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AWE meeting will be held to discuss job cuts

AWE in Aldermaston, Berkshire. Credit: ITV News Meridian

Bosses at the Atomic weapons establishment sites at Aldermaston and Burghfield will meet with the union Prospect later to discuss plans to cut hundreds of jobs.

It was announced on Thursday that five hundred posts at AWE will be lost in a bid to streamline operations. It's the first meeting since the announcement was made.

Report says jobs at AWE in Berkshire could be protected

AWE jobs could be protected according to pressure group Credit: ITV News Meridian

The shock decision to cut 500 jobs at the Atomic Weapons Establishment in Berkshire is more about private companies making bigger profits than cutting public services to repay the country's debts.

That's the conclusion of the independent Nuclear Information Service pressure group. It says a partnership should be set up between local councils, trade unions, and the Ministry of Defence to plan ways of diversifying work at AWE. It claims jobs could be protected without building new nuclear weapons. Trade unions are meeting on Monday to discuss the situation.


Poisonous hogweed spreads throughout South East

Giant hogweed along the banks of the River Medway Credit: ITV Meridian

The threat of the giant hogweed - a plant that can blister, burn, and blind - is being taken seriously, say authorities in the south east.

Along riverbanks, like the Medway in Kent, they've been spraying and cutting back the plant, which can reach fifteen feet high.

But despite their efforts, it's spreading elsewhere - and at an alarming rate. And with its spread, comes the warning from plant experts and environmentalists, that the weed is dangerous. And unless efforts to eradicate it are redoubled, more people will be injured.

Abigail Bracken reports on the hogweed menace.

Fruit farm manager jailed

A disaster waiting to happen. That's what a judge said, today, as he sentenced the manager of a fruit farm - to 2 and a half years in prison - for the manslaughter of two of his workers.

Scott Cain and Ashley Clark - both in their 20's - died after entering an apple store on the Blackmoor estate near Liss. The room was starved of oxygen to keep the fruit fresh - and they should have been using breathing apparatus.

Instead they held their breath, a method they nicknamed scuba diving. Their manager - 57 year old Andrew Stocker - encouraged this - ignoring health and safety regulations. Andrew Pate has been speaking to the families of the men who died.

Asian wasp threatens Kent woodland

A large swathe of woodland in Kent, is under threat from a deadly Asian wasp. The insect has come over to the UK for the first time ever and laid its eggs in the buds of sweet chestnut trees in Farningham Wood. The Forestry Commission has begun felling trees to stop the threat spreading to other parts of the country. Andrea Thomas reports. She spoke to Councillor Matthew Dickins from Sevenoaks District Council and Matthew Woodcock from the Forestry Commission.


Doctors make breakthrough in brain injuries study

Doctors in Southampton have developed a brain pressure test that can detect life-threatening head injuries and infections - without the need for surgery or spinal procedures.

The method involves patients wearing headphones with an ear plug linked to a computer, which enables doctors to measure fluid pressure in the skull.

The device known as the cerebral and cochlear fluid pressure (CCFP) analyser is being used to study healthy volunteers at Southampton General Hospital in Hampshire.

"We know that high pressure inside the skull resulting from injuries and infections can be fatal, so it is essential it is detected as early as possible to avoid exacerbating symptoms and ensure treatment can begin promptly.

"Current methods for testing ICP (intracranial pressure) require procedures to be carried out under sedation or anaesthetic, which means they are limited to the most severe cases and those with less obvious initial symptoms often go undetected until their symptoms have worsened.

"However, as our CCFP (cerebral and cochlear fluid pressure) device does not require a patient to do anything other than wear a set of headphones with an ear plug, it has the potential to provide rapid, accurate and safe assessments to patients in much larger numbers than is currently possible."

– Dr Robert Marchbanks, consultant clinical scientist
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