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'Fuel bank' scheme used by 500 children in Hastings in less than a year

A 'fuel bank' that's been running for just under a year in Hastings has already helped more than 1,100 people - including 500 children.

The scheme gives foodbank users vouchers for gas or electricity so families don't have to choose between keeping the lights on and heating their home.

Jeffery Beale, manager, said: 'During the last few months, we’ve seen an increase in people coming through our doors for both food and fuel support, largely due to the roll out of Universal Credit in our area.

'With waiting times of up to six weeks before receiving any benefit means that not only those out-of-work are struggling, but also those in-work and on low incomes.'

AWE staff in 24 hour strike over pension changes

Workers have been carrying out industrial action over pension changes

Up to 600 workers at the Atomic Weapons Establishment (AWE) in Berkshire are on strike today in a continuing dispute over changes to their pensions.

Members of the Unite union from the sites at Aldermaston and Burghfield will join colleagues from across the country protesting at the Ministry of Defence in Whitehall. They say they stand to lose thousands of pounds in retirement income.

The firm's defined benefit pension scheme was closed on 31 January 2017.

"Our committed members feel betrayed and badly let down by what has happened to their pensions and they don't deserve to lose thousands of pounds when they retire.

"There is a solution that could resolve this dispute and that is to allow the AWE workforce to join the principal civil service pension scheme.

"Our members want to have a constructive dialogue with Michael Fallon, but they have met with a brick wall which is insulting to such a dedicated workforce delivering the government's flagship Trident nuclear programme.

"So on Tuesday, our members will be knocking on the proverbial front door at the MoD as they seek to secure a decent retirement income that they were promised by a Tory government a quarter of a century ago."

– Jennie Formby, Unite regional secretary for the south east

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South's first cat cafe opens in Bournemouth

Welcome to the new cat cafe

The South's first ever cat cafe opens its doors on Friday. It's a concept that's popular in Far Eastern countries - the idea being that the stresses of urban life can be more easily forgotten if you spend some quality time in the company of cats.

Martin Dowse joined some specially invited customers for a sneak peak before the grand opening, to see what they, and the twelve resident rescue cats, would make of it..

ASLEF train drivers reject Southern deal - Rail boss says: 'Naturally we're saddened'

More industrial action to come in the dispute on Southern trains

The head of Govia Thameslink Railway - Southern's parent company, has given his reaction to the decision of ASLEF union members to reject a deal in the ongoing dispute about driver-only trains.

“Naturally we’re saddened and hugely disappointed, as will be our passengers, with today’s decision by drivers, particularly as the agreement carried the full support and recommendation of the ASLEF leadership. We now need to understand the issues which led to this outcome and we’ll be seeking to meet with the union as soon as possible to see how we can agree a way forward.”

– Nick Brown, Chief Operating Officer of Govia Thameslink Railway, Southern’s parent company

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Public consultations on Heathrow's third runway begin

Public consultation for the third runway begin today Credit: PA

Campaigners will gather outside the first of twenty public consultation events over a third runway at Heathrow later today.

The Government say they will allow communities to get information and express their views on the £17 billion scheme.

The first is being held near the airport with others in Bracknell, Reading, Maidenhead, Windsor and Buckinghamshire soon to follow.

There will also be events further away including Brighton for the wider South East.

People have until May to express their views.

The Government says it backs the third runway because of the economic benefits. Local people say it will lead to more noise.

A final decision is expected early next year.

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BA cabin crew to stage new four-day strike

Credit: PA

British Airways cabin crew are to stage a strike in a long-running dispute over pay.

The four-day walk-out is currently due to take place on 17 February, said the Unite union.

The announcement was made on the second day of a three-day stoppage, which followed a similar strike earlier this week.

A BA spokesman reassured passengers who might be affected saying: "We have flown all customers to their destinations during the previous strikes by mixed fleet Unite and we will ensure this happens again.

"We will publish more details on February 14 once we have finalised our contingency plans", he added.

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