ICC supports Westfield jail term

The International Cricket Council have backed the four-month jail sentence imposed on Mervyn Westfield.

The 23-year-old former Essex bowler was found guilty of spot-fixing last week and has been suspended from cricket.

“While the ICC takes no pleasure from anyone being sent to jail, it is a decision of the court we support,” chief executive Haroon Lorgat said.

“I believe it would act as a deterrent to anyone who is tempted to sully the good name of cricket.”

Westfield pleaded guilty last month

to one count of accepting or obtaining a corrupt payment to bowl in a way that would allow the scoring of runs in a Pro40 match against Durham in September 2009.

It is believed he had helped to arrange for 12 runs to be scored in the first over of the match but in fact there were only 10.

The fast bowler has been told he will serve half the term in prison and a confiscation order was made for the £6,000 he was paid to influence proceedings.

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The fact that this offence took place in a domestic competition is a timely reminder for us never to be complacent

ICC chief executive Haroon Lorgat

The England and Wales Cricket Board Cricket Discipline Commission chairman Gerard Elias, QC, imposed an interim suspension pending a disciplinary panel hearing.

Westfield’s former club Essex, who

released him during the 2010 season,

said: “This is a very sad day for all at the club.

“It is going to take a while for us to fully digest the comments of the judge, but as the ECB Cricket Discipline Committee has served Mervyn Westfield with an interim suspension as a result of his sentencing earlier today, the club is unable to comment on any aspect of this case.”

ICC chief Lorgat added: “The ICC operates a zero-tolerance approach to corruption and will use everything within its power to ensure that any corrupt activity within the game is comprehensively investigated and, where possible, robustly prosecuted. We have always stated that we will follow every possible avenue to ensure the integrity of cricket is protected.

“In November 2010, the ICC Board required all members to implement a domestic anti-corruption code which mirrors that of the ICC and the fact that this offence took place in a domestic competition is a timely reminder for us never to be complacent.”

“In the context of domestic vigilance, the ICC acknowledges the commendable steps taken by the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) in setting up their domestic anti-corruption ACCESS Unit.”

During the verdict the court was told by Westfield’s defence team that former Pakistan spinner Danish Kaneria had been a go-between in the deception.

Current Pakistan captain Misbah-ul-Haq, in Dubai preparing for Saturday’s third one-day international against England, said the team were alarmed by the developments, which comes barely four months after three of its players – Salman Butt, Mohammad Asif and Mohammad Amir – were jailed for a plot to bowl no-balls in a Test match.

“The team is concentrating on their cricket and we want these things to stop and let us focus on cricket, so it’s really, really not good for us,” Misbah said.

“It should stop now – we are expecting no more of this sort of news, and we just want to focus on cricket – we just want to play cricket. It’s really disappointing if something like that appears.

“Whatever decision somebody takes on that – the authorities will take whatever action they want to take.

“These issues are happening, we don’t bother about that – we are here, and we just want to focus here. These issues are not here, we are here.”

Rule change ‘unfair’

 

Radcliffe’s 2005 London time of 2:17:25 is the new women’s record

England’s Paula Radcliffe believes new rules which mean her world record marathon time will no longer be classed as such are “unfair”.

The new criteria made by the sports governing body, the IAAF, states that only times from all-female competitions will be acknowledged as records.

Performances in mixed conditions will be referred to as “world-best” times.

This means Radcliffe’s 2003 London time of two hours 15 minutes 25 seconds is no longer a women’s world record.

Radcliffe, whose time of 2:17:42 in London is now the world record time, told Runner’s World: “I think it is a decision that is going to be hard to fully enforce. Look at how many national and area records are set in mixed races.

“I also think it is a little unfair. If they were going to make that rule, it should have been so from the beginning when world records came in on the roads. Now it is messy.

“In my two mixed races it was not my decision to have male runners with me, but that of the race organisers, and in each case I very consciously ran alongside them rather than ever behind.

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The current situation where the fastest time is not now recognised as a record is confusing and unfair and does not respect the history of our sport

WMM and AIM statement

“Indeed, in London, I was actively racing the two guys.

“Furthermore, I fully believe that I would have run pretty much the same time that day alone. However, rules are rules and I can’t stress about things that are out of my control.”

World Major Marathons (WMM) and the Association of International Marathons (AIMS) also called the rule change “unfair” while BBC Sport understands that London Marathon race director Dave Bedford will discuss the issue at the next IAAF conference.

A statement from WMM and AIMS said: “[We] have reviewed the recent congress decision and believe that it does not represent what is required by the sport of road running.”

It added that the organisations will acknowledge both types of performances as world records before discussing the matter with the IAAF, the sport’s governing body.

The statement continued: “The vast majority of women’s road races throughout the world are held in mixed conditions.

“The current situation where the fastest time is not now recognised as a record is confusing and unfair and does not respect the history of our sport.”

AIMS represents more than 300 races worldwide, the vast majority of them road races.

Boston, London, Berlin, Chicago and New York are WMM members.

Article source: http://news.bbc.co.uk/go/rss/-/sport1/hi/athletics/14992147.stm

Commons diversity measures urged


The report says a broader range of people need to come forward as candidates

Parliamentary candidates should have a legal right to time off work to campaign, and parties should offer bursaries to would-be MPs from poorer backgrounds, a think tank says.

The Institute for Government said Westminster was “overwhelmingly white, male and middle-class”.

Just one fifth of MPs are women, and 27 out of 650 are from ethnic minorities.

The cost and time involved could deter “candidates from non-traditional backgrounds”, the organisation said.

The report acknowledged parties’ past diversity efforts, including all-women shortlists by Labour and the Conservatives’ “A-list” of approved candidates.

But the Institute for Government argued that improved selection methods were “only part of the answer”.

“The problem is increasingly not overt or covert discrimination within political parties, but the lack of women applying to become candidates in the first place. The same is true for other under-represented groups,” the report said.

‘Increasing supply’

It went on: “Parties need to focus on increasing the supply of aspiring parliamentary candidates by removing some of the barriers to participation, including the high cost and time commitments, which act as a significant deterrent to candidates from non-traditional backgrounds.

“Childcare costs mean that this can be a particular barrier for women, while disabled candidates also often face extra costs.”

The report cited examples of one MP who had sold her house “in order to get elected”, while another candidate had been left so badly in debt after a failed campaign that she could no longer afford to attend the party conference.

“Parties have to open their doors more widely and diversify the ways in which people can become involved in their activities,” said report co-author Rhys Williams.

“It will only be through bold action that the problems of low public participation in the political process and an unrepresentative Parliament can be addressed.”

Jobs market ‘slow pain’ predicted


The CIPD has questioned whether the private sector is capable of compensating for public sector losses

The UK labour market faces a “slow, painful contraction” with firms delaying recruitment of more staff, a key report suggests.

The Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) predicted the jobs market would worsen in the medium term amid global economic “turmoil”.

Its quarterly survey of 1,000 employers found firms’ future hiring plans dwarfed by likely public sector losses.

It found employers adopting a “wait and see” policy towards the economy.

This involved reduced recruitment as well as fewer redundancies.

The number of UK employers planning to outsource work overseas or hire migrant workers had also fallen substantially in the last three months, the survey found.

The CIPD said the employment situation could worsen if the eurozone crisis thrust the world back into recession.

Business ‘lull’

CIPD public policy adviser Gerwyn Davies said: “The good news resulting from this lull in business activity is that fewer employers are looking to relocate abroad or make redundancies.

“The downside is that recruitment intentions are falling, which will make further rises in unemployment therefore seem inevitable given that public sector job losses are outpacing the predictions made by the Office for Budget Responsibility.

“There is no immediate sign of UK labour market conditions improving in the short or medium term.”

Monday’s report comes two days before the latest official unemployment figures are expected to show that jobless 16 to 24-year-olds total more than a million.

Last month, the CIPD reported that the public sector had been shedding jobs at five times the rate previously predicted by the Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR).

The think tank called on the government to “call a halt to public sector job cuts while the economy and labour market remain in the current fragile condition”.

But the Treasury said “risks in the global economy make it even more essential to stick to the government’s essential deficit reduction plan”.

It insisted that private sector job creation would substantially outweigh the public sector cuts by 2015, according to the OBR forecast.

Community council network ‘dying’

A lack of community focus is having a real visible impact on some neighbourhoods

Scotland’s network of community councils could be “dead” within 10 years, the president of the charity that represents the bodies has warned.

Vincent Waters said the councils would cease to exist “by default” unless younger members became involved.

A fifth of Scotland’s 1,514 community councils are currently suspended because of a lack of interest, research by the BBC has found.

Of the active ones, nine out of 10 are formed without elections.

The high number of uncontested councils has led to accusations that many do not represent their communities. The bodies, which have been in existence since 1975, have a statutory role in planning, licensing and other areas.

Mr Waters, from the Association of Scottish Community Councils (ASCC), said the lack of contested elections was “unhealthy” for democracy and reputation.

“What you get varies massively,” he said.

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If community councils stay as they are just now, within 10 years time – give or take – they’ll be dead”

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Vincent Waters
ASCC president

“You can have one operating incredibly effectively that’s championing a range of local causes.

“And then you can have a community council next door where it’s half a dozen or so of the weel kent local worthies whose interests are their own interests.”

Mr Waters said if community councils were given a better “sense of purpose” and more legislative “teeth”, it might attract younger people to become involved.

“If community councils stay as they are just now, within 10 years time – give or take – they’ll be dead,” he added.

No focus

Research by BBC Scotland has revealed that 299 community councils are currently suspended, though eight local authority areas have a full complement – including the Orkney Islands, Stirling, East Dunbartonshire and East Renfrewshire.

The Orkney Islands also has contested elections in 55% of the councils – the highest proportion anywhere in Scotland.

Dundee City has the lowest number of active community councils – with only 15.8% currently operating – though the area has five neighbourhood bodies with the same function. North Lanarkshire the second lowest at 47.5%.

Motherwell West councillor Michael Ross said a lack of focus for community organisation could have a real visible impact on neighbourhoods.

“I find that it’s getting increasingly difficult to get people involved in any types of organisations,” he said.

“I think people are working harder, they’ve got less and less social time. The time they do have they want to spend it with their families. They don’t necessarily want to come out any more.”

Mr Ross, who is chairman of the local area partnership for Motherwell, also believes the community council model is often not suited to densely populated urban areas.

He added: “We’ve got community councils in North Lanarkshire where the area they cover is only a couple of streets – very small micro-neighbourhoods.

“If something falls apart there then very quickly there’s no-one left to take up the slack.”

Grant refused

But the BBC survey has revealed areas where the system is working well.

South Lanarkshire Council highlighted a transport network for the elderly and disabled run by East Kilbride Community Council.

And Glasgow City Council pointed to a group of four community councils who are collaborating to regenerate the Queens Park Arena.

However, national leadership of Scotland’s community councils is in doubt after the ASCC recently announced it would be closing in April 2012.

The charity decided to fold when the Scottish government refused a request to double the size of its grant.

Local Government Minister Aileen Campbell said a working group on the future of community councils would be announced soon.

“They’re an important body within the governance of our country and we need to support them and make sure they’re the best that they can be,” she said.

“We just need to find out what ways we can best support community councils to make sure that they can flourish and to make sure that folk know that these are good things to get involved with.”