This video from England says about itself:
Hedgehog feeding in the early hours in Camo Dave’s Wildlife Garden, 9/4/2016
This video shows siskins feeding in Camo Dave’s Wildlife Garden in England, March 2016.
This video from Britain says about itself:
Investigative Documentary: Rough sleeping in London
10 October 2011
A documentary looking into the government’s pledge to end rough sleeping in London by 2012 and the skepticism surrounding it. The documentary investigates some of the unscrupulous tactics employed to sweep rough sleepers off the streets. It also follows the journey of Mohammad, a failed asylum seeker, who is homeless and has been sleeping on London buses every night for the past 10 years.
By Alice Summers in Britain:
Rough-sleeping on the rise in England
16 March 2016
The numbers of people making presentations as homeless across the UK has risen by 4 percent in the last year, with annual acceptances by local authority housing departments standing at 54,000. Since 2009/2010 this equates to an increase of 36 percent. The Homeless Monitor concludes that homelessness has worsened considerably in the last five years they have been producing reports.
The numbers of people that are included as part of informal homeless prevention and relief—including statutory homelessness acceptances dealt with by local authority case actions—stands at 275,000 for 2014/2015, a rise of 34 percent since 2009/2010. A third of all local authorities in England have reported an overall service demand for 2014/2015.
According to figures released at the end of February by the Department for Communities and Local Government, there were an estimated 3,569 rough-sleepers on any given night in autumn 2015. This is an increase of 825 people per night since the same period in 2014.
London is particularly affected, with rough-sleepers in the capital constituting 26 percent of the country’s total. Although this is down 1 percent as a proportion of the overall figure for England, in real terms London has seen a 27 percent rise in rough-sleeping, rising from 742 people per night in autumn 2014 to 940 per night in autumn 2015. The London Borough of Westminster is the area with the highest rough-sleeping count of the whole country, at an estimated 265 people. According to the figures, London had 0.27 rough-sleepers for every 1,000 households, compared with a rate of 0.14 per 1,000 in the rest of England.
It is likely that these figures severely underestimate the total number of homeless people sleeping in the streets. The figures are disputed, with the UK Statistics Authority concluding that the official Homelessness Prevention and Relief and Rough-sleeping statistics do not currently meet the required standards of trustworthiness, quality and value to be designated as National Statistics.
In its report, Crisis recognised stagnant real wages, soaring housing prices—particularly in the capital—and government welfare cuts as the principal causes of this dramatic upsurge in numbers of rough-sleepers.
Citing cuts to in-work and housing benefits, the Conservative government’s much-hated “Bedroom Tax” policy and welfare benefit sanctions as the main factors pushing vulnerable people onto the streets, the report is an indictment of years of relentless, vicious austerity measures carried out by successive Labour and Tory governments.
Crisis noted that with the reduction of the total welfare benefit cap introduced in the 2015 budget—to £23,000 a year in London and to £20,000 in the rest of the country—many families will find that “affordable” housing, both privately rented and social, is far beyond their means.
The new Universal Credit benefit system to be rolled out across the UK is expected to further increase homelessness, affecting those tenants in the private sector who have their rent benefits paid directly to them.
The problem of finding affordable accommodation is further aggravated by the government’s social housing privatisation policy. This has set into motion the forced sale of many high-value council properties, the long-term loss of properties via the government’s “Right to Buy” scheme and the reduced investment in new social housing. As indicated in the report, “While the Government has stated ambitions for this diminished stock to be targeted on those in greatest need, the interaction of their rent-setting and welfare policies runs directly counter to this aspiration.”
Labour’s shadow housing minister, John Healey, posturing as an opponent of the government’s housing policy and the homelessness crisis, said of the figures, “People will find it extraordinary that in England in the 21st century the number of people forced to sleep rough is going up.”
Even these shockingly high figures are a gross underestimation of the number of people actually affected by homelessness. Many people have been forced out of their own homes due to skyrocketing living costs and welfare cuts, but have so far avoided being driven onto the streets. According to Crisis, the vast majority of homeless people do not fall within the government’s narrow classification of being homeless. Many exist out of sight in bed and breakfasts and squats, or are concealed in the households of friends and family members, on the floors or sofas of these often overcrowded homes. Crisis calculates that approximately 2.35 million households in England contain concealed single persons in this way, and that an estimated 3.1 percent of households are overcrowded.
Many other homeless people can fall under the radar and not be included in official estimates, as it is common for rough-sleepers to conceal themselves as a matter of personal security. Rough-sleepers often fall victim to physical, verbal and sexual abuse if they spend the night in visible and exposed locations and so many choose to shelter themselves in places such as commercial recycling bins.
The number of homeless people found spending the night in commercial bins has risen dramatically, according to waste management firm Biffa. In the 12-month period between March 2014 and March 2015, the company found people sleeping in their bins on 93 separate occasions, up from 31 in the previous year. In the current year, which runs to the end of March, the figure already stands at 175.
Sleeping in recycling bins can have grave consequences. Spending the night in a commercial bin can lead to serious injuries and fatalities when the bins are emptied into collection trucks and the waste is crushed. According to the Environmental Services Association, there have been at least 11 fatalities since October 2010 as a result of rough-sleepers sheltering in commercial bins. Such gruesome deaths, allied with prolonged period of sleeping in the cold and damp and enduring a poor diet, are central factors in the average age of death for rough-sleepers being just 47.
Extra precautions have been implemented by many waste management companies in an attempt to prevent these tragic deaths. Most collection lorries now contain cameras inside their compactors that allow the driver to see what is being tipped into them; waste collectors are instructed to bang on the side of recycling bins to alert any rough-sleepers inside and to double-check the contents before allowing the bin to be emptied. Businesses and shops have a responsibility to lock their bins overnight and could be taken to court if they do not. Despite the terrible risks, the relative warmth and security of recycling bins can still be attractive to many rough-sleepers.
The Homeless Monitor report can be accessed here.
This is a badger video from Sweden.
By Lesley Docksey in Britain:
The pseudoscience behind the culls
Thursday 25th February 2016
THE government’s badger-culling project is getting more unscientific by the day — or should one say, by the square mile?
A few days ago Natural England announced that for this year’s badger culls a “total of 29 applications or expressions of interest for a badger control licence” have been received from Cheshire, Cornwall, Devon, Dorset, Gloucestershire, Herefordshire, Somerset, Wiltshire and Worcestershire. According to south-western media 25 of these applications are for areas within Cornwall, Devon, Somerset and Dorset. Which leaves just four covering the other five counties.
When the government held a public consultation on badger culling — the previous Labour government having decided, as a result of the randomised badger-culling trials, not to implement a cull — it received 59,000 responses, very many of them raising serious scientific concerns.
Regardless, the government announced in 2010 that “a carefully managed and science-led policy of badger control” would be introduced; their “rules” stated that culling must take place over a minimum area of 57 square miles so “we can be confident it will have a net beneficial effect.” This despite the trials having concluded culling badgers would “have no meaningful effect” in preventing the spread of bovine TB (bTB). Goodbye, science.
In the autumn of 2015 another public consultation was held about proposed changes to the criteria [of] governing culling. Those results were ignored too, Environment Secretary Liz Truss happily announcing that “further statistical analysis” of the randomised trials (the results of which have been constantly misquoted by the government) and “post-trial analysis” allowed for the minimum culling area to come down from 57 square miles to 39.
The RSPCA, in its response to the government’s 2010 consultation (a must-read), pointed out that the post-trial analysis had already been considered by the previous government when taking the decision not to engage in badger culling. Yet again the Environment Secretary is misrepresenting the facts.
Even worse, and despite the firm recommendation of the randomised trials to confine culling to a six-week period (causing the least perturbation of badger populations possibly spreading the disease), she made it far more convenient for the farmers. Basically, apart from the closed season when cubs are being reared, it’s now almost always open season.
However, culling contractors prefer large areas, hoping that the sheer miles involved will discourage those people trying to defend badgers from the guns. According to Natural England, the applications cover areas ranging from from 52 to 253 square miles, with the average area being approximately 127 square miles.
How can one achieve an even half-accurate estimate of the badger population in an area of 127 or 252 square miles that could contain major differences in geology, soil and landscape? Yet it is on this dodgy estimate that the number of badgers to be culled per year is decided by Natural England. But it doesn’t have the staff to cover the ground and farmers consistently overestimate how many badgers a sett holds.
Many do not understand that a single group of badgers may have more than one sett. Or that a long-established sett may have over 30 entrances/holes yet no more than five or six badgers in residence, the average family group being 5.9 badgers. One farmer’s overestimate for the number of badgers on his land amounted to three badgers per acre. Rabbits maybe. Badgers no.
Is culling badgers the only option? No. In 2011 the European Commission carried out an audit on Britain’s efforts in controlling bTB in cattle. The report was damning, highlighting many areas where testing, cattle movement controls and biosecurity measures were quite simply inadequate.
Britain produced some defensive comments on the report (the word “wildlife” appeared just once, and badgers not at all) and then a proposed plan to deal with the situation, implemented in 2013. But until England follows the route taken by Wales (annual TB testing on all cattle, not just in selected areas), England’s farmers will still struggle to gain control over bTB.
Biosecurity on farms is an absolute must if one is serious about controlling any form of disease (bird flu for example) that might be transmitted by wildlife or indeed, stock on neighbouring farms, particularly when one considers that certain farming methods compromise the immune systems of the animals, making them more vulnerable to infection.
But too many farms are still lax in their biosecurity controls, putting not just themselves at risk, but also farms in the area that do take matters seriously. And easy as it is to blame to blame the wildlife, the far greater risk comes from herds. The Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs talks about “infected badger populations” but in all this pseudoscience there is no effort to investigate how much bTB really is present among badgers.
During the first two years of culling in Somerset and Gloucester, no badgers were tested for bTB. Rumour has it that an independent laboratory is now thinking of doing such a study on badgers in one of the Western region counties, but surely, if the government wants to go on claiming this is a “science-led policy,” it must conduct its own rigorous, unbiased and transparent investigation.
It won’t, of course. Such a study would only demonstrate that badgers are nowhere near being a major part of the problem. Further, any government-funded reports that don’t agree with its policies may be muzzled. One can expect neither sense nor science from a government that appears to be allowing the closure of the National Wildlife Crime Agency. For the majority of us, culling badgers is one of those crimes.