General News

HO: Individuals banned from the UK for allegedly ‘stirring-up hatred’ have been named & shamed by the Home Secretary. The list covers people excluded from the UK between October 2008 & March 2009 for allegedly being ‘animal rights extremists, right to life extremists, homophobe extremists, far-right extremists, as well as advocates of hatred and violence in support of their religious beliefs’.
It follows the Home Secretary's introduction of new measures against such individuals last year, including creating a presumption in favour of exclusion in respect of all those who have engaged in spreading hate. The Home Secretary Jacqui Smith also announced that the government is now able to ban European nationals and their family members if they constitute a threat to public policy or public security.
Press release ~ Home Secretary's written statement to Parliament ~ Exclusion from the United Kingdom of individuals for engaging in unacceptable behaviour
MoD: Work to recover the bodies of up to 400 WWI British & Australian soldiers has begun at Pheasant Wood, in the small village of Fromelles in France. In a simple yet poignant ceremony Reverend Ray Jones from St. George's Memorial Church in Ypres and Fromelles parish priest Father Duprez blessed the site of the five mass burial pits, before the turning of the first soil began.
Dignitaries from the UK, Australian and French governments were present alongside representatives from the Commonwealth War Graves Commission, which is overseeing the project on behalf of the UK & Australian governments and the team from Oxford Archaeology which is undertaking the recovery operation.  By the end of the project in 2010 all bodies found will be permanently laid to rest in individual graves at a new Commonwealth War Graves Cemetery at Fromelles, the first to be constructed in fifty years.
Press release ~ Commonwealth War Graves Commission - Fromelles ~ Australian Army - Fromelles ~ Oxford Archaeology ~ 1916 Battle of Fromelles
DH: People with learning disabilities have gained a new champion in the Department of Health following the appointment of Scott Watkin as Co-National Director for Learning Disabilities for a period of 3 years. He will lead work on making the Department's learning disability strategy, Valuing People Now, a reality and will work jointly with Anne Williams, the current National Director.
The Co-National Director position was created in 2006 to provide joint national leadership around the delivery of Government's original learning disability white paper, Valuing People.  This was the first senior Government post specifically for a person with learning disabilities.
Press release ~ Valuing People Now ~ Valuing People
LRLand Registry, the government department responsible for registering land in England & Wales, will apply a new 'Early Completion' practice from 3 August 2009 to ensure that registration applications are completed as quickly as possible. The practice will apply to all situations where an application for a discharge of whole has been received with another application or applications, but evidence of the discharge has not been provided. 
Under the new practice, Land Registry will reject an application for discharge but complete other applications lodged with it where it is possible to do so.  The entries relating to the existing charge will be left in the register until proof of satisfaction is received. If the application for discharge is the sole application and evidence of discharge has not been provided, the application will be rejected as before.
Press release ~ Practice Bulletin 16 - Early completion ~ Land Registry : Early completion - questions and answers
LDLand Data, the NLIS regulator, has announced that, following a review of the current National Land Information Service (NLIS) Hub licence agreement with MacDonald, Dettwiler and Associates Ltd (MDA), it has agreed to revised terms in order to support NLIS and MDA through the current property sector downturn.

As the property sector comes to terms with the end of the Home Information Packs (HIP) transitional arrangements, requiring changes to the first day of marketing arrangements as well as the removal of insurance provisions for private search firms, Land Data will continue to work closely with the NLIS Hub, run by MDA, to maintain NLIS’ position at the forefront of electronic land and property information.
Land Data is also investigating the potential for creating an industry search standard in the form of an official ‘kite mark’ which could be applied to all official property searches.
Press release ~ Land Data ~ National Land Information Service (NLIS) ~ MacDonald, Dettwiler and Associates Ltd (MDA)
DfT: Passengers' requirements at stations across England & Wales are to be reviewed by 2 'Stations' Champions' who have been asked by the Government to suggest ways to improve facilities. The champions will advise on the minimum levels of service that should be set at stations - ensuring they are appropriate to the stations' passenger flows - so passengers can be confident that stations will meet set standards.  
They will also provide advice on how other changes such as 'quick wins', better station management, future franchise agreements, Network Rail initiatives and longer term investment can be brought about in a way that that delivers better stations.
Press release ~ Association of Train Operating Companies ~ Access for All Stations ~ DfT – Rail stations ~ Secure Stations Scheme ~ Railways for All strategy
TfL: World class cycle racing will return to the streets of London this September, as the Tour of Britain cycle race finishes its 8 day UK tour in the Capital. On Saturday 19 September 2009 96 professional cyclists will race for 92.5 kilometres on a central London circuit that takes in some of London’s most iconic landmarks.
The 9.25 kilometre route will start & finish on Whitehall, taking the riders along the banks of the Thames, through the City of London, past Big Ben, Cleopatra’s Needle, Somerset House and the Tower of London. This is the sixth time that Transport for London (TfL) has bought the Tour of Britain, the largest free-to-attend sporting event in the country, to the Capital.  It will also finish here in 2010 and 2011.
In addition, the London Cycle Hire scheme will launch in the Capital in May 2010.  People will be able to pick up & drop off hire bikes at 400 locations across the nine London boroughs and several Royal Parks that make up London’s zone one travel area.  An initial 6,000 hire bikes are expected to generate around 40,000 extra daily cycle trips in central London.
Press release ~ Tour of Britain ~ Cycling London
DSA: The Driving Standards Agency is to tailor the way out-of-hours tests are offered. A new, flexible approach means that from 17 May 2009, appointments for the practical car test outside normal hours will be offered where overall demand is high at individual test centres, but not at those where it isn't.
Appointments classed as out-of-hours are those offered at the weekend and, during the summer, weekday early mornings & evenings. Out-of-hours testing will be available at centres where waiting times exceed eight weeks for car tests.
Press release ~ DSA ~ Directgov – Driving Tests
ScotGov: Scottish university students taking part in all overseas exchange programmes are to receive full tuition fee support from 2010 under new procedures being introduced by the Scottish Government. At present, Scottish students taking part in the ‘Erasmus exchange’, covering 31 European countries, have their tuition fees paid.
However, those participating in other recognised programmes outside of Europe - currently around 300 students a year - are often currently liable to pay half their tuition fees during their exchange at a cost of approximately £1,000 a year, with the remainder being met by the Students Awards Agency for Scotland (SAAS).
Press release ~ Students Awards Agency for Scotland (SAAS) ~ British Council - Erasmus ~ Erasmus Exchange - FAQs ~ Erasmus student Network ~ International Association for the Exchange of Students for Technical Experience (IAESTE) ~ US-UK Fulbright Commission
ScotGov: The Group established to map out a strong future for literature in Scotland met for the first time last week. Established to recommend a new approach to support for literature in Scotland, the Working Group will focus particularly on writers & publishers.  It will make recommendations to the Culture Minister and the Chair of Creative Scotland 2009 by the end of 2009.
Press release ~ Literature Working Group ~ National Library of Scotland Edinburgh UK - Scottish Literature ~ Creative Scotland 2009
Defra: Defra has announced that its remaining Bluetongue vaccine stocks will be discounted by 50%, effective from Thursday 7 May 2009. They expressed the hope that this discount will be passed on throughout the supply chain, which means that the end price of vaccine could be expected to fall from its current price of around 66-79p per ml plus VAT, to 33p-39p per ml plus VAT. The remaining Merial vaccine, in 100ml bottles, is being reduced to encourage uptake and reduce taxpayer liability before it expires later in the year.
Due to the efforts of farmers who vaccinated last year, the UK is now in a situation without evidence of circulating disease, and a subsequently reduced appetite to vaccinate.  The situation on the Continent is still uncertain therefore farmers need to recognise the ongoing risk to their livelihoods, and take the opportunity to vaccinate now, while discounted vaccine is available.
Press release ~ Defra - Bluetongue
DefraDefra and Kew's International Garden Photographer of the Year Competition have joined forces to find the first Conservation Volunteering Photographer of the Year.  Almost a quarter of a million volunteers are regularly getting out & about in towns, parks, the countryside and forests to help conserve our precious natural green spaces and England's wildlife.
To celebrate this work and to get ready for 2010 as the International Year of Biodiversity, the photo competition aims to capture the fun & enjoyment that comes from volunteering and taking part outside in England.  The competition is open until November 2009, with shortlisted entries being announced around Christmas time.
The competition, which launches Defra's MuckIn4Life campaign, is open to anyone living & undertaking conservation volunteering in England.  MuckIn4Life is the Defra campaign which supports the DH's Change4Life campaign and is supported by a wide range of environmental stakeholders.  It encourages biodiversity by highlighting the fun and & which comes from being active and volunteering outdoors in the fresh air to help conserve wildlife, landscapes, parks, gardens and other green spaces.
Press release ~ Kew's International Garden Photographer of the Year Competition ~ MuckIn4Life photography competition ~ Directgov: MuckIn4Life ~ Defra: UK implementation of CBD
WAG: New all-Wales uniforms for NHS nurses – designed so that patients can easily see who is in charge of hospital wards – have been unveiled.  In addition, more uniforms will be provided and, along with this, hospitals are working to identify on-site laundry & changing facilities, which should help to prevent & control healthcare associated infections. The uniforms for Healthcare Support Workers to hospital wards sisters/ charge nurses will be phased in across Wales from October 2009.
Press release ~ WAG – Health and Social Care
HO: The winner of a Home Office backed competition for architecture & design students to design a public space to minimise the effects of a terrorist attack, has been announced by Security Minister Lord West as Peter Hughes, who is currently undertaking his Part One qualification in architecture, having graduated from Sheffield University last summer. He received a £1,000 prize.
The competition - part of the RSA's Design Directions student award scheme - asked competitors to think about security features & safety issues when designing a fictional public space.  Competitors were asked to consider & include innovative counter terrorism measures in their designs. The winner and a number of outstanding entries have been on display to a wide range of stakeholders in the Home Office London HQ building.
Press release ~ RSA's Design Directions – Public Spaces, safer places ~ Office for Security and Counter Terrorism ~ National Counter Terrorism Security Office (NaCTSO)
WO: Secretary of State for Wales Paul Murphy has praised the work of the Kidney Wales Foundation during a reception held in Westminster to highlight the work they do to help kidney patients and their families, saying:
The Kidney Wales Foundation has given a huge amount of support and hard work to the Donate Wales campaign.  Both the Tell a Loved One campaign and the Save Sian campaign have had a significant impact on the Organ Donor Register.”
Press release ~ Wales Office ~ Kidney Wales Foundation ~ Donate Wales - Tell a Loved One campaign ~ Save Sian campaign
LLUK: The new website of the Standards Council for Community Learning and Development for Scotland is now up & running at
Press release ~ LLUK
Ofgem: Energy regulator Ofgem has said that it will allow a temporary relaxation from the rules governing the electricity networks to speed up connections for low-carbon generators.  The temporary relaxation is to the rules for connection to & use of the high-voltage electricity networks.  It means any generator wanting to seek an earlier connection date can now do so by approaching National Grid.

The approach adopted by Ofgem is an interim solution to speed up connections while more enduring reforms are introduced.  It is expected that some of the generators could start to connect this year.
Press release ~ Ofgem ~ National Grid
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