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The government's £5 billion flagship ID cards programme is history. At least, that's the verdict of Herefordshire's students, who voted on the controversial plans at the Sixth Form College's Stuff for Students freshers event last week. The vote was organized by Conservative candidate Jesse Norman.

A total of 112 young people took part, of whom 62% voted against ID cards and 38% in favour of them. In a separate poll of political parties, the Conservatives won with 39%, the Greens came in second with 33%, Labour received 13% of the vote, both the Liberal Democrats and UKIP were voted for by 7%, with 1% going to other parties.

'This is the second year in which we have run a mock election, and of course there's nothing like doing it yourself to get the right result!' said Jesse afterwards. 'But actually, as with last year, the election had a serious point. ID cards are a form of state surveillance, and young people want to be able to grow up in freedom. Very few of the students who took part had voted before, or held a ballot paper of any kind in their hands.

They need to know they can change things at the ballot box and for their part, politicians need to give them a credible message of change, instead of the usual slogans.'

Jesse at Stuff for Students.


People living in Herefordshire will be able to check out the safety of their electric blankets, before the onset of winter, at a series of free 'Electric Blanket testing' sessions which will be taking place over the coming weeks at six of the county's Fire stations. The sessions will take place as follows:

Monday, 5th October - Ross-on-Wye Fire Station from 10.30am - 3.00pm
Tuesday, 6th October - Ledbury Fire Station from 10:30am - 3:00pm
Wednesday, 7th October - Leominster Fire Station from 10.30am - 3.00pm
Monday, 12th October - Hereford Fire Station from 10.30am - 3.00pm
Tuesday, 13th October - Bromyard Fire Station from 10.30am - 3.00pm
Wednesday, 14th October - Kington Fire Station from 10.30am - 3.00pm

To assist those people living in rural areas who are unable to attend these venues, there will be collections points at other rural fire stations. For further information, or to make an appointment, please call 01432 347030.

David Taylor, Community Risk Manager at Hereford said, 'We have been very fortunate in the Herefordshire area to have had only a small number of incidents in recent years that have been directly attributable to defective electric blankets. However, when we have carried out blanket testing in the past, we have found up to seventy per cent have been potentially unsafe. Making sure your blanket is safe to use before the cold winter nights set in, is time well spent.'

Check your blanket and its lead for the following signs of wear and tear: Fraying fabric and scorch marks, exposed elements and creasing or folding, soiling and dampness, damaged or missing tapes, worn lead and loose connections.

For your free blanket test, please make an appointment by calling 01432 347030.

The events are an ideal opportunity to find out more about local services available, particularly for older people. Hereford and Worcester Fire & Rescue Service in conjunction with Hereford Home Check will have support at each event by representatives or information from a number of partner agencies including, Community Action Team, Age Concern, Electrical Safety Council, British Red Cross and Herefordshire Council.


Modern technology has produced many new ways of sharing information and police in Herefordshire have recently invested in one such technology to ensure that they keep pace. Police have traditionally used the print and broadcast media to circulate messages and appeals to the general public but with the advent of the Internet and mobile phones, many new technologies have come to the fore as alternatives, but not replacements, to the conventional forms of media. One such avenue is bluetooth messaging and from now, police in Herefordshire will be transmitting bluetooth messages on crime and safety themes to communities around the county. There is no cost to send the message and none to receive it.

Superintendent Kevin Purcell, Head of Territorial Operations in Herefordshire said, 'It is crucial that the police keep up to date with communications technology, studying and investing in systems such as bluetooth and social networking on Facebook, Bebo, Twitter and the like. Young people in particular use mobile phones and social networking far more to receive their news and to communicate with others. The police must be able to communicate with them using these new methods as well as maintaining the more traditional means for other members of our communities.

Our initial messages will concentrate on issues such as speeding drivers and drinking sensibly on a night out. We hope to use the technology on a number of forthcoming safety campaigns and the system is also an excellent tool for putting out immediate alerts for missing persons or major incidents such as gas leaks or floods.'

So, if you suddenly get a message now on your bluetooth phone in Herefordshire from West Mercia Police, don't be alarmed. It'll just be the 'thin blue line' sending you a line.


Ross-on-Wye Police are appealing for witnesses to come forward after a teenager was assaulted by a man on the upper deck of a bus as it passed through Peterstow. The assault happened around 4pm on Sunday, 23rd August on the No. 38 bus running from Hereford to Ross, when a middle-aged man grabbed one of a number of teenagers around the throat, causing reddening and superficial scratching.

The man is described as white, in his 50's, of medium build with short, cropped, grey hair and had tattoos on both forearms. He was wearing a dark blue top and beige coloured body warmer. Police believe there were a number of potential witnesses on the bus but none have come forward to date. They would like to hear from anyone who saw the incident.

Anyone with information should contact PC Andrea Morris at Ross Police Station on 0300 333 3000 or call Crimestoppers on 0800 555111.


Playbuilder is a two year project funded by the Department for Children, Families and Schools to improve or develop play areas for 8-13 year olds and Herefordshire Council is inviting bids from community organizations for a share of £500,000 to boost outdoor play facilities. Altogether, twenty-two projects are to be funded over two years. The first year's eleven projects have been selected and are underway and the council is now looking for a minimum of 11 more projects to fund next year.

The money will be used to create exciting, innovative play areas that will facilitate play in the natural environment. So a typical bid is likely to have mounds, boulders, wood and logs on the shopping list as well as exciting new types of swings, slides and zip wires. Herefordshire Council's play project co-ordinator is on hand to help turn their ideas into bids for the funding. Projects have to provide a wide range of play experiences where children can play in different ways including open-ended adventurous play and be freely accessible to all children, including those with special needs. Deadlines for bids are the end of November and a briefing event is being organized for 14th October at Hedley Lodge, Belmont, Hereford where anyone interested can come and find out more or get help with their bid.

Alex Fitzpatrick of Herefordshire Council said, 'The first round of projects is well underway with particular progress taking place at recreation grounds in Credenhill and Peterchurch. We've seen boulders, ramps and mounds as well as new and exciting types of equipment being incorporated in the designs for play areas to add a different dimension and encourage a broader range of play for a wider age group. Now we need to talk to community groups or individuals who have ideas so that we can work together to submit bids for next year's projects.

We're looking at around £50,000 per project and we are open to ideas, as long as they fit in with the concept of challenging, adventurous play utilizing the natural environment. Groups also need to really show they understand what their local young people want. This is a great opportunity for local community groups to be creative and work with children and young people to enhance play opportunities.'

For further information or to book a place at the briefing event contact Tobin Godfrey on 01432 383521.

Amanda Cross with five year old Fred, shopping for boulders to put in the park at Peterchurch.


Hereford Police are appealing for witnesses to come forward after a moped was in collision with a brick wall in the early hours of this morning, leaving the rider in a critical condition in hospital.

The incident happened on the B4399 Holme Lacy Road, Hereford by the Thorn Business Park at Rotherwas at 2.30am on Wednesday, 16th September. A Derbi Senda SM moped was being ridden along the road towards Hereford when, for a reason yet to be ascertained, it crossed the road and collided with a brick wall on the opposite verge. The 16-year old male rider was taken to Hereford County Hospital where he remains in a critical condition with head injuries. No other vehicle was involved in the incident.

Police collision investigators were called to the scene to try and establish the cause of the crash, which occurred on a straight well-lit piece of road. Police are anxious to trace any witnesses who may have seen the collision or the moped being ridden along the Holme Lacy Road immediately before the crash.

Anybody with information is urged to call PC Paul Turner from the Roads Policing Team at Hereford Police Station on 0300 333 3000 as soon as possible.


Herefordshire Police are issuing a plea to tractor drivers in the county to pull over, where safe if they have a queue of vehicles behind them. The request follows a number of complaints from irate motorists of delays caused by slow moving agricultural vehicles failing to yield.

Sergeant Tony Jones, from the Road Policing Team based at Hereford Police Station, said a number of people had contacted West Mercia Police over the issue recently and now was a good time to remind all drivers of tractors and other slow moving vehicles of the need to comply with the law in respect of driving without due consideration for other road users. Sergeant Jones said, 'A few tractor drivers will travel slowly along main roads, towing long, laden trailers and not give other vehicles the opportunity to pass. This causes a long snake of cars behind the tractor. Driver frustration then sets in, making impatient car drivers take extreme risks trying to overtake.'

The police recommendation to slow moving vehicles is to pull over, where it safe to do so, when you have six or more vehicles behind you. Tractors drivers are urged not to pull over where there are double solid white lines which would mean passing cars crossing those lines. Common sense should be the order of the day. Some staff on farms who drive tractors, particularly migrant workers from overseas, may be unaware that failure to pull over when you have a long queue of traffic behind you could constitute an offence of inconsiderate driving,' continued Sergeant Jones. 'The offence could earn you 3 to 9 points on your licence and a fine of up to £5,000. We would urge farm owners to ensure that their staff are aware of the law and that they should pull over where necessary and safe to do so. A little consideration for others goes a long way.'


NHS Herefordshire has confirmed that it moved ahead of the newly announced national ban on the use of premium rate telephone numbers for out of hours health care.

Health minister, Mike O'Brien has announced changes to the law that will prohibit any number or tariff that makes it expensive for people to call their local GP or hospital, however, NHS Herefordshire had already changed the 'out of hours' number to contact a doctor or dentist on 1st April 2009. A call to the number is charged at a local rate and is 0330 1239309. The service is for all residents as well as visitors to the county and lines are open between 6pm and 8am Monday to Friday, during weekends and on public and bank holidays. Anyone with an urgent query about adult social care can also use this number between 5pm and 9am.

Dr. Ian Williams, director of integrated commissioning for Herefordshire Council and NHS Herefordshire said, 'The out-of-hours service is there to help people who have an urgent medical or dental concern while their GP or dental surgery is closed. We anticipated that the number should be charged at a local rate rather than a premium one as it is important that people on low incomes should never be inhibited in using the telephone when they need help, advice or treatment.'

A leaflet containing the new number and information about doctor and dental services in Herefordshire was sent to every home in the county. The service is provided by NHS Herefordshire, in association with Primecare. Primecare's fully trained, dedicated team help around 3,000 people each month with urgent health problems. This rises to as many as 4,500 during December. Calls dealt with by the team range from severe abdominal pain and collapse to general enquiries about flu and vomiting.

The government's announcement follows a recent public consultation on the use of 084 numbers in the NHS. Almost 3,000 members of the public responded, demonstrating the strength of feeling on this issue. It was clear from the feedback that patients supported the banning of the use of premium rate telephone numbers.


The capital is planning a health integration board of 15 borough councils and their local primary care trusts in order to improve services. The move follows the model of Herefordshire Council and NHS Herefordshire, which exactly two years ago, agreed to appoint one chief executive and to bring services together to improve health and social care and achieve better value for money. Herefordshire was also unique in appointing a joint management board, agreeing one vision and integrating several services to make them easier to use for local people.

One London council, Hammersmith and Fulham, did appoint a joint chief executive earlier this year and is putting a single top team together after a fact finding visit to Herefordshire. Hammersmith became the second council after Herefordshire to follow this route. Now, several other London boroughs are on the verge of sealing a deal to dramatically boost integration between councils and the NHS in order to promote better joint working, as public sector bodies move to slash costs and improve services. A new health integration board is expected to be finalized later this month. In Greater Manchester, local authorities and primary care trusts are also talking about enhanced partnerships.

Chief executive of Herefordshire Council and NHS Herefordshire, Chris Bull was appointed in December 2007. 'Herefordshire is making strong progress on our shared vision, which is to work together and achieve efficient, excellent and value for money services and improved outcomes for people in Herefordshire, ' he said. This means that services can be planned, purchased, designed and delivered in an integrated way around the individual needs of patients and customers. The council and the primary care trust also have a one set of agreed values that puts people at the heart of everything we do. The government has been keeping a watching brief on Herefordshire's innovative approach and now the West Midlands Improvement and Efficiency Agency has awarded funds for the council, the primary care trust and the county hospital to explore opportunities to share even more services between them.

The aim is to make services more understandable and easy to use, as well as cut duplication and increase efficiency. A business plan has been completed which looks sharing information technology services finance, procurement, human resources, payroll and expenses, communications, internal audit, legal, transport, estates, printing and emergency planning. The council's Herefordshire Connects suite of transformation programmes is also driving through improvements to how social care cases are managed, as well as new systems to shared environment and regeneration information and is integrating human resources, HR, payroll, finance and procurement services.

Several front office services have been transferred to Info Centres in all market towns, improving customer care and making administration more efficient and effective. The customer call centre and Info by Phone services speed up responses on a wide range of public services, with most queries now answered at first contact. A new performance management system also aims to achieve improved and integrated performance across the council and the primary care trust. Herefordshire will also be bringing around 1600 council and primary care trust staff together in one building to create a single working environment, enable more integration and service improvement as well as significantly save money. The council has scores of old offices that are not fit for purpose and expensive to maintain and aims to purchase and develop, rather than lease long term, a single administrative centre, whilst selling off older buildings for development.

'Herefordshire should be proud,' said Chris Bull. 'The county has a very strong pioneering spirit and the enhanced partnership between the council and the primary care trust is now well and truly recognized nationally. Other parts of the UK can see that by sharing more services and working in true partnership, public services are able to make stronger progress on issues that residents feel are most important, such as quality of life, health and well-being, social care, affordable housing, clean streets, activities for young people and reduced crime.'

Members of Herefordshire Council and NHS Herefordshire with the management team from Hammersmith and Fulham.


Local campaigner and Conservative candidate Jesse Norman has strongly backed Conservative plans for a drastic scale-back of the intrusive and ineffective 'Big Brother' state. A new policy paper by the Tories has pledged to offer an alternative to Whitehall’s curtailment of civil liberties, and to stop taxpayers’ money being wasted on expensive and ineffective IT databases. This comes amid growing concern about the Government’s new Independent Safeguarding Authority. This scheme could force 11 million adults to be vetted and monitored, even if they just give lifts to children as part of a school run or local football club.

The Conservative proposals include: Scrapping the National Identity Register, which will contain personal details of every citizen, and abolishing the Identity Cards that will accompany the database; Ditching the ContactPoint database which holds the names, dates of birth, schools and home addresses of all 11 million children in England until the age of 18, but is entirely separate from the children at risk registers; Ending the permanent retention of innocent people’s DNA on the National DNA database; Preventing councils from using controversial anti-terror laws to spy on local citizens. Surveillance could only be used where necessary to stop a serious crime (involving a custodial sentence) and where a magistrates’ warrant has been obtained; Subjecting all new laws to a new ‘privacy’ test, and beefing up the role of the privacy watchdog, the Information Commissioner.

Jesse has called for a much tougher defence of people's personal freedoms in several books, including in his new book Churchill's Legacy, due out next month. He said, 'The Labour Government’s approach to our personal privacy is the worst of all worlds; intrusive, ineffective and enormously expensive. Their surveillance state and over reliance on databases has exposed the public in Herefordshire to greater risk, not less.

Commenting on the Independent Safeguarding Authority, Jesse added, ' “The Government’s nanny state attitude will do nothing to safeguard the children most at risk. Checks are needed on those who have jobs working with children, but vetting one in four of the population is a complete nonsense.'


The latest series of PACT meetings is now underway and members of the public are being encouraged go along to the meetings in their are and let the PACT team know how they can make their services even better!

With representation from organizations such as West Mercia Police, Herefordshire Council and Amey, PACT are keen to find out if there are particular issues in your area that they can help with, and to tell you about developments in their services and how these will improve your neighbourhood, such as the Community Protection Team. PACT meetings start at 7pm, are held in public halls or community buildings and usually last no longer than 1½ hours. The meeting for Ross-on-Wye will take place at The Larruperz Centre on Wednesday, 7th October.

All issues raised are recorded and either responded to on the night or, if necessary, taken away so that officers can find out more and deal with appropriately. All the actions and responses can be seen by visiting or can be posted if requested. Printed copies are available at the following meeting.

The current series began on Monday, 21st September with St Martins and Hinton PACT at the Kindle Centre and will operate in 12 locations across Herefordshire, finishing at Golden Valley Community Centre, Peterchurch on Thursday, 15th October.

Further information on the PACT meetings is available from Hazel Lavelle PACT Organiser, 01432 260167 or Herefordshire Partnership 01432 261792


Sarah Carr.

Sarah Carr, Liberal Democrat Parliamentary Candidate for Hereford and South Herefordshire has spoken out against successive authoritarian governments which have passed laws turning the UK into a surveillance state.

Addressing an audience of over a thousand delegates at the national Liberal Democrat annual conference taking place in Bournemouth this week, Sarah spoke out passionately against the government keeping of the DNA of innocent people, about the misuse of anti-terrorism laws and the infringement of the human rights of children. Sarah said, 'I am a free person. My grandparents fought for my freedom. Why now should I sacrifice my family’s freedom in the name of ‘security’ as defined by the government of the day. As a mother I find a huge government database of children’s details to be quite scary. I think it is outrageous that our children can be finger printed at school without parental consent. And the use of mosquito devices is an appalling infringement of children’s rights.'

In the debate Sarah also spoke against the actions of Herefordshire Council using controversial anti-terrorism legislation, the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act, to combat antisocial behaviour such as smoking in public places and suggested more appropriate legislation could be used.

Sarah said, 'The Liberal Democrats are the only party that remain committed to individual privacy, civil liberties and common sense policies in fighting crime such as more police on the beat.'


The Odeon cinema in Hereford will be host to the county's very own version of the Cannes festival this month as children from ten schools prepare to celebrate their successful movie making skills red carpet style.

Two hundred and fifty 9 and 10 year old children from Herefordshire primary schools have been making short films following training received from professional film maker Rick Goldsmith of Catcher Media and Herefordshire Council's school improvement service. This is the fifth year these highly successful projects have been run and this year's project has the heading Take 5: Poetic License. As the title implies, all the films have a poetic base. Beyond that the children have interpreted the theme as they wish and topics tackled include Halloween, World War II, mythical creatures, a Bollywood style retelling of a Hindu myth, the environment and much more.

The children and their teachers will be able to see the final version of their film on the big silver screen at a spectacular red carpet event on Friday, 25th September. The dress code for the event is 'Cannes' and some children will be arriving in limos. After the premier event, DVDs of all nine films will be sent to all Herefordshire primary schools and the clips will be available on SchoolsTube ( To view them simply search for Take5.

Mark Sanderson, Primary schools' ICT Adviser for Herefordshire Council said, 'This is always a most enjoyable project for all involved. The children and the teachers learn a huge amount about this important means of communication which in turn impacts on standards in literacy. We have again worked closely with Rick and Julia Goldsmith of Hereford based Catcher Media as their experience in the field is invaluable to schools.'

Sally McCamley, head teacher at Stoke Prior Primary School said, 'The whole project has been incredibly worthwhile. The children have really enjoyed being in control of the film making equipment and having Rick has really made them consider how to make each shot more interesting.'


Herefordshire Council's cabinet is to consider principles that could provide a framework for planning future school provision when it meets this coming Thursday, 24th September.

The principles for future working have been put together by the Herefordshire School Task Group, which is chaired by an independent consultant and comprises head teacher and governor representatives from across the county. Its brief is to explore a way forward for schools in the current climate of reducing budgets and surplus places and the council's commitment to continue raising standards in education. Following a number of meetings this year, and regular contact with school head teachers and governing bodies, the task group has put together a draft paper for consultation.

The paper sets out principles for future working which focus largely on schools working in clusters to collectively plan educational provision and work, with support if required, on some of the challenges likely to face schools over the next 10 years. Recommendations include: Reviewing any leadership vacancies within school clusters, exploring options and governance models before replacing senior staff; Considering changes to the number of empty places in a school that will trigger action; Considering changes to what is considered a sustainable number of pupils when looking at school sizes.

Sharon Menghini, director of children's services said, 'The paper and its appendices provide an honest and open account of the current situation in Herefordshire and clarify the pressures that schools and the local authority need to address over the next few years. If approved, the principles will provide a framework for future planning which is why it is so important to make sure that everyone involved in educating our children: schools, governors, parents, agencies, staff and young people themselves, have the opportunity to comment on them.'

If approved by the council's cabinet, the paper will form the basis of an active consultation from 25th September to 2nd November. The task group will consider feedback from the consultation prior to reporting back to cabinet in November.


West Mercia Police hosted a garden party at its force headquarters, Hindlip Hall near Worcester, on Sunday, 13th September for around 400 retired police officers and staff. The event, which was organized in partnership with the National Association of Retired Police Officers, NARPO, offered the guests, including the widows and widowers of retired police officers and staff from across the West Mercia area, the chance to enjoy a fun day out, which included a display by the force's Dog Section.

The day started with a service of thanksgiving at St James' Church, which is situated in the grounds of Hindlip Hall, followed by several activities in the afternoon, including presentations on firearms and forensic sciences. Guests were also taken on a guided bus tour of the ground of Hindlip Hall, a Grade II listed Georgian manor house. The event ended with an afternoon tea, while there was entertainment throughout the afternoon provided by the Band of West Mercia Police as well as the Arrhythmics, a local band made up of doctors. Vera Hadley, secretary of Narpo's Herefordshire sub-branch for many years as well as the author of a history of the former Herefordshire Constabulary (which later became part of West Mercia Police), was presented with life time membership.

Chief Constable Paul West, who attended the event said, 'It is important for us to remember the contribution that our former colleagues made towards the safety and security of our communities. This garden party was a great opportunity for retired police officers, staff and their widows and widowers, from across the whole of the West Mercia force area to meet up with former colleagues, make new friends and enjoy a fun day out.'

Eddie Barry, Chair of the West Mercia branch of Narpo said, 'Events like this play an important role in helping to keep retired police officers and staff involved with what's currently happening at the force. I'm always grateful to the chief officers and Human Resources team at West Mercia Police for their help and consideration for retired personnel. It is not just about this great event, but the continued ongoing support we get. The event was an excellent occasion with beautiful weather, a lovely church service and everything went according to plan. I'd like to thank all the officers who gave up their time to show us their very interesting demonstrations, which brought us up to date on the how policing is done these days.'

Barry West and Vera Hadley enjoying the garden party.


NHS Herefordshire continues to ensure that patients receive high standards of nutrition and cleanliness - a fact confirmed by the latest results of its Patient Environment Action Team (PEAT) assessment published on the National Patient Safety Agency website. Now the primary care trust is holding a week-long programme of events to let patients and the public know about 'hotel services', which are provided in partnership with Sodexo and cover all non-medical hospital services - from catering and cleaning to security and waste disposal.

Patients and visitors will also be asked to feedback their comments on the food, the standard of cleaning, and the general environment to enable continuous improvements to be made. The events will take place during week commencing 12th October and are aimed at informing patients, visitors and the public that the quality of the food and drink provided, and the standard of the environment is a top priority for NHS Herefordshire. Information stands will be at each site, which include the Stonebow Unit, Ross Community Hospital, Leominster and Bromyard Community Hospitals and Hillside Intermediate Care Centre which will be there for the week with primary care trust and Sodexo staff on hand between 12.00 and 2.00pm to answer questions about food preparation and meals which meet faith, cultural and lifestyle needs.

There will be an explanation of how cleaning materials and equipment are organized to ensure safety, information on how NHS Herefordshire control infection and any plans for refurbishment. The event is also an opportunity to sample the food and to test how clean your hands are.

The events will take place as follows: Monday, 12th October - Ross Community Hospital, Tuesday, 13th October - Leominster Community Hospital, Wednesday 14th October - Hillside Intermediate Care Centre, Thursday, 15th October - Bromyard Community Hospital, Friday, 16th October - Stonebow Unit.

Richard Carroll, managing director for the primary care trust's provider services said, 'It is very important to us that the hospital environment helps patients get well as quickly as possible and so infection control and cleaning are a top priority. These events are a wonderful opportunity to reassure the people of Herefordshire of the high standards we are achieving and I hope as many people as possible are able to visit to ask questions and see for themselves how, for example, we test hand cleaning.'

This year's event looks at Faith, culture and lifestyle' and what the primary care trust can do to ensure that the patient environment takes account of these. Wendy Huxley-Marko, who manages the 'hotel services' contract at the primary care trust added, 'We believe that we should accommodate the different faith, culture and lifestyle choices amongst our patients. Come along and try our tasty Kosher, traditional and vegetarian menus. We know you'll be impressed with the quality and range of choice on offer.'

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