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SOLTIMES AUGUST 2010

Barnardo’s Says Court Delays Damage Children

Vulnerable children are being “damaged” by delays in care proceedings in England and Wales, a charity has said.

Barnardo’s wants to see a 30-week limit after figures showed children waited an average of 57 weeks - sometimes in abusive homes - for county courts to make care or supervision orders. In family courts, proceedings took an average of 45 weeks, it said. A Ministry of Justice spokesman said the government was “committed to reducing unnecessary delays”. Barnardo’s said court data showed that at the end of 2009 there were 50% more unresolved care proceedings cases than at the end of 2008.

According to the Children and Family Court Advisory and Support Service (Cafcass) in England, new applications accounted for less than half of this increase - suggesting the courts were taking longer to close a significant number of cases, it argued. Barnardo’s chief executive Martin Narey said uncertainty had spread through family courts, with “additional, sequential expert assessments being routinely ordered”. “This, paired with the evident lack of credence given to social workers, is causing unnecessary delay,” he said.

“The courts need urgently to reflect on the damage these delays are having on extremely vulnerable children.” He said a year of a child’s life was “an inordinate amount of time for them to be trapped in desperate limbo, unclear of their future and very possibly at risk”. “During this time, these children might remain at home with neglectful or abusive birth families or be living in emergency foster care, expected to settle with families they may subsequently have to leave.

Free Milk Row: Dorrell Backs No 10 Rethink Former Conservative Health Secretary Stephen Dorrell has downplayed apparent government confusion over the proposed scrapping of free milk for under-fives.

The coalition said on Sunday 8th August that the benefit would not go, after health minister Anne Milton suggested plans for such a move were in place.

might be better used to deliver the same objective by different means.

Mr Dorrell, an ex-health secretary, said it had been judged the political risk “didn’t merit the rewards”.

“It was a proposal that was being discussed at a junior level in the government. Downing Street... clearly reached the conclusion... that the [political] risks didn’t merit the reward.

He added that the proposal had been discussed only at a “junior level”. The Nursery Milk scheme allows children under five in approved day care to receive 189ml (1/3 pint) of milk each day free of charge. It dates back to 1940, when milk was issued to pregnant women and young children to protect them against wartime food shortages. In a letter to the Scottish government, Mrs Milton had said the milk scheme was too expensive - costing almost £50m this year - and the coalition was considering increasing the value of Healthy Start vouchers for the poorest families instead. She said there was no evidence the scheme improved health and that the government was looking at abolishing it by April 2011. But Downing Street later ruled this out. Mr Dorrell, who is chairman of the Commons health select committee, told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “This was a proposal from Anne Milton suggesting that this money

“All life, not just politics, is about making sometimes difficult choices. This was a suggestion that there was £50m spent in providing free milk for under-five-year-olds. “Could that be better spent to deliver the objective that we all share, which is to ensure that there is the best possible healthy start for all children, but perhaps particularly children from low-income backgrounds? “If you read the correspondence it’s absolutely clear that everybody was seeking to deliver that objective.”

Eurotunnel is investigating after passengers were taken from Folkestone to France and back again without being able to get off the train.

one of the wagons was left empty.

Seven vehicles were left on the train on Saturday because staff forgot to unload one of the wagons.

Train crews realised what had happened while they were on the way back to Kent and made an announcement but were not able to do anything until they got back to Folkestone.

The error occurred after a fuel spill meant

Councils In England Offered New Homes Bonus

Councils in England are to be offered extra money for every newlybuilt home, as part of a government programme aimed at easing housing shortages.

Under the New Homes Bonus scheme the government will match the council tax raised on each new house for six years. Housing Minister Grant Shapps said action was needed as home building was at its lowest level since the 1920s. Shadow housing minister John Healey described the announcement as a con and said the scheme would cost billions. Mr Shapps said: “We will not tell communities how or where to build. But the New Homes Bonus will ensure that those communities that go for growth reap the benefits of development, not just the costs. With house building falling to its lowest level since 1924 under the previous government, action is needed now to build the homes the country needs.” According to Mr Shapps the current arrangement does not help residents to get the building projects that they need in their communities. “We think this topdown system which pitted communities against developers meant they spent loads of time in court and at planning appeals. We think that’s crazy.

“And a better system is to get people actually saying there’s something in it for our area - we can have a new swimming pool, or town centre, or something that we want in our area if we allow some house building to go ahead. That rebalances the argument and we believe they will build more homes”. There were 120,000 homes built last year and there are 4.5m people in England who are on council waiting lists. BBC correspondent Graham Satchell said the announcement offers an incentive to local authorities. For every new home built the government will match the council tax raised on each new house for a period of six years - for a band D home that would be around £1400. And local authorities are expected to have control over how they spend the money. But Labour’s Mr Healey said: “The cost will run into billions, met mainly - as Tory proposals indicated before the election - by existing grants to local councils. Given the potential impact on essential local services, we could quite literally see government robbing Peterborough to pay Poole.”

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When the train reached Calais, staff unloaded the front cars but did not realise there were more cars behind the empty wagon.

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Sol Times Newspaper Issue 249 Roquetas Edition  

Sol Times Newspaper Issue 249 Roquetas Edition

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