News Shorts And Other Busyness
Squall 11, Autumn 1995, pgs 8, 9, 11, 13 16.
All 'Briefs' articles from Squall 11 aggregated in one page...
CAR FREE SPACE CREATED IN EDINBURGH
BRITAIN’S FIRST car free urban space is to be created by Lothian regional council.
A housing estate planned for Edinburgh city centre will only accommodate tenants who renounce ownership of motorised transport. The pledge will be incorporated into the tenant’s lease. Lothian’s transportation committee also approved a plan to turn a mile long stretch of city centre road into a bus and cycle lane and plan to ban cars completely from the city centre during next year’s festival.
POLLUTION IS FACTOR IN INCREASED RESPIRATORY PROBLEMS
CLIMATE CHANGE AND POLLUTION are some of the reasons given for the sharp rise in respiratory problems noted in a research paper, published jointly by the NHS Trust Federation and the Kings Fund Health Policy Unit in September. The research was carried out on six out-of-London Hospitals during the period from December 1992 to November 1994.
CONSERVATION GUIDELINES SCRAPPED
NEW PLANNING GUIDELINES which will practically scrap conservation considerations in Wales have been condemned as a “disaster” by conservation groups. The guidance, a legacy of former Welsh Secretary and would be Prime Minister John Redwood, would leave conservation areas vulnerable to development the conservationists say.
HESELTINE TAXED OVER CAR ALLOWANCE
DEPUTY PRIME MINISTER Michael Heseltine has been having a tough time recently. Not only were the grounds surrounding his Northamptonshire mansion the scene of exploratory opencast mine works but now the treasury have limited the car allowance for his privately owned midnight blue Jaguar to a mere £43,628 a year. The money includes a 31 pence a mile allowance plus a contribution to his chauffeur’s wages.
CAR SALES UP
CAR SALES for the prime selling month of August have been calculated at around 455,000 this year. Due to the issuing of the new registration plates for the year, August is a good indicator for the car industry. The media reported the sales figures as the cause of “gloom” for the industry because it was only 0.5% higher than last year.
Unique court precedents were recently established which will help shield travellers from some of the worst excesses of the Criminal Justice Act.
PICKAXE MINISTER FINED
ALLAN STEWART, the former Scottish Office minister who threatened road protesters at the M77, in Newton Mearns, Glasgow, with a pickaxe, was fined £200 for breach of the peace at Paisley Magistrate’s Court in September.
Stewart’s son, Gareth, was also found guilty of carrying an illegal air pistol. His sentence has been deferred for a year.
GREEN ANARCHIST TARGETED
BOOKSHOPS were raided and several journalists arrested in July in what is believed to have been an attempt to close down the Green Anarchist underground magazine.
Hampshire police raided bookshops in Manchester and Oxford confiscating copies of the magazine, and arrested members of the group on charges of conspiracy to commit arson. According to Hampshire police the raids were part of a “long ongoing enquiry” by a special task force into animal rights activists. “We believe there are people who are inciting others to commit criminal damage and arson,” a police spokesman said.
ANIMAL RIGHTS PROTESTORS ARRESTED
NINETY animal rights protestors were arrested during a demonstration to mark the 100th day of action against live animal exports through Dover in September. Several hundred protesters blocked the main route into Dover by sitting in the road.
ANIMAL RIGHT’S GROUPS NEW “TERRORIST” THREAT
ANIMAL rights groups are among new targets for Scotland Yard’s anti-terrorist branch following a reduction in terrorist activity due to the IRA ceasefire.
Officers from the branch are exploring three new areas of potential terrorism: “millenarium” apocalyptic groups; international threats from Kurds, Turks, Serbs, Bosnians and Croats; and animal rights groups. Talks have also been taking place between the security services and the Association of Chief Police Officers with a view to incorporating MI5 officers into police work.
VEGETABLES grown near Aldermaston’s Atomic Weapons Establishment and Sellafield contain up to seven times more radiation than normal, according to the Ministry for Agriculture Fisheries and Food. But according to Dr John Cooper, of the National Radiological Protection Board: “The level of radiation is very low.”
WOAD IS ME
AN ECO-FRIENDLY blue dye, first used by ancient Britons to scare the Romans, is currently undergoing tests to see if it is a feasible crop for farmers. Woad, a cabbage like plant, could be used to replace the 80,000 tonnes of toxic dye used worldwide each year for jeans.
LABOUR TRIED TO SUPPRESS DRUG DEBATE
A COMMONS DEBATE on the medical uses of cannabis was almost suppressed by the Labour Party in July because they wanted to attack the Liberal Democrat candidate in the Littleborough and Saddleworth byelection by accusing him of supporting “the legislation of soft drugs”.
Jack Straw, the shadow home secretary, was among a number of front bench Labour MPs who put pressure on Paul Flynn, the Labour MP for Newport West, to drop the debate he had tabled.
FACT: One in five Britons uses illegal drugs. Less than one per cent use hard drugs.
ALL PARTY GROUP LOOKS FOR CHANGES IN DRUG LAWS.
AN ALL PARTY group has been established to liberalise drug laws. With the backing of at least 20 Labour MPs and three Conservatives, the All Party Parliamentary Drugs Reform Group will press for a Royal Commission to investigate changes in the law, as well as pushing for a commons debate on the issue.
MINIMUM MIMIMUM WAGE FOR THE YOUNG
A SEPARATE minimum wage for the young will be set below the adult rate if the Labour Party comes to power, Harriet Harman, the party’s Employment spokeswoman, has said. “The Labour Party is determined to give young people protection, but the minimum wage will be set to take into account they have less experience and may be involved in training,” she said.
FAREWELL TO WELFARE
ABOLISHING the single parent benefit allowance of £6.30 a week for new claimants is one of the measures planned by the Tory party to cut welfare and relaunch itself for the next election. John Major’s contribution to “Building a Forward looking Policy Agenda” is to stop state benefits for unemployment, sickness and care in old age and leave provision to private insurance.
BENEFIT DEPENDENCY RISES
ONE IN FOUR families now receive a major, means-tested benefit according to figures released by the Department of Social Security. The figure represents a rise of 25 per cent since the Conservatives gained power in 1979. The figures also show that 27 per cent of the population now live in families which depend on means-tested social security, a rise of 60 per cent since 1979.
BNFL DOING ITS MEDIA HOMEWORK
BRITISH NUCLEAR FUELS LTD paid a London-based media-monitoring company to provide them with all the news footage surrounding Greenpeace’s work in highlighting the French nuclear tests in the South Pacific. Their intent? To examine Greenpeace’s tactics and to gauge public opinion in order to learn how to counter both.
CARS IN THE DOCK - FIRST ROUND VICTORY
FAMILIES of several asthmatic children have won the first round in their court battle designed to get Greenwich Council to close certain high pollution roads. The judge granted them leave to bring a judicial review against the local authority for their refusal to budge on the matter. The anti-car campaigners, Reclaim the Streets, received much local support when they recently closed the main High Street in Greenwich in their now legendary ‘can’t-wait-for- the-courts-to-recognise-what’s-good-for-us’ stylee. The judicial review case will be heard before Christmas.
MICHAEL HOWARD VS LORD CHIEF JUSTICE
NO SOONER had Michael Howard spat out his party conference rhetoric on stricter prison sentences, than the Lord Chief Justice issued a statement criticising the Home Secretary’s proposals. In what is a highly unusual public expression of opposition, Lord Taylor said that Howard’s aired intentions would be “inconsistent with doing justice according to the circumstances of each case”. His statement was issued just two hours after Michael Howard’s conference speech and according to Lord Denning, the Master of the Rolls, this could be the start of “a contest between Parliament and the courts.”
NEGATIVE EQUITY INCREASES
THE NUMBER of households with negative equity increased by 90,000 in the last quarter of the last financial year according to the Woolwich Building Society. The figure now stands at 1.12 million, although City stockbrokers predict it could be up to 1.5 million in six months time.
NOBEL PRIZE FOR OZONE LAYER SCIENTISTS
THE 1995 NOBEL PRIZE for Chemistry was awarded to two scientists responsible for research which has highlighted the deterioration of the Earth’s high level Ozone layer. The ozone layer of course protects us all from the harmful rays of the sun, but holes are appearing in it due to pollution. Levels of skin cancer related to a higher exposure to ultraviolet have been recorded all over the world.
GREATER NUMBERS of innocent people are likely to be convicted following the abolition of the unconditional right to silence most lawyers questioned in a poll believe.
The poll carried, out by The Lawyer magazine, questioned 204 lawyers, 57 per cent of whom thought the law change, which occurred in April, was likely to result in more miscarriages of justice.
PERKS OF PARLIAMENT
THE GOVERNMENT spends £100 million pounds each year on travel expenses for MPs and civil servants with a maximum 72.2p a mile given out to MPs who have big engined vehicles. The Department of Defence, the only department to provide an allowance for bicycle use pays out £600. That’s one pukka bicycle a year.