A local schoolgirl has won a trip to Beijing after coming first in a nationwide Mandarin-speaking contest.

Thornhill College pupil Eve Flood beat entrants from across the UK to win the beginners prize in the British Council Mandarin Speaking Competition at London’s British Museum.

The 17-year-old has been learning Mandarin for a year as part of her school’s enrichment programme.

Eve said: “The process has been a lot of work, but it’s been really rewarding. I think it was more the journey and the improvement I’ve made, rather than the end result.”

Read more: https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/av/uk-northern-ireland-47212502/derry-s-eve-flood-gives-mandarin-masterclass

Members of Derry City and Strabane District Council’s Planning Committee today gave the go ahead for a major private residential development comprising 750 new homes at Ballyoan in the Waterside area of the city.

The plans represent an investment of £100m by development company South Bank Square Ltd. It’s the latest tranche of housing to be announced for the Crescent Link and will relieve housing stress in the city, as well as creating employment in the area over the duration of the building work.

The significant H30 site spans 37.5 hectares and is located to the east of the Clooney road overlooking the Caw roundabout and surrounded by the Clooney Road, Rossdowney Road and the Crescent Link.

The neighbourhood development will also feature a small convenience retail and professional services, as well as the provision of formal and informal open and play spaces. Access will be via a new signalised junction at Gransha, with conditions stipulated by planners to improve the Caw Roundabout and Gransha Junction as part of the works.

Mayor of Derry City and Strabane District Council, Councillor John Boyle, welcomed the news, saying: “This is a major development for the city and welcome news for home buyers. The creation of responsibly designed new neighbourhoods with good quality housing and amenities is a key priority of the Local Development Plan for Derry and Strabane. I am particularly pleased to see that these plans will also involve the improvement of the road infrastructure in the area around the Caw Roundabout. I look forward to seeing the plans move now to the next stage and work beginning on site as soon as possible.”

Speaking after the meeting, Chair of the Planning Committee, Councillor Warren Robinson, said the development would have a positive impact on the city. “I am delighted to see these plans progressing,” he declared. “The sheer scale of the development will have a major impact on the area and the entire city in terms of creating much needed quality homes for new buyers.

“It’s also positive news for the local building trade as developers anticipate the work will create 90 full-time jobs for the ten years of construction involved. I look forward to seeing the more detailed plans bring brought before planners and to the creation of a vibrant, modern new neighbourhood in the Waterside area.”

The 750 homes will include a range of housing designs, with detached and semi-detached homes, apartments and town houses. Developers have outlined plans for significant improvements to the road infrastructure in the area, as well as a bus service to service the development.

Members of the Planning Committee praised the efforts of the developers in addressing some of the ongoing concerns around the Caw Roundabout and the Crescent Link road, with proposals for an overhaul of the current system including a signalised junction at Gransha and a slip road from Crescent Link on to Clooney Road, easing the flow of traffic in the area. A free travel card will also initially be made available for those who move to the area to encourage public transport usage. The exciting plans include generous play facilities and green open spaces for the new neighbourhood as well as cycle routes and linear paths.

Fujitsu’s Timber Quay site is home to the company’s HR Hub for the whole of the UK and Ireland. Established four years ago, the HR department has expanded from zero to 60 employees in that time and is responsible for HR service delivery, employee relations, recruitment and learning and development for the firm’s UK and European operations.

Talking about the scale of opportunity in the City, Keelin Duddy, Fujitsu’s HR Service Desk Lead for the UK and Ireland, said: “The North West is fast becoming a hotbed of talent and we are keen to understand what HR expertise exists locally so we can expand our team even further. We already employ over 60 specialists – from admin support to strategic experts – and we want to create even more advisor and manager roles as Fujitsu Northern Ireland takes on more responsibilities for our global operations. We currently have a number of live vacancies and we expect this to grow in the coming months.” Read more at https://syncni.com/article/1900/open-evening-at-fujitsu-as-the-company-looks-to-expand-hr-team%20b.%20Logan%20Air%20new%20routes

A high-level delegation of senior UK diplomats visited Londonderry in Feb as part of a two day visit to gain a wider understanding of the political structures, strengths, and unique offer of Northern Ireland. The visit was an opportunity to engage local interests and discuss how the Foreign and Commonwealth Office with other partners, is delivering support internationally for all parts of the UK, including Northern Ireland. During their visit, the group met with the Mayor of Derry City and Strabane District Council Councillor John Boyle and senior officers of council where they were given an overview of the council’s Strategic Inclusive Growth Plan and the work the council is doing to secure national growth in the city region. Mayor John Boyle said the meeting was very positive in identifying opportunities the Foreign and Commonwealth Office can help to represent the city and district’s interests abroad and to assist in helping the city region achieve its ambition.

Visting Heads of Mission Discuss Derry City and Strabane Growth Plans

He said it was an excellent opportunity for the council and its stakeholders to engage directly with the Foreign and Commonwealth Office to discuss common interests in terms of business, trade and investment and education opportunities. The delegation also met with representatives from Invest NI before they travelled to Seagate Technology and the Ulster University. The delegation participated in a walking tour of the Historic City Walls before sampling a range of the finest local food and drink produce a food and drink tasting event at the Bishop’s Gate Hotel that was hosted by Invest NI, before an evening reception hosted by the Mayor. Speaking after the visit the Mayor extended his thanks to the delegation saying it was hugely significant in forging links with the FCO and in sharing information that will help the region with its current business and education challenges.

He said: “This visit by the UK senior diplomats was a very important visit for the city and wider region. It was a great opportunity for us to showcase our city and the really positive work we are doing through our Strategic Growth Plan to attract investment, invest in research and education and improve our health and wellbeing. We were able to show the benefits of strategic partnership working between council, the Ulster University and Seagate and welcome the commitment of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office in representing the interests of Northern Ireland Internationally.”

Danske Bank in Derry has launched a second North West Skills Academy, offering 20 local people the chance to gain training and a possible career with the bank as a Customer Protection Analyst. Following on from Danske Bank’s announcement last August of the creation of 67 new jobs in Derry, support from the Department for the Economy will see the company collaborate with North West Regional College to deliver 20 high quality training opportunities. Participants in the Academy who successfully complete the course will have a job interview with Danske.

Ann Williamson, Head of Employer Skills at the Department for the Economy, said: “Increasing the skills levels of the workforce in the North West, through Assured Skills Academies helps to meet the needs of growing companies, support economic growth and enhance productivity.

“Assured Skills Academies enable employers to work with training providers in the Further and Higher Education sectors to deliver industry-relevant, pre-employment training, helping ensure that expanding businesses can bring on board the people they need to grow and compete.” Niall McGarry, Senior HR Business Partner at Danske Bank, said: “This Assured Skills Academy follows on from the success of the first NW Academy last year and is a signal of our continued commitment to the local area.

Applicants need no experience in the financial services sector; all we ask is for a minimum of three A levels and six GCSEs including maths and English.” The Danske Bank analyst positions are part of a team which plays an important role in protecting the Bank’s customers through managing the risk of financial crime and fraud on their accounts. The team is based in the Bank’s historic city centre building. Mr. McGarry added: “We are keen to bring a range of people and skills into the company and I would encourage anyone who meets the criteria and who is looking for a new challenge to apply.”