West Yorkshire Road Repair Funds Cut By £10m

West Yorkshire Road Repair Funds Cut By £10m

9th Mar 2021

The Government has been criticised after funding to fix potholes and maintain roads in West Yorkshire has been cut by 21.8 per cent.

According to the Yorkshire Evening Post, West Yorkshire Combined Authority (WYCA) has said that its transport maintenance fund for 2021/22 has been slashed from £46.7 million in 2020/21 to £36.5 million, a reduction of £10.2 million.

WYCA said the 21.8 per cent decrease was ‘disappointing’ and will have a detrimental effect on local communities, difficulties in undertaking road maintenance, which is urgently required on the region’s roads.

The Government announced £500 million for highways maintenance earlier this week as part of its five-year £2.5 billion Potholes Fund, with Transport Minister Baroness Vere saying it would allow ‘potholes that blight road users to be dealt with promptly’.

Councillor Kim Groves, chair of WYCAs Transport Committee, said she was disappointed by the cuts, adding that West Yorkshire has seen unprecedented demand on local council budgets due to the pandemic, and the cuts will place further pressure on the councils’ ability to maintain the region’s roads.

We have real concerns what this cut could mean for our communities. Local authorities rely on this funding to carry out vitally important road repairs and maintain the condition of their road networks, which affect all users, including pedestrians,” she said, urging the government to consider the concerns before the Budget announcement in March.

A Department for Transport spokesperson said following the 25 November Spending Review the Government ‘rightly prioritised the response to Covid-19, support jobs and supporting families at this incredibly difficult time’.

She added: Funding for pothole fixing and road maintenance is still very significant; the Government committed £1.1 billion to local roads maintenance in 2021-22, including this £500 million allocated from the Potholes Fund.”

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England’s Schools Set For 8 March Return

England’s Schools Set For 8 March Return

6th Mar 2021

Primary and secondary schools are preparing to welcome children back to classrooms from 8 March in the first of a phased relaxation of England’s current national lockdown. All primary age children will be back at school from 8 March, with secondary schools able to stagger the return of pupils over the course of two weeks if necessary, the Guardian reported.

The newspaper cited comments made by education secretary Gavin Williamson during an interview with BBC Radio 4, where he was challenged about the logistics of administering three Covid tests for each secondary school pupil over the course of the first two weeks back at school.

Children in secondary school will also be required to wear masks while they are in the classroom, with a review of this policy expected at Easter.

The BBC reported that the government is considering how it can help pupils to catch up on what they’ve missed out on due to the long-term school closures over the past year.

Among the options reportedly being considered are extending the school day and running summer school sessions.

However, neither of these options have been officially put forward, with the government simply announcing an additional £400 million of funding, in addition to the £300 million announced in January to support catch-up projects.

Mr Williamson told the news provider that head teachers would be able to decide how best to spend the money for their students.

Schools are having to adapt to the new normal and that may mean that they have to change the layout of classrooms and other learning environments. If you are looking for new educational furniture to support students as they return to the classroom, get in touch with us today.

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Top Tips For An Effective Seating Plan

Top Tips For An Effective Seating Plan

3rd Mar 2021

After spending a few months teaching at home, many teachers and headteachers can be forgiven for not thinking too deeply about their seating plan.

However, with schools set to reopen for everyone, it is important to ensure you have figured out the right way to sort your educational furniture out and decided on the best way to arrange your class.

Your choice of seating plan can be an important part of making sure your students all fulfil their potential, so here are some tips for an optimal seating plan.


Set Up A Quiet Space

Not every classroom is large enough, however having a little quiet area for reading or simply to cool off or check out is important, especially since a lot of students have been away from school for a while and may get overwhelmed.


Make Sure Everyone Can See

Most classrooms have a digital whiteboard and a projector to use as an aid, and any seating plan you set up must allow everyone to see your presentation or visual aids without having to turn or twist to get into the right place.


Room To Move

Make sure that whatever room layout you use allows you to move around the room easily and be able to talk to individual students whenever they need one-to-one support. Set up your classroom as well to ensure that all students are in your eye line wherever possible as well.


Sorting Students

There are several ways to sort students when constructing a seating plan. Popular ones include alphabetical order, by ability or by gender.

This choice often comes down to which plan suits different teaching styles but a study from Montana State University found a positive link between high attainment for lower ability students without affecting high ability students using a mixed ability seating plan.

This is an option but to make sure it works effectively, include as much information as possible on your seating plans, such as expected grades, names, SEN information, medical needs and anything else that is useful to know at a glace when meeting a new class.


Know When To Be Flexible

The eternal dilemma in classes is how flexible you should be with your seating plan once it has been set up.

A seating plan can be important at first to establish behavioural expectations and stop some of the potential disruptions which can happen when students get to choose their own seating.

At the same time, however, it is just as easy to use a system to seat people together and end up pairing pupils who do not work well with each other at all.

Much of this can be solved by simply not firing and forgetting your seating plan once you start. See how it works at first, and allow for changes as you get to know your class better.

If they are working well and would be unlikely to be disruptive then allowing requests for swapping seats may work well or allowing far more flexibility for group work can be effective.

There has been a lot of research on the subject of seating plans but ultimately each teacher is unique in how they teach their class and some methodologies work far better than others for different students and learning styles.

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Proposal To Repair Footpaths In Kent Rejected By County Council

Proposal To Repair Footpaths In Kent Rejected By County Council

24th Feb 2021

Plans to create an emergency £1m to enable footpath surfacing and repair works to be undertaken has been rejected by county councillors in the region.

The decision made at the Council’s Budget Meeting (Vote at 1:15:00) saw the administration vote against a proposal to use money from the 2020-21 Covid-19 Emergency Grant to pay for it, despite concerns for the safety of the footpaths involved.

Over the last 12 months one of the primary reasons people could go outside in the early days of lockdown was to walk, and as a result of this Kent’s extensive walking routes became more popular. One estimation has claimed the visitor numbers have increased by 20 per cent over the last six months.

The unfortunate consequence is that this highlighted the deterioration of some of the routes, which not only makes them more expensive to repair and resurface but can cause serious hazards.

One councillor, Cllr Ida Linfield noted that some routes were impassible and she seriously injured herself whilst walking on a footpath. She noted that she could have sued the council for her broken knee.

As well as this, the particularly harsh frosts and flood weather have caused further issues to the pathways, with unpaved paths being a mire of waterlogged mud, to the point that walkers have been climbing over fences to avoid the muddy areas.

As well as this, entrances and gates have also suffered major damage as a result of the popularity.

The cabinet member for finance, Cllr Peter Oakford noted the amount of money available in the budget is not bottomless, and that £150,000 in cash had been allocated to keep the footpaths maintained over the next year.

One of the most concerning incidents in the Kent area involves a path in Aylesford, near Junction 6 of the M20. It collapsed in March 2020, with only half of the path still traversable.

Due to the damage being so extensive it has been estimated that the path will cost over £100,000 to fix, and has been put on a priority repairs list to be completed over the next few months.


What Causes Impassible Paths?

What makes a path impassible or dangerous to cross depends on what material the footpath is made of, as well as the nature of the ground underneath it, the weather and temperature nearby and other factors.

Most footpaths are made of asphalt or concrete, in no small part because these are hard-wearing materials which can survive large amounts of traffic for years and are exceptionally resistant to wear and tear when in one piece.

However, concrete is infamously very bad at expanding and moving with other parts of the ground, which can cause it to crack, sometimes in barely noticeable ways.

Once water can get into a crack, it freezes in very cold conditions, which causes it to expand and make the crack bigger. More water can then get in and continue the cycle until the concrete breaks into pieces.

This, along with slippery ice and growing vegetation can make for trip and slip hazards which can injure pedestrians.

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Govt Unveils Multi-Billion Pound Cladding Intervention

Govt Unveils Multi-Billion Pound Cladding Intervention

18th Feb 2021

Housing secretary Robert Jenrick has confirmed that the government will fully fund the cost of replacing unsafe cladding in residential buildings above 18m high (six storeys), announcing £5 billion in funding for building safety.

A five-point plan has also been unveiled that will provide reassurance to homeowners and help bring more confidence to the housing market.

The move will ensure that funding is directed towards those highest risk buildings, with analysis of fire and rescue service statistics by the Home Office showing that buildings between 18 and 30m are four times more likely to suffer a fire with fatalities or serious casualties than apartment buildings in general.

To help residents in lower-rise buildings, which have a lower risk to safety, a new scheme has been announced to help with the costs of cladding removal for sites between 11 and 18m. The scheme will see no leaseholder having to ever pay more than £50 a month towards the removal of unsafe cladding.

Mr Jenrick also announced plans to bring in a Gateway 2 developer levy, which will be targeted and which will apply when developers seek permission to develop certain high-rise buildings.

A new tax is also due to be introduced for the residential property development sector, raising at least £2 billion over ten years to help pay for cladding remediation costs. It will make sure that property developers make fair contributions to the remediation programme.

Mr Jenrick said: “Remedying the failures of building safety cannot just be a responsibility for taxpayers. That is why we will also be introducing a levy and tax on developers to contribute to righting the wrongs of the past.

“These measures will provide certainty to residents and lenders, boosting the housing market, reinstating the value of properties and getting buying and selling homes back on track. We are working with lenders and surveyors to make this happen.”

However, according to the BBC, campaigners have said that this extra funding is “too little, too late”. The Grenfell United campaign group observed that residents who currently live in unsafe homes will now be concerned about whether their building will qualify for the funding or if they’ll be passed over once again.

And Labour said that the “arbitrary” height limit could lead to financial ruin for many people living in blocks below 18m. After the Grenfell disaster in 2017, many of the country’s tower blocks were found to be unsafe, which meant that there were thousands of people left facing huge bills to make fire safety improvements.

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