DECC: Keeping the lights burning - Energy & Climate Secretary, Ed Miliband, claimed that ‘faster & fairer planning decisions on new energy infrastructure were a step closer’ last week when he laid before Parliament draft texts setting out the national need for a low carbon secure energy mix. He also set out a new policy for the transition to clean coal. The draft National Policy Statements (NPSs) will be the basis on which individual planning decisions are made from March 2010 by the new Infrastructure Planning Commission.
To meet our low carbon energy challenge (and due to the intermittency of wind) we will need significantly more generating capacity in the longer term. One third of that larger future generating capacity must be consented & built over the next 15 years to 2025.
While there are already proposals to build more energy infrastructure, more is needed to bring about the shift to a low carbon future. The NPSs include clear direction towards a massive expansion in renewables, a new nuclear programme based around 10 sites assessed as potentially suitable for new build and a programme to demonstrate clean coal technology.
Six NPSs are published - one overarching and one for each of the following areas: fossil fuels, nuclear, renewables, transmission networks and oil & gas pipelines - alongside the Government's final Framework for the Development of Clean Coal. The consultations close on 22 February 2010.
A consultation (closes on 22 February 2010) on the Secretary of State's proposed decision that two nuclear power station designs are ‘Justified under the Justification of Practices Involving Ionising Radiation Regulations 2004’ has also been launched. It seeks views on the proposed decision and the evidence on which it is based.
DH: A cheap & simple campaign that works - The Department of Health’s Act F.A.S.T. campaign has led to an increase of 55.5% in stroke calls to 999. New research also shows that 84% of the public remember the campaign and its graphic depiction of stroke spreading like fire in the brain. A new online test has also been launched by the NHS to help people to recognise all the signs of stroke and prompt 999 calls when necessary.
The campaign was launched in February 2009 with hard-hitting imagery to highlight the visible signs of stroke and encourage people to call 999 as soon as possible. The ongoing campaign is designed to inform the public about FAST – Face, Arm, Speech, Time to call 999. FAST is a simple test to help people to recognise the signs of stroke and understand the importance of emergency treatment. The faster a stroke patient receives treatment, the better their chances are of surviving and reducing long-term disability.
MoJ: Usually forgotten - Prime Minister Gordon Brown and Justice Minister Claire Ward joined Victims' Champion Sara Payne at the launch of her victims report at a community project in Cheshire. The Compass Victim and Witness Support Service provides independent & confidential support to residents experiencing antisocial behaviour.
Newswire – CABE: Greening generates financial benefits as well as looking better - CABE’s Grey to Green campagn, launched last week in the run up to the UN conference in Copenhagen, argues that a switch is needed in public spending from grey projects, like road building & heavy engineering projects, to green schemes, like street trees, parks, green roofs and waterways.
Figures produced by PricewaterhouseCoopers show how a shift in spending from grey to green of just 0.5% could increase investment in urban green space by 141%. The elements of green infrastructure are all around us, but they don’t yet work together as a functioning system. The campaign report - Grey to Green: how we shift funding and skills to green our cities - argues for more people, with the right skills, to manage the living landscape of our towns & cities.
There is no official system for mapping green infrastructure, so to mark the launch of the campaign CABE has mapped Gloucester, Liverpool and the London boroughs of Hackney and Islington, picking out the green from aerial photographs. They challenge normal perceptions: normal maps show places as made of concrete & tarmac, with some green punctuation.
An argument for investment in green infrastructure at a time of austerity is that unlike most grey infrastructure, green infrastructure is multi-functional. At present, for instance, flood protection requires supersized stormwater pipes. But a combination of living roofs, large trees & soft landscaping can absorb heavy rainfall, store & recycle it for summer irrigation; save energy through insulation; provide shade for offices to cut the need for air conditioning; and make cities more beautiful, so encouraging exercise & improving public health.
Newswire – AC: Not all is doom & gloom with NHS Spending - The NHS is treating more patients at lower cost, says a new briefing from the Audit Commission. The Commission's new briefing, 'More for less', suggests NHS trusts are increasing productivity & reducing unit costs. But overall, there is no sign yet that PCTs have been successful in moving care from hospitals closer to patients’ homes, which is one way to save more money.
'More for less' is an analytical briefing that looks at how NHS money has been spent, whether PCTs have been successful in keeping more patients out of hospital and whether hospitals have become more efficient. Overall, the good news seems to be that NHS acute & specialist trusts are driving down unit costs. This is partly helped by a significant increase in the number of less complex cases treated.
DWP: Cheap Child Care or much more? - Grandparents & their representative organisations last week attended a cross-Government summit to explore the changing role of grandparents in society and talk to Ministers about how the Government can support them.
Topics for discussion included how families & childcare services can adapt to better meet the needs of grandparents, the impact of combining employment with care of their grandchildren and ways to provide more information to grandparents more effectively.
The findings from the summit will inform the forthcoming Families and Relationships Green Paper, which will look at how government can better support all family members (including grandparents) and how services can cater for their differing needs.
MoJ: A bigger stick for the Information Commissioner? - The government has launched a consultation seeking views on implementing a maximum penalty of £500k for serious breaches of the data protection principles.
The consultation (closes on 21 December 2009) - Civil Monetary Penalties: Setting the maximum penalty - asks whether new fines of up to £500k will provide the Information Commissioner's Office (ICO) with a proportionate sanction to impose on those seriously contravening the data protection principles.
Industry News: CRM Solution set to save RBK council over £5M by 2012 - The council of the Royal Borough of Kingston upon Thames (RBK), in
London handles everything from housing and adult education to taxation and recycling for its 160,000 residents.
In the past, citizens frequently found it difficult to obtain information because they did not know where to direct their specific inquiries and requests. Likewise, council employees faced problems with tracking interactions with citizens.
Each department used a different method for both managing the information and fulfilling a given request. In turn, this involved an array of custom-developed and proprietary tools, all of which took up considerable time, effort and resource.
In order to centralise interactions with the public and improve services, RBK worked with CIBER to implement a contact centre solution which easily interoperated with back-office systems.
The investment “paid for itself within 12 months and we’re expecting to save more than £5 million by 2012,” said Robin Noble, IT Manager for RBK.
Kingston has transformed how it delivers services to the public and has become a more efficient organisation. “Citizens have one clear source for information, and employees have the ready resources and workflow processes to handle issues quickly and effectively,” said Anne Marie Micallef, E-Services Project Officer for RBK.
Click here to find out more.
For information on forthcoming public sector events please click HERE to visit the WGPlus Events Calendar