Wear getting a bridge
Published: 16 Dec 2011
Sunderland City Council are celebrating after plans to build an ambitious new bridge were given the go ahead. The Government have agreed to provide £82.6 million to help fund the bridge which will be 180 metres high and 336 metres long, making it the tallest bridge in Britain.
The North East of England has always been famous for its bridges, most notably on the Tyne. The Tyne boasts the infamous Tyne Bridge, the swing bridge built by Lord Armstrong and the the innovative hydraulically powered Millennium bridge. However, the Wear will now have a landmark bridge of its own to join the historic Queen Alexandria bridge.
The Council bid for £82.5 million after the Government announced that £630 million would be made available for projects that will help economic growth and provide jobs. Following the successful bid, Sunderland claims that the project could create thousands of jobs.
Councillor Paul Watson, leader of Sunderland City Council, said, "The investment in a strategic infrastructure scheme will open up regeneration sites along the River Wear and bring forward investment to Sunderland. We see this project as an integral part of Sunderland’s ongoing regeneration as it can help create thousands of new jobs by improving links between the A19, the city centre and the Port of Sunderland."
Work on the bridge is expected to begin in 2012, with work being completed by 2015.
Canada disagrees with protocol
Published: 14 Dec 2011
Canada is to be the first country to pull out of the Kyoto protocol, the minister of the environment announced. Peter Kent said that the agreement "does not represent a way forward for Canada" and that "Kyoto, for Canada, is in the past, and as such we are invoking our legal right to withdraw from Kyoto".
The Kyoto protocol was adopted in 1997 and it commits all industrialised countries who sign it to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions. As of September 2011, 191 countries had signed up to it, although soon there will be one less signatory.
In Canada, however, it is claimed that meeting their obligations under the protocol will cost approximately $13.6 billion. There is a feeling that such a price is unjustified, as even if it is paid, greenhouse gas emissions will still rise as some of the largest producers of emissions are either not bound by the targets of the Kyoto Protocol or have not signed it.
It was Canada's former Government that signed up to the Kyoto Protocol, obliging them to cut their emissions to 6% of the 1990 levels by 2012. However, by 2009 emissions were 17% higher than 1990 levels, nowhere near the reduction target.
Canada does, however, support a new deal which will cover all countries, including India and China who, under the protocol, only have to take voluntary non-binding steps to reduce their carbon emissions. This has left some to question whether or not other countries will follow suit.
For more information, see:
- Decision 2002/358/EC, on the approval, on behalf of the European Community, of the Kyoto Protocol to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change.
When Santa got stuck up the chimney, he wasn't being safe
Published: 14 Dec 2011
It's that time of year again! Christmas decorations are going up, office parties make sure the year goes out with a bang (hopefully not literally) and minor embarrassment will be experienced by some. But it will be even better to start the New Year without any new entries in the accident book! Staying safe at Christmas does not mean festivities have to be ruined. Just by following these easy steps you can make sure Christmas at work is safe and fun.
Decorating the office:
- when decorating the office, use some stable stepladders and not a swivel chair;
- avoid placing decorations such as tinsel near to computers - accidentally covering a vent could be dangerous;
- don't place decorations on top of heat sources otherwise you may get a large insurance claim;
- make sure emergency exits and emergency signs are not blocked by decorations;
- check to make sure your Christmas tree lights meet modern safety standards and aren't too old, and always turn them off before you leave work.
The office party:
- make sure office parties are cleared by your employers, they are still liable for accidents and damage after the working day ends;
- it is a good idea to make sure someone at the party is trained in first-aid but remember, don't force people to attend, some people will not want to go;
- make sure you know where the nearest fire extinguishers are;
- if alcohol will be present, check to see if the company has an alcohol policy and follow it if so;
- equally, if alcohol is present make sure the floor is clear of clutter to avoid tripping;
- make sure party food is kept in the fridge to avoid any illness;
- avoid using the photocopier to create copies of your anatomy - broken glass will leave you in A&E and no office chair will be able to counter the discomfort, you'll end up feeling like the angel on top of the tree;
- move desks and computers safely away from liquids;
- finally, make sure you make arrangements to get home safely!
These points are very simple to follow and take very little preparation or thought and importantly they do not spoil the fun. Have a safe Christmas.
It's going to be a green, green Christmas
Published: 14 Dec 2011
In line with the trend for going green, many councils have decided to use eco-friendly Christmas lighting this year.
Hailsham Council have been particularly eco-conscious by installing low-energy, eco-friendly LED bulbs in all its festive lighting and making sure all its Christmas trees come from sustainable forestry sources.
Members of the public in Hailsham are also being encouraged to be environmentally-friendly by taking along empty glass jars for the candle-lit carol singing, after which the jars will be collected and recycled.
Mayor Jeff Bentley-Astor said, "This year, it's not only about bringing the community together to celebrate the countdown to Christmas with their friends and family, but making a conscientious effort to incorporate environmental practices into the town's celebrations."
Alton Town Council are also attempting an energy efficient Christmas by trialling low wattage bulbs in three of their displays. If all of the 15 watt bulbs are replaced with 1.2 watt bulbs, the initial cost would be increased, however, it would be offset by the significantly reduced energy cost.
Other councils partaking in a green Christmas include Boston Borough Council which has spent £35,000 on new eco-friendly lights, as well as Halstead Council which has bought 1,800 low watt LED bulbs to decorate the high street.
Portas' review of town centres
Published: 14 Dec 2011
Mary Portas, the "Queen of shops" has completed a seven month independent review of Britain's high streets for the Government. The arrival of internet shopping and the change in retail has produced a phenomenal change in our high streets, meaning gone are the days of high streets containing little more than the butcher, baker and candlestick maker.
Since 2000, more than 25,000 shops have closed. Portas said, "The high streets have reached a crisis point. Unless urgent action is taken much of Britain will lose, irretrievably, something that is fundamental to our society."
Amongst her 28 recommendations to improve, protect and save our high streets, Portas has advised that the planning system is changed so that:
- the restrictive aspects of "Use Classes" are addressed in order to change the uses of properties on the high street;
- betting shops are placed into a class of their own;
- a "presumption in favour of town centre development" is made clear in the National Planning Policy Framework;
- local authorities should be more proactive in their use of compulsory purchase order powers to encourage redevelopment;
- developers should make a financial contribution to make sure the local community has a strong voice in the planning system;
- support is given to community use of empty premises through a Community Right to Buy.
"The problems facing our high streets are complicated and sometimes overwhelming but it's also not impossible - and I believe we can turn things around", said Portas.
For more information, see the:
Published: 12 Dec 2011
A restaurant owner and one of his employees have had to pay a total of £20,941, after pleading guilty to numerous fire safety offences under the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order SI 2005/1541.
The fire was started deliberately on the ground floor of the Red Ginger in Bushey, Hertfordshire, in the early hours of Friday 9 July 2010. An employee who was sleeping on the first floor was woken by the smell of smoke which had engulfed the premises. He had to escape by climbing up through a window, sliding down the roof and dropping to the ground. Fire crews wearing breathing apparatus entered the premises to search for other occupants and to extinguish the fire. Nobody else was found, despite numerous beds and mattresses discovered on the first floor. The crew also noticed that the fire alarm system was not working.
Among the offences, there was a failure to carry out a fire risk assessment and a failure to provide emergency lighting for escape routes. Both Kamruz Zaman and Adiel Choudhury pleaded guilty to failing to provide appropriate fire fighting equipment and detection and alarm systems, failure to appoint competent persons and a failure to provide safe emergency routes and exits.
Hertfordshire's chief fire officer Roy Wilshire commented, "Where breaches of fire legislation are considered so serious that there is a risk of death or serious injury to persons, we will consider prosecution. In this case, members of the public and employees were put at risk and one employee was extremely fortunate to escape with his life."