General News

DfT: Commuters and local people using high speed train services in Stratford will benefit from a new free shuttle bus linking the area's railway stations. The new link will enable rail passengers travelling from Kent to use the new Stratford International Station to join the London transport network at Stratford Regional Station without having to travel into central London.
The new high-speed rail link, run by Southeastern between Kent & St Pancras, and stopping in Stratford, is set to start on the 13 December 2009. The new shuttle bus will provide a free service to Southeastern ticket holders between the new Stratford International station and the existing Regional station.
Press release ~ Future of Stratford Regional Station
DH: Sir Michael Parkinson returned to his famous chair to interview 3 people about dignity & respect for those in care and to discuss how ordinary people can inspire others to treat people in care with the dignity they deserve.
At the event in Covent Garden, his interviewees were:
* Barbara Pointon, an Ambassador for the Alzheimer's Society
* Barbara Dearnley, an 80-year-old woman who has been involved in the 'Improving the Care of the Older Person' project at Kings College Hospital
* Amanda Waring, an actress who produced the short film 'What do you see' to raise awareness about how we treat older people
Press release ~ Alzheimer's Society ~ Amanda Waring 'What do you see' ~ Clip of film ~ Dignity in care ~ Dignity Champion's Toolkit for Action ~ People's Award for Dignity
STFC: Scientists have detected an organic sugar molecule that is directly linked to the origin of life, in a region of our galaxy where habitable planets could exist.  The discovery, part funded by the UK’s Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC), has been published on the Astro-ph website.
The molecule – glycolaldehyde - has previously only been detected towards the centre of our galaxy where conditions are extreme compared to the rest of the galaxy.  This new discovery, in an area far from the galactic centre, also suggests that the production of this key ingredient for life could be common throughout the galaxy.  This is good news in our search for alien life, as a wide spread of the molecule improves the chances of it existing along side other molecules vital to life and in regions where Earth-like planets may exist.
Press release ~ Astro-ph website ~ IRAM radio telescope in France ~ Science and Technology Facilities Council
TfL: Walking journeys around some of the Capital's most visited areas are set to increase, thanks to the expansion of Legible London, a unique system of on-street signs, maps and fingerposts designed to make it quicker & easier to walk around the Capital.
The scheme uses 3D representations to give people a quick sense of their bearings and help them locate shops, parks, hotels, landmarks, toilets, Tube stations and other amenities.  It is already successfully guiding visitors around the Bond Street area and will now be extended to cover Regent and Oxford Streets.
As Legible London is introduced, the removal of obsolete signs and their replacement with fewer & more attractive, easy to understand, maps will reduce visual clutter and make life easier for pedestrians.
Press release ~ Legible London ~ Smarter Travel at Transport for London
DCMS: The time has come to begin the search to find a new poet Laureate.  The present Laureate, Professor Andrew Motion, was appointed by HM The Queen in May 1999.  His 10 year tenure comes to an end in 2009 and DCMS is seeking advicefrom academics, key poetry organisations and others in the poetry sector from the UK and Commonwealth.
Since his appointment, he has written poems to address public events as well as Royal occasions. He has also invested a great deal of time & energy in educational advocacy work, making frequent visits to schools & colleges and also co-founding the Poetry Archive, an online collection of poets reading their work.
The public is welcome to write to the DCMS with their thoughts on the future of the Poet Laureate's role or with suggestions for candidates for the Laureateship.  There will not, however, be any kind of public vote to determine the next holder of the post.
Press release ~ Andrew Motion ~ Poetry Archive ~ Children's Poetry Archive
LDALight London has launched with an invited Visioning Forum – timed to coincide with the period of winter lighting commissions and festivals in the UK & abroad.  Light London is a city-wide initiative, developed by Art in the Open and the London Development Agency’s Design for London, asking how creative lighting can transform London’s public realm.  
The LDA will publish the outcomes from the Forum in December and the programme will continue over the next 4 months, finishing in spring 2009 with an evening event and the launch of creative principles.
Press release ~ Art in the Open ~ Design for London
DCMS: Culture Minister Barbara Follett has welcomed the campaign to save the hut of Antarctic explorer Captain Robert Falcon Scott and called on all who care about preserving the Antarctic's heritage to give generously to the project. Ms Follett said that the British Government had donated £250,000 towards the £3.5m project and that, following this, a private British trust, the February Foundation, had made a substantial gift and had also pledged to match any further donations up to £1m.
The hut has survived to present times, but is in urgent need of repair.  It is still full of over 8,000 artefacts dating from the heroic age of Antarctic exploration, making it a time capsule from that era.  The New York-based World Monuments Fund currently identifies Scott's Hut amongst the 100 most endangered sites in the world.
Press release ~ New Zealand Antarctic Heritage Trust ~ UK Antarctic Heritage Trust ~ February Foundation ~ World Monuments Fund
NA: In December, The National Archives will host a number of free events & talks where specialists will share their knowledge and expertise to offer useful advice on research and best practice for using the archives. Subjects range from the Manorial Documents Register to advice on searching for records of births, marriages and deaths at The National Archives and elsewhere.
Other highlights include:
* Child emigration schemes to Canada - an examination of the records & reasons behind the schemes
* The Hearth Tax - a 17th century census? - an overview of how the records were compiled, how to use them and what we can get from them
Press release ~ Events ~ The National Archives Podcast Series
TfLTransport for London has now opened the brand new WhiteCity bus station.  The Shepherd’s Bush Interchange will also open to buses, making it easier for passengers to switch between bus and Tube services in the area.  
The bus station provides a convenient interchange between buses and the new Wood Lane Hammersmith & City line station, and brings several extra bus routes within walking distance for residents of the White City Estate and the BBC Television Centre.  Shoppers heading to & from Westfield will also benefit as White City bus station is immediately next to the north western entrance of the shopping centre.
Press release
MO: The Met Office is about to deliver the world's first free of charge video on-demand weather service for mobiles. The new service, powered by the mobile TV specialist, Gorillabox, will be available through its own branded mobile portal.  Weather forecasts, updated several times a day, will give you access to the very latest weather information direct from the new Met Office television studio in Millbank, London.
Press release ~ Met Office ~ Gorillabox
LRLand Registry has extended the 5-year retention period for certain deeds & documents lodged before 13 October 2003.  The deadline has been extended to 28 February 2009, after which Land Registry will start destroying these deeds & documents if an electronic copy is also held on its database, unless they have been returned or a request has been made for their return.
Under rule 204 of the Land Registration Rules 2003, certain persons (usually the registered proprietor) were given 5 years in which they could make requests for the return of original documents lodged before 13 October 2003 and on which a register entry is or was founded.  Requests should be made in writing to the appropriate local office or using Land Registry form RD1.  There is a fee of £8 per document.
Press release ~ Land Registry form RD1 ~ Land Registry
DCMS: Seven of London's bridges spanning over a 140 years of Thames crossings have been listed by Culture Secretary Andy Burnham, acting upon the advice of English Heritage. Chelsea, Lambeth and Richmond Railway Bridges have all been listed at Grade II, whilst Cremorne, Hammersmith, Twickenham and Vauxhall Bridges have all been listed at, or upgraded to, Grade II*.
Press release ~ English Heritage – Listed Buildings
DIUS: A European Space Agency (ESA) research centre will be established in the UK following an agreement made by Science and Innovation Minister, Lord Drayson with ESA Director General Jean-Jacques Dordain. It will be based at the Harwell science & innovation campus in Oxfordshire, could be up & running within a year.
Once established, ESA money will be directed to fund new work on climate change modelling that uses space data and the development of technologies for a new era of planetary exploration, including robotics and novel power sources.
Press release ~ European Space Agency (ESA) ~ British National Space Centre (BNSC) ~ Global Monitoring for Environment and Security (GMES) programmes ~ Harwell science & innovation campus
HA: The Highways Agency, which is one of the biggest planters of trees in England, is marking National Tree Week (26 November - 7 December) with tree planting events across its network.  As well as screening traffic from homes and places of work, trees also provide a noise barrier, stabilise soil on verges, control water run-off onto roads as well as adjoining land and increase biodiversity.  
The most widely planted tree is the common oak which can play host to over 280 insect species and is the backbone of the traditional lowland English woodland.  The second most used tree is the ash supporting about 40 insect species and with its more open canopy allows a richer ground flora to flourish beneath its leaves.
Press release ~ The Tree Council ~ National Tree Week ~ Assessing the effect of road schemes on historic landscape character (Draft version) ~ Highways Agency - Respecting the Environment 
TDA: The British public has an outdated view of what goes on in the nation's science classes that could threaten future science teacher recruitment, according to a poll released by the Training and Development Agency for Schools (TDA).  In response, teachers themselves are hosting science classes on Youtube to show the reality of teaching today.
A video showcase hosted on You Tube shows five real & creative school science classes from 'screaming jelly babies' to fluids dancing to a bass amplifier.  The most popular experiment will be carried out on a massive scale at the TDA's Train to Teach recruitment events in 2009.
Press release ~ TDA – Teaching Science ~ TDA videos ~ Train to Teach
DfT: Safety ratings for the most popular flip-front motorcycle helmets have been announced by SHARP, the Department for Transport's Safety Helmet Assessment and Rating Programme. The 20 helmets are the first flip-front models to be rated under the scheme and bring the total number of helmets assessed by SHARP - which launched in June 2008 after research showed it could save 50 lives a year - to 96.
All helmets must meet minimum legal safety standards, but the SHARP scheme uses a wider range of tests to provide riders with more information on how much protection a helmet can provide in a crash.  The SHARP tests showed that the safety performance of helmets can vary by as much as 70%. Head injuries occur in 80% of all motorcyclist fatalities and in 70% of these the head injury is the most serious.
Press release ~ SHARP, the DfT’s Safety Helmet Assessment and Rating Programme
DfT: Plans to introduce spacious, longer and more comfortable trains, which will provide an extra 14,500 seats for passengers travelling in South-East England, are set to move a step closer Transport Minister Andrew Adonis has announced.  Trains will be up to 50% longer and designed to maximise passenger comfort.
Press release ~ Rolling Stock Plan ~ Thameslink Rolling Stock Project ~ First Capital Connect
Award Winning Cycle to Work Scheme