News in brief

PUBS CONCERN

Concerns have been raised over a delay in a Government decision on a statutory code to regulate big pub companies.

Responses to a consultation were published and are still being analysed, with more than 8,000 received. Campaign groups said ministers had given a "clear commitment" to make a decision before the end of the year. Mike Benner, chief executive of the Campaign for Real Ale (Camra) said: "The Government's indecisiveness on this issue puts the future of many thousands of community pubs at risk."

A Business Department spokesman said it was "a complex issue and we want to consider carefully all the evidence that has been presented to us".

INNOVATIVE IDEA

Universities are being invited to bid for a share of a £15 million scheme to encourage students to create the Yahoos and Microsofts of the future.

University enterprise zones will provide funding to locations across England, allowing universities to drive local growth plans and support entrepreneurship and innovation. Launching the scheme, Prime Minister David Cameron said it would boost the economy by giving universities the tools to "be even better at cultivating the seeds of growth as well as knowledge".

A competition will be held in the new year to select three or four pilot zones which will be used to build business space for new hi-tech companies, allowing them to pass on their expertise to the universities.

SCHOOLS SETBACK

One of the Government's flagship free schools has been ordered to close amid continuing concerns about the standard of education it is offering.

Discovery New School in Crawley, West Sussex, has been told it must shut its doors on April 4 - the first time this kind of action has been taken. In a letter to the school's chairman of governors, Chris Cook, Schools Minister Lord Nash said he was terminating its funding agreement.

Discovery New School was declared failing and placed in special measures by watchdog Ofsted in May. A Department for Education (DfE) spokesman said it had been monitoring the school's progress and found it was not making the changes required to improve standards.

PIER RESTORATION

The first close-up glimpse has been given of a Victorian pier almost destroyed by fire three years ago - as work to restore it is poised to start in earnest.

A column supporting Grade II-listed Hastings Pier in East Sussex has been replaced, marking the first stage of a restoration project costing more than £13 million. In January, the real work starts on reviving the structure - once proclaimed "the peerless pier" - and it is hoped it will be finished by early summer 2015.

Officials from the Hastings Pier Charity, which is overseeing the rebuild, led cameras on a tour of the whole pier for the first time in more than three years.

REFUGEE REBUKE

The UK has been heavily criticised by a human rights charity for failing to resettle vulnerable Syrian refugees.

Amnesty International said the Government should "hang its head in shame" for not opening its borders to some of the millions of people displaced by continuing violence in Syria. The UK is one of a number of EU countries who have offered no resettlement or humanitarian places, Amnesty added.

The Government says it has no plans to plans to resettle or provide temporary protection to Syrians, but would consider individual asylum claims.

GO-AHEAD GIVEN

A new hydro power station that could provide up to 10% of Scotland's peak electricity demand has been given the go ahead.

Energy Minister Fergus Ewing has granted planning permission for the hydro-electric pumped storage generating station, which will be built at Coire Glas, near Spean Bridge. Work to build the new station will take five to six years, with its construction creating an estimated 150 jobs.

When it is up and running, the new station should be able to generate up to 600 megawatts (MW) of electricity - making it the most powerful one of its kind in Scotland. It will also have the capacity to store up to 30 gigawatt hours of electricity.

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