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I am one of the three Tamworth Borough Councillors for the Mercian Ward, first elected in May 2011.  Do you have an issue I or any of my colleagues on Tamworth Borough Council and Staffordshire County Council can help with?

Contact me by phone, e-mail or post

mobile: 07958 155 863
e-mail: Andrew-James@tamworth.gov.uk
post: c/o T.C.A., 23 Albert Road, Tamworth, Staffordshire, B79 7JS

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Number of UK Drivers Aged Over 90 Tops 100,000

The number of people aged over 90 holding a driving licence in Britain has topped 100,000 for the first time.

Figures from the DVLA also show more than 4.5 million of the 39 million people holding valid driving licences are aged over 70.

Older drivers are required to fill in a self-assessment every three years declaring they are medically fit to continue driving.

Research suggests the view that older drivers pose a danger is unfounded.

A Swansea University study in 2016 revealed drivers aged 70 are involved in three to four times fewer accidents than men aged between 17 and 21.

Professor Charles Musselwhite, from the Centre for Innovative Ageing, who undertook the study, said, “We’ve looked at those statistics in depth and we don’t think that as a cohort older drivers are any more dangerous than other road users.”

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UK-US Trade Deal Could be Big

Donald Trump has said he is working on a “major trade deal” with the UK.

The US President tweeted that a bilateral trade agreement with the UK after it leaves the EU in 2019 could be “very big and exciting” for jobs.

Mr Trump, who backed Brexit, also took a swipe at the EU accusing it of a “very protectionist” stance to the US.

The US President, whose officials are meeting British counterparts this week, has been accused of protectionist rhetoric by his political opponents.

The UK’s International Trade Secretary Liam Fox is currently in Washington discussing the potential for a UK-US trade deal after the UK’s withdrawal from the EU in March 2019. No deal can be signed until after then.

Mr Trump has said he would like to see a speedy deal although free trade agreements typically take many years to conclude and any agreement, which will have to be approved by Congress, is likely to involve hard negotiations over tariff and non tariff barriers in areas such as agriculture and automotive…

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No More New Diesel and Petrol Vehicles in UK from 2040

New diesel and petrol cars and vans will be banned in the UK from 2040 in a bid to tackle air pollution, the government is set to announce.

Ministers will also unveil a £255m fund to help councils tackle emissions from diesel vehicles, as part of a £3bn package of spending on air quality.

The government will later publish its clean air strategy, favouring electric cars, before a High Court deadline.

Campaigners said the measures were promising, but more detail was needed.

They had wanted government-funded and mandated clean air zones, with charges for the most-polluting vehicles to enter areas with high pollution, included in the plans.

After a protracted legal battle, the government was ordered by the courts to produce new plans to tackle illegal levels of harmful pollutant nitrogen dioxide.

Judges agreed with environmental campaigners that previous plans were insufficient to meet EU pollution limits…

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BMW to Build Electric Mini in UK

BMW have said a fully electric version of the Mini will be built at their Cowley plant in Oxford.

The carmaker said the model would go into production in 2019, with Oxford the main “production location” for the Mini three-door model.

However, the electric motor will be built in Germany before being shipped to Cowley for assembly.

BMW said it had “neither sought nor received” any reassurances from the UK on post Brexit trading arrangements.

Last year, the government faced questions about the “support and assurances” given to Nissan before the company announced that new versions of its Qashqai and X-Trail would be made in the UK.

And there have been reports that Toyota agreed to invest in the UK after receiving a letter reassuring the Japanese carmaker over post Brexit arrangements…

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More People Can Give Blood Following Scientific Review

The government has announced changes to blood donation rules following a review by the Advisory Committee on the Safety of Blood, Tissues and Organs (SaBTO).

As a result of the latest clinical evidence, more people will be given the opportunity to donate blood without affecting the safety of the blood supply, from early 2018.

Current blood donation rules prevent people who engage in some sexual behaviours from giving blood for a 12 month period. As a result of scientific advances and improved understanding of the tests used, the deferral period for these people will now be reduced to 3 months.

NHS Blood and Transplant (NHSBT) will also be looking at ways to allow more people to donate blood without impacting blood safety. This includes more personalised risk assessments…

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First Class Seats Could Be Cut On Busy Trains

Train firms could be forced to reduce first class seats on busy commuter lines to ease overcrowding, Transport Secretary Chris Grayling has said.

He said people will see “less first class in the future” with busy suburban trains having “one class” instead.

Mr Grayling suggested operators may be forced to scrap first class areas when franchises are awarded in the future.  Rail Delivery Group, which represents train operators, said it would work to increase seat numbers on key lines.

In an interview with the Daily Telegraph, Mr Grayling said he was “absolutely” committed to scrapping first class carriages on shorter, commuter routes, at busy times of the day, and wanted train operators to take action if passengers demanded it.

He told the paper, “I absolutely understand what a total pain it is if you are standing on a train for 20 to 30 minutes on the way to work.  I don’t really see a case for a non-long distance journey for there to be any division between first and second class. There should just be one class on the train.

“People will see less first class in the future as we start to say that on busy suburban trains you can’t start segregating.”

The Department for Transport issues contracts to run rail franchises in England, and can include conditions such as whether first class seating should be provided.

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Drones to be Registered and Users to Sit Safety Tests

Drones will have to be registered and users will have to sit safety awareness tests under new rules to better regulate their growing use, the government announced today (22 July 2017).

Owners of drones weighing 250 grams and over will in future have to register details of their drones to improve accountability and encourage owners to act responsibly.

Users may be able to register online or through apps, under plans being explored by the government.  The move follows safety research that concluded drones could damage the windscreens of helicopters.

In addition, a new drone safety awareness test means owners will have to prove that they understand UK safety, security and privacy regulations.

Drones represent an exciting opportunity for the UK, are already of substantial benefit to business and the public and are central to the government’s Industrial strategy.

They can help boost productivity and safety, aid the emergency services and bring pleasure to those who use them for fun.  We want Britain to be the first choice for businesses, scientists, innovators and investors in technology.

The government also plans to bring forward and expand the use of ‘geo-fencing’ in the UK that acts like an invisible shield around buildings or sensitive areas.  The technology, which works on GPS coordinates, is built into the drone and stops it from entering zones such as prison or airport space.

In line with the government’s ‘Industrial strategy’, will continue working with the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) to help commercial drone users grow their businesses by making sure measures are updated to reflect the needs of the emerging market worth over £102 billion globally.

Aviation Minister Lord Callanan said, “The UK is at the forefront of an exciting and fast growing drones market and it is important we make the most of this emerging global sector.

“Our measures prioritise protecting the public while maximising the full potential of drones.  Increasingly, drones are proving vital for inspecting transport infrastructure for repair or aiding police and fire services in search and rescue operations, even helping to save lives.

“But like all technology, drones too can be misused.  By registering drones, introducing safety awareness tests to educate users we can reduce the inadvertent breaching of airspace restrictions to protect the public.”

These measures come after a consultation looking at ways to make drone use safer while maximising their potential.

Findings by the Department for Transport (DfT), British Airline Pilots’ Association (BALPA) and the Military Aviation Authority (MAA) published today in a summary report, reveal drones weighing 400 grams could damage the windscreens of helicopters in particular.  However, airliner windscreens were found to be much more resistant.  It would take a heavier drone of around 2 kilograms to critically damage an airliner windscreen, and only if the airliner is flying at a high-speed; not during take-off and landing.

The government is feeding the data into relevant security and safety bodies alongside manufacturers, to ensure they implement improvements to safety.

The government worked with the CAA to develop a new drone code launched last year, which has 6 key principles:

  • always keep your drone in sight
  • stay below 400 feet (120 metres) to comply with the drone code
  • every time you fly your drone you must follow the manufacturer’s instructions
  • keep the right distance from people and property
  • you are responsible for each flight
  • stay well away from aircraft, airports and airfields
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