Windfall for cycling city. The week that was June 20 to 26, 2008

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Oil-rich states should use the trillions of dollars they were making from soaring prices to finance new nuclear power plants in Britain, said Prime Minister Gordon Brown during this week in 2008.

He said: “The world is experiencing the third great oil shock in as many decades. What we have got is an agreement here – perhaps for the first time – that the oil price is too high and it is detrimental, it is causing damage and that there must be more investment in the supply of oil immediately and for future years.”

York was the only city in the Yorkshire region chosen in a network of towns and cities across England by the Government for a £90m windfall to promote cycling. The project was aimed at encouraging 2.5m people to take up cycling in order to boost the nation’s fitness and ease traffic congestion.

Bristol was named by Transport Secretary Ruth Kelly as Britain’s first official Cycling City, while 11 urban areas including York were designated Cycling Demonstration Towns. It qualified as a ‘town’ because its population was under 500,000.

The number of abortions among girls under 16 rose to 4,376 in 2007, and the sharpest increase was a 21 per cent rise among girls under 14 across England and Wales, according to the Department of Health.

There were 163 abortions among girls under 14 and 3,205 in girls aged 15, a nine per cent increase on the 2,948 in 2006. In Yorkshire there were 16,693 abortions among women overall, an increase of 712, and Doncaster had the highest abortion rate in the region, with 22 cases per 1,000 women aged 15-44, compared with a Yorkshire average of 16.

A proposal to force foreign spouses to take an English test had failed to win backing in a Home Office consultation. Immigration Minister Liam Byrne revealed that 68 out of 101 organisations and individuals who had responded were opposed to the move. However, he added that he had yet to make up his mind whether the plan would be dropped. Foreigners who wanted to marry a British person and come to the UK should have at least a “very basic” command of the language, the consultation paper said.

Millions of families were dealt another financial blow this week when British Gas’s parent company hinted at yet more price rises, despite being on course to make around £1.9bn this year. Energy giant Centrica said it would take “necessary action” to rebuild profit margins as wholesale gas prices soared – a fresh signal that its 16 million customers faced higher bills.

Meanwhile, and adding to the economic woe, Britain’s biggest mortgage lender Halifax Bank of Scotland issued a warning that house prices could fall by nine per cent this year – almost double previous expectations.

A humble cottage where one of the greatest poets of the 20th century was born opened its doors to the public at Mytholmroyd near Halifax. The late Poet Laureate Ted Hughes spent the first eight years of his life at number one Aspinall Street.

The house had been transformed into a writer’s retreat and holiday home, and this new incarnation was unveiled by fellow poet Simon Armitage. More than £70,000 had been spent on modernising the property by the Elmet Trust, which leased the house from Calderdale Council.

The not-for-profit trust was planning a seven-day festival in October to honour Hughes’s work and mark the 10th anniversary of his death.