The Police and Crime Panel and that tweet …

During his speech to the Police and Crime Panel, Mark Kingscote – nominated by his pal Alison Hernandez for the post as her deputy – assured councillors he would be a neutral force for good if given the job and would be fair and inclusive. The full broadcast of the meeting is here:

Councillor Tom Wright then alluded to a tweet by Mr Kingscote – which he said was about lesbians – and which Mr Wright apparently found offensive. Mr Kingscote said the tweet had been a mistake and he apologised for it, saying he would use different grammar in future.

Owl was intrigued by the comments of both Mr Wright and Mr Kingscote and did some searching. The offending tweet would appear to be in the middle of this interesting archive of (some of?/all of?) Mr Kingscote’s tweets which can be found here (in the pubic domain):

Should this webpage not be available in future, Owl has made a copy of it.

It is heartening to see that in his earliest tweet, Mr Kingscote praises his close council colleague Ms Hernandez for her nursing skills – an otherwise unknown attribute of our Police and Crime Commissioner.

Nearly 25% of teachers qualified since 2011 have quit

“Almost a quarter of the teachers who have qualified since 2011 have already left the profession, according to official figures that have prompted further concerns about the pressures on the profession.

Of those who qualified in 2011 alone, 31% had quit within five years of becoming teachers, the figures show.

The official rate of dropouts from the profession was published as the government came under pressure to relax the 1% pay cap that has been placed on teachers’ pay until 2020.

Analysis of official figures shows that more than 27,500 teachers who trained between 2011 and 2015 had already left the job by last year. It means that just over 23% of about 117,000 teachers who qualified over the period have left.

The figures follow complaints by Tory MPs that the overall schools budget is too small and needs to be increased.

Justine Greening, the education secretary, is known to be sympathetic to both relaxing the pay cap and increasing public spending on schools, but is one of a series of cabinet ministers making spending demands on Philip Hammond, the chancellor.

Angela Rayner, the shadow education secretary, who uncovered the figures showing the number of teachers leaving the profession, said they highlighted the “sheer scale of the crisis that the Tories have created in teacher recruitment and retention”.

“Teachers are leaving our classrooms in record numbers, and the crisis is getting worse year after year. We are now at the point that more teachers are leaving than staying,” she said. “The government has serious questions to answer on the impact of their policies such as the continued cap on public sector pay, and their failure to tackle the issues like excessive workload that affect teachers in the classroom.

“It is time that ministers finally admitted that we are at a crisis point, and came up with a proper plan of action to deal with it.”

… Recent analysis by the Education Policy Institute found teachers in England are working longer hours on average than in most other countries. Full-time teachers in England reported working 48.2 hours a week on average, including evenings and weekends.

It was 19% longer than the average elsewhere of 40.6 hours. Only Japan and Alberta reported longer average working hours than teachers in England.

The analysis found that half of full-time teachers work between 40 and 58 hours, while a fifth of teachers work 60 hours or more.

Teaching unions have been urging ministers to lift the pay cap. They also want to make it cheaper for teachers to train and to introduce measures to encourage teachers to stay in post in areas with significant recruitment problems.”

New homebuyers can’t contact freeholders in ripoff deals

“Buyers who purchased new properties direct from some of the UK’s biggest builders have been left in the dark as investment companies play pass-the-parcel with the land their homes stand on.”

“Medical chiefs call fo 5,000 more beds to avoid logjam”!

Source: Daily Telegraph

and by the same author from February 2017:

“Breaking point is becoming “the norm” for the NHS, with 15,000 beds cut from hospitals in the space of six years.

The fall amounts to one in ten beds being lost, and has prompted warnings about patient safety amid rising pressure on the health service.

The British Medical Association yesterday said that the decrease in beds was directly contributing to long waits in crowded A&E departments.

The warning comes after three quarters of hospitals last month reported dangerously high occupancy rates of 95 per cent, even though managers are told to aim for a rate of 85 per cent to leave a safe margin of beds to cope with surges of patient demand.

In the first quarter of 2010/11 there were 144,455 available beds, but in the same period in 2016/17 the figure was 130,774 – a fall of almost 9.5 per cent. The loss is comparable to 24 hospitals being closed down. “

“Hackers breached a dozen US nuclear plants, reports say”

But we don’t need to worry – our nearest nuclear plant will be owned by the Chinese and French – who will totally protect us. Won’t they?

“… The hackers appeared to be attempting to map out computer networks for future attacks, according to the DHS report seen by the Times.

They sent highly targeted emails to senior engineers at operating firms behind the nuclear plants, mimicking job applications but laced with malicious code, the newspaper said.

Officials told the Times that the techniques resembles those used by Russian specialists linked to previous attacks on energy facilities. …”

Amateur auditors find problems at Lambeth Council

“A group of local activists has claimed to unearth evidence of large-scale financial mismanagement at the London Borough of Lambeth.

Lambeth Peoples’ Audit comprised 10 residents who combed through the borough’s accounts for 2015-16 looking also at contracts, invoices and correspondence.

It said its findings included that the council had overpaid builders for work on council estates, including one case where contractors were paid more than double the number of repairs performed and another in which an average of £4,000 was paid for kitchen replacements priced under ‘decent homes’ contracts at £2-3,000.

The group also said it had evidence of possible price fixing in a case where all four tenders on a £1.3m project bid within 7% of each other.

Lambeth sold three pieces of land to private developer Pocket Living at a discount of at least £1m without any competitive tender, the group claimed.

Other cases the group uncovered included the cost of town hall refurbishment having risen from £50m to £104m and secrecy over a deal in which Greenwich Leisure took over two libraries.

It also said there was lack of adequate spending controls in the council, examples of which include more than £8m of invoices for housing repairs not available to Lambeth’s finance department and “industrial scale” disregard of rules on competitive tendering. …”

Local government lawyers: powerful are more important than the powerless

“Local government lawyers should make sure they have access to the ‘top table’ and that they are listened to rather than necessarily feel the need to be “at every meeting”, the former Head of the Civil Service and Permanent Secretary at the Department for Communities and Local Government has suggested. …”