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10 Downing St: The Prime Minister and his wife were among the guests who witnessed the colourful opening ceremony at the Special Olympics, when 2,400 athletes paraded around Leicester City Football Club’s Walkers Stadium.
Athletes with learning disabilities from across the UK have been competing in more than 21 different sports at the 8th Special Olympics GB National Summer Games last week. 19 venues across the region played host to sporting events during the week.
Press release ~ Special Olympics Great Britain website ~ Sport and the Disabled ~ Federation of Disability Sports Organisations ~ Inclusive Fitness Initiative ~ English Federation of Disability Sport ~ Disabled ~ London Sports Forum For Disabled People ~ Sport Forum - Providing Sport Activities for the disabled ~ BBC Sport - Disability sport
NENatural England are telling people to ‘pull on your boots and enjoy our spectacular National Trails this summer’. Tranquil water meadows, wooded valleys, gentle chalk downs, historic towns & villages, dramatic views and cliff top walks are just some of the unforgettable experiences offered by England’s 13 National Trails, criss-crossing more than 2,000 miles of the nation’s finest landscapes
Natural England is responsible for overseeing the management of National Trails which this year are celebrating the 60th anniversary of the 1949 National Parks and Access to the Countryside Act that brought them into being.  It was this Act that led to the creation of National Trails, or Long Distance Paths, as they were known as in those days.  The Act also led to the creation of National Parks, Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONBs) and National Nature Reserves.
Press release ~ National Trails website ~ Walking the Way to Health programme
DECC: Three UK-based banks have started work with the European Investment Bank (EIB) on a programme to lend up to £1bn to onshore wind farms over the next 3 years.  The cash, part of the additional £4bn of EIB lending to support UK energy projects announced in the Budget, will help get building started for onshore wind projects which have been hit by the credit crunch, particularly small & mid-sized wind farms.
The banks – RBS, Lloyds and BNP Paribas Fortis – have been teamed up with the EIB by the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) and HM Treasury, following the announcement in April’s Budget Statement that the Government wanted to get more EIB lending to UK renewables.
Press release ~ European Investment Bank (EIB) ~ BWEA - Planning and Wind energy ~ The economics of Onshore Wind Energy ~ Onshore Wind: Aeronautical and Military Impacts - BIS ~ Consents for Onshore Wind Farms Briefing ~ Positive planning for onshore wind ~ Marine Estate at The Crown Estate – Wind Energy ~ Vestas
NA: The National Archives, in collaboration with UK-based family history website, is providing 7 archives & libraries around England & Wales with free access to the recently completed online records of the 1911 census. Before planning a trip, visitors are urged to contact the relevant institution to find out the when the service will be available.
The census, available at, provides a snapshot of life in the early 20th century, showing the name, age, place of birth, marital status and occupation of every resident in every home, as well as their relationship to the head of the household.
Press release ~ Birmingham Archives & Heritage ~ Devon Record Office (Exeter) ~ The National Library of Wales (Aberystwyth) ~ Manchester Archives and Local Studies and Greater Manchester County Record OfficeNorfolk Record OfficeNottinghamshire Archives ~ Tyne and Wear Archives
HEFCE: Professor Sir William Wakeham, Vice-Chancellor of the University of Southampton, has been appointed chair of SEPnet (South East Physics Network), a HEFCE-funded consortium of 6 university physics departments across the south-east, working together to promote excellence in physics.
The network is supported by a five-year HEFCE grant of £12.5m and its 4 main initiatives are:
* an outreach programme to increase student enrolment in physics
* the development of a graduate school offering a 2-year MSc in physics based on the European Credit Transfer and Accumulation System (ECTS)
* a collaborative research programme at PhD level
* an undergraduate programme of employer engagement to increase career prospects
Press release ~ SEPnet ~ HEFCE
NENatural England and the English National Park Authorities Association (ENPAA) have announced the start of a new shared agreement between the two organisations that commits both to work together to ensure National Parks continue to be places of rich environmental value that are enjoyed by all.
The announcement was made as part of the celebrations that fell during National Parks Week that ran from 27 July – 2 August.  The aim is to come together to make tangible progress in 3 important policy areas:
* Landscape
* Climate Change
* Access, Enjoyment and Understanding for all
Press release ~ Natural England ~ English National Park Authorities Association (ENPAA) ~ Shared Outcomes Agreement ~ National Parks
ScotGov: The Scottish Government is to provide Borders Council with £10,000 to enhance its existing investment in rugby opportunities and supplementing funds already made available though the Cashback for Communities initiative
Press release ~ Scottish Rugby - Cashback for Communities initiative ~ Cashback Scotland ~ Sport in the Borders
LDA: With 3 years to go to the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games, thousands of Londoners are being given the opportunity to get more active and try out different sports.  Backed by the Mayor of London and his Commissioner for Sport Kate Hoey, Play Sport London features around 30 different sports and involves more than 140 grass roots clubs putting on expert coaching and activities.
Participants will then be ‘signposted’ to local clubs where they can carry on playing their chosen sport. The new programme is run & funded by London Development Agency (LDA) with the support of Sport England.

Play Sport London runs until 30 September 2009 with activities for people of all ages and for disabled Londoners.  The aim is to build on the success of an earlier scheme, Summer of Sport, which reached around 8,000 Londoners last year.
Press release ~ Play Sport London ~ London Development Agency (LDA) ~ Sport England ~ A Sporting Future for London ~ Kate Hoey MP – Commissioner for Sport
LSN: Earlier this year LSN ran a ‘coaching for entrepreneurship’ programme (funded by the British Council) in Nigeria, with the first part of the programme being run at LSN’s head office in London..  The aim of the programme was to train the delegates in Solution-Focused coaching skills and using these skills to help develop entrepreneurship in others.
They also had access to online learning materials developed by LSN and its technology partner (Learning Resources International) and the option of being assessed for an Institute of Leadership and Management (ILM) Level 5 coaching qualification.
On their return to Nigeria, the delegates held the first of a series of coaching sessions with their young potential entrepreneurs.  They continue to be supported by ongoing coaching sessions with their allocated LSN coach, using both telephone & Skype.  LSN is also running extra group development workshops using video-conferencing.
Press release ~ LSN ~ British Council ~ Learning Resources International ~ Institute of Leadership and Management (ILM) Level 5 coaching qualification
PCS: The PCS union has warned that over 1,200 immigration officers could be taking part in a 24 hour strike on 5 August 2009 in a dispute with the UK Border Agency (UKBA).  Further talks are scheduled, which centres on plans by UKBA to force immigration officers to undertake duties & work performed by customs officers, as well as imposing changes to shift patterns which could see immigration officer’s wages cut.
Immigration officers are angry over moves by UKBA to force them to carry out duties which they weren’t employed for, such as strip searches & law enforcement duties, as the agency seeks to merge the jobs of customs officers and immigration officers.
Press release ~ PCS ~ UK Border Agency (UKBA) ~ Stop Press – Strike called off
ScotGov: A new state-of-the-art communications system will enable Scotland's 8 fire & rescue services (FRS) to communicate directly with incident command centres, police colleagues and other fire vehicles throughout Scotland and the rest of Great Britain.
Fergus Ewing, Minister for Community Safety, has launched Firelink which is being installed in over 1,200 FRS vehicles and 8 regional control centres across Scotland. The new system will cost £37m over 3 years and is due to be operational in every fire appliance in Scotland by the first half of 2010.
The decision to introduce Firelink was taken following the September 11 and July 7 terrorist attacks, which highlighted the need for a single, reliable communications system linking all emergency services. Firelink will deliver a geographical coverage of 90,000 square miles - from urban to the most remote rural communities.
Press release ~ Fire and Rescue services in Scotland ~ Chief Fire Officer's Association Scotland ~ CLG: Firelink radio communications project ~ CLG - FiReControl project ~ CLG: Functionality in the current control systems
TfL: Passengers using one of London Underground’s (LU) busiest & most congested stations are set to benefit from a major £695m upgrade as part of TfL’s Investment Programme.  Used by more than 80m passengers each year, Victoria Underground station is at the heart of London’s transport network.  However, severe congestion during the morning rush hour often makes it necessary to stop passengers coming into the station for several minutes, to avoid overcrowding on the Tube platforms.

When complete, the scheme will increase the size of the station by about 50% with a new ticket hall, lifts & additional escalators to ease congestion and step-free access from street level to all platforms.
Press release
DH: A new education programme has been developed to provide enhanced training in genetic technologies & clinical applications for healthcare scientists working in laboratory genetics,
The new pilot will:
* Respond to future workforce needs, which has increased significantly in the last 10 years as scientific discoveries have created new opportunities to diagnose & predict disease
* Inform the roll out of the MSC programme for other healthcare science training programmes which will begin in 2010 with full implementation in 2012
* Establish a national School of Genetics in the West Midlands
* Modernise the genetics curricula to respond to breakthrough scientific advances and their applications for patients & the public
The pilot programme, to begin in October 2009, will fund 24 pilot training posts for 12 trainee Healthcare Science Practitioners and 12 Healthcare Scientists in Genetics.  The trainees will be based in a number of NHS genetics departments throughout England and will be brought together for national training events & courses. NHS West Midlands has agreed to host the process for all the SHAs involved.
Press release ~ Modernising Scientific Careers programme ~ DH – Genetics ~ The future of the healthcare science workforce. Modernising scientific careers, the next steps: a consultation ~ A High Quaslity Workforce
ACEArts Council Englandhas made the first awards from its £40m Sustain fund for organisations under pressure as a result of the recession.  The first batch of awards are worth just under £4m and will help 10 arts organisations maintain artistic excellence during the economic downturn.
Press release ~ Arts Council England - Sustain fund ~ ACE: Action on Recession
ScotGov: An outbreak of American Foulbrood (AFB), a disease affecting colonies of honeybees, has been confirmed in the Perthshire area. The disease was discovered during ongoing investigations into European Foulbrood (EFB), which was confirmed last month. There are no risks to public health.
So far AFB has been found in 4 hives in 3 apiaries.  Bee inspectors are continuing their investigations and the Scottish Government's animal health contingency plan has been activated. A surveillance zone has been put in place around the confirmed cases and inspections are taking place based on information provided by the affected beekeeper.
As with the EFB outbreak, both the Bee Farmers Association and the Scottish Beekeepers Association have been informed. So far 1,093 hives have been inspected for EFB with 61 of those testing positive.  40 hives have been destroyed, because (unlike EFB), hives with AFB cannot be treated with antibiotics.
Press release ~ Bee inspections ~ The Bee Diseases and Pests Control (Scotland) Order 2007 ~ American Foulbrood (AFB) ~ European Foulbrood (EFB) ~ Bee Farmers Association ~ Scottish Beekeepers Association ~ Science and Advice for Scottish Agriculture (SASA) ~ Scottish Agricultural College ~ Sunday Herald - Fury at slow response to ‘foot-and-mouth’ for Scottish Bees ~ Defra – Bee Health ~ ScotGov - Environment Biology and Agriculture Research ~ WAG - Strategy on Protecting and improving The Health of Honey Bees ~ Healthy Bees ~ NAO: The Health of Livestock and honeybees in England ~ BeeBase ~ National Bee Unit ~ Strategy on protecting and improving the health of honey bees in England and Wales ~ Foul brood disease of honey bees: recognition and control ~ Bees and Varroa
WAG: On the week of the National Eisteddfod for Wales, Meirion and District 2009, Heritage Minister Alun Ffred Jones has offered his best wishes for a successful festival, which takes place on the Rhiwlas Estate between 1 and 8 August.
Earlier this year, the Heritage Minister announced an extra £100,000 for this year’s event to reflect the difficulties the Eisteddfod face in terms of fundraising in a rural area like Meirionydd.  This was in addition to the £485,722 that the National Eisteddfod receives from the Welsh Language Board.
Press release ~ National Eisteddfod 2009 ~ National Eisteddfod ~ Welsh language ~ Culture and sport
PCS: Plans announced by the government to radically reduce the compensation paid to civil servants being made redundant are ‘an outrageous attempt to cut jobs on the cheap’, the Public and Commercial Services union has said.
‘Proposals published by the Cabinet Office for what it describes as ‘reform’ of the civil service compensation scheme represent a cut in contractual rights to decent redundancy compensation at a time when jobs are at risk. They would mean a huge financial loss amounting to tens of thousands of pounds for the vast majority of existing staff, particularly those facing compulsory or voluntary redundancy’.
Facts about civil service pay & pensions include:
* 50% of the workforce earn less than the national average UK salary which is over £23,000
* In 2007/8 the average civil service pension was £6,500.  Excluding high earners, it was £4,200
Press release ~ Personnel Major cuts to be made to civil service severance terms
SE: A drive to bring 10,000 new coaches into grassroots sport is benefiting young sports enthusiasts across England, with 2,400 coaches recruited in the 6 months since the programme went live. Recruit into Coaching is being delivered by Sport England and the Youth Sport Trust as part of the Government’s PE and Sport Strategy for Young People.
Recruit into Coaching aims to unearth new coaching talent across the 70 most deprived areas of England, to support sporting activity by young people aged between five and 19.  The 3-year programme will see 5,680 coaches delivered through school sport partnerships, with 4,320 recruited & trained through the network of county sports partnerships.
Press release ~ Sport England - Recruit into Coaching ~ Youth Sport Trust ~ Government’s PE and Sport Strategy for Young People
Defra: Police officers will receive specialist training to become designated Dog Legislation Officers who will provide expert advice on dangerous dogs cases & legislation, Animal Welfare Minister Jim Fitzpatrick has announced.
The Association of Chief of Police Officers (ACPO) will receive £20,000 from Defra to help deliver the training which will ensure officers have a thorough understanding of current dangerous dogs legislation, as well as best practice enforcement techniques.
Guidance for enforcers, published in April, recommended that it was good practice for every police force to have, or have access to, a designated Dog Legislation Officer (DLO) who had a good knowledge of the law and how it could be best used to protect public safety.
Press release ~ Defra – The Control of Dogs