Detection dogs help sniff out £23,000 of illicit tobacco in N E Lincs

North East Lincolnshire Council’s Trading Standards team has confiscated about £23,000 worth of illicit tobacco in an operation in the borough on Tuesday, 16 December – the largest haul so far this year

As the result of a partnership between North East Lincolnshire Council, North East Lincolnshire Health and Well Being Board, and the North East Lincolnshire Tobacco Alliance, tobacco detection dogs have discovered 37,200 cigarettes and 18.3kg of tobacco that would cost £23,000 to buy legitimately.

The illicit products have a street value of about £8,255 and were seized during inspection visits in the borough, conducted by North East Lincolnshire Council’s Trading Standards team with support from Humberside Police, during Operation Nightshade II.

Operation Nightshade is an on-going initiative in North East Lincolnshire that aims to crack down on the supply of illicit tobacco.

Tobacco detection dogs Phoebe and Scamp, two enthusiastic Springer Spaniels, provided by BWY Canine, helped detect the concealed stashes of tobacco at the premises that were visited.

The premises included three shops in Freeman Street and a private house.

The seizure included some products which are suspected of being counterfeit, and other non-duty paid products which cannot be legally sold in the UK.

Neil Clark, community protection manager responsible for Trading Standards at NELC, said:

“We appeal to anyone to get in touch if you have information about any people or businesses selling counterfeit or illicit tobacco products in your community.”

Report it to North East Lincolnshire Council Trading Standards on 01472 326299 (option 3).

Alternatively, ring Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111 or complete the online form at www.crimestoppers-uk.org

These raids are the latest in a number of high profile seizures of illicit tobacco products in the borough.

More than £27,000 worth of illicit tobacco products were confiscated during similar operations in the borough during the past couple of months.

Inspection visits in October led to the seizure of 21,071 cigarettes and 17kg of tobacco. These would cost £16,500 to buy legitimately and had a street value of about £6,000.

Officers confiscated 5,500 illicit cigarettes and 3.5kg of illicit tobacco during an operation in mid-September and a further 7,500 illicit cigarettes and 21.05 kg of hand rolling tobacco were confiscated during a police operation in Freeman Street on 26 September.

N E Lincs Quit and Get Fit Campaign – sign up for the new year

Smokers who sign up to quit with North East Lincolnshire’s Stop Smoking Service will have the opportunity to receive a free 12-week gym membership at Lincs Inspire’s Grimsby Leisure Centre when they kick the habit

The new campaign, which launches on Monday, January 5, is available to smokers living in North East Lincolnshire who attend weekly stop smoking sessions at Grimsby Leisure Centre. Smokers are being encouraged to beat the new year rush by booking now to guarantee a place on the scheme.

David Hardy from North East Lincolnshire Council’s Lifestyle services , said:

“We know how hard it can be to stop smoking but this programme is designed to give smokers all the practical support and help they need as they take their first positive step to quit their addiction to tobacco products.”

Giving up tobacco is a major step towards making improvements to health and well-being. This campaign aims to help smokers do just that and it also encourages people to go that extra mile by offering them free leisure service memberships. Not only does regular exercise boost endorphin levels – that give you that feel good factor – it can also help minimise the weight gain that some quitters experience.

Andrea Shreeve, aged 53 and from Cleethorpes, kicked the habit after 40 years of smoking and now is a regular swimmer. She said:

“I was determined to quit smoking after a bad case of bronchitis restricted my breathing. It was incredibly scary and the doctor offered to help. He recommended I contact the local Stop Smoking Service. They supported and encouraged me and took me through the options. I decided to attend the support programme and took champix tablets, which helped block the cravings. On day two, October 30, this year I made up my mind that I would no longer smoke and since then I haven’t looked back and I can’t stand the smell of cigarettes now.

“As for exercise, I love swimming and it’s ideal for me as I suffer with back and hip problems. When I started swimming before I quit in September this year I could only manage 20 lengths in one hour. I have now doubled this and swim two to three times a week.

“For anyone considering quitting the habit I would say give it a go. It is hard, but if you’ve got the determination and the support of the stop smoking service you can do it.”

The Quit and Get Fit campaign will give customers on the scheme free access to Grimsby Leisure Centre for up to 12 consecutive weeks. They can access a range of exercise options which include: fitness gym, exercise classes and public swimming sessions. To qualify for your free leisure pass you need to attend the 12 weeks stop smoking programme, have given and stuck to a quit date and become smoke-free. For those successfully completing the scheme, discounted leisure membership will be available thereafter.

Weekly stop smoking support sessions will be held at the Grimsby Leisure Centre each Monday starting on January 5, at 5:30pm Anyone considering taking part in the Quit and Get Fit campaign can contact the stop smoking team now on (01472) 325500 or 08456032166.

Calls for science toys for boys and girls this Christmas

Liberal Democrat Equalities Minister Jo Swinson is calling on the retail sector to do what is best – ensuring the greatest choice by marketing toys for all children, rather than for boys and girls separately.

Many girls still believe that some science subjects are not for them – almost half of all state-schools had no girls taking A-level physics in recent years. Campaigners have suggested that this is in part because the future aspirations of girls and boys are set at a very early age.

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Jo Swinson said:

“Parents know that boys and girls love all kinds of toys. With children developing very clear ideas at a young age about what jobs boys and girls can do, we can all help to send a clear signal that nothing is off limits. It is great that fewer retailers are defining toys as ‘for boys’ or ‘for girls’, which shows they are responding to their customers’ demands for more choice.

“But there is still more to do. I hope this Christmas companies will be conscious of how they are marketing their products and make sure they aren’t accidentally limiting customers’ and children’s choices.”

Jo Swinson is asking both manufacturers and retailers of toys to get behind the Your Life campaign – which is encouraging young people, especially girls, to consider science, technology, engineering and maths careers – and pledge to take action to increase the numbers of women working in the sector.

Energy efficiency measures top 1 million

A million home improvements will keep Britain’s homes warmer for less this Christmas thanks to energy efficiency schemes introduced by Liberal Democrats in government.

In under two years, the Energy Company Obligation (ECO) and Green Deal package delivered new boilers, windows and insulation to around 830,000 extra houses, meaning warmer homes and lowers bills in time for Christmas.

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Liberal Democrat Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change Ed Davey said:

“We’ve taken money off people’s energy bills this winter, but to cut bills permanently people need energy efficient homes.

“Thanks to our ECO and Green Deal policies one million energy efficiency measures such as new boilers and insulation have now been installed in less than two years, making homes across the UK warmer and cutting household bills for this Christmas, and every Christmas.”

The Liberal Democrats put the environment at the top of our agenda. Through our policies, we have ensured that homes are more energy efficient whilst keeping fuel bills to a minimum.

The 1 million milestone comes a week after Lib Dems in government allocated £24 million to help over 5,000 homes receive up to £4,000 back for installing wall insulations.

In addition, a new £25 million grant announced as part of the Autumn statement will see an extra 8,000 low-income households benefit from first-time central heating off gas grid homes.

David Ward welcomes new Insurance Fraud Taskforce to drive down cost of insurance

Affordable Car Insurance ButtonBradford MP, David Ward has welcomed the Government announcement that they have created a new Taskforce to crack down on insurance fraud which can add up to £90 to car insurance premiums alone.

The Ministry of Justice has set up an Insurance Fraud Taskforce in order to radically tackle insurance fraud in areas like car insurance, home insurance and holiday insurance. Insurance fraud of all types costs households every year in higher premiums and the Government are committed to stamping this out.

The most common type of fraud in households across the country in the insurance market is believed to be exaggerating the value of a claim after a burglary, by “upping” a claim for higher-value goods than were actually stolen or even making completely false claims for non-existent items.

In Bradford, car Insurance Fraud is a particular issue with the Association of British Insurers saying that whiplash claims account for 20% of the cost of all insurance premiums. The Government has already announced welcome changes to help prevent car insurance fraud through exaggerated whiplash claims by introducing new independent medical assessments. Whilst this will assist in driving down premiums, there is still much to do to help tackle high car insurance fraud.

The new taskforce will look to see if the law can be strengthened to prevent fraud, assess what can be done about the perception that insurance fraud is fair game, and identify the practices that fail to deter claims fraud.

The Government’s taskforce will consider insurance fraud across the board, and will aim to publish an interim report by March 2015 with a final report issued by the end of 2015.

Commenting David Ward MP said:

“Insurance fraud especially car insurance is a massive issue in Bradford as it drives up the cost of premiums for everyone.

“The Government have already taken concerted action in introducing independent medical examinations in order to tackle whiplash fraud and I welcome the moves to try and address other forms of fraud like in home & holiday insurance.

“People often believe that exaggerating insurance claims is a victimless crime but this is simply wrong. High fraudulent claims increases the costs of insurance for everyone so it’s about time that we got a handle on this to ensure that everyone can get access to affordable insurance.”

An extra 1.3 million infants now eating free school meals

1.3m schoolchildren across England are now enjoying a free school lunch thanks to Liberal Democrats in government.

Figures out today (December 18) show that the policy has had a very high uptake in its first three months, with a total of more than 1.6m children enjoying a school meal every lunchtime.

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Liberal Democrat Leader and Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg said:

“Well over a million and a half infants are enjoying a school meal at lunchtime, giving them a better start to afternoon lessons and a healthy boost for their first years in school.

“The other good news for families is that this saves them up to £400 per child a year on the cost of a packed lunch.

“The naysayers about this policy can eat their hats, and all the leftover sprouts.”

Free school meals help boost learning and save parents money.

With the equivalent of 85 per cent of infants now tucking into a free school lunch. Across England more than 25,000 turkeys and 9.8m sprouts are being served up for Christmas school lunches.

Liberal Democrat Schools Minister David Laws said:

“Christmas marks the end of a first successful term of delivering universal infant free school meals, and it is testament to the efforts put in by school staff, caterers and local authorities that more children all over England are enjoying the benefits of a great tasting, nutritional meal at lunch.

“Free school meals save parents money and ensure children are focused and able to concentrate throughout the day. Now we want to ​encourage more schools to focus on quality, and continue building on the huge steps we have already made since September.”

NHS Fraud – Did you know…

Hundreds of millions of pounds are defrauded from the NHS every year, in all sorts of ways and by all sorts of people.

This could be by patients, medical professionals, NHS staff and managers, NHS contractors and suppliers, and organised criminal gangs. For example, patients who deliberately evade NHS charges for things like prescriptions, glasses, and dental treatment is estimated to cost the taxpayer £156 million per year.
NHS Protect is a specialist branch of the NHS which tackles fraud, bribery and corruption against the NHS.
You can help to stamp out fraud, bribery and corruption committed against the NHS, by reporting any suspicions confidentially on freephone 0800 028 40 60 or online at www.reportnhsfraud.nhs.uk.
Find out more at: www.nhsprotect.nhs.uk or download The NHS  ‘Who Pays For NHS Fraud’ Leaflet
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Cameron wrong on support for wind farms

Prime Minister David Cameron has implied that people are fed up with onshore wind farms being built, despite the Government’s own research showing that a large majority of the public back them.

Latest research by the Department of Energy and Climate Change shows that 67 per cent of people support onshore wind farms. However, the Conservatives have said they would not subsidise new onshore turbines if they win the general election.

You can tell David Cameron that you support onshore wind farms here.

The Liberal Democrats will never abandon our commitment to the environment and we have ensured that it stays at the top of the agenda. In government, we have blocked a Conservative plans to impose a cap on wind farms.

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Putting the brakes on onshore wind would be disastrous for the environment, businesses and jobs.

Figures released earlier this year by RenewableUK show that 15,400 people are now employed in Britain’s wind power industry, an increase of 70 per cent since 2010.

In the year 2013 to 2014 the wind turbine industry attracted £2.6bn of investment.

Just days after Tory Chief Whip Michael Gove barred Tory Climate Change Minister Amber Rudd from attending critical climate change talks in Lima, the Tories have yet again shown their lack of commitment to green causes.

Nick Clegg discusses TTIP

When asked about his views on TTIP during the Bite the Ballot Leaders’ Live Debate, Nick Clegg said:

“I would never endorse TTIP, which is a big new deal which is being negotiated between Europe and America, unless it was absolutely crystal clear that we are allowed to do exactly what we want with our public services, with our cherished NHS, without being undermined by TTIP.

“We, as a government, are making sure that that is clearly there in writing by the EU negotiators and the European Commission for us to see, that there is no threat to the NHS, which I know is a fear that has been raised.

“I would never endorse TTIP if that were the case. I think that if I want my children and my grandchildren, if I want future generations to live in a world where the standards are set by our hemisphere, in Europe and across the Atlantic in America, and not just all set on the other side of the planet in Asia or Latin America, then having America and Europe sort out some things together, I think, is in the long term interests for us as we all move ever more in this globalised world.

“But it cannot, must not, and will not happen at the expense of our sovereign right to run the NHS the way we want.”

5 things you need to know about employment statistics

1. Is the rise in employment down to full-time or part-time jobs?

Employment rose 588,000 on the year and 95% of this – 560,000 – came from full-time-work. Part-time employment rose 28,000 on the year.

2. These statistics are from ONS. Who are they and where do they get their information from?

The Office for National Statistics (ONS) is the UK’s largest independent producer of official statistics and is the recognised national statistical institute for the UK. It is independent from ministers. All figures are produced in line with the ‘Code of Practice for Official Statistics’ and relevant quality standards.

The employment figures come from the monthly Labour Force Survey, which the ONS oversees. This is the largest household survey in the UK and people are asked questions about their employment status, such as whether they are in work and how many hours they work. So, whether someone has a job or not is based on an individual’s own responses to the survey.

3. What do we mean by full-time employment?

In most cases, full-time workers will be working at least 30 hours per week. This is also based on individual responses to the survey: people are counted as full-time if they say they are full-time.

4. There are a record number of people in work, what type of jobs are they?

There are all sorts of different types of jobs available, including entry level jobs for young people who are joining the labour market and for people already in work looking to move up the career ladder.

Since the labour market recovery began, two-thirds of the growth in employment has come from people in managerial, professional and technical jobs. And over the past year, average private sector pay excluding bonuses rose 2%.

5. How do benefit sanctions affect the claimant count?

So long as someone is available for and actively seeking work, a Jobseeker’s Allowance claimant will remain in the claimant count.

Someone who isn’t available for and actively seeking work shouldn’t be able to claim JSA and wouldn’t be included in these figures.