ASIA fast way to waste public money - In a report released last week, the Adam Smith Institute ‘exposes’ the weaknesses in arguments for High Speed 2 and argues that the case for the project is fundamentally flawed.  Their research reveals the huge cost of HS2 to the taxpayer and suggests that many of the uptake projections are ‘overoptimistic’.  

Looking at HS1 (London to the Channel Tunnel) and international examples, the report claims that it ‘is clear HS2 will not make enough revenue to cover operational & construction costs and will bring very few tangible benefits’.

Looking at Europe ‘we see that nearly all high-speed rail projects are subsidised’.  The TGV in France has caused SNCF’s debt to rise to c£25bn.  The World Bank warned in 2010 of the debt created by high speed rail systems talking of the ‘near certainty of copious and continuing budget support for the (high speed rail) debt’.
Press release ~ High speed fail: Assessing the case for High Speed 2 ~ iea: High Speed 2 - the next government project disaster?  ~ DfT: HS Rail ~ High Speed Two Ltd (HS2) ~ Network Rail ~ Rail transport: The sustainable alternative for air travel in Europe ~ Energy Efficiency Technologies for Railways ~ ICE report - The Missing Link - High Speed rail UK ~ Stop HS2 ~ HS2 Action Alliance ~ Review of the business case for HS2 ~ Transport Watch UK ~ TWUK - HSR ~ nef: Response to HS2 consultation ~ Welsh Secretary joins First Great Western’s record breaking attempt between Cardiff & London ~ Debate: High Speed Rail ~ Is High-Speed Rail Worth Its Cost? ~ Economic Impact of High Speed 1 - Final report ~ HoC Briefing: Railways - Channel Tunnel Rail Link (HS1)

:  Planning for a dangerous & unstable world - The UK can no longer make effective national defence strategy as it once did, and the National Security Council (NSC) currently lacks the method & institutional frame to address future security threats, warns a new paper published by the Royal United Services Institute (RUSI) in partnership with the new Humanities Research Institute (HRI) at the University of Buckingham.

In the 'The British Way of Strategy-Making: Vital Lessons For Our Times' the author argues that muddling of military & civilian roles in the higher management of defence has increasingly blurred a correct & precise understanding of the different but complementary roles of grand strategy, operational strategy & government policy.  The progressive loss of clarity during the post-war years has led to the present day malaise.

Reflecting on the damning verdicts on the 2010 Strategic Defence and Security Review and National Security Strategy from the House of Commons' Public Administration and Defence Select Committees, he suggests the NSC does not yet have established suitable methods for analysis to provide our security in the face of epic geopolitical uncertainties.
Press release ~ The British Way of Strategy-Making; Vital Lessons For Our Times ~ National Security Strategy ~ MoD: Strategic Defence and Security Review (SDSR) ~ Defence Select Committee publications ~ Chatham House: UK Foreign Policy Goals Cannot Be Achieved by Military Power Alone ~ RUSI: The Defence Reform Agenda ~ Future Reserves 2020 Study (FR20) Final Report ~ RUSI: Ministry of Defence Needs Revolutionary Reform to Manage Cuts ~ BAE: Global Combat Ship ~ RUSI - Type 26: A Global Role for the Global Combat Ship ~ MOD launches Building Stability Overseas Strategy ~ Unbalancing the Force: Prospects for UK Defence After the SDSR ~ RUSI: Future Defence Review ~ Entente or Oblivion: Prospects and Pitfalls of France-British Co-operation on Defence ~ RUSI: Restructuring Europe’s Armed Forces in Times of Austerity ~ Companion study ~ RUSI: The Defence and Security Review SurveyNo Shortcut to Stability: Justice, Politics and Insurgency in Afghanistan ~ CH: UK Security & Defence – Rapporteur reports: ~ Strategic Communications and National Strategy ~ Foreign Policy in an Age of Uncertainty ~ Cultural Dialogue in International Security: New Thinking for Europe and America ~ CH: On Cyber Warfare ~ NAO: Carrier Strike ~ UK cost-cutting review shrinks military capacity ~ Future Character of Conflict ~ PX: Upgrading Our Armed Forces ~ IISS Experts' Commentary - Intelligence assumes a front-line position in SDSR (see also links to other articles

:  ‘A place of safety’ can be a relative term - Ofsted has published 2 reports which highlight the vulnerability of teenagers in the child protection system:
* One describes the success that some local authorities have had in improving outcomes for these young people, by supporting them to remain living successfully at home rather than bringing them into care
* The other highlights key practice issues in the protection of young people as well as babies under one, who remain one of most vulnerable groups of all
Press release & links ~ Social care inspection: the children's audit ~ Good practice by Local Safeguarding Children Boards ~ The framework for inspecting boarding and residential provision in schools ~ Munro Review ~ Messages for Munro ~ Young People’s Guide to the Munro Review report ~ Children's Views Report on Family Justice

Helping those at risk ‘face’ the problems of flooding - A new support network for those affected by, and at risk of, flooding has been created on Facebook

Flood Group UK
is a new page to help communities at risk of flooding to support each other, which was launched last week by government organisations & flood forums from across the UK. With around 5.4m properties in the UK at risk of flooding, it is important that individuals & communities take steps to prepare themselves for flooding as winter approaches.
Press release & links ~ Check your flood risk ~ Flood & coastal erosion risk management progress report 2008-2011 for England ~ NAO: Flood Risk Management in England (published 28/10/11) ~ RUSI:  As the summer flooding season starts (first item)

‘West Lothian question’ joined by ‘In the Welsh Valleys question’! - A landmark judgment has been handed down by the Supreme Court raising ‘A matter of great constitutional importance’.  The ruling in the case of AXA v Lord Advocate recognised the primary status of legislation passed by a devolved Government.  

The Welsh Government sees the judgment as recognition by the Supreme Court that the National Assembly has (within the scope of its policy areas) the same law making powers as the Westminster Parliament.
Press release ~ Judgement ~ AXA v Lord Advocate – written statement

Have you had a ‘telegram’ from the Queen - University College London (UCL) are looking for people over the age of 100 to take part in a study to help understand the secrets of why some people live longer & healthier lives than others

Understanding the secrets of ageing is becoming an increasingly important topic in Britain as our population ages.  Some people age happily, and manage to lead very successful & active lives until they’re over 100-years-old; but others do not, and suffer from age-related illnesses, only living into their 60s or 70s.
Press release & links

Helping SMEs to bid for public sector work - A new website will make it easier for Scottish companies to bid for work in the public sector. The online Supplier Journey will guide businesses through the process of applying for contracts, making the system more streamlined and easier to understand.
Press release & links

Make it go with an ‘Ooooooooh’ not an ‘Aaaaaaaaaaargh’ - As people across Northern Ireland get ready to mark Halloween with a fireworks display, RoSPA is urging families to stay safe & remember the firework code.  Disappointingly, firework injuries around Halloween showed an increase last year - the first rise for several years.

RoSPA’s fireworks website has everything you need to know about planning a safe fireworks display.  It provides details of UK law, including the licensing arrangements in Northern Ireland, tips for setting up a display and the firework code.
Press release & links

:  In memory of those who didn’t ‘make it home’ - Six RAF officers have travelled to the former 'Great Escape' prison camp - Stalag Luft III in Zagan, Poland - to re-enact activities which were carried out by prisoners of war (POWs) in their attempts to escape from the camp during the Second World War.
Press release & links

Industry News: Public Sector at Comet Working within Frameworks - Public sector at Comet has been working within government for over 20 years. They fully understand the ever increasing demands on public sector budget and the need to develop smarter ways to procure. Frameworks encourage collaborative spending, preferential terms, unique solutions and upfront tangible savings, which can only benefit organisations that need to stretch their budget as far as they can.  Public Sector at Comet have recently been successful in tendering for the North Western Universities Purchasing Consortium (NWUPC) white goods and small domestic appliances framework.

Click here below to find out more.

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