Monday 14 February 2005

By Maria Ahmed, Simeon Brody, Derren Hayes and Amy

Six towns, six pledges – the election campaign begins

Hospital waiting lists of no more than 18 weeks, strong discipline
in schools and strict controls on immigration were among the six
election pledges unveiled by Tony Blair.

The six pledges, which also included improved childcare provision
and local policing teams were meant to attract typical

Source:- The Guardian Saturday 12 February page 1

Up to 70 per cent interest – credit card aimed at

A new credit card, charging up to 70 per cent interest is to be
targeted at low-income families.

The Vanquis card will typically charge 49.9 per cent but for
customers judged as high risk it will be 69.5 per cent.

Source:- The Guardian Saturday 12 February page 1

Phonics lessons give children three-year reading

Children read and write more quickly if they are taught letter
sounds before being introduced to books, research has found.

The study of Clackmannanshire primary schools found children who
had been taught synthetic phonics were three years ahead of what
would be expected for their age.

Source:- The Guardian Saturday 12 February page 6

Prescott pledges “social home-buy”

John Prescott promised a “social home-buy” scheme
offering about 300,000 council and housing association tenants the
chance to buy a discounted part-share in rented homes.

Prescott told delegates at Labour’s spring conference that
the he was not extending the right to buy but creating a fairer

Source:- The Guardian Saturday 12 February page 10

Market forces risk to pupils and patients, says BP

Introducing market forces in the public services could be
“damaging and dangerous” for schools and hospitals, the
BP chief executive said.

Lord Browne of Madingley said there were limits to the way in which
corporate approaches could be transferred.

Source:- The Daily Telegraph Saturday 10 February page

The Scouts who are not disadvantaged enough for a

A £190,000 application to build a new Scout and Guide
headquarters in Warwickshire has been turned down by the Community
Fund because the project did not address disadvantage.

Source:- Daily Mail Saturday 10 February page 27

Home Office frames prisoners’ works of art

Artworks painted by offenders held in prisons and top-security
mental hospitals has been bought by the Home Office to decorate its
new £311 million headquarters.

Source:- The Times Saturday 10 February page 7

Minister urged to dump A-levels

The Qualifications and Curriculum Authority said plans for a
diploma aimed at students aged 14 to 19 should be implemented in

The QCA said the Tomlinson report should be implemented in full,
putting pressure on the Government to abolish A-levels and

Source:- The Times Saturday 10 February page 15

‘Neighbours from hell’ to get live-in

Nuisance families identified as the most difficult in the country
will be sent to residential parenting centres in the latest
crackdown on antisocial behaviour. Home Office minister Hazel
Blears is expected to launch the measures tomorrow (Monday 14 Feb)
when she visits the Assisted Families Project in her Salford
constituency, run by the children’s charity NCH.

Source:- The Observer Sunday 13 February 2005 page

Labour crime crackdown has failed, says report

Think-tank Citivas will claim this week that Labour’s
policies for tackling offending have failed. Their report says that
efforts by the Youth Justice Board were “particularly
inadequate”. Drug treatment for offenders was “often
not available” and “prisoners continue to be discharged
without any sustained supervision to discourage them from resuming
old habits”.

Source:- The Sunday Times Sunday 13 February 2005 page

Shut up, or the bunny gets it!

A new wave of child-rearing manuals calls for an end to soft
parenting – report on the boot camp approach.

Source:- The Sunday Times Sunday 13 February 2005 page

Long hours culture forcing parents into part-time

Britain’s long hours culture is forcing increasing numbers of
parents into part-time jobs with poor prospects as they struggle to
combine careers with childcare, according to a report published
this week.

The investigation by the Equal Opportunities Commission surveyed
more than 2,000 part-time workers.

Source:- The Independent on Sunday Sunday 13 February 2005
page 4

Drug addicts turning to herbal highs

Plans to outlaw magic mushrooms have raised fears of a surge in the
use of potentially harmful hallucinogenic herbs and plants.

Drugs experts are calling for these legal so-called herbal highs
including a variety of sage that can be smoked to carry clear
warning labels.

Source:- The Independent on Sunday Sunday 13 February 2005
page 5

MRSA kills 53 each year in care homes

The hospital super-bug MRSA is killing at least one pensioner every
week in care homes, according to the latest figures from Len Cook,
the National Statistician.

One in three care homes are failing hygiene tests.

Source:- The Sunday Express Sunday 13 February 2005 page

England comes top in cost of school exams

England’s examination system is the most expensive in the
world and there is a chronic shortage of examiners, according to a
new report.

The Qualifications and Curriculum Authority report said every
different exam generated up to 70 different documents.

Source:- The Daily Telegraph Monday 14 February page

Equal pay ruling may leave NHS with bill for

Hundreds of low-paid female NHS staff are to share compensation of
£300 million after a ruling they were paid less than male
staff in similar positions over many years.

Trade union Unison said it would use the cases of 1,500 workers
employed by North Cumbria Acute NHS Trust to negotiate back pay for
staff nationally.

Source:- The Daily Telegraph Monday 14 February page

Kilroy pledges a total asylum ban

A total ban on asylum seekers will be promised by Robert Kilroy
Silk’s new political party, Veritas.

The former TV host will argue that no asylum claim is valid in
Britain and refugees should claim asylum on the continent.

Source:- Daily Mail Monday 14 February page 2

Scottish news

Councils wasting millions in care costs, secret report

A secret government report into the Supporting People scheme has
uncovered evidence that Scottish councils have squandered millions
of pounds of public funds.

A total of £426 million was paid out last year, but the
private report – released to Scotland on Sunday under the Freedom
of Information Act – found that the services being provided by
different councils varied wildly in cost, with some charging
thousands of pounds more than neighbouring authorities.

Source:- Scotland on Sunday 13 February

Leading lawyer urges US-style teen courts in UK

A leading criminal barrister has recommended the introduction of
American-style “teen trials” to help curb offending
rates in Britain.

After participating in a programme to be broadcast on Channel 4
called Teens On Trial, John Cooper said: “This type of scheme
could help reduce youth offending in Britain. I think we’ll
see teen courts in Britain in the next five years.”

Source:- Sunday Herald Sunday 13 February

‘Unresponsive’ NHS blamed for suicide epidemic
in Highlands

NHS Highlands, which serves an area with the highest rate of
suicide in Scotland, has been accused of ignoring cries for help
from suicidal men.

The allegations are made in a BBC Frontline Scotland documentary,
Missing Highlanders, which investigates the suicide
“epidemic” among young men in the region and possible
reasons behind the tragedies.

The programme uncovers a culture where men shy away from talking
about their problems and a care system which is too under pressure
to hear them.

Source:- Sunday Herald Sunday 13 February

Why NHS is a silent service for deaf people

The Deaf Connections charity says visiting health centres and
hospitals can be such an uncomfortable experience for deaf people
that many avoid making appointments, ignoring potentially dangerous
health problems. Now the charity is launching a campaign calling
for the creation of a sign language surgery, where deaf patients
can seek medical advice without having to scribble notes or discuss
personal details through an interpreter.

Source:- The Herald Monday 14 February

Demand for social housing drops to lowest in years

Demand for public-sector homes to rent in Scotland’s biggest city
is at its lowest level for decades, according to a new study, which
also shows the decline is expected to continue throughout the next
10 years.

An independent review found levels of sustainable social housing
stock in Glasgow will fall to an estimated 103,000 units by 2012
and to around 99,000 by 2016.

The current stock is about 121,000, with just over 116,000

Source:- The Herald Monday 14 February

Staffing crisis costs NHS £45m a year

The Scottish NHS is spending £45 million a year on agency
doctors and nurses to plug chronic staffing shortages.

Health boards are paying up to £900 a shift to fly in
temporary doctors from Austria, Germany and Scandinavia., while
spend on agency nurses soared last year by £1.6 million to
£29.7 million.

Source:- The Scotsman Monday 14 February

Welsh newspapers

‘Records show suicide girl bullied’ – claim

The parents of a schoolgirl who took an overdose because she had
been bullied released documents that they say prove her school knew
about what was happening last night.

Laura Rhodes, 13, died last September, a year after leaving
Neath’s Cefn Saeson Comprehensive School where she said the
bullying took place.

Her friend Rebecca Ling, 14, also took an overdose but survived
after changing her mind and raising the alarm.

At the time of the incident the school would not comment in depth
about the bullying allegations.

Source:- Western Mail Saturday 12 February

Wales gets help to tackle ‘honour

Police in Wales will get help in tackling ‘honour
crimes’ next month from a senior police officer from

Officers believe that ‘honour crimes’ are taking place
amongst ethnic minorities in Wales but have no way of working out
the extent of the problem.

Ehsan Sadiq, a superintendent of police in Islamabad, the capital
of Pakistan, will be talking at a conference on the issue in

Source:- Western Mail Saturday 12 February

Pupil expelled over drug deal claim

A pupil has been expelled from one of the top state schools in
Wales after allegations of drug dealing on the premises.

South Wales police are investigating the allegations but would not
say if the pupil, who has been excluded from Cowbridge
Comprehensive in the Vale of Glamorgan, had been arrested or

Source:- Wales on Sunday Sunday 13 February



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