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Archive for November 13, 2010

A MESSAGE FROM THE HEADMASTER – of the New Coalition Academy

A MESSAGE FROM THE HEADMASTER
This delightful informal picture of the Headmaster and Sam was taken by his old friend Andy Parsons, who has now been taken on as Head of Photography – a new post and very important at this time of cutbacks, when it is essential that we keep the school and the Headmaster in the public eye.

The Governors have agreed to pay Mr Parsons an honorarium of £100,000 a year out of school funds. Special signed and numbered prints of Mr Parson’s touching study are available from the school shop and would make an ideal Christmas present. £75.99 for one print (unframed).

Private Eye : Formerly Brown’s Comprehensive

 

 

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Categories: Cartoons

VODAFONE – DON’T PAY AS YOU GO

This comes after the news that George Osborne has let Vodafone off £6billion, only to then persue the Unemployed, those on Benefits and the Disabled for the money….

VODAFONE – DON’T PAY AS YOU GO
Wrong numbers: Protests against phone giant’s tax deal

HM Revenue & Customs spent nearly a decade arguing in court over the way Vodafone funnels its gargantuan income into a tax-free Luxembourg subsidiary – and heard the court of appeal reject Vodafone’s argument that British anti-tax avoidance laws were neutered by European law. So why did they then cave in?

HMRC accepted a mere fraction of what it was due. The “deal” followed discussions earlier this year between HMRC boss Dave Hartnett, Vodafone finance director Andy Halford (a member of George Osborne’s “business forum for competitiveness and tax”) and David Cruickshank, a tax avoidance guru from Deloitte, brought in bizarrely by Hartnett to act for Vodafone.Following the talks HMRC officials (but not those who had investigated the case or knew anything about it) were told to go away and reverse-engineer a deal with Vodafone tax boss (and ex-HMRC director) John Connors that came up with a bill of £800m. That was the figure Halford and Cruickshank wanted to pay: it bore no relation to the legal position.

Extra time to pay
Alas, the best the officials could come up with (by granting Vodafone all sorts of tax reliefs it wasn’t lawfully due) was £1.25bn. As Halford had wanted to pay just £800m, it was agreed Vodafone could have “time to pay”, the £450m balance being spread over four years.

The total was still far below the tax and interest HMRC could have charged, for which Vodafone plc’s own accounts show it had put aside £2.1bn as early as 31 March 2006 (when, it is thought, this was still not the full extent of the dodge). Four and a half years later, with Vodafone Investments Luxembourg sarl (VIL) accounts showing billions more poured into Luxembourg and interest accruing at rates up to 6.75 percent a year since 2001, the total due ran into several billions and HMRC’s counsel considered there was a strong chance of recovering the lot.

They and the department’s other specialists in the relevant tax law were not consulted, however, on a deal that also included an agreement not to tax Vodafone on future income diverted to Luxembourg (worth a further who knows how many billions to the company) which the Eye understands even HMRC internally recognises as unlawful.

Against their own guidance notes
Vodafone also told the Eye that HMRC “concurred” with it that a 2007 European Court decision (involving Cadbury) meant that “we clearly had no future liability”. Yet HMRC’s own official guidance notes in response to that case, based on expert legal advice, show that where income is diverted to a tax haven in precisely the way Vodafone did it, “no application [that the profits won’t be taxed] is likely to be granted”.

Several other tax avoidance schemes set up by Vodafone were also nodded through. Invited to contest this analysis, which suggests up to £6bn in tax could be going missing, HMRC declined.

Vodafone-style sweetheart deals are set to proliferate as Hartnett promotes an “alternative dispute resolution” system that keeps tax avoidance cases out of the courts and away from public view. Immune to scrutiny, the taxation of the largest corporate tax avoiders becomes a private matter to be decided among friendly mandarins, beancounters and captains of industry. All this makes lucrative work for the likes of Deloitte’s Cruickshank, who has negotiated with Hartnett for a number of tax avoiders including Diageo, Lloyds, Hanson and AstraZeneca. But it’s a different story for the public who are left protesting impotently at the billions lost – if they can ever find out about them.

PS: Vodafone is still squirrelling money away in Luxembourg. Accounts just published in the Grand Duchy show a further €1.2bn was stuffed into VIL in 2009/10.

Monte Carlo and bust
Dave Hartnett’s friendly dealings with Britain’s top tax avoiders don’t come cheap. Recently released details of his expenses claims show that on 28 September last year he jetted off to Monaco (fares £725) for a “speaking engagement” for which he was required to stay overnight (hotel £231).

The Eye asked what essential government business had to be conducted in Monaco by a cash-strapped HMRC while Britain was in the depths of an economic crisis. An interview on “the future of tax” at KPMG’s “partners’ conference”, an annual junket for the firm’s top £1m-a-year beancounters. Dinner at the Monte Carlo Bay hotel in which they were all slumming it came courtesy of KPMG.

Meanwhile back at the HMRC office, tax inspectors were fighting KPMG-designed tax avoidance schemes… including one in which an offshore trust moved repeatedly round the world to dodge capital gains tax, until the court of appeal killed it by ruling that for tax purposes it had never left KPMG’s Bristol office!

Find article : Here

 

Categories: News of the moment

China Fired Missile Seen In Southern California

November 13, 2010 1 comment

Keep an eye out for weather balloons…

Another thing to bear in mind is :

“The FAA ran radar replays of a large area west of Los Angeles based on media reports of the location of a possible missile launch around 5pm Monday. The radar replayed did not reveal any fast moving unidentified targets in that area. The FAA also did not receive reports of any unusual sightings from pilots who were flying in the area Monday afternoon. Finally the FAA did not approve any commercial space launches around the area Monday.”  CBS Los Angeles

Wayne Madsen Report
November 12, 2010

Pentagon and its embedded media covering up Chinese show of force off LA

China flexed its military muscle Monday evening in the skies west of Los Angeles when a Chinese Navy Jin class ballistic missile nuclear submarine, deployed secretly from its underground home base on the south coast of Hainan island, launched an intercontinental ballistic missile from international waters off the southern California coast. WMR’s intelligence sources in Asia, including Japan, say the belief by the military commands in Asia and the intelligence services is that the Chinese decided to demonstrate to the United States its capabilities on the eve of the G-20 Summit in Seoul and the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit in Tokyo, where President Obama is scheduled to attend during his ten-day trip to Asia.

The reported Chinese missile test off Los Angeles came as a double blow to Obama. The day after the missile firing, China’s leading credit rating agency, Dagong Global Credit Rating, downgraded sovereign debt rating of the United States to A-plus from AA. The missile demonstration coupled with the downgrading of the United States financial grade represents a military and financial show of force by Beijing to Washington.

The Pentagon spin machine, backed by the media reporters who regularly cover the Defense Department, as well as officials of the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD), and the U.S. Northern Command, is now spinning various conspiracy theories, including describing the missile plume videotaped by KCBS news helicopter cameraman Gil Leyvas at around 5:00 pm Pacific Standard Time, during the height of evening rush hour, as the condensation trail from a jet aircraft. Other Pentagon-inspired cover stories are that the missile was actually an amateur rocket or an optical illusion.

Wayne Madsen: China Fired Missile Seen In Southern California  chinesemissile

Experts agree that this was a ballistic missile being fired off of Los Angeles.

Pentagon insists it was a jet aircraft or model rocket.

See video at : http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0EBcjQKwAHc

More of this article at : http://www.prisonplanet.com/wayne-madsen-china-fired-missile-seen-in-southern-california.html

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Also…..

What Sky News had to say … 12:30pm UK, Wednesday November 10, 2010

Adam Arnold and Steph Oliver, Sky News Online

Experts believe the mystery missile fired off the Californian coast may have been an optical illusion.

The unknown missile, which was caught on camera by a news helicopter on Monday has baffled many people in America.

But US-based security analyst, Jim Pike, thinks he has solved the mystery.

He told CBS News the object could not be a rocket because it appears to alter its course and concluded it must be an optical illusion.

Mr Pike said he believes the video shows an aeroplane heading towards the camera with the plane’s contrail illuminated by the setting sun.

The launch took place around 5pm local time on Monday and the location was described as west of Los Angeles, north of Catalina Island and about 35 miles out to sea.

Pentagon spokesman Colonel Dave Lapan said all indications are that the defence department was not involved and the missile’s trail might have been created by an object flown by a private company.

More : Here

Categories: News of the moment

Martin Rowson on the protests against student fees

13.11.10: Martin Rowson on the protests against student fees


Categories: Cartoons

David Cameron briefs his deputy on his return from his world travels

November 13, 2010 1 comment

Chris Riddell 14 November 2010

Categories: Cartoons

Trial hopes to cut road pollution

Sorry, this is another inexcusably short confusing piece from the Indiscriminate.

I doesn’t give any info, a no news article.  I’m including it as an example of some of the vacuous reporting we suffer these days.  On another note, when reading this article I thought…’Don’t we already have something that does this ??’

It’s called RAIN…and we have plenty of it in many parts of this country..!!

Trial hopes to cut road pollution

By Emily Beament

Saturday, 13 November 2010

The first UK trial using dust suppressants on roads to cut pollution caused by vehicles has been launched.

Two sites on major roads in central London will be sprayed with a chemical solution that sticks to polluting particles produced by engine emissions, tyres and brakes and prevents them circulating in the air. Particles are linked to health conditions such as asthma, heart disease and cancer.

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/science/trial-hopes-to-cut-road-pollution-2132840.html

 

Categories: News of the moment

Quarter of cancers discovered late

If you go down to A & E today, beware of a big surprise…..

Quarter of cancers discovered late

By Raf Sanchez, Press Association

Saturday, 13 November 2010

Nearly a quarter of cancer diagnoses in England are made when patients arrive at hospital in an emergency, a study has found.

Research by the National Cancer Intelligence Network (NCIN) found that 23 per cent of cancer cases were detected only as patients underwent emergency treatment.

The figures were even starker for sufferers of acute leukaemia and brain cancer, where well over half of cases were discovered at a critical stage.

Pensioners and those under 25 were most likely to be diagnosed with cancer during emergency procedures, while poor people were more likely to suffer from late detection than the rich.

The study found that people whose cancer was detected at an emergency stage were significantly more likely to be die within a year than those whose illness was discovered earlier.

More of this article at : http://www.independent.co.uk/life-style/health-and-families/health-news/quarter-of-cancers-discovered-late-2133108.html

Categories: News of the moment

The great animal rights betrayal

Who is going to come first…the chicken or the badger…

http://www.independent.co.uk/environment/nature/the-great-animal-rights-betrayal-2132827.html

Government scraps protection for hens, game birds, pigs, cows, sheep – and circus animals

Saturday, 13 November 2010

Millions of hens will have their beaks mutilated; game birds will remain in cages; pigs, sheep and cows in abattoirs will lose crucial protection from abuse; badgers will be culled and lions, tigers and other wild animals will continue to perform in the big top.

Labour's environment minister, Jim Fitzpatrick, said he was 'minded' to ban performing wild animals after research showed that 94 per cent of the public supported a ban

GETTY IMAGES

Labour’s environment minister, Jim Fitzpatrick, said he was ‘minded’ to ban performing wild animals after research showed that 94 per cent of the public supported a ban

In a series of little-noticed moves, the Coalition has scrapped or stalled Labour initiatives to improve animal welfare some weeks before they were due to come into force.

The Agriculture minister James Paice, who part-owns a farm in Cambridgeshire, has been behind most of the moves – which have infuriated welfare groups. In the latest of a series of controversial decisions, Mr Paice this week delayed by five years a ban on beak mutilations of laying hens due to come into force in January.

Millions of hens have part of their beaks sliced off to stop them pecking at each other in confined units, but campaigners say there is no need for this if flocks are well managed.

The delay in the beak-trimming ban emerged in a press statement headed “New safeguards for chickens”, which hailed the introduction of a limit on overcrowding of meat chickens which will have little impact. The RSPCA said it was “extremely disappointed” by the decision, describing beak trimming as “an insult to hens’ welfare”.

Another policy reversal, affecting hundreds of thousands of game birds, was taken following lobbying from the Countryside Alliance and other shooting groups. Mr Paice rewrote the new game-bird farming welfare code to remove a ban on keeping them in cages.

In an additional move, the Department of the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) halted a series of prosecutions of abattoir operators based on secret footage which caught slaughterhouse workers kicking cattle, pigs and sheep. Tim Smith, head of the Food Standards Agency, which enforces slaughterhouse standards, said of the images: “The cruelty on show is the worst I have seen.” Defra said the prosecutions would have failed because the footage had been obtained by trespass. Animal Aid, which shot the film, described the decision as “political”.

Furthermore, the Government is reducing the presence of official veterinarians at livestock markets, to the concern of the British Veterinary Association. According to the BVA, Mr Paice has also expressed doubt over plans compulsorily to label kosher and halal meat from animals killed without being stunned.

Defra has been stalling on a ban on the use of wild animals in circuses, which Labour indicated in March it would introduce, keeping 40 tigers, elephants, zebras and other animals performing tricks. Defra says it will announce its plans “later in the autumn”.

Mr Paice again pleased farmers and angered welfare groups by overturning Labour’s opposition to a badger cull and proposing farmers trap or shoot the protected mammal in order to curb the spread of bovine TB, which can be spread by badgers. He downgraded a research programme into vaccination, an alternative method of controlling the disease that killed 25,000 cattle last year. A cull is likely to provoke widespread protests.

Another Conservative proposal – to hold a free vote on overturning the ban on fox hunting – will be fiercely opposed.

Current concern, however, is greatest about the U-turns on farm animals because of the huge numbers involved. While there are no authoritative figures, the proposed game-bird cage ban would have improved the lives of hundreds of thousands of the 40 million game birds bred annually for shooting. Beak trimming is estimated to take place on 20 million of the UK’s 29 million laying flock. Tabling plans to limit the keeping of broiler chickens to 39kg per square metre, a more crowded level than the industry’s basic standard of 38kg, Defra revealed it would ban trimming by hot blades but allow the less brutal but still painful infra-red method.

The Government’s vets on the Farm Animal Welfare Council had recommended allowing infra-red trimming because of the egg industry’s failure to prepare for the ban, which had been scheduled for eight years.

Compassion in World Farming was “deeply disappointed” by the decision. Its chief policy adviser, Peter Stevenson, said: “It is frustrating that the egg industry has not managed to meet the 2011 deadline. At the same time as the British industry has been failing to phase out beak trimming, the Austrian industry has successfully reduced the practice so that now less than 2 per cent of hens are beak trimmed.”

Animal Aid’s campaign manager Kate Fowler said: “The Coalition Government has wasted no time in removing a raft of popular measures that provided important protection for farmed and wild animals.

“It seems the Lib Dems can’t or won’t rein in the Tories. The commitment to repealing the Hunting Act is the most high profile part of the Government’s anti-animal welfare package. But badgers, animals at markets, game birds and animals in circuses are also under threat. As for slaughterhouse cruelty, if this Government’s vets can’t or won’t take action and the Government won’t prosecute, then there is no one to stop slaughterhouses becoming a free-for-all.”

Mr Paice said: “These comments are surprising and disappointing. Cutting bureaucracy doesn’t equate to poorer welfare for animals – we listen to expert groups and always base decisions on robust scientific evidence, including that of the Farm Animal Welfare Council. As far as bovine TB is concerned, these groups appear to ignore the welfare of cattle.”

The Betrayals

Game Birds

Issue: Keeping of game birds such as pheasants in cages.

Number of animals: affected Hundreds of thousands.

Last government policy: In one of its last acts in power, on 15 March 2010, Labour introduced a new Code of Practice for “game bird” production which in effect would have banned the use of battery cages for breeding pheasants within months.

What the Coalition has done: Animal Welfare minister James Paice withdrew the code and replaced it with a new version which allowed “enriched” cages to remain. The decision followed lobbying from shooting organisations, such as the Countryside Alliance and the Game Farmers’ Association.

RSPCA comment: “The RSPCA is concerned that the Government has overturned expert recommendations against the use of cages to breed game birds in England. The Society is calling for proper scientific research to establish how to best meet the birds’ needs under Section 9 of the Animal Welfare Act. In the meantime, the aim is to persuade the industry to act in accordance with the scientific principles of welfare and avoid using cages.”

Circus Animals

Issue: Use of performing wild animals such as tigers and elephants.

How many animals affected: Around 40. Four British circuses use wild animals: the Great British Circus, which has tigers, lions, camels and zebras; Peter Jolly’s Circus (camels, zebras, snakes and crocodiles); Circus Mondao (camels and zebras); and Bobby Roberts Circus (camels and elephant).

What was going to happen?: On 25 March 2010, Labour’s environment minister, Jim Fitzpatrick, said he was “minded” to ban performing wild animals after research showed that 94 per cent of the public supported a ban.

What the Coalition has done: The Coalition said it was considering whether to proceed and would announce its position “in the autumn”. James Paice told the Commons he was sympathetic to a ban but said his colleague Lord Henley was mulling over issues.

RSPCA comment: “The RSPCA believes the circus is no place for a wild animal. It does not believe that wild animals should be subjected to the confinement, constant transportation and abnormal social groups associated with circus life. The UK Government promised three years ago that wild animals in travelling circuses would be banned – yet lions, tigers, elephants and other animals still tour the UK. We want to see the urgent introduction of regulations under the Animal Welfare Act.”

Slaughterhouse Cruelty

Issue: Cruelty against pigs, sheep and cattle by abattoir workers.

Number of animals affected: 29 million.

What was going to happen?: Prosecutions had been started against four operators at five abattoirs, and nine workers, following an undercover investigation by an animal welfare charity, Animal Aid. It found poor conditions at six of seven slaughterhouses it investigated between January 2009 and April 2010: footage showed animals being kicked, slapped, stamped, and picked up by fleeces and ears and thrown into stunning pens. Some sheep had their throats cut while not properly stunned.

What the Coalition has done: The Department for Food and Rural Affairs dropped the prosecutions, saying it had become aware of legal precedents where courts had refused to accept “unlawfully obtained video footage”. Instead, the Food Standards Agency has asked the 370 slaughterhouses in England and Wales to install CCTV cameras.

RSPCA comment: The RSPCA does not wish to comment on specific court cases.

Badger Cull

Issue: Spread of bovine TB from wild badgers to cattle.

How many animals affected: 6,000 badgers could be killed in the first year.

What was going to happen: In July 2008, the then Environment Secretary, Hilary Benn, ruled out a cull, saying a cull would worsen rates of bovine TB outside of culling areas. Instead he committed £20m more into trials of a vaccination programme for badgers in six areas.

What the Coalition has done: Proposed that farmers in areas of heavy TB infestation cull badgers by cage-trapping and shooting them, or by “free shooting” as animals emerge from their setts. It has scaled back trial vaccinations to one area.

RSPCA comment: “On the basis of the current science, welfare concerns and practicality, any decision for a widespread cull of badgers would be totally unacceptable. Farmers or any non-statutory agency carrying out a cull… would make the welfare issues involved in killing badgers worse. It would be near impossible to police or monitor such a cull and could make enforcement of the Protection of Badgers Act very difficult.”

Beak Trimming

Issue: Mutilation of laying hens.

Number of animals affected: 20 million.

What was going to happen?: Labour decided to end beak trimming, which is carried out to prevent laying hens pecking and cannibalising each other in cramped battery cages. A ban enacted eight years ago was due to come into force on 1 January 2011.

What the Coalition has done: After the egg industry said it was not prepared for the end of beak trimming, the Coalition will delay a complete ban by at least five years, until 2016. Instead, the Government banned trimming with hot blades and allowed another technology which still causes pain – infra-red.

RSPCA comment: “The RSPCA is extremely disappointed that no specific date has been set for a ban on beak trimming for laying hens. The mutilation of all livestock is undesirable.”

 


 

Categories: News of the moment

Britain’s Trillion Pound Horror Story

Well worth a watch…

Britain’s Trillion Pound Horror Story

Watch this episode now on 4oDMartin DurkinFilm maker Martin Durkin explains the full extent of the financial mess we are in: an estimated £4.8 trillion of national debt and counting. It’s so big that even if every home in the UK was sold it wouldn’t raise enough cash to pay it off.

Durkin argues that to put Britain back on track we need to radically rethink the role of the state, stop politicians spending money in our name and introduce, among other measures, flat taxes to make Britain’s economy boom again.

This polemical film presented by Martin Durkin, brings economic theory to life and makes it hit home. It includes interviews with academics, economic experts, entrepreneurs, no less than four ex-Chancellors of the Exchequer and the biggest stack of £50 notes you’ll never see.

http://www.channel4.com/programmes/britains-trillion-pound-horror-story/4od

 

Categories: Cinema + TV

Drivers to face random drink and drug tests under new powers

There are a lot of interesting comments on this after the Telegraph article.

Some time back there was a piece in the Evening Standard….

http://www.thisislondon.co.uk/standard/article-23870100-transport-minister-rejects-move-to-halve-drink-drive-limit.do

Transport minister rejects move to halve drink-drive limit Joe Murphy, Political Editor 23.08.10

Alcohol-related road deaths in Britain stand at 17 per cent of all road fatalities. Sir Peter’s report suggested up to 300 deaths could be avoided each year if the law was changed, Britain’s 80mg limit is much higher than other European countries including Germany, France, Holland, Spain and Italy where 50mg is the maximum.However, accident statistics are not always better in those countries. In France the proportion of fatalities where alcohol is a factor is 27.3 per cent. Sweden has a limit of only 20mg but the figure is still 16.1 per cent. In Hungary, where there is a zero limit, 8.7 per cent of road deaths are alcohol-related.

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Anyone remember Dave Allen’s joke about how “It’s safer to drink and drive”..I’m not condoning drink driving in anyway but if 17 per cent of all road fatalities in the UK are drink related….what are the other 83% on?Maybe this should be investigated…Someone commenting in the Telegraph points out the number of tired, stressed overworked drivers there are out there on our roads !

All drivers face random drink and drug tests under new powers being requested by the police.

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/motoring/news/8129373/Drivers-to-face-random-drink-and-drug-tests-under-new-powers.html

David Millward 9:00AM GMT 12 Nov 2010   The Daily Telegraph

Chief constables have asked ministers to change the law to give officers “a power to randomly check any driver”.

The request from the Association of Chief Police Officers has emerged as ministers draw up new rules on driving under the influence of alcohol and drugs.

Some police forces already use checkpoints to stop and check drivers, but police chiefs want to be able to go much further.

In a memo submitted to MPs investigating the issue, police chiefs said:

“ACPO wholeheartedly supports the introduction of a power to randomly check any driver.

“Putting conditions on when a breath test can be required simply supports the view that you can drink, drive and avoid prosecution by playing within the ‘rules’, police have unrestricted powers to stop vehicles to check tyres, condition and the documents of a driver but are restricted when they can check for drink or drugs.

“A random power would support targeted checkpoint testing of drink drivers carried out now is some areas but requiring an element of consent.

“Random powers are supported, not necessarily because we believe that the existing powers are inadequate; rather, we believe that this simple measure, widely publicised, would increase the perception in the minds of drivers that if they do drink and drive they are likely to be caught and brought to justice at any time, anywhere.

Police chiefs also demanded a change in the law to make it easier to test motorists for illegal drugs, warning that officers are “disillusioned” with the current legal “barriers” to carrying out such tests.

Granting police the power to carry out random breath testing is one of the key recommendations in the report on road safety prepared by Sir Peter North, former Principal of Jesus College, currently being considered by ministers.

The previous Government had drawn up plans to change the law to allow this to happen, but were voted out of office before they were able to do so.

However Kevin Delaney, the former head of traffic at Scotland Yard, said the police could carry out random testing already.

“They have two powers which enable them to do this,” he said.

“Police can stop any car at random. This, I believe, dates back to the 1930s, when officers wanted to check whether the driver had a licence.

“They also have the power to carry out a breath test if they think drink has been taken. It could be they smell alcohol on the breath or see someone driving away from a pub.”

The ACPO plea was backed by Rob Gifford, executive director of the Parliamentary Advisory Council for Transport Safety.

“International experience shows that regular and visible breath testing by police forces reduces the amount of drink-driving,” he said.

“Allowing the police to stop any driver and breath test him or her would send a clear signal to the driving public that the law is being enforced and that drinking and driving are two activities that are best undertaken separately.”

Responding to the call, a Department for Transport spokesman said:

“We are considering the North Report’s recommendations and will respond in due course.

“Our priority will be to tackle dangerous offenders in the most effective way possible to protect law abiding road users.”

 

 

Categories: News of the moment
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