General News

CIOB: In response to the Government’s discussion paper on the proposed Chief Construction Officer (CCO) role, the Chartered Institute of Building (CIOB) has called for the position to have a greater focus.  It has also called for the timeframe in securing the appointment to be bought forward to 2009.
 
Given the importance of the industry to the UK economy the CIOB believes the role should be located within a highly influential government department; probably the Cabinet Office, with excellent links into the Treasury, the Office of Government Commerce (OGC), the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC), and the Department for Business, Enterprise & Regulatory Reform (BERR).
Press release ~ Government discussion paper on the role of the Chief Construction Officer ~ Other CIOB Policies ~ BERR - Chief Construction Officer – Discussion Document
 
OGCOGCbuying.solutions has announced the award of a framework agreement for Natural Gas and Associated servicesThe framework agreement, awarded to Corona Energy, is available from 1 April 2009, with the first supply period commencing on 1 October 2009
Press release ~ Utilities at Buying Solutions - Gas ~ OGCEnergy Guidance notes (scroll down)
 
CIOB: In response to the Government’s consultation for a ‘Definition of Zero Carbon Homes and Non-Domestic Buildings’, the Chartered Institute of Building (CIOB) has called for an all encompassing single national reference point for new buildings to create a level playing field across the UK.
 
In a submission to the Department of Communities and Local Government (DCLG) the CIOB has stated that a clear set of requirements from the Government is needed and joined-up thinking, inclusion of current industry knowledge and simplification across the industry to address the carbon footprint of new build and non-domestic existing buildings should be encouraged.
 
The CIOB is disappointed that the consultation does not consider the issue of embodied energy and believes that the UK Government should be taking a lead in developing national standards in that area.  Transport, future maintenance & lifetime carbon costs were not considered within this consultation and the CIOB’s submission has stressed that the link between these factors and the newly built environment cannot be ignored.
Press release ~ CLG consultation: Definition of Zero Carbon Homes and Non-Domestic Buildings (closed 18 March 2009) ~ CIOB submission to CLG ~ Chartered Institute of Building (CIOB)
 
NSG: A new series of skills programmes for public servants working in the north of England has been launched to help improve the delivery of cost effective public services.  The selection of flagship programmes will support managers, leaders & professionals looking to develop their core skills or to explore fresh approaches to their work.  These include:
* Northern Lights Leadership Programme designed to help strike a balance between day to day delivery and dealing with longer term strategic issues
* Aspiring to the Senior Civil Service (SCS) to prepare senior managers for the step up to the SCS
* Unlocking Your Leadership provides practical approaches for emerging leaders to acquire the skills needed to lead effectively
* Professional Skills for Government framework that sets out the mix of skills & experience civil servants at all grades need to excel in their jobs
Press release ~ New North of England programmes
 
DHUK residents visiting the Channel Islands must ensure they have adequate travel insurance from 1 April 2009. The current agreement, which allowed UK travellers to get a limited number of medical treatments in the Channel Islands free of charge, will end on March 31 2009.
 
Anyone travelling to the Islands, which include Guernsey, Jersey, Alderney, Sark and Herm, will be required to pay for medical treatment should they become ill or injured there after this date.  Visitors should therefore take out adequate insurance before they travel. Visitors from the Channel Islands to the UK will also now be liable for charges for medical treatment when visiting the UK, so they should also have health insurance cover.
Press release
 
PCS: The PCS union heavily criticised the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) recently, for ploughing on with plans to axe its Manchester based helpline and restructure the remaining helplines based in Cardiff, Birmingham and Glasgow.  Despite repeated representations from the union, the EHRC plans to close the Manchester helpline which handled over 50,000 enquiries last year.
 
The move by the EHRC, at a cost of 50 posts, comes at a time when call volumes to the helpline are increasing due to the recession and the EHRC ‘Your Right to Fly’ campaign, which targets travellers with disabilities.  Call volumes have tripled since the start of the campaign two weeks ago.
Press release ~ EHRC ‘Your Right to Fly’ campaign
 
HO: A new immigration removal centre has been opened by Home Secretary Jacqui Smith. The new 426-bed detention centre, built next to Gatwick Airport, will help ensure the UK Border Agency can remove foreign lawbreakers from the UK. Brook House, the biggest secure unit of its kind in the country, will house male illegal migrants & foreign criminals, and increases the country's detention capacity to nearly 3,000 bed spaces.
 
A new 370-bed wing will be added to Harmondsworth Removal Centre, near Heathrow Airport, by 2010.  In addition, the Home Office has submitted two planning applications for centres at Bullingdon in Oxfordshire and Yarl's Wood in Bedfordshire.
Press release ~ UK Border Agency – Immigration removal centres
 
CRC: The Commission for Rural Communities believes that the Post Bank could help people in rural communities access banking services and they welcome the Post Bank Coalition's call for developments for Post Offices to provide banking services.  
 
This is particularly important for rural areas in England where an estimated 300,000 people do not have a bank account. Access to cash is a significant problem, especially for elderly and more vulnerable people, or where there is more limited access to transport.
 
A Post Bank would build on the welcome decision by the Government to award the Post Office a further contract until 2015 for the Post Office Card Account, which already provides for the payment in cash of pensions and other benefits.
Press release ~ Post Bank Coalition's call ~ Post Office Card Account
 
MoD: Defence Secretary John Hutton has announced the decision to purchase 3 Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) test aircraft - the UK's next generation of supersonic stealth fast jets. Acquisition of JSF will provide the UK with a ‘fifth-generation’ tactical air system, designed with stealth characteristics & advanced sensors and will afford the UK a 'step change' in capability.  UK military personnel will work alongside their US counterparts in an initial operational test & evaluation programme for the aircraft.
 
JSF is the aircraft of choice to fulfil MoD's Joint Combat Aircraft requirement and will fly off the two new Royal Navy Queen Elizabeth Class aircraft carriers.  The purchase of three test aircraft will enable MOD to move forward in developing the Carrier Strike capability.
Press release ~ Joint Combat Aircraft (JCA) ~ F-35 Joint Strike Fighter - Joint Programme Office
 
Defra: The first vaccine against bovine tuberculosis in badgers will be used in the field in England next year. The vaccine will be used in 6 areas of up to 100km2 where there is a high incidence of bovine tuberculosis (bTB) in cattle.  Vaccination will start in 2010 and continue for at least 5 years.
 
The deployment project will focus on developing practical approaches for use rather than developing further evidence of the effectiveness of the vaccine, although Defra will be looking at the number of cattle herd TB breakdowns in the areas for any changes in cattle disease trends.
Press release ~ Defra: Bovine TB: Vaccination ~ Bovine TB Eradication Group for England
 
ACEArtists taking the lead is an ambitious & wide ranging art prize that will showcase UK creativity to the world, as part of the London 2012 Cultural Olympiad.  12 commissions of up to £500,000 will be awarded to create 12 new works of art across the country (one in each of the 9 English regions) and in the nations of Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.
 
The project (which is the first of 10 major projects of the Cultural Olympiad) provides artists across the country with an unparalleled opportunity to create work that celebrates the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games and reflects the rich cultural diversity of the UK.  Artists have until Friday 29 May 2009 to submit their ideas for the commissions.
 
Arts Council England expects to announce the shortlisted artists in July 2009 and the final 12 commissions in October 2009.  The successful commissions will be developed across 2010 and 2011 and all 12 will take part in a final unifying celebration before the opening of the London 2012 Olympic Games.
Press release ~ London 2012 Cultural Olympiad ~ Artists taking the lead ~ ACE
 
WAG: A consortium led by the Wales Co-operative Centre has been awarded the contract to deliver Communities 2.0, a new initiative to tackle digital exclusion in Wales.  The Wales Co-operative Centre will work in partnership with the University of Glamorgan, Carmarthenshire County Council, Novas Scarman, and the Pembrokeshire Association of Voluntary Services to deliver the six year project from 1 April 2009.  
 
The programme, which will build on the Welsh Assembly Government’s successful Communities @One initiative, will provide community groups, social enterprises & individuals with support to use technologies and to help people in the most disadvantaged areas of Wales engage with new technology in ways that are directly relevant to their lives.
Press release ~ Wales Co-operative Centre ~ WAG – Housing and Community ~ Communities @One initiative ~ WAG – ICT ~ dotCYM cyf
 
STFC: Scientists have detected giant twisting waves in the lower atmosphere of the Sun, shedding light on the mystery of the Sun’s corona (the region around the Sun, extending more than 1m kilometres from its surface) having a vastly higher temperature than its surface.  
 
The increase in solar temperature from approximately 6,000 degrees on the visible surface of the Sun (photosphere) to well over a million degrees in the higher overlaying solar corona, has remained at the forefront of astrophysical research for over half a century.  
 
The new observations reveal the process behind this phenomenon, whereby these unique magnetic oscillations spread upward from the solar surface to the Sun’s corona with an average speed of over 20km per second, carrying enough energy to heat the plasma to well over a few million degrees.
Press release ~ STFC
 
TfLTransport for London (TfL) is calling all Londoners and organisations that are passionate about cycling in the Capital to submit applications for grants of up to £5,000 to help them promote cycling activities in their communities.  There are now less than two weeks left to apply, with the deadline coming on 3 April 2009.
 
The fund, administered by the London Cycle Campaign (LCC) is to assist the development of events & projects which encourage people to cycle and to make cycling an activity that is open to all Londoners.  It seeks to support those projects that build the confidence of infrequent or new cyclist from all types of backgrounds – especially groups such as women, children and young people.
Press release ~ London Cycle Campaign (LCC) ~ CCFfL grant criteria ~ TfL - Cycling
 
HC: The Healthcare Commission has called for action to address concerns about the quality of some specialist care at Birmingham Children’s Hospital NHS Foundation Trust (BCH).  The HC has published a report of the Trust’s services, carried out at the request of Health Secretary Alan Johnson in response to an article in The Observer newspaper in November.

The watchdog’s report looked at paediatric tertiary care services in the speciality areas of renal transplant, liver transplant, craniofacial surgery, neurosurgery, interventional radiology and cardiac services.  The HC found that the Trust was struggling to meet rising demands.  This has resulted in delays in treatment, less than optimum care, and children being redirected to other services.
Press release ~ Birmingham Children’s Hospital NHS Foundation Trust: Summary of the intervention ~ Monitor’s press release ~ Scandal of care at top children's hospitalPCT commissioned report
 
LSN: A new Skills for Life core curriculum is set to make a difference to the lives of trainers & teachers who support adult learners.  Developed by the Learning and Skills Improvement Service and available via the Excellence Gateway - LSIS’s online portal for the FE sector - the revised adult core curriculum is now online and will provide guidance to practitioners at a click of the mouse, giving instant access to adult literacy, language and numeracy resources.
 
The new core curriculum also includes improvements to the existing adult literacy, ESOL (English for speakers of other languages) and numeracy curricula, as well as an interactive service for teachers of the adult pre-entry curriculum. The Excellence Gateway incorporates some 50 education websites and a resource bank comprising more than 75,000 pages, and 12,000 separate pieces of content. 
Press release ~ Learning and Skills Improvement Service ~ Excellence Gateway ~ Adult core curriculum

ScotGov: Fiona Hyslop, Cabinet Secretary for Education and Lifelong Learning, has welcomed the launch of a professional body representing the interests of Scotland's Chartered Teachers. There are currently 750 fully qualified Chartered Teachers in Scotland.
 
The Chartered Teacher programme is open to all teachers at the top of the main grade who have maintained a Continuing Professional Development portfolio.  There is no cap on the number of teachers who can embark on the programme. Chartered teachers receive a £6,500 increase to their annual salary.

Press release ~ Chartered Teacher programme - Scotland ~ 'A Teaching Profession for the 21st Century' agreement ~ ScotGov – Education and Training

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