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Tag Archives: National

IPPR calls for guaranteed public sector pay rise

Prison officerImage copyright PA

The government should guarantee public sector pay rises to ease the wages squeeze on vital public services employees, the IPPR has said.

Public sector pay should either rise in line with inflation or private sector pay, the centre-left think tank added.

The GMB union backed the call, saying the policy would encourage public sector staff retention.

The Treasury said the public sector pay cap was scrapped in September, and pay was being reviewed.

Alfie Stirling, IPPR senior economic analyst, said: “It is vital that the public sector does not get left behind.

“Public goods, such as health, education and law and order, are the foundations upon which successful private commerce is built.”

The cost of raising public sector pay in line with Consumer Prices Index inflation over the next two years would be £5.8bn, with the cost dropping to £3.55bn after taxes and lower welfare payments, according to the IPPR analysis.

Higher spending in the economy would reduce the figure further – to £3.3bn by the end of the 2019/20 financial year, said the report.

To bump public sector pay in line with the private sector would cost about £8bn, or about £5bn after tax receipts, Mr Stirling said.

The value of public sector pay has been “significantly eroded” by a seven-year pay squeeze, IPPR added.

Funding

In September the government announced that the cap on public sector pay rises in England and Wales was to be lifted, and that ministers would get “flexibility” to breach a longstanding 1% limit.

But Joe Dromey, IPPR senior research fellow, told the BBC that “the government has so far not confirmed that additional funding would be available to meet any pay rise over and above the 1% that had been budgeted for”.

“This means that in the absence of additional funding, a pay rise of above 1% would have to be covered by the department concerned, leading to further cuts.

“This will in effect limit the pay rises that are recommended, and it will represent a continuation of the pay squeeze,” he added.

However, a Treasury spokesperson said the government would not want to pre-empt the work of independent pay review bodies looking public sector pay.

Pay awards will recognise workers’ contributions, the spokesperson added.

“Public sector workers do a fantastic job and the government is committed to ensuring they can continue to deliver world-class public services,” the spokesperson said.

“Public sector pay packages will continue to recognise workers’ vital contributions, while also being affordable and fair to taxpayers as a whole.”

The GMB union, which supported the IPPR research, said the findings proved that raising public sector pay was affordable.

National officer Rehana Azam said: “Recruitment and retention problems are impairing public services for everyone as staff are pushed to breaking point. The public sector pay pinch is hurting but it isn’t working.”

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Bradford Council backs national bid to secure five per cent pay rise for local authority workers

A national bid to secure local authority workers a five per cent pay rise next year won Bradford Council’s backing tonight.

A motion put forward by the Labour group backed the joint claim by unions UNISON, GMB and Unite, and called on the Government to provide the money to pay for it.

The meeting heard that pay on average had fallen by 21 per cent in real terms since 2010 thanks to nationally-set pay freezes and caps.

Council leader, Councillor Susan Hinchcliffe, praised the work Bradford Council staff did, adding: “National government seem to put local government at the bottom of their list when they talk of lifting the pay cap.”

But Councillor Mike Pollard (Con, Baildon), said pension data showed staff were still getting rises, calling the one per cent cap “a myth”.

Game of Thrones: Traffic banned from Dark Hedges road

The Dark HedgesImage copyright Northern Ireland Tourist Board
Image caption The famous tunnel of beech trees was used by the Game of Thrones crew to represent the ‘King’s Road’

Traffic is to be banned from part of a County Antrim road, made famous by the TV fantasy drama Game of Thrones, to protect trees known as the Dark Hedges.

The iconic tunnel of beech trees on the Bregagh Road, near Armoy, has become a major international tourist attraction.

The scene was used by the Game of Thrones crew to represent “the King’s Road” in the HBO drama series.

However, Stormont’s Department for Infrastructure is introducing a ban on cars using the road from 30 October.

The order will also prohibit buses and coaches from using the designated stretch of the Bregagh Road.

Any motorist who flouts the ban could face a fine of up to £1,000.

Some vehicles – including agricultural and emergency vehicles – will be exempt from the ban “in certain circumstances”.

‘National treasure’

The Dark Hedges were planted more than 200 years ago by the Stuart family, who created a tree-lined avenue along the entrance to their Gracehill House mansion.

About 150 were planted by James Stuart, but time has taken its toll over the centuries and now, fewer than two thirds remain standing.

Image copyright Kevin McAuley
Image caption A large branch of one of the trees fell onto the Bregagh Road in July 2016

In January 2016, during Storm Gertrude, high winds ripped up two trees, causing them to collapse.

Later that year, a large, rotten branch broke off one of the trees and fell across the road.

The Dark Hedges became a huge draw for tourists and TV fans after they appeared, albeit very briefly, in the closing scene of one episode of Game of Thrones.

Arya Stark, one of the show’s main characters, was filmed travelling on a cart along the road, disguised as a boy.

Conservationists have expressed alarm about the increasing traffic levels in the area and the possible damage to the trees’ roots.

During the Easter holidays this year, pictures of traffic jams were shared on social media, some criticising the number of vehicles lining the road.

The organisation, NI Greenways, described the Dark Hedges as a “national treasure” and claimed it was being slowly killed.

Image copyright @nigreenways

The Department for Infrastructure published the banning order on 5 October.

It had proposed the ban last year, after “discussions with Causeway Coast and Glens Borough Council and other interested parties”.

It launched a consultation and said “four written objections were received and duly considered and no other representations were received”.

The ban is will be enforced along Bregagh Road, from its junction with Ballinlea Road to its junction with Ballykenver Road.

The department said new traffic signs, advising the public of the ban, would be erected in the area “in due course”.

Why is cancer a taboo in black and Asian communities?

A BBC reporter who’s been diagnosed with breast cancer is trying to persuade more black and Asian women to talk openly about the disease.

Satnam Rana, 40, who’s keeping a video diary, said she came from a community that sometimes doesn’t like “to face reality”.

The BBC Midlands Today arts and culture reporter attended a Macmillan coffee morning event in Shirley, Solihull, where one woman said her family mistakenly believed she’d caught cancer from a sick friend.

National screening statistics show people from ethnic minority communities do not go for screening as much as their white counterparts.

‘Extinct’ diamond spider found at National Trust park

Diamond spiderImage copyright National trust
Image caption The diamond spider is so-called because of the marking on its back

A spider not seen in the UK for about 50 years has been discovered at a National Trust site in Nottinghamshire.

The diamond spider, so-called due to its markings, was presumed extinct, but was found by two trust volunteers on heath land at Clumber Park, Worksop.

The spider, 7mm (0.2 inch), has only been recorded three times, all in the south of England, and not since 1969.

Lucy Stockton, who made the discovery, said she was “thrilled” by the find and that the species still existed.

Live updates and more from the East Midlands

Ms Stockton and a fellow National Trust volunteer were taking part in a ecological survey of the park when the arachnid was spotted.

Image copyright NAtional Trust
Image caption Trevor Harris and Lucy Stockton discovered the spider during an ecological survey

She said: “The spider ran away from me twice but with persistence and some luck I caught it.

“Upon closer inspection our spider had a conspicuous cardiac mark, a black diamond shape on its abdomen, edged with white that helped us to identify it.”

The last recorded sightings of the arachnid occurred in Legsheath and Duddleswell, in Ashdown Forest, East Sussex, in 1969.

It was also found near Brokenhurst, in the New Forest, Hampshire, at the end of the 19th century.

Image copyright National Trust
Image caption The spider is only 7mm (0.2 inch) in diameter

The spider’s habitat includes boggy areas with moss, purple moor grass and heather.

The National Trust is currently working on an £8.5m restoration project to revive parts of Clumber Park and hope to restore 25,000 hectares of habitat by 2025.

Matt Shardlow, chief executive of conservation group Buglife, said they had almost given up hope of finding the “pretty little spider”.

UK’s longest-lasting patch of snow melts away

Iain Cameron's tweetImage copyright Iain Cameron
Image caption Snow expert Iain Cameron and the last remnants of the snow patch before it melted

An 11-year-old patch of snow has melted away on Britain’s third highest mountain.

Known as the Sphinx, the snow at Garbh Choire Mor on Braeriach is historically the longest-lasting in Scotland‘s mountains.

Experts believe snow at that spot has now only disappeared completely seven times in the last 300 years.

Affectionately know by climbers and walkers as “Scotland‘s glacier”, it last melted in 2006.

Image copyright Iain Cameron
Image caption The patch of snow on Braeriach in early September

The last layers of snow that melted away over the weekend fell late in 2006.

Another patch of snow on Aonach Beag melted last week. This is the first time in 11 years that no patches of snow have survived on Scotland’s hills.

Stirling-based Iain Cameron, who seeks out and records snow that survives on Scotland’s highest mountains, had earlier forecast that the Sphinx was at risk of melting away.

Mild and wet weather during the most recent winter was a major factor in reducing the snow patch’s chances of survival.

In August, for the first time in 11 years, there was no snow on Britain’s highest mountain, Ben Nevis.


Fickle flakes: Snow in Scotland

Image copyright SAIS Glencoe
Image caption Snow in Glen Coe in 2014

Snow was a rare feature of the Scottish winter of 2016/17.

National snowsports body Ski-Scotland described it as a “challenging” season for Scotland’s outdoor ski centres because of the lack of snow and mild temperatures.

The Scottish Avalanche Information Service also reported its lowest number of recorded avalanches in almost 10 years.

But just three years previously, there was tonnes of the white stuff.

World-renowned climber Hamish MacInnes believed the 2013/14 winter in Scotland’s mountains was the snowiest since 1945.

He told BBC Scotland News in February 2014: “The first time I went climbing was in 1945 and I remember cutting our way through snow in Glencoe.

“I’ve not seen anything like it until now.

“The volume of snow is colossal.”


According to records, the Sphinx previously melted in 1933, 1953, 1959, 1996, 2003 and 2006.

Dr Adam Watson, a biologist dubbed Mr Cairngorms because of his years studying the mountains, has written of the snow at Garbh Choire Mor.

His research of snow lying there for years drew on information handed down by generations of stalkers and families that had worked in that area.

Image copyright Iain Cameron

Braeriach is a 1,296m (4,252ft) Munro in the Cairngorms.

Garbh Choire Mor is described as Scotland’s snowiest corrie because of the amount of snow it can hold even through summer months.

UKClimbing.com describes Garbh Choire Mor as “remote” and having an “alpine feel”.

It also warns that it is a place to avoid in winter because of cornices – large overhanging ledges of snow that form above the corrie.

Bradford school and executive headteacher chosen for top supporting role

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ST CUTHBERT and The First Martyrs’ Catholic Primary School, Bradford, and executive headteacher Daniel Copley have been chosen for top roles supporting schools in challenging circumstances and training new teachers.

Mr Copley is one of more than 75 headteachers to be appointed to the role of national leader of education in the latest recruitment round.

He said: “We are delighted to have been awarded with the designation of Teaching School Status. The award is testament to the hard work, commitment, ambition and drive all school staff and governors have in ensuring the children in our school community get outstanding education, every day. We look forward to continuing to drive standards in Bradford in the future.”

National leaders of education along with staff in their school – appointed as national support schools – use their knowledge and experience to provide additional leadership capability in other schools in need of support.

Otley motorbike racer dies after Ulster GP crash

A motorcycle racer from Otley has died after being critically injured in a road race in Northern Ireland earlier this month.

Gavin Lupton, who was 37, crashed in the Dundrod 150 Challenge race at the Dundrod road circuit in Co Antrim on August 10.

Mr Lupton, 37, was known as “Luppy”.

The Dundrod and District Motorcycle Club, which organises the Ulster Grand Prix, described him as an “experienced and popular rider”.

“The Dundrod and District Motorcycle Club would like to offer its heartfelt condolences to Gavin’s family, friends and team, and requests that their privacy is respected as they come to terms with his passing,” the club said in a statement.

The crash that killed Mr Hodson also injured his brother Rob, though not seriously.

Jamie Hodson, 35, from Wigan, was killed in a crash during another race on the same day, the Dundrod 150 National.

The two deaths are the latest to hit road racing in Northern Ireland – a sport that has been blighted by fatalities in recent years.

Premier League clubs ‘want transfer window shut before start of next season’

Premier League clubs are pushing for the transfer window to be shut before the start of the season, according to reports.

National newspapers say the issue is set to be discussed at a shareholders’ meeting in September with a majority of clubs in favour of shortening the window, which this year closes on August 31.

The move comes amid uncertainty over the future of a number of players, including Liverpool‘s Philippe Coutinho , Everton’s Ross Barkley and Swansea striker Gylfi Sigurdsson.

Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp appeared to lend his support to the idea at a press conference ahead of his side’s UEFA Champions League match in Hoffenheim.

Klopp said: “It would have helped us this year (if the window had shut early). It makes sense that when the season is starting, planning for the team is over.”

Liverpool's coach Jurgen Klopp gestures during the training session in preparation for upcoming Champions League's qualifier soccer match between 1899 Hoffenheim and FC Liverpool
Liverpool’s coach Jurgen Klopp gestures during the training session in preparation for upcoming Champions League’s qualifier soccer match between 1899 Hoffenheim and FC Liverpool
(Image: (Uwe Anspach/dpa via AP))

His Swansea counterpart Paul Clement, who faces losing Sigurdsson to Everton, has also indicated that Premier League bosses broadly back the change.

“At our managers’ meeting at the Premier League last week, we spoke about it,’ Clement said over the weekend.

“The majority of clubs are in favour but maybe all have to be for it to go through. It could happen next year.”


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Southampton’s Virgil van Dijk is another player whose future remains in doubt with a number of rival Premier League clubs still interested in signing him.

Officials at the Premier League were not immediately available to comment on the reports.

Premier League clubs aiming to shorten transfer window – reports

Premier League clubs are pushing for the transfer window to be shut before the start of the season, according to reports.

National newspapers say the issue is set to be discussed at a shareholders’ meeting in September with a majority of clubs in favour of shortening the window, which this year closes on August 31.

The move comes amid uncertainty over the future of a number of players, including Liverpool‘s Philippe Coutinho, Everton’s Ross Barkley and Swansea striker Gylfi Sigurdsson.

Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp appeared to lend his support to the idea at a press conference ahead of his side’s UEFA Champions League match in Hoffenheim.

Klopp said: “It would have helped us this year (if the window had shut early). It makes sense that when the season is starting, planning for the team is over.”

His Swansea counterpart Paul Clement, who faces losing Sigurdsson to Everton, has also indicated that Premier League bosses broadly back the change.

“At our managers’ meeting at the Premier League last week, we spoke about it,’ Clement said over the weekend.

“The majority of clubs are in favour but maybe all have to be for it to go through. It could happen next year.”

Southampton’s Virgil van Dijk is another player whose future remains in doubt with a number of rival Premier League clubs still interested in signing him.

Officials at the Premier League were not immediately available to comment on the reports.

Source: PA



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