Consultations

DfT: Innovative measures to cut the number of rush hour road works have been announced by Transport Secretary, Philip Hammond.  Under ‘lane rental’ schemes councils would be able to charge utility companies to dig up the busiest roads during peak times when road works cause the most disruption.  Companies would be able to avoid the charges by carrying out works during quieter periods or, if appropriate, at night.
 
The Department for Transport has published a consultation(closes on 31 October 2011) & draft guidance to councils outlining how lane rental schemes could be implemented.  Any council wishing to put in place a lane rental scheme would need to gain approval from the Department.  In order to gather evidence on the effectiveness of lane rental, the Department has proposed that schemes should initially be used in one urban and one non-metropolitan area.
Press release & links ~ Lane rental schemes in England ~ Related TfL press release
 
NICE: Draft guidance, published for public comment, does not recommend fulvestrant (known commercially as Faslodex & manufactured by AstraZeneca) as an alternative to aromatase inhibitor therapy in postmenopausal women.
 
Those wishing to comment on NICE's draft recommendations have until 13 September 2011 to do so.  NICE's independent committee will then meet again to review the comments received.  NICE expects to publish its final guidance for the NHS in January 2012.
 Press release & links
 
Defra: A consultation (closes on 14 November 2011) on the proposal to abolish the Inland Waterways Advisory Council (IWAC) has been launched by Defra. The Government announced the intention to abolish IWAC in July 2010as part of the Arms Length Bodies Review.
 
As the Government has announced plans to move management of inland waterways from British Waterways and the Environment Agency to a new charity in April 2012, there will no longer be need for an organisation to provide advice for policy development, allowing savings of around £200,000 per year.
Press release & links
 
CO: The Government has recently opened a consultation (closes on 18 November 2011) on proposed new policy directions for the Big Lottery Fund. The consultation invites views from a wide range of stakeholders which include the voluntary, community & social enterprise sector and other government departments.
Press release & links
 
CLG: New proposals, published for consultation (closes on 17 November 2011), will allow councils more flexibility to trade their assets and use the receipts to enable further investment in new homes & regenerating the local area. Rather than seeking permission from Ministers in every case, local authorities will have greater discretion to use & improve their council housing assets in a way that best suits their community.
 
The new rules will protect existing tenants and ensure the money is spent for the benefit of the local community. The new rules will not affect occupied homes unless the sale is to the tenants themselves.  Where assets are sold, councils will be able to keep the majority of receipts, as long as the money is spent on housing or the regeneration of the local area.
Press release & links
 
DfE: The Department for Education recently launched a consultation (closes on 28 October 2011) on changes to how Care to Learn will continue to support teenage parents in education and unpaid training in England. Currently parents under 20 who meet the scheme requirements can claim up to £160 a week (£175 a week in London) for childcare & related transport costs under the programme.
Press release ~ Changes to the Care to Learn Childcare Support Scheme

CLG: Under new planning rules being proposed by the Government, communities will be able to classify green spaces such as bowling greens for special protections.  The National Planning Policy Framework, published for consultation (closes on 17 October 2011) recently, includes a new local green spaces designation. 
 
The framework makes provision for green spaces to be identified by communities for special treatment within new neighbourhood plans.  The designation could cover bowling greens as well as other recreational areas, wildlife havens or beauty spots.  The plans are subject to a community vote and once agreed would go on to form part of the local planning policy.
Press release & links
 
DH: A new Department of Health consultation (closes on 22 November 2011) proposes that up to 25% of all current data returns commissioned by the Department of Health and its arms length bodies should be discontinued.  

This would lead to a reduction in burden on the NHS of approximately £10m. Patient groups, research organisations, academic institutions &NHS trusts are now being asked for their views on proposals to streamline data collections across health and social care.
Press release & links
 
HMT/FSAHM Treasury and the Financial Services Authority (FSA) have published a joint consultation paper (closes on 31 October 2011) on the future regulation of Northern Ireland credit unions (NICUs).  These proposals will enhance consumer protection across all NICUs, and align both the prudential & consumer standards of NICUs with those of credit unions in other parts of the United Kingdom..
Press release ~ Joint consultation paper ~ Further information on the transfer process ~ The approved persons' regime ~ 'Grandfathering' of credit unions and individuals to FSA regulation
 
Ofsted: Ofsted has launched a consultation on proposals to revise the inspection of further education (FE) colleges, work-based learning providers, adult and community learning (ACL) provision and ‘Next Step’ provision. The consultation closes on 24 November 2011..
 
Revision will mean fewer judgements that focus more sharply on the core purpose of the provider in meeting the needs & interests of learners, employers and the community.  

Reports will show more clearly whether learners are on appropriate courses and how well learners are supported to achieve their qualifications and progress on to higher education or employment.  Inspectors will spend more time observing lessons or training sessions.
Press release & links
 
NE: A public consultation (closes on 24 November 2011) on Studland to Portland possible Special Area of Conservation (pSAC), situated off the Dorset coast, has started and is being undertaken by Natural England, the Government’s statutory nature conservation adviser.
Press release & links
 
Defra: Over 12,000 square km of species rich sandbank, an area almost double the size of Devon, has become Britain’s latest marine protected area to safeguard important sea life and habitats.  The Dogger Bank is in the middle of the North Sea and crosses the offshore waters of the UK, the Netherlands and Germany.  The UK section has been submitted by the Government to the European Commission and now has candidate Special Area of Conservation (cSAC) status.
 
A public consultation (closes on 29 September 2011) by the Joint Nature Conservation Committee (JNCC) has also begun on 3 more proposed SACs; the Wight-Barfleur Reef in the English Channel and the Pisces Reef Complex and Croker Carbonate Slabs in the Irish Sea.)
Press release & links ~ 2011 Consultation on three offshore possible Special Areas of Conservation
 
ScotGov: A consultation on same sex marriage & religious ceremonies for civil partnerships in Scotland has been published. The consultation sets out the Scottish Government's initial view.  The Government tends towards the view that same sex marriage should be introduced, but believes that faith groups and their celebrants should not be obliged to solemnise same sex marriages (closes on 9 December 2011).
Press release & links
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