Hinterland - 17 July 2018

In this weeks Hinteralnd: revelatory information about the intensifying death of local bus services, another arrow in the retail heart of small town centres, shrinking rural coastlines, some relief for council budgets (yes honestly!!), portents of a new bill on agriculture and essential barbecue tips. Read on.....

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1,000 Poundworld jobs to go as administrators shut another 80 shops

Another blow for our beleaguered town centres….

More than 1,000 Poundworld workers will be out of a job next week as the failing discount chain’s administrators shutter another 80 shops after struggling to find a buyer.

The cuts come on top of 25 other closures announced on Tuesday and will bring the total number of redundancies to around 1,350, including around 100 head office workers who were given their marching orders last month.

Poundworld’s administrators at Deloitte said they were still in talks with “interested parties” about a “potential sale for part, or parts, of the remaining business” including its headquarters and distribution centre in Normanton, West Yorkshire.


British salt marshes 'to disappear' as sea levels rise

These liminal places are a key feature of many areas of lowland Britain and the origin of much atmospheric literature such as the ghost stories of M.R. James. It would be a tragedy if they were to disappear as trailed here. This article tells us:

Marshlands in south-east England could start to vanish in about 20 years due to rising sea levels, scientists warn. 

Researchers at Durham University have studied sediment samples dating back 10,000 years to track how sea levels affect salt marshes. 

They say marshes could disappear in south-east England from 2040 and across the rest of Great Britain by 2100.

Following the last ice age most of Scotland is rising while southern England is subsiding, they said. 

Salt marshes protect coastal areas from erosion by acting as a buffer against waves and reducing flooding by slowing and absorbing rainwater.

Extensive marshes occur along major estuaries around Britain including the Thames, Solent, Bristol Channel, The Wash, Humber, Mersey, Solway Firth, Firth of Forth, Clyde and Cromarty Firth, as well as many smaller marshes around the coast.

Professor Benjamin Horton, who led the study at Nanyang Technological University, said: "Salt marshes are important transitional habitats between the ocean and the land, and a nursery area for fish, crustacea, and insects." 

He said the report highlights "how quickly we are going to lose these ecologically and economically important coastal areas in the 21st Century".


Relief after sleep-in ruling

The implications of this judgement for sustainable local authority care are huge. The article tells us:

Council leaders have expressed their relief after a legal decision today not to count sleep-in shifts as working time.

The Court of Appeal judgment in favour of Mencap overturns a previous ruling at an employment appeal tribunal in April 2017, which the sector feared would cost it an estimated £400m in back-dated pay and £200m a year from 2020.


Farming Minister George Eustice confident farmers will be pleased with Agriculture Bill’s balance

Keep your eyes peeled for this key piece of legislation coming down the line…. This article tells us:

Farming Minister George Eustice said he was “very confident” that farmers would see that the Government is capable of balancing its environmental ambitions with supporting food production in the new Agriculture Bill.

Mr Eustice spoke to media during a visit to the Great Yorkshire Show on its final day before meeting industry representatives on their stands on the showfield.

Asked if the Government could marry together the two aspects of future policy, he said: “I’m very confident about this and although I understand a number of farmers have said there wasn’t enough about food production (in the Government’s recent Health and Harmony consultation paper) there was a chapter in their about a successful farming industry for the future, there was a chapter on fairness in the supply chain and there was a chapter on research and development and innovation in equipment so there were lumps of sections in there that dealt with these issues.

“And I’m confident that when farmers see some of those proposals when they see the bill they will see that we absolutely intend to put in place a balanced package.

“The cornerstone of the new policy will indeed be a new environment land management scheme but we will be doing lots of other issues besides that too.”?Environment Secretary Michael Gove had stated his intention to table the Agriculture Bill by the end of this month - something that the farming industry is keen to see to give food producers more confidence about the future, but Mr Eustice said the timeframe had now slipped back.

Mr Eustice said: “There was an ambition that it might be done by the end of this month and when Michael Gove said that he sets stretching targets. In the event the fact that we were publishing the white paper on a future economic partnership and other issues meant we ran out of time to publish it but we do have a draft of the Agriculture Bill and we intend to introduce it in the autumn.”


‘There used to be a bus every hour. Now we hardly leave the house’

I was at a meeting in Leicestershire earlier this week discussing the impact of reduced bus services on a cluster of villages so this article resonates very strongly with me. It tells us:

A report last week by the Campaign for Better Transport (CBT) found that local authority funding for bus routes in England and Wales has been cut by 45% since 2010 and more than 3,000 routes reduced or scrapped. This prompted the Labour leader, Jeremy Corbyn, to raise the bus issue in parliament during last week’s prime minister’s questions, where he promised to “save” the bus industry and give all those aged under 26 free bus travel.

Many bus services are run commercially, mainly financed by passenger fares. Councils may then choose to subsidise those routes that are economically unviable but deemed important to maintain. Yet cash-strapped councils are being forced to reduce or scrap these subsidised bus services.

Lots of people do not have access to any public transport – and have to rely on taxis or beg neighbours for lifts.

The CBT report found that 14 have slashed funding to zero and no longer spend anything on supporting buses. They include Cumbria, which spent £8.1m on bus routes in 2010; Oxfordshire, which spent £5.8m; and Bristol, which spent £5.1m. A further five have cut more than 90% of funding. Steve Chambers, CBT’s public transport campaigner, says: “Bus routes up and down the country are disappearing at an alarming rate, and these cuts show no signs of slowing. We are seeing the slow death of the local bus and there seems to be very little political will to do anything about it.” 


Eight barbecue tips…

If you’re reading this you have probably survived a fair few barbecues already this summer! Nonetheless it seemed a useful source of information so please read on!

With barbecue season in full swing, many of us with gardens are firing up the coals on a weekly basis - and those of us without any outdoor space can regularly be heard dropping not-so-subtle hints to our friends.

In theory, barbecuing meat should be incredibly simple, but many people are nervous about making sure it’s cooked through so end up with dry chicken breasts and rubbery burgers.

Of course, if meat isn’t cooked properly, there is the risk of food poisoning - charred on the outside doesn’t always mean cooked on the inside, as the Food Standards Agency points out. 

When it comes to barbecuing burgers, sausages, kebabs, chicken and pork, they advise: 

“Before serving meat that you have cooked on the barbecue, always check that:

  • “the meat is steaming hot throughout
  • “there is no pink meat visible when you cut into the thickest part
  • “meat juices run clear.”


About the author:
Hinterland is written for the Rural Services Network by Ivan Annibal, of rural economic practitioners Rose Regeneration.


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