August 2018
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Retirement complex warms to super-safe Barlo LST radiators

Schaffer House, Maidenbower

Reporter: Stacy Clarke

A residential retirement development in West Sussex has replaced its outdated, inefficient radiators with highly efficient, ultra-modern low surface temperature (LST) models from Barlo Radiators – keeping vulnerable residents safe, warm and comfortable, while making substantial cost and carbon savings.

Schaffer House in Maidenbower is a sheltered housing complex for the over-65s, which comprises 46 flats and a number of communal facilities for residents – including a lounge, laundry room, hairdressing salon, guest accommodation and gardens. The heating system serving the communal lounge and hallways had previously been made up of an old-fashioned, non-condensing boiler and antiquated LST radiators, which were beginning to leak and had no temperature controls. This setup not only made it difficult to maintain a comfortable environment for residents, but was also resulting in significant heat wastage and higher-than-average bills.

In a bid to enhance residents’ safety and comfort, Crawley Borough Council (which manages Schaffer House) decided to overhaul the entire heating system as part of wider improvement works. In the communal areas, this involved replacing the boiler with a new water source heat pump, and the existing emitters with 61 super-efficient LST radiator packages from leading British manufacturer Barlo Radiators.  As a result, the council will see a combined annual Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI) income and ongoing savings of up to £12,700, as well a 49 per cent reduction in carbon emissions. 

Carl Himsworth, Gas Manager at Crawley Borough Council, told GPSJ: “When it came to upgrading Schaffer House’s heating system, improving efficiency was crucial. We initially considered replacing the old boiler with a ground source heat pump, but the property didn’t have enough land to allow for the necessary groundworks, so we opted for a water source heat pump instead. This works by drawing renewable heat from a nearby stream, provided temperatures are above freezing – with the back-up of a gas boiler that only kicks in if the heat demand is particularly high.”

The Barlo LSTs installed at Schaffer House feature advanced radiator technology that delivers optimal efficiency and heat transfer, even at Delta Ts as low as 30°C – making them the perfect match for low water temperature renewables like heat pumps. Horsham-based Baystar Energy was contracted to carry out all heating installation works at Schaffer House, including the water source heat pump and the LSTs.

Carl continues: “As a water source heat pump is a renewable technology, pairing it with the right heat emitters was vital to ensure maximum performance – and the Barlo LSTs do just that, providing excellent heat output at lower water temperatures. Maximising safety was a further consideration during this project, so the fact that the LSTs are fully compliant with all the necessary health and safety regulations was another plus. This includes NHS Safe Surface Temperature guidelines, which help protect Schaffer House’s more vulnerable residents from injury if their skin accidentally comes into contact with the LST casing. Thanks to the excellent team at Baystar, all the installation works went smoothly from start to finish – and the impressive financial and environmental savings that the building is now generating speak for themselves.”

Schaffer House, Maidenbower

Independently tested in an EN442-accredited laboratory, the Barlo LSTs installed at Schaffer House are certified to meet BS EN442 standards. They comply with NHS Safe Surface Temperature guidelines (max. 43˚C) when operating at a maximum flow temperature of 80˚C and a return of 60˚C, or a maximum flow temperature of 75˚C and a return of 65˚C. The emitters included in the package are Hi-Lo Compact panel radiators, which feature third-generation technology that is unique to Barlo. This means they offer better heat transfer, lower water content, and the best heat outputs available – maximising energy savings and minimising running costs across the whole system.

Dave Thornback, Sales Director – Trade at Barlo Radiators, concludes: “Barlo has a longstanding working relationship with Crawley Borough Council, so we were delighted to be asked to work with them once again on this project. Our LSTs are specifically designed for use in applications catering for vulnerable people (such as hospitals, nursing homes, schools, social housing and other public buildings) – making them absolutely ideal for Schaffer House.

“As well as ticking all the council’s boxes in terms of delivering improved efficiency and safety, our solution also resolved another issue at hand: lack of controllability. Barlo LSTs feature safe, simple and intuitive temperature controls, so gone are the days when the communal areas were either too hot or too cold! They are also quick and easy to keep clean thanks to their unique forward-opening hinge. This is a key consideration for a project like this, where hygiene is a particular priority.”

Barlo LSTs come with all the components needed for hassle-free fitting and ongoing operation, and boast an anti-microbial, MRSA-resistant coating for optimum cleanliness. They also feature heavy-duty pencil-proof grilles that allow air to circulate effectively, while simultaneously preventing foreign objects from accessing the emitter underneath.

For more information about the Barlo LST range, or any of the products in the company’s market-leading Barlo Panel or Barlo Design radiator ranges, please visit or call 01633 657 000.

Government leads the way in boosting AI innovation and research in the UK

Rahul Powar, CEO, Red Sift

By Rahul Powar, CEO, Red Sift

It hasn’t come as any great surprise that The Economist declared 2018 as the landmark year for Artificial Intelligence (AI). In 2017, the UK government made investment promises of over £100 million to the further development of artificial intelligence research and associated technologies. To view the surge of AI as anything other than a generation-defining event would be a mistake.

As our daily lives have become more digitised we’re producing more data than ever before. Furthermore, the reality facing a world filled with internet-connected devices is that there is an equal if not higher risk of related cybersecurity attacks. As the threat intensifies, organisations and individuals need to ensure appropriate defences are in place to protect all of this precious data. However, today, skilled professionals defending against these types of attacks can no longer keep up with the pace of these threats, hence the need for automated solutions. AI, in its many guises, including Machine Learning (ML) and Natural Language Processing (NLP), is the only solution geared up to handle this vast volume of data.

The Government announced its AI Sector Deal in April of this year, a move that underlined the UK’s drive to lead the revolution in AI technology by investing in research, people, places and infrastructure. In the launch statement, Matt Hancock, the then secretary of state for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, said the Government wanted to see the UK at the forefront of innovation and emerging technologies, and as the co-founder of a cybersecurity startup in the UK, I share this vision.

AI has the power to transform the processing speeds of otherwise arduous or near impossible tasks for individuals to manage alone, and it is by pushing these technological boundaries that we can make the greatest positive impact on society. Utilising AI for cybersecurity defences enables us to change the economics of the current state of play – we can get ahead of cybercriminals looking to use AI for their own nefarious purposes and combat the threat with superior AI knowledge. AI has the power to make us safer online.

With the dawn of these new technological possibilities comes years of research and testing, but the Government’s sector deal will help to reduce the time required to move from R&D to commercial solutions by accelerating projects with human and financial investment. We work in an industry where we all need to research, develop and test and for that reason, we feel it’s our responsibility to assist AI projects in these early phases.

Two years ago we began funding a PhD research project that looks to tackle the challenges faced within the analysis of digital communication data, in particular the challenges due to the sheer amount of information and the unstructured, ‘noisy’ nature of this data.

This project will develop a framework where the cognitive and creative capabilities of human experts can complement the computational power of advanced algorithms to empower those people working with such data. This will help us to develop our email security solutions by making sense of large collections of emails in more informed and efficient ways, and in identifying key information more effectively in order to gain much deeper insight into the ‘stories’ told by the data.

We’re are also working on a second project to better understand how analysts can use AI to perform visualisation-empowered data analysis. Our plan is to develop techniques to make multifaceted data sets more accessible via chatbots that can harness the more expressive nature of the human language.

Industry-backed research is essential to fuel this drive for the UK to lead the way in AI technology innovation. We acknowledge that the innovation of today is built on the foundation of yesterday’s research, and the UK has a strong legacy of turning academic vision into commercial reality, the challenge is how quickly we can do that – this is why it’s important for the whole industry to play a role in funding and supporting research. We’re all too aware that AI can’t just be developed in a lab. To harness the technology’s benefits requires industry players and government agencies to work together on real-world test cases to ensure that we’re getting AI right as well as using it to maximum advantage.

Today, some of the hottest startups are benefitting from the commoditisation of the technological advances, only made possible through this cutting-edge research. As an organisation that shares the government’s appetite to drive AI innovation, we applaud this sector deal and look forward to helping create the technologies of tomorrow.

Red Sift is a data-driven cybersecurity platform that is using ML to develop security solutions that use behavioural analysis to help users detect email-based threats.

Contact: | @redsift |

Arch Apprentices successfully obtains place on YPO’s Apprenticeship Framework

Reporter: Stacy Clarke

A contract has been awarded to leading provider Arch Apprentices from YPO, the leading public sector procurement organisation, which will afford NHS, police, schools, local authorities much greater access to acquiring much-needed apprentices.

The contract will cover public sector organisations in South East, London, North West, West and East Midlands and South West of England Two-year agreement (from 1 August 2018) also grants access to any UK public sector organisation not already involved.

The Yorkshire Purchasing Organisation (YPO), one of the UK’s leading public sector providers, has provided much greater access to much-needed apprentices for organisations such as the NHS, local government, schools and the Police, through a Framework Agreement.

The two-year contract with Arch Apprentices, will see public sector organisations already within the YPO’s jurisdiction granted much easier access to acquiring new apprentice roles, but also, thanks to the EU’s ‘combined Procurement Direction’, any public sector organisation in the UK.

Fire and Rescue services, registered charities, as well as wider UK and central government organisations will be afforded the ability to train apprentices in standards as diverse as data analysis, accountancy, digital content production, software development, networking and management amongst others.

Public Sector Specialist Corporate Account Manager, Simon Barker comments: “Arch Apprentices continue to be recognised as the stand-out provider to the UK public sector in digital, tech and corporate services apprenticeships. We are delighted that we’ve been approved and added to the YPO Apprenticeship Framework.  As you’d expect, our Grade 1 Ofsted score has helped with our tender submission, but the process required much more than that, including detailing flexibility in delivery model, experience in public sector partnerships, and a thorough social value proposition.

A number of our existing local authority customers plan to use YPO to procure further, and larger apprenticeship cohorts, and so we hope to secure continued partnerships with them and with new public sector clients.”

Lizzy Grayson, Category Manager at YPO told GPSJ: “We recognised that procuring apprenticeships can quickly become confusing for the public sector and we wanted to offer a solution for our customers. We’re thrilled that we have been able to review and accept tender bids from suppliers such as Arch Apprentices whose Ofsted scores and knowledge will reassure our customers and support them with developing their apprenticeship offering.”

GRITIT celebrates national public sector Framework status

Reporter: Stuart Littleford

Award winning firm GRITIT has secured a valuable public sector framework award for the provision of Winter Gritting, Snow Clearance and Grounds Maintenance services.

Following a competitive tender process, GRITIT has been awarded a place on the YPO 827 Winter Maintenance Products and Services Framework for Lot 4 – Winter Gritting, Snow Clearance and Grounds Maintenance Services.

YPO is a leading public sector procurement organisation that supplies products and services to a wide range of customers including schools, local authorities, charities, emergency services, public sector and other businesses such as nurseries and care homes.

The Framework enables YPO’s members to run OJEU compliant competitions for some or all of the services; this is the first time YPO has included services as well as products for Winter Maintenance, reflecting increasing demand from members for access to best in class service provision.

Inclusion onto the Framework now formally positions GRITIT as a leading provider of FM services to the public sector and will further widen its net to attracting new business wins. Currently GRITIT counts a number of public sector organisations among its clients, including Her Majesty’s Prison Service (HMP), the Fire Service, as well as a number of Housing Associations and hospital and healthcare contracts.

Steve Webb, GRITIT Commercial Director said:  “We are one of only a select few companies in the UK to have successfully gained a place on the YPO Framework and we are pleased to be among some of the industry’s biggest FM providers in doing so.

“This demonstrates the significance of the achievement and is testament to the technical capabilities of our talented team.

“This is an exciting time at GRITIT as we continue to grow and diversify.  Winning a place on the YPO Framework gives us a fantastic opportunity to further grow our public sector portfolio, working in partnership and delivering high-quality value for money services.  We are looking forward to a productive and positive relationship with YPO and their customers.”

GRITIT provides award winning Winter Gritting, Snow Clearance and Grounds Maintenance across the UK, keeping sites operational, safe and in pristine condition throughout the year. For more information on managing your grounds call GRITIT on 0800 0432 911 or visit

For further information on the full range of products and services offered by the YPO, please visit


Heavily corroded midsoles, leave them open to risk of penetration

Neil Murray, Head of Public Sector at Arco discusses the unseen risks for your business

Although we enjoy the benefits of working in one of the safest places in the world, with the lowest incident rates of work related deaths in the EU, there’s a gap in the compliance process that is putting UK workers at risk of injury, even though they are using CE-marked PPE they believe will protect them.

As a health and safety manager, you may believe that you and your people are fully protected and compliant when you specify or buy PPE.  The reality is that some CE marked PPE is failing, putting wearers at risk of injury and businesses and individuals at risk of loss of reputation, fines and even possible imprisonment.

The evidence is undeniable, particularly in the area of a number of CE marked safety footwear and gloves that are freely available on the market.  Independent laboratory testing in 2017 showed that around 40% of non-metallic footwear and 30% of rigger gloves failed surveillance testing, despite carrying the CE mark.

Midsoles must resist a force of 1100 Newtons (2)

With around 600,000 workers each year reporting that they have suffered an injury at work, the consequences of failing to apply due diligence to PPE purchasing are huge.  Without a robust process in place, accidents and injuries could be life changing and not just for end users but for the individuals (and the businesses they work for) who are involved in specifying and purchasing the equipment.

If you are concerned about the risks of failing CE marked PPE leaving you and your business exposed, click here to watch a short film about this important issue.  CE markings do not guarantee compliance and as an employer or health and safety manager, you have an obligation to ensure that whatever you buy is compliant.


Reporter: Stuart Littleford

BakerHicks, the multidisciplinary design and engineering company, is celebrating the success of one of its major pharmaceutical projects, the GSK Aseptic Manufacturing Facility, at the 2018 Constructing Excellence North East (CENE) Awards. GSK won the Client of the Year category for the project, which was also a finalist in both the Offsite Project and Safety & Wellbeing categories.

The new-build project at Barnard Castle will provide state-of-the-art facilities for the aseptic filling of vials and syringes, and handling of cold chain products, securing the future of aseptic liquid filling operations at the site. BakerHicks completed the scheme design phase and is the lead designer for the delivery phase, working alongside the GSK Engineering team, SES Engineering Services, Star Refrigeration, Turner & Townsend, Daldrop and McLaughlin & Harvey.

A central element to the success of this large and complex project is GSK’s integrated project delivery (IPD) approach. This has seen a high degree of collaboration between everyone involved in delivering the project, leading to efficiencies and minimising risk. As part of this approach, BakerHicks is continuing to provide support and technical advice throughout construction stage with a dedicated lead designer and Building Information Modelling (BIM) manager based on site. This allows the company to use its experience and knowledge of designing facilities of this type to support and challenge the other IPD partners on the project to achieve the best solution.

BIM is being used to coordinate the project as well as providing digital asset management, supporting GSK’s IPD philosophy. BakerHicks manages one central, fully coordinated model which integrates models from various separate design packages and specialist equipment providers to inform the construction of the facility. This not only ensures the integration of the multi-disciplinary design but also allows the team to quickly and proactively detect and resolve any clashes and respond to any on-site questions on construction and installation.

Tom Dickinson, head of project management at BakerHicks says: “GSK is a highly innovative client who isn’t afraid to push the boundaries to drive better project delivery and this is a fantastic example of what that approach can achieve. For instance, the level of BIM integration on a project of this type is unprecedented. Making full use of this technology in this way allows for the coordination of the team and design across what is a large scale and highly complex project. It’s this industry leading approach to the project which makes GSK thoroughly deserving of the CENE Client of the Year award.”

BakerHicks have provided multi-disciplinary scheme and detailed design and management services for the aseptic manufacturing facility.

Professional planners: planning for the future?

Fisher German partner – Kay Davies

Reporter: Stuart Littleford

To the uninitiated, UK planning policy and its supporting legislation appears to be a bit like criminal law: clear rules that govern what is and is not permissible, effectively written in stone. And, just like criminal law, the reality, as a quick glance at a list of major planning legislation and policy documents released by successive governments over the past decade proves, is anything but.

With significant new planning rules – including legislation, statutory instruments, ministerial statements, case law, policy and national guidance – arriving, on average, around every 18 months, professional planners such as Fisher German partner Kay Davies are being constantly kept on their toes.

Grow with the change

In 2018, the government is making some significant revisions to the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) – unwieldy document titles and impenetrable acronyms are an occupational hazard for those in the planning profession – This is policy that was itself only introduced in 2012.

“The context we operate within is frequently changing,” admits Kay. “We constantly have to be on the ball. So much of what we do has changed in the past 10 years and continues to do so.”

That can sometimes lead to awkward conversations when a land owner finds that they can’t get planning permission for a development that their neighbour was able to only a short time before.

Clarity is key

Unsurprisingly, communication skills are as important for professional planners as their technical expertise. Kay nods: “When we write a strategy letter whether for a small barn conversion or a large development scheme, we seek to ensure we provide the client with as clear an understanding of the route to achieve consent and to make the process as clear as possible.” If Kay is at all exasperated by the succession of changes affecting her job, she doesn’t show it. Instead, she focuses on the positives that have come from a decade of morphing planning legislation and policy.

“The government is trying to make the planning system, more streamlined, easier for householders, more flexible to businesses and reinforcing its commitment to delivering the right homes in the right places,” she states. “There are clear signs that local authorities are finally engaging in the process that will allow new homes to be delivered more widely.

The increasing recognition that just because you can’t walk to a local shop or a school doesn’t mean that a development is inherently unsustainable is so refreshing, and really helps land owners with small scale developments and conversions. Kay points out that while there was initial uncertainty about how Neighbourhood Planning, introduced by the 2011 Localism Act, would work in practice, Neighbourhood Plans are now taken very seriously and given significant weight. Kay encourages all those she works with to engage with them at an early stage.

Altering attitudes

“The tide is turning,” confirms Kay. “Even the most stubborn local authorities who resisted any kind of development activity are now accepting the shift in planning policy and legislation changes but this has often been driven by planning appeals.” And what of planning between now and 2028 – is Kay expecting the politicians to ease off the throttle? “I hope so!” she says. “However, given the government’s commitment to housing delivery, it is likely that there will be more changes. There will certainly be some case law arising from the revised NPPF when it is published in its final format. The last 10 years have also seen much greater recognition of rural areas and that’s likely to continue.”

How planning has changed in practice – case study

One of the areas where there has been a significant shift in planning rules since 2008 is housing. In the issue of affordable housing in rural areas is now more widely acknowledged, though some local authorities have been quicker to accept the changes in direction than others.

A landmark barn conversion project Fisher German advised on illustrates some of the issues and how these have been resolved over time.

In 2008, detailed planning permission was approved for the conversion of derelict barns near a farm in Derbyshire into three residential units. However, the local authority believed that under the then current planning rules the development would require a payment from the landowner towards providing affordable housing elsewhere in the district. The sum calculated came to nearly £80,000. This threatened the viability of the project, though the project was subsequently put on hold as a result of the global financial downturn. As work had not started three years later, the planning permission lapsed.

When the plans were dusted down again in 2014, newly introduced permitted development rights, which in this case allowed the conversion of agricultural buildings for use as residential dwellings meant that, unlike in 2008, a full-scale planning application was not required.

This meant a considerable cost saving for the landowner. But the local authority refused the plans as the scheme was considered unsustainable.

Yet exactly the same development had previously been granted planning permission. When challenged, the local authority suggested that an affordable housing contribution could allow the conversion to go ahead.

In November 2014, the government issued guidance noting that local authorities were unable to demand such contributions for developments of 10 dwellings or fewer. So, Fisher German appealed the local authority’s refusal, arguing that the proposals were fully compliant with the permitted development rights and that the scheme would not be unsustainable.

A government-appointed planning inspector agreed and allowed the appeal. This set an important precedent for landowners in a similar situation.

The Derbyshire development has now been completed and is fully occupied.

For more information please visit:


Blackwall Reach

SAFETY checks have been carried out on hundreds of high rise buildings* in the last 12 months, with many having to be reclad to meet regulations*.

In June 2017, all local authorities and housing associations were told by the Department for Communities and Local Government to carry out safety checks on external cladding to ensure that any potential fire spread does not pose a risk to the health and safety of tenants*.

When recladding existing developments, it is important for councils to ensure that safety measures are met whilst still creating a modern and attractive building exterior to appeal to future tenants.

When choosing a material to replace existing cladding due to safety concerns EQUITONE is a durable fibre cement facade material. It achieves the perfect balance between aesthetics and safety, meeting the reaction to fire classification A2-s1,d0 whilst offering an extensive palette of subtle and inspiring shades in a variety of textures and finishes. EQUITONE also has a life expectancy of at least 50 years.

Constructing beauty

EQUITONE’s versatility allows the architect to put their own creative stamp on the building, making it suitable for both traditional and modern schemes. It can also be cut and fabricated into a wide range of shapes, allowing the architect to use their imagination to create striking patterns in the exterior design whilst being mindful of the surrounding environment and existing buildings.

EQUITONE in practice

EQUITONE has been specified on high rise buildings throughout the UK, with a recent example being Blackwall Reach. Around 6,400m2 of EQUITONE [natura] was specified for the £300m housing development in Poplar, East London.

Almost 1,600 new apartments were created as part of the regeneration project of Blackwall Reach, which replaced the former 1970s Robin Hood Gardens housing estate.

EQUITONE [natura], which offers a tactile, smooth surface that allows the textures of the fibre cement to show through, helped to create a modern and attractive building exterior.

Request your samples here LINK

*Information from the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government’s Building Safety Programme, which was developed to ensure that residents of high rise buildings are safe now and in the future.

Digital Transformation in Government Must be Holistic and Practical

Paul Parker: SolarWinds Chief Technologist for Public Sector

By Paul Parker, Solarwinds Chief Technologist

Let’s start with the basics: the government does not exist to provide or sell IT services. It’s easy to forget this when we’re talking about public sector digital transformation, especially when current IT strategy focuses on investment in infrastructure, ROI, and innovation. That said, it’s imperative for government leaders and policy makers to keep top of mind the fact that the function of IT services in public sector is to support each organisation in delivering real services to real people, whether that be in the healthcare, protection, or civic services space.

Bearing this in mind, it’s no surprise that confusion surrounds digital transformation in the public sector. Broadly defined as the change associated with the application of digital technology to all aspects of how the organisation functions, certain recent statistics reflect how much more difficult this can be than it sounds.

For example, while the NHS has a Five Year Forward View, and has invested £4 billion in NHS digital transformation, nearly a fifth (17%) of NHS trusts and Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs) have no digital transformation strategy in place. A further 24% have only just begun to develop a strategy. Similarly, the Cloud First policy is low in uptake—less than a third (30%) of NHS trusts surveyed as part of an FOI request and under two-thirds (61%) of central government departments have adopted any level of public cloud in their organisation.


This highlights one of the big differences between the U.K. and the U.S. that I have experienced: policies with clear enforcement strategies. For example, FedRAMP in the U.S. provides a clear benchmark for U.S. federal organisations—you need to shift from insecure IT to secure, nimble, and quick IT. In addition, it provides a list of accredited vendors and partners that can help organisations achieve this. In the U.K., the Cloud First policy is comparatively vague. While it sets a strong intention that the public sector should favour public cloud ahead of all other IT solutions, there are no clear ‘teeth’ to the directive, and no regimented exceptions system.

At a policy level, clearer processes are required to better define what systems need to be transformed, what should be moved to the cloud, and the rationale behind the change. Simultaneously, there needs to be consequences for trusts that choose not to comply, with the overseeing body taking a “trust but verify” approach to ensure the policy is being implemented. To support this, a clear “exception” process is needed for public sector organisations to clearly demonstrate their reasoning if they chose, for any reason, to opt for a different tactic to the public-cloud-led approach prescribed by the Cloud First policy.


Then, at the organisational level, leaders need to think about the rationale behind their digital transformation strategy. IT investment, especially in the government, can’t be about having the shiniest toy. It has to be about serving the organisation’s core function, whether that’s saving lives in the NHS or provisioning welfare benefits for citizens.

From a strategy perspective, leaders should consider what tools and services they need to better support their service function, as opposed to what technology they want to adopt. For example, is this technology or service something that will eventually save on maintenance costs and allow us to improve this offering for our public? If it doesn’t meet these two criteria, it may be worth considering if this really is the strategic priority it first seemed. This is especially important when looking at trends such as Al or blockchain. While these both hold considerable promise for security, efficiency, and ROI, it’s important to implement these for a specific use case and business need, rather than ‘just because’ it’s on trend or another trust is deploying it.

When it comes to implementing that strategy, there is huge benefit for an organisation in leadership going that one step further—asking their team ‘what do you need from me to achieve this objective?’ By opening a dialogue with the IT teams actually executing the plan, leaders can ensure that the approach is feasible, affordable, and in line with organisation objectives.


For the IT teams on the ground, it’s important to ensure that the leadership strategy is realised in a scalable, agile, sustainable way. One of the most staggering observations for me is the number of IT professionals working retroactively to keep systems updated. Considering that downtime is impossible with critical services, it’s about embedding redundancy so that IT practitioners have no need to service systems on the go, especially when it’s a reactive response.

Over half (58%) of public sector respondents to the SolarWinds IT Trends 2018 survey say that their IT systems are not performing at optimum levels, while three-quarters (73%) of public sector IT professionals spend more than 25% of their time reactively working to optimise performance. This is crazy—it’s like trying to fix up a car as you drive it down the highway. You can’t effectively fix the bodywork, change the oil, or inspect the brakes while hurtling down the road at 70 mph.

In IT terms, these are tasks like patch management, system updates, updated policies, and security protocols. While they seem mundane and ‘small potatoes’ compared to the excitement around AI, the impact of not properly maintaining them is significant. The WannaCry disaster in 2017 is a case in point. Overlooking basic IT hygiene can have serious implications for patient care, service delivery, and citizen trust in public entities.

Pressure to achieve “digital transformation” with limited budgets, an unclear strategy, and ageing infrastructure is unfortunately paralysing public sector IT teams. As technology offerings mature and develop at a previously unheard of rate, it’s essential that we take a step back at a governance, leadership, and practitioner level to make sure our approach to public sector IT is really grounded in helping us deliver real services to real people.

Failure to protect data after hackers access 5.9m bank cards at Dixons Carphone

Reporter: Stuart Littleford

Dixons Carphone says it has been the victim of an “unauthorised data access” in which millions of customer bank card details were targeted over the past 12 months.

The company believes there were hacking attempts since last July but these were only discovered over the past week and is thought these have compromised around 5.9 million cards in one of its processing systems for Currys PC World and Dixons Travel stores.

Dixons Carphone told GPSJ: “As part of a review of our systems and data, we have determined that there has been unauthorised access to certain data held by the company. We promptly launched an investigation, engaged leading cyber security experts and added extra security measures to our systems. We have taken action to close off this access and have no evidence it is continuing. We have no evidence to date of any fraudulent use of the data as result of these incidents. We have also informed the relevant authorities including the ICO, FCA and the police.

Our investigation is ongoing and currently indicates that there was an attempt to compromise 5.9 million cards in one of the processing systems of Currys PC World and Dixons Travel stores. However, 5.8m of these cards have chip and pin protection. The data accessed in respect of these cards contains neither pin codes, card verification values (CVV) nor any authentication data enabling cardholder identification or a purchase to be made. Approximately 105,000 non-EU issued payment cards which do not have chip and pin protection have been compromised. As a precaution we immediately notified the relevant card companies via our payment provider about all these cards so that they could take the appropriate measures to protect customers.

We have no evidence of any fraud on these cards as a result of this incident. Separately, our investigation has also found that 1.2m records containing non-financial personal data, such as name, address or email address, have been accessed. We have no evidence that this information has left our systems or has resulted in any fraud at this stage. We are contacting those whose non-financial personal data was accessed to inform them, to apologise, and to give them advice on any protective steps they should take.

Dixons Carphone Chief Executive, Alex Baldock, told GPSJ: “We are extremely disappointed and sorry for any upset this may cause. The protection of our data has to be at the heart of our business, and we’ve fallen short here. We’ve taken action to close off this unauthorised access and though we have currently no evidence of fraud as a result of these incidents, we are taking this extremely seriously. We are determined to put this right and are taking steps to do so; we promptly launched an investigation, engaged leading cyber security experts, added extra security measures to our systems and will be communicating directly with those affected. Cyber crime is a continual battle for business today and we are determined to tackle this fastchanging challenge.”

Simon Cuthbert, Head of International at 8MAN by Protected Networks told GPSJ: “This breach is just another example of an organisation failing to protect their most important asset – data. The repercussions will likely be extensive in terms of financial damage, reputational damage and customer loyalty. Not to mention – this is the first breach case since the GDPR deadline passed on the 25 May. It will be interesting, and noteworthy, to see how the ICO respond to this breach as it will likely set a precedent for those that follow, and certainly kick others into action if they haven’t already ensured they are meeting, or at least attempting to meet, the new requirements.

If Dixons Carphone are unable to provide information on who accessed the data, when, and what they did with it, and deliver a report that evidences this, then they stand a risk of really falling foul of the regulator. Organisations need to ensure they have visibility of who has access to what data, and what they are doing with it, and demonstrate they are taking the necessary steps to protect their data.”

GPSJ asked if the data stolen had been “encrypted” at any stage but has not received a response from Dixons Carphone.

Zeta completes £2m LED upgrade for RBWM six months ahead of schedule

RBWM – Eton College background – SmartScape Macro

As part of its ‘spend to save initiative’ the Royal Borough of Windsor and Maidenhead (RBWM) awarded Bicester-based Zeta Specialist Lighting a £2m contract to replace all of its existing street lighting estate with energy-efficient LED luminaires.

The council’s overriding objective was to reduce both its carbon footprint and annual street lighting budget, by saving on maintenance costs and energy bills.

In the competitive tender process, Zeta’s SmartScape range of street and area lighting solutions which are manufactured at the firm’s UK-based production facility, were deemed to offer the most competitive and efficient solution. 

The tender specified a requirement to meet precise design criteria and supply in excess of 16,000 LED luminaires that would deliver significant savings in energy consumption as well as have a guaranteed design life of one hundred thousand hours. All products were to be supplied and installed within a maximum period of 18 months.

The contract win included approximately 14,000 SmartScape Nano and Macro LED street lights which were installed in residential areas and traffic routes across the Borough. Zeta also provided over 1,000 SmartScape Heritage LED conversion kits which met RBWM’s objective to retain rather than replace heritage-style lanterns in historic positions, including in the centre of Windsor and in some local parish areas.

The legacy lighting on major roads into cities including Windsor and Ascot were upgraded with Zeta’s SmartScape Macro. Zeta supplied 2,500 of this versatile LED street light which is designed specifically for distributor and traffic routes within both urban and rural areas and consumes in excess of 70 per cent less energy compared with conventional SOX, SON and CFL luminaires.

RBWM – Windsor Eton Bridge – SmartScape Heritage

All lights were fitted with the Telensa control system which provides real-time reporting of the lights’ functionality as well as the ability to dim or increase the lighting output if required.

In addition, Zeta provided a number of other LED products including the Zeta Bespoke Retrofit Subway Kits and Zeta SignLite retrofit kits. Some 200 subway lights across the Borough were re-glazed, upgraded and retrofitted with 18W and 36W variants of Zeta Bespoke Retrofit Subway Kits, replacing energy-hungry lighting which ranged from 24W to 65W. Zeta’s SignLite retrofit kits featuring low-energy 6W LEDs, are providing long-lasting illumination for over 1,000 roads signs in cities including Ascot, Windsor and Maidenhead.

As well as manufacturing and supplying the luminaires, Zeta worked closely with all other parties involved (including CMS provider Telensa and contractor AA Lighting Ltd), to project manage and co-ordinate the rollout to ensure it ran smoothly.

Overall, Zeta’s low-energy solution will deliver in excess of a 60 per cent reduction in energy consumption and associated costs. Furthermore, Zeta’s LED systems require significantly less maintenance, which lowers the cost and time requirement for RBWM to manage and maintain the lighting.

Additionally, with CMS systems integrated within each street luminaire, light levels can now be controlled centrally; improving estate management and maintenance.

Cllr Phill Bicknell, Cabinet Member for highways, transport and Windsor and Deputy Leader of the council, Royal Borough Windsor and Maidenhead told GPSJ: “This was a major project and Zeta successfully rolled it out in the short timescale of 12 months. We made the decision to undertake this project to provide our residents with better value for money street lighting and to reduce energy usage for the benefit of the environment.”

Public servants look to the future at this year’s Public Sector Show

Exclusive research published in April, carried out by the team behind the Public Sector Show, has explored the views of over 200 public servants, gauging their views of the current state of affairs in the sector and the challenges and opportunities ahead.

Top of the list of concerns for those leading, delivering and managing public services is finance and resource, cited by seven in ten (71%) of those surveyed. So much of a concern is this for public sector employees that almost two-thirds (64%) expect the quality of public services to decline in the coming years, with a majority expecting it to get harder for the sector to provide value for money for the taxpayer.

Issues related to the skills and expertise of those working in the sector are not far behind on the list of concerns. More than three in ten cite staff shortages (38%) and staff skills (31%) as important challenges facing the public sector – perhaps unsurprising when over two-thirds (64%) believe the increased use of technology in the public sector will lead to job losses, with a majority (54%) expecting the challenge of building a workforce with the right skills to get harder.

However, among the challenges identified were also opportunities. Technology, in particular, was seen as a “double-edged sword”, with a significant majority of those surveyed predicting that its increased use would also lead to better (68%) and more efficient (65%) public services. Collaboration across public sector bodies, and to a lesser extent between public and private sectors, was identified as another opportunity to deliver better, more efficient public services.

Further research carried out by the Public Sector Show team, published in June in association with Burges Salmon, explored the views of over 200 infrastructure professionals on the country’s major building priorities for the coming years.

The research revealed that almost six in ten (59%) people involved in planning and delivering infrastructure projects across the UK think that leaving the EU will make it harder to deliver improvements to the nation’s infrastructure. With the UK’s impending departure from the EU casting uncertainty over the future, half (49%) of those surveyed called for clearer direction from central government as key to improving the nation’s infrastructure.

When it comes to infrastructure spending priorities, almost three times as many people (75%) chose digital (5G/full fibre broadband) compared to air capacity (27%), while seven in ten (72%) opted for energy over just four in ten (40%) favouring the nations roads.

These findings, and others from the report, will be used to develop the agenda for the third annual National Infrastructure Forum which, for the first time, will be held as part of the Public Sector Show, the must-attend event for those looking to deliver smarter, better and more efficient public services.

Helping public servants to navigate the challenges and capitalise on the opportunities ahead is a key theme of this year’s show. Covering four key themes (Digital & Technology; Finance & Corporate; Estates & Infrastructure and Workforce & Leadership), attendees will hear from over 140 leading speakers from across the sector, including Chris Grayling MP – Secretary of State for Transport; Jacky Wright – Chief Digital Information Officer, HMRC; Malcolm Harrison – Chief Executive, Crown Commercial Service; and John Holland-Kaye, Chief Executive of Heathrow Airport.

Meanwhile, over 150 leading suppliers to the public sector, including Airbus, KPMG, Cisco, TechUK and Specsavers, will be exhibiting at the Public Sector Show, showcasing products and solutions that can support the public sector in delivering the services the UK relies on.

The Public Sector Show will take place at ExCel London on 26th June and is free to attend for those working in the public sector. Its sister event will be held in Manchester on 20th November. Find out more and register here.


Councils’ ability to replace homes sold under Right to Buy (RTB) will be all but eliminated within five years without major reform of the scheme, new analysis from the Local Government Association has told GPSJ today.

The current Right-to-Buy system only allows councils to keep a third of each RTB receipt to build a replacement home and prevents local authorities from borrowing to make up the shortfall.

A new analysis by Savills, commissioned by the LGA and published today, examined the impact of continued restrictions on councils’ ability to borrow to build new homes.

It reveals that:

  • Two thirds of councils will have no chance of replacing homes sold off under Right to Buy on a one-for-one basis in five years’ time unless a significant restructuring of the scheme takes place.
  • Around 12,224 homes were sold under RTB last year. Faced with ongoing borrowing restrictions and based on the levels of sales remaining consistent, the analysis estimates that in 2023 councils would only be able to replace approximately 2,000 of these homes.
  • Less than a third of councils would be able to sustain any kind of one-for-one replacement of homes sold under the scheme in five years’ time.

Additional rules applied to Right to Buy, including a significant portion of all receipts being handed over to the Treasury rather than the communities in which the homes are sold, are hampering the ability of local authorities to re-invest in housing.

The LGA said that, in the last six years, more than 60,000 homes have been sold off under the scheme at a price which is, on average, half the market rate, leaving councils with enough funding to build or buy just 14,000 new homes to replace them.

This leaves a shortfall of 46,000 homes which could have provided secure affordable housing for key workers, victims of domestic violence, veterans, people facing homelessness, and others in desperate need of a home they can afford.

The UK’s average family size is 2.4. Applying this to the number of homes sold off reveals that councils have lost enough homes to house the populations of Basingstoke, Worcester or Lincoln.

The LGA is warning that without a fundamental re-examination of how the scheme is funded, the Right to Buy, which helps families and individuals who otherwise wouldn’t be able to get on the housing ladder into home-ownership, faces becoming a thing of the past.

Councils are therefore calling for a comprehensive package of reform to the funding of Right to Buy, including allowing all councils to borrow to build new homes, enabling local authorities to keep 100 per cent of all sales receipts, and for councils to have the ability to set Right to Buy discounts locally to reflect community needs.

Cllr Martin Tett, LGA Housing spokesman, told GPSJ:

“We know that the Right to Buy changes lives – it helps people who otherwise wouldn’t be able to get on the ladder experience the security and independence of home-ownership. It is essential that it continues to do so.

“However, we are now in a situation where without fundamental reform of the way the scheme is funded, this vital stepping stone into home-ownership is under threat. Councils urgently need funding to support the replacement of homes sold off under the scheme, or there’s a real chance they could be all but eliminated. Without a pipeline of new homes, future generations cannot benefit from the scheme.

“Enabling all councils to borrow to build and to keep 100 per cent of their Right to Buy receipts will be critical to delivering a renaissance in house building by councils. However, if we’re to truly make Right to Buy sustainable, we must also move towards greater flexibility on discounts locally so we can reflect local community need.

“Councils are closest to their communities and it’s essential this money is reinvested in homes in those areas so our residents can access secure, affordable housing. This money is badly needed to deliver homes for our residents – instead of resting in an account in Whitehall, it should be sent back to where it belongs.”

More Than Two Thirds of Companies Were Not Confident of Being Fully Compliant Ahead of GDPR Deadline

Data handling is number one concern relating to non-compliance

Apricorn, the leading manufacturer of software-free, 256-bit AES XTS hardware-encrypted USB drives, recently announced new research highlighting that companies were massively ill-prepared for the introduction of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) enforcement deadline. Less than a third (29%) of surveyed organisations felt confident they would comply, and when questioned further and asked whether there were any areas they might be likely to fail, 81% could think of some area of the new requirements that might cause them to fail when it comes to GDPR compliance.

Fifty percent of organisations who know that GDPR will apply to them admit that a lack of understanding of the data they collect and process is their number one concern relating to non-compliance.  On top of this, almost four in ten (37%) believe they are most likely to fail because of gaps in employee training, and almost a quarter (23%) say their employees don’t understand the new responsibilities that come with the GDPR.

“Data or personally identifiable information (PII) is at the heart of GDPR and mapping and securing it should be every organisation’s number one priority. By now, all employees, from the top down, should have an understanding of the importance of GDPR and the role they play in keeping this data safe”, said Jon Fielding, Managing Director, EMEA Apricorn. “While we know that many organisations have provided some form of employee training, clearly in some cases this hasn’t been effective and organisations should address these gaps urgently.”

While almost one in ten still regard the GDPR as a mere tick box exercise, a substantial proportion do view it as being of some benefit to their organisation – for example 44% agree that the new regulation is a welcome opportunity to overhaul their organisation’s data handling and security processes. However, three in ten (30%) worry they could fail to comply due to mobile working, and almost a quarter (22%) of respondents are concerned they may fail due to a lack of encryption. “There is a lot more awareness amongst companies since our first survey last year, but we continue to see a huge amount of confusion amongst organisations as to what to prioritise in order to tackle the regulation,” added Fielding.

In line with this, 98% of respondents recognise that they will need to continue investment in policy, people and technology even now the deadline has passed. Investing in the necessary tools to make security processes easier and more efficient is vital, particularly when taking into account that Article 32 of the GDPR requires the pseudonymisation and encryption of personal data. “The best form of defence is to make sure everything you have is as locked down as possible and all PII is encrypted in transit and at rest,” advised Fielding. “Organisations should research, identify and mandate corporate-standard encrypted devices and educate employees on their use to avoid the risk of a breach and being fined for non-compliance.”

About Apricorn

Headquartered in Poway, California, Apricorn provides secure storage innovations to the most prominent companies in the categories of finance, healthcare, education, and government throughout North America, Canada and EMEA. Apricorn products have become the trusted standard for a myriad of data security strategies worldwide. Founded in 1983, numerous award-winning products have been developed under the Apricorn brand as well as for a number of leading computer manufacturers on an OEM basis.

About the survey                                                                            

The research was conducted by Vanson Bourne, an independent specialist in market research for the technology sector. Vanson Bourne interviewed 100 IT decision makers in the UK, during April 2018. Respondents to this research came from private sector organisations with more than 1,000 employees.

Vanson Bourne’s reputation for robust and credible research-based analysis is founded upon rigorous research principles and their ability to seek the opinions of senior decision makers across technical and business functions, in all business sectors and all major markets. For more information, visit