Category Archives: Uncategorized

Guide for ministers on potential for sacking

 

Place yourselves in the shoes of these controversial ministers and try to decide whether you would get the old heave-ho, have to gracefully fall on your sword, or carry on regardless.

Ministerial resignation advice in the Guardian

For those whose prospects look threatened a pro-forma letter is now available.

Bus pass age increase in Scotland looms nearer

NICOLA Sturgeon has refused to give a guarantee that the free bus pass will be available to all over 60s following a review.

The Scottish Government is currently looking at the provision of concessionary bus travel, which is available to everyone over 60 and other groups including disabled people.

Ms Sturgeon said the bus pass had to be sustainable and said everyone who currently has one will keep it – but she refused to say if the current age eligibility criteria will remain the same.

The First Minister was asked by Labour MSP and leadership contender Richard Leonard about the government’s plans for the free bus pass.

He asked if she would give a commitment that eligibility criteria would not change within this parliament, which lasts until 2021.

Ms Sturgeon said no decisions will be made until the consultation is complete and that the government was “asking people across Scotland for their views on how best to ensure that the bus pass is sustainable for the long term”.

She added: “Whatever the outcome, nobody’s bus pass will be taken away from them and, indeed, some people who do not currently qualify for a bus pass will do so in the future.”ead more

Our take on Barbecues for Vegetarians

Fred Robson here – it isn’t often that we write off the topics of bus passes and pensioners benefits, though noting the ongoing interest in my last effort on Recycle coal dust and make the Winter Fuel Allowance go further in 2011 I have decided to offer my take on Barbecues for Vegetarians, due in no small part to my wife being a vegetarian, and myself a keen meat eater who also appreciates plenty of veg in the diet.
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Doubtless there are many recipes and instructions available on-line (Jamie Oliver describes his as The Ultimate vegetarian BBQ but my menus are very flexible as to which vegetables should be used. I’m taking more about cooking technique which can offer excellent results. The cooking method is very much around using foil containers which can be purchsed very cheaply from suppliers such as Wilko or can be recycled from your takeaway meals.

A good variety of vegetables are needed for my solution, including onions,tomatoes, baby sweetcorn, peppers, potatoes, sweet potatoes, carrots, peas, mange tout peas, broad beans, mushrooms, asparagus, broccoli, courgettes, aubergines – in fact any that you happen to have to hand.

Step 1 Put a dash of cooking oil in the bottom of each foil tray
Step 2 Prepare the veg and chopping to reasonably small size Veg in foil trays

Step 3 Fill the trays with veg fairly full, mixing different veg in a random way
Step 4 Sprinkle herbs and seasoning to taste
Step 5 Add garlic to suit your taste
Step 6 Seal the foil containers with the lids, silvery side down
Step 7 Place the foil trays on the BBQ at a fairly early stage, but aiming as far as possible to cook slowly as far as possible. This way your veg can be served in their natural juices.
On the BBQ
A bit of trial and error will improve your technique and avoid to much ‘caramelisation’ !
BBQ Veg
One other important tip – don’t regard this as something just for vegetarians, as your family /guests will come to appreciate this alternative method of enjoying veg alongside their meat.

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Bon Apetit as the foreigners say !
Bus Passes Blog editor

The wheels on the bus could come off for pensioners, warns Roger Ratcliffe / Big Issue North

As clear as I can remember it, this is a fragment of conversation between two elderly ladies I overheard last week on the number 737 bus, which runs from Bradford Interchange through Shipley, Guiseley and Yeadon to terminate at Leeds-Bradford Airport.

“They’re coming after your bus pass next.”

“Who is?”

“The Tories. They want to end free buses for all old folks. They’re saying it costs too much. I read it somewhere.”

“Well, I certainly won’t vote for them if that’s their game. It’s getting terrible. They don’t want pensioners any more.”

The women were not on their way to the airport to jet off to the sun. They were just using their bus passes to get to the nearest supermarket. The 737 is a vital lifeline for them, since more and more small shops keep closing. As far as I know, however, the Conservatives have not said they intend to withdraw or cut back on the English National Concessionary Travel Scheme. At least, not officially.

The scheme gives free off-peak, weekend and bank holiday journeys to anyone of pensionable age, as well as eligible disabled people. But in their eternal, sleepless quest to cut back on government spending the Conservatives are clearly discussing the possibility of undoing what even Tony Blair’s harshest critics grudgingly admit was one of the great achievements of his last government.

It was introduced in 2008 and currently costs around £1.2 billion a year to fund. There are just under 10 million users and the average cost per person each year is £120. Four-fifths of those people who are eligible actually use a pass, and the scheme is credited with keeping many bus routes viable. If travel pass eligibility were to cease or be restricted, it would lead to bus timetable cutbacks.

Since the election in 2015 some Conservative MPs have begun muttering about the need to reduce the amount of money it costs. Andrew Mitchell, he of the Plebgate affair – which saw him allegedly engage in a foul-mouthed altercation with police guarding the gates to Downing Street – told a TV interviewer at last year’s Tory conference that the passes should be means tested. It raised eyebrows at the time, because no one in the Conservative Party was talking openly about restricting pensioners’ benefits.

overfull A&E departments in NHS Hospitals

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Nurses at NHS hospitals are treating patients in corridors because of severe overcrowding in A&E departments.

Footage taken by the BBC shows patients waiting more than four hours to be seen at Royal Blackburn Hospital, where at one point last week 33 beds were available for 95 seriously ill people.

Nurse Danielle Turner told the broadcaster: “We actually have corridor nurses now as well, which shows times are very desperate”.

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Early use of bus pass to be charged at £1 per journey in Bedfordshire

CHANGES to discount travel passes in Bedford borough are set to come into force next month.

The English National Concessionary Travel Scheme (ENCTS) allows disabled and pensioner pass holders to travel free of charge on bus journeys where the journeyis made between 9.30am and 11.00pm Monday to Friday or anytime on weekends or bank holidays.

This part of the scheme is not changing.

But Bedford Borough Council had previously subsidised pass holders’ travel in addition to the national scheme to allow them to use buses for free at any time on journeys within the borough. This initiative is being altered.

READ MORE:£2.7m budget cuts as Bedford council tax rises

ENCTS pass holders travelling before 9.30am on weekdays will now pay a contribution of £1 per journey toward the cost of their journey as of February 1, 2017.

Read more