Daily Postcard: A raven nest spotted in North Mesa Canyon from San Ildefonso Road. Photo by Cristal Aguilar
World renowned jazz musician Judy Carmichael hosted a book party celebrating her latest book, Swinger!, on Sunday at the American Hotel in Sag Harbor. Guests enjoyed champagne, hors d’oeuvres, music, and a meet and greet with the author. Share
Twenty-five Non-governmental organizations and academic partners, eight Federal, six State, and nine New York City agencies joined earlier this month Col. David Caldwell of the U.S. Army Corps’ New York District commander and his staff aboard the Army Corps vessel DCV Hayward for a harbor inspection. The Corps provided a unique forum for agency heads and civic leaders to highlight joint accomplishments, and showcase various ongoing projects in the Estuary.Discussed was future partnering opportunities, ecosystem restoration successes, navigation activities, deepening and maintaining the federal channels, and waterfront planning.As the vessel traveled along the harbor inspection track, various speakers took to the microphone and elaborated about each project. Overviews were presented by the Corps’ New York District. Joseph Seebode, Deputy District Engineer for Programs and Project Management spoke about the Civil Works program, and Thomas Creamer, Chief Operations Officer spoke about Harbor Operations.Paul Tumminello, Chief of the Army Corps’ New York District Civil Works Branch, discussed the tremendous success of the 50 foot deepening of 35 miles of navigation channels within the Port. “Completion of this $1.6 Billion Civil Works 50 foot Harbor Deepening Project will ensure the Port continues to serve as an economic engine to the region.”The economic viability of the Port must be balanced with the restoration of the estuary. The beneficial use of dredged material from the Harbor Deepening project has resulted in significant success stories including the restoration of more than 160 acres of marsh islands in Jamaica Bay, the stabilization of the shoreline at Plumb Beach, and restoration at Lincoln Park in Jersey City.It’s believed that this annual event is one of a kind in the Corps where so many various agencies assemble outside a conference room to synchronize, develop and discuss a diverse range of planning, problem solving, evaluations and strategies.
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A housing shortage in the UK has been apparent for a number of years, and is particularly acute in the urban conurbations that are key to the nation’s economy. The challenge which the government and developers face is how to manage this, especially where key workers cannot access the housing market.Official figures show that more than 12,000 social homes were sold off in 2014/15 and that local authorities plan to replace fewer than 2,000. Over a third of the properties have been bought in London, with tenants being able to take a discount of up to £102,700 against the market value, and up to £77,000 elsewhere in England.While the government is pleased to have increased the number of people fulfilling their aspirations to become homeowners, questions remain: Who is going to pay for the replacement homes and what form will those homes take? Most importantly, how as an industry are we going to be able to produce the number of new homes required, irrespective of tenure type?Now the government has announced that it will extend the right to buy to those socially renting housing association properties on the same basis, there is considerable concern that even more social homes will be lost and not replaced.Former Labour housing minister John Healey says that if George Osborne presses ahead with his controversial right to buy scheme it will lead to a shortage of affordable homes that will allow landlords to put up rents and leave taxpayers having to pay billions of pounds more in housing benefits – but is he right?The opposition believes the number of affordable homes available will decrease and boost the cost to local authorities of housing the homeless, especially as there are no clear plans to show how these homes will be replacedPossibly compounding the reduction in available affordable homes through the extension of right to buy, the government has a new initiative called the Social Mobility Fund, which will be offered to tenants from April 2016. The details are still emerging, but indications are that £84m has been set aside to offer social tenants cash incentives of up to £30,000 in London and £20,000 across England to buy a different home on the open market, thereby releasing their existing affordable home back onto the market.The initiative will be administered by local authorities who will be invited to bid for a proportion of the fund, which can then be offered to their tenants. According to the government this initiative is to help those that cannot afford or do not want to exercise their right to buy on their existing properties, such as older tenants seeking to move into more appropriate accommodation. While this may release more affordable homes back into the mix, one suspects it will not be enough to cover the number of right to buy purchases and address the increasing need for affordable homes.The opposition believes that, in overall terms, the number of affordable homes available will decrease and therefore boost the cost to local authorities of housing those in need, especially as there are no clear plans to show how these homes will be replaced through the traditional Section 106 route.This issue is further impacted by the starter homes consultation, where the government is exploring the following:Local planning authorities should not seek Section 106 affordable housing and tariff-style contribution on starter homesLocal planning authorities should exempt the homes from the Community Infrastructure LevyThe opportunity to introduce a new National Exception Site Planning Policy to enable starter homes to be built on underused or unviable commercial or industrial sites not currently identified for housingThis is supposed to allow developers to offer starter homes to be built and sold to first-time buyers only on these sites, at a minimum 20% discount below their open market value.It is likely that these initiatives will continue to stimulate the housing market for developers, but is it appropriate that this will also attract housing associations to go further down the route of open market developments in order to fund their social housing requirement? Is this the right thing to do when they are traditionally not developers? Is it a distraction to their core role? How will local authorities react to the lack of planning powers to enforce on site delivery of social housing and still address the increasing need for affordable homes in their areas?Perhaps we should be pushing government to fund social housing centrally from the receipts that the right to buy policy has received already. It has been reported that some £358m has been raised through right to buy since its launch, but there is little information regarding where these funds have been allocated.It is also going to be interesting to see how local authorities are going to be able to “pepper pot” tenures across new developments, especially if the starter home initiative comes forward.As always, resolving the issue comes down to finance, resource, capability and effectiveness. Will the fundamental concern that we are not building enough new homes be addressed through any of these initiatives?Debbie Aplin is managing director of Crest Nicholson Regeneration
Shivani Wahab, regional spokesperson, South African Social Security Agency (SASSA)In response to last week’s article (“Card fraud woes haunt pensioner,” Athlone News, November 20), where James Matthews, 90, said R3 000 was fraudulently taken from his Sassa card, Sassa can confirm that Mr Matthews’s Sassa card was not cancelled. It is still active.However, after the alleged fraudulent transaction on the card on Saturday November 2, Mr Matthews went on to open a bank account at a bank of his choice. We can confirm that the social grant payment for Mr Matthews for the month of December will be paid into his bank account.In respect of other social-grant beneficiaries affected nationally by fraud, a total of 6 000 social grant payments were initially stopped, and, in August, the number was then reduced to 500 suspended social-grant accounts. Sassa went through an intensive process of studying trends linked to social grant fraud. Systems and controls have since been tightened.Please note that Sassa has zero tolerance for fraud, and we are working with banks and other relevant stakeholders to ensure that fraud within the system is defeated. Sassa would like to advise social-grant beneficiaries who suspect any fraudulent activities taking place on their social-grant account or whose payments have been stopped, to visit their nearest Sassa local office. The beneficiary will have to complete an affidavit. This can be done at their nearest Sassa or post office, and the beneficiary may be referred to SAPS to open a criminal case.The turn-around time for investigations into fraudulent transactions is 21 working days.Sassa social-grant beneficiaries are responsible for ensuring that their information with Sassa is accurate and current at all times. Updating personal information can be done at the nearest Sassa office.Sassa remains committed to ensuring that social grant money is received by every citizen who is entitled to this, in line with our commitment of paying the right grant to the right person at the right time and place.
BULGARIA: Plans to restructure state rail operator BDZ on a holding company model were signed-off by Minister of Transport, Communications & Information Technology Alexander Tsvetko on October 22.National Railway Infrastructure Company is already responsible for infrastructure. The latest plans will see BDZ EAD established as a holding company with two subsidiaries covering passenger and freight operations. All locomotives and rolling stock will be allocated to the subsidiaries, with the holding company retaining only assets intended for disposal. In the longer term the freight business could be sold. The measure is intended to provide financial stability, and BDZ said it will provide greater flexibility and efficiency in strategic decision making.
EUROPE: InRail has begun operating cross-border freight services between Nova Gorica in Slovenia and destinations in Italy, making it the second Italian rail company approved to operate in Slovenia after Trenitalia.InRail was formed in 2009 and now operates around 80 trains/week, mainly carrying metals, timber and coal. Its first train from Slovenia was operated on behalf of Acciaierie Bertoli Safau on January 17, and regular services began in February. Traffic is expected to reach six trains/week.
“VisitScotland is supporting this additional guidance from the Scottish Government. It has become apparent in recent days that people have not been following current guidelines and putting lives at risk. To read the statement from the First Minister in full, visit: https://www.gov.scot/publications/coronavirus-covid-19-update-first-ministers-speech-22-march-2020/ AddThis Sharing ButtonsShare to FacebookFacebookFacebookShare to TwitterTwitterTwitterShare to LinkedInLinkedInLinkedInIn response to today’s (Sunday 22nd March) coronavirus briefing from the First Minister: VisitScotland supports the announcement from the Scottish Government that additional steps have been taken to help protect our remote and rural communities due to significant pressure from visitors. VisitScotland is urging people to follow current advice: not to travel unless it is essential and to follow the social distancing advice and stay close to home.Ferry operators – which have already suspended bookings – have been advised to no longer take non-essential travellers. Those who do not normally live on the islands and have travelled there in the last few days will be able to leave to reduce pressure.Hotels, B&Bs and self-catering accommodation have been advised to no longer accept visitors. Accommodation can be provided for staff and to help essential works and to support essential services.VisitScotland Chief Executive Malcolm Roughead said: “There will be a time when we can welcome visitors back with open arms to enjoy all that is special about beautiful Scotland – but now is a time for staying safe and close to home.” “We welcome this additional guidance for visitors, as well as for our tourism operators. We understand that it is a particularly worrying and stressful time for everyone. We want to protect our communities right across the country for the future as they are what make the visitor experience so special.
Tweet 599 Views no discussions Share Share Sharing is caring! Share BusinessLocalNews Housing projects contracted to MMCE are ‘real’ by: Dominica Vibes News – August 7, 2018 Christopher Timmins, Project Manager of Montreal Management Consultants EST (MMCE)Projects undertaken by Montreal Management Consultants EST (MMCE) are real, Project Manager Christopher Timmins has said. He made this statement while presenting the Vieille Case Housing and Community Projects during a symposium there on Sunday 5 August 2018. “Sometimes people doubt the existence of the projects and think they are PR exercises. Every project I’ve mentioned that we’re involved in is a real project, is on the ground and is happening,” Timmins said.He showed picture evidence to those present on the progress being made on the various projects. The project at Bellevue Chopin, he said, is the most advanced with some of the facilities to be handed over to residents in about four weeks’ time. “We have three hundred and forty residencies in Bellevue Chopin with the first residencies online to be handed over on the 31st of August. There’s a new farmers’ market, a new community center, there’s a shopping mall.”One of the dwelling houses at Bellevue Chopin (Housing Dominica Facebook)Work continues to advance in Georgetown, Cotton Hill and in the east on residencies and community facilities. “Georgetown phase 1 sixty-eight residencies, phase 2 a hundred and sixty-eight residencies, public services buildings, emergencies services buildings, fire station, commercial units, theatres and local government offices [and] Cotton Hill, sixty-eight residencies,” he said. Apartment units will be constructed in Delices, San Sauveur, Grand Fond, La Plaine and Castle Bruce; each with sixty-six residencies. Meanwhile in Roseau, the Roseau City Square will comprise of a hundred and thirty-five residencies and fifteen retail units. Timmins revealed that contracts have been exchanged with the main contractor for this project and is due to start very soon.In Vieille Case thirty residencies, a community center and a health center will be constructed by MMCE.