General News

Defra: Female war veterans can now apply to have their efforts recognised as applications open for a new badge which will acknowledge those surviving members of the Women's Land Army and Women's Timber Corps who worked on the Home Front to provide food & timber for the nation during World War I and II.
Badges will be awarded to surviving members as of 6 December 2007, but Badges will not be able to be awarded to spouses or families of deceased members, except where death has occurred after 6 December 2007. Applicants will need to supply date of birth, approximate dates of service in the Women's Land Army or Women's Timber Corps and the location at which they were stationed.
Press release ~ Application form ~ The Wartime Memories Project - The Womens Land Army ~ Women's Timber Corps
MoD: Minister for Veterans, Derek Twigg has announced that Blackpool has been chosen to hold this year's National Veterans Day event.  He has also announced that eligibility to apply for the HM Armed Forces Veterans Badge and UK Merchant Seafarers Veterans Badge has been extended to include all those who have served in UK Armed Forces, which means that veterans of the ongoing operations in Iraq and Afghanistan are now eligible.
The third annual Veterans Day on 27 June 2008 is a chance for the nation to recognise the contribution made by veterans of all ages in conflicts both past & present. In addition, a large number of Veterans Day events, ranging in size, will be taking place across the UK during the summer.
The Ministry of Defence has pledged to fund £25K towards the cost of Blackpool's celebrations.  Funding is also available to support numerous other events taking place throughout the UK.  The deadline for applying for funding to support Veteran's Day events is 31 May 2008.
Press release ~ Veterans Week – Blackpool 2008 ~ Applications for funding and other information ~ What is Veterans - UK ? ~ Medals, badges & emblems ~ Defence for Veterans
NA: Improvement to services provided by the National Archives at Kew, including critical building work will continue until late spring 2008 and, unfortunately, there will be reduced seating capacity as well as noise & disruption whilst this continues.  You may want to delay planning your visit until the work has been completed.
Due to the reduced seating capacity they will have to temporarily withdraw the facility for visitors to order original documents in advance of their visit to Kew, until late spring 2008.  Bulk ordering will remain available
Press release ~ Improvement works ~ Changes to original document services ~ Find out more about these arrangements.
DfT: Transport Secretary, Ruth Kelly, has published details of how extra capacity will be delivered on some of the rail network's busiest routes. 1,300 extra carriages were promised as part of last year's White Paper - Delivering a Sustainable Railway - which set out plans to increase capacity to carry over 180m more passengers over the next seven years - growth of more than 20%.
The publication of the Rolling Stock Plan is a step forward in meeting that commitment by providing indicative numbers of additional carriages needed by English Train Operating Companies to meet the ambitious plans for growth of our railways until 2014.
Extra capacity will be secured through additional new carriages and through re-deployment of existing carriages which will mean longer vehicles can run on busy routes and at peak times, providing around 100,000 extra seats each day on the busiest parts of the network.
Press release ~ White Paper - Delivering a Sustainable Railway ~ Rolling Stock Plan ~ English Train Operating Companies
OSOrdnance Survey is making its Web 2.0 platform, OS OpenSpace, available to developers everywhere following a successful closed launch in December 2007. OS OpenSpace is a free service that allows users to build mash-ups of Ordnance Survey mapping in scales ranging from the whole of Great Britain down to street level.
The service is now available to anyone wanting to develop experimental applications on the web using Ordnance Survey mapping.  Anyone who registers can access up to 30,000 "tiles" or extracts of data and up to 1,000 place‑name look-ups a day.  Users can add markers, lines and polygons on top of Ordnance Survey mapping, search for place names with a gazetteer and display other location data from elsewhere on the Web.
Press release ~ Registration
Cabinet Office: Local third sector funders across the country have been invited to become a local partner in delivering a £130m fund intended to give small third sector organisations access to grants for as little as £250. The Grassroots Grants programme will also help local funders to build endowment funds to provide a continuous source of small grant funding, by matching the money that the local funder raises in the community.  
The Community Development Foundation (CDF) is administering the programme nationally and the search has begun for local funders.  The closing date for applications for local funders is 30 April 2008.
Press release ~ Grassroots Grants programme ~ Community Development Foundation (CDF) ~ Third Sector Review
MoD:  Defence Minister Bob Ainsworth has announced: “Cosford has been chosen as our preferred site to base both 1 Signal Brigade (1 Sig Bde) and 102 Logistics Brigade (102 Log Bde) when they return from Germany”.
The move of the two brigades is expected to be completed by 2014 and will see approximately 2,600 troops and their families and dependants move to Cosford.  The presence of such a significant number of troops may pave the way for a West Midlands 'Super Garrison' in the future. Under the BORONA Programme, around 3,600 British Forces will move from Germany to the UK.
Press release ~ 102 Logistics Brigade ~ 1 Signal Brigade ~ British Forces in Germany
Home OfficePost Office Ltd has retained the Identity and Passport Service (IPS) contract to provide the passport Check & Send service. Available at 2,500 post office branches, it offers members of the public the opportunity (for an additional handling fee) to have their passport application forms & associated documentation checked for ‘completeness’ prior to being sent on to IPS.
Some 45% of the six million passport applications received by IPS annually come via Check & Send, with the service dramatically reducing the number of errors in passport applications.  12% of applications posted by customers directly to IPS contain errors, whilst those sent using Check & Send average only 2%.
Press release ~ Post Office Check & Send Service ~ Identity and Passport Service (IPS)
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