General News

STFC: The Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC) has received £12.32m, from the Government’s Large Facilities Capital Fund, to invest in new hardware for the UK’s High Performance Computing Consortia (HPC) – providing UK particle physicists & astronomers with upgraded HPC technology to address some of the most challenging scientific problems.

The new funding will allow the UK’s HPC facilities to continue pooling their complementary expertise and help ensure that the UK remains one of the world-leaders of theoretical modelling in particle physics, astronomy & cosmology.
Press release ~ UK’s High Performance Computing Consortia (HPC) ~ Large Facilities Capital Fund ~ STFC
HMT: The Government and the Financial Inclusion Taskforce (FIT) have announced that the ‘shared goal to halve the number of adults living in households without access to a bank account’ has been achieved. The latest report on access to banking by the FIT shows that the number has fallen from 2m in 2003/04 to less than 900,000 in 2007/08.
Press release ~ Financial Inclusion Taskforce ~ FIT papers ~ FIT action plan for 2008-11 ~ FIT research papers
PCS: A new style staff survey is now being rolled out across the civil service and the PCS union is urging its members to take part.  Results of the survey will help both managers & union representatives understand what action needs to be taken to maintain & improve the working experience & well-being of civil servants and enhance the delivery of the essential public services they provide.
The union has supported the development of a standard annual staff survey across all parts of the civil service. Following consultation on the design of the questionnaire and detailed testing in a number of different departments, they believe that the survey will result in robust & reliable evidence. 
The Council for Civil Service Unions (CCSU) is encouraging departmental trade union sides to get involved in the survey process and promote the survey to union members. PCS therefore advises members to take part in the survey and respond honestly to the questions raised.
Press release ~ PCS
STFC: The success of 3 sea temperature measuring devices, which have enabled the Met Office and other scientists to produce accurate climate change data and contributed to climate change modelling was celebrated last week at the Science and Technology Facilities Council’s (STFC’s) Rutherford Appleton Laboratory (RAL).
Scientists from as far afield as Australia who have worked on the satellite instruments known as Along Track Scanning Radiometers (ATSRs) gathered to mark the coming of age of the devices which provide accurate measurements of sea surface temperature, vital to the process of monitoring climate change and improving the quality of our weather forecasts.
Press release ~ Along Track Scanning Radiometers (ATSRs) ~ Space Science and Technology Department (SSTD) at RAL ~ Artist’s impression of the ENVISAT satellite in orbit, carrying the AATSR instrument (scroll down for other related images) ~ Department of Energy and Climate Change ~ Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) ~Science and Technology Facilities Council
PCSUK Border Agency (UKBA) staff working at juxtaposed controls in Calais, Dunkirk, Coquelles and Boulogne have voted for industrial action as management plans to scrap allowances for day & night shifts and cut the overnight allowance from 68 Euros to 45 Euros, according to the PCS union.
The union estimates that the average staff member could lose over £500pm in allowances which are given to UKBA staff who work on immigration controls and undertake freight searches in France on detached duty.
Press release ~ PCS ~ UK Border Agency (UKBA)
ACEArts Council England Chief Executive Alan Davey has called for any future government to maintain levels of investment in the arts because to do so is ‘rational, economically sound and essential to our quality of life.’  In his keynote speech at the recent ‘Culture Is Right’ conference, he challenged those who argue that subsidising the arts does not offer value for money.
He illustrated how every £1 of public money invested in the arts levers in a further £2 from elsewhere, creates jobs and contributes significantly to the fastest growing sector of our national economy.
Press release ~ ‘Culture Is Right’ conference ~ ACE
EHRC: The Equality and Human Rights Commission has launched a new review of evidence that captures the experiences & challenges facing transgender people in Britain. The Trans Research Review highlights that some transgender people experience transphobia including bullying & discriminatory treatment in schools, harassment & physical/sexual assault and rejection from families, work colleagues & friends.
Commission research in Wales found that 45% of respondents would be unhappy if a close relative married or entered into a long-term relationship with a transgender person and a third felt that a transgender person would be unsuitable as a primary school teacher. 
The review highlights significant gaps in knowledge about key areas of life for trans people and the need for improving policies and practices designed to reduce discrimination.
Press release ~ Trans research review ~ EHRC: Trans inequalities reviewed
ScotGov: The Homecoming of the first of hundreds of archive records to the Highlands has been marked by Parliamentary Business Manager Bruce Crawford, during a visit to the new Highland Archive and Registration Centre in Inverness.
Hundreds of volumes from 150 Church of Scotland Highland parishes & congregations as well as Customs & Excise, Fishery and JP court records are due to be sent to the Highlands from the National Archives in Edinburgh by the Keeper of the Records of Scotland.
Press release ~ National Archives of Scotland ~ Highland Archive and Registration Centre ~ Highland Youth Forum ~ Keeper of the Records of Scotland
 PCS: The Public and Commercial Services Union (PCS) has criticised a policy by conciliation service Acas to dismiss staff just before they gain full employment rights and qualify for the right to claim unfair dismissal. The policy for Acas directors says: ‘In terminating the contracts of temporary staff after 52 weeks’ service we are at risk from ET claims, particularly when work they are engaged to carry out is still required.’
Acas has recruited a number of temporary administrative staff pending the introduction of a new computer system which is due to go live shortly. PCS believes that to avoid the possibility of those individuals earning employment rights Acas has actively pursued a policy of dismissing them at 51 weeks, avoiding the possibility of unfair dismissal claims.  Dismissed staff have then been replaced with new temporary employees.
Press release ~ PCS ~ Acas ~ Employment Agencies: Implementation of the Agency Workers Directive: A Consultation on draft regulations ~ EU Agency Workers Directive ~ Closed earlier consultation ~ BIS – Employment Agency Standards ~ May 2009 Joint Declaration
DfT: Children are being urged to ‘Be Bright, Be Seen’ this winter in a THINK! road safety campaign launched as the clocks went back an hour last Sunday (October 25). In 2008, 712 children aged 6 to11 were killed or seriously injured while walking in Great Britain while 155 children of the same age were killed or seriously injured while cycling.
Press release ~ Be Bright, Be Seen ~ ‘Tales of the Road’ child road safety campaign
FSAHershey’s Chocolate Reeses Cookies bought on or after 2 August 2009 from have been withdrawn from sale because the product may contain peanuts, which is not mentioned on the label.  This means this product is a possible health risk for anyone who is allergic to peanuts and the agency has issued an Allergy Alert advising anyone with an allergy to peanuts to not eat this product. No other Hershey’s products are known to be affected.
Press release ~ Empire Food Brokers Ltd withdraws Hershey’s Chocolate Reeses Cookies due to a labelling error ~ Allergy UK ~ Anaphylaxis Campaign ~ Empire Food Brokers Ltd ~ Ocado ~ Food allergy and intolerance
UKOC: The nation's third Get online day took place last week with Barnsley at the centre of festivities across the country. As part of the Totally Online Barnsley campaign, the town officially launched Get online day and played host to the flagship event split across two UK online centre venues - Royston Community Learning Centre in the morning, and Barnsley Central Library in the afternoon.
The aim of the day was to encourage thousands of off-line people to be a part of IT and take their first steps onto the internet.  For those already online, it is a chance to find out more about how the internet can save them time, hassle & money - and a chance to pass IT on to other people they think could benefit from online life.
Press release ~ UK online – Pass it on
DH: A new advertising from drugs information & advice service, FRANK, has been launched to warn 15 to 18 year olds about the risks of using cocaine and the damage it can do to the heart & nose.  The £1.6m campaign will extend last year’s successful ‘Pablo the drug mule dog’ campaign, with two new additional TV ads continuing Pablo’s journey to expose the darker side of coke.
One ad, featuring a gory beating & talking heart, will show the link between cocaine and heart attacks & seizures.  The other ad, featuring a snotty & bloody talking nostril, will show the immediate and longer term damage the drug can do to the structure of the nose.
Press release ~ Talk to Frank ~ There’s a darker side to coke
WiredGov Survey Report: How Are Public Sector Budget Cuts Hurting Talent Acquisition?