Leeds news LIVE: Warning as snow begins to settle on M62 in West Yorkshire

Police are urging drivers to be extra careful when on West Yorkshire motorways as snow begins to settle.

By Rebecca Marano
Friday, 4th December 2020, 7:05 am
Updated Friday, 4th December 2020, 8:25 am

Highways England officers were out salting and snow ploughing the motorways in the early hours. Keep following our blog for the latest updates.

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Snow on the M62 near Junction 22. Photo by West Yorkshire Police Roads Policing Unit.

Leeds news LIVE: Friday, December 4

Last updated: Wednesday, 02 December, 2020, 12:09

  • Police warning drivers to be careful as first snow settles on the M62
  • Highways England have sent gritters and snow ploughs out across the motorway network
  • Batches of the newly approved coronavirus vaccine can be split into smaller numbers of doses, the medicines regulator has said
  • A new target to cut the UK’s emissions by at least 68% by 2030 as part of global efforts to curb climate change has been announced by Boris Johnson.
  • Parts of the north will continue to see “significant snow” over the next 24 hours and could experience the lowest overnight temperatures of the year, the Met Office has said.

Highways England gritters and snow ploughs at work on Yorkshire motorways

Highways England staff have been out since the early hours gritting the motorway and ploughing the snow. 

Students to receive more generous grades and advance notice of topics in exams

Students taking GCSE and A-level exams next year will be awarded more generous grades to compensate for disruption to their schooling during the coronavirus pandemic, the Education Secretary has announced.

Gavin Williamson said pupils in England will receive advance notice of some topics ahead of tests - as well as exam aids when sitting papers - to ensure this cohort of students is not disadvantaged.

Additional exams will also be run to give students a second chance to sit a paper if the main exams or assessments are missed due to illness or self-isolation, the Department for Education (DfE) said.

The announcement of new measures comes after the fiasco around grading of GCSE and A-level students in the summer, when exams were cancelled amid the coronavirus pandemic and school closures.

Thousands of A-level students had their results downgraded from school estimates by an algorithm, before Ofqual announced a U-turn, allowing them to use teachers' original predictions instead.

In October, the Government announced that the 2021 exams would still go ahead in England, but that the majority of them would be delayed by three weeks to give pupils more time to catch up on learning.

On Thursday, Mr Williamson unveiled a package of measures to ensure that the grades students receive are as fair as possible following growing calls for the Government to do more to compensate for missed learning.

Students will be given aids, such as formula sheets, in some exams to boost their confidence and reduce the amount of information they need to memorise, as part of the measures.

A new expert group will be set up to look at differential learning and to monitor the variation in the impact of the pandemic on students across the country.

But it is understood that grading changes simply based on the region you live in have been ruled out.

Under new contingency measures, students who miss one or more exams due to self-isolation or sickness, but who have still completed a proportion of their qualification, will still receive a grade.

If a student misses all their assessments in a subject, they will have the opportunity to sit a contingency paper held shortly after the main exam series.

These tests are expected to run in the first few weeks of July.

If a pupil has a legitimate reason to miss all their papers, then a validated teacher-informed assessment can be used but only once all chances to sit an exam have passed.

Students who are clinically extremely vulnerable will also be given the option to sit an exam at home if they cannot be in school due to restrictions.

It comes after DfE figures revealed that more than a fifth (22%) of secondary school pupils were absent from school last week for the second week running.

Mr Williamson said: "Exams are the best way of giving young people the opportunity to show what they can do, which is why it's so important they take place next summer.

"But this isn't business as usual. I know students are facing unprecedented disruption to their learning. That's why exams will be different next year, taking exceptional steps to ensure they are as fair as possible.

"I am determined to support students, parents and teachers in these unprecedented times and hope measures like more generous grading and advance notice of some topic areas will give young people the clarity and confidence they need to achieve every success."

The DfE has also announced that full, graded Ofsted inspections will not resume until the summer term and exam results will not be included in school performance tables this year.

Sats exams in Year 6 will still go ahead - except for the grammar, punctuation and spelling test - but tests in Year 2 will be suspended for a year.

Paul Whiteman, general secretary of school leaders' union NAHT, said: "In September, we were faced with secondary exams proceeding unaltered, all primary assessments going ahead as normal, full publication of performance data, and a return to inspection in January.

"This announcement brings with it some much-needed relief to school leaders who have been operating in 'emergency mode' for most of this year."

Geoff Barton, general secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders (ASCL), said: "This solution to next year's A-level and GCSE exams will make them as fair as they can be in the circumstances.

"It is not perfect - nothing can be, given the fact that learning has been so disrupted by coronavirus and that pupils have been affected to vastly different extents."

Ofqual's interim chief regulator Dame Glenys Stacey said: "Summer 2020 results were the first pandemic results. They were unique when compared to previous years, with higher grades overall.

"We have decided to carry forward the overall level of generosity from 2020 through to summer 2021, in recognition of the baleful and continuing impact of the pandemic.

"This is an unprecedented step. Having consulted widely, we think it the right thing to do."

It is understood the level of generosity will be evened out across subjects to prevent significant differences in the number of students awarded top grades depending on the subject.

Advance notice of exam topics is not expected to be made public until the end of January so students can focus their revision period from February onwards.

But James Turner, chief executive of the Sutton Trust, said the measure would need "careful management" to ensure it does not widen existing attainment gaps "as students at more affluent schools may have better access to the resources to prepare these topics in detail and at short notice".

Meanwhile, Bill Watkin, chief executive of the Sixth Form Colleges Association, said concerns remained about the differential impact that Covid-19 has had on pupils in different areas of the country.

He added: "More thought also needs to go into university admissions, to ensure that students in England are not disadvantaged because they are sitting exams next year, unlike their peers in other parts of the UK."

Leeds weather forecast as country braced for snow:

Temperatures are forecast to plummet over the next few days, with wintry conditions to hit the UK.

Winter is now in full swing, with frost, sleet, hail and snow to hit the nation from mid-week onwards.

Snow is expected in some areas of the UK, mainly in the North.

This is the forecast in Leeds:

The Met Office said: "After a chilly and bright start, cloud will increase from the west to bring outbreaks of rain during the afternoon, perhaps turning wintry on the hills. 

"Rain is likely to become more persistent during the evening. Feeling colder. Maximum temperature 4 °C.

“Further showers or longer spells of rain, heavy at times, during Friday. Rain turning to snow on the hills, especially early in the day. Windy and feeling rather cold. Maximum temperature 6 °C.”

UK long range weather forecast:

The Met Office said: "Unsettled, mostly cold and occasionally frosty conditions expected to continue into this period, with spells of rain and heavy showers for most. Snow is most likely over the hills in the north but there is a chance of snow falling to lower levels at times, especially in the far north. 

“Rain most frequent across the south, but will often extend across all areas. However, in the north there is a possibility of more settled weather developing at times, especially in the north-west. Often windy with coastal gales at times. However lighter winds expected early in this period will bring a risk of more extensive freezing fog which could be slow to clear, this true for other periods of lighter winds through the period.”

Probe finds evidence ‘do not resuscitate orders’ were used without consent

Doctors may have made blanket decisions about “do not resuscitate orders” without the input of patients or their families during the first wave of the pandemic, the care watchdog has warned.

The Care Quality Commission (CQC) said the number of complaints it had received about do not attempt cardiopulmonary resuscitation (DNACR) orders jumped to 40 between March and September.

There were just nine similar complaints in the previous six months.

Early results of the CQC’s investigation found DNACPRs may have been used inappropriately when care services were under extreme pressure following misunderstanding of the guidance on their use.

Only 15% to 20% of those who undergo the highly invasive resuscitation procedure in hospital survive, with survival rates dropping to between 5% and 10% outside of a hospital setting.

Although it can cause punctured lungs, fractured ribs and severe bruising, failing to fully appraise a patient or their loved ones of their options is a breach of their human rights, the CQC warned.

CQC guidance states decisions on DNACPRs must never be dictated by blanket policies, must be free from discrimination, and not made on a clinician’s “subjective view of a person’s quality of life”.

Despite reminding care providers of their obligations, the CQC said it had received evidence from staff and patients’ families that DNACPR orders had been applied without consultation.

One carer told said an on-call doctor had informed care home staff that if a resident were to catch Covid-19, a DNACPR order would automatically be put in place.

Another witness said some care homes and learning learning disability services had been told by GPs to place blanket orders on everyone in their care.

Others said they said it was unclear how or whom to escalate concerns to.

One senior member of staff at a care home said staff had successfully challenged every inappropriate DNACPR order they were aware of, but this had been difficult and the felt clinicians had ignored their concerns.

Some families of patients said they were not made aware such an order was in place until their relative was quite unwell.

Others said they had been told their loved one had agreed to a DNACPR order, but they had concerns over their understanding due to factors such as a lack of English or deafness.

The CQC also found examples of routine care not being provided in homes, such as an ambulance or doctor not being called, due to the existence of the do not resuscitate order.

Inappropriate DNACPR notices may still be on people’s files, the CQC said.

There are short queues outside Debenhams as shoppers look for a bargain at the ailing department store

Short queues outside Debenhams
This is the scene outside the Trinity centre as shops reopen

This is the scene on Briggate as shops reopen

This is the scene in Leeds city centre right now as shops reopen

No major queues in Leeds city centre as shops reopen

Non essential shops have reopened in Leeds, as clothes superstore Primark, furniture giant IKEA and music retailer HMV throw open their doors again.

Leeds is subject to Tier 3 restrictions which means households are not able to mix indoors and pubs, bars and restaurants cannot reopen.

However, high street and independent shops are now open - with strict Covid safety measure in place.

Leeds city centre was busy with people getting in their Christmas shopping  but it was not overwhelmingly so, though footfall did pick up around lunch time.

Nicola Irvine, 37, from west Leeds said: “I just came in to get my Christmas shopping over and done with.

“It would have been nice to be able to meet up with my sister and maybe go for lunch.

“I thought there would be huge queues but it has been absolutely fine.

“I’ve have done some Christmas shopping online but you want to see certain things in person. I can’t do my primark haul online!”

Sisters Amelia Tooze, 27, from Yeadon, and Isabelle Tooze, 25, Moortown, also came in early to do their Christmas shopping.

Amelia said: “we came in at 9 because we were worried it would be really busy but it’s been fine.

“We’ve done some Christmas shopping but it’s nice to do it in person. It’s also just nice to get dressed up for someone thing.”

Isabelle added: “yeah it’s just nice to do something that isn’t a long walk in the countryside.”

One man, who did not want to be named but frequenters of Leeds will know as the Hot Chestnut Man, said: “we’ve been here throughout lockdown as we’re a food businesses but no one has been interested.

“I’ve manned this cart for 15 years and I’ve worked with the family business for 50, since I was 16. It’s just not the same after Covid. We couldn’t work the summer fairs and have less trade.

“It’s only early days today but I’ve told my boss not to expect a lot today, I think trade will pick up over the weekend when people are off work”

Keep following for the latest updates. 

Your vaccine questions answered

How does the Covid vaccine work and why has it been approved so quickly? Your questions answered

A new Covid-19 vaccine from pharmaceutical giant Pfizer, working with German biotech company BioNTech, has been approved for use in the UK.

No corners cut in vaccine’s safety

A senior health official said the vaccine would be rolled out as “soon as possible” and “not a minute is wasted”.

Sir Patrick Vallance, the UK’s chief scientific adviser, said the vaccine approval was “very good news”.

“This is a significant step towards tackling Covid-19 and an incredible achievement by all involved,” he said in a statement.

“It will take some time before vaccination is widespread and, for now, we must be very careful to stick with our current measures to keep the virus at bay.”

Dr June Raine, head of the regulator which approved the Pfizer and BioNTech vaccine, said no corners had been cut in assessing its safety.

The Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) chief told a Downing Street briefing: “The safety of the public will always come first.

“This recommendation has only been given by the MHRA following the most rigorous scientific assessment of every piece of data so that it meets the required strict standards of safety, of effectiveness and of quality.”

Proffesor Wei Shen Lim, of the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI), told the Downing Street briefing: “The JCVI advice is aimed at maximising benefit from vaccines and therefore it’s aimed at the most vulnerable people – which are people in care homes.

“Whether or not the vaccine itself can be delivered to care homes is obviously an important point, and there will be some flexibility in terms of operational constraints.

“The JCVI’s advice is that every effort should be made to supply vaccines and offer vaccinations to care home residents, whether or not that is actually doable is dependent on deployment and implementation.”

Prof Sir Munir Pirmohamed, chair of Commission on Human Medicine expert working group, added: “We did obviously look at the stability of the vaccine, as you said it is stored at -70 degrees.

“But we were able to look at stability data and there’s stability data showing that it is stable for a short period of time at two to eight degrees, which allows it to be transported to the relevant vaccination sites.”

Dr Mary Ramsay, head of immunisations at Public Health England (PHE), said in a statement: “The recommendations from the JCVI and MHRA provide confidence that the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine has met the very high standards needed to roll out the vaccine.

“This is a big step forward in tackling the virus.

“This means it can be delivered to those most at-risk, to help prevent as many deaths from Covid-19 as possible.

“Once deployed, PHE will work alongside the MHRA to keep the safety and efficacy of the vaccine under constant review.”

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