certain land for BJP is the outcome of the December 2017 assembly polls where BJP won a closely fought battle by a whisker. Agrarian distress remains the single-largest issue in the state with Modi sure that Gujarat will provide a similar mandate as it did back in 2014 when BJP swept all seats. Kerala remains a battleground mainly between Left Democratic Front and Congress with BJP set to play spoilsport by dividing the vote. Congress and its allies will be hoping to better their 2014 tally with Congress fielding party president Rahul Gandhi from Wayanad. While Thiruvananthapuram rests in the capable hands of Shashi Tharoor, Pathanamthitta may see BJP score some brownie points due to Sabarimala row following its inclusion in their manifesto. But even so, it is likely that BJP draws minimum seats in the southern state while Congress and Left front fight it out for a majority. Goa’s two seats will see a traditional fight between BJP and Congress but it is Maharashtrawadi Gomantak Party (MGP) which will be instrumental in deciding whose way Goa goes. While BJP recovers from the setback of Parrikar’s demise, MGP has backed two of Congress’s candidates making it an opposite picture of 2014 when it aided BJP in winning the South Goa seat. It has been touted that livelihoods affected by mining ban will decide the fate of Goan politics. Maharashtra will see some of NCP strongholds voting today with NCP chief Sharad Pawar’s daughter, Supriya Sule contesting from the party’s bastion in Baramati. Comprehensively, Maharashtra, across phases, is set for a BJP-Shiv Sena combine against NCP-Congress one. While Congress-NCP combine has been dominant in the state’s sugar belt, befitting challenge from BJP-Sena might change the narrative being the dominant force in the 2014 elections. Maharashtra faces a visible farmer discontent which may twist the outcome. Karnataka will see allies Congress and The Janata Dal (Secular) (JD-S) up against BJP who has a stronghold in most of the 14 constituencies that will poll today. Uttar Pradesh is set for a massive showdown with both BJP and Congress’s chances being reduced drastically by a strong SP-BSP-RLD, especially with the election being held in the Yadav belt. Samajwadi Party strongholds of Mainpuri, Badaun, and Sambhal will likely see an alliance victory, all the more since Mayawati, Mulayam Singh Yadav, and Akhilesh Yadav’s stage presence has given their alliance the much-needed boost. Mainpuri will be especially challenging for BJP which has never won there. Also Read – A compounding difficultyBJP’s Jaya Prada is contesting against SP’s Azam Khan in Rampur with the latter having served a 72-hour ban for controversial comments on his actor-turned-politician competitor. With mob-lynching and anti-incumbency influencing people’s mandate, BJP’s chances appear slim despite their landslide victory in the assembly polls in 2017. In Chhattisgarh, while BJP is all set to fight the anti-incumbency by removing all of its sitting MPs, it faces stiff competition from Congress owing to their recent victory in assembly polls and subsequent delivery of poll promises. The mood that marked Congress’s return to power after 15 years is likely to be carried over to the Lok Sabha polls. In West Bengal, a four-way competition between TMC, Congress, BJP and CPI will most probably split the results, though Congress and TMC are likely to share the spoils. In an ally-centric battle, Bihar will see BJP allies Janata Dal (United) (JDU) and Lok Janshakti Party (LJP) lock horns with Congress allies Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) and Vikasheel Insaan Party (VIP). Lower Assam’s 4 seats will be eyed by Congress and the All India United Democratic Front (AIUDF) with both seeking favour over their abject objection to BJP’s rigid stance on Citizenship Amendment Bill. In the militancy-hit region of Anantnag, the second part of the three-staged poll will be held with security measures beefed up due to volatile districts – Shopian, Anantnag, Kulgam and Pulwama – in the segment. Phase 3 will be crucial to the grand outcome and mandate will aptly reflect the underlying local issues. What is essential for today’s phase three is a greater voter turnout after Anantnag witnessed a comparatively low turnout with other states doing moderately better. It should not be forgotten than voter turnout can single-handedly change the narrative of mandate and hence it is important that every last citizen comes out to vote.
Disabled campaigners have welcomed the long-awaited publication of draft legislation to create Europe-wide access laws.The European Commission – the European Union’s executive body – finally published a European Accessibility Act this week, 15 years after promising to outlaw the discrimination faced by disabled people in accessing goods and services.It said the act would set “common accessibility requirements for certain key products and services”, including cashpoint machines and other banking services, personal computers, telephones and television equipment, telephony and audio-visual services, transport, e-books and e-commerce.The publication came the day before the UN’s International Day of Persons with Disabilities (3 December), which this year had a theme of “access and empowerment for people of all abilities”.The proposed European Accessibility Act would complement Britain’s own Equality Act by making existing voluntary European access standards mandatory across the European Union (EU).The act’s publication comes only two months after the United Nations said it was “concerned” that a European Accessibility Act had not yet been adopted by the EU, and gave it just 12 months to explain how it would be introduced.Yannis Vardakastanis (pictured), president of the European Disability Forum (EDF), said the act could “contribute to the empowerment of persons with disabilities to better enjoy the freedom of movement of persons, goods and services in the European single market”.He said the act had been a “top priority” for EDF and its members for many years, through its Freedom of Movement campaign.But he said it was too early to comment on the content of the act itself.He said: “In the coming weeks and months EDF and its members will work together with the EU institutions, partner organisations and other stakeholders to make this piece of legislation meaningful for 80 million people with disabilities in Europe.”The European Blind Union (EBU) also welcomed the act’s publication.Wolfgang Angermann, EBU’s president, said: “We have faced discrimination for long enough.“Along with our partners in the European Disability Forum, we will respond thoughtfully to the consultation which has just opened on this proposed legislation.“After that, we will be urging all those involved in the legislative process to ensure this new law is fully effective and thorough.”Marianne Thyssen, the EU’s commissioner for employment, social affairs, skills and labour mobility, said: “Disability should not be a barrier to full participation in society, nor should the lack of EU common rules be a barrier to cross-border trade in accessible products and services.“With this act, we want to deepen the internal market and use its potential for the benefit of both companies and citizens with disabilities. In fact, we all may benefit from it.”The commission believes the act will make it easier for companies that want to export goods and services within the EU, and will help small business “take full advantage of the EU market”, with disabled people benefiting from “a greater supply of accessible products and services at more competitive prices”.Without the act, each EU country would continue to develop different laws as they implemented their accessibility obligations under the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.Richard Howitt, the Labour MEP and co-president of the European Parliament’s all-party disability rights group, said European officials had “shamefully dragged their feet” on a promise made 15 years ago to outlaw disability discrimination in access to goods and services. Howitt, who played a key role in negotiating that promise in 2000, said it would have been long-forgotten if it had not been for “16 years of relentless campaigning by disabled people’s organisations”.Howitt said: “It is shameful how long disabled people have been forced to wait and the foot-dragging by anyone and everyone in Brussels has to stop right now.“Echoing the slogans of disability activists, this is much more a victory by rather than for disabled people themselves.“When I helped negotiate the EU law against disability discrimination in access to employment in 2000, the European Parliament was promised that action to outlaw the same discrimination in access to goods and services would soon follow.“Today, we are close to achieving what for many years has simply only been a dream and equality itself is finally being given equal treatment.”He added: “Although I am proud that Europe has made progress in the past on disability access rules in relation to the installation of lifts, for some public transport and on the internet, the bitter truth is that a large swathe of the built environment remains a ‘no go’ area for people with disabilities in Britain and in Europe.”There will now be a period of eight weeks’ consultation, followed by legislative procedures in the European Parliament and the Council of the European Union.