Welcome back from the summer break and we would like to remind all our readers that you can catch up on any ‘missed’ press releases by using our search facilities.  Readers should also check the consultation section for un-advertised items published during August. 

Editor’s Commentary:
The devil is in the detail with consultations

Professional cynics like myself always ponder on the real reason why public sector organisations continue to launch consultations during the holiday periods, when most people are too busy preparing for (or catching up after) vacations / looking after their ‘ I’m bored’ children, to check consultations out  in detail & respond appropriately.

This summer, I actually responded to one with the ‘informative’ title; HS2 Phase one Supplementary Environmental Statement and Additional Provision 2 (July 2015) Environmental Statement Consultation.  To be fair they did send a letter round to local residents and held 2 local meetings (staffed by some very pleasant young people & a helpful press officer).

BUT one had to know the right questions to ask and then check out what they claimed as ‘background facts’ in the ‘well-hidden’ consultation document.  On page 99 onwards they claimed the proposed route of access for 300 extra 30-tonne lorries per day (a 300% increase) was through ‘well connected’ roads, despite the fact that the ‘rat run’ of large lorries through the village is already the number one topic at local elections.  The route also includes a narrow road with multiple tight S-bends at one end (and poor provision of some narrow footpaths), which recently had its speed limit reduced to 40mph and a 7.5-tonne lorry limit imposed.  None of this was highlighted in the letter or at the meetings!

The proposed traffic increase was officially described as a ‘moderate adverse significant effect’ which we understand will go on for 3+ years.  Further ‘googling’ has also shown that their projections have ‘conveniently’ left out the fact that planning consent has recently been granted for a Biomass plant to be located nearby, which will increase large lorry movements by an additional 100+ a day!!!!!!

One suspects Sir Humphrey would have briefed his hapless Minister of Administrative Affairs along the following lines:

Consultations are used to;

*Announce what the government has decided it will do, whatever the public says

*Allow them to claim that they did consider the impact of the plans, but that they would only have minor negative aspects (except for the local inhabitants)

*Allow them to claim that very few people disagreed with the plans

*Allow them to claim they did ask for / put forward other options, but none were better options

*Allow them to claim that the ‘majority’ must have agreed to the proposals, due to lack of comments

*Finally, to ‘spread the blame’ if it all goes wrong, by ‘assuming most people agreed it was the best solution’, as there were ‘relatively few objections’

So next time you skip over the Consultations section of WiredGov Plus, think again and also remember that most consultations are never publicised with a press release, so do not appear in either the email alerts or WiredGov Plus.   Lastly, guess the closing date for ‘my’ consultation – 28 August 2015 – while most of us were still busy with holiday matters, getting children ready for school and young adults for tertiary education / obtaining a first job.

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Clarification of responsibilities of flying display directors, airshow organizers, heads of establishment, aviation duty holders and accountable managers (military flying) has been published.
Researched Links:

MoD:  Publication of Regulatory Notice (RN) regarding display flying

RAFA Shoreham Airshow

Lies, Damned lies, and Statistics
Adam Smith Institute; CMI’s pay gap findings fatally flawed by not controlling for working hours
Researched Links:

Adam Smith Inst: CMI’s pay gap findings fatally flawed by not controlling for working hours

Women's work? Latest pay gap data reveals women work for free 1h 40m a day

More must be done to tackle the gender pay gap, says TUC

True pay equality will also only be achieved when both sexes retire at 65/67!

Power to the (female) people

Commission comments on Law Society of Scotland report on the gender pay gap

‘Alarming’ inequalities for women

Gender equality strategy: MEPs call for clearer targets & better monitoring

One year on: supporting female talent in the energy sector

New statistics show that gender pay gap has reduced to 19.1%

The living wage is out of reach for most women working part-time in many parts of Britain

Rigid workplace culture prevents women over 50 from furthering their careers

Good headline, but poor analysis?
The Lancet has published comments regarding the recent Public Health England (PHE) “landmark review” of evidence about e-cigarettes.
Researched Links:

E-cigarettes: Public Health England's evidence-based confusion

E-cigarettes around 95% less harmful than tobacco estimates landmark review

Nicotine “no more harmful to health than caffeine”

The new way ‘smoking’ can damage your health

They may be ‘healthier, but there are still risks attached

There are no absolute guarantees of privacy for online personal data
Blog posted by Simon Rice, Group Manager for Technology at the ICO:  “They say ‘no publicity is bad publicity’, but after spending most of the week trending on Twitter, I wonder if the users of the Ashley Madison site might disagree.
Researched Links:

ICO:  Personal data in leaked datasets is still personal data

Data protection & journalism

ICO:  Consumers concerned about how their personal details are shared, survey shows

Victims include male AND female
Local authorities working in partnership with service providers are now able to bid for a share of a £3m fund to support the victims of domestic abuse.  In the July Budget a fund for 2015-2016 was announced to address any gaps in the provision of specialist accommodation-based support, and provide support for victims seeking to access these services.  Successful applicants must demonstrate how they will support innovative & cost effective proposals to deliver accommodation based services for victims of abuse, and for services to help them access such support.  The deadline for bids is 1 October 2015.
Researched Links:

CLG:  New £3.2m domestic abuse fund now open

If it wasn’t for Grexit and Tunisia this would be front page news

Time to ‘lift the rock & expose the problems’

There is no justification for either male or female domestic violence or abuse

They have already 'paid a price'

Help when you really need it!
A new national information service for victims of crime will mean that all victims can go to one place for information & advice about what support is available to them, and how to access it.  The new Victims’ Information Service (VIS) includes free online & telephone advice which will signpost victims to local services so that they can get the support they need.  This could include emotional support, advocacy services and specialist advice for victims of sexual violence or domestic abuse.
Researched Links:

MoJ:  New national service to help victims

Training has to be paid for by employers

Large companies are set to be effected by new levy (the Apprenticeship Levy) which seeks to address skills shortages and meet Government's target for 3m new apprentices by 2020.  A survey platform has been launched for responses, together with a consultation paper, which closes on 2 October 2015.

It seeks views on:

  • paying the levy
  • how the levy should work for employers who operate across the whole of the UK
  • how to make sure that employers paying the levy have the opportunity to get more out than they put in
  • how best to give employers control of apprenticeships
Researched Links:
techUK:  UK Government announces formal consultation on proposed apprenticeship levy
Don’t wait until it’s too late
The Scottish Government has joined forces with Cancer Research UK to call on people in Scotland to wear checked patterns in support of finding cancer early as part of the drive to turn the Big C into the wee c.  The GetChecked campaign aims to make check patterns synonymous with early detection, so that every time someone sees a check they think about getting checked, attend screening when invited, or encourage a loved one to do the same.
Researched Links:

ScotGov:  Wear your checks in support of early cancer detection

Technology can help analyse historical health data to ‘locate’ problem areas

A topic of great importance to most 50+ men

Medical innovations backed by £18m fund

Bowel screening participation increases

Breast cancer screening call

New bowel cancer home screening test

More Scots detecting cancer early

Lung cancer test

CRUK & CRT collaborate with Abcodia to discover and develop tests for early diagnosis of cancer

Cancer will affect two in five people

Many women shocked about breast screening over-diagnosis but would still go for a mammography

CRUK - Friendly nudge prompts 40% to visit GP

CRUK - Soaring mouth cancer rates highlight need for greater dentists' awareness

Lumps aren’t the only sign of cancer

Middle-aged hit by surge of potentially fatal skin cancer

Not Oyster card, but rather ‘Oyster Service’ (i.e. only if there is an ‘R’ in the day) 
The government should use the Buses Bill to help pensioners in rural areas and others who rely on buses, according to a new report from the think tank IPPR.  The report shows that in many towns & rural areas, bus services have been decimated through a vicious cycle of falling patronage, rising fares & cuts to the services funded by local government.  It shows that for the second year running there are more passenger journeys in London than in the rest of England combined and argues that there are 4 areas of England that are learning the lessons from London’s success.
Researched Links:

IPPR:  Buses Bill should bring back bus regulation to help pensioners in rural areas

Urgent action required by rural CTOS!

Disabled drivers suffering a ‘blue mood’ as a result of thefts
The Local Government Association said thefts in England soared by 167% in 2014!  More than 2m disabled people use Blue Badges for free parking in pay & display bays and for up to 3 hours on yellow lines.  Anyone fraudulently using a Blue Badge could con more than £6,000p.a. and, over the past 12 months, thieves have smashed their way into cars & broken into retirement homes to steal Blue Badges and cash in by selling them for thousands on the black market or using them to obtain free parking.
Researched Links:

LGA - Blue badge thefts more than double

Blue badge scheme info - Support for disabled drivers

Blue badge abuse clampdown ahead of legislation change

Don’t get caught out with Blue Badge scams

Blue badge eligibility to be extended

Dispelling myths on Blue Badge parking rules

1 in 10 admits to illegal parking in spaces reserved for disabled drivers

New blue badge aims to protect against car park ‘space invaders'

There is a corner of a foreign field...
The MoD is trying to trace the relatives of an airman and a soldier, both killed in the Netherlands, so they can attend burial services.

MoD searches for relatives of two men killed in World War II

The Soldier by Rupert Brooke ~ If I should die, think only this ...

HM Treasury:  Chancellor praises Yorkshire poppies

MoD extends its free mail service for Defence Personnel

2-wheeled bargain
Transport for London (TfL) is encouraging Londoners to consider swapping their regular commute for a journey on 2-wheels and cycle to work on Thursday 3 September.  To celebrate National Cycle to Work Day, TfL is giving Londoners who pledge via the Cycle to Work Day website - www.cycletoworkday.org - free access to Santander Cycles for 24 hours.  As long as they pledge before midnight on 31 August and journeys are kept to under 30 minutes, there will be no charges at all.  Additional charges will be incurred for cycle journeys over 30 minutes at standard rates.
Researched Links:
TfL encourages Londoners to take part in National Cycle to Work Day
Something is being done about it
Six people have been arrested in the UK as part of an operation targeting users of hacking group Lizard Squad’s Lizard Stresser tool, software that allowed users to pay to take websites offline for up to 8 hours at a time.  The tool worked by using Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attacks, which flood web servers or websites with massive amounts of data, leaving them inaccessible to users.
Researched Links:

NCA:  Operation Vivarium targets users of Lizard Squad’s website attack tool

​Sept 1st – Lizard Squad hackers claim revenge attack on National Crime Agency site

Infant immunisation gets a boost

PHE hails the start of a new vaccination programme, which offers young children protection against meningococcal group B (MenB) disease. From 1 September 2015, the MenB vaccination will be added to the NHS Childhood Immunisation Programme in England. The vaccine will help protect children against this devastating disease which can cause meningitis (an infection of the protective membranes that surround the brain & spinal cord) and septicaemia (blood poisoning) which are serious & potentially fatal illnesses.

Researched Links:

DH:  National childhood immunisation programme boosted by MenB vaccine

Making procurement easier
ESPO is proud to announce the launch of its Frameworks Catalogue for 2015-16, containing over 100 framework agreements designed to help & support your procurement decisions.  This has been designed for use by all public sector organisations, including those in the NHS, local authorities, central government, emergency services, housing associations, charities and education.
Researched Links:

ESPO:  Procurement Frameworks Catalogue published


 More contributions to the UK constitutional debate

More news, opinions, documents, claims & counter-claims;

Researched Links:

ScotGov:  Finance Ministers brand cuts ‘unnecessary’

Please choose from the links below to view individual sections of interest:

Play fantasy Whitehall by all means, writes David Walker on the network last week, but there’s actually very little appetite for scrapping or merging of Whitehall departments. Despite wanting to shrink government, the Tories won't reshape the way it works because they are just not that interested.
Find out here why Walker thinks the reality will be much worse.

Also on the network
Locking up more petty criminals is not an efficient way to tackle crime

Locking up more petty criminals is not an efficient way to tackle crime
In a time of stretched resources, it’s odd that more cases are going through the courts

Five creative council cycling schemes to get people on their bikes

Five creative council cycling schemes to get people on their bikes
From free cake in Essex to free bikes in Birmingham, this is how local authorities are promoting UK cycling

News in brief
• Chilcot inquiry: blame will be spread beyond Blair's inner team, sources say
• Some civil servants set to lose out on 1% pay rise
• DWP seeks 2,800 short-term staff weeks after shedding thousands of full-timers
• Rotherham abuse scandal: IPCC working to identify 100 police officers
• Reform Scotland calls for overhaul of local government funding
• Melbourne city council cleared of failing to protect women from anti-abortion protesters
What you’re saying about...
Don't expect a cull of departments in Whitehall's £20bn savings spree

Five creative council cycling schemes to get people on their bikes
From free cake in Essex to free bikes in Birmingham, this is how local authorities are promoting UK cycling