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Dorset MP calls for national referendum on HS2

HS2 Credit: ITV news

An MP is calling on Parliament today for a national referendum on the proposed HS2 rail link, which would cut through sections of the Thames Valley if it is built.

Christopher Chope, the MP for Christchurch, in Dorset, has tabled a Private Members Bill which demands 'provision for a national referendum on whether the proposed construction of the HS2 railway should be supported financially by the UK taxpayer'.

It comes just a week after the Public Accounts Committee stated they were sceptical that HS2 would be value for money for the taxpayer. But supporters of the project say it will revolutionise cross country travel.


Nearly 1,000 jobs secured as Dungeness Power Station life is extended by 10 years

The life of Dungeness Power Station in Kent is to be extended by 10 years, safeguarding nearly a thousand jobs. The plant, operated by energy giant EDF, will continue in operation until 2028 thanks to a 150 million pound investment.But environmentalists say the money should be spent on renewable energy. Iain McBride reports.

Extension of Dungeness is 'bad news', says MEP

“10 more years of unsafe and expensive nuclear energy production is bad news. Instead we should be focusing our efforts on the switch to a truly sustainable energy future – one which focuses on renewable energy and energy efficiency, and which would deliver more jobs, faster carbon reductions and a fundamentally more democratic energy system fit for the future.”

– Keith Taylor Green MEP for South East England

Dungeness B life extended by a decade

EDF Energy has extended the expected life of its Dungeness B nuclear power station by ten years.

This means it is due to continue generating low carbon electricity until 2028, producing enough power each year to supply the equivalent of 1.5m homes.

Credit: EDF

The decision has been made possible by a £150m investment programme to extend the life of the station. It comes after extensive reviews of the plant’s safety cases and work with the independent nuclear regulator, the Office for Nuclear Regulation (ONR).

The life extension at Dungeness B is part of a wider EDF Energy programme to extend the lives of its eight nuclear power stations.

According to EDF, it will secure 550 jobs and work for 200 contractors at the site, as well as maintaining essential expertise in engineering and the UK nuclear industry.


1,500 pupils to visit 'Careers Fest' in Oxford

The previous Oxford City Learning Careers Fest took place in 2014

The MINI car plant at Cowley in Oxford is hosting a two-day jobs fair to introduce teenagers to the world of work after they leave school.

The fifth annual Oxford City Learning Careers Fest will feature 50 exhibitors. The firms are offering chances for school pupils aged 14 - 18 to explore potential job and career opportunities. The organisers 'Oxford City Learning' (OCL) have invited 1,500 children from schools across Oxfordshire to the event.

"With Oxfordshire's Strategic Economic Plan indicating that up to 75,000 new jobs could be created in the county between 2014 and 2031, this event will showcase a host of exciting employment opportunities over the next few years, together with the types and levels of qualifications required.

"As in previous years, we'll be encouraging students visiting to 'have a go' at the range of activities run by the exhibitors, who will also provide information and advice to help young people understand and consider a full range of career pathways including apprenticeships, further and higher education and employment."

– Alison Robb-Webb, OCL Project Director

Reading has the most productive workforce in the country

Reading has the most productive workforce in the country according to a new report published today (19 January 2015). Cities Outlook 2015, produced by the think-tank Centre for Cities, ranks Reading number one in the UK for the economic contribution per worker (GVA¹), with an average contribution of £70,900 per person to the economy.

The Cities Outlook report is the annual health-check of the economic performance of the United Kingdom’s 64 largest cities. The report defines Reading as the Greater Reading area² and includes statistics about the levels of technological innovation, levels of employment, earnings and skill levels in the workforce and house prices.

Reading performs well against 12 of the criteria in the report, repeating 2014’s strong performance. Highlights include:-Reading is fifth for start-up businesses, third for the number of businesses per population and second for the highest wages. In terms of the skills of Reading’s workforce, the economic area ranks second in terms of GCSE results and seventh for University-level qualifications.

The Centre for Cities report demonstrates the cumulative reasons that make Reading a powerhouse of the UK economy and such an attractive location for business and investment.The challenges for Reading are to ensure that we maximise the benefits of the current wave of investment in the town centre and that the benefits of this strong economic performance are shared by all sectors of society.

– Nigel Horton-Baker, Executive Director, Reading UK CIC, the economic development company for Reading

Reading has the fifth lowest proportion of people with no formal qualifications (5.4%) and the fifth lowest unemployment rate of the 63 locations included in the report.

Over the last 10 years cities in the South grew at double the rate of cities elsewhere in the UK

The Centre for Cities 2015 report analyses population and jobs growth from 2004 to last year. During this period the reports says the population of southern cities increased by 11.3% - compared to 5.5% in cities elsewhere.

Population growth in cities since 2004 Credit: Centre for Cities

The highest growth in the ITV Meridian region was in Swindon with the population rising between 13 and 16%. Bournemouth, Brighton, Crawley, Oxford and Southampton all saw population growth of between 6 and 12%. In Chatham, Reading, Aldershot, Portsmouth, Worthing the report says the growth was between 6 and 8%. Growth was less in Hastings - between 1 and 5%. The figures come from the Office for National Statistics.

The report says cities in the South also saw a much larger increase in the number of businesses since 2004. Swindon saw the highest rise - 29% putting it fourth in the UK. It wasn't all good news though for our cities, Southampton only saw a 5.5% rise, Worthing's change was 4.7% and Hastings only 3.1% - putting them all in the bottom 10. The average for the UK was 15.5%

Theme Park say they deeply regret 'isolated incident'

Chessington World of Adventures regards the Health & Safety of its guests and employees as its number one priority. The Resort has an excellent safety record with no previous convictions or enforcement notices against it, and every year invests significant resources in maintenance and safety measures.

What happened to the young child was an isolated incident which we deeply regret, and from the outset we have put in place a package of support for the child and the family which will continue for as long as is required.

We also co-operated fully with the HSE investigation. This showed both a rigorous inspection and maintenance regime, and evidence not only of very swift action by staff, but also that the paling was dislodged by the application of exceptional force upon it shortly before the accident. Nevertheless, following the incident in 2012, we worked with the HSE to act on all their comments, including putting some additional measures in place such as the installation of a new metal safety fencing along the queue line.

– Chessington World of Adventures
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