New LoveYourBrain Program and Research removes barriers

first_imgVermont Business Magazine The LoveYourBrain Foundation, a Vermont-based national nonprofit, is proud to announce the launch of a new online program to support those affected by traumatic brain injury (TBI), alongside a new body of research on best practices to make yoga more accessible for the TBI population.In response to COVID-19, LoveYourBrain has launched LoveYourBrain Mindset, a free, six-week online yoga, mindfulness, and education program. LoveYourBrain Mindset aims to bring yoga, meditation, and education about the power of resilience to over 1,000 people affected by brain injury in its initial pilot phase. The program builds off the immense success of LoveYourBrain’s evidence-based Yoga program, now offered in 36 states and 6 Canadian provinces. To date, nearly 4,000 people affected by TBI have participated in the program across North America.The launch of LoveYourBrain Mindset comes alongside a recently published study in the journal, International Journal of Yoga Therapy, that provides a blueprint for how to make yoga accessible for people affected by TBI, including concussion. While yoga can have many powerful physical, psychological, and social health benefits for people struggling with the impacts of TBI, yoga services that are safe and specific to TBI are largely inaccessible. For the past 5 years, LoveYourBrain has been working to address this gap through free programs grounded in yoga and mindfulness for people with TBI and their caregivers.“We’ve used our learnings from implementing the LoveYourBrain Yoga program to produce the first-ever study of best practices for delivering community-based yoga specifically for TBI,” remarked Dr. Kyla Pearce, Senior Director of LoveYourBrain Programs and Post-doctoral Research Fellow at Dartmouth College. “This will serve as a critical resource for yoga teachers and medical professionals seeking to make yoga services more accessible for the TBI community. And now with the launch of the LoveYourBrain Mindset program, we can reach people with TBI in their homes with safe and accessible yoga and meditation services to support their health and wellbeing during this challenging time.”TBI is caused by an external blow to the head, resulting in disrupted brain function that can range from mild (concussion) to severe. Each year, TBI affects more than 3 million people annually in the US and Canada alone, and is a leading cause of death and disability worldwide. LoveYourBrain pioneered its Yoga, Retreat, and Education programs – offered across North America at no cost to participants – to empower the TBI community with new tools, resources, and connections. A series of published research studies on LoveYourBran Yoga have found diverse and clinically meaningful improvements in health outcomes from participants. “As LoveYourBrain continues to grow and expand in response to the health crisis of TBI, we do so with evaluation and evidence that ensure our programs work and are replicable,” said LoveYourBrain’s Board Chair, Pia Pearce. “This research is an important complement to our organization’s new virtual approach to program delivery.”To learn more about the LoveYourBrain Mindset, Yoga, and Retreat programs, visit LoveYourBrain at loveyourbrain.com(link is external).About LoveYourBrainThe LoveYourBrain Foundation is a national non-profit that improves the quality of life of people impacted by traumatic brain injury (TBI) and raises awareness about the importance of brain health through programs that build community and foster resilience. Guided by their family’s experience, brothers Kevin and Adam Pearce established LoveYourBrain in 2014 following Kevin’s severe TBI from a snowboarding accident prior to the 2010 Vancouver Olympics. Kevin’s remarkable resilience was documented and transformed into the award-winning HBO Documentary, “The Crash Reel,” which brought to light the experience and prevalence of TBIs. In response, LoveYourBrain developed programs and resources designed to create community and foster resilience. LoveYourBrain’s Yoga and Retreat programs are offered across North America, and the organization offers free online resources such as guided meditations, yoga classes, brain tips and community blog. Visit http://www.loveyourbrain.com(link is external) to learn more.Source: Norwich, Vermont — The LoveYourBrain Foundationlast_img read more

Holidays in the Sun with the XTERRA Resorts Collection

first_imgThe XTERRA Resorts Collection is supported by a major marketing campaign featuring national television, digital / social network marketing, PR / communications, advertising, and event promotions.The XTERRAResorts.com URL will be the portal through which travelers will find information, promotions, and descriptions of the benefits and activities of destination resorts and properties.Key points of the XTERRA Resorts plan:Member destinations will be invited to join based upon the sports/recreation activities, facilities, and services they offer in or nearby their respective resort area.Member destinations must demonstrate a commitment to this active lifestyle traveler demographic target marketThe initial marketing launch of XTERRA Resorts will be a US$3 million campaign of national television, events, digital media, social networking and marketing communications.“I have seen an array of travel related membership marketing programs and the concept is a very viable part of the promotion of hotels and resorts,” said George Ramirez, the President of Partnerships Unlimited, a tourism-focused consulting company.“The XTERRA Resorts plan goes one step further because it specifically targets travelers that desire sports related/recreation activities and adventure as a key part of the vacation experience. This demographic group is highly valued by destinations, resorts, and properties.”www.XTERRAResorts.comwww.xterraplanet.com Related TEAM Unlimited, owner of the XTERRA World Tour, has announced a new travel related initiative aimed at the active lifestyle sports market. The XTERRA Resorts Collection is a ‘marketing membership consortium for resorts destinations and properties that feature the activities, facilities, adventure and services attractive to active lifestyle travelers.’Tom Kiely, TEAM Unlimited CEO, said “One of the things we have learned about XTERRA participants is their love of travel and ‘active travel’ and that is a key element to our endurance sports events because every course and every experience is different.“Beyond that, this group has a high inclination to travel any number of times each year, and they actively search for destination resorts which offer an array of activities such as fitness, hiking, biking, skiing, surfing, adventure and more.”He continued, “This target market generates an annual economic impact of US$600 billion just in the US, and it continues to grow. Therefore, we have created a membership marketing platform for destination resorts and properties that appeal to this active travel group.”last_img read more

ASP Scan (Weekly) for Mar 03, 2017

first_imgOur weekly wrap-up of antimicrobial stewardship & antimicrobial resistance scansGAO urges more FDA guidance on new antibiotic developmentA new report from the US Government Accountability Office (GAO) says the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) needs to provide more guidance to drug companies on how to use incentives to develop new antibiotics.The incentives are part of the 2012 Generating Antibiotic Incentives Now (GAIN) Act, which made new antibiotics eligible for fast-track and priority review status and gave drug companies an extra 5 years of market exclusivity for those antibiotics if they were eligible under the qualified infectious disease products (QIDP) designation. The hope was that these incentives would spur antibiotic development.So far, the FDA has taken steps to implement the GAIN Act. According to the GAO, the FDA granted 101 of 109 requests for QIDP designation from 2012 through 2015 and approved six drugs with QIDP designation for market in the United States. The agency has also released 14 updated or new guidance documents on antibiotic development and QIDP designation.But in reviewing the FDA’s efforts and in speaking with drug sponsors that have applied for QIDP designation, the GAO also found that half of the agency’s updated or new guidance documents are in draft form and may not necessarily reflect scientific developments and the agency’s current thinking. Several of the drug sponsors expressed concern over whether they could rely on these documents for guidance and suggested written guidance was needed for the QIDP designation.”The lack of clarity on the role of draft guidance for and the lack of written guidance on the QIDP designation create uncertainty for drug sponsors about how much reliance they should place on these draft documents and could diminish the likelihood that drug sponsors apply for the designation because they do not fully understand its requirements and benefits,” the report states.The GAO recommends that the FDA clarify how drug sponsors should use draft guidance documents and develop written guidance on the QIDP designation and its incentives.Mar 2 GAO report Study: De-escalation to ertapenem is safe, effective in ESBL pathogensA new study indicates ertapenem can be used as a de-escalation therapy for extended-spectrum beta-lactamase (ESBL)-producing Enterobacteriaceae infections, particularly urinary tract and bloodstream infections.In the randomized controlled trial published in BMC Infectious Diseases, 66 patients being treated at a hospital in Thailand for documented ESBL-producing Enterobacteriaceae infections from 2011 to 2014 were assigned to two groups: A control group of 34 patients who continued receiving standard group 2 carbapenems (imipenem, meropenem, doripenem, and biapenem) as empirical therapy, and an intervention group of 32 patients who were de-escalated to ertapenem, a narrower-spectrum group 1 carbapenem. The patients primarily had urinary tract infections and bacteremia.The primary outcome was clinical cure rate at end of therapy. Secondary outcomes included microbiological eradication rate, superimposed infection rate during study treatment, 28-day mortality rate, and adverse drug reactions.By using a 15% predefined margin, ertapenem was considered non-inferior to the control group regarding the clinical cure rate (% change = 14.0) the microbiological eradication rate (% change = 4.1), and the superimposed infection rate (% change = −16.5). Patients in the de-escalation group also had a significantly lower 28-day mortality rate (9.4% vs. 29.4%; P  = .05), a significantly shorter median length of stay (16.5 days vs. 20.0 days P  = .04), and a significantly lower defined daily dose of carbapenem use (12.9 ± 8.9 vs. 18.4 ± 12.6; P  = .05).”These findings confirm the efficacy of ertapenem and are consistent with the findings previously documented in many observational cohort studies,” the authors write, adding that a study in the cost-effectiveness of de-escalation to ertapenem would also be useful. Mar 1 BMC Infect Dis study NDM-1-producing A baumanni identified in EthiopiaA new study in BMC Infectious Diseases describes the identification of three Acinetobacter baumanniisolates carrying the carbapenem-resistance gene NDM-1 in Ethiopia. It’s the first time organisms carrying the gene have been found in the country.According to the study, the three A baumanni isolates were among 224 gram-negative isolates obtained from clinical infections and routine clinical specimens at a hospital in Jimma City, Oromiya regional state, between January 2014 and June 2015. Antimicrobial susceptibility testing and molecular characterization revealed that the isolates, which came from three different patients, were meropenem-resistant and NDM-1 positive. Two of the patients survived their infections, and the third died.Genetic sequencing identified the three isolates’ sequence type as ST957, suggesting a different origin from an NDM-1-positive A baumanni strain that had caused an outbreak in Kenya and was, to this point, the only other documented NDM-1-positive A baumanni in East Africa. The authors note that this finding argues against the regional spread of NDM-1-positive organisms and potentially indicates independent import of strains from other regions.None of the other bacterial isolates analyzed in the study have been found to harbor the NDM-1 gene so far, and attempts to see if the A baumanni isolates could transfer the gene to strains of Escherichia coliwere not successful under laboratory conditions. But the authors warn that natural transmission to other bacteria is likely, “given the evident lack of hygienic precautions due to limited resource settings.””It is further likely, that the detected isolates are solely the tip of the iceberg regarding the presence of NDM-1 producing organisms in the region, as only a limited number of bacterial isolates could be evaluated,” the authors write.Mar 1 BMC Infect Dis study Study identifies risk factors for MRSA, VRE in NICU patientsOriginally published by CIDRAP News Mar 2Surgery and prolonged antimicrobial treatment can increase the risk of methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) and vancomycin-resistant enterococci (VRE) colonization in infants prior to neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) discharge, according to a study yesterday in the Journal of the Pediatric Infectious Diseases Society.For the study, New York researchers identified 1,320 infants younger than 7 days of age who had been hospitalized for more than 2 weeks at four children’s hospitals from 2009 to 2012 and had been swabbed for surveillance cultures for MRSA and VRE within 7 days of NICU discharge. Although it’s known that infants hospitalized in the NICU can be at risk of infection with one of these pathogens and can serve as a reservoir for them, MRSA and VRE colonization rates preceding NICU discharge have not been well studied.The results of the surveillance cultures showed that, among the 1,320 infants, 58 (4%) were colonized with MRSA and 17 (1%) were colonized with VRE within 7 days of NICU discharge. Final multivariable models revealed that surgical procedures were a statistically significant predictor of MRSA colonization (OR, 2.83, P = .01), while 10 days or more of treatment with oxacillin (OR, 23.40, P  < .01) or penicillin/ampicillin (OR, 6.26, P < .01) was a statistically significant predictor of VRE colonization.The authors conclude that while the study found only a small percent of infants harbor MRSA and VRE prior to NICU discharge, the findings "have potential implications for dissemination of these potential pathogens, particularly MRSA, into long-term care facilities, other hospital units, and the communities."Mar 1 J Pediatric Infect Dis study Study: Prior antibiotic use may raise risk of resistant urinary tract infectionsOriginally published by CIDRAP News Mar 1Receiving two or more antibiotic regimens is associated with an increased risk of gram-negative pathogens in patients with hospital-onset urinary tract infections (UTIs), according to a study yesterday in BMC Infectious Diseases.The retrospective, observational study examined discharge data on hospital patients who had a positive urine culture for gram-negative bacteria and received an antibiotic against gram-negative bacteria from January 2012 through March 2013. The researchers were looking to determine if prior antibiotic exposure in these UTI patients affected the distribution and non-susceptibility patterns of key gram-negative pathogens.The gram-negative organisms of interest were Escherichia coli, Klebsiella pneumoniae, Pseudomonas aeruginosa, and other members of the Enterobacteriaceae family. Organisms were assessed for susceptibility to fluoroquinolones, carbapenems, and piperacillin/tazobactam.A total of 5,574 unique UTI episodes were included in the analysis (2,027 in patients with prior antibiotic exposure, 3,547 in patients with no prior antibiotic exposure) and 6,093 pathogens were isolated from urine cultures. The most commonly isolated pathogens were E coli (49.5%), K pneumoniae (17.1%), and P aeruginosa (8.2%). P aeruginosa was isolated significantly more often from patients who had at least two prior antibiotic exposures (12.6%) than in patients with no prior antibiotic exposure (8.2%) or with one prior exposure (7.9%). Distribution trends for other pathogens were not affected by the presence or absence of antibiotics.In addition, the results showed that among all the pathogens of interest, two or more prior antibiotic exposures were associated with slightly higher incidences of fluoroquinolone nonsusceptibility, multidrug resistance, and extended-spectrum beta lactamase phenotypes than were one or no previous antibiotic exposures. This trend, the researchers note, was largely driven by susceptibility pattern changes observed in K pneumoniae isolates.Although the findings could not substantiate prior antibiotic exposure as an independent risk factor for drug-resistant UTIs, the authors argue that it is an easily identifiable variable that can be used to guide empirical therapy.Feb 28 BMC Infect Dis study  Poll shows most Americans know little about superbugsOriginally published by CIDRAP News Mar 1A new poll shows that more than two thirds of Americans are in the dark about the threat of antibiotic-resistant "superbugs," and more than half think antibiotics are effective against viral infections.The poll, conducted online Feb 6 through 8 by HealthDay News and The Harris Poll, included 2,202 adults. In the poll, 69% of respondents said they know little or nothing about the superbug problem, while 53% said antibiotics work against viral infections, 40% said they work against the common cold, and 48% said that antibiotics can be used against the flu. The numbers were even higher for younger respondents."This poll shows that public ignorance is a huge part of the problem," Humphrey Taylor, chairman emeritus of the Harris Poll, told HealthDay News. "Millions of patients continue to believe that antibiotics will help them recover from colds, flu, and other viral infections."On a positive note, HealthDay News reports that when asked to pick from a list of possible causes of antibiotic resistance, roughly two thirds of respondents selected inappropriate antibiotic prescriptions. And 90% said the public "bears some responsibility" in fighting antibiotic resistance.Research by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Pew Charitable Trusts shows that at least 30% of outpatient antibiotic prescriptions in the United States are inappropriate. The data show that most unnecessary antibiotics are prescribed for respiratory conditions caused by viruses, including common colds, bronchitis, and sinus and ear infections. Feb 27 HealthDay News article Report: Sharp rise seen in colistin prescriptions in English hospitalsOriginally published by CIDRAP News Mar 1Prescriptions for the last-resort antibiotic colistin rose by 40% from 2014 to 2015 in English hospitals, according to a story by the Bureau of Investigative Journalism.Data from Public Health England obtained by the bureau showed that defined daily doses of colistin rose from 346,143 in 2014 to 485,024 in 2015, and have been on the rise every year since 2010.Medical experts tell the bureau that the rise in colistin prescriptions is an indication that multidrug-resistant infections—such as carbapenem-resistant Enterobacteriaceae—are becoming more common. Colistin, which was introduced in the early 1970s and then withdrawn because it can cause damage to the kidneys, is considered a last option for treatment of infections that don't respond to other antibiotics.Concerns about emerging colistin resistance have been growing since late 2015, when researchers discovered a highly mobile gene (known as MCR-1) that confers resistance to colistin in E coli samples from humans, pigs, and pork products. Since then, the MCR-1 gene has been identified in various human and animal bacteria in more than 30 countries, including the United Kingdom.Michael Weinbren, MD, an infectious disease expert with the Chesterfield Royal Hospital NHS Foundation Trust, told the bureau that growing use of colistin in human medicine will aid the spread of MCR-1. "The one thing you can be sure of is that the organisms will develop resistance," he said.The bureau also reports that the UK's Veterinary Medicines Directorate last year licensed three new products containing colistin for use on British farms. The emergence and spread of the MCR-1 gene in China, which had widely used colistin in food-animal production, prompted Chinese officials to ban the drug as an animal feed additive in 2016.Feb 24 Bureau of Investigative Journalism story  WHO calls for R&D into drug-resistant tuberculosis treatmentOriginally published by CIDRAP News Feb 28The World Health Organization (WHO) issued a statement today reaffirming the need for more research and development on new antibiotics for multidrug-resistant tuberculosis (MDR-TB)."Addressing drug-resistant TB research is a top priority for WHO and for the world," WHO Director-General Margaret Chan, MD, MPH, said in a press release. "More than US $800 million per year is currently necessary to fund badly needed research into new antibiotics to treat TB."The statement comes a day after the agency released a list of antibiotic-resistant "priority pathogens" for which new antibiotics are urgently needed. WHO officials said in a press conference yesterday that although drug-resistant TB is the most important priority for development of new antibiotics, it was not included on that list because it is already recognized as a top public health threat and is targeted by dedicated programs.The WHO estimates there were 580,000 cases of MDR-TB globally in 2015 and 250,000 related deaths. Only two new antibiotics to treat MDR-TB have completed phase 2B trials in the past 50 years, the agency said, and both are still in phase 3 trials. Feb 28 WHO press release Study details drug-resistant bloodstream risks in organ transplantsOriginally published by CIDRAP News Feb 28A study yesterday in BMC Infectious Diseases details the factors most associated with mortality in abdominal organ transplant recipients with multidrug-resistant bloodstream infections.In the retrospective study, investigators analyzed all episodes of multidrug-resistant gram-negative bacteremia (MDR-GNB) in abdominal solid organ transplant (ASOT) recipients at two Chinese hospitals from 2003 to 2016. Although the emergence of MDR-GNB in organ transplant recipients has been documented, information on risk factors for mortality has been scarce. To identify those risk factors, the investigators compared two groups of patients: those who survived and those who died within 30 days after the first episode of MDR-GNB.During the 13-year study period, 2,169 patients underwent ASOT, and 99 MDR gram-negative samples (4.6%) were isolated from 91 patients with bloodstream infections. Of the 99 MDR-GNB isolates, 29 (29.3%) were E coli, 24 (24.2%) were A baumanni, 11 (11.1%) were Escherichia cloacae, and 10 (10.1%) were K pneumoniae. The incidence of MDR-GNB was higher in liver recipients (12.3%) than in kidney recipients (2.6%). MDR-GNB-related 30-day mortality after the first episode of MDR-GNB was 39.6% (36 deaths).Comparison of the two groups of patients showed that nosocomial origin, presence of other concomitant bloodstreams infections, increased creatinine level, and septic shock were the main risk factors for MDR-GNB–related mortality in ASOT recipients. Septic shock led to a 160-fold increase in mortality and was the strongest predictor of outcomes in multivariate models."Recognition of these factors is useful in identifying individuals who are at risk of mortality," the authors write.Feb 27 BMC Infect Dis study Researchers say antibiotic stewardship app boosted complianceOriginally published by CIDRAP News Feb 28A study today in the Journal of Antimicrobial Chemotherapy reports that converting antimicrobial stewardship policies to a smartphone app modestly boosted compliance with prescribing policy at three hospitals in London, England.The study looked at the 3 years before and after the 2011 rollout of the Imperial antibiotic prescribing policy application (IAPP), which was launched at the three main hospitals of Imperial College Healthcare Trust Hospitals in west London. The hospitals already had a multimodal antimicrobial stewardship program (ASP) in place; the purpose of IAPP was to make antimicrobial prescribing policy available at the point of care.To measure the impact on antimicrobial prescribing pre- and post-IAPP adoption, the investigators chose three proxy indicators: adherence of choice of antimicrobial to local policy or microbiology/infectious disease team recommendation, documentation of stop or review dates on medication charts, and documentation of indication on medication charts. Data from general medical and surgical patients were analyzed separately.The results of the interrupted time series analysis showed that compliance with policy increased in both medicine and surgery after IAPP was implemented, although the change in level of compliance was statistically significant only in surgery. IAPP also improved the documentation of the stop/review date in both medical and surgical specialties, but the improvement was not significant. Documentation of indication for prescribing, however, decreased significantly in both medicine and surgery after IAPP was implemented. In conclusion, the authors note that the addition of IAPP to a multifaceted ASP did not demonstrate significant change in antimicrobial prescribing trends. The added value, they write, is in the "reach and access to the antimicrobial prescribing policy among a wider range of staff across our organization."      Feb 28 J Antimicrob Chemother studylast_img read more

Heartbreak hotels

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Medics for Spinningfields

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GE Considering Asset Sale to Get Alstom Deal

first_imgPress Release, May 20, 2014; Image: alstom The American energy giant General Electric (GE) is considering an asset sale to French companies in order to get the French government’s nod for the Alstom deal.According to Bloomberg, GE is in talks with French companies over possible ventures in Alstom’s nuclear, wind turbine and rail signaling businesses, or even a sale thereof.Even though GE would prefer not to sell anything, it is willing to be flexible in order to get this deal.Last month, the company made an official €12.4 billion bid for Alstom’s energy businesses to which the French government said it does not want to make any hasty decisions.The French government stated earlier that they were worried about preserving the jobs and the country’s energy independence.On the other hand, French Economy and Industry Minister Arnaud Montebourg would prefer a deal with Siemens, which is yet to submit an official offer.last_img read more

Solicitors ‘key’ to increasing judicial diversity

first_imgPersuading more solicitors to apply for judicial posts is ‘absolutely key’ to increasing diversity in the judiciary, the chairwoman of the Advisory Panel on Judicial Diversity told the Gazette this week, as the panel published a raft of recommendations aimed at improving diversity on the bench. Baroness Neuberger said law firms should regard it as their ‘public duty’ to encourage their lawyers to take up part-time judicial work, in the same way that they undertake pro bono work. Five leading City firms which formed a working group to inform the review also pledged to lead the way in ensuring greater participation on the bench from City solicitors. Magic circle firms Linklaters, Clifford Chance, Allen & Overy, Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer and City firm Herbert Smith called for a change in ‘present custom’ so that ‘solicitors in their 40s’ should be encouraged by firms to take on a fee-paid recorder role, rather than firms regarding this as a ‘quick way out of serious work’. The firms agreed to take the lead on the issue and set up a monitoring group to assess what progress they have made. Neuberger’s report makes 53 recommendations to increase diversity. These include ensuring that flexible working is offered much more widely to attract the ‘large numbers of ­talented women who are lost to the profession when they have a family’. Further proposals include revising the Judicial Appointments Commission’s criteria for assessing merit to include a reference to diversity; simplifying the payment regime for solicitor fee-paid judges to remove tax complications; turning the Judicial Studies Board into a college which would provide courses to support applicants, including those who have had a career break; and encouraging lawyers in the public sector to apply for fee-paid roles in jurisdictions where a conflict is unlikely to arise. Neuberger, who was commissioned by justice secretary Jack Straw to write the 110-page report and sought the views of around 180 people, told the Gazette there needed to be a ‘change of heart’ among law firms in the way they view judicial appointments. She added: ‘The City firms all do pro bono work, and this should be part of it. It also looks very good for law firms to have a judge coming from that firm.’ Neuberger added that she is confident the proposals will be implemented.last_img read more

How to help local authorities build homes

first_imgThe announcement this week by the Conservatives to help councils and housing associations build thousands of new homes, including offering councils more money if they can demonstrate need, allowing them to borrow more, and changing the prohibitive rules that mean councils must purchase land at market value – if they win the election of course – is welcome news. Curiously, few people have mentioned the route that built hundreds of thousands of homes each year throughout the post-war period until the late 1970s:  restoring the responsibility of councils to build their own housing. In terms of sheer numbers of houses built, the decades from the 1940s to the 1970s were a golden age – 425,000 houses were built in 1968 alone. Compare that to 2015/16, when Britain, with a far bigger population to house, build just 190,000. Recent figures showed fewer affordable homes had been built in the past year than any time in the past 24 years, while there was a 52% fall in the supply of new homes in just 12 months Councils will be allowed to sell off a proportion of the new homes under the Right to Buy scheme and use the proceeds to build more council housing.  Again, this is promising: a contributing factor to the current housing crisis is the Right to Buy legislation of the Thatcher years not being matched by replacement building of affordable and social housing. The charity Shelter revealed in 2015 that a third of councils in England had not replaced a single home sold through the Right to Buy scheme since 2012. Despite those warnings, as recently as March this year it was revealed councils have been forced to pay more than £800m from Right to Buy sales to the Treasury over the past five years when the money could have been used to build over 12,000 additional council properties – almost double the number actually built since 2012. The will among some councils certainly seems to exist. Last year 38 councils set up their own housing company. Camden council paved the way as a housebuilder, launching new homes for sale on the open market under its own name. In November, it launched over 250 flats at King’s Cross Maiden Lane Estate, with plans for over 3,000 new homes across the borough, including Bloombsury and Holborn as well as King’s Cross. Although prices were in the neighbourhood of half-a-million, shared-ownership options are also available. Camden is blazing a further trail, using its new Community Investment Programme to sell land and bulldoze old estates to raise more than £1bn with profits from private sales put back into neighbourhoods, with 3,000 new low-cost homes planned.In March this year it was revealed councils have been forced to pay more than £800m from Right to Buy sales to the Treasury over the past five years when the money could have been used to build over 12,000 additional council propertiesAnother leader is Hackney, with a borough-wide 2,760-home estate regeneration programme, one of London’s largest programmes of building homes for social renting, shared ownership and private sale. The idea of council-owned housing companies is also growing in popularity in boroughs including Newham, Ealing and Greenwich. And it’s not just London where local authorities are springing into action; the Sheffield Housing Company (SHC) is partnering with contractors to build low-cost homes for first-time buyers and families alongside houses and flats for rent at affordable prices and offering better protection for tenants. There are other tools that can help councils in their building ambitions too. As they are subject to OJEU regulations for procuring projects, the Building Schools for the Future (BSF) framework (set up for large scale school builds in areas all across the country under the previous Labour government) provides a ready-made delivery vehicle that has already gone through OJEU. In Hackney, for example, it is being used to build two schools but also significant residential developments. Areas around competitive bidding, private sector skills, access to contracting organisations and developers who may be interested in investing early in a project, along with other mechanics of a big build are contained within the framework. The PPP model has been off the housing agenda for a while, but must inevitably make a comeback under these current circumstances. This would allow councils to roll out PRS models of housebuilding even more effectively than the private sector, as they can use joint ventures and will have improved access to land under the new Conservative proposals. Other welcome additions would be to change the “use class” associated with PRS, as currently when you go to planning you are effectively up against similar private for-sale models which are not necessarily appropriate. If building affordable homes is the objective, then a different use class would definitely help. It is time for central government to make some sensible changes and ensure the impetus shown by the likes of Camden and Hackney is able to be seized on by other enterprising councils across the land. This could be the road out of Britain’s housing crisis, once and for all. Mark Leeson is director of design at McBains Cooperlast_img read more

Thieves make off without cables

first_imgLaw enforcement officers with the cables that were almost stolen in Bonteheuwel. About 104 meters of feeder cable was recovered in Bonteheuwel on Saturday January 11.Law enforcement officers received information that a group was busy stealing cable belonging to Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa (Prasa) along the railway line in the hot-spot area of Assegaai Street.They followed up. Metro police spokesperson, Wayne Dyason, said: “Upon arrival at the scene, the suspects who had early warning systems in place to alert them of law enforcement officers, fled the area.”The feeder cable was recovered and no arrests were made.last_img

Outgoing SRA chair backs legal apprenticeships

first_imgA leading figure at the Solicitors Regulation Authority says he is confident about the future of the legal profession following the introduction of apprenticeships as an alternative route into the law.Charles Plant (pictured), who steps down as chair of the SRA board on 31 December, made the comments as he received a lifetime achievement award from the City of London Law Society at the British Legal Awards last week.He said: ‘It has been a pleasure and a privilege to spend over 40 years in my chosen profession.‘In that time, I’ve been involved in some key changes, not least solicitors’ rights to appear as advocates in the higher courts, and of course developing the SRA as chair.‘Looking ahead, it is, I think, the widening of access through the introduction of apprenticeships that gives me real confidence in the future of our profession.’Plant joined Herbert Smith & Co in 1967, where he was a litigation practitioner for nearly 40 years. He has been chair of the SRA board for the past five years.SRA chief executive Paul Philip said: ‘We, at the SRA, have benefited in many ways from Charles’ time with us, not only through his excellent leadership, direction and expertise, but also through the role model he has provided.’City of London Law Society chairman Alasdair Douglas praised Plant for recognising the need, and fighting for, proportionate regulation. ‘The City and the UK economy owe much to his guidance and direction,’ he said.Plant’s successor, Enid Rowlands, UK chair of charity Victim Support, will become the SRA’s first non-lawyer chair in January 2015.last_img read more