Category Archives: Press Releases

James Brokenshire Removes Commissioners From Rotherham Council After 3-Year Intervention

Communities Secretary confirms he is concluding the government’s intervention in Rotherham metropolitan borough council and returning all powers to the authority

Marsham Street

Marsham Street

Communities Secretary, the Rt Hon James Brokenshire MP, has today (18 September 2018) confirmed that he is concluding the government’s intervention in Rotherham metropolitan borough council and returning all powers to the authority.

The intervention, which was jointly undertaken by the Ministry and the Department for Education, began in February 2015 following critical reports by Baroness Alexis Jay and Dame Louise Casey which uncovered significant failings at the council that contributed to child sexual exploitation in Rotherham.

Mr Brokenshire confirmed that following strong progress by the council he will return control of all services to them on Monday 24 September, including children’s social care, and withdraw all 3 commissioners.

He added that this was on condition that the council commissions an independent progress review of delivery of services to be completed by 18 February 2019, before the directions expire on 31 March 2019.

The action follows the gradual return of selected functions to the council on 4 separate occasions since the intervention began in February 2015.

Communities Secretary, The Rt Honorable James Brokenshire MP said:

Vulnerable young people who should have been protected were repeatedly failed by Rotherham council, which is why the government stepped in to ensure these errors can never occur again.

I am pleased that strong progress has now been made at the council with the support of the commissioners.

The return of all powers to Rotherham council is not a decision that I take lightly, but I am satisfied that the council has learnt the lessons of the past and is now able to provide the services its residents deserve and expect.

Minister for Children and Families, Nadhim Zahawi MP said:

Every child, wherever they live, needs to have access to the right care and support so they can flourish in life. For too long the people of Rotherham were let down by the authorities in charge of protecting them.

The handing back of local children’s services to the council marks an important step for this town. I am pleased that vulnerable children in Rotherham are now getting the help they need when they need it, and I hope to see continuing improvements through the independent review next year.

Sentence Increase For Man Who Sexually Assaulted Girls For 25 Years

Sazzad Miah has been imprisoned for longer under the Unduly Lenient Sentence scheme

Royal Courts of Justice

Royal Courts of Justice

A Cambridge man who repeatedly raped 2 young girls and sexually assaulted 2 others has had his sentence increased after the Solicitor General, Robert Buckland QC MP, referred it to the Court of Appeal for being too low.

Sazzad Miah, now 83, carried out his abuse over a 25 year period. His first victim was abused between the ages of 4 and 15. His later victims were aged between 4 and 13.

In June this year, Miah was sentenced to 18 years imprisonment with a 1 year extended licence period at Cambridge Crown Court. Today, this has been increased to 25 years imprisonment with a 1 year extended licence period after the Solicitor General referred the case for being unduly lenient.

Commenting on the sentence increase, the Solicitor General said:

“I am pleased the Court of Appeal has agreed that Miah’s sentence deserved to be higher. To subject four vulnerable children to such horrific sexual assaults is an abhorrent crime which will undoubtedly have lasting impacts on the victims, and I hope today’s outcome will provide them with some comfort.”

Southampton Paedophile Jailed After Solicitor General’s Referral

Antonie Lawrie has been sentenced to 3 years immediate custody at the Court of Appeal

Royal Courts of Justice

Royal Courts of Justice

A man who sexually assaulted a young girl on repeated occasions has had been jailed after the Solicitor General, Robert Buckland QC MP, referred his sentence to the Court of Appeal for being too low.

Antonio Lawrie, now 22, sexually assaulted the victim at least 16 times over a period of several months. Lawrie was reported to the police when a witness saw him with his hand under the victim’s dress.

Lawrie was originally sentenced at Southampton Crown Court in June, where he was given 2 years imprisonment suspended for 2 years. He was also ordered to complete a rehabilitation activity, and put on the Sex Offender’s Register for 10 years. Today, after the Solicitor General’s referral, the Court of Appeal increased his sentence to 3 years immediate imprisonment.

Speaking after the hearing, the Solicitor General said:

“Lawrie carried out a campaign of sexual assault against a young girl, and I hope that she will take some comfort from the increased sentence today. Lawrie continues to pose a threat to other children, and it is therefore important that he serves an immediate custodial sentence.”

Heathrow And Arora Admit To Anti-Competitive Car Park Agreement

Heathrow airport will pay a £1.6m fine for restricting competition on parking prices in a lease with the operator of a Terminal 5 hotel

Car Park

Car Park

The fine to be imposed by the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA), comes after its investigation into the airport’s agreement with the Arora Group for the lease of Arora’s Sofitel hotel at Terminal 5. This included a clause restricting how parking prices should be set by Arora for non-hotel guests.

The CMA investigated whether the pricing restriction prevented the Arora Group from charging non-hotel guests cheaper prices than those offered at other car parks at the airport.

Following its investigation, the CMA has provisionally found that Heathrow and the Arora Group breached competition law. Both parties have formally accepted that this was a breach of competition law and have removed the pricing restriction, with Heathrow agreeing to settle the case and pay a £1.6m fine.

The Arora Group will not be fined, as it was granted immunity for coming forward under the CMA’s leniency programme. The programme is designed to encourage companies to co-operate if they think they might be involved in wrong-doing.

As part of its work, the CMA has sent letters to other airports and hotel operators warning against similar anti-competitive agreements.

This is the first time the CMA has taken competition law enforcement action in a case involving a land agreement.

Ann Pope, the CMA’s Senior Director for Antitrust, said:

Airport car parking charges are paid by millions of people and any agreements to restrict price competition are not acceptable.

Competition law applies to land agreements at airport car parks in the same way as any other type of business arrangement.

This fine should act as a strong warning to all companies that the CMA will take action to make sure businesses are free to compete on price.

The CMA has a dedicated reporting hotline for cartels (020 3738 6888) and recently launched a campaign to encourage more people to come forward with information about suspected illegal behaviour.

High Tech System Promotes Wildlife Around Devon And Cornwall Roads

Images from space and computer wizardry help Highways England develop a ground breaking approach

Two very sleepy dormice

Two very sleepy dormice

Images from space and computer wizardry have helped Highways England develop a ground breaking approach to promoting wildlife habitat along trunk roads in Devon and Cornwall.

Satellite photos and earth observation techniques have been combined with Highways England wildlife data in a software system that can predict areas where biodiversity schemes will pack the biggest punch.

And the system is proving so successful it has been nominated for an environmental award from CIRIA Big Diversity Challenge.

Highways England’s ecologist, Leo Gubert, explained:

It sounds complicated but essentially the software crunches our data on habitats and species together with information on the surrounding landscape to find the best locations for habitat creation and enhancement schemes as well as landscape management projects.

We look at the populations and habitat connectivity for wildlife such as dormice, bats, endangered butterflies and also species of plants that are of conservation priority and then decide which schemes to prioritise.

The system has been used to deliver a vast woodland and hedgerow connectivity scheme at 21 sites along the A30 and A38 in Devon and Cornwall with 10,000 native trees and shrubs filling or reducing gaps in hedgerow and woodland along the roadside. In total the planting has connected over 105 miles of habitat on the verges and wider landscape adjacent to the roads.

Last winter a heathland creation scheme was also undertaken, with a vision to connect existing heathland on important sites such as Dartmoor, Bodmin and Goss Moor.

A planting scheme promoting habitat for the super rare marsh fritillary butterfly in the Goss Moor area in Cornwall has also been delivered.

The system which was developed in conjunction with CEH (Centre of Ecology and Hydrology) picked up second place in the medium/large scale award at the Ciria BIG Biodiversity Challenge ceremony at the Royal College of Physicians in London..

Leo added:

I am delighted we have been shortlisted amongst so many other projects. It is a perfect example of how new technologies can be a powerful tool in the decision making process maximising our efforts to enhance biodiversity on our road verges.

The result can be wonderful benefits for biodiversity on the land we manage while providing a real sense of achievement for everyone involved.

Highways England is committed to a national Biodiversity Plan which is being supported by a £30 million national investment programme over the next five years.

The plan recognises road verges and associated land can be managed to provide areas of habitat, relatively free from human access that may be scarce in the surrounding landscape.

These road verges can also be used to connect fragmented habitats in the wider landscape, enabling plant and animal populations to move and interact, and so become stronger and more resilient.

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