General News

MoD: The Massed Bands of the Royal Marines will perform their spectacular Beating Retreat ceremony on London's Horse Guards from 9-11 June 2009.  All 220 musicians from the 5 Royal Marines Bands will be on Parade in celebration of the birthday of His Royal Highness Prince Phillip, Duke of Edinburgh (their Captain-General).
 
Only performed once every 3 years, the pageant of military music, precision drill and colour dates back to the 16th century and is regarded as a piece of living history. The proceeds from the Beating Retreat will go to Service Charities including Help for Heroes, Seafarers UK and the Royal Navy & Royal Marines Charity.
 
This year, elements of each Band deployed with 3 Commando Brigade to Afghanistan. The musicians worked with the Commando Logistics Regiment as part of the Medical Squadron; their main duties were as Drivers, driving vehicles such as Battlefield Ambulances, Support Vehicles, Mastiff and Vector.
Press release ~ Tickets ~ Beating Retreat ceremony ~ Commando Logistics Regiment

Newswire – Unite/CPHVA: Unite, which embraces the Community Practitioners’ and Health Visitors’ Association (CPHVA), has rejected the call by a former chairman of the British Medical Association (BMA), Sir Sandy Macara for children under five to be compulsorily immunised with the MMR injections against measles, mumps and rubella.

Cheryll Adams, Unite’s Lead Professional Officer, Strategy & Practice Development said: “… Unite/CPHVA believes that employing more health visitors and community nurses would provide the enhanced coverage necessary by healthcare professionals to explain to parents that MMR is a vital defence against these diseases which can either kill or cause serious disability".
 
Cheryll Adams said that health visitors believed there was a direct link between the declining MMR take-up rates and the slimming down of the health visiting service by primary cares trusts (PCTs) over the last four years.
Press release ~ PL CMO (2008)5: The MMR vaccination catch-up programme ~ Health Protection Agency ~ Report of the Director of Immunisation 2008 ~ DH - Immunisation ~  NHS - Immunisation

HMRCHM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) has issued a reminder to tax credits claimants - make sure you renew your claim by 31 July otherwise your payments could stop. Anyone claiming tax credits should have received a renewal pack by now, containing details of their 2008/09 award.  
 
They need to check this and let HMRC know of any changes in their circumstances, such as their working hours or pay.  They will also be asked to provide details of their previous year's income, so HMRC can check they are receiving all the tax credits their entitled to.
Press release ~ HMRC – Tax Credits
 
OFT: The Motor Codes Ltd Code of Practice for vehicle warranty products has completed Stage One of the OFT Consumer Codes Approval Scheme. Subscribers to the code administer around 2m warranties for cars & motor vehicle products every year.  By signing up to this code, they have agreed to raise their standard of customer service above that required by law.
 
Motor Codes Ltd was established to look after motor industry codes of practice, including ones that had originally been developed & administered by the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders Limited (SMMT).  Having completed stage one of the OFT's code scheme, it will now carry out comprehensive monitoring including visits to garages and customer satisfaction surveys, to ensure that the Code is working effectively.
Press release ~ Motor Codes Ltd Code of Practice ~ OFT Consumer Codes Approval Scheme ~ Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders Limited (SMMT)
 
WAG: Minister for Social Justice and Local Government, Dr Brian Gibbons, asked people across Wales to ‘Give a Little and Gain a Lot’ during Volunteering Week. There is a huge range of volunteering opportunities on offer across Wales, offering something for everyone.  The campaign coincided with the 25th anniversary of Volunteers Week (1 – 7 June 2009) and will be run again in the New Year to help people realise their new year’s resolutions to volunteer.
 
Whether it is nature conservation, volunteering with a youth group, in a care home or castle, organisations are looking for willing individuals to give something to the community and gain a great deal for themselves. Making it easier for people to find information about volunteering is just one of the ways the Welsh Assembly Government is helping people deal with the impacts of the recession.
Press release ~ Volunteering Wales website ~ WAG - Voluntary Sector ~  Wales Council for Voluntary Action ~ How to Volunteer
 
NA: From Shakespearean plays written in the 19th century to letters about the social life of Noel Coward: a talk this month on forgeries in the archives explains why people are driven to commit forgery - and how they get caught. In addition, ‘The road to Jamestown looks at why English sailors and the crown turned their attention to the New World in the 16th century, and how piracy, greed, religion & warfare became the foundations of attempts to settle America.
 
Other free talks during June at the National Archives offer a wealth of help & information to people researching their family history, including:
* Tracing your Scottish ancestors
* Using the death duty records
* Sources for Anglican clergymen
* Apprenticeship records
Press release ~ Forgeries in the archives ~ The road to Jamestown ~ Other free talks ~ Podcasts
 
LLUK: The Open University in Scotland has introduced courses & qualifications in working with young people.  These courses are specifically relevant to staff & volunteers working in Youth Work and Community Learning Development settings in Scotland. They are designed to develop knowledge & skills needed in this sector.
Press release ~ Leaflet on OU courses ~ Information on other Education courses ~ LLUK
 
TfL:  Transport for London (TfL) has agreed a new way of working with CCTV maintenance contractor, Tyco Fire and Security (UK) Ltd, which will place greater emphasis on the working performance of the 1,500 cameras used to keep London’s roads free from congestion & incidents and flowing more smoothly.

From 1 July 2009, Tyco will be responsible for ensuring that 98.5% of all system equipment, including CCTV cameras, operator screens and network connections, are all in working order all of the time, or the contractor won’t be paid. This new style of working will encourage the contractor to give their absolute best all of the time, ensuring maintenance of the system is performed regularly & efficiently to avoid any system breakdowns.

The output of TfL’s traffic monitoring CCTV cameras would be most familiar to the public from camera links on TfL’s website – www.tfl.gov.uk/trafficnews - and through ‘JamCam’ updates on London news broadcasts.
 Press release ~ Tyco Fire and Security (UK) Ltd
 
CD: A rise in complaints about mobility aids has led Consumer Direct to issue a warning about the sharp practices of some operators selling mobility scooters, bath aids and orthopaedic furniture. CD has received more than 1,500 complaints about mobility aid purchases in the first 4 months of 2009, up 8% on the same period last year.  Many complaints related to defective products and customer service issues, while almost a quarter were about sales & business practices, including allegations that traders were making misleading claims.
 
Callers complained about salespeople engaging in high pressure sales tactics, spending several hours in their homes, and in some cases falsely claiming to be working for Social Services, the DWP, or the NHS.
 
New laws that came into force in October 2008 in most cases give consumers 7 days to cancel contracts entered into in the home. Other regulations introduced in May 2008 prohibit traders from treating consumers unfairly, misleading them through acts or omissions, or subjecting them to aggressive practices such as high pressure selling techniques.  Traders are also required to leave premises when asked.
Press release ~ British Healthcare Trades Association (BHTA) ~ Consumer Direct
 
DFID:  The Department for International Development has announced £4.5m of aid to boost trade from Helmand's renovated airfield, which was officially opened last week. USAID, who work with DFID in the Helmand Provincial Reconstruction Team, have turned a gravel airstrip into a tarmac runway capable of taking modern civil aircraft connecting Helmand with the rest of Afghanistan and opening up the province for trade.
 
Bost Airfield is the only completely civilian airstrip in Southern Afghanistan and is the new gateway to Helmand province.  A business centre alongside the airfield will be the focus of food processing so that farmers' produce from the fertile Helmand valley can be prepared for food markets around the country. The new developments will hopefully strengthen counter narcotics work by giving farmers a further incentive to plant legal food crops, rather than illegal poppy.
Press release ~ USAID ~ DFID: Country Plan for Afghanistan ~ Afghanistan Reconstruction Trust Fund (ARTF) ~ NATO: Afghanistan Report 2009 ~ DG Communities – Afghanistan Reconstruction
 
ScotGovCoca-Cola's Scottish factory has announced plans to completely stop sending waste to landfill by the end of 2011 - another step towards making Scotland a zero waste society. The plant in East Kilbride, whose products include Coca-Cola, Fanta, Dr Pepper and Sprite, will improve its recycling facilities and work with an external waste contractor to reach the target.
 
The EU Landfill Directive requires Scotland to reduce to a maximum of 1.32m tonnes, the amount of biodegradable municipal waste sent to landfill by the end of 2010.  However, new figures published by SEPA show that target has already been achieved 18 months early, with 1.29m tonnes being landfilled.
Press release ~ Coca Cola Enterprises ~ Zero Waste Scotland ~ Go Greener ~ SEPA - Waste
 
PCS: Home Secretary (at the time), Jacqui Smith, has said that she wants to prevent the BNP from targeting Home Office buildings for protests after a strong complaint from the Public and Commercial Services union. In a letter to PCS general secretary Mark Serwotka, Ms Smith says she shares their concern about the use of the Home Office as a ‘backdrop’ for BNP demonstrations.
 
PCS wrote to the home secretary in April after the BNP held an anti-immigration demo outside Lunar House in Croydon, one of the department’s main immigration enquiry offices. With just hours notice of the event, the union organised a counter demonstration and pointed out that PCS representatives had previously been denied permission to hand out leaflets about members’ pay on the same spot.
Press release
 
MO: Geoengineering solutions to curb global warming may offer advantages in combating temperature rise, but could also significantly damage the earth's eco-systems climate scientists say ,according to the Met Office.
 
One such proposal is the deliberate brightening of clouds by adding sea-salt particles to increase their reflectivity.  Extensive sheets of low-level cloud exist off the coasts of South Africa, South America and the western USA, and by 'seeding' these clouds to reflect more sunlight away from the Earth, global warming could be slowed by up to 25 years.
 
While there is clearly significant benefit in delaying increased temperatures, the results also reveal the downside to such geoengineering.  The most serious is a sharp decrease in rainfall over South America, which would likely accelerate the die-back of the Amazon rainforest and the subsequent loss of one of the world's major carbon stores.
Press release ~ Met Office Hadley Centre
 
HMRC: Three men have been jailed for a total of 10 years for their part in a plot to supply military equipment to keep Iranian F-14 'Tomcat' fighter jets airborne & combat ready in contravention of an embargo on military exports to Iran. HM Revenue & Customs officers uncovered the plot when they found a consignment of oxygen cylinders at Heathrow Airport which were bound for Tehran. The restricted parts had been sourced in the USA using eBay, thereby avoiding export controls.
 
Mohsen Akhavan Nik and his son Mohammad Akhavan Nik, who were granted political asylum in the UK having apparently fled from Iran in 1995, together with Nithish Jaitha, breached an arms embargo by acting as middle-men supplying military hardware to Iran, until officers uncovered their network of illegal shipments and fraudulent documents.
 
Iran's ageing jet fighters, including the F-14 'Tomcat', as featured in the 1980s film 'Top Gun', together with F4 Phantoms, F5 Tigers and Cobra Attack Helicopters can only be kept in service through parts purchased in the USA and then illegally shipped to Iran using fraudulent paperwork and bogus supply routes.
Press release ~ Videos provided to court ~ Revenue & Customs Prosecution Office
 
MoD: Ten British WW2 veterans were honoured by the French government last week for their role in liberating France in 1944. The 9 men and 1 woman, who all took part in the D-Day landings, received the Legion d'Honneur in ceremonies marking the 65th anniversary of D-Day. The men were among the first to land on the Normandy beaches on the morning of June 6th 1944, while the female was a nurse who attended to the many wounded on Gold beach.
 
Nine of the veterans became Knights of the Legion d'Honneur, while the tenth Veteran, who landed on Juno beach on D-Day, received the higher rank of Officer of the Legion d'Honneur from President Sarkozy.
Press release ~ Normandy Veterans Association ~ 65th Anniversary of D-Day & the Normandy Campaign ~ Related press release
 
OS: Five companies celebrated success at Ordnance Survey’s recent Partner Conference awards – thanks to their innovative use of geographic information. Leica Geosystems, Mapflow, Garmin, Senergy Econnect and ESRI (UK) all triumphed with awards at a recent ceremony in St Albans, Hertfordshire.
Press release ~ OS Partnerships
 
NA: Digital versions of the original Registration District maps from the 1871 census (Catalogue reference RG 18/1-110) are now available to browse & download. The maps are based on the Ordnance Survey 'Old Series', but were hand annotated to show the Registration Districts of England & Wales as they existed then.
 
Cassini used scanned images of the originals that were then digitally stitched together to create a seamless mosaic of mapping. The maps are free to view online and you can search by postcode, place name, parish and district name.  There is a charge to download the maps.
Press release ~ Cassini Maps ~ National Archives
 
NA: A new project is underway to recapture life as it was during WW2, when American troops and Italian prisoners of war (PoW) were positioned at a camp on the site which is now home to The National Archives.  The Kew Society and the Richmond Local History Society are calling on those with memories, records or tales of this fascinating period in Kew's history to come forward and share their knowledge & experiences.
 
This could well be the last opportunity to recall life as it was in Kew from 1939 to 1945.  So if you have memories, knowledge or family records of tales like these at Kew with American GIs or Italian PoWs, please get in touch by email to press@nationalarchives.gsi.gov.uk, or call the Richmond Local History Society's David Blomfield on 0208 940 8749.
Press release ~ Kew Society ~ Richmond Local History Society
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