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Council considers employee smoking break ban

Smoking breaks will be banned for thousands of council employees under new proposals.

Nottinghamshire County Council is proposing a total smoking ban for staff

Nottinghamshire County Council has said its 9,000 employees will be barred from smoking during work time with the ban extending to e-cigarettes, in the mooted plans.

Anyone who fails to stick to the rules could face internal disciplinary action.

The local authority said the ban, to include all council buildings, land and vehicles, was aimed at boosting its workers' health, increasing time spent working and reducing levels of sick leave.

But the largest public sector union Unison has said the stringent rules will be unenforceable and has urged the council to support smokers in quitting rather than haul wayward employees into disciplinary meetings.

The council's deputy director of public health John Tomlinson said smoking was still "public health's number one enemy" and the local authority had committed itself to action.

"We are trying to be a supportive employer and have a duty of care to protect the health of our employees as part of a wider remit to take a leading role in promoting better health in Nottinghamshire.

"If you asked 100 smokers if they wanted to give up, 70 of them would want to.

"With this in mind we want to encourage staff to attend smoking cessation services.

"If they don't want to give up smoking they will get withdrawal symptoms at work because of their nicotine addiction."

– John Tomlinson, Nottinghamshire's deputy director of public health

The council has said it will encourage staff to use alternatives like nicotine patches to kick their habit, arguing the cost to its staff would be cheaper than a packet of cigarettes.

"National research suggests that staff who smoke take more time off work to have breaks and have more sick leave through respiratory problems.

"Another reason for encouraging staff to give up smoking is that they become better role models for their children and the children are less likely to start smoking in the first place if their parents are non-smokers."

– John Tomlinson Nottinghamshire's deputy director of public health

The council has about 9,000 employees across all its departments, excluding teachers.

Employees get a short morning and afternoon break, but no smoking will be allowed during these periods under any ban.

Smoking will be allowed during lunch breaks but not in uniform or anywhere near council property, according to the union, Unison.

"We're supportive of public health and we haven't got a stance on this, but we are balloting members asking whether they would be for or against.

"I don't see yet how they could enforce it. Say you work in highways, if you want to smoke, you need to take all your uniform off and go as far away from site as possible and have a cigarette and then come back.

"You're not going to be able to smoke in your uniform, or if you're standing outside your council workplace or are wearing a council badge or lanyard.

"If you're in the parks department, you won't be able to - even when you're outside.

"If anybody goes out on council business and drives their own car, they won't be able to smoke."

– Brian Fitzpatrick, Unison services conditions officer

Unions will discuss the proposals with the council in the autumn, with the ban expected to come into force early next year.

Former Liberal Democrat MP from Solihull to enter House of Lords

Lorely Burt, Liberal Democrats parliamentary candidate for Solihull, on a General Election campaign visit to Solihull College. Credit: Jonathan Brady/PA Wire/Press Association Images

Lorely Burt, the former liberal democrat MP for Solihull, is to enter the House of Lords.

She's one of eleven Liberal Democrats nominated for a peerage despite the party's huge defeat in the General Election.

She says she is delighted to have been nominated and is looking forward to a return to Westminster.


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Liz Kendall in favour of Assisted Dying Bill

Labour leadership candidate Liz Kendall has said she intends to vote in favour of the Assisted Dying Bill.

Kendall says other countries are more open to discussing death Credit: Reuters

Kendall told LBC radio that she believed the right safeguards - diagnosis of a terminal illness, certification from two doctors and judicial oversight - for the bill to be taken forward.

I believe in giving people as much power and control over what happens to them as possible.

People need the ability to die in their own homes. I believe this will be a step forward.

– Liz Kendall

The Assisted Dying Bill, drafted by Lord Falcanor is due to be debated in the House of Commons on September 11.

Janner court appearance 'would breach human rights' according to lawyers

Lord Janner is accused of 22 offences allegedly committed in the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s. Credit: PA

Laywers from former Leicester West MP Lord Janner will argue that forcing him to attend court to face child abuse charges despite suffering from dementia breaches his human rights, a judge has heard.

The former Labour peer and MP has been ordered to appear at Westminster Magistrates' Court in London on Friday to face 22 charges spanning a period from the 1960s to the 1980s.

Janner's lawyers are now taking the case to the High Court, arguing that forcing the 87-year-old to attend court in person is unlawful.

They say Janner, who suffers from Alzheimer's disease, will suffer "considerable distress and harm" from him court appearance which will violate his rights under Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights.

We have heard medical evidence that Lord Janner is a particularly vulnerable person likely to suffer an extreme reaction to an environment which is unfamiliar."

– Paul Ozin


Former Leicester MP Lord Janner to appear in court today

Lord Janner is facing prosecution for child sex offences. Credit: PA

Former Leicester West MP Lord Janner is expected in court later to face a string of sexual assault charges, allegedly committed over three decades.

Lord Janner is accused of 22 offences allegedly committed in the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s. He denies any wrongdoing.

The case has been brought after a decision not to prosecute him because of ill health was over-ruled.

The family of the 86-year-old peer who suffers from dementia, have always denied he is connected to any wrongdoing.

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High Court rejects Lincoln libraries challenge

Library campaigners in Lincoln, 2013

An appeal to the High Court for a judicial review into Lincolnshire County Council’s plan to cut the number of libraries from 45 to 15 has failed.

After a week long hearing, a High Court judge dismissed the legal challenge on all grounds.

"We're delighted with the judge's decision.

"However, it's disappointing that at least £350,000 has had to be wasted defending plans that are clearly best for taxpayers, best for library users and best for local communities.

"The delays caused by the legal action have also led to Lincolnshire Co-op withdrawing its bid for Boultham Library, meaning this site is now likely to close.

"Hopefully, the campaigners will now see their actions are only having a negative effect on services, and they are doing anything but save Lincolnshire libraries.

"Now we have cleared this hurdle, we can concentrate on putting the new-look service in place – something that will ensure the future of local libraries.

"We're working closely with local groups to get the new community hubs up-and-running, and have a few that are ready to go-live in the next few weeks, the rest will then follow over the summer months in a phased approach. Everything should be in place by the end of September. "I'm sure these new facilities will be of real benefit to their local community."

– Cllr Nick Worth, Executive Member for Libraries, Lincolnshire County Council

Under the plans, the council will continue to provide 15 major libraries, along with online services and specialist support for those unable to reach their nearest library because of, for instance, disability, age or ill health.

These will be complemented by around 30 community hubs, including library services, developed in partnership with local community groups who will also be given over £5,000 per year towards their running costs and access to a one-off grant of up to £15,000 for changes to buildings or equipment.

In addition, the authority is undertaking a competitive procurement to seek an external organisation to potentially deliver library services on its behalf, including the support for the community hubs. This follows an approach by Greenwich Leisure Limited, a not-for-profit organisation interested in running local libraries.

Because of the work involved in a competitive procurement, it is likely to take until the end of 2015 before a final decision is reached on who will run the service.

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