Hinterland - Thursday, 29 March, 2018

An earlier than usual Hinterland this week due to Easter.

We look at a couple of recycling stories – the sad fall-out from Northamptonshire, good news on broadband, migrant workers and the now forgotten heroine behind our favourite accompaniment to the Sunday roast...

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A very positive unfolding story…..

A very positive unfolding story…..

The Universal Service Order has taken another step towards implementation as new legislation was laid in parliament today

Internet service providers in the UK will be legally obliged to provide minimum broadband speeds of 10Mbps from 2020 as new legislation was proposed in the UK parliament today.

The Universal Service Order (USO) will ultimately be administered by UK regulator Ofcom, after its discussion in parliament.

The Country Land and Business Association (CLA) hailed today’s announcement as a key step towards ensuring adequate connectivity for Britain’s rural and hard to reach communities.

“This commitment to universal broadband has been government policy for some time but it is still satisfying to see the enacting legislation laid. It means that the principle is now enshrined in law that no home or business should be left behind in the modern economy.

“However, our campaign continues because although this commitment is right for now, technology advances at such a speed that is essential for this law to evolve with the times. Whilst a minimum 10 Mbps download speed is adequate for now, that will change in the relatively near future,” said CLA president, Tim Breitmeyer.

While the CLA welcomed the ruling, they said that there was still “work to be done” to ensure that Britain’s rural communities are not left behind in the race for better connectivity.

Commissioners to take direct financial control of Northants council

I had heard there were as many as 40 Councils close to the Northamptonshire experience – this articlesuggests I was wong but 15 is worrying enough! It tells us in terms of Northamptonshire:

The council was forced to impose emergency spending controls after admitting that “severe financial challenges” meant it was unable to meet its obligations in the current financial year.

It issued a section 114 notice, the first council to do so in two decades. This imposed financial controls and banned expenditure on all services except those with statutory safeguarding obligations.

The National Audit Office has suggested that up to 15 other local councils could follow suit in the next three years as they struggle to cope with increasing demand for social care at the same time as coping with a 50% cut in central government funding over the last eight years.

Max Caller, who led the government investigation, said the council’s problems were so deep and ingrained it would be impossible for it to return to “stability and safety” in a reasonable timescale on its own.

Bottle and can deposit return scheme gets green light in England

I fear there are some unintended negative consequences in relation to the current kerbside collection regime in this story. It tells us:

All drinks containers in England, whether plastic, glass or metal, will be covered by a deposit return scheme, the government has announced.

The forthcoming scheme is intended to cut the litter polluting the land and sea by returning a small cash sum to consumers who return their bottles and cans.

Similar schemes operate in 38 countries, and campaigners have worked for a decade for its introduction in England.

Fees vary depending on the size of the bottle or can and many use “reverse vending machines” to automate the return.

Once returned, retailers are responsible for properly recycling the containers. Deposit return schemes (DRS) have increased recycling rates to more than 90% in other countries.

At present just 43% of the 13bn plastic bottles sold each year in the UK are recycled, and 700,000 are littered every day. In Germany, a DRS was introduced in 2003 and 99% of plastic bottles are recycled.

“We can be in no doubt that plastic is wreaking havoc on our marine environment,” said the environment secretary, Michael Gove.

“It is absolutely vital we act now to tackle this threat and curb the millions of plastic bottles a day that go unrecycled. We have already banned harmful microbeads and cut plastic bag use, and now we want to take action on plastic bottles to help clean up our oceans.”

The new DRS for England announced by Gove is subject to a consultation this year and it is not yet clear whether all retailers of single-use drinks will be required to participate.

The government says it “will only take forward options from the consultation which demonstrate that they offer clear benefits and are resistant to fraud, and costs on businesses, consumers and the taxpayer are proportionate”.

UK workers ‘lazier and more expensive’ than migrants

Controversial but many rural communities with hard working EU migrants in their patch might have some sympathy with this view. The article tells us:

British firms are worried about the loss of EU migrant labour after Brexit because their UK counterparts are lazier and take more time off work, an official government report has found.

The Migration Advisory Committee found that workers from Europe are “a high quality, eager workforce” compared to UK-born workers, leading employers to rely on them instead.

EU workers, especially those in low-skilled jobs, are also paid less.

Businesses fear they will not be able to employ staff from the EU after Brexit, forcing them to spend more on less productive British staff which could drive up prices or force production abroad where it is cheaper.

Charity calls for £15m fund to tackle UK hunger by preventing food waste

In a week with a strong focus on recycling this sounds like a really positive proposal, it tells us:

FareShare currently redistributes about 13,500 tonnes of surplus food every year to nearly 7,000 charities including hospices, homeless shelters, care homes and women’s refuges (including a record amount last Christmas) but its annual target is 100,000 tonnes. Demand for surplus food has soared against a background of growing dependence on food banksand rising homelessness in the UK.

FareShare says it has the capacity – and a waiting list of charities wanting help – but needs access to more food. Its solution is a government fund that would cover the costs of storage and transport. Available to any charity or producer that incurs the costs of redistributing food, it would also save charities and other beneficiaries £150m by making free food available to them.

“It’s completely wrong that we have a situation where it’s cheaper to send thousands of tonnes of good edible food to anaerobic digestion plants or to animal feed when there are millions of people experiencing food insecurity and regularly skipping meals across the UK right now,” said FareShare chief executive, Lindsay Boswell.

The bulk of food waste in the UK comes from households, making up 71% of the total. But manufacturing contributes 17% and hospitality and food service 9%. Seasonal weather fluctuations, order cancellations and overstocking – all unpredictable – create surplus food which manufacturers, distributors and farms were not always in a position to redistribute.

Environment ministers are understood to have held informal discussions about giving farmers and food producers financial incentives to encourage them to get waste food onto tables. But FareShare says these need to lead to a level playing field so it’s not cheaper to waste food or turn it into animal feed or energy.

Hannah Glasse: Who was the cookery writer who taught us how to make Yorkshire puddings ‘plain and easy’?

Yorkshire’s greatest culinary contributor?

The Yorkshire pudding surged to fame and gained its name ten years later, with the 1747 publication of the book The Art of Cookery Made Plain and Easy by Hannah Glasse,.

Glasse, who has previously been described as “the first domestic goddess” and even “the mother of the modern dinner party”, saw immediate success upon the publication of her book, which was reprinted in its first year and then remained in print for almost a century in over 20 editions.

The book’s cover did not reveal Glasse as the author, but instead mysteriously stated it was “By a Lady”.

Despite the success of the work, Glasse did not prosper for long after the initial publication.

In 1754, she became bankrupt and was forced to auction her most prized asset – the copyright to the book.

In 1757, she was consigned to debtors’ prison but released later that year, whereupon she registered shares in a new book she had written in 1755, The Compleat Confectioner – it was also reprinted several times, but did not enjoy the same levels of success as The Art of Cookery Made Plain and Easy.

Glasse died in September 1770 aged 62, her contribution to the British Sunday assured


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