General News

TfL: Twenty-five arrests were made over the weekend, following Operation Helvellyn - part of a drive to tackle taxi touts in central London.  The Metropolitan Police Service (MPS) and the Cab Enforcement Unit, part of the Transport for London (TfL) funded Transport Operational Command Unit (TOCU), targeted illegal cabs during a high visibility operation.

Uniformed Police Officers and Police Community Support Officers patrolled hotspots to tackle touting and other cab related issues.  They also offered advice to members of the public warning them that any minicab journey that is not booked through a licensed minicab operator is illegal, uninsured & unsafe.  Bar & club managers whose venues attract high numbers of illegal cabs were also advised on the danger these cabs pose to their customers.
Press release ~ Safer Travel at Night ~ Cabwise ~ Findaride ~ Traveltools
NA: With the 200th anniversary of Charles Darwin's birth celebrated this month, The National Archives looks at some of the documents & resources held on the pioneering naturalist. The event that was to change Darwin's life (and the course of scientific theory forever) was his 5-year voyage around the world aboard HMS Beagle - the Admiralty surveying ship under the command of Robert Fitzroy.
The observations & collections made on his voyage, particularly of the different species found in the Galapagos Islands, led Darwin to develop his theory of evolution by natural selection.  His ground-breaking and controversial work, On the Origin of Species, was published in 1859, following over 20 years of research & development.
Press release ~ Podcast: Darwin's voyage: HMS Beagle 1831-6 ~ HMS Beagle ~  Down Friendly Society ~ Image of Darwin
PCS: The PCS union has highlighted a recent announcement from The Chagos Island Community Association (CICA) regarding the death of Chagossian Regina Mandarin, who died of pneumonia recently at the age of 68.
She was born in 1940 on the Peros Banhos atoll in the Chagos Archipelago.  Regina was forcibly removed along with her family, on different ships, to Mauritius by the British government of Harold Wilson which had signed a secret deal with the US government to use the main island of Diego Garcia as a US military base.
Regina inspired her family, countless friends & supporters by her dogged determination, her passion and principled stand on the fundamental question of the islanders ‘right to return’ and the removal of the US military base on Diego Garcia.
Press release ~ The Chagos Island Community Association (CICA)
ScotGov: Last week saw Scottish Ministers taking part in a series of events to mark Scottish Environment Week (SEW) and urge even more Scots to 'Go Greener' in 2009.  SEW brings together politicians and environmental groups to celebrate Scotland's Environment.  Since it's inception in 2003, the week has become a popular fixture in the parliamentary calendar.
Press release ~ Scottish Environment week ~ 'INCREASE III' (Investment in Community Recycling and Social Enterprise) ~ Waste & Resources Action Programme (WRAP) Scotland ~ Eco Schools programme ~ 'Go Greener' campaign - Scotland
CRC: Recent Commission for Rural Communities (CRC) studies show that rural people are becoming increasingly dependent on the car as a result of the decline in public transport services and the CRC fears that the issue will hit remote communities hard as the recession deepens.  Dr Stuart Burgess, Chair of the CRC, visited Lincolnshire last week to see how public authorities are tackling isolation faced by rural locations.
In Lincolnshire, the issue is being tackled head on by local authorities, who are running on-demand public transport links in conjunction with scheduled services to meet the travel needs of everyone in the county, not just those in busy urban centres and towns.  The CallConnect service operates from 7am to 7pm, taking people where they need to go, when they need to.  
Press release ~ Commission for Rural Communities (CRC) ~ CallConnect service ~ Thinking about rural transport: Rural life without carbon ~ Thinking about rural transport: The potential impacts of road pricing on rural areas ~ Thinking about rural transport: Sustainable rural accessibility – is it really possible?
TDA: Teaching is experiencing its biggest recruitment boom for years with one in ten workers considering a career in teaching, according to statistics from the Training and Development Agency for Schools (TDA).  The TDA has seen an increase of 45% in online enquiries from potential teachers since the start of the recruitment year, compared to the same period year on year.
The TDA is hosting 3 Train to Teach recruitment events across the country starting in the capital on Friday 27 February.  The events encourage jobseekers to speak to teachers and training providers about life in the classroom and the application process. So far this year, 8,977 people have registered to attend an event, significantly up on 2008.
Press release ~ Register for one of the Train to Teach events ~ Examples of teaching in action on the TDA's Youtube page ~ Get into teaching ~ Facebook of a male teacher ~ Facebook of a female teacher
BERR: The hunt has begun for the UK's enterprise success stories with the launch of the Enterprising Britain 2009 competition in Scarborough - the winner of last year's competition.  The competition seeks out areas of enterprise excellence from across the UK - villages, towns, cities and neighbourhoods which have embedded a culture of enterprise that supports and encourages their entrepreneurs & businesses, helping them to survive the downturn and emerge stronger on the other side.
Enterprising Britain is free to enter and is open to all places in the UK that can demonstrate the impact enterprise has had on their community in the past two years.  Entries must be submitted by 30 April 2009 and the winner will be announced in October.
Press release ~ Scarborough Renaissance Partnership ~ Make Your Mark ~ Enterprising Britain 2008 ~ Application forms for 2009 ~ European Enterprise Awards
WAG: As Fair Trade Fortnight began, 2 farmers from the developing world were touring Wales to raise awareness of how they are trading their way out of poverty.  Bernard Ranaweera, a tea producer from Sri Lanka and Bella Joachim, a banana farmer from Dominica in the Windward Isles visited locations & events all over Wales to raise awareness of how Fair Trade helps them.
June 2008 saw Wales become the world’s first fair trade nation following a 2-year campaign by the Wales Fair Trade Forum, funded by the Welsh Assembly Government, to increase the availability of fair trade products in towns, cities & counties across Wales, and encouraging schools, businesses and other organisations to switch to Fair Trade.
Press release ~ WAG – Fair Trade ~ Fair Trade Fortnight ~ Wales Fair Trade Forum
ScotGov: Two limited extensions have been made to the April 30 deadline for the compulsory vaccination of cattle and sheep against bluetongue. Farmers with livestock on uninhabited islands and, on a case by case basis, with particularly remote hill sheep flocks north of the Great Glen can apply for a vaccination extension of two months.  The extended deadline of June 30 reflects difficulties and potential welfare implications for these groups.
These extensions were devised following discussions with key industry stakeholders such as NFU Scotland, the National Sheep Association and the Scottish Crofting Foundation.  They particularly reflect concerns regarding the gathering of heavily pregnant ewes or those with lambs at foot.
Press release ~ ScotGov - Bluetongue virus vaccination ~ Current situation ~ NFU Scotland ~ National Sheep Association ~ Scottish Crofting Foundation
MOAVOID - a new research programme to advise the UK on ‘Avoiding dangerous climate change’ – has been launched by the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) and the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra).  The programme will initially run until the end of 2012.
The key objective of AVOID, in its first year, will be to provide supportive evidence to UK negotiators who aim to secure a robust international agreement in Copenhagen this December which will reduce global greenhouse gas emissions.
Press release ~ Met Office ~ Walker Institute at the University of Reading ~ Tyndall Centre ~ Grantham Institute at Imperial College
DH: More overseas junior doctors will be able to take up a 2-year training placement in the NHS. The Medical Training Initiative (MTI) that provided 250 time-limited placements for doctors from developing countries last year will now be expanded in stages to provide up to 750 opportunities.
The MTI placements can only be made available where a suitable UK doctor cannot be found for the placement. Doctors accepted to the MTI scheme must be from developing countries where medical training is not widely available. MTI visas are limited to two years and doctors will then not be allowed to return on another MTI visa for 5 years.
Press release ~ Medical Training Initiative (MTI) ~ British Medical Association ~ British Association of Physicians of Indian Origin (BAPIO) ~ NHS Employers
ACEArts Council England (ACE) has announced details of a proposed organisation-wide restructure that will save £6.5m a year in administration costs and invest these savings in the arts.  The proposed changes will meet the government’s requirement that ACE saves 15% on its grant in aid administration costs by 2010.  This major review has also given ACE the opportunity to address the recommendations of the July 2008 McIntosh report and the Chief Executive’s vision for the organisation, arising out of his response to that report.
A period of formal consultation with all Arts Council employees about the proposal has now begun and will run until 26 May 2009.  Final plans will then be drawn up and submitted for approval to the National Council in July 2009.  It is expected that all the changes will have been implemented by the end of March 2010.
Press release ~ The Arts Council's organisational review briefing note ~ ACE response to McIntosh review (see annex for review)
WAGCadw, the Welsh Assembly Government’s historic environment division has announced that for the second year it will be operating its small grants scheme which will help towards maintenance costs of places of worship in Wales which are listed.  Applications will be accepted from 1 March 2009 (for 6 months or until fund used up) and grants must be claimed by 31 December 2009.
Responsibility for the maintenance & upkeep of places of worship lies with individual denominations.  However, Cadw can assist with its small grants scheme - the ‘Spring Clean’ grants scheme. A grant of a maximum of £500 per building is available for a range of minor repairs – for example, cleaning rain water gutters & downpipes or securing slipped roof slates - which are necessary to keep places of worship in good order.
Press release ~ Cadw
HA: Construction of the UK's longest road tunnel under land, near Hindhead in Surrey, is a step closer to completion after the tunnel excavations from the north and south met deep under the Surrey Hills. The breakthrough to link the two tunnels is a major milestone for the £371m project.  The next step for the scheme is to complete the tunnel & approach roads.  The scheme is due to open to traffic in summer 2011.
When complete, the A3 road tunnel will reduce traffic at a notorious bottleneck and restore peace & tranquillity in an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. Approximately 30,000 vehicles a day will be taken away from the Surrey Hills - instead travelling deep beneath this protected landscape.  The scheme will also take traffic away from Hindhead village - and complete the A3 dual carriageway link between Portsmouth and London.
Press release ~ Highways Agency - A3 Hindhead Improvement ~ Devil’s Punch Bowl
Award Winning Cycle to Work Scheme