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Liaising with the public and finding out about areas of concern is very important to Herefordshire Police and in view of this another round of Policing Matters' meetings, one of which is to be held in Ross-on-Wye on Thursday, 11th June have been organized. Members of the public are being invited to find out more about policing in Herefordshire, ask questions and make suggestions at a 'Policing Matters in Central Herefordshire' which will take place on Thursday, 7th May. The meeting will take place in the Meeting Chamber at Brockington, Hafod Road, Hereford, between 7 and 9pm and will look back at the successes and challenges of the previous year, and the way ahead for the Police Service in Herefordshire. The meeting will be chaired by Councillor Bernard Hunt, Police Authority member and Chair of the Herefordshire Policing Board, supported by Chief Superintendent Mark Turner, Herefordshire's senior Police Officer.

Councillor Hunt said, 'We hope to see many people coming along. We are going out to the public as we think it's important that they have the opportunity to find out more about how their Police Service operates and performs and to be able to question those responsible for making decisions and delivering policing. By listening to their comments and suggestions we hope to better understand the concerns of Central Herefordshire residents and to ensure their views are taken into account in our decision making.' Chief Superintendent Mark Turner said, 'While the PACT meetings and other processes enable us to understand and resolve specific local issues, I welcome the opportunity these meetings provide to explain and discuss longer term performance and issues for policing the communities of Herefordshire.'

The event will include an overview of the Division's performance and the refreshed approach to policing in Herefordshire will be explained. People attending will also have the opportunity to meet informally with officers at the end of the meeting.

Policing Matters meetings will also be taking place within North and South Herefordshire. Policing Matters in North Herefordshire will be held in the Main Hall of the Minster College, Leominster on 21st May, from 3.30 pm to 5.00 pm.

Policing Matters in South Herefordshire will be held in the Music Room at the Larruperz Centre on Thursday, 11th June, from 7pm to 9pm.


A free guided walk with a difference will be taking place on Monday, 11th May when Mary Sinclair-Powell will be taking participants around Ross-on-Wye, telling lots of interesting stories about some of the lesser known history of the town.

The walk, which will take place between 7pm and 8:30pm is suitable for people of all ages and abilities but places are limited, so if you would like to take part, bookings are being taken at Ross Heritage Centre. You could take a chance and just turn up on the evening at 6:45pm but the walks are very popular, so booking is well advised.

If the weather is unsuitable for a guided walk outdoors, Mary will give a most interesting talk in the Heritage Centre itself instead. To book your place or for further information, please telephone the Heritage Centre on 01432 260675 between 10am and 5pm.


Ross-on-Wye Choral Society will be completing its 2008 / 2009 season with a performance of Mendelssohn's rousing oratorio 'Elijah' to celebrate the 200th anniversary of the composer's birth.

From his first visit to England in 1829, Mendelssohn quickly became a favourite with the British public, including Queen Victoria and Prince Albert and the first performance of Elijah took place in Birmingham in August 1846. It is fitting therefore that the Society has invited young soloists from the Birmingham Conservatoire to join them in this concert. They are Lianne Birkett (Soprano), Olivia Barry (Contralto), Swedish tenor, Mikael Onelius and taking the title role, Brazilian Bass Baritone, Marlon Da Silva Maia. James Brown will be providing organ accompaniment and the performance will as usual be under the baton of Conductor Ian Fox. It promises to be one of the highlights of the Ross on Wye musical calendar.

The concert will take place on Saturday, 16th May at 7.30p.m. in St Mary's Parish Church and promises to be one of the highlights of the Ross-on-Wye musical calendar. Tickets are priced at 15.00 (reserved) 10.00 (unreserved) and are available from The County Collection and Mervyn James in Ross on Wye, The Outback in Hereford, from the Ticket Secretary Sarah Weller (01989 566326) and on the door. Early booking is recommended.

Reduced prices are available for parties of 10 or more via the Ticket Secretary.


The local authorities in Herefordshire are asking residents to remain vigilant and take all necessary hygiene measures to prevent the spread of swine flu. There are currently no confirmed cases of the infection in this county, although there have been cases in neighbouring Worcestershire and Gloucestershire. The World Health Organization (WHO) remains at alert level 5 today, Monday, 5th May and the Primary Care Trust along with the council and the County Hospital are prepared in case a pandemic (level 6) is declared. A Public Health Incident Team was established on Monday, 27th April.

A Swine Flu Incident Room and a Herefordshire Flu Help Line is set up at NHS Herefordshire's offices in Hereford and these will be activated in the event of a pandemic. Both the Primary Care Trust and the council have begun to switch staff from their normal duties to support preparations, such as staffing the flu line and helping to manage the distribution of anti viral medicine, while ensuring that the other usual health and council services are maintained.

Director of public health, Dr Akeem Ali is Herefordshire's lead on the issue. 'In Herefordshire, it is important that we do not become complacent,' he said. 'There is so much that is not yet known about the virus and how it spreads, so we must continue to be prepared for a possible pandemic, whilst hoping for the best. Everyone can continue to take a few simple steps at home, at work or at school to maintain good respiratory and hand hygiene. Always use a tissue to catch your sneezes, throw away used tissues where germs can linger and regularly wash your hands.'

In Herefordshire, the authorities have been sending out regular updates to community groups, schools, youth clubs, residential homes, businesses, GP surgeries, dentists and pharmacists. The Department of Health has launched a Swine Flu Information Line - 0800 1513513 - which contains pre-recorded messages giving background to the disease and what we can all do to prevent its spread. It will refer callers who need more assistance to NHS Direct. Everybody in Herefordshire will shortly receive a swine flu information leaflet, as part of a national door drop, and every household should have received one by 17th May. People can get copies of the leaflets immediately, however, by downloading them from www.direct.gov.uk/swineflu. GPs have been asked to download copies of the leaflets and display them in their surgeries. The council and the primary care trust are making translations of the flu leaflets available on their web sites to help migrant and seasonal workers stay healthy too.

To keep the public informed a mass public health campaign has begun on TV and radio. The adverts remind people of the measures they can take to contain the spread of swine flu. Information for public can be found on: www.nhs.uk and www.hpa.org.uk - as well as on the council's website www.herefordshire.gov.uk and the primary care trust web site http://www.herefordshire.nhs.uk. The advice is, if you have come back from Mexico or one of the affected countries, and have flu like symptoms, stay at home and call your GP or NHS Direct on 0845 4647.

There are simple steps that people and their families should take to help prevent catching colds and flu:

1. Cover your nose and mouth when coughing or sneezing, using a tissue.
2. Dispose of dirty tissues promptly and carefully.
3. Maintain good basic hygiene - wash hands often with soap and water to reduce the spread of the virus from your hands to face or to other people.
4. Clean hard surfaces (e.g. door handles) often using a normal cleaning product.
5. Make sure your children follow this advice.

The government are not advising avoidance of mass gatherings, so public events within the county are expected to go ahead as planned with no restrictions in place. However, NHS Herefordshire stresses that it is important that people attending events should continue to take the hygiene measures designed to protect everyone from the virus, including washing their hands frequently and covering their mouth and nose when coughing or sneezing. The position will be reviewed if the situation changes. Preparations for holding local and European elections will proceed as planned but will be kept under review in liaison with EU partners.

Schools and other children's services are expected to be operating as usual at present and have been alerted to additional guidance on planning for, and responding to, pandemic flu. Schools and other children's or young people's services are asked to download and display the government flu leaflet on notice boards. Higher and further education colleges will not be advised to close even during a pandemic. Local businesses can obtain more specific advice from www.businesslink.gov.uk - which signposts to relevant guides on developing continuity plans. The Department for Business Enterprise and Regulatory Reform website also has good information on www.berr.gov.uk.


Herefordshire Council has taken over control of the A40 from the Labels roundabout in Ross up to the Gloucestershire boundary. The road will now be under direct control of the council instead of the Highways Agency. As part of the detrunking process, this part of the A40 becomes a principal road and the council will receive payments from the Department for Transport to ensure its upkeep.

Clive Hall, Herefordshire Council's networks manager, said, 'We are pleased to take over the responsibility for managing this section of the A40. As the local authority, we are best placed to manage and maintain this route to meet Herefordshire's needs, as expressed in our policies and plans.'


Herefordshire Council and its partner Amey are about to commence this year's surface dressing programme to the county's roads. Surface dressing is a cost effective way of restoring and preserving road surfaces which involves a coating of bitumen being sprayed onto the road surface, followed by one or more layers of hard stone chippings. As the bitumen sets, the chippings stick to the road surface and are further embedded by rolling in.

The process is rapid compared to many other surfacing techniques and avoids lengthy closures and disruption to road users. However, drivers do need to travel very slowly on the newly laid surface to prevent chippings being dislodged. Signs will be in place telling motorists to slow down. Inconsiderate drivers travelling above the recommended speed cause chippings to be thrown up which can damage vehicles and property and, more importantly, injure people.

The work coincides with the planned grass cutting programme which is carried out to ensure overgrown verges do not cause visibility problems for motorists. Richard Ball, Assistant Director of Environment and Culture said, 'This work is a necessary and essential part of our annual road maintenance programme and I would ask motorists to be patient when travelling along roads where surface dressing is being carried out. We will also be taking many measures to reduce inconvenience to motorists by providing advisory and warning signs.'

Wyenot News Comment:

Why, oh why was this work not carried out earlier in the year? The timing of this work coincides with the start of the busiest time of year on our roads, causing inconvenience not only to our regular motorists but to the thousands of visitors to the area.


Herefordshire Council has introduced a new fee system for foster carers which will help professionalise their roles, provide a better career structure and pay more to reflect the value of the work they do. Herefordshire's fostering allowances needed to be revised as they had fallen below the national average.

Earlier this year, the government launched new training standards to professionalise the fostering service and Herefordshire Council agreed to use the standards to underpin a new fee structure which reflected skills and competencies. This has resulted in an increase in allowances for children placed in foster care and higher fees for their carers, provided they undertake the training required.

The first level, level one, requires carers to undertake mandatory training in diversity, safeguarding and first aid, then choose one more workshop from a selection available. Councillor Jenny Hyde, cabinet member for children's service, said, 'Fostering is a challenging but incredibly rewarding job. It requires a very special kind of person to become a foster carer and make a real difference to children's lives. The council is keen to provide support and recognition for local carers. We want Herefordshire children to be placed with Herefordshire carers so that children can stay in their existing school and retain as much normality in their lives as possible.

The work our foster carers do is invaluable which is why we were keen to make sure that the revised payment system reflected their skills and gave them the opportunity for career progression too. Some of our older children can be very challenging because of their life experiences, requiring their carers to have considerable experience, skills and understanding. Having a tiered fee system allows us to recognize these additional skills.'

The new allowances paid by Herefordshire Council are, for the first time, in excess of the government's recommended rates. They vary according to the age of the child and experience of the carers. For example, a level one carer looking after a 5-10 year old would receive around 216 a week plus free Halo leisure membership for carer and child, help with transport, holidays and clothing allowances. A level three carer looking after a 16-17 year old would receive around 375 a week plus other benefits.

Anybody who is interested in fostering should ring 01432 383478. Training and support is provided.

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