Most followed: Pubs still biting the (spit & saw) dust

Also covered: Google, internet scumware, South Western Trains and Mr Shoveller, accesso Technologies

The number of pubs closing each week is declining

Huzzah! The rate at which pubs are closing down in the UK has eased off.

Boo! Pubs were still closing at the rate of 27 a week in the second half of 2015, down from 29 a week in the first half of the year, according to a survey by CGA Strategy.

Predictably, pressure group the Campaign for Real Ale (Camra) is still not happy, though it claimed credit for slowing the rate at which boozers are biting the (spit and saw) dust.

“The latest figures show that the work of campaigners across Camra, the wider pub and beer industry and the government is taking effect and arresting the decline in the number of pubs being lost every week,” said Tim Page, chief executive of Camra.

Rapacious property developers must be weeping into their glasses of vintage Chateau Margaux at the success of Camra's campaign.

Industry web site The Drinks Business said it was particularly encouraging that the number of small community pubs closing each week had fallen from 26 a week to 20, though there must come a point when there aren't any community pubs left to close down.

One of the top trending subjects on the Google News web site this morning was … er … Google, and it wasn't for commentary of its morally dubious tax policies either.

The Financial Times reports that the money harvesting machine that is Google has put an artificial intelligence expert in charge of its search algorithms, signalling a sea change in one of the core technologies of the internet.

In other Google news, The Register claimed this morning that the search engine has taken aim at what the geeky news & comment site calls “internet scumware”.

According to Lucas Ballard, a software engineer at Google, the aim is to eliminate those dodgy embedded ads that get in your face claiming your PC is infected, or your programs are out of date or there seems to be something wrong with your tax return (Not sure about that last one – Ed.)

Google's Chrome browser will warn users of a “deceptive site ahead” when they click on download buttons on such ads.

This does not include those software packages that automatically assume you wish to also install Google Chrome unless you proactively choose not to.

Meanwhile, the Guardian reports that Google's experiments with self-driving cars is about to undergo one of its toughest tests yet: driving in the rain in the hilly Pacific Northwest.

Surely that cannot be more troublesome than the wrong type of leaf on the line … talking of which, and courtesy of Cheesy Links Ltd., First South Western Trains and current operator Stagecoach South West have been short-listed for the South Western rail franchise, which covers destinations such as London, Reading, Portsmouth and Exeter.

Stagecoach has operated the franchise since privatisation in 1996 and the Department for Transport had originally intended to offer Stagecoach an extension from 2017 to 2019, but changed its mind and opened it to competitive tender.

The managing director (MD) of South West Trains this morning claimed that privatisation of the railways had been a success but admitted that some trains are overcrowded.

The name of the South West Trains MD? Mr Shoveller. How appropriate.

Among small caps, today's glamour stock is Accesso Technology (LON:ACSO), the software company focused on queue-busting at theme parks and other busy entertainment centres.

The shares are up and private investors have made today's update one of the most widely-read news items on a well-known stock market news web site.

The company said performance for 2015 was “comfortably in line with expectations”, which is such an elegant phrase that I expect it to become a standby of regulatory news announcements in future.

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