Tag Archives: Government


Press release: Secretary of State for NI statement

Speaking after this afternoon’s deadline for the formation of a new Northern Ireland Executive, Mr Brokenshire said:

It is extremely disappointing that an Executive has not been formed in Northern Ireland today.

There will be widespread dismay across the community.

Over the past three weeks we have been engaged in intensive talks and progress has been made on a number of issues.

These include work to set a budget, a Programme for Government and ways of improving governance, transparency and accountability for politics here in Northern Ireland.

We have made further moves forward on agreeing a way to implement the Stormont House legacy bodies to help provide better outcomes for victims and survivors of the troubles.

In addition there was progress made around how Northern Ireland’s interests would be represented in our negotiations to leave the EU as Article 50 is triggered on Wednesday.

Yet it is also clear that there remain significant gaps between the parties, particularly over issues surrounding culture and identity.

Throughout this process the UK Government has been active in making positive proposals to try and bridge these gaps and help the parties to move things forward.

Despite these efforts, agreement at this stage has not proved possible.

This will have impacts.

We are rapidly approaching the point at which Northern Ireland will not have an agreed budget.

This is not sustainable and will have consequences for public services.

From Wednesday financial resources to allow Northern Ireland’s Departments to deliver key public services will fall under the control of the Northern Ireland Civil Service.

I believe that there remains an overwhelming desire among the political parties and the public here for strong and stable devolved government.

I have spoken to the leaders of each of the main Parties this afternoon and there is no appetite for any alternative.

I will be making a Statement in Parliament tomorrow on next steps.

We now have a short window of opportunity to resolve outstanding issues and for an Executive to be formed.

Everyone owes it to the people of Northern Ireland to grasp that and provide the political leadership and the stability they want.

News story: New app to report Asian hornet sightings

The nation’s smartphones are the latest weapon in the fight to prevent the spread of the Asian hornet, thanks to a new app which has been launched today.

People will be able to use the free app – called Asian Hornet Watch – to quickly and easily report possible sightings of the invasive species and send pictures of suspect insects to experts at the National Bee Unit.

While Asian hornets pose no greater risk to human health than a bee, they are a threat to our native honey bees, which is why it is important to quickly contain them.

By using the eyes and ears of smartphone users, we can more quickly identify any Asian hornet nests in the UK and eradicate them before they have the opportunity to spread.

Biosecurity Minister Lord Gardiner said:

This innovative new app is designed to be easy to use and allows people to report quickly any possible sightings of Asian hornets, which will help us to halt their spread.

This invasive species poses a threat to our native honey bees and we must do all we can to encourage vigilance – this new technology will advance this.

The interactive app, developed by the Great Britain Non-native Species Secretariat and the Centre for Ecology and Hydrology, will also make it easier for people to judge whether an insect may actually be an Asian hornet; with pictures available of other insects that it could be confused with and helpful information about their size, appearance and the times of year they are most likely to be spotted.

If there is a sighting of the Asian hornet, the government’s well established protocol for eradicating the species will kick quickly into action: This was the case in Gloucestershire last Autumn, when bee inspectors rapidly tracked down and destroyed an Asian hornet nest, containing any further outbreak.

There are fears the pest could reappear this spring, so members of the public are being urged to report any sightings quickly to again allow inspectors to intervene. Asian hornets can be distinguished from their native counterparts by their abdomens, which are entirely dark except for a single band of yellow – native hornets’ abdomens are predominantly yellow.

Martin Smith, Public Affairs Manager at the British Beekeepers’ Association, said:

This new app launched today by Defra is a welcome addition to current reporting methods that have enabled beekeepers and members of the public to report possible sightings. The key to containment is catching outbreaks as early as possible and allowing fast tracking of the insects back to their nest. We will certainly be encouraging all our 25,000 beekeepers to install the app and use it if they see what might be an Asian hornet near their hives.

Asian hornets arrived in France in 2004 and have since spread across large areas of Western Europe. It was discovered for the first time in the British Isles in Jersey and Alderney last summer.

The native European hornet is a valued and important part of our wildlife, and queens and nests of this species should not be destroyed.

Notes to editors

  1. The ‘Asian Hornet Watch’ app is available to download from the Apple and Android app stores.

  2. The Great Britain Non-native Species Secretariat is a joint venture between Defra, the Scottish Government and the Welsh Government to tackle the threat of invasive species. More information can be found on their website http://www.nonnativespecies.org/home/index.cfm

  3. Members of the public can also report sightings by email to alertnonnative@ceh.ac.uk with a photo or on the Non-native Species Secretariat website.

  4. For details on the appearance of an Asian hornet please can be found on Bee Base guide or the non-native species identification guide.

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News story: Margot James launches Scale-Up Taskforce to identify barriers to small business growth

  • Launched as part of the Industrial Strategy, the Scale-Up Taskforce aims to increase the number of businesses expanding their operations
  • The focus will be on helping high-growth businesses to reach their full potential both at home and overseas
  • The taskforce will look at barriers to small business growth across different regions and sectors

On 21 March, Scale-Up Champion Margot James chaired the first meeting of a taskforce to help assess the barriers to growth facing UK businesses.

The Scale-Up Taskforce, which brings together entrepreneurs, investors and local bodies from across the country, was announced as part of the government’s commitment to a modern Industrial Strategy that helps small businesses thrive.

Sahar Hashemi, entrepreneur and founder of leading coffee chain Coffee Republic, will co-chair the regular taskforce meetings alongside Small Business Minister Margot James.

A ‘scale-up’ is an enterprise that is experiencing significant growth rates in employees and turnover, over a number of years. By examining scale-ups, the taskforce’s aim is to increase the number of businesses maximising opportunities available to achieve their full growth potential, which will in turn feed into the government’s Industrial Strategy.

Small Business Minister Margot James said:

This government is committed to ensuring the UK remains the best place in the world to start and grow a business. That means identifying and then helping those high-growth businesses to scale-up, go global and invest in their future.

I want to thank all the entrepreneurs and investors for coming along to the first Scale-Up Taskforce armed with ideas and enthusiasm, which I know will play an important role in building a modern Industrial Strategy.

Scale-Up Taskforce Co-Chair and entrepreneur Sahar Hashemi said:

We are already a start-up nation and now the opportunity is to become a scale-up nation – by removing the barriers and creating an ecosystem to enable the entrepreneurs who had the grit and determination to start a business to capitalise on opportunities this new global networked world brings and grow their businesses to scale.

The Scale-Up Taskforce will complement the new Entrepreneurship Review led by Professor Tim Dafforn, which will examine the entrepreneurial journey from starting-up to the point of scale-up, and the Patient Capital Review led by Damon Buffini.

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