Category Archives: News

Members Of The Public “Routinely Put In Danger” By Bristol Park And Ride Business

Region’s Traffic Commissioner says operation needed to be stopped before someone is killed

Traffic Commissioners for Great Britain

Traffic Commissioners for Great Britain

A Bristol-based park and ride firm, which serves the city’s airport, has lost its licence to transport passengers.

Winford Parking and Rental Ltd routinely put members of the public in danger by running vehicles with invalid insurance, without the correct MOT and using drivers who didn’t have the right licences.

The company yesterday (17 March) lost its licence to transport passengers after the region’s Traffic Commissioner, Kevin Rooney, said the public had a right to be protected from this type of operator.

“The failures are severe. Members of the public have routinely been put in danger and this is aggravated by the issue of insurance being invalidated because drivers were not licensed to drive.

“This is an operation that needs to be stopped before someone is killed.”

In a written judgement following a public inquiry last month, the West of England regulator also disqualified the company’s two directors, Dean Baldock and Ryan Baldock, from holding or obtaining a licence in the future – for five years and three years respectively.

He said Dean Baldock knew the operation was grossly non-compliant.

“[He] has blatantly ignored all attempts by the enforcement agency and the police to bring it in line,” the Commissioner added.

“[His] demeanour at the inquiry coupled with the extensive non-compliance mean that I am beyond doubt that I cannot trust him to continue to comply once the spotlight of the public inquiry has faded.” The company was brought to the regulator’s attention following an investigation by the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA). This identified numerous safety concerns, including vehicles not being given routine safety inspections and without checks to ensure key emergency equipment was in place and properly marked.

Mr Rooney said customers of the firm’s airport parking service had every right to expect that the vehicle used to transfer them to the airport and back – along with the driver – would be safe, legal and properly insured.

The Traffic Commissioner’s full written judgement is available here.

HMS Montrose Joined Trilateral Exercises With Japan And US

US, UK, Japan maritime forces practiced Submarine Hunting on 14 and 15 March

HMS Montrose

HMS Montrose

Following the joint declaration on security cooperation by Prime Minister May and Prime Minister Abe in August 2017, the Royal Navy deployed HMS Sutherland, HMS Albion and HMS Argyll last year to uphold the rules based international system in support of international and regional security and to maintain and promote a free and open Indo-Pacific.

This year, the UK deployed HMS MONTROSE to East Asia to support UN Security Council agreed sanctions in the region that will seek to monitor and deter sanctions evasion at sea and to conduct multilateral training and exercises, reinforcing Prime Minister May and Prime Minister Abe’s commitment to a closer defence and security relationship announced during the PM Abe’s visit to London in January 2019.

During the HMS MONTROSE’s deployment to Japan, the UK conducted their second trilateral exercise with the Japanese Maritime Self-Defense Force and U.S. Navy in the Western Pacific since December 2018 for improving interoperability, maintaining readiness, and learning best practices from one another. These exercises also reflected a shared commitment to enhancing maritime cooperation since a 2016 trilateral summit attended by all three service chiefs at the Pentagon.

Cmdr. Conor O’Neill, HMS Montrose commanding officer stated,

The Royal Navy has a long history of cooperation with both Japan and the United States, and we will all benefit a great deal from training together.

Capt. Brian Erickson, commander, Task Force Seven Two (CTF 72) stated,

The Royal Navy, Japan Maritime Self Defense Force, and United States Navy all support a free and open Indo-Pacific.

Cmdr. Shusaku Okada, Commanding Officer, JS Murasame stated

I also hope that further cooperation be strengthened with the Royal Navy, the United States Navy, and the mutual understanding be deepened.

HMS Montrose to visit Japan

UK-Japan Joint Statement issued after the joint press conference by Prime Minister May and Prime Minister Abe in London held in January 2019

2018 UK Visa Statistics Show 11% Growth In China

China was responsible for a massive quarter of UK visas issued globally last year, according to the latest quarterly report on Immigration Statistics published by the Home Office

2018 UK visa statistics show 11% growth in China

2018 UK visa statistics show 11% growth in China

More than 730,000 visas were issued to Chinese nationals in 2018 – 25% of the total 2.9million entry clearance visas granted – representing a 11% increase on the previous year.

Both Chinese visitor and students numbers saw strong growth. The number of visit visas issued to Chinese nationals last year increased by 11% to around 588,000, while almost 100,000 Tier 4 study visas were granted, up 13% on the previous year and now around 40% of the global total.

2018 also saw a 26% rise in the number of short-term study visas, to more than 31,000, and a 16% rise in the number of work visas issued, to more than 6,000.

The UK Ambassador to China, Dame Barbara Woodward, said:

The significant rise in visa applications demonstrates the growing strength of the UK and China relationship.

More and more Chinese people are choosing to visit the UK and we have seen a 400% increase in applications in the last decade.

This is due to steps we have taken to improve the visa application process including the launch of the two year multi-entry visit visa.

The UK is one of the top destinations in the world for Chinese tourists and students because of our historic landmarks and our internationally respected universities.

Around 1.6 million visit visas have been issued to Chinese nationals since the pilot launched in January 2016.

The 2018 statistics were released as the UK prepares to make major changes to its online customer journey to ensure a more convenient and flexible service for applicants. From later this month, customers in China applying online will be able to seamlessly transition between the visa application form and the next stage of the application journey, offered by UKVI’s commercial partner VFS Global.

This will allow them to book their visa application centre appointment, scan and upload their supporting documents from the comfort of their own home, and purchase any additional services to enhance their experience, in one continuous journey. Alternatively, customers can have their documents scanned at the visa application centre when they attend their appointment, for a small fee.

These changes follow the global rollout of Access UK, UKVI’s new streamlined online application service which replaces Visa4UK. The UK will also shortly be rolling out technology that will allow customers to self-scan their biometrics when attending their visa application centre appointment, providing a quicker, smoother experience.

The UK also announced last week two new visa routes to attract leading business talent to the UK. The Start-up visa route will be open to those starting a business for the first time in the UK, while the Innovator visa route will be for more experienced business people who have funds to invest in their business.

Inauguration Of Model Interview Rooms And Enhanced CCTV For ISF

Ambassador Rampling and DG of the ISF Major Osman co-chaired the quarterly Strategic Project Management Committee, inaugurated model interview rooms, CCTV

Ambassador Rampling with ISF DG Osman at Aramoun academy

Ambassador Rampling with ISF DG Osman at Aramoun academy

On 15 March 2019, Ambassador Chris Rampling and the Director General of the ISF Major General Imad Osman co-chaired the quarterly Strategic Project Management Committee (SPMC), at the ISF Academy in Aramoun.

After the meeting, Ambassador Rampling and Major General Osman launched Model Interview Rooms and enhanced CCTV capability at the Model Police Station at the ISF Academy. This new facility, delivered by the British Policing Support Programme, enables improved training for police officers including on investigation of crimes through model interview rooms, and establishes methods and procedures that are compliant with international Human Rights principles.

At the SPMC, Ambassador Chris Rampling and the Director General of the ISF Major General Imad Osman, conducted a quarterly review of the British Policing Support Project (BPSP) now in its third year of implementation.

The Strategic Project Management Committee is chaired by Major General Imad Osman and Ambassador Rampling in the presence Commander of the Mobile Forces, General Fouad El Khoury; Commander of the Police of Beirut, General Mohamad Ayoubi; Commander of the Judicial Police, General Ousama Abd El Malak; Commander of the ISF Academy, General Ahmad Hajjar; Commander of the Territorial Gendarmerie, General Marwan Slailaty; Chief of Staff, General Naim Chammas. The Committee aims to ensure effective strategic governance and oversight of the UK funded project implementation.

After the meeting, Ambassador Rampling said:

I am delighted to have today met with Major General Osman and his team to discuss the UK’s continued support to the Internal Security Forces. Our partnership with the ISF is a critical part of the UK’s support to the Lebanese state. It was an honour therefore to launch the new Model Interview Rooms and enhanced CCTV capability here at the ISF Academy. This facility will provide training for police officers on various roles in police stations, including criminal investigations. We are supporting the ISF’s commitment to deliver training which places Human Rights standards and principles at its core in a controlled environment, with mentorship and support from highly qualified ISF trainers. I look forward to the UK partnership and cooperation with the ISF and Lebanon continuing to strengthen in the years ahead. We remain committed to our joint endeavours.

Plans To Boost International Student Numbers And Income

Government has published a new International Education Strategy outlining plans to increase student numbers and income generated from international education

The Rt Hon Damian Hinds MP

The Rt Hon Damian Hinds MP

A new ambition to increase the number of international students studying in the UK by more than 30% – helping boost the income generated by education exports to £35 billion – has been announced today (16 March).

Education Secretary Damian Hinds and International Trade Secretary Liam Fox have published a brand new International Education Strategy to cement Britain’s leading role in the global market as it prepares to leave the EU and maximise the benefits to both the UK and students from around the world.

The UK currently hosts around 460,000 international higher education students and the education sector generates approximately £20 billion per year through education exports and transnational activity, which includes income from international students, English language training, education providers setting up sites overseas, and education technology solutions being sold worldwide.

The strategy sets out an ambition to grow the total number of international students during the year to 600,000 and generate £35 billion through education exports by 2030 – a rise of 75%. The plans focus on not only retaining existing markets such as Europe, but raising the profile of the education sector in global markets such as Asia, Africa and Latin America.

Education Secretary Damian Hinds said:

The UK’s education system is world-leading and its reputation is the envy of many countries around the globe.

As we prepare to leave the EU it is more important than ever to reach out to our global partners and maximise the potential of our best assets – that includes our education offer and the international students this attracts.

There is no limit to our potential and this strategy will help cement our status as a world-leader in education, while creating real benefits for the country and students across the globe.

International Trade Secretary Dr Liam Fox MP said:

There is clear demand across the globe for the UK’s world-class education offer. From English Language Training in Latin America to Higher Education partnerships in Vietnam, Trade Minster Graham Stuart and I have encountered a remarkable amount of enthusiasm for British education goods and services across the globe.

Our education exports are ripe for growth, and my international economic department stands ready to engage and support UK providers from across the education sector to grow their global activity as we implement this new International Education Strategy.

The strategy includes a number of measures to help the sector maximise the potential of UK education exports abroad, including:

  • Appointing a new International Education Champion to boost overseas activity by developing strong partnerships and tackling challenges across the world;
  • Encouraging sector groups to bid into the £5 million GREAT Challenge Fund to promote the entire UK education offer internationally;
  • Extending the period of post-study leave for international student visas, considering how the visa process could be improved for applicants and supporting student employment;
  • Improving data on education exports to enhance and drive performance while also mapping out where the best opportunities lie globally; and
  • Closer working across government departments on international education policy and opportunities.

There is no limit on the number of international students that can study in the UK, and to ensure the UK continues to attract and welcome them, the post-study leave period will be extended to six months for undergraduate and masters students attending institutions with degree awarding powers, and a year for all doctoral students. The strategy also looks at ways of supporting international students into employment.

The value of education related exports and transnational education (TNE) activity has grown steadily since 2010. Total education exports and TNE activity was estimated to be almost £20 billion in 2016 (in current prices), marking an increase of 26% since 2010.

In August 2018, the Department for International Trade launched the government’s wider Export Strategy, which sets out how the government will support businesses of all sizes to make the most of the opportunities presented by markets around the world.

Professor Dame Janet Beer, President of Universities UK, said:

I strongly welcome the publication of this strategy as a signal of a change in direction. I particularly welcome the ambitious target to grow the number of international students to 600,000 by 2030 which sends a strong message of welcome.

International students contribute a huge amount to the UK, not only economically but also by enriching the international education environment in our universities for all students. Whilst their presence in the UK is worth an estimated £26 billion in direct and knock on effects, sustaining over 200,000 jobs in all parts of the UK, they bring much wider benefit to our academic and civic communities.

Lesley Davies, OBE, Chair UK Skills Partnership, said:

It is heartening to see the ambition the government sets out in its International Strategy for the UK skills sector and the recognition of our track record of success in delivering high quality technical and vocational education and training solutions to international partners and businesses. The UK Skills Partnership is delighted to see that both the Department for International Trade (DIT) and the Department for Education (DfE) have worked together on this strategy. We welcome the commitment made by government to play a more active role in supporting the UK’s skill’s sector international business and we stand ready to deliver on this important agenda.

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