SGC: The Sentencing Council has launched a public consultation (closes on 20 June 2011) on its proposals to introduce a new guideline for judges & magistrates for the sentencing of drugs offenders. The draft guideline covers the most commonly sentenced drugs offences including importation, production, supply, permitting premises to be used for drugs offences and possession.
EU News: The European Commission has launched a public consultation in view of modernising rules on the transparency of Member States’ decisions regarding the pricing & reimbursement of medicines. The consultation invites all interested parties to share their views on the review of Council Directive 89/105/EEC, often referred to as the 'transparency directive'. The deadline for submitting contributions is 25 May 2011.
DfT: Some lorries could be allowed to use longer trailers after independent research showed that this ‘could cut carbon without compromising safety’. The research has been published by Roads Minister Mike Penning alongside a consultation (closes 21 June 2011) which proposes allowing a 2metre increase in the total length of articulated lorries operating within the existing weight limit of 44 tonnes.
This would take the maximum permitted length of an articulated lorry to 18.75 metres, but would not allow any increase in overall weight. The DfT estimates that this move could increase capacity for hauliers transporting lightweight goods by up to 13% and cut carbon emissions by around 100,000 tonnes each year.
DfT: Britain's aviation industry should be able to grow & prosper but not at any price, Transport Secretary Philip Hammond said as the Government set out to define the debate for a new sustainable UK aviation policy. Following decisions not to support new runways at Heathrow, Gatwick & Stansted, the Government is seeking views on the shape its future aviation policy should take and the issues it needs to address.
It has published a scoping document ‘setting out the key principles & challenges of a new greener aviation policy’. Comments are being invited until 30 September 2011. A draft aviation policy framework will then be published for consultation in March 2012, with a view to formal adoption by March 2013.
CLG: Decentralisation Minister, Greg Clark, has set out a new simple process for consultation (closes on 20 June 2011) by which councils can directly ask Whitehall to remove barriers that can block local people from improving their communities. The new system enables councils to submit ideas via a dedicated 'barrier busting' website and follow the progress of their suggestions online. People who use the service are given a unique Amazon-style tracking number to monitor requests and a named 'barrier buster' assigned to each case.
Mr Clark has previously set out an 'action plan' for proposals already submitted under the Sustainable Communities Act and set out flexible working arrangements for communities and councils, to make the system less bureaucratic.
Ofsted: Ofsted has launched a consultation (closes on 25 May 2011) on its proposals for inspecting residential provision in boarding & residential special schools. The changes reflect new national minimum standards being introduced by the government in September 2011. Ofsted’s aim is to use this opportunity to revise & strengthen the inspection system.
MoJ: The family justice system needs significant reform to ‘tackle delays and ensure that children & families get the service they deserve’, says an independent panel set up to review how the system works. The panel, who publish their interim report last week, have recommended a package of proposals aimed at improving children's & families' experience of the system.
A consultation on these proposals is now underway (closes on 23 June 2011). A full summary of the panel's recommendations can be found in the interim report (the consultation can be found at the same link).
BIS: The UK Space Agency became an executive agency of the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills on 1 April 2011. This will see the Agency taking over responsibility for the majority of the UK’s commitment to space exploration & science. Efforts will be targeted at areas that have the greatest potential for delivering economic benefits, scientific excellence and national security.
The principal driver of the UK Space Agency is economic growth through both export & innovation and through supporting science as an enabler for growth. These themes are being highlighted as part of the organisation’s strategy for 2011-2015, which has been published for consultation (closes 8 July 2011).
WAG: The Welsh Assembly Government is launching a consultation (closes on 1 July 2011) on recommendations from the independent review of charging for household water & sewerage services conducted by senior public services regulator Anna Walker. WaterSure (a scheme to allow capped bills for low-income metered customers or customers with high essential use for medical reasons) already offers support for some households.
Press release ~ Consultation on the Walker Review of charging for household water and sewerage services ~ WaterSure scheme
CLG: Proposals for establishing a new decentralised, local audit regime that will replace the Audit Commission have been set out for consultation (closes on 30 June 2011). Ministers believe that the current system of local auditing where the Audit Commission is the regulator, commissioner & provider of local audit services are inefficient & unnecessarily centralised. The proposals set out a new approach to audit based on 4 key principles.
Ofcom: Ofcom have proposed new regulatory controls on the prices of wholesale broadband & telephone services provided by Openreach, the access division of BT. Ofcom expects these proposals to lead to real term price reductions for consumers, as communications providers pass on savings to their landline voice and broadband customers. This consultation (closes 9 June 2011) covers charges for local loop unbundling (LLU) and Wholesale Line Rental (WLR).