NE: Natural England’s Walking the Way to Health Initiative (WHI) has recently been recognised by the Department of Health for its important contribution to improving the health of the nation. In its Physical Activity Plan, the DH has shown a major commitment to the expansion of WHI - and getting people active in the natural environment has been recognised as having a major role to play in promoting physical and mental health.
With over 2,000 walks taking place every week and more than 37,000 volunteer walk leaders trained so far, Natural England’s WHI has encouraged hundreds of thousands of people to use the natural environment for the benefit of their health. Natural England is looking to expand the scheme and is now hoping to quadruple the number of people walking regularly for their health by the 2012 Olympics.
Press release ~ Walking the Way to Health Initiative (WHI) ~ Natural England's Health Campaign ~ DH: Be active, be healthy: a plan for getting the nation moving ~ DH - Choosing activity: a physical activity action plan ~ Natural England
MoD: Royal Navy aviators & veterans, including Jock Moffat, the Swordfish pilot whose torpedo crippled the Bismark in World War Two, gathered last week at the Royal Aeronautical Society in London to launch the One Hundredth Anniversary of Naval Aviation.
The anniversary marks the Admiralty's far-sighted & visionary decision on 7 May 1909 to order the first airship, HMS Airship 1, and embark on a development programme for military aviation. It was also the Royal Navy who carried out the first strategic bombing from the air, the first air to air kill, the first sinking of a ship using a torpedo from the air and the first use of aircraft in a sea battle.
The highlight of the anniversary events will be on 7 May 2009 at Greenwich, London with a fly past of historic & current Fleet Air Arm aircraft over the aircraft carrier HMS Illustrious. A Service of Thanksgiving at St Paul's Cathedral on 8 May 2009 will formally recognise & pay tribute to the sacrifices made during the history of the Royal Naval Air Service and the Fleet Air Arm.
Press release ~ FLY NAVY 100 ~ Fleet Air Arm ~ Royal Aeronautical Society ~ Naval Strike Wing ~ Fleet Air Arm Museum
NE: The Ladybird spider, so named for the male’s red hot markings during the mating season, has made a remarkable recovery from near extinction in England thanks to a major conservation effort by a partnership of leading conservation bodies & landowners, as part of Natural England's Species Recovery Programme.
Conservation efforts carried out by Natural England - in partnership with the Ministry of Defence, Herpetological Conservation Trust, the Forestry Commission, Dudley Zoo, and members from the British Arachnological Society - have given the Ladybird spider a fighting chance for survival. The latest ‘web count’ revealed around 1,000 animals (up from 56 in 1994).
LSN: Further education students made their voices heard on a national stage last night, at an awards evening to celebrate the winners of ‘Look at it this way’, the Learning and Skills Network’s Citizenship short film competition.
A group of ten media students from Guildford College were awarded first prize by Oscar-winning film producer Lord Puttnam of Queensgate for their film ‘Student Voice 2008’. The competition was run by the Learning and Skills Network with support from the Association for Citizenship Teaching and the Department for Children, Schools and Families.
TfL: A notice has been published in the Official Journal of the European Union (OJEU) inviting bus manufacturers to express an interest in developing & building a new bus for London, based on the iconic Routemaster.
Manufacturers will be expected to take the innovative ideas & designs put forward in the New Bus for London competition and consider these in combination with their own expertise in designing & building buses to come up with a final design.
It is anticipated contracts will be awarded at the end of 2009 with on street trials of the first of the new buses on the streets of London in 2011. Interested parties need to complete a pre-qualification questionnaire by mid March.
Press release ~ New Bus for London competition ~ OJEU notice and the pre-qualification questionnaire or PQQ - www.tfl.bravosolution.com (under ‘tender opportunities’).
DH: The latest phase in a campaign to remind the public that antibiotics do not help to treat viral infections such as cough's, colds and a sore throat has been launched by the Chief Medical Officer for England.
The campaign forms part of the Government's strategy to tackle the increasing problem antibiotic resistance which could make treatment for common bacterial infections such as pneumonia much more difficult in the future.
TfL: Cycling in Sutton has shot up by 50% cent in one year following the introduction of the Smarter Travel Sutton schemein the borough. Smarter Travel Sutton is a 3-year, £5m project, funded by Transport for London and delivered in partnership with the London Borough of Sutton, local businesses and the local community. It aims to encourage people in the borough to travel in more sustainable ways, on public transport, foot or bike.
Every school in Sutton is now actively participating in the Smarter Travel initiative and has an approved travel plan. Sutton is the first London borough to achieve this feat, 2 years ahead of government targets, and as a result, fewer parents are driving their children to school
Press release ~ Smarter Travel Sutton scheme ~ DfT – Smarter Choices ~ Legible London ~ Workplace travel Planning ~ Enterprise – a new way to work ~ Smarter Working
PCS: PCS members fighting the closure of HM Revenue and Customs' offices in Scotland have set up on-line petitions in support of their campaign. An office in Peterhead, where £25bn worth of taxes from the Scottish fishing industry has been collected in the last five years, is one of many threatened with closure.
The closure would mean the loss of 10 jobs and has already been run down by the Department over the past decade meaning that it only has enough resources to cover the east coast of Scotland. Therefore the £25 billion worth of tax that has been collected there comes from what is effectively just 50% of the Scottish fishing industry.
Press release ~ Stop the job losses in the Aberdeen tax office - sign the petition on the Downing Street website ~ Peterhead tax office petition ~ Hands Off Our Tax offices - find out more about the HOOT campaign
FDA: Two press releases from the FDA (the union for senior managers & professionals in the public service) highlight the changes in governance expected from top level management to reflect public expectations, especially in the current financial climate:
* The first concerns the decision by the permanent secretaries of government departments to give up their 'bonuses' this year.
* The second concerns the publication of the hospitality received by board members of government departments.
MoD: The UK's Veterans Minister, Kevan Jones and his Australian counterpart, Minister for Defence Science and Personnel, Warren Snowdon, have announced that Oxford Archaeology had been awarded the contract to undertake the archaeological excavation of six mass WWI graves in Fromelles, France.
The 1916 Battle of Fromelles saw significant losses from both countries and the graves located at Pheasant Wood contain both British and Australian casualties. Excavation work is due to start in May 2009 and is expected to take up to six months. The existence of the mass graves was confirmed in 2008 and a decision was made by both Governments to conduct a full archaeological excavation of the site.
Anyone believing they may be related to British soldiers buried at Fromelles should contact the Joint Casualty and Compassionate Centre, Historic Casualty & Deceased Estates Casework, Services Personnel and Veterans Agency, Building 182, Imjin Barracks, Gloucester GL3 1HW, firstname.lastname@example.org, 01452 519951.
Press release ~ Mini website ~ Oxford Archaeology ~ 1916 Battle of Fromelles ~ Commonwealth War Graves Cemetery
ScotGov: A hydro electric scheme, capable of powering up to 700 homes, has been given the go ahead by Scottish Ministers. The run of river station, at Invervar in North Perthshire, will have an installed capacity of 1.2 Megawatts (MW). In run of river hydro schemes, the generator & turbine are either located in or alongside the dam, which depends on the flow of the river.
MO: A new service from the Met Office is designed to help insurance companies improve their service regarding weather-related claims. Traditionally, insurers have had to rely on a limited number of weather observations and then estimate the weather in between.
ClaimCheck(tm), backed by innovative use of computer modelling, builds a detailed picture of weather for any given hour right across the country at a resolution of 2km, mapped to individual postcode sectors. Typically the processing techniques used for ClaimCheck(tm) use around 70,000 observations each hour with 1,000 surface observations being augmented by observations from satellites, aircraft and upper air stations, plus over 400,000 2 km resolution radar rainfall observations.
HMRC: Contributions from landfill operators to the Landfill Communities Fund (LCF) hashit £1bn. The fund, introduced in 1996 to redresses some of the environmental costs of landfill, has benefited 24,000+ local projects.
The LCF allows a maximum of 6% of an operator's annual landfill tax liability to be claimed as a tax credit, giving a potential value to the scheme of about £70m credit claimable. The Fund is managed by an organisation independent of government, the Environmental Trust Scheme Regulatory Body Ltd (ENTRUST), formed specifically to regulate the Fund.
NA: Over 1.5m people visited the new website 1911census.co.uk in its first 4 weeks, downloading over a million transcripts and more than 380,000 original census images. The website is run by brightsolid, in association with The National Archives.
There's an option to search for name variants – for example, to find everyone listed as 'Smyth' and 'Smythe' along with 'Smith'. If you don't have exact dates, you can now search within a range of plus or minus 5 years on date of marriage, and 10 years on date of birth.
OFT: As part of its Scams Awareness Month, the OFT has launched two spoof websites (advertising 'Glucobate' and 'Fatfoe' pads) to warn consumers of the dangers of 'miracle' health and weight loss scams that cost UK consumers an estimated £20m every year.
Employing similar techniques to those used by scammers, the OFT will be drawing consumers to the spoof - but initially convincing - miracle cure sites and then revealing that they are the victims of a potential scam. Internet banner advertising, sponsored links on search engine sites, and keyword techniques that push the sites higher up in online searches, will be used to drive consumers looking for health or slimming treatments to the fake websites.
TfL: Transport for London’s Freight Operator Recognition Scheme (FORS) benchmarking system has now gone live and freight operators are using it to compare their performance with that of similar operators working in the Capital.
The benchmarking system, which is available online, allows FORS members to anonymously & instantly compare their performance and costs with those of other London freight operators in fuel use, carbon dioxide emissions, collisions and fines and charges. Benchmarking will help operators improve their performance over time against these criteria and allow them to demonstrate this to their existing and potential customers.
Press release ~ Freight Operator Recognition Scheme (FORS) benchmarking system ~ London Freight Plan
STFC: Astronomers using the NASA Swift Satellite are tracking a spectacular comet as it closes in on Earth and sheds gas & dust from its vaporised ice. The team, which is led by UK astronomers, is studying the comet to find out more about its chemistry and to gather clues about the origin of comets and the solar system. Swift is a NASA mission in collaboration with the Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC) in the UK and the Italian Space Agency (ASI).
The comet is now faintly visible from a dark site. Lulin will pass closest to Earth – 38m miles, or about 160 times farther than the moon - on 24 February 2009.
Press release ~ Images ~ Italian Space Agency (ASI) ~ UK Swift Science Data Centre ~ Science and Technology Facilities Council ~ British National Space Centre
STFC: Roman artefacts, which are nearly two thousand years old, with similarities to ancient remains found at Pompeii in Italy were examined at the Science and Technology Facilities Council’s ISIS neutron source in Oxfordshire last weekend. Researchers hope to learn more about our heritage by discovering whether the items were imported from southern Italy, or manufactured using similar techniques in Britain.
The bronze artefacts, which include a wine-mixing vessel, jugs and ceremonial pan-shaped objects, were discovered in Kent in two high status Roman pit-burials that are among the best examples ever seen in Britain. Archaeological scientists will compare the 1st Century AD artefacts from Kent with those from Pompeii in Italy. The neutron beams at the world-leading ISIS facility allow for detailed crystal structure analysis of intact delicate objects without cutting out a sample of the material.
NE: Natural England is one of 11 organisations celebrating the launch of the Million Ponds Project, an initiative co-ordinated by the charity Pond Conservation. Natural England’s contribution is the funding of a full-time Project Officer, Dawn Isaac, who is based in Peterborough to work on this initiative.
The Million Ponds Project will start by making 5,000 ponds in the next 4 years, with a focus on 1,000 sites that will benefit more than 80 species listed in the UK Biodiversity Action Plan that use or live in ponds. These include the spangled water beetle, tassel stonewort and the pondweed leafhopper. The project will provide a network of clean water havens for these and other endangered freshwater plants & animals that depend on unpolluted water.
Press release ~ Million Ponds Project ~ The Tubney Charitable Trust ~ Esmée Fairbairn Foundation ~ UK Biodiversity Action Plan ~ Buglife ~ Herpetological Conservation Trust ~ Amphibian and Reptile Groups (ARGs)
NA: To celebrate the fifth Lesbian Gay Bisexual Trans (LGBT) History Month, the National Archives are highlighting some historical documents about Oscar Wilde, held at The National Archives and elsewhere. Oscar Wilde (1854-1900) was an Irish playwright, poet and author who lived in late-Victorian London. His plays, such as The Importance of Being Earnest and Lady Windermere's Fan, were hugely successful. He was also one of the greatest celebrities of his day, known for his biting wit.
In 1895, John Sholto Douglas, the Marquis of Queensberry, left an insulting calling card for Oscar Wilde at the Albemarle Club in London. Wilde decided to sue the marquis for libel - setting off a chain of events that ended in his own trial and imprisonment.