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PHOTO JESSE SALUTES CONTINUED GROWTH OF HEREFORDSHIRE COMPANY

Local campaigner and parliamentary candidate, Jesse Norman has expressed his warm congratulations on the continued rapid growth of Herefordshire-based HR Smith Group, a global specialist in search and rescue equipment. Jesse was speaking on a recent visit to the company's expanded production facilities at the Rotherwas Industrial Estate in Hereford. He was shown round by Richard Smith, the Managing Director, and also met with Nigel Monroe, the group's Production Manager.

HR Smith Group have doubled their workforce over the past four years and are still recruiting production and engineering staff in order to manage expanding world-wide sales of search and rescue equipment for the aerospace industry. Commenting on the visit, Jesse said, 'It is a huge achievement to be able to grow a company and keep recruiting in the face of global economic recession.

'Much of Herefordshire's economic future lies in technology-based firms like this one, which are based locally and yet operate nationally and internationally. We need to look away from the retail sheds of the West Midlands, and at how we can build a diverse, sustainable and modern economic base for the 21st century. Modesty is a great virtue but sometimes it's also really important to celebrate local successes as well.'

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Jesse looks at a Crash Position Indicator with Nigel Monroe of HR Smith Group in one of the company's new workspaces.

RESIDENTS URGED TO BID FOR BIG LOTTERY FUNDING FOR LOCAL PROJECT

Herefordians running projects in the county to enhance local facilities or help people enjoy their local area are being encouraged to bid for a slice of £250,000 up for grabs through The People's Millions TV contest.

Grants of up to £50,000 per project will be awarded through the People's Millions partnership between the Big Lottery Fund and ITV. Across the Central region £250,000 cash is on offer in the contest which gives the public the opportunity to decide which local projects will receive Lottery funding. In previous years the county's Taste for Adventure Centre, H.O.P.E. For Children and Their Families and the Ewyas Harold Playground project each won a grant through the scheme. 'However, the county missed out last year, so we're encouraging people running local projects to make sure they get their details in to stand a chance of winning some cash this year,' said Project Development Manager Clare Wichbold.

'The contest is particularly looking for projects that enable local people to get more involved in their community and that are original and imaginative,' added Clare. 'Later this year the short-listed projects will be showcased on ITV Central local news where they will have to convince the public why they deserve the cash. It will then be up to the public to use their vote to decide which groups win the funding.'

The People's Millions is part of the Big Lottery Fund's commitment to involving the public in deciding how Lottery money is spent. In the last four years, the competition has made 318 awards totalling £18 million to community projects across the UK through the contest. Entry packs for The People's Millions are available by calling the hotline: 08450 10 11 12, or by visiting www.peoplesmillions.org.uk. The deadline for applications is 15th May.


LORD-LIEUTENANT CALLS FOR NOMINATIONS FOR VOLUNTEER GROUPS

The Countess of Darnley, the Lord-Lieutenant for Herefordshire, has called for nominations for the 2010 Queen's Award for Voluntary Service, as new research reveals the majority of those across the wider West Midlands region (62%) believe voluntary groups aren't acknowledged enough publicly for the outstanding work they do.

The findings come from the first annual 'Volunteering Index', a report commissioned for the Award to uncover the nation's voluntary habits. It shows more than a quarter of those in the West Midlands (29%) takes time out to volunteer at least once a month. Youth and the community are the focus of most in the West Midlands' voluntary activities. While a third of volunteers in the region (34%) spends time working with young people and children, 31% gets involved in projects that will benefit their local area. Further findings show: · Sixteen per cent of people in the West Midlands give up time to volunteer at least once a week · Most people in the region volunteer for the sense of achievement it offers (51%) · While 27% in the West Midlands volunteer to meet new people, a quarter do it because it's fun and 11% for religious reasons.

Commenting on the findings, Lady Darnley said, 'There are great rewards to be had from volunteering, whether personal achievement and the development of new skills or a deeper connection with your local community, but it's clear many in Herefordshire believe those whose tireless effort to benefit others is also recognized publicly. Although this doesn't tend to be a goal of selfless volunteer groups themselves, celebrating exceptional work with such a prestigious National Honour as the Queen's Award for Voluntary Service can prove invaluable to continued success, support and donations, and help boost the profile of volunteering in Herefordshire generally. If you know a group, do get out there and nominate.'

More than 600 groups around the UK have now won the Queen's Award for Voluntary Service over the six years since its creation by Her Majesty as a National Honour equivalent to the MBE to mark the occasion of her Golden Jubilee in 2002. They include three from Herefordshire.

For further information on the Queen's Award for Voluntary Service and how to nominate a group, visit www.queensawardvoluntary.gov.uk.


WALKING IS THE NEW ROCK AND ROLL

Herefordshire Walking Festival is offering people the opportunity to walk in the footsteps of folk legend John Jones during this year's annual event which runs from Saturday, 13th until Sunday, 21st June. John, of the legendary folk rock legends Oysterband, now lives in Herefordshire, and for his new 'Feet Don't Fail Me Now' tour, will be walking to each of the venues, taking in some of the county's wonderful countryside.

John said, 'Walking is definitely the new rock and roll for me now I that have moved to this part of the country which has some of the most stunning countryside I have ever seen. The tour has given me a chance to more fully explore this countryside and I would urge anyone who loves walking to get tickets for this year's walking festival.'

John is walking from Hay-on-Wye to Titley in Herefordshire on Friday, 22nd May where Oysterband will be giving a concert at the village hall. He will then be walking from Titley to Leominster on Saturday, 23rd May to give a concert at The Blue Note and will walk on to Hereford the next day when the band will be in concert at The Barrels.

If you would like to follow in John's footsteps, why not get tickets for the Ancient Trackways to a Black and White Hamlet walk in Titley on Tuesday, 16th June from 4.30pm until 10.30pm? This seven mile walk follows a section of the Mortimer Trail and it ends with a two course meal at the Michelin starred Stagg Inn. There is also a chance to walk the Titley Loop on Saturday, 20th June from 10am until 3.30pm. This nine-mile walk links ancient settlements at Hergest Ridge, Wapley, Croft Ambrey and beyond. There is also a town walk in Leominster and a ghost walk being held in Hereford.

Jane Lewis of Herefordshire Council said, 'John is a perfect example of someone who has started walking and has become totally hooked. I am sure he will have a wonderful time getting to his tour venues on foot and I would encourage county residents to follow in his footsteps and book their tickets now for the walking festival.' Herefordshire Walking Festival offers 61 walks throughout the county. It caters for all ages and abilities and includes special interest walks such as photography, archaeology and even a chance to meet llamas.

The Mortimer Trail is the featured walk this year and although the three linear sections are fully booked, each day a section of the trail is explored and expanded into the surrounding landscape with all its ancient features and stories. 'Every Inch of the Way' offers a once in a lifetime chance to discover Mortimer Country in depth. Just email tourismmatters@herefordshire.gov.uk for your copy of the programme or visit www.walkingfestival.com from where you can buy your tickets.'


POLICE RECEIVE CASH BOOST FROM ILL GOTTEN GAINS

West Mercia Constabulary is to receive a slice of a £5.5 million cash boost from assets seized from criminals, the Home Office has announced. The force, which covers Herefordshire, Shropshire, Telford & Wrekin and Worcestershire, will receive an incentive payment for the period 1st October 2008 – 31st December 2008 of £38,442.60. This will partly be used to invest in staff at a new HQ Confiscation Unit.

Criminal assets confiscated by police forces and other asset recovery agencies between October and December 2008 totalled £31.8 million, half of which is to be shared between police, prosecutors, courts and other agencies. A total of £5.5 million will be given to police forces in England and Wales, compared with £5.14 million paid out in the same quarter last year. Since the Proceeds of Crime Act came into effect in 2003, £530.5 million has been seized. An incentive scheme introduced in 2006 allows the police and recovery agencies to retain half of all cash they seize from criminals.

Detective Inspector Paul Knight, of West Mercia Constabulary’s Economic Crime Unit, said, 'We are pleased to receive this money, which we will reinvest in staff engaged in asset recovery work. We have recently introduced a dedicated Confiscation Unit within our team and criminals convicted of offences, from which they are shown to have benefited, can expect to pay back the proceeds of their crimes in addition to any punishment the court may order. The money realised from this important work will, of course, be repaid to victims where appropriate but the communities of West Mercia can be assured that any additional funds achieved will go towards tackling crime at all levels.'

During the period 1st April 2008 to 31st March 2009 West Mercia Constabulary successfully obtained 91 Confiscation Orders to the value of £1,287,539 and 29 Cash Forfeiture Orders to the value of £169,228. This includes orders obtained for the force by the Regional Asset Recovery Team (RART) based in Solihull. Detective Inspector Knight added, 'We are committed to investing in regional collaboration. Criminals don’t recognize borders and it is important that forces work together to combat crime where possible.'


COUNCIL CALLS FOR TAX CUTS TO STEM FLOW OF EMPTY SHOPS

Herefordshire Council has added its voice to calls for the government to slash VAT on the refurbishment of empty shops from 15 per cent to 5 per cent to encourage local economies. Several local authorities support the move for temporary measures to avoid town centres falling into decline, and the Local Government Association (LGA) is pressing the case on their behalf.

'Across the UK we are told that around 200 shops a day are closing,' said Councillor Adrian Blackshaw, cabinet member for economic development. 'Thankfully, Herefordshire has not been hit as hard as many other parts of the country and we still have plenty of good quality shops to offer visitors and tourists. However, if businesses were encouraged with a tax incentive to move into and refurbish empty shops, we could avoid the possibility of our market towns being turned into ghost towns.

The council is taking decisive action to protect local people and small businesses, and helping through our mortgage relief scheme to keep people in their own homes, as well as promoting the building of more affordable homes for the future. However, more good be done at a national level for the good of market towns everywhere in the UK.'

Figures published by the Local Government Association, which represents councils in England, show that four out of five councils are now seeing empty properties on the increase in their town centres and this is impacting on the look and viability of their high streets as well as the confidence of shoppers and shopkeepers alike.


SARAH WELCOMES LIB DEM LEADER TO HEREFORD

Sarah Carr, the Liberal Democrat parliamentary candidate for Hereford and South Herefordshire welcomed Nick Clegg MP, the leader of the Liberal Democrats, and Liz Lynne, MEP for the West Midlands, to Hereford on Friday 17th April.

Nick Clegg MP, Hereford MP Paul Keetch, Liz Lynne MEP and Sarah first visited Hereford's The Royal National College for the Blind (RNCB), meeting with the Principal and staff members. The visit focused on the new multi million pound campus redevelopment 'thePoint4', officially being opened in June. ThePoint4 is set to become a world class centre of excellence for training in Sport, Recreation and Complementary Therapies, and is already home to the British Blind Football Squad. The College was rated as being 'Outstanding' in a recent Ofsted inspection.

Following a walk through of Hereford city centre, Nick, Sarah, Paul and Liz met with local business and community leaders and Liberal Democrat party supporters at a reception at Hereford Farmers' Club. With standing room only, questions ranged from the effect of high petrol prices, to the recession and its impact on local businesses, and the Liberal Democrats' proposals to reduce income tax for people on lower and middle incomes.

Commenting on the visit Sarah said, 'I was delighted to welcome Nick Clegg MP back to Hereford. Everyone was hugely impressed by the new 'thePoint4' leisure facilities at the Blind College which offer fantastic new leisure and spa facilities to members of the public as well as students of the college in Hereford. It was great to see so many of our community and business leaders at the reception afterwards - there was a real buzz in the room. The impact of the recession was a key theme, as was discussion of Liberal Democrat policies to help get us out of it. I am determined to continue campaigning in support of our local businesses and economy and working hard for our residents al year round.'


PHOTO MATTHEW DESIGNS NEW LIBRARY CARD

Users of Herefordshire libraries will now be able to have a membership card which has been designed by county residents. Matthew Smith, from Colwall designed a card featuring the River Wye and his entry was one of the four chosen as part of a countywide competition. The other winning designs feature apples, calligraphy and a county landscape. Matthew was presented with a new library card bearing his design, a goodie bag, Jessop vouchers from myherefordshire.com and a year's free supply of DVDs, CDs, computer games and talking books from Herefordshire Libraries.

Kate Murray, Herefordshire Council's assistant cultural services manager said, 'This is the first time we have asked county residents to come up with designs for our library cards and we are delighted with the winning four. Anyone who joins Herefordshire Council's library service can now have one of the new designs for their membership card and enjoy all the free benefits such as Internet access and loan of books.'


At Hereford library Christine Cattanach and Kate Murray with Laila Soobhany, Jemma Gray, Sally Morris and Matthew Smith with his winning library card design.

Matthew's winning library card design.

The apple library card designed by Karen Friedman of Hereford.

The calligraphy library card designed by Shirley Hill of Leominster.

The oast houses and footpath sign design by Michael Blackwell from Colwall.

NEW FIGURES HIGHLIGHT HOUSING AFFORDABILITY GAP SAYS JESSE

Housing in Herefordshire is far more expensive in relation to earnings than almost anywhere else in the West Midlands, and way above the national average, according to new figures from Conservative campaigner Jesse Norman.

'In 2008 the average house in Herefordshire cost £238,000,' said Jesse. 'On some estimates that is 8.2 times higher than average full-time earnings, and almost 10 times the average household income. That's far higher than either the West Midlands average (6.4), or the national average (under 7). 'We need to recognize that there are two major problems here. One is about housing, where there is a huge lack of good, new, community led house building, a lack of social housing, and waiting lists that have more than doubled over the past ten years. The second problem is the broader need to strengthen the county's economic base so that local people can earn more and afford more. Unfortunately the current recession has only made both these problems worse.

The good news is that the Tories have proposed some really interesting new ideas on housing. These include new Community Land Trusts, which allow villages to grow organically rather than in a top-down way; a commitment to scrap regional planning rules and a new opportunity for good tenants in social housing to build up an ownership stake in their properties over time. I think these proposals could make a huge difference in Herefordshire.'


COUNTY RESIDENTS INVITED TO HAVE SAY ON FUTURE WASTE MANAGEMENT

Herefordshire Council is hoping to hear from residents about future plans for waste management in this county and neighbouring Worcestershire. The Joint Municipal Waste Management Strategy for Herefordshire and Worcestershire sets out how household and some commercial waste is managed by councils in the two counties. Originally put together in 2004, the strategy covers the period up to 2034 and it is currently under review with a number of important changes being proposed. Views of residents are being sought on the proposed changes to ensure that the final strategy reflects the needs and opinions of local people.

Although there has been a marked reduction in the amount of waste produced and an increase in recycling rates, there has been a shift in national government approach to waste management. There is now much more emphasis on reducing the effect waste management has on climate change. As a result the government has introduced tougher financial penalties to all council's who exceed set landfill allowances. Landfill is a major producer of methane gas, a greenhouse gas linked to harmful climate change. In order to avoid these fines, the strategy now includes consideration of how to use waste as a valuable resource and how to reach recycling rates of 45 per cent by 2015. Resident views and feedback will play a large role in the review.

Councillor John Jarvis, Herefordshire Council's cabinet member for the environment and strategic housing said, 'We need to start looking at waste as a potential resource as we simply cannot continue to fill up landfill sites. Although we already boast a number of fantastic recycling initiatives across the two counties, we need to be even more creative in how we deal with waste. It is important that residents have the opportunity to share their views as this important issue needs to be addressed collectively by the community and I would urge everyone to make sure they have their say.'

The feedback from the resident consultation and engagement will be used to inform proposed solutions for long term, sustainable waste management. Further information on the waste strategy consultation is available from the council's website www.herefordshire.gov.uk/wastestrategy. A short questionnaire is available for residents to give us their views on this important document. You can fill the questionnaire out online.

The deadline for responses is 15th May 2009. For further information or to request a questionnaire contact Herefordshire Council on 01432 260051.


HELP FOR YOUNG PEOPLES HERITAGE PROJECTS AVAILABLE

An opportunity for young people's organizations to find out about heritage grants is to take place at a workshop in Hereford on the afternoon of Thursday, 30th April. Providing grants of between £3,000 and £25,000, the Young Roots Programme aims to involve 13-25 year-olds in finding out about their heritage, developing skills, building confidence and promoting community involvement. The projects funded through Young Roots come directly from young peoples' interests and ideas, helping them work with others in their local community.

Young Roots is a rolling programme run by the Heritage Lottery Fund and there are no deadlines for applications. Representatives from the Heritage Lottery Fund will be at Herefordshire Council's Plough Lane offices to give a presentation, and there will be the chance to meet local groups who have already had successful Young Roots projects.

Councillor Adrian Blackshaw said, 'We're delighted to welcome Heritage Lottery Fund staff to Hereford, and I hope that lots of local young people's groups take advantage of this opportunity to learn about the Young Roots scheme.'

To book a place on the workshop, please contact the Project Development Team on 01432 261793 or email projectdevelopment@herefordshire.gov.uk.


COUNTY COMMUNITY ACCESS POINTS GET LIFELINE FROM POLICE FUNDING

Two Community Access Points in Herefordshire have been thrown a financial lifeline by West Mercia Constabulary's Police Community Fund. Community Access Points were set up with the help of Herefordshire Council funding to allow local communities to have access to computer technology, particularly the Internet. The CAPs have proved popular in the rural communities with older members, who do not wish or need to buy or use computers all the time but want to surf the net occasionally or send the odd email.

The Council paid for the initial capital costs of the scheme but each group then had the onus of funding room hire, insurance, paper and ink etc. The schemes are run by volunteers, who also help new members to cope with the wonderful world of the Internet and all that it offers. West West Mercia's Police Community Fund derives its income from part of the proceeds of the sale of seized property and partly from employee donations from salaries. The charity's main aim is to help vulnerable victims of crime as well as helping local community projects. The Fund recently requested nominations of community projects that needed a financial helping hand and CSO Stephanie Annette from Bromyard Police Station put forward the CAPs at Bodenham and Pudleston as worthy causes. The Fund awarded them each £150.

Jacqui Price from the Bodenham CAP said, 'The access points are very popular but things like paper and ink put a considerable drain on the money we have to run the project. We were in danger of folding due to lack of funding but the money granted to us by the Police Community Fund will enable us to continue our good work for quite a while.'

Christine Oxley from the Pudleston CAP agreed. 'The CAPs help to bring the community together and keep up with modern technology. This money will be of great benefit to all those using this facility,' she said.


CSO Annette (centre) handing cheques to Christine Oxley (left) and Jacqui Price (right).

FLAVOURS OF HEREFORDSHIRE 2009

The 2009 Flavours of Herefordshire awards scheme has just been launched and has sparked yet another flurry of activity amongst the county's best chefs, restaurateurs, publicans, accommodation providers and food producers. Now in its eleventh year, Flavours of Herefordshire is one of the longest-running schemes in the UK which recognizes and rewards the use and promotion of local produce. The full list of categories for the 2009 Flavours of Herefordshire competition is featured at www.visitherefordshire.net. Entry forms for the competition can also be downloaded from the website or by telephoning 01432 383068.

As well as being one of the longest running, the scheme is also one of the very best examples of how an area of Britain can celebrate its regional flavours and is widely recognized as being responsible for raising standards of quality and service throughout the county since its inception eleven years ago. 'The scheme celebrates the close link which exists between Herefordshire's rural landscape and the food and drink which is on offer to its residents and visitors alike,' said cultural services manager, Jane Lewis. 'The annual highlight is the Food Festival, in October, and our key message at that this year will be about people having fun with food. We want everyone to enjoy the county's full range of local produce, and at the same time discover new ways to enjoy it. As a result, visitors this year will find more demonstrations by our visiting and local chefs during the weekend and a lot more things for kids to do as well.'

Another innovative feature of this year's festival is that both locals and visitors will be invited to submit a fully costed recipe for a meal and drinks for two, for just £10, using local beef and other local ingredients. The winner will then be offered the opportunity to cook the recipe at the Food Festival, or else have a local chef produce it for them. The eleventh annual Flavours competition will reach its conclusion on Friday, 23rd October, on the eve of the 2009 Herefordshire Food Festival.

Popular TV chef Gino D'Acampo will be the guest of honour at the prize giving gala dinner, as well as the participating chef at the Food Festival which will give all members of the public the chance to try and buy some of the UK's finest local produce over the weekend of 24th and 25th October. Copies of the current Flavours of Herefordshire Food Festival leaflet can be obtained free of charge by telephoning 01432-260621. Anyone wanting further information should log on to www.visitherefordshire.co.uk for further details.


WOMAN ASSAULTED AT LOWER BULLINGHAM

Hereford Police are appealing for witnesses to an incident during which a woman was assaulted in an unprovoked attack by an unknown man in Lower Bullingham. The incident happened at 10.15pm on Saturday, 11th April when the 24 year old victim was walking down an alleyway between The Pastures and a field. A man emerged from behind a hedge and for no reason punched her in the face. She pushed him away and he punched her again (in the eye) before pulling her to the ground. She managed to kick the offender, regain her footing and make for her home nearby.

The offender, who is unknown to the victim, is described as white, early 30's, 5'10" tall, large build with a stubbly face. He was wearing a dark-coloured bomber-style jacket, dark jeans and a black or navy cap with a white symbol on the front. No attempt was made to steal anything from the victim and police are puzzled as to the motive behind the assault. They would like to hear from anyone who was in the vicinity at the time who saw the assault or assailant.

Anybody with any information should contact Sgt Paul O'Reilly at Hereford Police Station on 0300 333 3000 or call Crimestoppers on 0800 555111.


COUNCIL URGES DOG OWNERS TO BE RESPONSIBLE

Herefordshire Council's new Community Protection Unit, which includes two dog wardens, is spearheading an event in Hereford's High Town aimed at encouraging dog owners to be responsible. The event is being held on Saturday, 2nd May and is being supported by local veterinary surgeons Brookfield Veterinary Practice, who will have a vet and nurse there all day to offer advice and information, as well as their animal ambulance.

Dog wardens will be able to give advice and information about responsible dog ownership and will bring their fully equipped dog-van. Hereford and Worcester Animal Rescue will be offering a micro-chipping service on the day, as well as Greyhound Rescue, Cats Protection League, who will be giving out free neutering vouchers, Royal Canin who will be giving information about nutrition, Vet Plus, information and vouchers to help with cost of any vaccinations that may have lapsed, and Merial who will be able to give information about parasite control. Anyone with questions will have a whole team of trained professionals on hand to be able to advise and be able to be involved in demonstrations on how to look after dogs responsibly. The day has been planned to coincide with National Pet Month and the key message this year is 'Healthy Pets Are Happy Pets.' Further information can be found at www.nationalpetmonth.org.uk.

Free poop bags will be issued on the day to encourage people to pick up dog mess. Councillor John Jarvis, who is a dog owner himself said, 'I strongly believe every dog owner has a responsibility to pick up after their dog. Dog mess is one of the major areas we get complaints about and this event aims to encourage all people who keep dogs to clean up after them. We are aiming to raise awareness of this issue and encourage the minority of irresponsible dog owners to do their duty, making public spaces cleaner and more pleasant for everyone.

On average, dog fouling costs councils about £22million a year to clean and it is not just a problem in urban areas but affects the countryside as well. I would just ask every dog owner to make sure they carry a plastic bag with them when they go out and bag it before disposing of it in a litter bin.'

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