National Parks Review Launched

Nearly 70 years after National Parks and AONBs were first established, a new review will ensure designated landscapes are fit for the future

Peak District National Park - image credit: Thinkstock

Peak District National Park – image credit: Thinkstock

Environment Secretary Michael Gove has today committed to conserve and enhance England’s most cherished landscapes as a new review launches into the nation’s National Parks and Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONBs).

Nearly 70 years after the country’s National Parks were first established, opening up the countryside and allowing more people to connect with nature, an independent panel will look at how these iconic landscapes meet our needs in the 21st century – including whether there is scope for the current network of 34 AONBs and 10 National Parks to expand.

The review, led by writer Julian Glover, will also explore how access to these beloved landscapes can be improved, how those who live and work in them can be better supported, and their role in growing the rural economy.

Weakening or undermining their existing protections or geographic scope will not be part of the review, which will instead focus on how designated areas can boost wildlife, support the recovery of natural habitats and connect more people with nature.

Undertaking a review is one of the key commitments of the government’s 25 Year Environment Plan, which outlines our vision for improving the environment over a generation by connecting people with nature and helping wildlife to thrive.

Environment Secretary Michael Gove said:

The creation of National Parks almost 70 years ago changed the way we view our precious landscapes – helping us all access and enjoy our natural world.

Amid a growing population, changes in technology, and a decline in certain habitats, the time is right for us to look afresh at these landscapes. We want to make sure they are not only conserved, but enhanced for the next generation.

Sir Arthur Hobhouse’s landmark report in 1947 paved the way for the creation of England’s network of designated landscapes, with the National Parks and Access to the Countryside Act passed in 1949.

The Act, described at the time as a “recreational gift to Britain’s returning Second World War service men and women”, set out to recognise, conserve and enhance access to landscapes deemed to be “of national importance and quality”.

These days the rugged mountains, unspoilt coastlines and vast moorlands of the nation’s 34 AONBs and 10 National Parks attract more than 260 million visitors a year from at home and abroad.

Julian Glover, who will lead the review, said:

Our protected landscapes are England’s finest gems and we owe a huge debt to past generations who had the wisdom to preserve them.

The system they created has been a strength, but it faces challenges too. It is an honour to be asked to find ways to secure them for the future. I can’t wait to get started and learn from everyone who shares an interest in making England’s landscapes beautiful, diverse and successful.

Chair of National Parks England, Margaret Paren, said:

National Parks are iconic and inspirational cultural landscapes. The Government’s 25 Year Environment Plan refers to their establishment as among the outstanding environmental achievements of the past 100 years. We very much welcome the announcement of the review and intend to play a full part.

Our National Parks offer so much to the country. And as we approach the 70th anniversary of the founding legislation we look forward to a future where their beauty is enhanced; they are loved and accessible for everyone; and they continue to support thriving communities in these working landscapes.

Chair of the National Association of AONBs, Philip Hygate, said:

The world has changed significantly since the designation of Gower, the first Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, but our fundamental requirement for beautiful, inspiring places in which to live, work, and relax is probably greater now than ever before.

The National Association for AONBs is delighted to support this exciting review and will work closely with Julian Glover and the review panel to help ensure that all of England’s special landscapes are equally recognised for the value they provide to the nation, and their fundamental importance to future generations.

AONBs and National Parks are some of our most cherished sites, spanning from the Lake District, which was recently announced as a UNESCO World Heritage site, to the picturesque Cornwall AONB.

They cover a quarter of England’s land and are home to over 2.3 million people – with more than 66 per cent of us living within half an hour of a National Park or AONB. They also generate over £20 billion for the rural economy, and support 75,000 jobs.

Notes to editors

  • Julian Glover is the associate editor at the London Evening Standard and author of the biography Man of Iron: Thomas Telford and the Building of Britain. He has worked as leader writer and columnist at the Guardian and as a Special Adviser in Number 10 and the Department for Transport.
  • He will be supported by an advisory panel bringing a vast breadth of experience in landscape, biodiversity, heritage, farming and rural issues. Further detail on this will be announced in due course.

New T Levels Mark A Revolution In Technical Education

Education Secretary names the first 52 colleges and other providers set to teach T Levels

Female Mechanic

Female Mechanic

The first 52 colleges and post-16 providers to teach new T Levels were named today (27 May) as Education Secretary Damian Hinds set out his vision for a world-class technical education system.

T Levels are courses, which will be on a par with A levels and will provide young people with a choice between technical and academic education post 16.

Courses in construction, digital and education & childcare will be first taught from September 2020. A further 22 courses will be rolled out in stages from 2021, which will cover sectors such as finance & accounting, engineering & manufacturing, and creative & design.

In his response to the T Level consultation, also published today, the Education Secretary committed to working with businesses and learning from our international competitors to ensure these new qualifications lead to a generational shift in technical education.

As the new colleges and other post-16 providers were named today, the Prime Minister said:

Everyone should be able to have access to an education that suits them, but we know that for those that don’t choose to go to university, the routes into further technical and vocational training can be hard to navigate.

That’s why we’re making the most significant reform to advanced technical education in 70 years to ensure young people have gold standard qualifications open to them whichever route they choose.

T Levels provide a high-quality, technical alternative to A levels ensuring thousands of people across the country have the skills we need to compete globally – a vital part of our modern industrial strategy.

Education Secretary Damian Hinds said:

T Levels represent a once in a lifetime opportunity to reform technical education in this country so we can rival the world’s best performing systems.

For too long young people have not had a genuine choice about their future aged 16. Whilst A levels provide a world class academic qualification, many technical education courses are undervalued by employers and don’t always provide students with the skills they need to secure a good job – that has to change.

Naming the first 52 colleges and providers where young people will be able to study the first T Levels is an important step forward, and we will continue the work with business and the education sector so everyone can benefit from these vital reforms.

Technology and the world economy are fast-changing, and we need to make sure our young people have the skills they need to get the jobs of tomorrow. This is at the heart of our modern Industrial Strategy.

The consultation response confirms the high-quality nature of these new qualifications – with:

  • course content created by expert panels of employers to make sure young people have the knowledge and skills needed;
  • 3 month compulsory industry placements that will give young people the experience and wider skills they need to be ready for the world of work;
  • standards assured by Ofqual and the Institute for Apprenticeships (IfA) so that T Levels remain high-quality and are valued by employers

Lord David Sainsbury, Chairman of the Independent Panel on Technical Education, whose 2016 report led to the current reforms said:

I am delighted with the excellent progress being made with the implementation of T Levels. For too long the only educational opportunity that many young people have had is to take technical qualifications that fail to equip them with the knowledge and skills that employers value, and that are needed to progress to higher technical education.

We now face a major communication challenge, and all of us, who understand how valuable and important these reforms will be to the lives of young people, must now reach out to young people, their parents and carers, and employers, to let them know these changes are coming, and the exciting opportunities they will bring.

The wide-ranging T Levels consultation sought views from across the world of business and education, as well as young people themselves. Leading employers including Lloyds, IBM and Skanska all responded to the consultation underlining their strong support for new T Levels.

Content for the first three T Levels – co-created with employers to make sure young people get the right knowledge and skills needed to get a skilled job – has also been published by the IfA this week.

T Levels are just one part of a wider programme of work to transform technical education in this country to give people genuine world class choices when they are deciding on an academic or technical route.

Alongside T Levels and the introduction of more high-quality apprenticeships, the Government is creating a network of prestigious Institutes of Technology (IoTs) across the country. IoTs will offer top-quality training and apprenticeships in higher-level technical skills – A level equivalent up to degree level and above – helping to bridge a vital skills gap in our economy in areas like advanced manufacturing, infrastructure and digital.

The Government took another step towards establishing IoTs this week by announcing the 16 proposals that will now move on to the final stage of the Government’s competition.

Find out more about T Levels and view the full list of colleges to teach them.

Supportive statements:

Mark Dawe, Chief Executive, Association of Employment and Learning Providers said:

We strongly support T Levels – it is clear that high quality work placements are fundamental to the success of the T Levels and apprenticeship training providers are ready to use their capacity and established relationships with employers to give young people a great opportunity to start developing the skills they need in the workplace

Sir Gerry Berragan, Chief executive, Institute for Apprenticeships said:

T levels signal real change in the qualifications landscape – offering school leavers an alternative to a purely academic route.

In support and anticipation of the introduction, we have been consulting on the occupational maps which we have published today. The maps will support the Institute and ensure that both T level and apprenticeships are of the highest quality.

Mark Lawton, Construction T level Panel member at Skanska said:

We continue to support efforts which increase the accessibility of opportunities to people from all backgrounds – helping to develop a more diverse and inclusive industry.

Jane Gratton, Head of Skills Policy, British Chambers of Commerce said:

Business communities across the country tell us that improved technical education and stronger workplace experience are needed to help them fill the skills gaps they face.

T-levels will be an important part of the solution, giving young people a high quality route to gaining the employability and technical skills they will need to succeed in their chosen career. Ensuring that businesses of all sizes, and in all regions, have an input into the design and content of the new system will be crucial to its success.

Business, educational institutions and government need to work together over the coming years to ensure that parity of esteem between academic and technical education is achieved.

David Hughes, Chief Executive, Association of Colleges said:

The introduction of T Levels as part of a wider reform of technical and professional education is vital for a more inclusive and successful economy. The implementation plan sets out a good package of reforms that should help to improve the prestige and the take-up of technical professional education. The plan recognises the need for real clarity of purpose, strong alignment with employers and the labour market, better understanding amongst schools and investment in colleges to be able to deliver.

We have worked closely with DfE and it is clear from the tone of the document, the pledges to work with colleges and employers through the implementation and the changes that have been made that this is a thoughtful and sensible change programme. That bodes well because this is a complex and long term change which will need agile leadership to steer through the complexities and the difficulties to come. Colleges are ready and planning to meet the challenges and AoC is happy to be a partner in the implementation.

Long Overdue Freedom For Joshua Holt In Venezuela

Joshua Holt

Joshua Holt

The United States welcomes the release of Joshua Holt and his wife Thamara, who were unjustly imprisoned in Venezuela. We extend our special thanks to Senator Bob Corker, Senator Orrin Hatch, Senator Mike Lee, Representative Mia Love, and all the other members of Congress who have worked on behalf of the Holt family over the past two years and helped to make this day a reality.

U.S. policy toward Venezuela remains unchanged. The United States stands steadfast in support of the Venezuelan people and their efforts to return to democracy.

The safety and welfare of U.S. citizens overseas is among the Department of State’s highest priorities. On behalf of the State Department and the entire United States government, we wish Joshua Holt and his family the best after this difficult period.

Alleway: “Our CEO Manages Everything…”

The Ashley Foundation is run by a professional gambler who refuses to be appointed as a Director

Lee Dribben

Lee Dribben

According to the former Chairman of Trustees for The Ashley FoundationRoy Leonard Alleway (who was elevated to the role of Chairman after long-term Chair of Trustees Paul Austen Bamber ceased being a Director in June 2016 after 19 years) confirmed in the company’s most recent set of accounts that Lee Dribben is a Shadow Director.

Alleway wrote: “Our CEO manages everything so the trustees can sleep soundly at night.”

Alleway’s appointment as a Director was terminated on 13 November 2017.

Dribben, who is best-known as a proficient Poker player, is the Company Secretary and has been since The Ashley Foundation was founded in May 1997.

It would appear that the Directors, including Wendy Anne Swift, David Kam, Ashley Samuel Dribben (Lee Dribben’s son), Neville Walter Bramhall and Ronald Bell may have made a false Statement when they collectively confirmed (filed on 19 April 2017) that they knew of no person or entity with significant control.

On 19 April 2017 the Directors confirmed that “the company knows or has reasonable cause to believe that there is no registrable person or registrable relevant legal entity in relation to the company.”

Clearly, Dribben, who is not a Director, has significant control over the company, which is a registered UK Charity that receives the bulk of its income from public funds.

Essentially, the Trustees of The Ashley Foundation rubber-stamp the whims of Dribben and provide him with the appearance of an arms-length management structure, while leaving the Trustees on the hook for any failure or wrong-doing.

Just why Dribben continues to refuse to be appointed a Director is anyone’s guess, but it could have something to do with the compulsory strike-off of Cal-Neva Limited and Anglo-Nevada Limited, two gambling/casino related companies previously run by Dribben.

The Charity Commission should take a close look at The Ashley Foundation.



Registered Charges (Source: Companies House)

Filing History (Source: Companies House)

Current Officers (Source: Companies House)


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Professional Gambler Oversees Homeless Charity



International Trade Secretary Travels To Gulf Promoting Investment And British Businesses

Dr Liam Fox will visit Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates this weekend (26 to 28 May) to promote more than 68 UK projects worth £30 billion to investors

Liam Fox, Secretary of State for International Trade

Liam Fox, Secretary of State for International Trade

Gulf countries are strong investors in the UK and this visit will focus on driving further investment and opening up new opportunities for British businesses in the 2 countries. Investment from the United Arab Emirates (UAE) into the UK was worth £4.3 billion in 2016.

During the 3 day visit, Dr Fox will also meet government and industry representatives from Bahrain and the UAE, championing the UK’s strong business proposition and its free trading values.

International Trade Secretary, Dr Liam Fox, said:

I recently launched a bold and ambitious investment programme, building on the UK’s position as the leading destination for foreign investment in Europe and investors from Bahrain and United Arab Emirates will have a great deal to offer.

There is a clear appetite for British goods and services all around the world, and as an international economic department we are encouraging UK businesses to grow by taking advantage of the global opportunities available as we leave the EU.

From investment projects to export opportunities, million-pound infrastructure deals to evening internet entrepreneurs, the UK is in a great position to trade with the world, creating jobs and prosperity.

Trade in goods and services between the UK and UAE is worth £14.6 billion and is the UK’s fourth largest export market outside of Europe, whilst Bahrain is a country of huge potential with trade already accounting for more than £740 million.

The visit is a clear demonstration of the importance of the UK’s economic relationship with the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries, following the creation of the UK-GCC trade and investment group, aiming to boost British trade in the region.

Driving exports to the Middle East, the Department for International Trade has supported a Dudley furnace manufacturer to secure a £25 million order from Bahrain, helping the firm grow its workforce in the UK. Already exporting to more than 50 countries globally, Mechatherm International has built a customer base of blue chip companies, specialising in the design, manufacture, installation and maintenance of bespoke furnaces used to make aluminium.

Mechatherm’s ongoing success overseas is being celebrated by the DIT’s Exporting is GREAT campaign. The campaign showcases 30+ businesses – from a range of sectors and regions – to inspire and support companies up and down the country to export.

Dr Fox MP also announced that the UK’s export credit agency, UK Export Finance (UKEF), will provide £100 million of financing for the construction of the Dubai World Trade Centre by construction company ASGC UK. Phase 4 of the project will see the construction of a hotel and will generate significant business for UK suppliers. This builds on UKEF’s support for the earlier phases of the project.

UKEF is also supporting UK businesses to win export contracts in Bahrain by lending or guaranteeing loans in Bahraini Dinar, offering buyers of UK goods the ability to ‘Buy British, pay local’.

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