Wednesday, 25 April 2012

Dangerous Dogs

Recent horrific attacks have refocused attention on the growing problem of dangerous dogs and, in particular, the use of so-called "status dogs" by gangs. London Councils is urging the government to bring forward promised proposals for possible changes to the laws to combat this threat. This briefing alerts members to the scale of the problem in London, the existing powers councils have and the specific new measures being called for by London Councils.

courtesy of London Councils

Primary school admissions

Figures published by the Pan-London Admissions Board last week show that 90 per cent of London pupils starting primary school in September have been offered a place at one of their top three primary school choices, with more than three quarters getting their first preference. Pan London Admissions Board chair Helen Jenner said that co-ordinating admissions meant a fairer and more efficient system, but that no system could create places at schools that are already full. “London local authorities are working hard to try and ensure that they can offer ever child a school place, but with this surge in demand it is becoming increasingly difficult

Building new school places

London Councils has warned that the capital’s local authorities face an enormous challenge to keep pace with the demand for school places over the coming years. With pupil numbers set to increase in London at more than double the national rate, London Councils’ research carried out last year forecast a shortfall of 65,000 primary school places between 2011 and 2015. More than 200 new classrooms are being built in London in time for September and the government recently announced that London local authorities would receive half of the £600 million additional capital basic need funding it is allocating to create additional schools places. While this funding is welcomed, London Councils has warned that a significant financial shortfall remains, with the cost of ! meeting additional demand for school places across the capital predicted to rise to more than £1.7 billion over the next four years.

Tuesday, 24 April 2012

Ed Miliband: I'll be methodical leader

Ed Miliband has told the BBC he intends to be "methodical" as Labour leader and not make rash promises - to win over a public that has lost trust in politics.
In an interview with BBC political editor Nick Robinson, he refused to promise to put taxes back up on the rich if his party wins power.
Labour has criticised the government for reducing the top rate of income tax rate from 50p to 45p for high earners.
Mr Miliband said he would announce tax policies at the next general election.
He has faced criticism from union backers after backing a cap on public sector pay rises and at the start of the year faced rumblings over his leadership amid a poll bounce for the Conservatives after David Cameron's EU veto.
However in recent weeks it has been the government that has been under fire, over Budget decisions on tax, its handling of a threatened fuel strike and its efforts to deport radical cleric Abu Qatada to Jordan.'Long way'
Labour has been particularly critical of decisions made in the Budget to reduce the rate of tax people pay on earnings over £150,000 - something the government says is making Britain uncompetitive and is not raising enough to justify damaging the economy. Read more on this

Monday, 23 April 2012

Osborne will miss deficit target, says think-tank

Government borrowing is set to be almost £70bn higher than estimated in the Budget, according to an economic think-tank.

The Centre for Economics and Business Research warns that high inflation will lead to sluggish economic growth until 2016.

This means Chancellor George Osborne would overshoot the borrowing figures set out in last month’s Budget.

In his March 21 speech, Osborne told MPs that the latest forecast from the Office for Budget Responsibility was for the deficit to fall to £21bn in 2016/17. But the CEBR says that borrowing will be £90bn that year because of ‘sluggish’ growth in tax revenues.

The think-tank’s quarterly United Kingdom Prospects report increases its estimate for gross domestic product growth in 2012 to 0.3%, up from a 0.4% contraction it predicted three months ago.

Friday, 13 April 2012

Destructive Forces for Brent Youths are "Crime and Gang Culture"

Around 20 young people joined Stella Creasy MP, shadow home minster, who was in the borough last Wednesday, as part of the Mayoral Youth Crime Pledge, which calls for the next Mayor of London to tackle youth crime
Stella said: “There is no point beating round the bush, there is gang culture that is prevalent here. A real concern is that only 17 per cent of our youth feel safe when out on the streets, and that is something that has to be addressed."

“I want all young people to feel like they can air any concerns they have because at the moment they don’t have a voice.”

Cllr Zaffar Van Kalwala, Labour councillor for Stonebridge, who arranged the meeting, labelled youth crime as one of ‘the biggest issues’ in Brent.

He said: “This was a really important event. We are definitely at a tipping point.

“Do we just accept gangs and gang culture in Brent? Or do we say as a community this is something we will not tolerate.

“We are all trying to tackle this very difficult issue which needs time and resources.”

Drinking Ban in Brent- Liverpool, Everton, Chelsea and Tottenham Hotspur Semi-Finals.

Football  fans visiting Brent should know that there is drinking ban in and around Wembley Stadium and throughout the borough of  Brent during this week end as FA Cup Semi-Finals takes place.

Sunday, 8 April 2012

£250m wasted per year' on unused gift cards

People in the UK waste £250m per year on store gift cards they do not use, according to industry figures.
Annual sales of the cards are worth more than £4bn. About half are given as personal gifts, the rest by business.
But 6% of the value on the cards is never used, partly because they expire after a fixed period which can be as short as a year.
The gift card trade body says many shops extend the expiry date every time they are used.
Speaking on BBC Radio 4's Money Box Andrew Johnson, director general of the UK Gift Card and Voucher Association, said: "For a retailer, a gift card or voucher remains a liability on the books so at some point it makes good financial sense to remove that liability"

My advise is go back to "Cash" gift system instant gratifying and appreciative.

Academies- are they undermining schooling System?

Teachers' unions are to warn that the rapid expansion of academies in England is threatening to undermine the state school system.
The NASUWT teachers' union, meeting for its annual conference, will also hear claims that academies will be used to dismantle national pay agreements.
There are also criticisms of schools being forced to become academies.
A Department for Education spokesman said academies gained from freedoms to "innovate and raise standards".
This week the Department for Education announced that a majority of secondary schools in England are now academies or are in the process of becoming academies.
It means that this more independent type of state school, without formal links to local authorities, has become the standard model in the secondary system.
Privatisation But teachers' unions have warned that the shift towards academy status will break up the traditional state school system, with claims that it could become a form of back-door privatisation.
The NASUWT and the National Union of Teachers conferences will hear calls to reaffirm their opposition to the academies and free schools programme.
"The academisation project is a key part of the coalition government's plan to undermine workers' rights and trade union organisation," says a motion to be debated by teachers at the NASUWT meeting in Birmingham.
The union's general secretary Chris Keates has claimed the academies policy is being driven by "arrogance and ignorance".
The National Union of Teachers, meeting for its conference in Torquay, is also set to hear condemnations of the academy programme this weekend.
Teachers will debate the proposal that the expansion of academies represents "the biggest attack yet launched on comprehensive education by any national government".
On Friday, the general secretary of the NUT Christine Blower told reporters the creation of academies and free schools was "monstrously ideological".
"We know Michael Gove has said he is relaxed about schools making profits," she added.
Academies have local flexibility over staff pay and conditions - and unions have warned that this could be used to erode deals struck at a national level.
There have also been warnings over the transfer of responsibility to chains of providers - which have replaced the co-ordinating role of local authorities.
Opponents Academy opponents have claimed that these chains of providers are not democratically accountable - and that they could be used for a piece-meal privatisation of education services.
There have also been disputes over "forced academisation" - where the government has pushed primary schools into academy status, even when it has been rejected by the school's governing body.
Parents and governors protested against Downhills primary school in Haringey, north London, being forced to become an academy.
The government argued that the intervention was necessary to raise standards.
"It is only when schools have been under-performing for a number of years that the government steps in to ensure improvement,"‬‬ said a Department for Education spokesman.
The Nasuwt has also been involved in local disputes over academies in Birmingham and Salford.
A recent survey of academies carried out by the Reform think tank found that relatively few academies were using the greater flexibility they were allowed.
It found that extra funding was the primary motivation for schools to change status - and that many had continued as they had before.
There are now 1,641 secondary schools out of 3,261 which are either open as academies or about to become academies.
This rapid expansion means that in six authorities all secondary schools are academies or in the process or becoming an academy.
A Department for Education spokesman said: "The academy programme is clearly not privatisation. No academy can be run for profit, all are directly state-funded for local children and all are accountable directly to the secretary of state through the formal funding agreement.‬‪ ‬
"Academies are improving faster than other state-funded schools and enjoy freedoms that enable them to innovate and raise standards."‬

courtsey of the BBC