Health Secretary Matt Hancock has pledged to ‘roll back’ Labour’s disastrous PFI hospital schemes to free up resources for the front line. Mr Hancock said a new Tory government would establish a dedicated unit within the Department of Health to pore over the details of dozens of PFI deals – or Private Finance Initiatives – signed by Labour. The schemes have left hospitals having to pay out more than £2billion a year to private firms. Health secretary Matt Hancock, right, announced that the government would set up a unit to look into PFI deals while visiting the Countess of Chester hospital He added: ‘The Conservatives are clear. PFI was a disaster and should never have been undertaken on the scale it was. So we will review and cancel the deals where possible – and are building 40 new hospitals without a single penny of funding by PFI.’ PFI was championed by Gordon Brown as a way of funding new schools and hospitals without adding to … [Read more...] about Matt Hancock vows to axe Labour’s PFI hospital schemes to free up resources for frontline medical staff
Special education centre
The image of the West End theatre producer has changed radically in the past half century but Duncan Weldon, who has died aged 77, was “old school” in his devotion to star names and familiar play titles in a career that saw him create a powerful commercial nexus between the Chichester Festival theatre and the Theatre Royal Haymarket. Although he operated as a solo producer, his greatest contribution was achieved in partnership with Paul Elliott. Together with the actor Richard Todd, they launched Triumph Theatre Productions in 1970 with a superb revival of JB Priestley’s When We Are Married, starring Peggy Mount and Fred Emney. The show started at the Yvonne Arnaud theatre, Guildford, Surrey, and transferred to the Strand (now the Novello), London. That show, said Weldon, cost £15,000 to put on. The problem, he complained 40 years later, was that a similar sort of production would now cost £500,000, and a new musical at least £2m. Without subsidy of any … [Read more...] about Duncan Weldon obituary
On February 7, 1984, John McDonnell, then finance supremo of Ken Livingstone's Greater London Council, sent a note to a junior colleague in the Ethnic Minorities Unit. He wrote: 'I understand that the Irish in Islington Project will shortly be submitting an application for capital funds to establish an Irish Centre. 'I would like to lend my support to the Project and could you keep me informed of its progress.' At the time, McDonnell was a GLC member for Hillingdon, miles across the capital from Islington. Why was he showing such a personal interest in this distant and obscure proposal? His note — found by the Mail among millions of GLC documents in the Metropolitan Archives — followed a letter sent to the Ethnic Minorities Unit the previous summer by another prominent local Marxist politician. Jeremy Corbyn, the recently elected Labour MP for Islington North, had asked the GLC to provide funds for a headquarters and two full-time officers for the Irish in … [Read more...] about Why DID Jeremy Corbyn share offices with a convicted IRA bomb maker… who was embroiled in a £550k scandal? Bill Akass and Richard Pendlebury investigate
Andrew Boardman is overcome with emotion as he stares at the cornucopia of Abba singles, albums, cassettes, videos, DVDs, posters, magazines, books, dolls, mugs, calendars, pendants, mugs, T-shirts, badges, posters, baubles, colouring books, games and dolls assembled behind glass windows at the O2 in London. “It does look phenomenal like that I must admit,” he said. “It is amazing to see it out like it is … it’s 44 years.” Boardman, an Abba superfan, is looking at a collection that normally lives, shrine-like, in the front room of his mother’s house in Manchester. “I’ve missed it. I spend hours with it at mum’s when I go round.” The room has been recreated as part of a huge, immersive show that tells the story of the Swedish supergroup and its four members: Agnetha Fältskog, Anni-Frid Lyngstad, Björn Ulvaeus and Benny Andersson. The exhibition, which opens to the public on Friday, takes up 14,000 sq ft (1,300 … [Read more...] about ‘My life’s passion’: superfan’s Abba shrine recreated for exhibition
The Rudolf Harbig hall in west Berlin is normally used for athletics. The complex has a track, an indoor sandpit for long jump and a gallery for spectators. Nearby is the monumental Olympic stadium, the scene of the 2006 World Cup final and other major sporting events. On Friday, however, the hall was being transformed into emergency accommodation for refugees, now arriving in the German capital at the astonishing rate of 1,000 a day. Soldiers from the German army were unloading mattresses. New camp beds had arrived. Some 15 volunteers were busy stuffing colourful covers on duvets. “We’re sacrificing our gold medal to help people in need,” said Thomas Glückselig, lugging a mound of bedding. “Great Britain will get the gold instead of us,” he joked. Glückselig, a 60-year-old Berlin pensioner, said Germany had no choice but to shelter all of those fleeing war. But could the country manage? “If we can save banks, we can save people. We want to … [Read more...] about How much longer can Germany keep its doors open to refugees?