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Ross-on-Wye based vocal group 'Forte' have been given the big thumbs up by judges at the Open Mic UK auditions. Along with the other most impressive acts, Forte have made it through to the Regional Finals and will now be performing at the live stages of Open Mic UK 2009.

Open Mic UK 2009 is the exciting new national talent competition which searches for the UK's best singers, singer / songwriters, rappers and vocalists of all genres who perform either covers or original material. Over 10, 000 hopefuls entered nation-wide and hundreds of auditionees queued patiently on the day for their turn to impress the judges. But it was Forte that wowed the panel and have now been given an opportunity to prove that they are the best on the Mic in the region. Those who made it through the audition stage will now take part in a live head to head battle in front of hundreds of audience members and a professional judging panel to win a place at the National Grand Final.

The prize for the overall winning act of Open Mic UK 2009 will be to record their own album in professional studios with an industry vocal specialist, with the potential of large investment for a single release as well as the aim to nationally chart. The winners will additionally have the opportunity to tour across the UK. The latter stages of the competition will provide artists with the opportunity to impress judges and many guests from record labels, agencies and the entertainment industry. The winners will be thrust into the media spotlight through television, radio and the press and all winners will be invited on the Open Mic UK Tour, which boasts 100 gigs across the country.

Forte, consisting of Steve Liddle and James Wisker, have been performing together for just over a year since leaving the touring musical theatre group 'Back to Broadway', where they were founder members. Now as a duo, and also together with Charlotte Hill and Daisy Campey, they perform a wide range of music with the emphasis on uniquely arranged vocal harmonies.

In advance of the regional final, Forte are presenting 'Yours for the Evening' at the Larruperz Centre in Ross on Saturday, 12th September starting at 7.30. This production is three shows in one and showcases the groups' amazing vocal talents with music from 'Together in Harmony' (easy listening songs given the special 'Forte' treatment), 'Wonders of the West End' (songs from the best musicals from the theatres of the West End and Broadway) and 'Bringing on Back the Good Times' (a musical journey through the 60s and 70s).

If you would like to see Forte perform, tickets are available from the Larruperz Centre box office by telephoning 01989 565465 or by email to

The Open Mic regional final is on Saturday, 3rd October at The Assembly, Leamington Spa, starting at 4.30pm. Details on the website

James Wisker and Steve Liddle.


Do you know your local policing team? Do you know the names of the officers in it? Do you know what they actually do? Do you know how to contact them? A new initiative by Hereford Division aims to answer all these questions for you and encourage you to find out more about what Local Policing means to the community.

Chief Inspector Jon Roberts, Head of Local Policing in Herefordshire said, 'There is a distinct difference between the work that our uniformed response teams carry out on a 24-hour basis and that of the 20 local policing teams in the county. Response officers do exactly what their name suggests - respond to calls about crime, road collisions, domestics and disorder, making arrests where appropriate and attending Court. Local policing teams, however, deal with longer term issues, rather than individual incidents, by addressing the root causes of problems in an area with partner agencies and the community itself. The overall aim of Local Policing is to achieve confident and secure neighbourhoods by providing sustainable solutions to issues.

Each local policing team is led by a sergeant and has a police officer and generally two community support officers, whose job it is to talk to their communities and find out if there are any policing issues that need addressing. It's only by talking regularly with our communities that we can find out what's really going on and do something about it, so it's important that you know who to contact in your area for help when you have a problem.

The aim of this initiative is to make members of the public aware of who is in their local policing team and how best to contact them. From the beginning of September, local policing teams will be advertising themselves by stopping to chat in the street or calling at the door if they are in the area. They will be giving out business cards and fridge magnets with contact details thereon to keep handy in case you ever need them.

There are a number of ways you can find out who's in your local policing team. Firstly, you can look at the West Mercia Police website at under Local Policing. You can contact the Public Service Desk at Hereford Police Station on 0300 333 3000 and they will send you details in the post. Alternatively you can speak to any officer in your area and they will tell you who your local police officer or community support officer is.

It is so much easier discussing an issue with someone when you know who to contact in the first place. So why not make a point of finding out so that, when you want to sort a problem, you can say, 'I Know My Local Policing Team!'


Jesse with Lea Farmers' cup winner, Heather Evans on Monday.

The Lea Show is now into its 65th year and at this year's event, which was held on Bank Holiday Monday, Conservative candidate, Jesse Norman had the honour of presenting the prizes.

This popular country show was held at Dean Common Farm, by kind permission of Mr. and Mrs. Geoff Savidge. The event was very well attended, with vigorous competition for the many prizes on offer, and a separate section for children.

'The Lea Show is a superb local event,' said Jesse, pictured with Heather Evans, winner of the Lea Farmers Cup for Best Horticultural Exhibit at the show.

'Many congratulations and thanks are due to John Whitehouse, the President of the Show, and to all the many other organisers and helpers for their hard work in putting it on.

The show is exactly the kind of local event that makes Herefordshire so special. It is fantastic that it is still going strong after 65 years. I wish it 65 more years of success -- and 65 after that for good measure!'


As part of Herefordshire Council's campaign to promote their new household recycling scheme, the waste management team has arranged for county buses to advertise the fact that most households will get a wheeled bin for all of their recyclable materials to be used from November. Buses branded with the new scheme can now be seen travelling throughout the county advising residents that wheeled bins will be delivered to their households in September and October in readiness for the new service. Residents should continue to use the current scheme until then.

Advertisements have appeared in the local press and on the radio, and billboards will also promote the scheme as well as posters in phone boxes. Members of staff from the council's waste management service have also been out and about at many sites throughout the county to promote the new scheme and give people a chance to ask questions about how the new scheme will work.

The team has been to the Big Event at the King George V Playing Fields in Hereford, Bromyard Gala, Ross town centre, Ledbury town centre, Leominster town centre, Fownhope stores, Kington Co-op, Allensmore Locks Garage, Bromyard town centre, Queenswood, Sainsbury's at Ross, Oakchurch, Ledbury market place, Ross market hall, the Hop Pocket in Bishop's Frome, Longtown post office, Wyevale and Morrison's at Leominster. Future events to be attended are Kington Show on 12th September and the Flavours of Herefordshire Food Festival which runs from 24th to 25th October.

An information pack will be delivered with every bin detailing how the new scheme works and advising people of their collection days. Recyclable waste will be collected from the wheeled bins once a fortnight and household refuse will be collected weekly using plastic sacks. Recyclable materials can be placed in the green wheeled bin. Items should be clean and loose and not in bags. Bottles and tins no longer need to be squashed and paper should be kept flat where possible. Any households not suitable for wheeled bins will still have a recycling service using plastic sacks and will have been notified of this by letter. Glass can, for the first time, be put in the wheeled bins for recycling but not in the plastic sacks.

Councillor John Jarvis said, 'We, as a council, face sever financial penalties if we do not increase the amount of recycling carried out in the county. I would like to thank residents for the recycling they already do but the new scheme will not only make it easier for everyone to recycle, we will also be able to collect a lot of new materials such as yoghurt pots, egg boxes and fruit punnets.

All materials that can be recycled should be placed loose into the wheeled bin and it will be sorted using state-of-the-art technology at a new facility near Worcester and turned into new materials.'


A local policing team in Hereford organized a barbecue and fun day for a sheltered housing scheme in the city and at the same time raised cash for the residents to have day trips and outings in the future. The event, which was held on Saturday, 22nd August at Great Western Court was organized by the Three Elms and St Nicholas Local Policing Team, comprising PC John Westlake and CSOs Elena Ekanite, John Mackie and Kirsty Jenkins.

Great Western Court, part of the Railway Housing Association, is a sheltered housing scheme for over 55's, who live in self contained one bedroom flats within a community setting. The police team have worked closely with the residents before, when they were subject to a spate of antisocial behaviour incidents. The increased visits and patrols in the area by the team had a positive impact, resolved the problem and developed an excellent relationship between the residents and police, to the point that the latter decided to stage a Summer Barbecue event for them to raise funds for future activities.

The team enlisted the support of local businesses who donated food, beverages and raffle prizes and thanks must go to Heggies, Cargills, The Starting Gate, Bubbles Hairdressers, The Courtyard Theatre, Sainsbury's and CSV for their generosity. The event proved to be a big hit with the residents and their families. Hilary Lewis, Scheme Manager at Great Western Court said, 'We had a wonderful time at the barbecue organized by our local police team. Residents, families and friends from the local community all joined in to create a superb atmosphere with good food and karaoke combined to provide an afternoon of fun and laughter.

CSOs Elena, John and Kirsty have been a constant source of support over the last nine months and their skills in providing information and reassurance are testament to the benefits that local policing brings to a neighbourhood. Their hard work and fantastic sense of fun made it an afternoon to remember. We'd also like to thank all the local businesses who supported the event, enabling us to have a tasty BBQ and raise funds for future social opportunities.'

Residents and the local policing team enjoying the barbecue at Great Western Court.


Hereford based band, 'Hidden in the Dark' helped Herefordshire Council carry out a special consultation into the refurbishment of Hereford's iconic Butter Market at an event held last week. The band, made up of songwriters Ken and Keith Hartland and Gareth Smith wrote a special song which was relayed to shoppers throughout the event in Hereford's High Town from Wednesday, 19th until Saturday, 22nd August and on the Saturday, the band made a special appearance to perform their song live in front of shoppers.

Gareth said, 'The project 'Butter Market' is important to Hereford, it's the start of revitalizing Hereford. The song mentions a number of places in Hereford but primarily it's about the Butter Market where a great many people go to meet up with friends.' Councillor Adrian Blackshaw said, 'I am really pleased the members of this band felt the future of the Butter Market was worthy of being immortalized in a song. We have had hundreds of responses from shoppers to our survey about what people want at the Butter Market and residents had until the end of August to have their say as well. I am also keen to work with Mr Len Tawn, chairman of the Butter Market Independent Traders' Association, to establish what existing traders want to happen at this landmark site for both shoppers and visitors alike.'

All suggestions gathered from the consultation will be considered and plans for refurbishment are being worked on by the council with partner organizations.

'Hidden in the Dark' performing at the Butter Market.
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