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SAPPHIRE IS YOUNG POET LAUREATE FOR HEREFORDSHIRE

Talented Ross-on-Wye youngster, Sapphire de Sousa Stayton has been by chosen by Herefordshire Libraries to be the first ever Young Poet Laureate for the county.

Sapphire, aged 12 performed in the final judging event at The Courtyard Centre for the Arts on Thursday, 18th June, competing against four other short-listed young poets in front of a live audience and a panel of judges. It was a nerve wracking final and a close fought competition. The other finalists were Maddie Watts and Lottie Mapp, both from John Masefield School in Ledbury, Katherine Jenkins from St Richards School Bromyard, and Gabrielle Johnson from Hereford Waldorf School.

Sapphire, who goes to Haberdashers Monmouth School for Girls, was amazed by her win and said she was so happy that her mum had persuaded her to enter the competition. 'The understated expression of surprised delight on Sapphire's face when her name was announced was a poetic moment in itself,' said Mick Ligema, the council's assistant cultural services manager, who was one of the judges.

The Competition opened in February this year and 28 young hopefuls aged between 11 and 19 submitted four of their own poems with one on the theme of 'heroes and heroines.' Organizer of the competition, Librarian Anne-Marie Dossett said, 'I was so impressed with the standard of the entries. We seem to have lots of talented young poets in Herefordshire.'

Sapphire will be in post for a year. She will perform her poems at the Youth Games in July and at the prestigious Ledbury Poetry Festival on Monday, 6th July at 1.30pm at a free event called Out Loud. Her winning 'Heroes' poem will be made into a postcard especially for National Poetry Day which will be distributed throughout the West Midlands. Throughout the year she will get meet other poets and have the chance to perform alongside them.

The competition was organized by Herefordshire Libraries, Poetry on Loan and The Courtyard Centre for the Arts, and will run again next year to find the second Young Poet Laureate for Herefordshire.

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Sapphire de Sousa Staynton - Young Poet Laureate for Herefordshire 2009.

DON'T GIVE BURGLARS EXTRA OPPORTUNITY DURING THE HOT SPELL

As Britain heads for a spell of hot weather, West Mercia Police is reminding local residents not to leave their homes vulnerable to burglars in their attempts to keep cool. Both during the day and overnight while you sleep it is tempting to leave doors and windows open - but it is important that you don't open up opportunities for thieves to enter your home.

Superintendent Kevin Purcell, Head of Policing Operations in Herefordshire, said, 'Up to half of all burglaries are committed by thieves who enter the house through an unlocked door or an open window and there is traditionally a spike in the number of these crimes during heat waves. While Herefordshire is a safe place to live, it is important we all make sure thieves don't have an opportunity to spoil our enjoyment of the summer.

Don't leave open or unlocked doors or accessible windows in unoccupied rooms. For example, if you are in the back garden and leave the front door open, it would only take a matter of seconds for an opportunist thief to walk in and steal items from your home. Remember to lock up properly before you go to bed and only leave windows open in the rooms where people are sleeping.'

Residents who are going away over the summer should ask themselves the question, 'Does my home look lived in?' Take the following simple steps to make sure your property is less vulnerable to burglars and you can enjoy your holiday with peace of mind.
Use timer switches/sensors to turn lights on in the evenings while you are out
Invest in external lighting
Mark your belongings with your postcode and house number or purchase some SmartWater from your local Police Station.
If you have an alarm, set it when you leave the house.
Ensure papers, post, milk etc. are cancelled or removed from sight by a neighbour
Ask a friend or neighbour to keep an eye on your home while you're away
.


JOIN THE CONSULTATION ON AFFORDABLE HOUSING IN LEA

Affordable housing in the village of Lea will come under the spotlight during a special event to be held in the village hall on Friday, 10th July. The 'Lea affordable housing consultation event' runs from 2.30pm until 6.30pm and will give locals the chance to share their views with representatives from Herefordshire Council and the Gloucestershire Housing Association.

The two organizations are keen to obtain the views of locals on land opportunities for affordable housing in the village and the event is open to everyone. Officers will also be available to answer any queries visitors may have about the housing needs survey, which is taking place in the village and examines what quantity and kind of housing is needed in the area.


ROSS LIONS PROVIDE NEW BATONS FOR ROSS PHOENIX MAJORETTES

Tracy Cox, the Corps Director of the Ross Phoenix Majorettes, contacted the Ross-on-Wye Lions when she needed new batons for the junior section of her organisation. At a cost of 150 it was too much for their funds so the Lions came to her rescue.

The Lions know that the Majorettes are a very well organised group with good discipline and are good ambassadors for the town of Ross. Whatever competition they go into they always give of their best and invariably do very well. They needed ten new batons for their juniors and now they can fling them into the air with confidence. There are 22 members in the group, aged between five and eleven years and they train twice a week at the Larruperz Centre.

The Lions think the Majorettes set a good example for other youngsters and would like to see more join them. They wish Tracy and the Majorettes all the best for the future.

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Ross Lions present Ross Phoenix Majorettes with a cheque to purchase some much needed new batons.

LAST CALL FOR CANDIDATES FOR WALFORD PARISH COUNCIL ELECTION

Candidates wanting to stand in an election to vote for a new councillor for Walford parish council have until midday this coming Friday, 3rd July to get their nomination forms in.

The forms are available from Herefordshire council's Electoral Services Office in Hereford Town Hall or can be obtained from parish clerk Mrs J. M. Perry, Middle Park Farm, Coughton, Ross-on-Wye, HR9 5SF. Completed forms need to be handed in to the team at the Town Hall by noon on Friday.

If candidates come forward for the election, it will take place on Thursday, 30th July. The list of candidates will be published on Tuesday, 7th July, although candidates have until midday the following day to withdraw.


WEST MERCIA POLICE NEED YOUR OPINIONS

In an attempt to better understand what local people think about policing in their area, from this summer West Mercia Police will consult them four times more often. Every year, in partnership with Safer Herefordshire (formerly the Herefordshire Community Safety and Drugs Partnership), the force carries out the Crime and Safety Survey to establish local people's views on those issues which matter most to them, such as crime and antisocial behaviour. However, from Monday, 29th June, this surveying will be undertaken quarterly, rather than annually, so the force can more quickly respond to issues of concern to our communities.

Residents living across the West Mercia area, including Herefordshire, are selected on a random basis and asked to complete a postal survey that seeks their opinions on a range of issues, including: their opinion of West Mercia Police, their experience of dealing with the police in the last 12 months, their local neighbourhood issues, worry about crime, their experiences of being a victim of crime and their experiences of reporting crime to West Mercia Police. The survey also asks residents to state what they believe to be the priorities in their local area which the police and partners should be tackling.

Chief Superintendent Nick Mason, Head of Strategy, Performance and Communications, said, 'The Crime and Safety Partnership survey allows people to tell us honestly what they think about local policing in their area. Stepping up this surveying to a quarterly basis means we can get a better idea of any emerging trends in people's opinions and we can react more quickly to what they are telling us. Improving the confidence and satisfaction of our communities is key for West Mercia Police: consulting local residents on a more frequent basis will help us and our partner agencies react to their needs and provide them with a better service.

'We are also interested in the level of people's worries and fears about crime because these can often be out of proportion to actual crime levels. This is particularly important across West Mercia as it remains an area of low levels of crime and antisocial behaviour. Sometimes problems exist that do need to be tackled directly; however on other occasions more visible patrolling and improved communication between the police and the community are the key to providing reassurance. If you get a survey in the post, please fill it out and return it to us. It's an opportunity for you to shape the way Herefordshire is policed. To help the force address local needs many of the survey questions ask people to think about their neighbourhood area when answering. There are also questions relating specifically to initiatives going on in Herefordshire which will help us to assess how well people think these are working.'

Jane Rose, Safer Herefordshire Partnership Manager added, 'Safer Herefordshire is proud to work in partnership with West Mercia Police, ensuring that we are proactively addressing the concerns of the public and working together to make Herefordshire an even safer place to live, work and visit.'

If you don't receive a survey, you can still have your say. Partners and Communities Together (PACT) gives you the chance to tell your local policing team, local authority and other partner agencies about the issues causing concern in your neighbourhood and which ones you want them to deal with as a priority. Once the community agrees on the top priorities, they'll work together to address them. Find out more about PACT, including dates for forthcoming meetings and events in your area, by visiting the West Mercia Police website at www.westmercia.police.uk or by calling 0300 333 3000.


MONMOUTH MOSAIC PROJECT COMPLETE

Fifteen community and school groups took part in a massive painted mosaics project which is now displayed in the subway which links Monmouth Leisure Centre with Monmouth Quay. The painstaking work took many hours but for those that took part the satisfaction was immense.

To celebrate the completion of this art project everybody involved, including representatives from all the schools and community groups and those organizations involved in funding and managing the project met up on Monday 29th June to view the finished display and to see Ashley Thomas from the Wye Valley Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) officially unveil of the new look subway.

The project has been part of the Overlooking the Wye Scheme managed through the Wye Valley Area AONB Partnership. The scheme is part funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund with matched funding contributed by partners including the Monmouthshire Community Safety Partnership. The work on the subway was designed to have two functions. The Community Safety Function is to enhance the subway, by providing a community art project which would reduce graffiti in the area and combat fear of crime in order that more people will use the subway. The other function of the pictures is to provide a historic link between the town of Monmouth, the quay and the Wye Valley as a whole via the scenes portrayed in the paintings.

As in life, these pictures become clear with perspective, stand back and a Trow on the Wye, a man with a Coracle, Symonds Yat Hill Fort, The Kymin and many more Images of the Wye Valley come into view. The method used to make these pictures was the brainchild of Ned Heywood a local artist and potter from Chepstow. The pictures were transformed into pixels using a code letter to identify sixteen shades of grey between white and black. Wire mesh was pinned to each board and the painters read off the colour code and grid reference and then painted each individual square. There are 13,824 squares on each picture so that is 193,536 altogether so you can imagine the work involved. Yet despite this hard labour all the groups have been delighted with the end result and the experience of the process.

Continued . . .


Some of the many people that were involved in the mammoth Monmouth mosaic project.

The schools found it was a very useful task for the children as it required concentration and patience and the simplicity of the task meant that people of any age could complete a painting. It also gave everyone that took part an excuse to learn a little bit about the history of the Wye Valley. Several of the pictures illustrate the important connection the river had to the life of the valley, for transport and power.

The Wye was once an industrial valley, metals, lime, wood and stone products were transported up and down the river. The quays at Monmouth were one of the important points on that transport route. What remains of the quay now is only a small part of a long row of quays and warehouses along the riverside. Much of the evidence of that industrial past is lost in Monmouth under the bypass but further along the Wye evidence can still be seen. The remains of the Forge and lime kiln at Symonds Yat, the Furnace, Wire works and Mill in Tintern and the railway bridges at Redbrook and Lydbrook and many other sites, all hint at a Wye Valley very different from today. The Overlooking the Wye scheme is conserving many of the important historical features in the Wye Valley, famous Viewpoints such as Eagles nest at Piercefield, Hill forts such as Little Doward, River Connections such as the Monmouth and Brockweir Quays, and the Industrial Heritage such as Angidy Furnace.

Debbie McCarty of the Community Safety Partnership said, 'This has been a very successful project engaging with a diverse range of community groups that has provided community pride into an area making it much more attractive for the public to use as a safe route to cross the road to access the river and its amenities.'

Ashley Thomas of Wye Valley Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and Chair of the Joint Advisory Committee added, 'This project will benefit those that use the subway, but it has also given all those who were involved in painting these pictures a chance to learn about the wonderful history of the Wye Valley.'


CABINET GIVES GO AHEAD TO RETAIL QUARTER AND MULTI SCREEN CINEMA

Herefordshire Council's cabinet has agreed that final negotiations will now take place on a new retail quarter for Hereford. It will see the city get its first multi screen cinema, as well as a range of high-quality, household name stores.

Cabinet gave approval on Thursday, 25th June for negotiations to be finalized prior to the signing of the development agreement between the council, ESG Herefordshire and developers Stanhope plc. This will pave the way for the regeneration of the old livestock market site into a new scheme that will revitalize the whole city centre. The first phase of the project will start in 2011. It is intended to herald a range of substantial economic and social benefits for the county, including a new multi screen cinema, new restaurants, department stores, car parking and high quality pedestrianized streets with connections to the city's High Town and Maylord Centre, all helping to generate a thriving new evening economy.

Speaking at the cabinet meeting, Councillor Adrian Blackshaw said, 'An important element in the development is the plan to ensure connections between the historic heart and the extended city centre are excellent, so that the blending of old and new results in a stronger single identity for Hereford.' Almost entirely owned by Herefordshire Council, the retail and leisure quarter is the first slice in the regeneration of the entire 100-acre ESG site. The 20-year project is Hereford's biggest development since the building of its ancient cathedral in the twelfth century.

Leader of the council Roger Phillips said, 'Hereford is supported in its vision by Advantage West Midlands and other agencies and we have an opportunity now to start to deliver a scheme that will bring the big high quality retailers to the city that will also support what we already have in terms of a unique variety of independent shops and businesses.'

Since Stanhope's selection as preferred partner for the development in February 2008, the company has been negotiating a final development mix and designs for the site. Stanhope will progress the planning process, negotiate with various agencies, demolish existing buildings and construct the approved scheme, letting to retailers, restaurants, and leisure providers, and manage the completed scheme according to its agreement with Herefordshire Council. A 250-year lease to be granted to the developer once the scheme has been completed. The retail quarter is one of the key elements of the regeneration of the city. The 12.5-acre site includes 9.9 acres of council-owned area and, as a condition of the development agreement, Stanhope will fund the acquisition of any further land and property required to bring the development to fruition.

Cabinet discussed the development agreement in public session but reserved its negotiating positive in private session to ensure it gets the best possible deal for council taxpayers. The signature of the development agree it will give greater certainty to the overall scheme and the funding package required to finance the wider Edgar Street Grid regeneration, as well as concluding the open market selection of Stanhope as the preferred developer. Jonathan Bretherton, chief executive of ESG added, 'Whilst other places are faltering, Hereford continues to attract support from Advantage West Midlands, national government agencies and the very best of developers in the UK. Why? Because they believe that this council delivers and Hereford is going places. This combination is hard won and other cities would dearly love to have a piece of it.'

Gary Bourne, of Stanhope, said, 'It is very exciting to have reached this point, which is the culmination of a year of hard work by both Stanhope and ESG to firm up the development plans. With a first phase including an 8-screen cinema, restaurants, shops and new public space, the old livestock market is poised to become a vibrant new quarter for the enjoyment of Hereford residents, that will also draw in people living further afield'.

The board of ESG Herefordshire is recommending to the council that the development of the retail quarter is realized in defined stages and will be under constant review to ensure measured progress in line with the recovery of the economy. A planning application for phase one is expected to be made by Stanhope next summer, with work starting a year later. The development will be funded by Stanhope plc. This development of this first phase will coincide with the Herefordshire Council's refurbishment of the Butter Market as part of the whole city centre regeneration programme.


JESSE PLEASED AT SCHOOLS REMOVAL FROM SPECIAL MEASURES STATUS

Schools campaigner Jesse Norman has congratulated Clehonger C of E Primary School on its achievement in emerging from special measures status. Following an inspection, OFSTED announced last week that the school was no longer in special measures.

Jesse has been a strong supporter of the school, and will be one of the judges at the school's annual Carnival this week. Commenting on the news, he said, 'This is fantastic news for the school. It should never have been placed into special measures in the first place, and it has done brilliantly to emerge so quickly from them. As Maths Hat day last year showed, the school has an extraordinary creativity and energy. Many congratulations to Sue Jones and all the staff, as well as the pupils and parents for all their hard work.'

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A delighted Jesse with some of the pupils of Clehonger C of E Primary School.

THEFT OF 4 X 4 TOYOTA AND CARAVAN FROM LITTLE MARCLE

Ledbury Police are appealing for information following the theft of a Toyota 4x4 pickup vehicle and a caravan, which was stolen during a separate incident. The first theft occurred between 9.30pm on Sunday, 28th and 6am on Monday, 29th June when thieves broke into a secure Toyota Hilux 4x4 pickup, registration number C606RPA, and somehow managed to start it and drive it away from the address in Little Marcle, near Ledbury.

Some short while after, police believe the thieves approached a caravan park in nearby Little Tarrington and forced open the wooden gates. They then hitched up a cream-coloured Stirling Eccles Topaz 2-berth touring caravan to the back of the Toyota and drove off with it. Although nobody saw the Toyota being driven off with the caravan in tow, Police have found some contents of the stolen vehicle abandoned at the roadside near the caravan theft and are satisfied that this was the vehicle used to steal the caravan.

Police would like to hear from anyone who saw any suspicious activity in the Little Marcle / Little Tarrington areas in the early hours on Monday morning or from anyone who may know the current whereabouts of the Toyota and the caravan.

Anyone with information should contact Matt Clayton in the Public Service Desk at Hereford Police Station on 0300 333 3000 or call Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555111.


LAST MINUTE INJUNCTION PUTS STOP TO OPENING OF TRADITIONAL MARKET

The much anticipated opening of the relocated traditional open retail market in Hereford's city centre on Saturday, 27th June has been temporarily blocked by an interim injunction obtained by a trader from the city's Butter Market. The injunction, which prevents the relocation of the market, was granted on Tuesday, 23rd June by the High Court of Justice - but without Herefordshire Council being notified or allowed to make the case for the market. The council will be applying to have the injunction lifted but this is unlikely to take effect in time for the planned opening.

The injunction was taken out by Len Tawn, chairman of the Butter Market Traders Association, which is against the traditional market taking place in the city centre. The council had engaged entertainment to ensure the grand opening would be a great family day out. 'The last minute timing of Mr Tawn's injunction has caused maximum inconvenience to local people and the council's efforts to bring colour, life and customers to Hereford city centre,' said Michael Hainge, director of environment and culture. 'We believe Mr Tawn has scored a spectacular own goal in bringing his legal action, which the council will vigorously contest. We can only apologize to visitors, shoppers and businesses alike for this disappointment and temporary setback. Consultation showed great public support for the retail market to move from its old site of the livestock market to the city centre, in order to breathe new life into the Wednesday and Saturday market and encourage not just locals but shoppers from further afield to visit Hereford.'

Herefordshire Council is committed to ensuring the popular retail market is held in High Town and is seeking legal advice to ensure that the grand opening can take place in the very near future. In the meantime the market will continue to be open and trading at its current site at the livestock market in Hereford every Wednesday and Saturday.


COLWALL BRIDGE REOPENED

Traffic has been allowed over Colwall's new 1.5 million railway bridge for the first time since August 2007 last Friday after workmen completed work on site. The bridge had been closed due to concerns over its strength. It had been reopened to light traffic in December 2007 following structural analysis and the installation of a safe route over the bridge. Herefordshire Council worked with Network Rail, the owners of the bridge, to fast-track the construction of the new bridge.

It would normally take around three years for a bridge like this to be designed and built but the Colwall bridge has been built in just half this time. 'This bridge is vital to the communities in and around Colwall,' said Councillor Wilcox. 'I'm delighted that the day has finally come and local residents and businesses in and around the village can now use the bridge.'

The new bridge, which has a single lane controlled by traffic lights, includes wider footways on both sides of the carriageway to make it safer for pedestrians and cyclists to use. Chris Rayner, route director, Network Rail said, 'Network Rail is delighted that this project has reached completion both on time and within budget. I would like to take this opportunity to thank local residents for their patience and support during the work.'

A formal opening of the bridge is planned to take place in September.


DON'T GET DONE WHEN GOING DIGITAL

The switch over to digital television in the West Midlands is on track for 2011 which may still seem some way off, but Herefordshire Council's trading standards department, Consumer Direct and Digital UK are warning residents to be on their guard against cowboy contractors as the final part of the Rogue Trader Awareness Month Campaign.

During the last six months, advice service Consumer Direct has received more than a dozen calls from residents who believe they have been targeted by cold-calling rogues offering unnecessary upgrades or charging exorbitant fees. According to Digital UK, the independent not-for profit organization leading the switch over, most households will not need a new aerial, but may need a 'set top' box to plug into the television. Some TVs already have a digital box inside, often called an Integrated Digital TV or iDTV.

Digital UK has teamed up with Trading Standards to encourage residents who believe they may need a new aerial to use contractors who are 'Registered Digital Installers' (RDIs) and display the digital tick logo - this means they are approved and security-checked with the relevant qualifications and insurance. A full listing of RDI installers in the can be found at the RDI Licensing Body's site www.rdi-lb.tv Tim Thorne, principal trading standards officer for Herefordshire Council, said, 'In Herefordshire we have had complaints about excessive quotes, including for unnecessary work. There have also been allegations of elderly consumers being threatened with a call-out fee as a means of coercing them into accepting quotes far higher than the estimate they were given on the phone. Such practices are illegal and should be reported. Elderly vulnerable people as usual are most at risk of being taken advantage of so if residents do have elderly relatives who do not have digital then it is a good idea and easy to establish what they need to receive it. Often it is as simple as plugging in a 20 freeview box to their existing television and aerial. Follow the Digital UK guidance if in any doubt.'

Digital UK have ten top tips for viewers, to help them to avoid being conned:

1. There's no such thing as a digital aerial. Most existing aerials are fine for receiving digital TV, though five-to-ten per cent may need replacing for switch over if they're in poor condition.
2. Remember you don't need a new TV to get digital. Almost any set, even old black and white models without a Scart socket, can be converted by adding a set top box. They cost from about 25.
3. Nobody from Digital UK or any other organization linked to switch over such as the Switch over Help Scheme will come to your house unless you've arranged an appointment yourself. If you have arranged for work to be done, always make sure you ask for identification.
4. Don't agree to have work done by an aerial installer who calls without an appointment and fails to show identification.
5. Use the test card at teletext p284 for guidance on whether you need a new aerial for switch over
6. If you do need aerial work, look for a Registered Digital Installer carrying the 'digital tick' logo. For more help and advice, check the Digital UK website at www.digitaluk.co.uk.
7. If you can't find one, look for a member of the recognized trade bodies (CAI or IDSC).
8. Failing that, ask family and friends to recommend installers with a good track record, and get written quotations for the work from at least three.
9. Before work starts, agree the price, payment arrangements and start/finish dates. Don't pay for work upfront.
10. If you suspect you have been ripped off, or that there is a rogue trader in your area, call Consumer Direct on 08454 04 05 06. More information can be found at www.digitaluk.co.uk or by calling 08456 50 50 50.


VILLAGERS CELEBRATE NEW BUS SERVICE FOR WELLINGTON HEATH

Villagers in Wellington Health are hopping on board a newly-introduced bus service which they have fought for with the help of Herefordshire Council. Locals in the village, situated near Ledbury, rallied round and contacted the council when they wanted a replacement for a poorly used service which picked up in the village just twice a week.

'It's great news,' said Patrick Adams, Chairman of Wellington Heath Parish Council. 'We've now got a much improved two-hourly service running six days a week which began on Saturday, 27th June.' And there's even more good news for villagers as the bus service, provided by Malvernian Coaches, has agreed to divert one service per day to collect from the Farmers Arms pub in the village, which will enable older people and those with mobility problems to catch the bus without having to negotiate a difficult climb up a steep hill to catch the bus on its regular route. Herefordshire Council is working with its contractor, Amey, to install six bus stops around the village at locations chosen by residents.

'For many of our rural villages, a regular bus service to and from the village is a lifeline,' said Herefordshire Council's public transport officer Paul Williamson. 'We're delighted that Malvernian Coaches has come on board with the scheme and we hope villagers make best use of the new service which gives them quick and easy access into Ledbury and other parts of the county.'

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Paul Adams of Wellington Heath Parish Council with residents of the village, celebrate the new bus service.

TWO FURTHER CASES OF SWINE FLU CONFIRMED IN HEREFORDSHIRE

NHS Herefordshire and Herefordshire Council have reported the second and third confirmed cases of swine flu in the county. One confirmed case is a university student who returned home with symptoms, is responding well to treatment and has, together with immediate contacts, been given a course of anti viral drugs. The other case is a man in his 40s and public health personnel are now tracing immediate contacts to provide anti viral drugs as a precautionary measure.

With 1,358 confirmed cases of swine flu in the West Midlands and a total of 3,597 in the United Kingdom, the NHS has announced it has moved beyond the point where intensive containment of swine flu can be sustained. Due to the relatively low number of confirmed cases in Herefordshire, the county's director of public health states the county will continue to work hard to restrict the spread of swine flu. We will make the anti viral drug Tamiflu available to treat people at risk of complications.

'I want to thank everyone in our hospitals, GP practices, the NHS and council services who are working hard to help identify possible cases and put preparations in place in case we do move to an outbreak stage,' said Director of Public Health, Dr Akeem Ali. 'I wish to remind everyone that the illness is moderate but good respiratory and hand hygiene is the single most important thing people can do, at home, work or at school, to reduce their chances of catching the virus. Always use a tissue to catch your sneezes, throw away used tissues and regularly wash your hands.'

If you do feel unwell, then please stay at home and call NHS Direct on 0845 4647 or your doctor's surgery rather than going to GP surgeries or accident and emergency. Herefordshire's first case was reported earlier in June and was a man, returning from holiday in an affected area, who contacted the primary care trust out-of-hours service and has recovered well after treatment at home. A Public Health Incident Team was established in Herefordshire in April, together with a Swine Flu incident room and a Herefordshire Flu help line, which will be activated if required. Both the primary care trust and the council have identified staff who can be switched from their normal duties to support preparations, such as staffing the flu line and helping to manage the distribution of anti viral medicine if necessary, while ensuring that the other usual health and council services are maintained.

Residents are reminded that the Department of Health has 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. The Department of Health has distributed swine flu information leaflets, as part of a national door drop, but people can obtain further copies of the leaflets by downloading them from www.direct.gov.uk/swineflu.

The council and the primary care trust have made translations of the flu leaflets available on their web sites to help migrant and seasonal workers stay healthy too. 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

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