General News

TfLTransport for London (TfL) has announced that following 2 extensive trials, motorcycles will be able to drive in bus lanes on a permanent basis on the majority of the capital's Red Routes from 23 January, 2012..
Press release & links
 
ACEArts Council England, in partnership with CyMAL: Museums Archives and Libraries Wales, Museums Galleries Scotland and the Northern Ireland Museums Council, have  launched a revised Accreditation Scheme for museums and galleries across the UK.
 
Accreditation is a renewable status and museums currently ‘accredited under the 2004 standard’ will be invited to renew their status against the new standard over a 5 year period, which will respect their existing planning cycles.
Press release & links
 
OFT: The OFT has launched a market study into private motor insurance in the UK which will focus on the provision of third party vehicle repairs and credit hire replacement vehicles to claimants.
Press release & links
 
NHSBTNHS Blood and Transplant is warning that a 'perfect storm' could be created by next year's bumper sporting calendar & extra bank holidays, severely affecting blood donation levels in 2012. NHSBT statistics show that 93% of donors give blood during the working week and that when there are big sporting events or a string of bank holidays donation levels drop.
 
Approximately 2m units of blood will be needed by hospitals throughout 2012, and the equivalent of 500 extra donations will be needed each week in the first 6 months to help us build blood stocks and cover extra potential need from Olympic visitors.
Press release ~ NHSBT
 
LGAEmergency radio broadcasts could be jeopardised by BBC plans to turn off medium wave radio transmitters and lay off local reporters, council leaders have warned. In times of crisis such as flooding, severe weather or other major emergencies, town halls and their partner police & fire authorities often rely on local radio to keep residents informed and issue safety advice.

As part of cost-cutting measures, the BBC is proposing to cut medium wave coverage across swathes of the country, replace hours of local radio content with national FM programmes and lay off many regional staff. However, what appears as FM coverage on paper is in reality only crackling static in many areas where the signal is disrupted by hills or valleys.  Councils warn the medium wave switch off will lead to thousands of their residents in rural communities losing local radio entirely.
Press release & links
 
DHPlan your meals to save £s & lbs - UK households can be healthier and could save up to £1,500 a year by simply planning their weekly food shop, a new Change4Life survey has revealed.
Press release & links
 
AS: The Alzheimer's Society has highlighted a growing crisis as charges for older people's home care top £7,000. A new survey of care provided by local councils (published by Labour) found that councils are increasing charges for vital services including home care, meals on wheels and transport to day centres. It also highlights huge differences in the price people pay for care, depending on where they live.
Press release & links
 
RoSPA: The deadline for organisations to register their interest in becoming local partners for a national carbon monoxide awareness programme has been extended until the end of the January 2012.
 
The Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents and Gas Safe Charity are launching the Be Gas Safe programme to raise awareness of the ‘silent killer’ and the steps that can be taken to prevent carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning.  Rolling out across England this year, the programme will see 10,000 families receiving a free CO detector and many more receiving safety information.
Press release & links
 
DWPOnly 38% of working-age people - 11.6m out of 30.4m people - are saving into a private pension, the lowest level in the past 10 years, new analysis by the Department for Work and Pensions showed recently. This highlights exactly why automatic enrolment – introduced from October 2012 – is so critical.
Press release & Links
 
HO: The phone number for people wishing to order & enquire about birth, death and marriage certificates has changed. The new customer service number for the General Register Office is 0300 123 1837. 0300 phone numbers are specially designated for use by public bodies and not-for-profit organisations.
Press release & links
 
TUC: The 2bn hours of unpaid overtime worked last year would be ‘enough to create over 1m extra full-time jobs’, the TUC said last week as it announced the date for Work Your Proper Hours Day 2012. If workers who regularly put in unpaid overtime worked all their hours from the start of the year, the first day they would get paid would be Friday 24 February.  The TUC has named this Work Your Hour Proper Hours Day (WYPHD) in their honour. 
Press release & links
 
HMRCHM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) is issuing a New Year reminder to anyone who hasn’t yet sent in their 2010/11 Self Assessment tax return. There are 2 important things to remember if you still haven’t submitted your 2010/11 return:
* firstly - you must send it online
* secondly - you need to do so by the 31 January 2012 deadline – If you send HMRC an online return after this date, or you file a paper return, you will receive a £100 penalty – even if you have no tax to pay or you pay your tax on time.
Press release & links
 
ScotGov: The starting gun for the first ever crofting elections was fired on 5 January 2012 with the official publication of the Notice of Elections. 6 people will be democratically elected by Scotland's crofting community to represent their interests.  The remaining 3 spaces are to be filled by Ministerial appointment.
 
The postal ballot for the further 6 members will take place in March 2012 with the count on 16 March 2012. The official change from the current Crofters Commission to the Crofting Commission will then come into effect on 1 April 2012.
Press release & links
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