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The licence fee is not dead, BBC boss insists: Director-general on collision course with MPs over comments

Tony Hall.jpg

BBC Director-general Lord Tony Hall has said he believes the licence fee ‘has got at least another ten years in it’, adding that even if the fee is axed, he said it should be replaced by an equivalent charge.


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Landmark EU ruling to cut plastic bag use by 80%: Countries set deadline of 2025 to meet target through charges or bans

The EU decision represents a victory for Daily Mail readers and the ‘Banish the Bags’ campaign, which launched in February 2008 with the backing of groups including the National Trust.


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Foreign aid budget to outstrip defence by 2031 if spending changes continue under successive governments 

The research conducted by the House of Commons Library comes after David Cameron dismissed concerns raised by the head of the US Army about the impact of cuts on the capacity of British forces.


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Prove you are not a criminal to live in UK

Migrants will have to prove they have not committed offence in past decade under new laws to tightened borders 

Foreigners from outside the EU will be forced to provide a criminal records certificate from their home country before being given a visa to enter the UK, the Mail can reveal.

The ENGLISH DEMOCRATS say’s; In line with immigration with other Countries, we are concerned that this is not being implemented to protect our citizens and our Countries interests.


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6 things we learnt from the weekend polls

09:51, 22 February 2015 By Martin Belam

Youth unemployment, racism, and the suprising number of Ukippers who like investing in wine

It’s the weekend, so everybody is publishing their polls. We’ve looked a little bit deeper into the data for you to find six things that stand out.

1. The two main parties are still broadly neck-and-neck
YouGov’s Sunday Times poll gives Labour a 34% to 33% lead over the Tories, and their poll for The Sun gives Labour a 33% to 32% lead.

2. Labour and Ukip supporters think they have been hit hardest by the economic down-turn
59% of Labour supporters and 56% of Ukip supporters say that “Thinking about the standard of living of you and your family” they are “worse off today than in 2010”

This compares to 38% of Lib Dem supporters and just 21% of Conservative supporters who feel worse off.

3. “Team Eds” still have work to do with their hardcore support
35% of Labour voters agree that Ed Miliband, the Labour leader, and Ed Balls, Labour’s shadow Chancellor “have not set out a clear vision of what a Labour government would do”

4. Labour is more trusted to deal with youth unemployment
Just about. Asked “Which political party do you think would handle the problem of youth unemployment best?” 30% of people said Labour, 25% said Conservative.

5. Ukip supporters are more likely to have “wine or art bought for investment purposes”
OK, we’re being a bit naughty here. It is a very small sample size, but 3% of the Ukip voters asked had bought wine or art as an investment, compared to 2% of the Tories, and 1% of the Labour or Lib Dem supporters.
But a staggering 10% of Ukip supporters say they are PLANNING to invest in wine or art in the next 12 months.

Beer drinking Nigel will not be amused.

ReutersDoes he not like that
6. The racist non-racist parties
YouGov asked questions about race and racism. 1% of Tory voters and 1% of Labour voters said they were “very prejudiced against people of other races”. 6% of Ukip supporters agreed with that position. 42% of Ukip supporters said they were “a little prejudiced against people of other races”.

28% of Ukip supporters said that “yes, I have some views that are racist”, but it was Lib Dem supporters who admitted to being the most anti-semitic. 9% of Lib Dems and 8% of Ukip supporters said they are prejudiced against people who are Jewish, compared to 3% of Conservative and Labour supporters.

[Source: YouGov / Sunday Times , YouGov / The Sun , YouGov / Times Red Box ]


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Brrr-ace yourselves! Four inches of snow expected as freezing temperatures and strong winds create blizzard conditions


February 22 2015

Weather warnings have been issued for the north of England and Scotland, with the Midlands and Northern Ireland also affected

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our more Baby Ps: Boys from same city suffer horrific deaths within year after social services failings

Months before the boys died, officials responsible for child safety were warned they needed to improve in 94 areas to prevent a tragedy like the Baby P case

Getty / PA / Solent
Tragic: Social services failed these tots

Four children from the same city suffered horrific deaths within a year of each other after a series of failings by social services.

Months before the boys died, officials responsible for child safety were warned they needed to improve in 94 areas to prevent a tragedy like the Baby P case.

Yet they failed to save seven-year-old Blake Fowler, despite 18 reports to social services of violent incidents.

Details of his death in 2011 emerged in a serious case review report this week, but investigations by the Sunday Mirror found he was not the only victim.

Brothers Jayden and Bradley Adams, two and four, and three-month-old Nico Maynard were also failed by Southampton city council and other agencies.

In the next two years, eight more ­children slipped through the net – including a six-year-old girl who was admitted to hospital with 92 injuries and drugs in her system.

We can reveal the head of ­children’s services during this period was made redundant in 2013 and was awarded a pay package for that year of £227,012.

PABaby P
Tragedy: Baby P

Dame Esther Rantzen, founder of ­ChildLine, said: “This is terrible. Tragic deaths like this happen far too often.

“Southampton will have to make changes to protect children more effectively in the future – I hope lessons have been learnt.”

In 2010, when Blake was six, a 147-page report was published outlining 94 areas where the council needed to improve.

It came after Haringey social services in North London was heavily criticised over the death of Baby P in 2007.

Recommendations – many urgent – included reducing caseloads of social workers and improving staff ­supervision and training.

The authority was also told it relied too heavily on agency staff to look after at-risk youngsters.

Councillor Simon Letts said at the time: “The report is trying to set ­Southampton on the right track so we don’t get a Baby P here.

“If there are 94 things wrong, that suggests we have to have a pretty close look at what we are doing.”

Then head of children’s services Clive Webster made assurances action was being taken, but four children were dead within a year.

Jayden and Bradley Adams
Tragic: Jayden and Bradley Adams

Jayden and Bradley died within three months of each other in early 2011 after their mum begged social workers to take them into care.

In September that year, baby Nico died with multiple injuries after ­agencies failed to share information about his dad’s record of child cruelty.

And in December, Blake died from severe head injuries after years of sexual, physical and emotional abuse.

Mum Sarah Spacagna, 29, stepdad Peter Meek, 26, and his brother Phillip, 25, were arrested but were not charged.

An online petition calling on David Cameron to get the Crown Prosecution Service to review the case received more than 2,000 signatures in 24 hours.

It was set up by resident Claire Symonds, who said: “Blake Fowler was let down by every person who should have protected him.”

Blake’s case had chilling echoes of the death of 17-month-old Peter Connelly – Baby P – in 2007.

The infant suffered 50 injuries while in the care of mum Tracey Connelly and lover Steven Barker.

SolentBlake Fowler
Tragic death: Blake Fowler

Alan Wardle, of the NSPCC, said of the Southampton cases: “There’s no doubt this was a tragic period with four children dying in the space of a year.

“It’s imperative that the local authority is now doing all it can to ensure there are no more similar cases.”

A damning Ofsted report said quality of care for vulnerable youngsters in Southampton failed to meet minimum standards during the year the children died.

The report said: “Inspectors saw cases where children were exposed to risk for months and longer because of delays in recognising and responding to potentially abusive circumstances.”

Serious case reviews into all four deaths found ­children’s services failed to protect them. Council bosses again responded by giving assurances of sweeping reforms.

But in December 2012 a six-year-old girl from Southampton was admitted to hospital with 92 bruises and amphetamines in her urine after living with a man with a record of violence.

The child’s mother and her partner were both convicted for offences relating to the girl’s injuries and neglect.

A serious case review, published last year, revealed social services failed to correctly perform background checks on the partner after they accepted the girl’s ­incorrect spelling of his surname.

It came after neighbours and teachers repeatedly reported concerns.

In 2013, another case emerged of seven brothers and sisters aged six to 14 who had suffered “serious and sustained” physical and sexual abuse by their dad.

He got a long prison sentence and a serious case review again blasted the council for significant failings.

Last year inspectors said ­children’s services still needed to improve. Ofsted reported it was “not yet delivering good ­protection, help and care for children”.

It is understood no disciplinary action has been taken against council staff.

Keith Makin, of Southampton Local Safeguarding Children Board, said this week: “We are committed to doing everything possible to ensure children are safe from abuse and harm.”

We contacted Mr Webster’s PA at his new job as chief executive of Kent Catholic Schools’ Partnership, but we were told he was unavailable for comment.

The city council declined to comment.

Blake’s story

SolentBlake Fowler
Tragic death: Blake Fowler

Blake suffered sexual, physical and emotional abuse before he died in December 2011.

A total of 18 incidents were reported to social services by doctors, police, extended family and anonymous tip-offs – but Southampton City Council failed to properly investigate.

This week, a damning report criticised the council’s child protection team and said: “When they did take action their responses repeatedly fell well below expected standards of practice.”

Blake was being cared for by his stepfather Peter Meek and Mr Meek’s brother Phillip when he was found unconscious at home. He died in hospital after suffering a serious head injury.

Both brothers were arrested, but were released without charge.

Last year police reopened the case, re-arresting the pair and Blake’s mother Sarah Spacagna. They decided there was insufficient evidence for charges.

Blake’s gran Jane Extance was among those to contact social services. In one case she reported what she thought was a cigarette burn on his neck. Her calls went unreturned.

Jayden and Bradley’s story

Jayden and Bradley Adams
Tragic: Jayden and Bradley Adams

Jayden, two, died in hospital in January 2011 after suffering a cardiac arrest at home.

Within three months his four-year-old brother Bradley was also dead, after being found unconscious at home.

An inquest said their deaths were shrouded in “considerable uncertainties” and the boys led an appalling life under the care of their mother Shelley Adams.

The hearing was told how she dished out “corporal punishment” to an inappropriate and excessive extent.

Just one month before Jayden’s death, Ms Adams pleaded with social services to take her children into care because she was not capable of looking after them.

The staff convinced her she should keep going.

On one occasion she even packed their bags and announced she was sending them into care.

A serious case review published last year blasted Southampton City Council for a catalogue of serious oversights that led to the brothers’ deaths.

Social workers were criticised for missing signs that they were in a potentially harmful environment.

Among the criticism levelled at social services was the fact staff did not have the knowledge or skills to work on complex cases such as this.

The report said management was “weak” and the children’s services department was in “disarray” due to staff shortages.

It also said social services failed to make adequate checks, leading to Bradley being in the care of his mother when he died when he was supposed to be looked after by his grandmother.

The report revealed there were no pre-birth assessments carried out on Ms Adams, who has a learning disability.

This was described as a “lost opportunity” to consider her capacity as a parent.

Ms Adams did not face charges in relation to her sons’ deaths after the Crown Prosecution Service concluded there was not enough evidence to prosecute.

Nico’s story

silhouette of a child
Nico: Suffered serious injuries

Three-month-old Nico died after being found unconscious, face down in his Moses basket in September 2011 with a fractured skull and a broken leg.

His surviving twin sister, who was taken into care, was also found to have fractures to her leg and skull.

Their father Hamid Baldelli had previously served a year in jail for an offence against another child in a different part of the country. The victim also had fractures.

In a report on his release, Baldelli was described as “as being a massive risk to young children”.

An inquest heard a social worker had also raised concerns over his control, power and anger issues.

But social services in Southampton said they knew nothing of Baldelli’s past.

A serious case review found there was a lack of communication between agencies and there were “missed opportunities” to save him.

Neither Baldelli nor the boy’s mother Jodie Maynard were charged as the CPS said it was not possible to know who caused the injuries.


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Watch: Hillsborough inquests review – Police Federation secretary accused of ‘peddling lie’ ; Gate C ‘may been opened to let fan out’


Mr Middup was asked about comments he gave to the press after the disaster in which he described a “mob” of fans who were “tanked up”.

Minutes of a police federation meeting held four days after the disaster recorded Mr Middup saying Chief Constable Peter Wright had told him the “truth” could not come from him but Mr Middup had been given a free hand.

The minutes also recorded Mr Wright admitting he wished he could make some of the comments Mr Middup had made.

Watch: Inquests shown press conference given by Chief Constable Peter Wright on evening of disaster

But Mr Middup denied being a “mouthpiece” for the chief constable and said there was no collusion between them.

The court was shown minutes of a meeting with Mr Middup, a number of South Yorkshire officers and Michael Shersby, the MP who was parliamentary consultant for the Police Federation.

The meeting was held to discuss officers’ concerns about the interim Taylor report into the disaster and Mr Shersby was recorded as saying he would try and remedy the concerns of officers.

Mr Middup denied using Mr Shersby to try and put forward a hostile picture of Liverpool fans.

The court also heard more evidence about the exit gate C – which was opened to let crowds of fans in from Leppings Lane.

Hillsborough InquestsCongestion at the Leppings Lane turnstiles before the opening of Gate C
Congestion at the Leppings Lane turnstiles before the opening of Gate C

The witnesses included Ian Marsh, a steward thought to be involved in opening the gate, and fan Kenneth Rawlinson, who was one of the first fans through the gate.

Both said the gate was opened on police instruction, although there was somesuggestion from the barrister for South Yorkshire Police that Mr Marsh had opened the gate to let a fan out.

The Hillsborough inquests are now having a week’s break and proceedings will resume on Monday, February 23.


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Hillsborough campaigners speak out against standing in football stadiums

Ten years on, The Kop pays tribute to those lost at Hillsborough

Hillsborough campaigners have spoken out about proposals to introduce standing at football stadiums – after a survey showed nine out of 10 fans supported the idea.

The YourVoice poll showed 96% of the 2,364 fans asked agreed they would welcome a section of ‘safe standing’ at British stadiums.

All-seater stadiums were rolled out across the country following the recommendations of the Taylor Report into the Hillsborough disaster.

Families of the 96 Liverpool fans who died in the 1989 tragedy were quick to reject the blueprints.

Pat Joynes, 78, whose son Nicholas, 27, died in the Leppings Lane crushes in Sheffield, described the move as ‘pointless.’

She said: “The Hillsborough Family Support Group is firmly against safe standing.

“We fought for all-seater stadiums, so they should stay. Fans stand up anyway when something exciting happens, so they don’t stay sitting all the time.”

Steve Kelly, whose brother Michael died in the disaster at the Sheffield Wednesday stadium, said: “The Hillsborough Justice Campaign have always maintained a neutral stance on safe standing. Views differ amongst members and it is not for us to dictate to supporters what is right or wrong.

“Personally, I’m torn between the two. A lot of fans stand up anyway, so perhaps we need to look at it.”

Former Labour director of communications and Burnley fan Alastair Campbell, said: “Every poll shows there is support for standing and tens of thousands of people make the demand clear every week by standing in front of their upturned seats, with none of the appalling consequences predicted by the forces of conservatism.”

Within the survey, one Liverpool fan said: “Every week the whole Kop stands without fail and without injury. It’s an issue of common sense.

“Fans are going to stand at games end of story. The law should be amended to reflect the 21st century not a bygone era.”

Andrew Davies, leader of the Welsh Conservatives who commissioned the survey, said they had won the support of supporter trusts in Wrexham, Swansea, Cardiff and Newport.


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Woman who leaked details about James Bulger’s killers claims her jail term should be cut

A woman who laundered cash gleaned from selling illicit details about one of James Bulger’s killers claimed her jail term should be cut – because she misheard the judge when he sentenced her.

Lynn Gaffney, 40, was among a group prosecuted over the leaking of details about Jon Venables, who was convicted of murdering the Liverpool toddler in 1993.

The infamous killer and his accomplice, Robert Thompson, became so notorious that Venables was given a new name after he was freed on parole from his life sentence.

But he was later recalled to jail for child porn offences, London’s Appeal Court heard today.

It was while he was serving time in HMP Woodhill, near Milton Keynes, that prison officer, Scott Chapman, leaked Venables’ new name and other personal details to the media.

He was paid a total of £35,000 for his information and used his ex-partner, Gaffney, to help “launder” the cash.

Gaffney, of Belvoir Close, Corby, Northampton, denied having any idea about the source of the money.

However, she was jailed for 30 weeks at the Old Bailey in November last year after she was convicted over her role.

Chapman was jailed for 40 months for misconduct in a public office , while a tabloid journalist received a suspended jail term for her involvement.

All were prosecuted as part of a wider police probe into payment for illicit information by journalists.

Gaffney’s case reached the Appeal Court today as she challenged her punishment, which her lawyers termed “manifestly excessive”.

She also said she was lulled into a false sense of relief because she, and others in court, had clearly heard the judge impose a 13-week term – not 30 weeks.

This gave her a “legitimate expectation” that this would be her punishment, her legal team insisted.

However, Mr Justice Jeremy Baker, sitting with Lady Justice Rafferty and Mrs Justice Carr, pointed out that the judge “swiftly resolved” any misunderstanding the following day.

Dismissing Gaffney’s appeal, he concluded: “We don’t consider there was any lack of proportion in the sentence passed”.

The ENGLISH DEMOCRATS say’s it is unfair that the Courts protect the wrong doers than the Law abiding citizens!