Bernadette Peters Fandom & More Learnings from Hello, Dolly!’s Victor Garber on Show People

first_imgAfter steering clear of performing in musicals for over a decade, Victor Garber is back on the Great White Way alongside Bernadette Peters in the hottest ticket in town. Currently making classic musical theater magic as the delightful curmudgeon Horace Vandergelder in Hello, Dolly!, Garber has won fans on both the stage and screen throughout his extensive career. Here’s what we learned from the incredible talent as he looked back on the Sugar Shoppe, Sweeney Todd, Assassins, Annie with Audra McDonald, Titanic and more on this week’s Show People with Paul Wontorek. Show Closed This production ended its run on Aug. 25, 2018 Related Shows View Comments Other must-read highlights:ON THE NEW STACHE“I wanted a period look. I’m sort of used to the mustache now. I kind of like it. It might last a little longer than the show. Though, every time I eat something, I now feel like I’m eating my mustache. I think, ‘Is there hair in my mouth? Yes, it’s my mustache.’”ON OVERCOMING SINGING FEARS“I’m singing again. I had sort of given up on singing completely. I just felt like I lost the ability to really sing the way I could hear myself. I couldn’t do it anymore. And then the great Joan Lader brought me back to Earth. I’m much better, and I feel much more confident.”ON HIS FANCY TALK SHOW HOST MOM“Her show was called At Home with Hope Garber. She was one of the worst housekeepers ever, admittedly so. Her cooking and cleaning sessions on the set were magnificent. She was a very glamorous and talented woman who was ahead of her time. She used to be a band singer before I was born. She continued to sing well into her later life. She was a celebrity. I grew up with her shining in our house.”ON COMING TO NEW YORK FOR THE FIRST TIME“It was for the Sugar Shoppe, to do Ed Sullivan. We stayed at the Edison Hotel, and I was afraid to leave the room. I was so scared. But then I fell in love with New York.”ON STEPHEN SONDHEIM DREAMS“Stephen Sondheim was one of the reasons that I came to New York. I would listen to Anyone Can Whistle in Toronto and would say to myself, ‘One day, I am going to meet him and work with him.’ Who knew?”ON USING SOCIAL MEDIA FOR THE GREATER GOOD“I have some problems with it, so I just don’t participate. I’m not on Facebook. I do have an Instagram account that I keep forgetting I have. But I use it to promote Type 1 Diabetes which I am and Alzheimer’s, which my parents had. I’m for causes and for raising awareness and money. Occasionally, I’ll post a picture that I think people would like. Of course, I talk about things that are meaningful to me. But my personal life is my personal life.”ON HIS ECLECTIC CAREER“My career is all over the map, and that’s, frankly, the most gratifying thing for me as an actor because I just set out to do as many different things as I could do. I love that that’s the way it is. My intention is just to find great roles and work with great people, and so far, I’ve been really lucky.”Watch the full episode of Show People with Paul Wontorek below! Victor Garber 1. HE’S JUST AS MUCH OF A BERNADETTE PETERS SUPER FAN AS YOU ARE“I’ve been a complete gushing fan for years, so this has been a dream for me to work with her in this capacity. She’s just remarkable to be on stage with. My role as an actor is to have chemistry with everybody—sometimes it’s more acting than not. With Bernadette, it was instant. In rehearsal, I just fell in love with her. It was so easy because she’s a remarkable person, an extraordinary talent and so generous. She never stops working to make something better. She’s still talking about moments that I’ve said, ‘It’s great! What are you talking about? It’s fine! Don’t worry about it!’ In the show as well, Dolly dictates everything even though Horace thinks he’s running the show. She is running everything. It’s so easy to look at her and say, ‘Wonderful woman’ because every night, I’m just amazed with what she does.”center_img 2. HE ONCE SKIPPED CLASS TO CATCH BABS ON HIS FAVE DAYTIME TALK SHOW“I once stayed home from school for a week because Barbra Streisand was on. Mike Douglas used to have guests on for a week. I was like, ‘I’m not leaving this room!’ because I was just obsessed with her, like everybody was.” Star Files Interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.Did you know Show People is available as a podcast? Listen to your favorite stars talk Broadway and beyond on your way to work, the gym, the theater and more on iTunes and Spotify. 3. HE KNEW SOMETHING DIVINE WAS BREWING DURING GODSPELL“I was cast as Jesus, and it was Marty Short and Gilda Radner and Andrea Martin and Eugene Levy and Paul Shaffer was the musical director, people I’m still very close to. It was just a bunch of nutty kids. I remember thinking at the time that I was surrounded by some extraordinarily talented and funny people. I mean, Gilda Radner—before she was Gilda Radner, she was this hilarious girl. You realized, ‘Oh, this is special.’” Hello, Dolly!last_img read more

La Fausto Coppi joins new Campionissimi delle Granfondo initiative in Italy

first_imgThe International gran fondo La Fausto Coppi Officine Mattio will be part of a new challenge, created by ciclocircuiti.it, which celebrates pro cycling icons such as Coppi, Merckx and Gimondi. Starting in 2020, the event in Cuneo, in northwest Italy, is joining the new three-event ‘Campionissimi delle Granfondo’ circuit (Great Champions of the Granfondo).The La Fausto Coppi event team noted that the event has.. ‘gladly joined the project, which aims to reward not agonism, but the spirit of participation… In fact, there is no final classification; to reward the feat of those who will finish the long stages of the competitions, a celebrative garment will be assigned.’To participate in the Campionissimi delle Granfondo initiative, riders activate a subscription to the challenge. This offers a discount in comparison to the sum of the individual entries. By activating three event registrations through the ciclocircuiti.it website, riders pay a total of €100. This triggers a saving of €50, given that the average registration fee for a single event is €50.In order to complete the three-event challenge, only the longest route of the three events will be taken into consideration. With its 4,125m elevation, La Fausto Coppi Officine Mattio is the toughest event of the circuit, which adds Alpine scenery to the other two events.Campionissimi delle Granfondo events10 May 2020 – Gimondi in Bergamo7 June 2020 – Alé La Merckx in Verona28 June 2020 – La Fausto Coppi in Cuneowww.ciclocircuiti.itwww.faustocoppi.net Relatedlast_img read more

Willow Ridge West senior living project gets excise tax abatement from Shawnee city council

first_imgA rendering of the proposed Calamar Willow Ridge senior living facility.By Jerry LaMartinaThe Shawnee City Council approved the final plat and an excise tax abatement for Willow Ridge West, a subdivision of the Calamar Willow Ridge project in the 7200 block of Silverheel Street.The council approved the final plat as part of its consent agenda and unanimously approved the excise tax abatement as part of its public items for consideration at its Monday night meeting. The council had approved rezoning and a preliminary development plan for the proposed $15 million, 132-unit senior independent living housing development at its Oct. 23 meeting.The estimated excise tax for the development is nearly $83,900, according to the Planning Commission’s Nov. 6 meeting minutes.The developer, Calamar Enterprises, proposes to build a 150,282-square-foot, three-story building on a 6.93-acre lot, with roughly 1.6 additional acres for storm water detention and another 2.6-acre undeveloped lot that the developer expects will be rezoned and developed with an office or commercial use at some time in the future.The independent living, age-restricted senior apartment building would include a mix of market-rate units: one-bedroom, two bedrooms with one bathroom, and two-bedrooms with one and a half bathrooms. Rents would range from about $950 to about $1,250.The units would range from 638 square feet to 889 square feet. Each unit would have appliances, including a washer and dryer; a kitchen pantry; big closets; individually controlled HVAC systems; and a personal patio or balcony.The company expects to start construction soon, after obtaining all necessary approvals, and complete the project by late 2018.At its Oct. 2 meeting, the Planning Commission unanimously recommended that the council approve the rezoning request and the preliminary development plan for the project. According to the meeting’s minutes, the property had been identified since 2011 as a potential location for multifamily development, despite that the city’s land-use guide, part of its comprehensive plan, had categorized it as appropriate for office and commercial uses.Earlier versions of the land-use guide had said the site was appropriate for high-density residential use.The city recently revised its comprehensive plan to increase allowed density for senior living facilities. It defines medium-density residential as 5.01 to 10 dwelling units per acre. A senior living facility may have a density as high as 21.78 dwelling units per acre. As proposed, Calamar Willow Ridge would have 17.5 dwelling units per acre.“This location provides a good transition between K-7 Highway and the less dense multi-family residential uses within the Willow Ridge subdivision to the east,” according to the meeting’s minutes.Calamar is a real estate company with construction, development, property management and finance and investment divisions for commercial and large-scale residential properties in the Northeast and Midwest. The company is based in Wheatfield, N.Y., and has offices in Omaha; Boston; Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario; and Toronto.last_img read more

Citing lack of interest, developer drops plans for new hotel on Shawnee Mission Parkway

first_imgThe developer behind the Metcalf Crossing project said it will not pursue a hotel on the site.The developer behind the Metcalf Crossing project that will replace the blighted Ramada Inn and Knights Inn at Shawnee Mission Parkway and Metcalf told the Overland Park Planning Commission Monday that they had not been able to find a new hotel operator for the site.Attorney Korb Maxwell speaking on behalf of developer Sky Real Estate said that after considerable effort, the company had determined that it was best to abandon the initial plans to include a new hotel as part of the redevelopment project.“We thought that this was a hotel site. We went out and we had early indication from some of the hotel chains and franchisees and franchisors out there that this could work for a hotel site,” Maxwell told the planning commission. “But after substantial work by Wes Grammer, the developer for the site, and working every one of the significant hotel chains, and many different franchisees, we could not come to a hotel deal.”Instead, Sky has submitted a new preliminary site plan for the 5 acres of land that includes a single story office building on the western portion of the property where the hotel had initially be envisioned. Here’s an elevation drawing of that proposed building that was included in Monday’s commission packet:Maxwell said the developer did not have a confirmed use or tenant for the new office building yet, but that they felt it was important to move on from the hotel concept.The Ramada and Knights Inn had long been a point of contention for the surrounding homeowners and city officials, who witnessed the properties become the subject of frequent calls to the police to respond to crimes.“The single greatest concern I think this commission heard, the council heard, from the neighbors and others as we were in this process was they were concerned about the hotel,” Maxwell said. “Because they wanted it to be a hotel of quality given what the hotels that have been there did to their quality of life for so many years.”The updated plans submitted Monday also included a change to the planned self storage facility on the site, which will now include a basement.Sky’s initial timeline for the project suggested the self storage facility would be completed by the end of 2020.last_img read more

Metsger releases budget remarks

first_img ShareShareSharePrintMailGooglePinterestDiggRedditStumbleuponDeliciousBufferTumblr by: Heather AndersonThank you Chairman Matz.  I want to begin by expressing my appreciation to OCFO Director Mary Anne Woodson for her dedicated service to this agency.While I know she leaves us in very capable hands, we will miss her both personally and professionally.I have been constantly amazed at Mary Ann’s command of detail and her ability to understand both the big picture and the individual line items of our budget. continue reading »last_img read more

When Is an Educational App Classroom Worthy?

first_imgEducation Week:There are over 80,000 apps in the Apple store marked as “educational.” The ed-tech marketplace sometimes feels like the Wild West with no regulations or testing required for an application to be deemed appropriate for the classroom. So how should educators and schools distinguish quality applications from those that are subpar?Websites such as LearnTrials and edshelf can help educators assess the pedagogical effectiveness of an ed-tech tool. (For specific examples of top ed-tech tools recommended by teacher experts, see our earlier post.)Read the whole story: Education Week More of our Members in the Media >last_img read more

FBI: Man Charged With Allegedly Posting Facebook Messages Threatening To Kill Governor, Law Enforcement Officers

first_imgFBI News:ALBUQUERQUE – Daniel Mock, 33, of Albuquerque appeared today in federal court in Albuquerque for an initial appearance on a criminal complaint charging him with posting messages on Facebook threatening to kill New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham and law enforcement officers, in violation of federal law.The criminal complaint charges Mock with allegedly transmitting threatening communications in interstate or foreign commerce. According to the complaint, Mock allegedly posted threatening messages March 2 and March 13 to the governor’s Facebook page.Mock is in custody pending a detention hearing Friday. He faces up to five years in prison if convicted of this offense. A criminal complaint is only an accusation. A defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.The FBI investigated this case with the U.S. Marshals Service, the New Mexico State Police and the Albuquerque Police Department. Assistant U.S. Attorney Jaymie L. Roybal is prosecuting the case.daniel_mock_comp_cmecf.pdflast_img read more

Chevron Starts Auction of Royalty Interest

first_imgTEL Offshore Trust announced that Chevron U.S.A. Inc., as the managing general partner of the TEL Offshore Trust Partnership, has commenced a formal auction process for the sale by the Partnership of its overriding royalty interest, or “Royalty,” equivalent to a 20% net profits interest, in certain oil and gas properties located offshore Louisiana. The principal asset of the Trust consists of a 99.99% interest in the Partnership. In turn, the principal asset of the Partnership is the Royalty. The Trust’s source of capital is the Trust’s share of the net proceeds from the Royalty Properties under the terms of the Royalty.On October 7, 2008, the Trust announced that production from the two most significant Royalty Properties had ceased following damage inflicted by Hurricane Ike in September 2008. The Trust has not received a distribution associated with net proceeds from the Royalty since December 2008. Consequently, the Trust has not been able to make a distribution to holders of Trust units since January 9, 2009.The platforms and wells on Eugene Island 339 were completely destroyed by Hurricane Ike. Chevron has completed the work required to clear the remaining infrastructure and abandon existing wells, with estimated costs to the Royalty relating thereto of approximately $19.8 million, approximately $19.76 million of which had been incurred through April 30, 2013. In December 2009, Chevron entered into a participation agreement with Arena Offshore, LP (“Arena”) to assist in the redevelopment as a farmout of portions of Eugene Island 338 and 339. The redevelopment plan provided that three wells were to be drilled from a common open water location in Eugene Island 338 in the second quarter of 2010. The first well was drilled in 2010 but drilling activity was suspended in July 2010. Chevron and Arena revised and amended the participation agreement (as amended, the “Arena Agreement”) in response to the Notice to Lessees No. 2010-N05, “Increased Safety Measures for Energy Development on the OCS,” and the revised redevelopment plan provided for setting a platform at Eugene Island 338 and drilling wells into Eugene Island 338 and Eugene Island 339 from the platform. Pursuant to the terms of the Arena Agreement, Arena could earn an assignment of 65% of Chevron’s working interests in Eugene Island 338 and Eugene Island 339 following completion of certain drilling and development operations. Following completion of the first well on Eugene Island 339 by Arena and other drilling and development operations in the fourth quarter of 2012, Chevron assigned 65% of Chevron’s working interests in Eugene Island 338 and Eugene Island 339 to Arena, effective as of December 15, 2009, the effective date of the Arena Agreement. In accordance with the Arena Agreement, the working interest assigned to Arena is not burdened by the Royalty, and the Royalty held by the Partnership with respect to such properties had been reduced proportionately. As a result of such assignment, the Royalty held by the Partnership on Eugene Island 339 has been reduced by 65%.Production at Ship Shoal 182/183 ceased following damage inflicted by Hurricane Ike in September 2008. While the hurricane caused limited surface damage to the facilities at Ship Shoal 182/183, all of the wells at Ship Shoal 182/183 were shut-in following hurricane-related damage to a third-party transporter’s natural gas pipeline. The third-party transporter’s natural gas pipeline repairs were completed and gas sales at Ship Shoal 182/183 were restored on June 26, 2009. However, the pipeline was shut down in mid-September 2009 for additional repairs. Production sales for both oil and natural gas at Ship Shoal 182 and 183 were restored on October 8, 2009 following completion of such additional repairs. Production ceased at Ship Shoal 182/183 in late March 2010 due to a leak in the oil pipeline that services Ship Shoal 182/183. Such pipeline was repaired and Ship Shoal 182/183 was reopened on May 1, 2010 after a 36-day shut-in. In November 2010, the platform at Ship Shoal 182/183 was shut-in for tank replacement and production has slowly returned thereafter. Production was shut-in on multiple occasions during 2012 for various facility improvement projects during which time production was temporarily impacted.Total future net revenues attributable to the Partnership’s interest in the Royalty were estimated at $14.5 million as of October 31, 2012. However, there are not likely to be distributable net proceeds from the Royalty Properties for the foreseeable future. Because of the lack of receipt of net proceeds, the Trust has in the past not had sufficient cash flow to pay expenses on a current basis and does not currently expect to have sufficient cash flow to pay expenses on a current basis.On March 11, 2011, the trustees of the Trust (the “Trustees”) provided written notice to Chevron that, pursuant to the Trust’s trust agreement, the Trust needed funds to pay for liabilities of the Trust and that the Trustees therefore instructed Chevron, as the managing general partner of the Partnership, to sell such portion, and only such portion, of the Royalty that would provide the Trust with a current distribution equal to $2,000,000 from the proceeds of such sale.On October 27, 2011, the Trust issued a press release announcing that the Partnership had consummated the sale of 20% of the Royalty to RNR Production, Land and Cattle Company, Inc. (“RNR Production”). The sale generated $1,600,000 in gross proceeds and occurred as part of a formal auction process for the Royalty. The Trust received from the Partnership a distribution of approximately $1,485,851, representing 99.99% of the net proceeds from the sale of $1,486,000. The Trust used such net proceeds solely for the payment of expenses of the Trust.On July 11, 2012, the Trustees provided written notice to Chevron that, pursuant to the Trust’s trust agreement, the Trust needed funds to pay for liabilities of the Trust and that the Trustees therefore instructed Chevron, as the managing general partner of the Partnership, to sell a portion of the Royalty so that the Trust will have sufficient funds to pay its liabilities. The Trustees initially contacted RNR Production to determine its interest in purchasing the additional five percent (5%) of the Royalty pursuant to the Option Agreement entered into between the Partnership and RNR Production in connection with the Partnership’s previous sale of 20% of the Royalty to RNR Production. After RNR Production indicated that it was not interested in purchasing an additional part of the Royalty pursuant to the Option Agreement, the Trustees, by letter dated October 16, 2012, provided written notice to Chevron to proceed with an alternative sale process to sell such portion, and only such portion, of the Royalty that would provide the Trust with a current distribution equal to $1,000,000 from the proceeds of such sale. Based on a recommendation from Chevron, as the managing general partner of the Partnership, Chevron marketed for sale by the Partnership the entire Royalty; however, the Trust reserved the right to sell only a portion of the Royalty. Also based on a recommendation from Chevron, Chevron engaged EnergyNet to conduct the marketing process and related auction of the Royalty. EnergyNet handled the Partnership’s sale of a portion of the Royalty to RNR Production in 2011. In December 2012 following the due date for any bids for the purchase of the Royalty, the Trustees instructed Chevron to delay any further action with respect to the proposed sale by the Partnership of the Royalty.On May 23, 2013, the Trust executed a demand promissory note for $300,000 payable to The Bank of New York Mellon, N.A., an affiliate of The Bank of New York Mellon Trust Company, N.A., acting as lender. The promissory note evidences an extension of credit for borrowed money authorized under Section 6.08 of the Trust’s trust agreement. The promissory note is due and payable in cash on the earliest to occur of (i) the date written demand for payment is made by The Bank of New York Mellon, N.A. or (ii) May 23, 2014. The promissory note accrues interest at a rate per annum equal to one-half percent (0.5%). Proceeds from the promissory note have been, and will continue to be, used solely for the payment of expenses of the Trust and no distributions will be made to Trust unitholders until the promissory note has been repaid in full.Based on the continuing expenses of the Trust and the lack of any distributions and any assurances as to the actual timing of any future distributions, on July 12, 2013, the Trustees provided written notice to Chevron that, pursuant to the Trust’s trust agreement, the Trust needed funds to pay for liabilities of the Trust and that the Trustees therefore instructed Chevron, as the managing general partner of the Partnership, to sell a portion of the Royalty, and only such portion, that will provide the Trust with a current distribution equal to $1,000,000 from the proceeds of such sale. Based on a recommendation from Chevron, as the managing general partner of the Partnership, Chevron is marketing for sale by the Partnership the entire Royalty; however, the Trust has reserved the right and expects to sell only a portion of the Royalty. Also based on a recommendation from Chevron, Chevron has again engaged EnergyNet to conduct the marketing process and related auction of the Royalty. The Trustees are in ongoing discussions with Chevron regarding the sales process. There can be no assurance that such a sale of interests in the Royalty will be consummated, or as to the terms, conditions and timing of such a sale of interests in the Royalty. In addition, there is no assurance that the proceeds, if any, from any such sale of interests in the Royalty will be sufficient to fund the continuing expenses of the Trust and the Trustees will continue to evaluate all other options available for the Trust.[mappress]September 2, 2013last_img read more

Groundbreaking Ceremony for Maritime Link Project

first_imgThe governments of Nova Scotia and Newfoundland and Labrador and NSP Maritime Link Inc., a subsidiary of Emera, participated in a ground-breaking ceremony at the Bottom Brook construction site in Newfoundland and Labrador to recognize the start of construction of the Maritime Link Project.Nova Scotia Energy Minister, Andrew Younger, Newfoundland and Labrador’s Minister of Natural Resources, Derrick Dalley, and President and CEO of Emera, Chris Huskilson, attended the ground-breaking ceremony, and also signed an Industrial and Employment Benefits agreement for the Maritime Link Project. This agreement is based on the terms outlined by the interprovincial Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) that was signed by the provinces in late 2011.“This project creates an important link in our region, bringing clean, renewable energy to Nova Scotia, as well as local economic opportunities,” said Minister Younger. “We’re already seeing a number of Nova Scotia companies actively working on this significant infrastructure project with even more opportunities coming as the project ramps up next year.”With a total estimated cost of $1.577 billion, the Maritime Link Project is expected to create an average of 300 jobs per year between both provinces during the construction period. Employment is expected to peak at 600 in 2016. Approximately 200 people are currently working on the project between provinces and local companies in Nova Scotia and Newfoundland and Labrador are working on a number of aspects of the project.“Today represents another important milestone for the Lower Churchill Project,” said Minister Dalley. “This agreement ensures significant benefits for the people and businesses of our province and the region. With this agreement now finalized, benefits during the construction phase of the Maritime Link Project are secured for Newfoundlanders and Labradorians.”The agreement includes commitments to the following:Equal opportunities for Nova Scotia and Newfoundland and Labrador businesses and residents.A fair, open and transparent procurement and contracting process for suppliers and contractors in both provinces.Funding for training and development positions that align with the specialized nature of the Maritime Link Project.Educational sponsorships to be allocated between universities in Nova Scotia and Newfoundland and Labrador to support Maritime Link related technologies.Tracking and reporting updates of data related to economic and employment benefits for both provinces.“Today’s agreement ensures that businesses and residents in both provinces are treated equally and fairly when it comes to economic opportunities resulting from the Maritime Link Project,” said Chris Huskilson, President and CEO of Emera. “To date more than $100 million has been awarded to local companies in Nova Scotia and Newfoundland and Labrador and we are just getting started.”[mappress mapid=”14878″]Press release; Image: emeranllast_img read more

Aftermath of panel reviews

first_img APPEALS PROCESS Benchmarking quality Lloyds Banking Group Panel and vetting process managed by external supplier (including site visit to firm)CQS not a passport to membershipNo minimum partner requirements Yes No fee PANEL PROCEDURE It is said that there are more questions on the application form to be a member of a lender’s conveyancing panel than there are to join MI5. Whether or not that is true, it is clear that if you want to do a good job for your homebuying clients, and act for lenders as well as your clients in any conveyancing transaction, chances are you will have to go through onerous vetting procedures now required by banks and building societies to be on their panels of approved solicitors. Not only that, but you will have to go through different procedures for each lender. And if your firm has more than one branch, each office could be separately vetted, requiring you to upload certified documents, fill in questionnaires and be (personally) credit-checked. As one practitioner tells the Gazette: ‘Any solicitor will tell you that panel membership is an administrative nightmare.’ The only consolation is that the situation was even worse for conveyancing solicitors a few months ago. Since then, following negotiation with the Law Society and negative publicity concerning the effect of restricted panels on consumers, there have been some concessions by lenders. There is, however, still work to be done to improve the panel process for firms, to make it more open and transparent, and to try and consolidate the systems to everyone’s benefit. The increased scrutiny by lenders of the solicitors’ firms which represent them in mortgage activities is indicative of a housing market which has been scarred by the global financial crisis. Financial transactions across all sectors are more tightly monitored and the risks more acutely managed. It is no surprise that the UK housing sector should feel the effects. Lenders were also motivated to introduce new risk-management processes in the face of potential regulatory criticism or, possibly, enforcement action, following a Financial Services Authority report published in 2011. The report focused on lenders’ controls to prevent mortgage fraud. It stated that ‘lenders [have] some way to go to contain the threat of mortgage fraud’, and analysed the various areas of risk where lenders’ processes were not sufficiently robust, one of which was in their interaction with solicitors. But solicitors’ firms appear to have suffered disproportionately as a result. The FSA report did not highlight solicitors as a risk priority, only that, as a third party alongside brokers and valuers, they should be scrutinised properly. But many solicitors agree that the open panel process which existed before had led to anomalies and needed streamlining (many firms on the lists simply did not exist and the lists were purported to have more than 20,000 firm names on them). Solicitors have been a soft target in the view of many. Jonathan Smithers, a partner at Tunbridge Wells-based CooperBurnett and chairman of the conveyancing and land law committee at the Law Society, says: ‘It is all too easy to lay the blame at the door of solicitors. For instance, it is well known that a lot of mortgage fraud is to do with what is on the mortgage application forms, and that has got nothing to do with solicitors.’ In any event, some lenders did overhaul their panels by removing firms and introducing extensive application procedures to get on to – or to get back on to – a panel. The Law Society’s practice advice line was inundated by calls from concerned firms (as many as 80 calls a week at one stage) highlighting the fact that they had received no warning that they were being removed nor the reason for it. Also, the mode of delivery was often abrupt or peremptory. One conveyancing solicitor, who wishes to remain anonymous, tells the Gazette that he applied for a redemption statement from a lender for a client as part of the mortgage process. The document he got back from the lender simply had a note at the bottom stating that the firm had been removed from its panel. Stanley Jacobs, a sole practitioner in north London, was informed by Santander that if he wanted to be on that lender’s panel he had to pay a direct debit subscription as part of its annual review. He paid his fee to Santander, but a few months later was told that he was being removed from the panel. He complained but his appeal was turned down. Jacobs is now suing the bank for the fee – amounting to £118.80 – on the grounds of alleged unjust enrichment. As the situation unravelled for so many firms, two things happened. The Law Society stepped in and began intense negotiations with the lenders. At the same time, there was negative publicity in the national media about how the situation was affecting consumer choice: there were stories of how restricted panels could reduce the options for homebuyers in less well-represented rural areas, as well as headlines on how it could double costs by forcing borrowers to have separate representation. This coverage was peppered with real-life stories of chaos ensuing where solicitors had discovered half-way into a transaction that they were no longer able to act for the lender, resulting in delayed purchases and increased costs for everyone involved. Negotiations with the Law Society bore fruit. One way out of the problem was beginning to emerge; the Society’s accreditation hallmark, the Conveyancing Quality Scheme (CQS). Though critics have argued that the Law Society brand should be sufficient proof of a firm’s legitimacy, the CQS was a way of meeting the lenders half-way to create a so-called ‘trusted community’ which could meet the specific and tough standards required by lenders in a risk-sensitive mortgage market. Or as Paul Marsh, former president of the Law Society, now with his own Surrey practice, Downs, puts it: ‘Certainly, the panels of the boom years were out of control; the system was not robust enough. There was too much money at stake and something had to be done. But we all needed to work together on this. The CQS is the first step towards that.’ The scheme gained credibility with lenders and momentum with firms by increasing its membership (it now has 1,800 members and 400 pending applications), which in turn helped it become a possible solution. During the course of 2012, lenders such as HSBC and Santander made concessions and now accept CQS-accredited firms. However, lenders take care to emphasise that CQS accreditation does not give firms an absolute right to be on a panel, because ultimately that decision rests with the lenders. The story so far Full screen HSBC Three different panel options:1. Panel managed by Countrywide. Not closed panel and others can join2. Panel of CQS-accredited firms but maximum transaction value of £150,000 for sole practitioners3. Borrower can choose any firm (i.e. that does not fall into 1 or 2) but separate representation No If a firm is on HSBC’s restricted panel, then there is a management fee as part of the fixed fee charged by firms to clients which the firm is then required to pass on to the panel manager Nationwide Assessment process (CQS not a passport)No minimum partner requirements Yes, but need to be CQS- accredited to bring an appeal No feecenter_img Santander Online form/vetting process managed by third partyCQS requirement (from March 2013 for existing panel members and now for new members) No minimum partner requirements Yes Application fee of £199Annual compliance fee of £99The fee does not guarantee a firm a panel place Chancery Lane stresses that the Conveyancing Quality Scheme (CQS) provides a recognised quality standard for residential conveyancing practices. Achieving membership establishes a level of credibility for member firms with stakeholders (regulators, lenders, insurers and consumers) based upon:the integrity of the senior responsible officer and other key conveyancing staff;the firm’s adherence to good practice management standards; andadherence to prudent and efficient conveyancing procedures through the scheme protocol.The scheme ‘creates a trusted community which will deter fraud’. For more information see the Law Society website. As it stands now, firms know a lot more about lenders’ panel practices. Some lenders have yet to take up the CQS. Lloyds Banking Group, with a panel of about 4,000 members, has its own vetting process. A group spokesperson explains: ‘Our approach over the past year has been to surgically vet all panel firms and remove only those that we have deemed high-risk or which refuse to participate in the process as a result. This vetting process led to a reduction in panel size of a very few per cent.’ Royal Bank of Scotland also follows its own process and says it applies ‘criteria and procedures internally to establish who [we] conduct business with’. What is clear is that panel management is not static. Lenders are reviewing panels on an ongoing basis. Nationwide, which has a similar number of firms on its panel to Lloyds, says it ‘constantly reviews [its] panel’. Similarly, Yorkshire Building Society says that ‘the panel status of existing member firms is periodically reviewed against… criteria’. Looking ahead, the Law Society continues to be in dialogue with all lenders. It appears that lenders also recognise the importance of that dialogue; RBS says it ‘works closely with the Council of Mortgage Lenders, The Law Society and the Solicitors Regulation Authority’. Certainly, there are still issues that need to be ironed out. One of the biggest problems is the disproportionate impact which the tight management of panels could have on sole practitioners. There is a perception among lenders that firms with one or a few partners pose a greater risk; so some lenders impose direct or indirect obstacles for very small firms. For instance, Nationwide says that although it does not have a requirement for a minimum number of partners for a firm to be on its panel, it does ‘remain concerned and vigilant that in some cases there are more limited recovery options when losses occur due to solicitor negligence in smaller firms’. Solicitors argue that sole practitioners are not a greater risk. Marsh says: ‘Whether you are a robust and well-managed firm has got nothing to do with size.’ A linked problem is that posed by lenders imposing minimum volume requirements. Lloyds, which does not have a requirement for a minimum number of partners, does review the number of transactions a firm has done over a given period. A spokesperson argues: ‘We know that firms that regularly transact with the group’s brands are more familiar with our processes, policies and requirements, which benefits the group and its customers. We do regularly review the position of some firms that represent us very infrequently.’ Nationwide expects panel firms to be ‘active in the market’, which it defines as ‘three Nationwide mortgage cases in the past 12 months’. But practitioners argue that volume is not within a firm’s gift and often the lender does not take into account other mortgages with other lenders with which a firm may have dealt. Nationwide does concede that the criteria could be unfair on particular homebuyers and so makes exceptions ‘for rural constituencies, specific markets or where market volumes are high but Nationwide cases are low’. Then there is the application process itself. Lenders do have appeals processes, but one issue which has arisen is whether a firm can remain on the panel pending an appeal. One solicitor tells the Gazette about a firm they knew which had been taken off a panel and entered an appeal. During the appeals process the firm was not reinstated and so lost the business. The client’s purchase was in disarray; the damage was done. Two overriding concerns remain. First, that firms remain in the dark about what lenders’ criteria are for deciding on panels. As Smithers says: ‘Every lender is entitled to construct a panel of its own choosing, but we would like to see an open and transparent process.’ Second, there are just too many different systems at play and a simplified process would benefit solicitors, lenders and homebuyers. One way to achieve this would be through the CQS. Denis Stevenson, managing director of Rowlinsons, says: ‘A uniform system whereby solicitors can provide the information to all lenders in one go would benefit everyone. The CQS has already collated that data and I see it as providing the basis for lenders to access all the information they need about solicitors.’ Continuing to get the message across to homebuyers that a fair and functioning panel process is good for them will also help conveyancing firms. They could do worse than remind consumers of what Smithers believes is a truly remarkable house-buying process: ‘The conveyancing market is very sophisticated and, considering the millions of transactions involved, runs extremely well indeed. Most of it is based on, and made possible by, honest, hard-working solicitors who rely on undertakings with each other so that money flows very efficiently and, for the borrower, incredibly cheaply. Let’s not undermine that and let’s not forget.’ Polly Botsford is a freelance journalist LENDER FEElast_img read more