ALISTAIR Rae (you may not have heard of him) recently finance director of Jarvis, the engineering group, has left the company, reportedly citing as his reason its move to a new HQ in York. It is closing its premises near the Barbican in London and keeping only a sort of pied--terre in the capital.

You will have heard of York, all of two hours - commuting time in the South - from King's Cross by GNER yet obviously beyond the edge of the known world. It's a beautiful and cultured university city, surrounded by equally beautiful countryside, where you can buy a sizeable house for less than a two-bed flat in a recently-gentrified London postcode - and it's probably quicker to get to Leeds Harvey Nicks than for most Londoners to reach their "local" HN.

But it's obviously too fatally north of the Wash'n'Bath line for job cred.

Slap in the face

Yorkshire Forward, the regional development agency for Yorkshire and the Humber, has made a reasonable fist of promoting the food and drink industry sectors in recent years.

We are not so sure about the Regional Food Group for Yorkshire and the Humber which now does that job on the regional development agency's behalf.

Last week the group announced that it was backing a new local food and drink festival in Ryedale to be held at the end of May.

What it didn't announce with such fanfair (understandably) was that it was effectively withdrawing support for the Dales Festival of Food and Drink in Leyburn held at the beginning of May.

We don't doubt that the Tadcaster-based RFG chiefs will argue that the Leyburn event has become so successful it doesn't need public funds to thrive and that what money it has must be spent on spreading the local produce message elsewhere.

But to offer no support whatsoever does seem a slap in the face for the Leyburn organisers who created the Dales festival before the RFG was even thought of.

The new townie

WITH all that discarded fast food lying around our town pavements, you'd think the sparrows would have a banquet every day, but spuggies are rarely to be seen nowadays.

Feral pigeons wander and peck as ever but, nipping in and out in its smart black and white outfit is a small, perky-tailed bird which, in the town centre streets round the D&S office, seems to have moved into the gap.

The pied wagtail is a proper townie now.