Plastic sea pollution to be recycled into kayaks

Plastic being washed up on beaches and hauled up in fishing nets is being recycled and turned into kayaks.

It is part of a new scheme in Devon and Cornwall which is looking at different ways of cleaning up plastic sea pollution.

Neil Hembrow from Keep Britain Tidy said all the plastic collected is processed into pellets and then “melted and moulded into products”.

The kayaks will be used by community groups to clean up beaches.

man dragging kayak

The plastic gathered on beaches under the new scheme is brought to recycling centres in one of 11 harbours across the South West.

The idea is to turn washed-up plastic into a useful product.

Mr Hembrow said: “We do find, by weight, around about 80% of the waste is coming in from the marine environment.”

The fishing industry says it has had a project in place for more than 10 years to help with sea pollution.

Jim Portas, chief executive of South Western Fish Producer Organisation, said fishermen find an “awful lot of lightweight debris” coming up in their nets, as the nets come aboard.

“Fishermen are bringing that sort of plastic into the harbours to be disposed of and that finds its way to recycling centres,” he added.

The Marine Conservation Society said in the last five years, its volunteer beach cleaners have found over 42,000 items of fishing industry related litter on beaches in the South West.

It urges UK governments to “support recent EU proposals and tackle litter from ships, including fishing vessels” which will “change the 100% indirect fee for waste disposal from ships”.

The kayaks produced are due to be given to local community groups to clean up rivers and coastlines this spring.

Top women doctors lose out in NHS pay stakes

Senior NHS female doctors are earning less than their male counterparts, a BBC investigation shows.

Of the top 100 earning consultants in England, just five are women, despite more than a third of the workforce being female.

The top-paid man earned nearly £740,000 – two-and-a-half times that of the top woman.

On average, full-time women consultants earned nearly £14,000 a year less than men – a pay gap of 12%.

Senior female doctors described the findings as “disappointing” and said it showed more needs to be done to tackle the gender pay gap in medicine.

Pay chart

The figures were obtained by the BBC following requests to individual health trusts, the government and NHS Digital.

  • The top earning male consultant in England earned £739,460 in 2016-17
  • The best paid woman got £281,616 by comparison
  • On average, full-time men in England earned £127,683, nearly £14,000 more than full-time women
  • When you strip out overtime and bonuses and just look at basic pay there was nearly £1,500 difference
  • Six-and-a-half times as many men as women in England and Wales get the top platinum award bonus worth £77,000 a year
  • In Northern Ireland the gap between men and women’s gross earnings was over £8,000

Some doctors the BBC spoke to said some of the difference was probably down to the fact men were more likely to do overtime.

But they said it was clear some of the gap was unfair with the system of bonuses and awards weighted in favour of men.

‘Time to eliminate pay gap’

Dr Anthea Mowat, of the British Medical Association, said despite recent progress on gender pay, the figures obtained by the BBC showed there was “clearly still a long way to go”.

She said women needed more support, including leadership training, mentoring and more flexible working opportunities.

“With women making up the majority of medical graduates in recent years, it’s vitally important that we address the root causes of the gender pay gap, and develop a wider programme of work to eliminate it across the medical workforce,” she added.

Dr Jacky Davis, a radiologist and former chair of the NHS Consultants Association, said she was “surprised and disappointed” by the figures.

“Some of it we can explain – men are more likely to do overtime for example – but that doesn’t account for it all. In my experience men are better at pushing for more money, putting the case for awards and they get them.”

Pay chart: Women earn 12% less than men

Dr Sally Davies, of the Medical Woman’s Federation, agreed.

“We need to do more to support women. They often fall behind when they have children and have to take time off.

“By the time they get to the point where overtime is available or the awards are being handed out they find themselves behind men. It’s a serious problem.”

Danny Mortimer, chief executive of NHS Employers, said: “This appears to be a long-term and serious problem within the medical workforce which the government, the profession and employers are committed to resolving.”

He said one of the causes was the consultants’ contract – in the past it has been argued it allows high premiums to be charged for overtime and creates a bonus system that is skewed.

The government and BMA are currently in negotiations about the future of the contract.

The Department of Health and Social Care said: “We are committed to ensuring that our hardworking doctors are rewarded fairly and equally for their work — regardless of gender — and have commissioned an independent report alongside the medical profession to examine exactly how that can be achieved.”

Britain’s bus coverage hits 28-year low

Britain’s bus network has shrunk to levels last seen in the late 1980s, BBC analysis has revealed.

Rising car use and cuts to public funding are being blamed for a loss of 134 million miles of coverage over the past decade alone.

Some cut-off communities have taken to starting their own services, with Wales and north-west England hardest hit.

The government has encouraged councils and bus companies to work together to halt the decline.

One lobbying group fears the scale of the miles lost are a sign buses are on course to be cut to the same extent railways were in the 1960s.

Map showing that outside of London, bus networks in England are mostly getting smaller


New Volvo destroyed on A30 just four hours after leaving the showroom after driver ‘didn’t read the handbook’

We’ve all been there, sat behind the wheel of an unfamiliar car, trying to work out just what the buttons do.

However, not many of us have done that while travelling at 70mph on one of the south west’s busiest roads.

That was the story yesterday, when one driver managed to write off their brand new Volvo – just four hours after getting it on the road.

Officers from Devon’s Road Police Alliance shared a picture of the car after it went into the back of an HGV on the A30 near Cheriton Bishop on Saturday afternoon.

Police say no-one was injured in the crash as one officer tweeted: “Brand new Volvo meets slowing down Artic lorry. Not pretty, but no injuries. A30 westbound at Cheriton Bishop”

The officer later added: “The moral of the story is read your handbook, don’t try to figure out Cruise Control by looking down at wheel buttons! New car lasted 4hrs!” 

As well as cruise control the new Volvo come with city safety – front facing radar designed to prevent accidents by stopping the car automatically.

The police revealed the car was travelling at the national speed limit on this occasion, while city safety only works at up to 35mph.


Ex-Formula 1 boss Bernie Ecclestone ‘questioned under caution by HMRC at a London police station over tax on his £2.5billion empire’

  • The 87-year-old was allegedly questioned in long-running £1billion dispute
  • HMRC have been investigation offshore Bambino trust for more than 10 years
  • It was set up in 1997 and is thought to have raise £3billion from selling F1 stakes 

Former racing chief Bernie Ecclestone has been questioned as authorities intensified scrutiny in a £1billion probe, it has emerged.

The 87-year-old was reportedly quizzed under caution by HMRC in central London at a police station.

The ex-Formula 1 boss has consistently denied owing up to £1billion and was allegedly quizzed over his £2.5billion empire.

He was questioned as his 33-year-old daughter, Tamara, was called to an HMRC base, according to The Sun.

‘Bernie was given a date to be questioned by HMRC officials under caution about tax affairs,’ a source told the paper.

‘This is the first time he has been called in to face taxmen at a police station. It signals a significant move by HMRC in their long-running battle with Bernie.’

There is no suggestion Bernie has broken tax laws but investigators have been looking into his family’s Bambino trust for more than 10 years.

It was set up in 1997 by ex-wife Slavica and is based on Liechtenstein. Bambino trust is thought to have raised £3billion from selling F1 stakes.

Slavica, Tamara and her 28-year-old sister, Petra, are all beneficiaries of the trust.

When Bernie had a triple heart bypass in 1999, all of the share capital of F1’s parent company was transferred to a business called Petara in Jersey.

Slavica transferred the asset – his most valuable – in case he died.

She then moved the shares to the trust. The trust’s offshore location meant no tax was paid on the cash raised from selling the shares.

Bernie Ecclestone, pictured in Mayfair, London, with wife Fabiana, was questioned at a police station by HMRC

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NHS ‘should be funded by new tax’

A new ring-fenced tax to fund the NHS and social care has been proposed by a panel of health experts.

The panel, set up by the Liberal Democrats, says the NHS in England should be given an extra £4bn on top of inflation in the next financial year.

It has suggested replacing National Insurance with the new tax to close the funding gap.

A Department of Health and Social Care spokesperson said NHS funding “is at a record high”.

“[It] was prioritised in the Budget with an extra £2.8bn, on top of the additional £2bn already provided for social care over the next three years, and an additional £437m of funding for winter,” the spokesperson said.

The future of NHS money has been hotly debated as hospitals struggle to cope with the pressure on resources.

Last month, tens of thousands of non-urgent operations were delayed.

The 10-member panel included former NHS England chief executive Sir David Nicholson, Peter Carter, former chief executive of the Royal College of Nursing and Clare Gerada, former chairwoman of the Royal College of GPs.

It said on top of the £4bn extra needed for next year, an additional £2.5bn would be required for both 2019 and 2020.

As part of the recommendations, the panel also suggested reinstating a cap on the costs paid by individuals on social care.

In December, the government scrapped proposals to cap fees at £72,500.

It supported creating an office for budget responsibility for health and called for a series of incentives to get people to save more towards their adult social care.

The idea of a levy dedicated to funding the NHS was also suggested by former minister Nick Boles.

Mothers suffering ‘pay penalty’ at work, report suggests

Mothers in part-time jobs are being hit by a “pay penalty” and are often not given pay rises linked to experience, a new study has suggested.

The Institute for Fiscal Studies report found by the time a couple’s first child is aged 20, many mothers earn nearly a third less than the fathers.

A key factor was women working part-time in motherhood, the report said.

A gender pay gap between graduates has not improved since 1993, despite gaps narrowing for non-graduates, it added.

Woman at work

The study, compiled on behalf of the independent Joseph Rowntree Foundation charity, found when women become mothers and start to work part-time they may miss out on the benefits of full-time employment – where experience is rewarded with progression and higher pay.

“The effect of part-time work in shutting down wage progression is especially striking,” the report added.

“Whereas, in general, people in paid work see their pay rise year on year as they gain more experience, our new research shows that part-time workers miss out on these gains.”

The vast majority of part-time workers were women, especially mothers of young children, the report said.

It said the lack of earnings growth in part-time work particularly affects graduate women, “because they are the women for whom continuing in full-time paid work would have led to the most wage progression”.

One example in the report is that of a graduate who has worked full-time for seven years before having a child.

If she continued in full-time work for another year she would on average see her hourly wage rise by 6%.

She would see “none of that wage progression” if she switched to part-time work instead, say the report authors.

Monica Costa Dias, associate director at the IFS and a co-author of the report, said: “It is remarkable that periods spent in part-time work lead to virtually no wage progression at all.”

The report also notes the narrowing of the non-graduate gender pay gap between women and men educated to GCSE-level with the difference in average hourly pay falling from 28% in the early 1990s to about 18% in 2016.

The report said this change from 1993 is because “women in work are now better educated relative to men than they were”.

The research shows women with A-levels have seen the wage gap close from 29% in 1993 to around 22%.

By comparison, it found the average hourly wages of men and women with degrees differed by 22% in 2016 – compared with 21% in 1993.

More than 100 protesters outside Royal Cornwall Hospital demanded our NHS is saved from government cuts on national day of action

Anti NHS cuts demonstration outside Cornwall's main hospital in Truro

Doctors and nurses were among the crowd which got honking support from passing drivers including paramedics, firefighters and police.

More than 100 people braved the elements to stand outside Cornwall‘s main hospital to show their support for the National Health Service and protest against the government cuts which have “lashed the service to the bone”.

Despite strong drizzle which soon turned to heavy rain and heavier hail still, several groups of NHSsupporters clustered around the A390 roundabout on the approach to the Royal Cornwall Hospital‘s (RCH) main entrance in Truro.

Many carried placards and banners protesting against the chronic underfunding the NHS has been under for years. Other blew whistles and honked football match fog horns to gather support from drivers.