ECWere the first public sector cuts to the democratic process? - The Electoral Commission issued a statement last week on voting problems at the UK general election, which included the following: ‘It is a cause for serious concern that many people who wanted to vote were unable to do so by 10pm when polls closed. ……… By law, polls must close at 10pm and any voter issued with a ballot paper by 10pm should be allowed time to cast it, but no ballot paper should be issued after 10pm.  There should have been sufficient resources allocated to ensure that everyone who wished to vote was able to do so’.

The Electoral Commission, the independent elections watchdog, is calling for voters affected by problems at polling stations on Thursday to contact them to as part of a review of the issue.  The information will be used to inform a review on the queues that some voters experienced at polling stations, with reports of hundreds of voters unable to cast their ballots before polls closed at 10pm.
Press release ~ Related press release ~ Use EC online form to respond

EC:  How many voters per dwelling before automatic physical check? - Peter Wardle, Chief Executive of the Electoral Commission, has commented on reports in the media about allegations of voting fraud.  The changes to improve the safety of postal voting, since the last general election include:
* No one can apply for a postal vote without giving their signature & date of birth.  These are then checked before postal votes are counted.
* Electoral Registration Officers have got new powers to check applications for postal votes against other council records to ensure the applicant is genuine
* Every police force has a specialist in election issues who can ensure that concerns with the voting process are properly investigated

The Commission’s joint report with the police on the June 2009 elections in Great Britain showed they were free from major allegations of electoral fraud and no-one challenged the result of any elections on the grounds of malpractice.  Over 22m votes were case in those elections; there were a total of 48 cases of alleged malpractice, only half of which (24) required further action.
Press release ~ BBC: Postal vote fraud claims investigated ~ Sunday Times: 27 voters registered to London flat ~ Electoral Commission and police joint report on the 2009 elections ~ Electoral Commission Guidance on preventing & detecting electoral malpractice ~ Allegations of electoral malpractice at the May 2008 elections in England & Wales ~ Committee on Standards in Public Life - Eleventh Report ~ BBC News: Vote fraud 'undermines democracy'Response to Electoral Commission report on absent voting identifiers ~ Improving electoral integrity - Guidance ~ Review of Voting Systems: the experience of new voting systems in the United Kingdom since 1997 ~ Written Ministerial statement ~ Final Report of the Independent Commission to Review Britain's Experience of PR Voting Systems ~ Richard Commission in Wales ~  Final report of the Arbuthnott Commission on Boundary Differences and Voting Systems

Newswire – MaplecroftTime to invest in solar power rather than creating new islands, Harrods and hotels? - The long-term energy security of the oil rich OPEC nations has been brought into question by a new study which classifies the 8 Middle East members of the organisation (UAE, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Libya, Iraq, Algeria and Iran) as ‘high risk’ countries

9 countries are rated as ‘extreme risk’ for short term vulnerability to energy security risks including: Belarus, Italy, Rwanda, Cambodia, Moldova, Sierra Leone, Lithuania, Sao Tome & Principe and Jordan.

The Energy Security Risk Index, released by Maplecroft (a firm specialising in corporate risk intelligence) has been developed to pinpoint risks to supply chains, operations & investments in 212 countries.  The index is split into short-term & long-term assessments of energy security and has been designed to enable businesses & investors to isolate current & future risks.

Due to a lack of hydrocarbon resources & reserves and little, if any, diversification away from fossil fuel dependency, it is the small island nations which are most at risk in the long-term Energy Security Risk Index.  Of the 39 countries rated ‘extreme risk’, 33 are small island nations, with Singapore, Nauru, American Samoa, Guam and Netherlands Antilles considered most vulnerable.
Press release ~ Maplecroft ~ Ofgem: Sustainability ~ Project Discovery - Energy Market Scenarios ~ Energy Security: A national challenge in a changing world ~ UK Low Carbon Transition Plan ~ DECC: Security and resilience of domestic energy supply ~ 'Modelling a resilient UK energy system' ~ The Energy Markets Outlook ~ Joint Energy Security of Supply (JESS) working group report ~ National Grid ~ Energy Intensive Users Group ~ Oxford Institute for Energy Studies ~ Association of Electricity Producers ~ Beyond Copenhagen; The UK Government's International Climate Change Action Plan ~ Meeting the low carbon skills challenge: a consultation on equipping people with the skills to take advantage of opportunities in the low carbon and resource efficient economy ~ Carbon Reduction Delivery and Adaptation Plans ~ Next Generation – Skills for New Build Nuclear ~ Climate Change: Taking Action – Delivering the Low Carbon Transition Plan and preparing for a changing climate

Newswire – CAPerhaps the same could be said about some of UK public sector spending! - Donors such as the World Bank are spending $bns on projects whose effects on poverty & the environment are uncertain at best, warns a recent report. - Bottom Lines, Better Lives? - has been produced by Christian Aid in collaboration with the Bretton Woods Project (BWP),  ActionAid, Eurodad, Campagna per la riforma della Banca Mondiale and Third World Network

It raises serious questions over the ways that multilateral aid donors, including the World Bank Group, try to boost private companies in developing countries.  Jesse Griffiths, co-ordinator of the BWP, said: "Multilateral development banks’ funding of private companies has risen ten-fold, from around $4 billion a year in 1990 to more than $40 billion today. 

But their seeming inability to assess or prioritise the social, environmental and poverty reduction benefits of their investments means that it is difficult to see how these huge sums can be justified".

The report criticises 3 main aspects of multilateral development banks' (MDBs) operations: 
* Their approach is based on existing private finance approaches, emphasizing the importance of attracting foreign investment rather than developing the domestic economy
* Project selection, monitoring & evaluation techniques have tended to prioritise commercial rather than social or environmental returns
* The rapid growth of 'arms-length' investments in the financial sector, through financial intermediaries such as private banks and private equity firms, is a particular cause for concern.  The MDBs' failure to clearly define the development objectives of their investments is particularly worrying in this case, where operational decisions are delegated to financial intermediaries
Press release ~ Bottom Lines, Better Lives? ~ Bretton Woods Project ~ Christian Aid ~ ActionAid ~ Eurodad ~ Campagna per la riforma della Banca Mondiale ~ Third World Network ~ World Bank Group ~ NAO: Tackling Rural Poverty in developing countries ~ DFID - Millennium Development Goals | Poverty and Hunger ~ DFID - eliminating world poverty ~ United Nations’ Millennium Development Goals to halve poverty ~ Oxfam - Trade - The Rural Poverty Trap ~ International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) ~ Power and poverty: World Bank energy reforms and poor people ~ World Bank’s Investment Framework for Clean Energy and Development (CEIF) ~ ‘Cleaning’ energy (Bretton Woods Project) ~ Survival International: There you go! (click on the ‘spears’) ~ United Nations Research Institute for Social Development ~ Watch a video about the North-South Corridor on YouTube ~ North-South Corridor - International Financing Conference ~  DFID: Aid for Trade initiative ~ Common Market for East and Southern Africa (COMESA) ~  East African Community (EAC) ~ Southern African Development Community (SADC) ~ Death and taxes: the true toll of tax dodging ~ Global Trade Alert ~  World Bank - Trade Facilitation ~  Canadian Independent Development Research Centre ~  Centre for International Governance Innovation ~ How DFID fight Poverty - Health ~ Fighting food shortages – Hungry for Change ~ Department for International Development - Providing budget support to developing countries ~ DFID: UK Government White Paper on International Development

HL:  Something a multi-party government can agree on? - The Making Every Adult Matter coalition - formed of Homeless Link, Clinks, DrugScope and Mind - has been working with a range of partners on a new publication.  Hardest to Reach? – The politics of multiple needs and exclusions outlines what has been learnt in recent years about how best to support those who face a combination of problems at the same time and suggests that the government should now build on this learning with a multiple needs & exclusions Green Paper early in the new Parliament.
Press release ~ Hardest to Reach? – The politics of multiple needs and exclusions ~ MEAM website ~ Homeless Link

TS – AUKEverybody should know this - New data released by Asthma UK on World Asthma Day (4 May) suggests that 88% of UK adults would not be completely confident about what to do if a child with asthma in their care had an asthma attack.  The lack of public awareness about asthma was highlighted by the recent inquest into the death of 11 year old Samuel Linton, from Stockport, who was left in a corridor at school for several hours after suffering an asthma attack.
What to do:
* Get them to take their reliever inhaler (usually blue), immediately
* Sit them down and ensure that any tight clothing is loosened
* If there is no immediate improvement, continue to get them to take one puff of their reliever inhaler every minute for 5 minutes or until symptoms improve
* If their symptoms do not improve in this time – or you are in doubt – call 999 or a doctor urgently
* Continue to get them to take one puff of their reliever inhaler every minute until help arrives
Press release ~ Free Asthma Attack Cards ~ Be in Control: Personal Asthma Action Plan
Industry news: - Solving the Data Centre Challenge - A public sector perspective for driving efficiency for 2010 and beyond - As a new government is formed, public sector efficiency will remain top of the agenda. Data centres were already identified in the OEP as potential sources of major cost and energy savings. But with public spending under the spotlight and new carbon reduction legislation now in force, public sector IT decision makers are being forced to re-examine the way that data centre services are being delivered.

Register today for the Oracle + Sun Data Centre Roadshow – a Public Sector Perspective.  Filled with fresh insight, practical advice and cost-effective solutions, this special technology focused event will  to help you meet and manage all your data centre efficiency obligations and challenges.
Held at Old Trafford in Manchester; Emirates Stadium in London and Ibrox Stadium in Glasgow during June 2010, don’t miss this exclusive opportunity register your place today.

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