Changes to Library Service

Apparently Devon’s entire library service is to be turned into an independent organisation in a bid to save £1.5m over the next two years.

County Councillors have approved plans for a community-owned “mutual” that would be commissioned by Devon County Council to run the service on its behalf.

More here and here.

‘Phone’ Hacking

I’m fed up with all the stories about ‘phone hacking’.

The phrase ‘phone hacking’ is very emotive as it implies that there is an ability to hack into live phone calls. This is simply not the case – unless of course you’re GCHQ!

Phones weren’t hacked, voicemail boxes were. There’s a very big difference.

The voicemail boxes were only hacked because the owners didn’t change their default passwords! Or if they did change them they used easily guessable codes.

NDDC and Apprenticeships

I recently had a discussion with someone about apprenticeships and decided to ask the North Devon District Council (NDDC) how may apprentices they employ. I received the answer today following a Freedom of Information request.

Q: How many apprentices does the Council currently employ?
A: Two

Q: What type of apprenticeship are they (e.g. Business and Administration, Local taxation, and benefits etc.) and at what level (Intermediate, Advanced, Higher) using the definitions employed by the Skills Funding Agency?
A:  Both are Business and Administration apprentices. One has just started Level 3 (Advanced) after successfully completing Level 2. The other has recently started Level 2 (Intermediate).

Q:  Are the apprentices paid the national minimum rate for apprentices or are they paid at a higher rate?
A: The apprentices are paid £10,000 per annum, which increases to £11,159 per annum in year two. [Difficult to convert to the apprenticeship minimum wage but it would appear that the apprentices are being more than the minimum rate for apprentices.]

Q: For non-apprentices, is NDDC’s minimum wage the national minimum wage or the Living Wage?
A: Staff are paid on the National Joint Council for Local Government Services (NJC) payscale.  This is above the national minimum wage and, for most staff, is above the living wage also.

Strictly South Molton Style

Strictly Come Dancing came to South Molton on Saturday Night when the South Molton branch of Cancer Research UK put on a show at the South Molton Community College.

Preparations started way back in October when the couples started to practise their routines, and culminated in the finale on Saturday night when twelve couples took part.  Very well done to Tracey Hulland and Jack Friendship who were voted the winners by the audience and well done to all the other couples as well..

Mervyn Way gave a very creditable performance as a judge, although unfortunately didn’t take part as a dancer!  Perhaps next time round.

Congratulations to June Williams and all those who helped organise this very successful fund raiser – more than £4,000 was raised!

We’re promised a repeat performance in two years time. So start practising your dance routines now!