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Northern rolls out new chemical free cleaner to bring:- 'Michelin star cleanliness' to train carriages AND cut down on plastic waste

NORTHERN has rolled out a new cleaning product which will leave its train interiors clean enough to eat from; and cut down on plastic waste.

The train operator will now use:- 'Clean Zero'; a chemical free cleaner created by re-engineering water in a 7 stage filtration process; across its fleet of 345 trains.

Created by global innovator 2San, its leaves surfaces with a cleanliness score of less than 5.0 in an:- 'ATP test.' Meaning surfaces score an:- 'Ultra Clean' rating; which is needed for food preparation and operating theatres.

ATP (Adenosine Triphosphate) testing records the energy molecule found in all living cells. It is used globally as an exact measurement of the cleanliness of a surface.

The move by Northern will also reduce the use of single use plastics as the train operator has installed refill Stations across its network; reducing the number of bottles used by 9,000 a year.

Richard Holt, head of train presentation, at Northern said:- "Customers rightly expect only the highest standards of cleanliness on-board our trains and we are confident that with this new product we will be able to achieve this. Clean Zero is also a chemical-free cleaner, which is better for the environment, and we will be using refillable bottles across our network to cut down on single use plastic."

Northern carries out train cleaning duties at 42 locations on its network, including:- 4 main TrainCare Centres at Allerton (Merseyside), Newton Heath (Grater Manchester), Heaton (Tyne & Wear) and Neville Hill (West Yorkshire).

Each year, the team carries out 695,000 'carriage cleans' and work their way through:- 32,759 microfibre cloths, 10,300 sponges, 1,724 litres of toilet cleaner and 2,265 litres of floor and surface cleaners. They also replenish some 26 million pieces of toilet tissue and 778 litres of hand soap.

Jason Tallamy, global brand director, at 2San said:- "We are delighted to be working in partnership with Northern as they spearhead the way forwards with chemical free cleaning in the rail sector. Not only is Clean Zero sustainable and kind to our environment, but it also provides increased OH&S for cleaning operatives and delivers outstanding cleaning results."

Children's social care placements costing £10,000 plus rise sharply in 5 years

THE number of children's social care placements costing £10,000 or more per week has risen by over:- 1,000%, in 5 years, a survey of Councils by the Local Government Association reveals.

There were 120 such placements in:- 2018/19, rising to:- 1,510 in 2022/23, while the proportion of Councils with at least 1 of these placements has increased from 23% to 91% over the same period.

The highest cost placement was £63,000 a week. For most Councils the highest cost fell between:- £9,600 and £32,500 a week.

Nearly every Council (98%) said a lack of choice in placements was driving the high prices.

93% of Councils also highlighted children needing help with increasingly complex needs, including mental health needs or exhibiting challenging behaviours, as a factor.

On the opening day of the National Children and Adult Services Conference in Bournemouth today, the LGA, which represents Councils, says the findings demonstrate that the market for children's social care placements is:- "broken."

Councils are working hard to expand placement capacity, including:- developing their own children's homes and running foster carer recruitment campaigns. However in light of significant challenges, they are calling for urgent investment in provision that can best meet children's needs.

The LGA has set out 3 key areas for Government action:-

Roll out planned Department for Education programmes on the recruitment and retention of foster carers to all Councils

Expansion of children's homes through capital investment, recruitment and professional development of children's homes workers and working with the voluntary and community sector

Work with DHSC and NHS England on both inpatient mental health facilities (the number of inpatient mental health beds for teenagers fell by 20% between 2017 and 2022) and joint delivery of placements for children with complex mental health needs

It is also vital that Councils are able to invest in earlier support for children and families to reduce the number of children who need to be in the care of their Council, and that Councils are provided with longer term funding settlements to enable them to plan ahead.

The LGA is calling for urgent funding for children's social care in the upcoming provisional Local Government Finance Settlement. It warned the lack of investment in the Autumn Statement risked Councils' ability to provide the critical care and support that children rely on every day.

Cllr Louise Gittins, Chair of the LGA's Children and Young People Board, said:- "With more children needing help with increasingly complex and challenging needs, what is most important is ensuring they get the best care and support. It is concerning that in many cases, a lack of choice means provision is not fully meeting children's needs. The astronomical costs of care placements mean there is less money available for Councils to spend on earlier support for children and families. These findings are indicative of a broken market for children's social care placements, but it doesn't have to remain this way. With cross-Government support, it is possible to make sure we have the right homes for all of the children in our care."

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