TfL: Parents in London are being reminded to check that their children are signed up to Transport for London’s Zip card scheme; so that they can take advantage of their right to free travel on buses & trams in the capital with the start of the new school term in September.
The Zip travel concession has also benefited some of London's most disadvantaged families by giving 11-15 year old Oyster photocard holders child-rate travel on the Tube, DLR & London Overground, with a daily cap of just £1 (Zones 1-6). These savings are designed to enable children & young people to explore everything the capital has to offer, no matter where they live in London.
Zip Oyster photocard application forms are available from Post Offices within London. It may take up to 2 weeks to process your application. 11-18 year olds who do not have a valid Oyster photocard must pay the cash fare on buses & trams. Proof of application will not be accepted by bus drivers as a valid ticket for travel.
DfT: A national TV advertising campaign to tackle drug driving has been launched by the government after new research showed that 10% of young male drivers admit to driving after taking illegal drugs.
The new £2.3m campaign highlights that the police can & will detect drug drivers - and that anyone convicted will face the same tough penalties as a drink driver. 20% of drivers killed in road accidents may have an impairing drug in their system.
TfL: The Mayor of London has announced that Transport for London (TfL) is to install energy busting LEDs at 3,500 traffic lights at around 300 junctions in the Capital. These 300 new LED (Light Emitting Diodes) fitted junctions will save 600 tonnes of these emissions a year and around £200,000 in energy costs. The bulbs will replace the existing bulbs at 3,500 traffic signal heads, each of which contain at least three bulbs.
The initiative follows the introduction of LED lighting at all London Buses roadside ticket machines and LED lighting at 3,500 solar powered bus stops (to provide illumination for the stop & signage) and 640 shelters. If LED lights are installed in all of London’s 6,000 junctions which have traffic signals, CO2 emissions could be reduced by around 12,000 tonnes a year.
TfL: Transport for London is calling for volunteers with hidden disabilities such as autism, learning difficulties, or people who are hard of hearing, to trial a new Travel Support Card. The card can be used to help them use public transport in the capital.
The credit card sized card is designed for people with disabilities that can’t be seen, to give them greater confidence to ask for help if they need it. Showing the card will alert members of staff that the passenger may need extra support and will help people with disabilities have more confidence in asking for help.
TfL are working with disability charities, but more volunteers are needed. Volunteers with hidden disabilities who would like to take part in this trial, particularly those who live in Stratford, Willesden Junction and Wimbledon should call Kathryn Lyon at TfL on 020 7027 8340.
MoD: The first Elizabeth Cross was presented to the family of Warrant Officer Class 2 (WO2) Sean Upton at his funeral recently. WO2 Upton, from 5th Regiment Royal Artillery, was killed in an explosion while on a foot patrol in Sangin District, Helmand Province, on 27th July 2009.
The institution of the award of the Elizabeth Cross, to which Her Majesty The Queen has given Her name, was announced in Parliament on 1st July 2009 in national recognition of the loss & sacrifice suffered by the families of those who are killed on operations or as a result of an act of terrorism. It is available to the next of kin of those who have died on medal earning operations or as a result of terrorism since 1948, including the Korean War, the Falklands conflict and operations in Northern Ireland.
The Elizabeth Cross – a sterling silver emblem, in the shape of a cross over a wreath – plus a Memorial Scroll signed by The Queen were presented to WO2 Upton’s wife, Karen Upton, before the funeral, which was held at the Garrison Church at Catterick, Yorkshire.
DCMS: Plans to merge the UK Film Council (UKFC) and the British Film Institute (BFI) into a single body to support film could benefit both the film-going public and the industry, Film Minister Siôn Simon has claimed. An organisation with both a cultural & economic remit would mean public support for film is better coordinated, with more of the available funding channelled directly to frontline services.
A proposed merger, designed to protect the key existing functions of both the BFI and UKFC, while reducing gaps & overlaps, is now being considered by Government and industry leaders. A project board, chaired by DCMS and with equal representatives from the BFI and UKFC will now look at the proposal to develop a possible new model and governance structure.
The project board will consider the practical and legal issues that would need to be resolved before such a merger could take place. It is expected to complete this analysis before the end of the 2009.
STFC: UK scientists are helping us edge ever closer to finding the mysterious, theorised ripples in the fabric of spacetime (known as gravitational waves) with the production of 25 new assemblies for the LIGO facility – a network of detectors designed to search for these elusive waves.
Funded by the US National Science Foundation (NSF), LIGO also allows us to look inside the most violent events in the Universe and traces its exotic phenomena in great detail. By increasing the sensitivity of the LIGO detectors by a factor of 10, the upgrades will greatly increase our chances of finding gravitational waves and open a new observational window on the Universe to test our current theories and models.
The UK’s Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC) is contributing £8.5m to this multimillion-dollar upgrade project, named Advanced LIGO, and is managing the UK’s overall involvement, including collaboration from the Universities of Glasgow, Birmingham, Strathclyde and Cardiff.
Press release ~ Advanced LIGO facility ~ US National Science Foundation (NSF) ~ LIGO Scientific Collaboration ~ Virgo Collaboration
ScotGov: A facility for extracting plant oil has been formally opened by Environment Secretary, Richard Lochhead. The Essentially Scottish Botanicals steam distillation unit in Beauly will be used to extract oil from Myrica gale an indigenous Scottish plant more commonly known as Bog myrtle.
Boots has struck a long-term contract with the company to supply them with the oil for use in cosmetic & healthcare products giving the potential to add differentiation and value to their brands. Oil samples have been tested on a daily basis with the assistance of Boots research & development facility. A key discovery has been the fact that more oil is derived from dry plants than fresh.
A 3-year agreement with the Agronomy Institute in Orkney worth £313,000 is aiding this testing process. This secures work on a full-time basis for one PhD student assisted by four others on a part-time basis. The University of the Highlands and Islands (UHI) Millennium Institute is committed to £94,000 of the overall cost.
Press release ~ Agronomy Institute in Orkney ~ University of the Highlands and Islands (UHI) Millennium Institute ~ Highland news item highlights local dissent
WAG: If you’re planning on taking a break in Wales over the next few weeks, there’s one way in which you can make sure that you reduce your carbon footprint and explore more of the local area at the same time. The Welsh Assembly Government has supported many sustainable transport schemes in Wales which provide a vital link for visitors during the summer months and reduce the use of cars in some of our most popular holiday destinations.
Press release ~ Pembrokeshire Greenways ~ Snowdonia Green Key website ~ Gower AONB Explorer network ~ Brecon Beacons website ~ WAG - Public Transport ~ Visit Wales
NA: New releases from the Security Service, available now to download from The National Archives, feature fascinating files on Hitler's deputy, Martin Bormann, actor & director Sam Wanamaker and other high-profile figures from the Second World War and post-war period. The latest release includes reports alleging Martin Bormann had survived WW2, as well as an interview with a man who claimed to have been his pilot.
Also included in the release are files on Dorothy Galton, the Security Service's 'official link' at the School of Slavonic and East European Studies (SSEES); left-wing American journalist Anna Strong, who was rumoured to have been 'a teacher of English to Trotsky'; and leading scientist Solly Zuckerman. Files on these 5 individuals are available to download for free until 30 September 2009).
Press release ~ Sam Wanamaker KV 2/3106 ~ Sam Wanamaker KV 2/3107 ~ Martin Bormann KV 2/3033 ~ Solly Zuckerman KV 2/3030 ~ Solly Zuckerman KV 2/3031 ~ Anna Strong KV 2/3043 ~ Dorothy Galton KV 2/3049 ~ Dorothy Galton KV 2/3050
DECC: £2.1m has been allocated by the UK for a secure storage facility to house used radioactive sources from across Ukraine, removing the potential danger they could pose to public health or from illicit trafficking. A Memorandum of Understanding has been signed to establish a framework for the construction of the UK-funded Sealed Radioactive Sources Centralised Store inside the Chornobyl Exclusion Zone.
The funding, which is for the design & construction of the project, is from the UK Government’s Global Threat Reduction Programme. It is being delivered in close cooperation with the Ministry of Ukraine of Emergencies and Population Protection From the Consequences of Chornobyl Catastrophe, and USC Radon.
NE: Supported by Natural England, the Environment Agency and the Department of Health, the Blue Gym is a new initiative which aims to promote health & wellbeing and appreciation of the environment, as well as saving millions of pounds for the NHS. The Blue Gym will create an information & communication hub to showcase activities and encourage use of the coastline and inland waterways.
Regular contact with the natural environment results in many benefits including:
* Reduction in stress
* Increased physical activity
* Stronger communities
UK OC: The third annual Get online day will take place on Friday 23 October 2009 and is part of an established calendar of digital inclusion & skills events. But with digital participation and informal learning figuring large in mainstream policy papers Digital Britain and The Learning Revolution, this year’s campaign is set to be bigger & better than ever, with 700 official Get online day events taking place at UK online centres across England between 19 and 31 October.
The aim is to encourage thousands of off-line people to be a part of IT, and take their first steps onto the internet. For those already online, Get online day is a chance to find out more about how the internet can save them time, hassle & money and how they – and their families – can make the most of online life.
Helen Milner, Managing Director of UK online centres, said: “An estimated 15m people in this country still can’t, won’t or don’t use new technologies. Engaging, motivating, and supporting those people is absolutely key in achieving a truly digital Britain, and in driving forwards the vision laid out by Carter and Mandelson in the Digital Britain report”.
Press release ~ Digital Britain ~ The Learning Revolution ~ Learning Revolution Festival ~ My Guide ~ UK Online Centres ~ Ufi
ScotGov: Random blood testing will be carried out at markets & farms to assess compliance with rules to vaccinate livestock against bluetongue disease. Samples will be taken from cattle & sheep throughout September, where possible during routine visits to farms and markets.
The compulsory vaccination programme, compliance with which has been very high, will be suspended on 25 October as we move into the vector free period. After this date keepers may continue to vaccinate their stock on a voluntary basis.
Surveillance will be carried out in November to provide a clearer picture of the disease situation. This will inform discussions between the Scottish Government and stakeholders with the aim of agreeing the vaccination arrangements for 2010 by the end of 2009. If a further compulsory campaign is required in 2010, full vaccination of stock will again be required by the end of April 2010, in the same way as it was in 2009.
NA: The National Archives is looking forward to the launch of its new education website this autumn. The site replaces its award-winning Learning Curve website and will have the same extensive resources for teaching & learning history.
Tribunals Service: 1 September 2009 marked the end of the Charity Tribunal, Estate Agents Appeals Panel and the Consumer Credit Appeals Tribunal, as a new regime for dealing with these disputes ‘kicked in’. Although the tribunals will no longer exist as separate entities, their jurisdictions – along with part of the Transport Tribunal - will be transferred into the new General Regulatory Chamber (GRC) of the First-tier Tribunal.
This means that people & organisations appealing on the various issues covered by the previous tribunals will now submit their appeals to the GRC instead. Onward appeals will be to the Upper Tribunal, which sits within the same structure. The existing judiciary & staff from the previous 4 tribunals will be moving across into the two-tier system to ensure that valuable expertise is preserved.
Defra: A review of the Rural Payments Agency (RPA) is to be carried out by its sponsor department, the Department for Environment, Food, and Rural Affairs. The review will consider the RPA’s financial & operational activities, as well as its management capability and will take account of previous National Audit Office findings and Parliamentary review.
The review will chaired by the Director General of the Food and Farming Group within Defra. It will initially consider the RPA’s financial & operational (Single Payment Scheme-related) processes, identifying where the RPA may be able to make improvements and efficiencies in its activities.
Press release ~ Rural Payments Agency (RPA) ~ A progress update in resolving the difficulties in administering the Single Payment Scheme in England ~ NAO Work in Progress: A second progress update on the administration of the single payment scheme by the Rural Payments Agency in England
NA: War on Film is a new series of six innovative videocasts, created by The National Archives, to mark the 70th anniversary of the Second World War. The series recounts the events that went on to inspire popular war films, using extracts from real government records and archive footage.
The first of the videocasts, addressing the theme of evacuation, as featured in the 1987 film Hope and Glory, is available now. A videocast on a different theme will be released each week until 8 October 2009.
DSA: The Driving Standards Agency (DSA) will start to introduce case studies into the driving theory test from 28 September 2009. As part of the multiple choice section of the test, the case study will assess candidates' understanding of driving theory, whilst the multiple choice questions will continue to assess their knowledge of the subject.
The introductory theory test case study will take the form of a scenario, or short story, on which 5 questions will be based. Candidates will answer the questions in the same way as they do now, using either the touch screen or mouse.
Changes to the theory test are part of Learning to Drive, a long-term programme of major reforms that will progressively strengthen the way that people learn to drive and are tested. This approach received general support from the almost 7,000 people who responded to the consultation.
TfL: Transport for London (TfL) has announced that within the next 2 years, Londoners will be able to find out exactly when their next bus is due by using their mobile phone or the internet. Brand new Countdown signs will also provide bus arrival time predictions at 2,500 key stops across the Capital.
3 contracts to develop & deliver these improvements have been awarded to telent, ACIS and Trueform. Mobile & web information should be available by the beginning of 2011 and the roll out of new Countdown signs will begin a few months later.
ScotGov: A pot of cash totalling £1m is available for youth projects right across Scotland. The large haul of cash has been seized from crooks and is now being made available to be reinvested back into the community, as part of the Scottish Government's 'Cashback for Communities' initiative.
CashBack For Communities is a programme of young people's activity funded from assets seized through the Proceeds Of Crime Act 2002. Its main objective is to provide a wide range of positive activities for young people between the ages of 10 to 19 across Scotland. The fund is being administered by YouthLink Scotland, from whom any youth project interested in applying for funding can obtain guidance & application forms
Press release ~ YouthLink Scotland ~ Cashback for Communities ~ Greater Easterhouse Arts Company ~ 6VT Youth Café
ScotGov: Venison producers in Scotland have urged consumers to eat more of the meat, stressing its increased availability, health benefits and its quality. Producers of both wild & farmed venison are working hard to embed - 4 September - in the UK culinary calendar as Eat Scottish Venison Day. Central to the initiative is the launch of a new web portal for Scottish venison that will give both trade customers and consumers a one-stop source for anything they want to know.
The initiative, which has been developed by the Scottish Venison Working Group, is intended as a 3-year push that, through increased consumer & trade demand, will raise quality standards more widely and should encourage producers to bring more venison to the market - not just from red deer but also from sika & roe, the bulk of which currently goes for export to Europe.
ACE: Music stars including Russell Watson, Gary Barlow and Jamie Cullum, along with rising star Dani Harmer (aka Tracy Beaker) are urging everyone to pick up a musical instrument and play their part in raising money for children’s cancer charity CLIC Sargent.
They’re supporting a unique partnership between Arts Council England and CLIC Sargent’s Pratice-a-thon Music (PATM) campaign which encourages people of all ages & abilities to get sponsored to practice their musical instruments to help raise money for children and young people with cancer.
PATM has teamed up with ACE’s ‘Take it away’ scheme, which provides interest free loans for the purchase of musical instruments and tuition. Whether participants choose to practise for 1 week or a whole year, the important thing is to make more music, have fun and raise money for a great cause in the process.
Press release ~ CLIC Sargent ~ Pratice-a-thon Music (PATM) campaign ~ Show me how to play ~ Take it away’ scheme ~ Arts Council England
TfL: Transport for London has announced that Oyster pay as you go customers could get cheaper fares by touching in mid way through their journeys at 9 key London Overground & Tube stations dependent on the route they take.
From 6 September 2009 all Oyster pay as you go passengers should touch their cards on new pink 'Oyster Route Validators' when they change between services at Gospel Oak, Gunnersbury, Highbury & Islington, Kensington Olympia, Rayners Lane, Stratford, West Brompton, Willesden Junction and Blackhorse Road.
The introduction of Oyster Route Validators will mean that the Oyster system will identify when passengers have avoided travelling through Zone 1 for those journeys where there are several different choices of route. This will mean that passengers who use the new readers, and touch in and out at the start and end of their journeys, will show that they have avoided Zone 1, and will be charged the appropriate fare.