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Issue:- 27 January 2010

Strike action at Liverpool Hope University in jobs row

STAFF at Liverpool Hope University refused to rule out strike action following confirmation that over 100 jobs are set to be lost at the institution, and at least 60 will be academic posts.  The University and College Union (UCU) has accused the university of making ill-informed decisions. The union says the institution must wait until its financial future becomes clearer before axing staff. At an emergency union meeting yesterday UCU members at Liverpool Hope University launched a campaign to save jobs and called for a ballot for industrial action.

Liverpool Hope University has a good reputation for its teacher training courses and UCU believes that the institution’s management has reacted excessively to government ideas on its future. In a November white paper, the education secretary, Michael Gove, set out his plans to shift teacher training away from universities and focus it in schools.

The union says the university cannot axe jobs when it does not yet know what its teaching grant will be, what its quota of training places from the Training and Development Agency (TDA) will be, what the outcome of the government’s proposals on the future of teaching training will be, or what level of tuition fee it will charge from 2012.

UCU is one of many critics of Michael Gove’s plans. Responding to the white paper, Professor Sir Robert Burgess, vice-chancellor of the University of Leicester and chair of the universities’ umbrella group’s Teacher Education Advisory Group said:- “Research and inspection evidence is unequivocal: the best teacher education happens when universities and schools co-operate as full partners in the design, development and delivery of teacher education for the development of excellent teachers.”

UCU regional official, Martyn Moss, said:- “The university does not know what is happening to teacher education, it does not know what grant money it is going to receive and it does not know, or is not telling us, what level of fee it will charge from 2012. You just cannot operate like this.   Making sweeping cuts to the university will not be easy to undo and the worst thing any institution can do right now is to make ill-informed decisions with serious short and long-term implications. Strike action is always a last resort but we have seen very little from the university management so far that gives us the confidence that the proposals have been properly thought through.”

UNISON Members at Liverpool Hope University were angry to learn that certain members of senior management have been given a sum of £5,000 as a supplementary payment for ‘acting up’ as Departmental Heads This is in the context of proposed cuts at the University which may lead to a reduction in staff levels. This is all as a result of a reduction in funding from Central Government.

Members are upset because they see management actions as undermining existing principles of consultation and partnership working with the union. 

The union only found out about these payments in an indirect way at a time when members feel insecure and uncertain about their future employment prospects.  They now feel confidence in their employer has gone. Morale is very low and this will have a detrimental effect on providing a decent service for students at the University.

UNISON Area organiser Raph Parkinson says:- “Our members anger is understandable considering that the total payments amounts to £45,000 which could finance a number low paid posts earnings. Furthermore the University has yet to receive the final settlement from the Government and therefore the level of their proposals to reduce staffing levels may well be premature are they attempting to scare our members to accept lower terms and conditions ?”

Motorcycle barriers first for North West

THE safety of the region’s motorcyclists is being boosted by the installation of new-style motorway safety barriers for the first time anywhere in the North West

Work to provide the new ‘motorcycle-friendly’ barriers; along slip roads on the M56 in Cheshire and Greater Manchester - began on Wednesday on 19 January 2011 and is set to be completed by the middle of February.  The barriers are designed to prevent motorcyclists slipping under them and colliding with the barrier posts or lamp columns and sign posts behind.

The work is being done on the eastbound exit slips at Junction 12 at Runcorn and Junction 6 at Manchester Airport. In the last five years each exit slip has recorded three serious collisions involving motorcyclists and the safety barriers.

The £135,000 project also involves moving street furniture such as sign posts and lamp columns to further boost passive safety along the slip roads.  Work at Junction 12 was completed and work on Junction 5 starts on Wednesday, 29 January 2011.

Both schemes involve working overnight only between 10pm and 5am. To allow the work, Junction 12 is currently closed overnight with traffic diverted down to junction 11, turning around and then exiting at Junction 12 along the westbound exit slip road. One lane on the Junction 5 eastbound exit slip road will remain open while overnight work is being done.

The new-style barriers are being installed as part of the Highways Agency’s ongoing programme, working alongside partners like the police and local councils in local road safety partnerships, to reduce road casualty numbers.

Highways Agency Project Sponsor Mark Mosley said:- “This work will improve safety along the slip roads for all motorway users but the new-style barriers have been installed specifically to help reduce the impact of collisions on motorcyclists.”

Bird And Bike Bonanza

LOCAL people are being invited to spread their wings this January and get involved in a bike ride with a difference.

Cycle Speke is calling all local bird and wildlife lovers to join local twitcher Chris Tynan from the RSPB on 2011’s first ‘Birding by Bike’ session, on Saturday, 29 January 2011. Chris will take cyclists on a bird watching tour of the Mersey Estuary giving riders the perfect opportunity to see and hear various species.

The 2010 sessions proved to be really popular - so why not get the new year off to the perfect start by joining in, improving your fitness, meeting new people and discovering more about the variety of birdlife and wildlife which exists in the area?

The leisurely-paced ride will take approximately two hours, will be over flat terrain and is aimed at beginners as well as those with some or without any bird watching experience.

There will be a number of scheduled stops en route along with additional impromptu stops in the event something interesting makes an appearance!

Meet at the main entrance of the Speke Garston Coastal Reserve (Banks Road) at 10am - everyone is welcome. The ride is free of charge and binoculars will be provided. Don't forget to bring a snack!

If you don't have a bike, don't worry! Cycle Speke has a limited number of pool bikes available. To book your bike in advance, please phone Claudia on:- 0151 233 5246 or you can email.

The Cycle Speke project is supported by the European Regional Development Fund.

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