Live updates

Changes will 'simplify' Sellafield management

"New, simplified management plans" are to be introduced at Sellafield, the government has announced today.

It's released a statement saying the changes will streamline the relationship between Sellafield ltd and the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority, following a year long review.

Here's some of the key points:

  • Nuclear Management Partners have lost ownership of Sellafield.
  • Instead, it'll be run by the NDA.
  • The day to day management of Sellafield will continue to be by an executive team
  • They will report to a new board.
  • The private sector will become a supplier to Sellafield Ltd

The NDA hopes these plans will improve performance and value for money:

“This decision is the result of careful consideration and review of various commercial approaches in use where the combination of public and private sector comes together to deliver complex programmes and taxpayer value.

“I believe we can build on progress to date and drive further improvements in performance and value for money by enhancing the capability of the Site Licensed Company (Sellafield Ltd) through a different approach.”

– John Clarke, NDA CEO

The NDA has said it anticipates the full co-operation of Nuclear Management Partners during the changes, which will take place over the next 12-15 months.

You can read the full statement here.


Sellafield clean-up company's contract to be terminated

Sellafield clean-up set to change Credit: ITV Border

The consortium responsible for the clean-up of Sellafield is to be replaced.

The Nuclear Decommissioning Authority confirmed that it has been working with the government and industry experts to pursue alternatives to the Nuclear Management Partners:

“The NDA has been working with Government and industry experts on alternative options at Sellafield.

This will deliver more effective progress in decommissioning the biggest and most complex nuclear site in Europe and provide the best outcome for the public.

No further information will be released until we have discussed this with all parties involved, including staff.”

– DECC Spokesperson

The Nuclear Management Partners first won the contract in 2008.

This contract was renewed in 2013 despite criticism after the National Audit Office and the House of Commons public accounts committee found the group had repeatedly missed deadlines and had gone over budget.

However it seems this contract has now been terminated.

The total cost of decommissioning is estimated to be around £6.75 billion and the consortium is responsible for 10,000 staff at Sellafield.

  1. National

Fact check: Is milk really cheaper than water?

The president of the National Farmers' Union (NFU) Meurig Raymond said on BBC radio today that "liquid milk ... is now cheaper than water".

He was referring to the price that farmers are paid for milk versus the cost of bottled water in a supermarket.

Is milk really cheaper than water? Credit: Dave Thompson/PA Wire/Lars Halbauer/DPA

The NFU confirmed to ITV News that farmers across the country are paid a variety of different rates, but that it does drop as low as 20p per litre.

Of course, the cost of bottled water varies considerably depending on the brand and quantity purchased.

A quick check of the three largest supermarkets shows that budget brand bottled water costs as little as 10p per litre. Branded mineral water starts at around 40p per litre, which is similar to the starting retail price for milk.

Work restarts on Borders Railway

Work has restarted on the final phase of the Borders Railway following a break over Christmas and New Year.

It will see the last five miles of the route completed, with about 34 miles of the track already laid.

Work has now resumed on the railway Credit: Borders Railway

The completion of the track should see a reduction in the number of Heavy Goods Vehicles on roads in the area:

“Once the rail is fully installed much of the construction support deliveries will be able to be taken off the roads and delivered directly down the route by rail.

"This means that residents and road users should see the number of Heavy Goods Vehicles and plant machinery on the roads reduced in the coming months."

– Hugh Wark, project director, Network Rail

The line is expected be fully operational in eight months time.

Farmers forced to wait for milk payments

Returns from dairy products have fallen by more than 50% in the past year. Credit: PA

The UK's largest dairy company has delayed paying its farmers, following a crash in the price of milk.

First Milk, a co-operative owned by British farmers, said 2014 was a "year of volatility that has never been seen before" in the global dairy industry.

Its chairman, Conservative MP Sir Jim Paice, said it will delay today's payments to farmers by two weeks and all subsequent payments by a fortnight.

"We are a business owned by dairy farmers. The board are acutely aware of the difficulties this current extreme volatility is causing First Milk members and the UK dairy industry.

"We don't know how long this current market downturn will last, and we are aware that hundreds of UK dairy farmers are unlikely to find a home for their milk this spring.

"Our priority is to make the business and our processing assets as secure as possible in order that we can continue to process and market every litre of our members' milk."

– Sir Jim Paice, First Milk Chairman

It's a tough time for dairy farmers - in the past 12 months returns from globally traded dairy products have fallen by more than 50%, leading to a steep fall in milk prices around the world.

Last year the chief dairy adviser to National Farmers' Union warned that the cost of production outstripped the price farmers were receiving for milk.


One of the worst performing councils in the North West region

The city council at the Civic Centre is not the worst in the North West of England when it comes to sickness but it's one of the worst performing councils in the region.

According to its own figures, it's now 14th out of 16 local authorities in terms of days lost per employee. Looking at where those absences came it's biggest number was down to stress and depression, at 626 days lost that's a third of all long term absences.

But perhaps most worryingly for the council the total amount itself has gone up with sickenss levels there up by 27 percent compared to last year.

Our reporter Matthew Taylor went along to the meeting at the council to find out why.

Sickness not caused by cuts, says council

The local authority in a meeting this morning Credit: ITV Border News

Carlisle City Council's chief executive says he doesn't think an increase in sickness levels at the organisation are caused by council cuts.

The council's had an increase of more than 27 percent in the number of staff who've taken a sick day between April and September last year as compared to the year before.

A third of those sick days were caused by stress or depression.

Jason Gooding, Carlisle City Council chief executive said that the council acknowledged that there was a problem. But he insisted that it was due to absences by a small number of staff members who were on long-term sick leave. He said the council was keen to help any members of staff get back to work after absences and didn't think it was necessary to change their sickness policy.

By 2019, the council are being asked to make further cuts of £4.5 million with £1.3 million to be made in 2015.

UNISON, the public service workers union, which has criticised the extent of local government cuts, says it's clear staff are being expected to work more to keep vital services going.

Carlisle City Council staff sickness up

The Civic Centre Credit: ITV Border News

The high rate of sickness among staff at Carlisle City Council is under the spotlight today.

The local authority will meet this morning to discuss why the number of people taking time off has gone up by more than a quarter since this time last year.

Stress and depression are said to be factors.

Load more updates