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WHAM! ORGANIZE HERFORD RIDER SKILLS DAY

Herefordshire's motorcyclists will have the opportunity to improve their road safety skills this month at a Rider Skills Day being held on Sunday, 19th April, at the Community Hall in Sutton-St.-Nicholas. The event has been organized by Worcester and Hereford Advanced Motorcyclists, (WHAM), for all licensed motorcyclists from 10am until 4pm and riders can pre-book a short assessment ride with one of WHAM's trained observers in order to review their road safety awareness.

As well as the 40 minute ride there will be a one-to-one briefing with the observer, advising riders on what steps they can take to further improve their safety margins on the road. The course is completely free to the rider as the day has been generously sponsored by the Herefordshire Road Safety Group, part of the Herefordshire Community Safety and Drugs Partnership. Participating riders will have the opportunity to win one of two Institute of Advanced Motorists 'Skill for Life' packages, which normally cost over £100. One will be drawn at random, with the other being awarded to the best youngest rider on the day.

Katy Jenkins, Communications Manager for the Safer Roads Partnership in West Mercia said, 'The Safer Roads Partnership in West Mercia is committed to reducing the number of motorcyclists killed or injured on Herefordshire's roads. The aim of this rider skills day is to give motorcyclists the opportunity to assess and enhance their skills and increase their awareness of the dangers that they face on the county's roads.'

John Hodges of WHAM said, 'We are delighted to be able to offer these assessments to the county's motorcyclists. So feel free to come along and join in. You have nothing to lose and possibly a lifetime to gain!'

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COUNCIL WILL FIGHT BLOCKING OF CROSS BORDER HEALTH SERVICES

Leader of Herefordshire Council, Roger Phillips gave a stark warning to the Welsh Assembly on Thursday, 2nd April, that there would be resistance on both sides of the border if devolution policies inhibit people in Wales from receiving treatment at Hereford's new well equipped hospital.

At a regular forum of public sector agencies for Central Wales and West Midlands, which looks at a range of cross border issues like health, social care, transport, tourism and environment, Councillor Phillips explained that 13 per cent of the patients treated at Hereford County Hospital travel from the Welsh side of the border. 'Any policy move to block cross border health care could have a detrimental impact on the functional and financial viability of Hereford's acute hospital trust,' said Councillor Phillips to the chair Alun Ffred Jones AM, Minister for Heritage in the Welsh Assembly Government. 'Residents in Herefordshire, Breconshire and Radnorshire would resist strongly any move to upset the delicate balance for health care in the area.'

In 2007, a landmark Memorandum of Understanding was signed between the Welsh Assembly and West Midlands' Regional Assembly with a commitment to share information on policy and service development in border communities. Building on this, neighbouring groups have been working together to achieve a clear picture of the needs and challenges in the Wales and West Midlands border. On 2nd April, over 150 delegates gathered at a special forum in Newtown, Powys to discuss their findings and plan the way forward.

Devolution means that two different governments are now responsible for designing policies that better match the needs of people in England and in Wales. The forum is working to make sure that any inconsistencies do not result in major impacts on the everyday lives of thousands of people living in remote communities on the border. Health and social care in particular is being scrutinized to ensure that people on both sides of the border receive an efficient and appropriate level of service. For example, in the health and social care field, some patients in a single village may have a GP based in England and some in Wales, and this may influence which other services they receive. The ways in which services provided in England and Wales are managed and monitored may differ, though generally local agreements are already in place to ensure patients receive appropriate treatment, whether they receive care in Wales or England.

For many people living in the Welsh hinterlands near the English border, the nearest hospitals are either in Hereford or Shrewsbury. The issue is growing even more relevant for people in Powys as plans progress for a new radiotherapy cancer care treatment centre in Hereford.


AUTHOR EVENTS AT HEREFORDSHIRE LIBRARIES

A series of Author Events are to take place in the county's libraries during April and May. These are always popular events, so it will be well worth booking your space now.

A writing workshop will be taking place from 10:30am to 4pm in The Woolhope Room at Hereford on Saturday, with Manda Scott. Manda is the author of the best selling Boudica series and The Crystal Skull. Her first novel Hen's Teeth was short listed for the Orange Prize. This is a great opportunity for prospective and developing writers, particularly anyone interested in historical fiction. Tea and coffee will be provided. Bring your own lunch. Tickets are £5 and available from Hereford Library. Telephone 01432 383600 for further information. Please note: Hereford Library is a historic building and access to the Woolhope Room is via stairs only. If you have any queries please contact the library before booking.

A talk by Duncan James on the timber-framed buildings of Herefordshire has been organized for Thursday, 9th April from 7:30pm until 9pm. Following a sell out evening in Leominster Library last year, this popular local author and historian returns to Herefordshire Libraries with a talk at The Burgage Hall in Ledbury. With so many beautiful timber-framed buildings in this part of the county the evening is sure to be of interest to locals and visitors alike. Tickets £3 available in advance from Ledbury Library. Tel. 01532 632133.

The Medieval Murderers present: an evening of Medieval Mayhem, Murder and Magic! on Friday, 8th May at Ross Library. The event will run from 7pm - 8.30pm (or thereabouts, depending on number of questions asked and books to be signed!) The Medieval Murderers are a group of historical mystery authors who are all best-sellers in their own right, as well as collectively writing the Medieval Murderers series of books.

With a wealth of anecdotes and jokes about writers, writing, publishers and Merrie, Murderous England, the Medieval Murderers are now one of the top speaking groups of writers in the country, whose aim is to leave the audience laughing; sometimes not at the Murderers themselves. Your 'Murderers' for this evening will be best-selling authors Michael Jecks, Karen Maitland and Philip Gooden. The evening's entertainment will include an opportunity to buy novels and get them signed on the night. Tickets cost £3 and are available in advance from Ross Library. Telephone 01432 383280 for further information.

Please note: due to family illness Susanna Gregory is unable to attend this event. She sends her apologies. The other Murderers have promised 'an extra sparkling performance' to make up for her absence.


POLICE WARN OF RINGING THE CHANGES TRICK

Police are warning shopkeepers in Hereford city to be alert for an oriental male who may be going round the town trying the 'ringing the changes' trick. The fraud involves asking till staff to change a certain amount of paper money for either larger or smaller denominations. During this process, the fraudster changes their mind several times so that various denominations are passing to and from so quickly the cashier can become confused, which is the whole idea, so that the offender walks out with more than they came in with.

Such an incident occurred at a shop in Widemarsh Street on Sunday, 29th March. Between 3.30pm and 4pm, a man walked into the shop and asked for change of £200. Various notes passed forward and backward resulting in the thief walking out £100 in £10 notes the richer. The man is described as an oriental male in his mid 20's to 30's, 5'8" to 5'10" tall, of large build, with short, black hair that was spiky on the top. He had a stubbled face and was wearing black trousers and a black long-sleeved zip-up jacket with a Chinese pattern or dragon on the front. He was last seen heading towards Newmarket Street.

Police warn shop staff to be on their guard for this man or for anyone who may come in and ask for change in notes. Anyone who may recognize the suspect for this offence from his description should contact PC Neil Layton at Hereford Police Station on 0300 333 3000 or call Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555111.


JESSE SLAMS BUSINESS RATE RISES

Local campaigner Jesse Norman has accused the Government of undermining local firms and small shops by hiking their business rates during the recession. Firms across Herefordshire are seeing substantial rises in their business rate bills this year, with the prospect of even bigger hikes in 2010. After rent and staff, business rates are normally the third largest cost that they face. This comes as a survey by the Local Government Association has found that 4 out of 5 councils are reporting an increase in empty shops in town centres, something that has been widely noted in Hereford City and in several market towns.

According to Jesse, several factors are driving up business tax bills. An above inflation 5 per cent rise in business rates takes effect next month, which will push the average in Herefordshire to over £6,000 p.a. for the first time. Meanwhile small shops will be hammered by the coming revaluation, because of the Government’s decision to use April 2008 as the snapshot for the revaluation, when relative retail rents were artificially high compared to industrial and office rents. Finally, the 2007 cut in rate relief on empty properties means that Herefordshire firms will still have to pay rates on empty properties in full despite having no income from rent, and little ability to rent vacant properties out in the recession.

Commenting on the situation Jesse said, 'These government policies are making the recession worse for local firms, not better. We should be supporting our local shops and businesses, not undermining them with new tax and rate rises when times on the high street are so tough.'

Jesse's 'Save Our Small Shops' campaign has received hundreds of local nominations so far. There is still time to send in your nomination to him at Jesse Norman, 49 Broomy Hill Hereford HR4 0LJ, or via jesse4hereford@gmail.com.


YOUNG HEREFORDSHIRE POET LAUREATE SOUGHT

Herefordshire's library service is searching for a talented young poet to become the county's first Young Poet Laureate. The young poet will get the chance to perform at the prestigious Ledbury Poetry Festival and their winning poem will also be made into a postcard which will be sent to schools and libraries in the county to celebrate National Poetry Day in October, which this year has the theme Heroes and Heroines.

Anne-Marie Dossett, Herefordshire Council's reader development librarian said, 'The county's library service is a member of Poetry on Loan and, as part of that, seeks to increase access to contemporary poetry and encourage more people to read it and also write their own. Our libraries have plenty of books by good poets which can provide inspiration for our budding young poets. Birmingham already runs a successful Young Poet Laureate scheme and further inspiration can be found at www.birmingham.gov.uk/younglaureate.'

Entrants need to write four poems, one of which must be on the theme of Heroes and Heroines, and must live in or attend a school or college in Herefordshire. Entries must be received by May 29, 2009 and the short listed poets must be willing to perform their poems for an audience at The Courtyard in Hereford on Thursday, 18th June between 5.45pm and 7pm.

To enter, just email four poems to amdossett@ Herefordshire.gov.uk or post them to Young Poet Laureate Competition, Libraries Unit, Shirehall, Hereford, HR1 2HX, with full contact details.


DO YOU HAVE AN AWARD WINNING BUSINESS?

The Chamber of Commerce Herefordshire and Worcestershire are looking for special businesses from across the two counties to enter their Chamber Business Awards 2009. The Chamber Business Awards celebrate the very best of Herefordshire and Worcestershire's most successful businesses and with eleven categories, it is your chance to be recognised as a great business. Just by entering, you will boost the morale of your employees and the benefits of winning are numerous.

The categories for this year are:

· Business of the Year
· International Business of the Year
· Award for Excellence in Leisure and Tourism (Sponsored by Herefordshire County Council and Worcestershire County Council)
· Growth Business of the Year (aimed at SME's) (Sponsored by Business Link)
· Award for Excellence in People Development (Sponsored by Sanctuary Group)
· Community Enterprise of the Year
· Most Promising New Business (operating for 3 years or less)
· Award for Innovation through Technology (Sponsored by Central Technology Belt)
· Large Business of the Year (over 250 employees) (Sponsored by Nexus Creative)
· Young Entrepreneur of the Year (under 25 years of age) (Sponsored by Rural Regeneration Zone)
· Entrepreneur of the Year (sponsored by University of Worcester)

This year, more than ever, finding ways to stand out and win business is a challenge. Therefore, the Chamber of Commerce is urging every business (regardless of membership), large and small, based in Herefordshire and Worcestershire to enter and use the most prestigious business awards in the area to their advantage.

Winning a Chamber Business Award will get you talked about and make potential customers take notice. Entries close on Friday 24 April and it couldn't be easier to enter. Simply log onto www.hwchamberawards.com and complete the application form stating in no more than 2000 words why you deserve to win. The winners will be announced at the awards ceremony at Malvern Theatres on Friday, 17th July.

For more information about the awards please contact the Chamber Team on 0845 641 1641 or e-mail enquiries@hwchamber.co.uk.


DEDICATION SERVICE FOR NEW CREMATORIUM TO BE HELD IN MAY

A dedication service for Herefordshire Council's new crematorium in Hereford city is to be held on Saturday, 2nd May at 11.30am. The service is to be conducted by The Most Reverend Doctor Peter Smith, Archbishop of Cardiff and The Right Reverend Anthony Priddis, Bishop of Hereford and will officially mark the opening of the new £3.1 million facility which has been built behind the old one in Westfaling Street.

Cremations began at the new facility in March and the old crematorium, which was built in 1956 as a committal chapel, has now been demolished. Councillor John Jarvis, Herefordshire Council's cabinet member for the environment and strategic housing, said, 'We have now resolved the issue of the feature window and have a facility of which the county can be rightly proud. The new crematorium will be better for families and friends attending services because it has a lot more seating and the new road layout will ensure two funerals never mix. As well as this, the new facility will be kinder to the environment because it will emit fewer emissions and has been built to the highest environmental standards.'

Built by Thomas Vale Construction, the new crematorium will have a life span in excess of 50 years, a suitable traffic flow for the public and funeral corteges, a chapel to accommodate 120 people seated and 100 people standing, cremators, (one able to take large coffins), mercury filtration, office facilities and car parking. There will also be a viewing area for people whose religion requires they witness the cremation.

The building has been designed to be environmentally friendly and it is hoped that there will be a dedicated area for green burials where a coffin made from biodegradable materials, such as willow or cardboard, can be used in a part of the extended cemetery grounds, which will be kept wild and natural.


MAN SHOT WITH BB GUN IN HEREFORD

Police in Hereford are appealing for witnesses and issuing a warning to BB gun owners after a man was hit by a projectile from a BB gun. The incident happened in Commercial Road, Hereford at approximately 9.15pm on Thursday, 26th March.

A 21-year old man was walking along with two friends when he felt a sharp pain in his left thigh. A red mark has been left on the skin at the site of the pain. Police believe the injury has come from the use of a BB (ball-bearing) gun or similar, fired by someone in the shadows of a building in Commercial Road or, more likely, from a passing car. Police are keen to speak to anyone who was in Commercial Road around 9.15pm last Thursday and may have witnessed the incident or any suspicious behaviour.

Commenting on the use of a BB gun, Chief Inspector Jon Roberts from Hereford Police said, 'This is a very dangerous practice. Not only is there the potential for causing serious injury, particularly if the projectile fired enters the eye, but anyone waving / using a BB gun in a public place risks being challenged by firearms officers with live ammunition, with all the dangers that that scenario would present. BB guns must be kept off our streets.'

Anyone with information on last week's assault should contact PC Ian Langford at Hereford Police Station on 0300 333 3000 or call Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555111.


EDUCATION TASK GROUP DISCUSS FUTURE CHALLENGES

Plans for the future of Herefordshire's schools were under discussion this week as the Education Task Group met to discuss some of the challenges facing the county's schools. Following a head teacher conference in December, the group was set up, with an independent chair appointed by the council. Its brief is to explore the many challenges facing schools over the next few years, particularly reducing pupil numbers and associated financial shortfalls, and recommend solutions to the council's cabinet.

The task group is currently looking at which principles they can recommend to the council's cabinet prior to full consultation. These principles will form the basis of any further proposals tabled for discussion at a later date. This is complex and deals with both national trends affecting schools as well as attempting to build upon good practice in Herefordshire. The meeting this week was well attended with representatives from Herefordshire schools the Diocese and officers who entered into lively debate about a number of principles.

'We had a very positive meeting with head teacher representatives,' said Sharon Menghini, director of children's services. 'I am impressed by the determination of colleagues to recommend different potential solutions to deal with some of the challenges Herefordshire faces. There is a real appreciation of the needs of different communities and the children and young people themselves.'

Councillor Philip Price, cabinet member for ICT, education and achievement, said, 'I feel we are moving forward and with David Brown's continued chairmanship, should have a set of principles to take to Cabinet very soon. If approved, these will govern the future of education in Herefordshire for the next ten years or more.'

The group meets again later this month and aims to agree principles to take to cabinet for consideration before the end of the summer term. There will then follow a period of consultation on these principles.

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