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Branson pens open letter offering his island to secure bailout for Virgin

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After weeks of social media comments around the billionaire, Sir Richard Branson has penned an open letter to all the Virgin staff.

In the long letter he makes reference to comments made about many of the Virgin businesses and addresses issues which many have raised, but for those in Crawley the most pressing will be around Virgin Atlantic.

With regard to the airline and employees taking a wage reduction Sir Branson said:

“This was a virtually unanimous decision made by Virgin Atlantic employees and their unions who collectively chose to do this to save as many jobs as possible – it was not forced upon them by management.”

He also said how proud he was of the teams who ‘continue to deliver critical medical cargo flights’.

He continues addressing the issue of the government support he says the airline requires saying:

“Together with the team at Virgin Atlantic, we will do everything we can to keep the airline going – but we will need government support to achieve that in the face of the severe uncertainty surrounding travel today and not knowing how long the planes will be grounded for. This would be in the form of a commercial loan – it wouldn’t be free money and the airline would pay it back (as easyJet will do for the £600m loan the government recently gave them).”

But the most pressing comment that has been raised across all media channels has been around Sir Richards Caribbean island with many saying he should sell it in order to help staff and the Virgin companies survive.

In addressing this Sir Richard said:

“There have been comments about my home. Joan and I did not leave Britain for tax reasons but for our love of the beautiful British Virgin Islands and in particular Necker Island, which I bought when I was 29 years old, as an uninhabited island on the edges of the BVI. Over time, we built our family home here. The rest of the island is run as a business, which employs 175 people. As with other Virgin assets, our team will raise as much money against the island as possible to save as many jobs as possible around the Group.

You can read the full letter here.

Coronavirus

How safe is my school in Crawley? Education union launches COVID-19 map

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The National Education Union, the largest education union in the UK and Europe which represents over 450,000 members has launched a new website that they say provides ‘accurate, accessible and up-to-date information about the Covid-19 rate in the locality of every school in England.’

The site is aimed at people being able to check what the levels of Covid are around the school and whether the school is on a watch list or not.

They say the site is updated weekly, and the data will show the number of Covid-19 cases in a school’s surrounding area, the trend since last week (an increase or decrease in case numbers), whether or not the school is on a watchlist, and links to any local restrictions in place.

They add:

“In much of the country the map will offer reassurance that case numbers are quite low. In others, it will reinforce public health messaging from local authorities and Government that cases are higher. In all situations it will encourage members of the public to follow all public health guidance.

Where cases are higher, it will support head teachers in encouraging parents and other visitors to school sites to maintain social distancing and hygiene.”

Commenting on the launch, Kevin Courtney, joint general secretary of the National Education Union, said: 

“Everyone in the education sector has worked hard to make full opening of schools, colleges and universities as successful as possible this autumn, but they have been let down by the Government which hasn’t even ensured that Covid testing has kept pace with need.

“But this website will also encourage parents to support our asks of the Government that they help to support safety in our schools and colleges.

“Parents, students and staff also need urgent answers on next year’s exams, and how fit for purpose they will be. This is in light of not only the past summer’s fiasco, but also the disruption of local lockdowns in the months ahead.”

You can check the information around your local school at their new site by clicking here.

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