Colors: Blue Color

Today is the day to cast your vote in the United Kingdom General Election. Regardless of what way you want to vote, make sure that you get out there and vote one way or another!

When Theresa May won the leadership election for the Conservative party following David Cameron’s resignation, and Brexit, she promised to bring ‘strong and stable’ leadership to the country. She promised to fight for the ‘just about managing’ families of Britain. She promised a great deal, and for the first few months it worked.

Compared to the stumbling and enemy prone Jeremy Corbyn, Theresa May came across as calm, confident and experienced. She had served for six years as Home Secretary-a record since the end of the Second World War- and she had done her best to contribute to Britain’s recovery after the economic recession of 2008. Additionally, though she might not have been the most eager for Brexit, she soon threw herself into ensuring that Britain got the best deal possible from Europe. She ensured that her cabinet was filled with those who supported Brexit, as well as those who wanted to chart a middle ground.

Theresa May appeared to be working in the interests of the British people, and her twenty point lead over Jeremy Corbyn in April, 2017 seemed to reflect the view of the British people that she was indeed doing a good job. She then called a general election, and many predicted a landslide for the Conservatives in the face of a hopeless Labour party, riven by internal division, a non-existent Liberal Democrat party, and the decimation of UKIP. What has since transpired has been something few would’ve expected in April.

Theresa May prides herself on being forthright, having come from a humble background and supposedly espousing ‘traditional British values.’ She prides herself on her morals and being willing to fight for what she believes is right for Britain. Her catch phrase is meant to reflect that. Yet many are increasingly coming to believe that that is a lie, and that her underlying problems will be her undoing.

But what exactly are the problems that people such as Jeremy Corbyn, Tim Farron and Nicola Sturgeon feel Theresa May is trying to hide from the British public, and why would they be such a big talking point of this election, if they were not important beforehand? Well, there are the obvious issues: police cuts, issues in the NHS, immigration and security, as well as the less well known issues, mainly that there is surprisingly little actual criticism of Theresa May present before she became Prime Minister.

Firstly, in light of the recent attacks in London and Manchester, cuts to the police service have become an ever more pressing issue. Before the general election, there were murmurs that the cuts being implemented by the Conservative government to the police force were alarming and would have severe consequences, but they were just murmurs nothing more. It is only after attacks in London and Manchester, and the revelations that those responsible for the attacks were known to the police, but that the police could do nothing about them, because of how many other things they had to do, that the issue of the cuts has becoming a serious issue.

In fact a quick look at the figures as stated by the government shows that from March 2010 to March, 2016, police numbers fell from 143,734 to 124,066 and during the same time period the number of armed officers fell from 6,653 to 5,639. Given the increased risk of terror in Europe, following the attacks in France, Germany and Belgium, this is an alarming statistic. As Home Secretary, Theresa May defended such cuts stating that the system needed reform, and that reducing the number of policemen would save costs. During the time of the recession and the recovery this was understandable, but now? Now it is seen as something that was an unnecessary risk to take. Jeremy Corbyn has vigorously criticised Theresa May for these cuts stating: “You cannot protect the public on the cheap. The police and security services must get the resources they need not 20,000 police cuts.”

However, as is seemingly common with Theresa May, she has deflected this criticism, not with solid argument, but with what has increasingly appeared to be desperation. In a speech on Monday she said: “The commissioner of the Metropolitan Police has said that the Met is well-resourced, and they are, and that they have very powerful counterterrorism capabilities, and they do. We have protected counterterrorism policing budgets.”

This seems highly ironic given the cuts to policing and the obvious affect it is having, as Mark Serwotka, general secretary of the PCS union, which represents the police said. “Nobody here will say: ‘If it wasn’t for this cut, that wouldn’t have happened. It would be folly to say so. But what we can say is that the figures speak for themselves and questions need to be asked.”

Theresa May’s record is not just shady on policing. On immigration, May promised to live up to a Conservative pledge in the 2010 and 2015 election campaigns to reduce immigration down to 100,000. In 2014, had increased from 244,000 to 330,000 an increase rather than a decrease. And in her attempt to change course or make up for this short fall, May has taken to some rather odd strategies. Firstly, she insists that international students be included in the immigration count, despite several of her colleagues and experts stating that this would be a grave mistake, and as such the numbers have not fallen, though British Universities have suffered. Secondly May used a series of vans in immigrant communities, which included slogans that not only encouraged immigrants to leave, but were highly racist, which did not unsurprisingly convince immigrants to leave, but rather fostered feelings of anger and resentment amongst these communities. Thirdly, May then targeted random groups of people such as two American Bloggers, who were allowed to tour North America and Europe freely, but were refused entry in Britain for unknown reasons. Theresa May has consistently, tried to project an image for a strong leader during the campaign, but as one can see here, her record is not strong, it is not perfect, it is weak and shady. This is further emphasised by the fact that there appeared to be little actual overt criticism of May as Home Secretary.

It appears that Theresa May and her close advisors would pressurise members of the press to either print something flattering about her, or to criticise junior ministers or civil servants in the Home Office-a clear breach of our supposed freedom of speech- and anything that slipped through their net and directly criticised May was either removed, or made unavailable within moments of being uploaded. This fits in with another trend that has been noticed, Theresa May seems to be a big fan of preventing overt criticism over her person. A big supporter of the 2014 Lobbying Act Theresa May, has often refused to answer questions or comments from charities such as the British Red Cross, over the state of the NHS and the level of homelessness within Britain. Indeed, after attacking the British Red Cross for their ‘crisis in the NHS’ comments earlier this year, it appears that May has stifled charities of all shapes and sizes from actually discussing the election, something which is being called a “grave threat to our democracy.”

Finally, on the campaign trail itself, there have been a few gaffes, most memorably the U turn over welfare payments and winter fuel payments for the elderly, which led to May stating that her U-turn was not in fact a U turn but a cleverly cast policy, which came in for a lot of ridicule. There have been her refusals to take part in debates with other party leaders, making her appear afraid and scared, there have been her weak answers and frigid appearances during television interviews, and a whole other litany of things that appear to contradict the Strong and Stable leadership image she has tried to convey.

To conclude, Theresa May can appear confident and sure of herself when she wishes to, she can talk about her record-which isn’t that impressive, other than being the longest serving home secretary since the end of the war- and she can deride Jeremy Corbyn. But, when one looks at it, her record is somewhat shocking, promises have consistently been made and broken, her approach to handling criticism smacks of a third world dictator, and her ability to handle pressure situations seems lacking. Theresa May is a woman of many faces, not many of them pleasant.

 

 

Jeremy Corbyn has often faced a difficult time of it from the press and from establishment figures. He is not seen as a conventional politician-having voted against the Labour leadership some 400 times during the Blair and Brown premierships- however, his unconventionality has attracted admirers from different walks of life in the UK, but especially amongst young people. This first became apparent in 2015, during the Labour leadership election, Corbyn was only nominated because certain members thought it only fair that the left wing of the party were represented. Nobody expected him to stand a chance, and yet he did. His anti-austerity, anti-war and anti-tax evasion stances drew a large following and made many former Labour supporters re-join the party out of a sense of relief that the party they had come to know and love was going back to its roots. When Corbyn won the leadership election, there are many who were surprised, but many who were not. He had a message that resonated with the people, and he was sincere.

This message of a fair and just society that works for the many and not just the few has constantly resonated with a variety of supporters, be they new voters or older slightly more cynical voters. Pledging to ensure proper funding for the NHS, to ensure that mental health services are truly catered to and that doctors and nurses actually get paid properly and do not need to worry about pay freezes, has struck a chord with a public tired of seeing the NHS suffer. Promises to build more houses to handle a housing crisis have also pleased his supporters, and even those who might otherwise have drifted toward the right, and promising to clamp down on tax evaders has also struck a chord with the populous.

With Theresa May’s support dropping in the polls, thanks to her U turns over welfare payments and elderly care, Jeremy Corbyn continues to thrive and prosper, sticking to his promises, and always backing them up with costings and solid evidence to show why he has reached the view he has. Furthermore, Jeremy Corbyn has something that many politicians in the present and in the past, do not have, he is a man of principle. He has never in his thirty-four-year career changed his stance on anything, without first considering every piece of information presented to him, and then making an informed decision.

In an age where increasingly it seems that political figures have the interests for a select few at heart, rather than the general populous, Jeremy Corbyn is a lone figure of hope. Standing firm and tall, standing true to his promises and hopes for Great Britain, he focuses not on the few who have it all, but on the many who dream big dreams. His policies and his words show he is indeed a man of the people.

By Vivek Rajkhowa

Leaders from coastal nations and small island developing states from the Commonwealth will surf a wave of optimism this week at a major United Nations summit which aims to deliver on a global promise to conserve and sustainably manage the seas.

Commonwealth Secretary-General Patricia Scotland leads a delegation from the Commonwealth Secretariat, which is working with its member states – who represent a third of the world’s population and much of its ocean space – to champion a new sustainable approach to growth centred around the blue economy.

Secretary-General Scotland said: “This conference presents an historic opportunity to deal with the great magnitude of threats to the ocean including climate change, overexploitation and competition for resources. At stake is a new settlement for the seas which will deliver a positive and enduring legacy for generations to come.”

Between 5 and 9 June 2017, the high-level Ocean Conference brings together governments, international and financial institutions, civil society, academics, scientists and representatives from the private sector. The conference in New York aims to be “the game changer that will reverse the decline in the health of our ocean for people, planet and prosperity”.

The government of Fiji, a Commonwealth member state, is co-chair of the conference alongside the government of Sweden. “We in the Commonwealth family are bursting with pride and offer our wholehearted support,” the Secretary-General said.

On Tuesday, Prime Minister of Fiji J.V. Bainimarama will join the Commonwealth Secretary-General at a ‘A Blue Commonwealth’, a high-level roundtable hosted jointly by the Commonwealth Secretariat and the government of Seychelles, represented by Vice President Vincent Meriton.

The Commonwealth Secretariat helps coastal and small island member countries to claim national maritime territory, sustainably manage the marine environment and realise its economic potential. Forty-five of our 52 members are ocean states and 24 are small island developing states.

The roundtable on Tuesday will examine the role of the Commonwealth in supporting the achievement of Sustainable Development Goal 14, in maximising innovation and economic opportunities in the development of blue economies. The side event will also look at ways to ensure fairness, equity and women’s empowerment and how to mobilise partnerships and support.

Prime Minister of Grenada Keith Mitchell will join Vice President Vincent Meriton and ministers from Bangladesh, Barbados, Cyprus and Tonga, plus speakers from UNCTAD and the Commonwealth Foundation for the roundtable. Speakers will discuss their experience of blue economy successes and hurdles and explore how individual country needs can be best aided.

During the roundtable, Secretary-General Scotland will discuss the proposed development of a ‘Blue Charter’, a set of guiding principles for sustainable, fair and equitable ocean economic development based on the Charter of the Commonwealth.

The Secretary-General will also participate in two panel discussions organised in partnership with UNCTAD on the trade in fisheries and innovative Pacific approaches to the oceans economy.

During the conference, initial findings will also be presented from A Sustainable Future for Small States: Pacific 2050, a forthcoming report from the Commonwealth Secretariat.

Things are hotting up as the opening of BBC Gardeners’ World Live, at Birmingham’s NEC, gets ever nearer.

The Show is at the centre of the 50th anniversary of BBC 2’s Gardeners’ World so it’s going to be a Golden Jubilee summer garden party!

With wall-to-wall garden inspiration, top experts, unbeatable shopping and magic moments around every corner, a taster of what’s so special this year include; Stepping back in time at The Nostalgia Garden (Paul Stone, plants supplied by St Andrews Healthcare), a village scene set in the ‘60s complete with garden centre overflowing with the plants of the decade, and the prices to match! Stroll by a babbling brook, spot the vintage `1967 Mini Austin and Nuffield Tractor famously constructed in Birmingham and the plants named after Gardeners’ World presenters!

You can then journey through five decades of glorious gardening, from the crazy paving of the ‘70s to naturalistic planting of the ‘00s, at The Anniversary Garden: A Brief History of Modern Gardens (Prof David Stevens and Peter Dowle). The Beautiful Borders are also all themed around 50 years of Gardeners’ World.

Returning to their roots, Barnsdale Gardens and Birmingham City Council recreate their acclaimed exhibits from RHS Chelsea Flower Show, plant for plant, in the BBC Gardeners’ World Live Floral Marquee.

More floral tributes to the anniversary include a three-tier birthday cake made of Peonies (Primrose Hall Nursery) and a garden party scene of British cut flowers and table set for the Gardeners’ World presenters (Flowers from the Farm), plus the spectacular Jubilee Bedding Display (Allensmore Nurseries). From the most recent presenters of BBC Two’s Gardeners’ World to some of the most famous faces from the past, the nation’s best-loved gardeners take to the stage, including: Monty Don, Carol Klein, Joe Swift, Adam Frost, Nick Bailey, Flo Headlam and Frances Tophill from the current line-up. Plus Alan Titchmarsh, Toby Buckland and Peter Seabrook from series of old.

Marking this extra special year, the BBC team will film the Show highlights for a one-hour anniversary programme.

As part of this, the winning Golden Jubilee Plant will be unveiled to much delight, with visitors able to explore a fantastic display of all 10 Golden Jubilee Plant varieties in the Changing Face of Gardening feature, which also includes a look back at the revolution in Grow Your Own, the emergence of container gardening and the changing attitudes towards wildlife since the ‘60s.

Topping off the anniversary antics the Show will be packed with entertainment including live music, vintage tea tent, Spiced Beetroot birthday cake created exclusively by TV presenter and BBC's ‘The Great British Bake Off’ winner, Nadiya Hussain, Michelin masters Tom Kerridge and Michel Roux Jr taking to the stage, queen of baking Mary Berry back by popular demand, firm Show favourite James Martin, the fantastic Two Greedy Italians, Antonio Carluccio and Gennaro Contaldo,  plus family fun including face painting, making bird feeders, creating Father’s Day cards and craft sessions, picnics, street food, Pimm’s and fizz!

BBC Gardeners’ World Live takes place June 15-18.

 

The Kings Heath Street Food Market returns to Kings Heath Village Square on Saturday June 10, in collaboration with award winning circus school CircusMASH.

This month sees the third 2017 event, which returned in April this year, and offers another great selection of street food traders, music, seating and quirky outdoor bar.

The food line-up includes... returning trader Libertine Burger, juicy burgers made with grass fed beef... Bare Bones Pizza, a Midlands based pizza favourite whose menu options include vegan and gluten free options... and Uncle Samwich, a brand new trader offering dishes inspired by cities across America. Additional food traders are being announced daily.

Since arriving in Birmingham five years ago, CircusMASH has become hugely popular with adults and children alike. Their latest show, Manöken, is described as “exploring identity in the unidentifiable” and welcomes you to “place yourself in displacement and lose your senses.” CircusMASH will perform five separate shows during this event.

Kings Heath Street Food Market, sponsored by Birmingham Brewing Company, is open from 11am to 5pm and CircusMASH take to the square from 1pm. There will also be a handful of children’s rides and activities available on the day.

In short, yes!

Michael Cook, Romans Lettings Director explains: “It is a landlord’s responsibility to ensure that a carbon monoxide detector is fitted in any room within their rental accommodation which contains an appliance which burns solid fuel. Whilst gas and oil boilers do not fall within this category, it is still best practice to install alarms.”

Landlords who fail to comply with these regulations could face a fine of up to £5,000. As part of our landlord services, Romans Lettings Agents ensure we are fully up-to-date on all changes to legislation and will advise landlords on the laws with which they must comply.

It is a landlord’s responsibility to ensure alarms are fitted on the first day of the tenancy, thereafter it becomes the responsibility of the tenants to regularly check they are in full working order. It is also the responsibility of the landlord to replace the alarms every 5-7 years in accordance with the manufacturer’s guidelines.

Michael continues: “ARLA now suggests that there are over 160 pieces of legislation landlords have to comply with. Many find this to be overwhelming and seek the support of a professional agent to help keep meticulous records and to stay up-to-date with ever-changing legislation.”

It is important that landlords maintain a legal record of the carbon monoxide checks on the day the tenancy begins showing that the alarms are in full working order. Keeping this record can help protect landlords against any unfounded claims and help them to avoid a costly fine. Romans’ landlords benefit from our detailed inventory and check-in services and through our online landlord accounts can access all of their important documents and records at the click of a button.

A Qatar Airways Cargo Airbus A330 freighter touched down at London’s Heathrow Airport yesterday, marking the start of freighter services to the carrier’s second airport in London.

Qatar Airways Cargo currently operates freighters to London’s Stansted Airport and also transports cargo on passenger flights to and from Birmingham, Edinburgh, London Heathrow and Manchester. With the new freighter service, the carrier’s total cargo capacity out of the United Kingdom increases to more than 1,500 tonnes each week. The new freighter service departs weekly from Doha on Saturdays and returns via Basel.

Mr. Ulrich Ogiermann, Qatar Airways Chief Officer Cargo, said: “The commencement of the freighter services to London Heathrow marks our sixth new freighter destination for 2017 and boosts our current belly-hold capacity available on 72 passenger flights to the United Kingdom every week. We are expanding our network globally, offering customers direct access to major trade markets such as the United Kingdom via our state-of-the-art fully-automated hub in Doha.”

The cargo carrier offers air freight services to the principal industries in the United Kingdom, including electronics and telecoms, vehicles and auto parts, engineering, information technology, pharmaceuticals, biotech and health, and perishables, providing speed of delivery, flexibility and security for high-value products. Customers globally will benefit from more capacity to transport their cargo to London.

Qatar Airways Cargo recently commenced five new freighter destinations to the Americas and Asia: Buenos Aires, Sao Paulo, Quito, Miami and Phnom Penh, while also increasing frequencies to Brussels, Basel and Hong Kong in response to growing air freight demand in these regions. The cargo carrier has seen a 21 per cent increase in tonnage from 2015 to 2016, despite the air cargo industry remaining competitive due to an underperforming economy.

In February this year, Qatar Airways Cargo was awarded the highly-acclaimed ‘Global Cargo Airline of the Year’ award at the Air Cargo Africa event, recognising its continuous growth and emphasis on delivering the highest level of service within the air cargo industry. The carrier has made significant investments in fleet, network, and its hub and products, as part of its strategy and commitment to improve and enhance its product offering for the benefit of customers globally.

Trading Standards officers in Wolverhampton will be out and about throughout Child Safety Week (5-11 June, 2017) to warn parents and carers about some of the hidden dangers lurking in the home.

Members of the City of Wolverhampton Council’s Trading Standards team will be at various locations in Wolverhampton from Monday to Friday, sharing information and top tips on all aspects of child safety and handing out action packs to parents and carers.

Children will be able to get their hands on their own activity packs, as well as meeting Trading Standards Ted and taking away a sticker, fridge magnet and balloon to remember him by.

Among the issues the team will be highlighting are the risks posed by looped blind and window cords, which can lead to strangulation, and the danger presented by button cell batteries found in toys, musical books, key fobs and other small electronic devices which, if swallowed, can get stuck in the throat or cause severe burns and even death.

They will also identify other products found in the home which pose a risk to young children, and highlight some of the simple steps parents and carers should take to keep family members safe.

The Trading Standards team will be at Wolverhampton's Central Library on Monday 5 June, Waitrose on Penn Road on Tuesday 6 June, Wolverhampton Swimming and Fitness Centre, Wednesfield, on Wednesday 7 June and at the Crafty Kids Café, Springhill Lane, Penn on Thursday and Friday 8 and 9 June. They will be at each location from 9.30am, and will also be calling into WV Active Bilston-Bert Williams on Wednesday 14 June.

Run by the Child Accident Prevention Trust, Child Safety Week takes place from Monday 5 June to Sunday 11 June and seeks to raise awareness of the risks of child accidents and how they can be prevented.

The theme of this year's campaign is Safe Children: Sharing is Caring, with the Child Accident Prevention Trust asking families, communities and professionals to share their experience and knowledge of keeping children safe – not just about the horrors of accidents, but also the practical, simple things they do to prevent them.

The Big Spring Clean in Sandwell is in full swing all thanks to keen volunteers wanting to make a difference to their local areas.
Volunteer week from 1 to 7 June celebrates the difference volunteers make to communities across the country and more than 500 volunteers have taken part in the Big Spring Clean campaign so far this year.
There have been over 50 environmental improvement events arranged since the start of the Big Spring Clean and there's still plenty of time to get involved in the award-winning campaign run by Sandwell Council, Serco and local charity Litter Watch.
The Big Spring Clean runs until September and urges people to take part in litter picking and improvement events across the borough.
Since its launch in March, an excess of 770 bags of litter have been collected by community groups, schools and businesses who have taken part.
Max Cookson, Waste and Transport Manager for Sandwell Council said: "Volunteers have shown an amazing sense of pride over the years, generously donating their time to help improve neighbourhoods, parks, canal paths and open spaces.
"Getting involved with the Big Spring Clean is a great way not only to help improve your local area, but also to celebrate this year’s volunteers week."
Events open to the public across volunteers week include a litter pick in Friar Park on Monday 5 June. The meeting point will be outside the Millennium Centre, Friar Park Road at 10:30 am.
Also, on Wednesday 7 June there will be the monthly Princes End litter pick. The meeting point is at the top of ASDA car park, Wednesbury Oak Road at 10:30am.
John Mason, Contract General Manager for Serco, added: "Serco have been involved in the Big Spring Clean for seven years and it's great to see local people getting so involved.
The campaign is not just about local improvements, it's about community spirit and we are delighted we can help residents in their local areas."
Volunteers can create their own Big Spring Clean event with activities including litter picking, graffiti removal, planting, painting and supporting local wildlife.

A Birmingham volunteer has been praised for supporting a children’s charity for 30 years. Sylvia Hetherington has been working at the Barnardo’s store in Chelmsley Wood since 1987.

The 73-year-old started volunteering to help her search for employment but continued to help even after she found a job. Now she is sharing her story as part of national Volunteers’ Week which runs from June 1-7.

She has also been presented with a series of gifts from colleagues, including an engraved wooden long-service award in the shape of a 'B' for Barnardo's. Barnardo’s manager Robyn Phillips said: “Sylvia is one of the charity’s longest-serving volunteers in the region.

“It’s amazing that someone would donate so much of their own time over so many years. Few people stay in paid employment for that long, which makes it all the more remarkable that she has done it without any financial reward. She’s fantastic. She’s brilliant with the customers and we love having her as a member of our team.”

Sylvia, a mother-of-two, had never worked until she started at the Chelmsley Wood store.

She said: “In the old days the women were often expected to stay at home and look after the children, so I suffered from a lack of work experience when I needed to start looking for a job.

“The job centre suggested that volunteering would help so I joined Barnardo’s and found that it really boosted my self-confidence. In fact I enjoyed it so much that I decided to carry on supporting them even after I found part-time employment.

“Everyone is really friendly and I like meeting people, and it’s nice to know that I’m helping such a good cause.”

National estate agents Leaders raised £15,000 for its charity partner Together for Short Lives during the recent Children’s Hospice Week.

Staff from all of 124 Leaders branches across the UK took part in a variety of fundraising activities, including cake sales, coffee mornings, raffles, car washes, cycling challenges, marathons, sponsored walks, games, competitions and a sponsored silence.

Leaders also invited its landlords to donate a day’s rent in support of Together for Short Lives and hundreds did so, raising thousands more for the charity.

The £15,000 raised in just seven days from 22nd-29th May will contribute to the company’s fundraising total for the year, when it is aiming to raise £50,000 just as it did in 2016.

Allison Thompson, managing director at Leaders, says: “Hundreds of our staff combined imagination and hard work to hold a plethora of fundraising events during Children’s Hospice Week, raising more than £15,000 in the process.

“Having worked with Together for Short Lives since 2015, we know exactly how important this money is and the difference it will make. The charity supports children with life-threatening and life-limiting conditions and we are delighted to be able to help.

“All of the money raised by our branches will go to their local children’s hospice service, so people know they have had a positive impact helping seriously ill young people and their families in their home county

“We would also like to thank everybody who attended our fundraising events and contributed to our appeals.

Together for Short Lives is an umbrella charity for all 54 children’s hospices in the UK. Each Leaders branch is paired with its local hospice and raises money on its behalf.

Nick Appleby, Head of Corporate Partnerships at Together for Short Lives, said: “The incredible support shown by Leaders, their staff and customers during Children’s Hospice Week has been truly inspirational!

“We were really delighted to hear about all the fundraising activities that took place and we want to say a massive thank you to everyone involved. The money raised will make a huge difference to the local children’s hospices and the lifeline services they provide for seriously ill children and their families.”

World-renowned cellist Jian Wang has taken up a new role at Birmingham Conservatoire as International Chair in Cello.

Born in Xi’an, China, and today splitting his time between Shanghai and London, Jian Wang has an international career that has seen him perform with many of the world's leading orchestras.

On taking up his new position as International Chair of Cello at Birmingham Conservatoire, Jian Wang said:

“Birmingham Conservatoire is one of the leading institutions in the world for learning music and it attracts many talented students and wonderful teachers.

“The UK is one of the most vibrant centres for music and I am very excited and looking forward to working with the cello students at Birmingham Conservatoire, and to collaborating with and learning from my colleagues.”

The appointment will see Jian visit Birmingham Conservatoire on a regular basis, where he will lead a class of both undergraduate and postgraduate students, as they seek to lead the next generation of great cellists.

Professor Julian Lloyd Webber, Principal, Birmingham Conservatoire, noted:

“I am delighted to welcome Jian Wang to Birmingham Conservatoire as our International Chair in Cello. Jian Wang is one of the finest solo cellists in the world today and he will be a great inspiration to all our students.

“Jian’s appointment is another step on our journey as we head towards opening the first purpose-built conservatoire in a generation in September!”

Part of Birmingham City University, the new Birmingham Conservatoire will be a unique contemporary building, incorporating five public performance spaces including a new 500 seat concert hall for orchestral training and performance, private rehearsal and practice rooms, and teaching spaces for musicians from a variety of disciplines.

Furthermore, as the first purpose built conservatoire in the UK since 1987, it will be the only one of its kind in the country designed for the demands of the digital age.

Following the news of Jian Wang’s appointment, Dr Louise Lansdown, Head of Strings, Birmingham Conservatoire, commented:

”We are thrilled to welcome the iconic cellist Jian Wang to our staff and cannot wait for him to begin work with our cellists just in time for our new Conservatoire opening later this year!”

Eighty per cent of drivers really do enjoy driving and at least half of all drivers will drive to their holiday destination this summer, according to an AA Populus poll of 21,850 members.

But the renewed love affair with the car is not about what is under the bonnet but more about what goes on inside the car.

The comedy, the singing, the quiet contemplation. The games, the rows, the entertainment, gossip and the quiet confessions in this private space. In a world constantly on display, with every thought and emotion analysed on a smart phone, and social media intruding even into one third of children’s meal times, the car has become the last great social space.

Due to social interactions in the car, almost one half (49%) admit they have a strong emotional attachment to their car. The car is not about mundane journeys as three quarters (76%) like exploring new places by car. It is as much about the journey as the destination.

The AA/Populus research also found:

  • Half (47%) of families taking their car into mainland Europe this summer consider the ferry to be ‘a part of the holiday’ rather than just a means of reaching their destination
  • 58% drive when on holiday
  • 50% drive to the holiday
  • 45% take a holiday in the UK that involves driving there.
Cars are the second biggest purchase most of us make in our life after our homes and for many of us the car becomes an extension of the home.

New research from the AA shows that over a third of us feel being in a car allows for quality bonding time, with nearly 41% saying some of their fondest memories are of family road trips. Important conversations are somehow made easier on car journeys, with more than 1 in 5 admitting to making up after arguments in cars.

Many life changing moments have happened in a car. Indeed, 1 in 20 Brits have proposed or been proposed to in a car, 14% have shared their first kiss in a car, and 2% of the nation have even given birth.

Cheryl Calverley, head of group marketing at the AA, said: “As drivers enjoy their time in the car we want their journeys to flow smoothly so that they never miss a beat.

“Our job, if we are needed, is to keep our Members on the road with first in class repair rates, our breakdown app and even our new Car Genie device that can predict and prevent up to one third of breakdowns.” ***

To illustrate how the AA helps members ‘never miss a beat’ a new ad by the multi-award winning agency of the year, adam&eveDDB, features a strong soundtrack by Tina Turner and a quite incredibly clever singing baby, and maybe, just maybe a small amount of post-production magic from the Mill (of John Lewis fame).

Calverley added: “We are sure our new ad will inspire the nation to look at their journeys a bit differently. They can stop worrying about traffic jams, petrol prices and potholes, and start to really enjoy those precious, precious moments.”

A Birmingham care provider has revealed its plans for an £8 million dementia-friendly nursing home for the elderly in Erdington, which will provide up to 80 new jobs in the area.

MACC Care has submitted a planning application to Birmingham City Council to develop an 80-bed care home on the site of the Hare and Hounds public house in Marsh Hill.

The provider, which already runs five high-quality care facilities for the elderly across the city, said the much-needed home would be the only purpose-built residential home for the elderly and vulnerable within a two-mile radius.

Dr Naz Nathani, director of MACC Care and MACC Living, said as well as residential care, it will offer rehabilitation care, which will help to relieve pressure on hospitals by reducing bed-blocking. This, in turn, will enable recuperating elderly patients to get better quicker so they can return home.

“We are a small, local company that specialises in providing superior, evidence-based care and dementia-friendly accommodation that caters for the elderly and vulnerable and our research has identified the need for a purpose-built facility in Erdington,” he said.

“We want to work closely with the council, councillors and the local community to assure them about our proposals and to listen to them about their needs. We pride ourselves on our values, which are consistent with maximising the quality of care for elderly, vulnerable people from all sections of society – not just the privileged.”

As part of its plans for the new Erdington care home, MACC Care will incorporate a hub that will include a gym specifically designed for the elderly; a library/quiet area with a cafe; a hair salon; cinema; and chapel-prayer area – all of which will be open to local residents over the age of 65.

“We are acutely aware that local residents want to have replacement facilities open to them, following the closure of the public house, and we have proposed a number of options that we would be happy to discuss with community leaders,” said Dr Nathani.

“These will enrich the lives of the local elderly people and enable them to socialise, meet or make friends in safe, modern surroundings, and somewhere that will have a significant positive impact on their wellbeing.

“Our investment in Erdington is not just in providing exceptional care for local elderly people, it will also bring about jobs and training positions. We are committed to making this a community facility and look forward to engaging with local people and councillors about our plans.”

As well as the immediate employment opportunities that the new MACC Care home will provide, the organisation will also be in a position to offer health care worker training and nursing training by linking up with nursing schools to provide nurse assistant placements and training. A training/seminar room within the facility will also provide regular professional development seminar and assessments for the staff and trainees.

MACC Living, the organisation’s development arm, would also deliver excellent apprenticeships for up to six local people during the construction period.

MACC Care, which acquired the former public house site in April – eight months after the premises was put on the open market – runs two other care facilities in Erdington: Abbey Rose in Orchard Road, and Priestley Rose in Bromford Lane – both of which were rated good by the CQC when inspections were carried out earlier this year.

It aims to create a facility similar to its Austin Rose care home, in West Heath, which will open in August.

With an array of activities on offer for all guests, Lane Head is a Lake District home like no other. A fantastic & unique base to come together and enjoy outdoor education courses, activities, celebrations and much more. Perfect for corporate and independent groups, friends and families alike (stag and hen groups are more than welcome). In essence a large and versatile space in an amazing setting.

Standing in an elevated position overlooking Coniston Water, the village and the dramatic fells beyond, Lane Head, is superbly situated for those who wish to explore the delights of the UK's #1 holiday destination. Lovingly refurbished, Lane Head offers its guests simple, spacious, comfortable & practical accommodation, adequately sleeping up to 35 within eight roomy en suite bedrooms.

Historically this impressive home was once owned by William Collingwood, secretary to John Ruskin and a renowned artist in his own right. Furthermore it is believed that Arthur Ransome, a close friend of Collingwood and author of the world famous Swallows & Amazons, spent much time at Lane Head and taught Collingwood's grandchildren to sail on the lake.