General News

DH: A new website to support partnerships between NHS staff & trade unions has been announced by Health Minister, Ann Keen. The Social Partnership Forum (SPF) is a partnership between the Department of Health, NHS Employers and NHS Trade Unions to improve working relationships and involve partners in the workforce implications of NHS policy development.
The website was a key recommendation in a progress report - 'NHS Social Partnership Forum Review - Final Report' - by the Involvement and Participation Association (IPA), on the role & function of the National SPF.  
Press release ~ 'NHS Social Partnership Forum Review - Final Report' ~ Social Partnership Forum (SPF) ~ NHS Employers ~ Involvement and Participation Association (IPA) ~ NHS partnership fund
NA: This week sees the 97th anniversary of the sinking of the RMS Titanic; one of the worst passenger ship disasters in history.  In her time, the Titanic was the largest passenger steamship in the world, built using some of the most advanced technology available and was popularly believed to be 'unsinkable'.
The National Archives holds many interesting documents about the doomed ship, including registration documents, passenger lists, crew lists and a telegram sent by the Titanic's wireless operator that captures the desperate circumstances of the crew & passengers alike. There is also a school activity that reveals more about the lives of the passengers and the documents the NA holds, on its educational Learning Curve site.
You can find out more about the Titanic at a FREE TALK at The National Archives: Titanic lives: the officers and crew of RMS Titanic takes place on Tuesday 14 April 2009, 14:00 - 15:00 (should appear on podcast page later on).
Press release ~ Telegram ~ School activity ~ Learning Curve
NA: As part of the celebrations marking the 500th anniversary of Henry VIII's accession to the throne, the Wiltshire and Swindon History Centre has launched an online resource looking at his marriage to Wiltshire-born Jane Seymour.
Part of the Archive Awareness Campaign, the blog looks at some of the records relating to their marriage and (in particular) Henry's gifts of land & properties to his third, and 'favourite', wife, who died shortly after giving birth to a son.
Press release ~ Wiltshire and Swindon History Centre Henry VIII blog ~ Archive Awareness Campaign
CDConsumer Direct is urging new & expectant parents to be aware of their consumer rights when buying baby buggies, prams and pushchairs, as new figures show a significant increase in complaints. Almost half of these complaints were about products costing over £300.
A significant number were about products which were faulty on arrival, or which developed faults soon after their first use.  Customers reported steering faults, wheels falling off and buggies collapsing, as well as problems such as badly fitting hoods and footrests.
Pushchairs bought on the high street or online must be of satisfactory quality, fit for purpose and match their description.  If they are not, shoppers may be able to claim a repair, replacement, or a partial or full refund.
Press release ~ Consumer Direct – After you buy
LRLand Registry, the government department responsible for registering land in England & Wales, is proposing to increase its fees.  The increases are due to come into effect on 6 July 2009 and are intended to reduce the current operating loss, caused by the reduction in the number of transactions in the property market.
The increases mean that the fee for registering a property worth £100,000 would increase from £100 to £130.  For a property worth £1m, the fee would go up from £420 to £550.  There will also be increases in fees for providing information, including official searches and official copies with, for example, the fee for a postal official search increasing from £6 to £8.
Press release ~ Full schedule of the fee increases
STFC: Scientists working on NASA’s twin STEREO spacecraft have made a significant breakthrough that could play a major role in protecting satellites from the damage caused by solar explosions, known as Coronal Mass Ejections (CMEs).

CMEs are powerful sudden eruptions of plasma and magnetic energy from the Sun’s outer atmosphere that, when directed towards Earth, can have damaging effects.  Protecting satellites from these potential negative consequences is vital for preventing disruption to everything from GPS to power stations.

Now scientists using data from the twin STEREO spacecraft have shown that these unique 3D images enable a CME to be tracked all the way to the Earth and predict its arrival at least 24 hours beforehand.  This allows more time for preventative measures to be put in place to minimise the damage caused to satellites and the resulting disruption to technologies.
Press release ~ NASA Stereo Mission ~ STFC
HEFCE: 44 higher education institutions (HEIs) have been awarded a share of £25m from the Revolving Green Fund, a partnership fund between the Higher Education Funding Council of England (HEFCE) and Salix Finance.  The fund enables HEIs to transform their approaches to energy consumption and reduce emissions.
HEIs have applied for funds through two strands: an institutional small projects (ISP) fund and a transformational fund for large, one-off projects.  Over 100 expressions of interest have been received for the two strands, demonstrating a high level of interest.  In total £30m is available for the Revolving Green Fund, of which £10m is allocated for the transformational fund and £20m for the ISP fund.
Press release ~ Higher Education Funding Council of England (HEFCE) - Revolving Green Fund ~ Salix Finance
MO: A new, interactive education sectionAll about the weather - has been launched by the Met Office to support teachers and help pupils learning about weather & climate change. The refreshed web pages have been split into three sections for kids, teens & teachers to match the needs of each group.  They have been designed with the help of teachers and are more engaging, easier to navigate and provide clearer content.
New worksheets and presentations for primary & secondary pupils have been designed to support the National Curriculum for England, which means that teachers will find it easier to incorporate weather and climate change into lesson plans.  Covering elements of the geography, science and maths curriculum, all of the material can be downloaded free of charge.
Press release ~ All about the weather
ScotGov: Britain's last remaining single track trunk road, the A830 'Road to the Isles', has been upgraded to double carriageway standard following a £23m investment. During the A830 project, an additional £239,000 was invested in the construction of two new lay-bys to give road users the opportunity to stop to enjoy the breath-taking views on one of Scotland's most scenic routes.
Some of that scenery meant special consideration had to be given to environmental factors during the design & construction phases.  As the road passes through Glen Beasdale Special Area of Conservation, noted for its ancient oakwood, its otters & its fresh water mussels, significant effort was made to retain the existing character of the area.  Furthermore, a new habitat is currently being developed to maintain & improve oak woodland.
Press release ~ Strategic Transport Projects Review ~ Glen Beasdale Special Area of Conservation ~ Transport Scotland
TfL: New research from Transport for London (TfL) has revealed the extent to which young drivers, particularly males, are affected by peer pressure while at the wheel.  The findings are released in support of a campaign, run by TfL and the London Safety Camera Partnership, which urges young drivers (17 to 25 year olds) to consider the consequences of illegal driving.

In total, 32% of males and 20% of females have risked their licences by speeding in order to impress passengers or onlookers.  This is despite the finding that a third of young drivers claimed that they would not be able to maintain their current lifestyle, including their job, if they lost their driving licence.  
Young drivers account for just 8% of all drivers in the Capital, but are involved in 18% of all collisions.
Press release ~ TfL campaign video – Just a Kid again ~ London Safety Camera Partnership (LSCP)

DWP:  Thousands of miners suffering from Osteoarthritis of the knee, commonly known as 'Miners' Knee' will now be able to claim help from the Government. Ministers have decided to act on the recommendation from the Industrial Injuries Advisory Council, that coal miners with the disease (who have worked underground for 10 years or more) should be able to claim Industrial Injuries Disablement Benefit.
Symptoms of the disease include pain, swelling, stiffness and reduced mobility.  The change is expected to come into force in the summer.
Press release ~ Osteoarthritis of the knee in coal miners: report by the Industrial Injuries Advisory Council in accordance with section 171 of the Social Security Administration Act 1992 considering prescription for osteoarthritis of the knee in coal miners ~ Industrial Injuries Disablement Benefit ~ National Coal Mining Museum in Wakefield ~ Industrial Injuries Advisory Council (IIAC)
HO: A new electronic application system bringing faster results to its largest customers has been launched by the Criminal Records Bureau (CRB). Customers who make more than 3,000 checks a year can now use e-Bulk to send multiple applications & receive the results electronically (contact the CRB for more information).
Annually the CRB completes more than 3.5m checks against criminal records and lists of those barred from working with the vulnerable, with 50% of applications coming from just 265 organisations.  Those high-volume customers have been offered use of the e-Bulk system - bringing benefits which include:
* faster results - the e-Bulk service will reduce the average processing time by around five days
* fewer forms to complete - customers can integrate the CRB requirements into their own recruitment processes & application form
* reduced inaccuracy - all information sent via e-Bulk is automatically checked for completeness reducing errors
* electronic results - certificates that do not contain conviction information are returned electronically
Press release ~ CRB Online tracking service
DCMSOrdnance Yards and Magazine Depots from the Napoleonic War to the First World War are amongst 48 buildings that have been listed, or upgraded, by Culture Minister, Barbara Follett, following a study by English Heritage.
The buildings, mostly listed at Grade II, include:
* the Mixing house (building 124) at Bull Point, Plymouth, constructed in 1804 and a unique survival from the Napoleonic Wars, where gunpowder from returning warships was recycled
* the Shell Fitting & Packing Workshop (building 65) also at Bull Point, built in 1862 as a specialized workshop for filling & packing shells, and
* a munitions factory at Priddy's Hard, Gosport, where, more than a hundred years ago, women workers used to slip love letters into ammunition boxes they were packing, for lonely sailors to find.
Of the 33 newly listed buildings, 19 are owned by the MOD and managed by Defence Estates (DE). One building, Government Powder Magazine No.5, at Purfleet in Essex, has had its listing upgraded to Grade I, based on new research & findings of the thematic survey.
Press release ~ Defence Estates (DE) ~ English Heritage ~ Thematic survey of Ordnance Yards and Magazine Depots by English Heritage ~ From Monument to Place: English Heritage and Military Industrial Complexes in England
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