ScotGov: The Scottish Government is consulting (closes on 12 February 2010) on changing the law to allow public notices to be advertised online in place of newspapers. The move will allow councils to use a new public information notices portal, saving £ms and enhancing local information services about the area. Public Information Notices (PIN) are announcements that local authorities are legally required to publish.  There are 2 types of Public Information Notices:
* Statutory Notices give required notice of an intended action, such as road closures, construction, licensing and planning developments
* Public Notices inform people of changes to services, such as refuse collection
The portal will publish PINs across Scotland on a single website.  Users will be able to click on a map of Scotland to see listings of public notices in any area, satellite imagery of the location and information on the issues involved.
Press release ~ Local Authority Public Information Notices (Electronic Publication) (Scotland) Order consultation
Defra: A new scheme to reduce the amount of non-packaging agricultural plastics (NPAP) such as silage wrap & crop covers going to landfill has been proposed by Defra, the Scottish Government and the Welsh Assembly Government in a consultation (closes on 25 February 2010).
Every year around 83,000 tonnes of waste NPAP is generated on farms in Britain.  Until legislation was introduced in 2006 around 80% of this waste was disposed of by uncontrolled burning or burying on farmland, which created environmental hazards.  As the majority of waste NPAP from farms now ends up in landfill, Government has been working with affected industries looking at ways of dealing with these materials in a more sustainable way.
Press release ~ Consultation on a Producer Responsibility Scheme for the collection of Non-Packaging Agricultural Plastics (NPAP)
NICE: The National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) is currently appraising the use of pemetrexed for the maintenance treatment of non-small-cell lung cancer. In its draft guidance does not recommend pemetrexed, however it has been issued for consultation (closes on 19 January 2010) and the manufacturer now has an opportunity to consider & respond to comments made by the independent Appraisal Committee.
Press release ~ NICE’s preliminary recommendations are available for public consultation ~ Lung cancer (non-small-cell) - pemetrexed (maintenance) (scroll down)
CLG: New measures to help people get fairer treatment when building work goes wrong have been published as part of a consultation (closes on 19 March 2010) on boosting the professional standards for builders & tradesmen in approved competent person schemes.
There are 12 competent person scheme operators, including on glazing, heating, hot water, plumbing systems and electrical installations in homes.  Members of these schemes carry out over 2.5m jobs each year, freeing up consumers from having to pay building control bodies' fees to get work approved.
Press release ~ Building Regulations Competent Person Self-certification Schemes: Consultation paper ~ Competent person scheme ~ Building Regulations Advisory Committee (BRAC)
NE: A formal consultation on 4 proposed extensions to the Lake District and YorkshireDalesNational Parks is now underway (closes on 17 March 2010). It seeks views on whether the 4 proposed extensions (which lie between the current borders of the two National Parks) have the qualities necessary to be in a National Park.
In addition, the consultation seeks views on whether the Orton Fells, if designated, should be included within the Lake District National Park, or the Yorkshire Dales National Park. A series of events & meetings will be held across the area during January & February 2010, details of which are available on the website.
Press release ~ Lakes to Dales Landscape Designation Project ~ Local events
BIS: Consumer Minister Kevin Brennan has announced plans (consultation closes on 15 March 2010) to ban the use of an outdated law used to sell high-cost loansBills of sale are typically used for ‘logbook’ loans, which are secured against the value of the consumer’s car.
The number of registered bills of sale has risen over the years with nearly 40,000 being made between April 2008 and March 2009.  This equates to around £30m in loans to consumers. The Office of Fair Trading reports that more than 1,000 consumers have complained about problems with these loans and claims of losses total £1.47m in the last 4 years.
Complaints relate to the lack of protections available to people if they fall into arrears, unfair collection practices, the complex & confusing nature of the language used in the agreements and the excessively high cost of the loans.
Press release ~ Consultation on proposal to ban the use of bills of sale for consumer lending ~ White Paper:  A Better Deal for Consumers – Delivering Real Help Now and Change for the Future
WAG: Jocelyn Davies AM, Deputy Minister for Housing & Regeneration, has encouraged housing professionals & tenants to have their say on proposed new performance standards for Housing Associations in Wales.  A consultation (closes on 1 February 2010) on the governance & financial management of Housing Associations is available for comment on the Welsh Assembly Government website.
Press release ~ Developing a modern regulatory framework for Housing Associations in Wales - Performance standards ~ Developing a modern regulatory framework for Housing Associations in Wales
DCMSLive music performances for 100 people or less will no longer need to be licensed, under proposals (consultation closes on 26 March 2010) announced by licensing Minister Gerry Sutcliffe. Currently anyone wanting to put on live music must have a premises licence, a club premises certificate or a temporary event notice, although there are some exceptions for incidental, background music.
An exemption would ensure that all licensed premises such as pubs & clubs would be able to put on small scale live music, regardless of whether or not their existing licence included a provision for staging entertainment events. Unlicensed premises such as cafes, restaurants, village halls & record shops would also be able to host events without the need of for a licence.
However, to ensure that any concerns of people living close to venues are taken into account, the exemption would only apply to performances that are indoors and take place between 8am & 11pm. Residents and responsible authorities (such as the police) would have the power to call for an exemption to be revoked at a specific venue if there was cause for concern.
Press release ~ Consultation on a proposal to exempt small live music events from the requirements of the Licensing Act 2003 (the Act) ~ British Beer and Pub Association ~ DCMS: Regulated entertainment ~ Music to your ears
DH: A consultation (closes on 23 February 2010) to provide ‘fairer’ hospital car parking to patients has been launched by the Department of Health. The consultation outlines a range of options, including:
* giving all inpatients free hospital car parking for their visitors, or only after a long stay
* giving access to free parking for outpatients who need to attend a series of appointments
* placing a cap on charges for priority outpatient groups who attend regular hospital appointments
Options looking at providing better subsidised charges for priority outpatient groups, such as cancer patients and those attending multiple outpatient appointments, would also be phased in over the next 3 years, as efficiency savings from back-office costs & reducing bureaucracy allow.
Press release ~ NHS Car Parking: Consultation on Improving Access for Patients ~ Hospital car parking profits 'five times costs' ~ ScotGov: Review of Hospital Car Parking - Revised Guidance
DfT: Rail passengers will be given a chance to have their say on proposals to introduce a new tram offering a regular service between Watford & St Albans with the launch of a consultation (closes on 30 March 2010). 
The plans would enable passengers to travel on a regular half-hourly tram and allow for the possibility of an even greater frequency of 3 trams per hour, providing a better service for the 450,000 passengers a year who use the line, which currently operates on an irregular schedule, with just 1 train every 45 minutes.
Depending on the outcome of the consultation and the completion of legal & contractual issues, the new service could be up and running in late 2011. The new service is also dependent on Network Rail agreeing to transfer control of the line & stations to Hertfordshire County Council on a long-term lease.
Press release ~ The Future of the Abbey Line
DfT: A consultation on the use of small electric personal vehicles has been launched by Transport Secretary, Andrew Adonis. It seeks views on the principle of changing the law to permit the use of small electric personal vehicles (EPVs) on public roads & cycle tracks.  It does not include consideration of their use on pedestrian footways or footpaths.
The Department for Transport has also launched a consultation on electrically-assisted pedal cycles.  The proposals in this consultation will provide greater clarity for consumers on whether a product is considered to be an electrically-assisted pedal cycle or a motor vehicle.  It also addresses harmonising our regulations with European standards. Both consultations close on Tuesday 30 March 2010.
Press release ~ Electric Personal Vehicle (EPV) consultation ~ Electrically assisted pedal cycles consultation ~ Factsheet detailing existing advice on EAPC
DH: Proposals that would allow the dispensing of generic medicines instead of branded medicines in primary care, hopefully resulting in long term savings for the NHS, have been set out by the Department of Health for consultation (closes on 30 March 2010). These proposals would mean in some cases, a patient’s medicine might look slightly different to the one they were previously used to.  However, the drug itself would be the same.
Doctors are free to prescribe branded or generic medicines, which pharmacists dispense to patients.  Pharmacists will be able to dispense generic medicines instead of branded products unless otherwise stated on the prescription form.  There will be consultation events and details of these will be published on the NHS Primary Care Commissioning website.
Press release ~ The proposals to implement 'generic substitution' in primary care, further to the Pharmaceutical Price Regulation Scheme (PPRS ~ Pharmaceutical Price Regulation Scheme (PPRS) 2009 ~ NHS PCC Events page
CRC: As part of the Digital Britain agenda, the Department for Business Innovation and Skills has launched a consultation (closes on 1 April 2010) on how the funds raised by the proposed landline duty should be allocated.
The consultation is aimed at seeking feedback on a number of specific questions regarding the proposed Next Generation Fund, including the approach to the procurement processes and the technology solutions that will be eligible.  The Commission for Rural Communities is encouraging all rural stakeholders to respond to the consultation.
Press release ~ Consultation: Proposals to introduce a Next Generation Fund ~ Next Generation Fund ~ Next Generation Access (NGA) ~ The Treasury is also consulting on how the fund will be raised through a new Landline Duty (closes on 12 February 2010) ~ Green fields, digital divides: Green Futures article
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