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2nd December 2009 NEWS FROM ROSS-ON-WYE AND AROUND THE REGION
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ROSS IS 5TH BEST 'GREAT SHOPPING EXPERIENCE' IN THE COUNTRY

Ross-on-Wye shops have beaten expectations and delighted all shop owners by being assessed at an overall score of 88.4%, above Cheltenham and Nottingham, in a survey carried out for Advantage West Midlands, giving Ross on Wye 5th place in country wide survey of over 70 towns and cities.

The 1st prize for customer service was The Ross Cookshop in the High Street. Owner, Peter Manning said, 'It was a fantastic honour and I am pleased to see the mystery shoppers and the public have given my staff recognition for their attention to customer satisfaction and service.' Parkfields Gallery Director, Fritha Clutterbuck said, 'We were thrilled to be runners-up with 97.6%, a fantastic sign of good service and the gallery's presentation.'

Gallery 54, who specialize in local contemporary art and sculpture were also a runner up. Owner, Sue Williams said, 'I'm pleased to be part of Ross's success. We all know how important communication is. This has recently been proved with the newly formed Association of Ross Traders.'

The success of Ross in the survey is a great boost to the town and a welcome opportunity to remind readers that Ross is holding a Christmas Festival on Sunday 6th December and many shops will be open. There will also be lots of interesting stalls, music, food outlets and entertainment around the town from 11am until 4pm.

If you have purchased goods in town recently, you may have been given a raffle ticket that entitles you to be in the draw for the prize of £1,000 in cash. The winner will be announced on Sunday, 6th December in the Market square.


The Association of Ross Traders are delighted with their results.

LANDSLIDES CAUSE ROAD CLOSURES

Motorists are being advised that two landslides in Herefordshire have forced the closure of a couple of roads.

A landslide on the A438 at Lugwardine is likely to close the road for the next 24 hours. The road has been closed between the Cock of Tupsley and Bartestree and diversions are in place.

The second landslide occurred outside Kern Lodge on the B4234. This has resulted in the B4234 being closed from Walford Saw mills to the junction with the B4229, Kern Bridge.


YOUR LAST CHANCE TO WIN £1,000 IN CASH

This week is your final opportunity to have the chance of winning £1000 in cash, courtesy of the Association of Ross Traders. If you haven't picked up your free raffle ticket yet, all you have to do is spend the specified amount displayed on posters in participating shop windows to qualify for a free ticket. As an extra incentive, you can double your chances of winning as double tickets will be available on Saturday, 5th and Sunday, 6th December. The winning raffle ticket will be drawn on Sunday 6th between 3pm and 4pm at the Ross Christmas Shopping Festival. Raffle tickets given out that day will be included in the draw.

Over 35 shops will be open offering a discount or other special incentives and treats. There will be over twenty market stalls selling local crafts, and charity Christmas cards etc. plus stalls selling crepes, preserves, pies, sauces and other festive foods and don't forget, parking is free in Ross on a Sunday.

Special events for the day include a road-show presented by the Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty offering craft activities for children. Children can get their faces painted and several musical presentations are being organized, including The Drybrook Brass Band, Ross Choral Society and The Penyard Singers. The Tourist information centre will also be open offering local crafts, foods and Christmas gifts.

In addition to the beautiful new LED Christmas lights which were switched on last Saturday, over 55 Christmas trees have been hung on shop fronts and decked with sympathetic LED lighting to create a truly magical experience, so come and shop in Ross and really feel the Christmas spirit.


BRIDGES UNDER INSPECTION AFTER HEAVY RAINFALL

Following the recent rainfall, water levels of the River Wye have risen by as much as 4.3 metres and, as only eight roads cross the river throughout the whole county, it is critical that these bridges remain open.

Amey Herefordshire, working on behalf of the council, has a bridge team who carry out inspections all year round, about 400 annually to check the safety and integrity of these structures. Bridges critical to Herefordshire's infrastructure are inspected after heavy flooding and, following the severe floods of 2007, 22 highway bridges were identified as having damage from debris, high flood water and scour. Works were then taken to address this damage in readiness for the next period of high waters.

As a matter of course, Amey Herefordshire inspects each bridge every two years, including footbridges, culverts and rail bridges. Amey Herefordshire, together with the council, encourages information about post flood maintenance from all members of their staff, and reports of all highway defects, including problems with bridges, are also welcomed from members of the public via streets@herefordshire.gov.uk or by calling on 01432 261800.


Two of Amey Herefordshire's Bridge Team checking Foy Bridge for damage.

SHAMPOO THIEVES GET A CLEAN HEAD START - BECAUSE THEY'RE WORTH IT?

South Herefordshire Police are appealing for witnesses to come forward after a load of shampoo was stolen from a truck parked up overnight on the A40 at Ross-on-Wye. The white ERF tractor unit with a curtained-sided trailer was en route from Scunthorpe to South Wales with a consignment of shampoo and other hair products. The driver pulled up in the VOSA lay-by on the A40 at Ross to sleep overnight in the cab.

Between 7pm on Wednesday, 18th and 3.30am on Thursday, 19th November, thieves approached the curtained-sided trailer and cut two large holes in the side of it, removing goods from eleven pallets, equating to around 1,000 boxes of assorted L'Oreal hair products, valued at tens of thousands of pounds. Police believe at least a large van or small truck would have been needed to take the stolen property away from the scene. Given that the lorry was parked at the side of the main A40 in full view of passing motorists in a line of other parked trucks and the theft would have taken some time as the items were removed by hand, police are hopeful that someone passing may have seen something suspicious.

Anyone with information is urged to call PC Dan Pilkington at Ross Police Station on 0300 333 3000 or call Crimestoppers on 0800 555111 as soon as possible.


ROSS HERITAGE CENTRE TO HOST SANTA'S LITTLE HELPERS WORKSHOP

A 'Santa's Little Helpers' workshop will be taking place at Ross Heritage Centre on Saturday, 19th December and families are welcome to go along and get creative with glitter, glue and sparkly things. The sessions will take place from 11am to 1pm and 1.30pm to 3pm, then will close in readiness for Santa's annual pre Christmas visit to the town.

Please note that all children must be accompanied by an adult at all times. Have fun!!


ASHFIELD PUPILS VISIT SAINSBURY'S

Year 3 pupils from Ashfield Park Primary School enjoyed a visit to Sainsbury's on Friday. They had been studying shopping in Victorian times and wanted to see how a Victorian shop compared with a modern day shopping experience in a brand new store. The children got to see how food makes its way from the delivery lorry to the shelves and how all sorts of systems, from refrigeration to distribution are largely managed by computers. The children were shown a wide range of fresh foods and they also talked about the many differing forms of convenience food readily available in today's modern store. They all enjoyed their visit and were particularly interested in the systems used for transporting cash and how thieves are deterred.


The Association of Ross Traders are delighted with their results.

'NOT IN HEREFORDSHIRE!' TO FOCUS ON RURAL CRIME

The successful 'Not in Herefordshire!' campaign is re-launching on Thursday, 3rd December, this time concentrating on rural crime in its many guises, such as livestock theft, theft from farm buildings and of farm equipment, poaching, etc. Superintendent Kevin Purcell, Head of Territorial Operations for Herefordshire Division, explains the ethos of this new phase of the initiative.

'The 'Not In Herefordshire!' campaign, which has been running for just over a year, is designed to redress the imbalance between fear of crime and the reality of crime in this county. Surveys have indicated that, for a number of reasons, people are fearful of crime in Herefordshire when in fact we have some of the lowest crime levels in the UK. By letting people know they are living in a very safe county and evidencing the work we carry out on a day to day basis, we aim to provide reassurance against the fear of crime.'

He continued, 'The aim of this current phase is to focus on rural crime and has two objectives; to show to the farming communities of Herefordshire that we do in fact have comparatively low levels of crime for offences such as livestock theft, theft of farm equipment and tools as well as poaching and crop theft, and to reduce the levels of crime that we do have even further by actively targeting those that would commit it.'

The new initiative will see police patrols, particularly during the hours of darkness, looking out for those who target farms, smallholdings and other rural businesses with a view to stealing whatever they can lay their hands on. Many patrol vehicles are now fitted with ANPR (Automatic Number Plate Recognition) computer software that can recognize in seconds vehicles used by travelling criminals, vehicles seen at scenes of crime or others that are untaxed or uninsured, which police can seize on the spot. Local policing teams will also be circulating posters and leaflets to rural communities, farmers and agricultural organizations to raise awareness.

Reporting suspicious behaviour, vehicles and persons is paramount and speed is of the essence in this. The sooner suspects are identified, the sooner the net can be closed on them. Reporting of crime is also being encouraged, as the police want to patrol an area even more if there is a problem there.

'Our success will come from vigilance and information,' said Superintendent Purcell. 'Everyone can help in this respect. If you think something is suspicious, then it probably is suspicious, so report it to us immediately. Herefordshire is a large county. If the farming community acts as additional eyes and ears, and tells us quickly when things appear suspicious, we can then take prompt action to intercept those responsible and ensure that rural crime in Herefordshire remains at low levels.'


FLYING COLOURS UNDER NEW OWNERSHIP

Flying Colours, the well known Ross design and print shop is now under new ownership with Simon Glover and Peter Rennoldson bringing over twenty years experience of printing, design and marketing to the successful business based in Croft Court.

Taking over from Malcolm Taylor and family who have run the print shop for the last three years, Simon Glover said, 'Malcolm has done a fantastic job to keep the business growing during the recession and we intend to build on this with a focus on design, client marketing and customer service, while investing in the latest digital equipment. With additional design skills on board we look forward to supplying quality colour, from a single logo on a shirt to a multipage corporate brochure or large format banner.'

Flying Colours is the one stop shop for almost any print item you can think of with most production undertaken in house to maintain quality and meet deadlines. So if you need a JLS Hoody, a flyer, a brochure, a new website, a new corporate logo, a complete corporate strategy or anything printed, you will have a warm welcome at Flying Colours.

We wish Simon and Peter every success with Flying Colours.


Malcolm Taylor handing over the business to Simon Glover and Peter Rennoldson while they look at Christmas cards produced on the Xerox digital printer.

FURTHER FUNDING AWARDED TO COMBAT ANTISOCIAL BEHAVIOUR

An extra £44,000 has been awarded to Herefordshire Council to combat antisocial behaviour in the county as part of a package of support for the region announced by the Minister for the West Midlands Ian Austin.

The money will be used to ensure that the council's new Community Protection Team can make full use of the powers and tools already available, while giving more support to residents and community activists. More will be done to let local residents know their rights and how to report antisocial behaviour and there will be extra training and funding for clean campaigns. The council's community protection team is residents' first point of contact for reporting vandalism, fly tipping, littering, dog fouling, fly posting and abandoned vehicles and investigates all reports quickly, taking action through enforcement and education.

Councillor John Jarvis welcomed the award. He said, 'Our Community Protection Team is small but already proving to be a big hitter in the fight against antisocial behaviour. By taking a 'can do' attitude we are supporting the decent, law-abiding majority with actions about yobs and criminals whose activities, if left unchecked, can make peoples' lives a misery. Thankfully, Herefordshire is renowned for its high quality of life and low crime and by working closely with other agencies and taking immediate action to crack down on vandalism, nuisance or intimidation, we aim to keep it that way.'

The number of fly tipping incidents January to September 2009 is down by 25 per cent on the same period in 2008. Publicity, high visibility proactive patrols of hot spot areas, and enforcement activity are all believed to have played a part in achieving this reduction. The Community Protection Team secured its first prosecution for fly tipping in September, with a conviction resulting in a £1,000 fine and £490 costs. A number of other cases are progressing to prosecution.

The team has also developed a structured programme of duty of care inspections and is organizing joint stop search initiatives with the police. They have also initiated multi agency litter picks, one in a recreational area known as King George V playing fields, and another in Hereford High Town. The use of fixed penalty notices has recently been introduced and this will provide a speedy sanctioned outcome to low level offending. Fixed penalty notices are complemented by a notice of environmental crime, which can be issued to offenders at the time of the offence.


COMMUNITY SAFETY COMES TO HIGH TOWN

If you are heading into High Town for a spot of late night shopping on Wednesday, 9th December, don't forget to pop by the Safer Herefordshire community safety trailer and say hello. Herefordshire Council's Safer Herefordshire and Community Protection Teams have teamed up with West Mercia Police to host a free community safety evening between 4pm and 8pm and representatives are looking forward to seeing you there. West Mercia Police will be handing out their popular purse bells again, as well as launching and offering information on this year's Operation Christmas Presence. They will also be available to discuss the PACT process with the Herefordshire Partnership from Noon.

Jane Rose, Safer Herefordshire Manager said, 'We'll be on hand to offer information and advice on the best ways to stay safe over Christmas, by discussing community safety issues with local residents. Although we're privileged to live in one of the safest counties in England, it's still important to remind people how to keep themselves and their loved ones safe over the festive period.'

Superintendent Kevin Purcell, Head of Territorial Operations for West Mercia Police's Herefordshire Division added, 'It's crucial that local agencies work together for the continued safety and well-being of local communities. We're delighted to team up with Safer Herefordshire and talk directly with shoppers on how we're working to ensure a safe and happy Christmas for all.'

The partnerships are also looking forward to being joined on the night by Sunshine Radio's Events Team. There's so much to find out about, so feel free to drop in and have a chat. They will be more than happy to see you.


SARAH CALLS FOR RECORDS OF INNOCENT TO BE REMOVED FROM DATABASE

Sarah Carr, Liberal Democrat Parliamentary Candidate for Hereford and South Herefordshire has again called on the government to remove the DNA records of innocent people and children from the controversial national DNA database. Earlier this year Sarah obtained information through the Freedom of Information Act, which was reported in the media, showing that West Mercia police had 19,001 DNA records of 10 to 17 year old children registered on the DNA database.

Sarah Carr appeared on BBC Television The Politics Show on Sunday, 29th November, commenting on the arrest of a group of innocent young people who had been mistakenly arrested and then released without charge but had their DNA harvested for the DNA database. Sarah continues to campaign against the harvesting of DNA, the blueprint of who we are and a symbol of our freedom and human rights. The DNA database has already been ruled illegal by the European Court of Human Rights. The government’s independent advisors have also said there is ‘very little concrete evidence’ of the usefulness of the database.

After appearing on the programme Sarah said, 'I was very pleased to use this television opportunity to champion the rights of innocent people and children who have had their DNA harvested to go onto a controversial government IT database. The National DNA Database is one of the biggest of its type in the world with more than 5 million records and has already been ruled illegal. My Liberal Democrat colleagues and I have repeatedly called on the Home Secretary to amend the law so that the DNA records of people who are innocent are no longer kept indefinitely.

It is one thing the government holding the DNA details of people who are guilty but quite another holding DNA details of the innocent and children.'


SCRUTINY SPOTLIGHT ILLUMINATES ROSS-ON-WYE RESIDENTS

Residents of Ross-on-Wye had the opportunity to listen to democracy on their doorsteps when one of Herefordshire Council's committees which looks at proposals and scrutinizes decisions met in the town.

When the environment scrutiny committee met at the Larruperz Centre last week, its members heard from the West Mercia Safer Roads Partnership on the use enforcement cameras. The committee quizzed the representatives about how the cameras are used and were encouraged to hear that the partnership is piloting new 'community concern sites' at Fromes Hill and Ashperton. The pilot scheme allows the partnership, which was asked to report regularly to the committee to ensure key issues were kept under review, to respond to community concerns, so long as the speed data collected supports the need for enforcement.

The committee also scrutinized the management of the vehicles being run by the council and its service delivery partner, Amey. The committee was pleased to hear about the positive measures being put in place by Amey to reduce the carbon emissions from its vehicles; Amey is aiming to reduce its emissions by 10 per cent a year. Amey, which is already looking to use smaller cost effective vehicles and has already bought one electric vehicle and is investigating further use, was also asked to report regularly to the committee to ensure relevant issues of concern are kept under review.

Chairman of the committee, Councillor Bob Matthews, said, 'Scrutiny committees have an important role to play in ensuring that decisions are sound and that local council tax payers receive value for money. It was good to see some local people at the meeting. Hopefully as we do this more often in various parts of the county we shall see more people taking an interest in the work of the council's scrutiny committee.'


STARGAZING CUBS HELPED BY MEN FROM MARS

Over the past few weeks, Ross-on-Wye [Aztec] Cub Scouts have been finding out all about stars and planets for their Astronomer badge. They have been helped to achieve their goal by Norman Pomfret and Colin Harris of Monmouth Astronomical Research Society.

Twenty two Cubs passed the badge last week, having learnt some of the star constellations and the planets in the solar system using the mnemonic 'My Very Educated Mother Just Served Us Nine Pizzas.' (Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, Neptune and Pluto). The cubs were even fortunate enough to have a clear sky on one of the evenings to look at the moon through Colin's telescope.


Men from M.A.R.S, Norman and Colin and the cubs with binoculars and a model of the planets.

TEENAGER STRUCK BY VEHICLE ON A49 AT MUCH BIRCH

South Herefordshire Police are appealing for witnesses to come forward after a teenager from South Wales, walking from Hereford to Ross along the A49, was found lying in the road, having been hit by a vehicle.

The 16-year old had been visiting friends in Hereford. He had left Hereford around 4am on Thursday, 26th November to walk / hitch back to Pontypool via Ross. At a point approximately 200 metres south of the Axe and Cleaver pub in Much Birch, at around 6.45am, it appears he was struck on his right side by an unknown vehicle travelling south to Ross. The lad was found by a van driver a short while later, lying at the edge of the road.

The driver took him to a garage at Ross, as he did not have obvious injuries other than pain and confusion. Concerned staff at the garage called police and ambulance staff and he was subsequently treated at Hereford County Hospital for a broken right foot and severe grazing and bruising to his right side and left foot. Police are anxious to trace any witnesses to the collision.

PC Lee Hull from Ross Police Station is investigating the incident, and said, 'It may be that whoever collided with the teenager was unaware that they had done so. At the time it was raining heavily, it was very dark and the lad was walking down the A49 with his back to the traffic and was dressed in black. All he remembers is being struck but cannot recall anything else.'

Police are anxious to identify the other vehicles comprising the small convoy that the van driver / witness was in. The lead vehicle was a 7.5 tonne goods vehicle which pulled into a lay-by just after the witness spotted the lad lying in the road. Anybody with any information that can help should contact PC Lee Hull at Ross Police Station on 0300 333 3000 as soon as possible.


COUNCIL TRIAL NEW ELECTRIC CAR

Herefordshire Council and its service delivery partners, Amey are bidding to cut their carbon footprint by trialling a new electric car. The partnership is one of just 100 nation-wide to have secured the electric powered smart cars as part of research trials being held across the West Midlands, London and the South East.

Powered solely by electricity, and chargeable from any three-pin socket, the smart electric car can achieve 300mg and travel up to 84 miles between charges. It also has reduced carbon dioxide emissions. Councillor John Jarvis said, 'I am delighted we have been selected to trial this car as it will not only save our fuel costs but will also help the environment as they produce far less carbon emissions. It is crucial that we as a council lead by example and this will help to reduce our own carbon footprint. If the car proves a success, we will look at acquiring more as and when our existing fleet needs replacing.'

Mark Thomas, service director for Amey said, 'One of Amey's priorities is to reduce its carbon emissions and the trial of the new vehicle is a step towards achieving that goal.'


SAVOUR THE FLAVOUR OF THE SEASON IN HIGHTOWN AND COMMERCIAL ST

Christmas is coming to High Town and Commercial Street with five packed days of markets bringing crafts, Victorian and continental products to Hereford, just in time for those who haven't done their shopping yet!

The markets, which will take place in Commercial Street and High Town from Wednesday, 16th to Sunday, 20th December, are expected to bring in thousands of extra visitors to the city centre to boost trade for regular city centre shopkeepers. On Wednesday, 16th the regular Open Retail Market takes place. This is the first time this market has had the opportunity to operate in Commercial Street adding to the Christmas atmosphere, since its successful launch in the summer. Items for sale will include your weekly essentials, along with opportunities to purchase seasonal gifts.

On Thursday, 17th December, the clocks will be turned back when the regular Farmers Market will be joined by a Victorian Market. Traders dressed in Victorian costumes will have a variety of products for sale, including: metal sculptures, bags, scarves, candles, soaps, toys, jewellery, pictures, sweets, rugs and home ware items. These will be sold alongside the Farmers Markets produce where everything is grown, prepared or raised by the people who sell it, including: fruit and vegetables, bread, cakes, eggs, meat, cheeses, game, celebration cakes, plants, curries, preserves, vegetarian food, ready made meals, honey, apple juice and luxury puddings.

On Friday, 18th December, the Victorian Market will be there for a second day, and will be joined by the French Market, which will bring a mouth watering array of traditional French foods, including cheeses, breads, crepes, charcuterie, sauces, wine and hot and cold cuisine. On Saturday, 19th December, the French Market will join the regular Hereford Open Retail Market and on Sunday, 20th December, the Craft Market will be in town with a glittering array of items to turn a dull Christmas into a sparkling one.

If that wasn't enough, the Butter Market in Hightown is open seven days a week in the run up to Christmas, including late night opening on Wednesdays, when there will be free car parking on council run car parks after 4pm.

For those doing a spot of shopping on Saturdays, don't forget that the festive park and ride is up and running. Two sites are being used this year, one being at Hereford Racecourse on Roman Road, and the other at the Grafton car park on the A49.


JESSE'S WINTER SUPPER RAISES OVER £8000 FOR NEW COMMUNITY THEATRE

A fundraising event organised last week by Conservative candidate Jesse Norman has raised over £8,000 towards a new community theatre in Hereford City.

Over one hundred local people joined Jesse for a Winter Supper at the Town Hall on Friday night, kindly sponsored by Ascari's Catering and Saxty's Bar and were entertained by Ruth Bowen and her jazz band, with stand-up comedy from local businessman John Collins. But the charity highlight of the evening was the raffle and auction, expertly conducted by Bill Jackson with the help of Tom Greenow. Together, these raised some £6,000 on the night, and over £8,000 in total. The money raised will go towards a new community theatre project at the Kindle Centre in South Wye, with a particular focus on youth theatre and musical performance. As a result, the Centre will be pushing ahead with Phase 1 of the project in early 2010.

Speaking after the event, Kindle Centre general manager Lara Latcham said, 'I was blown away by the evening, and by the generosity of all those present. With this funding we will now be able to undertake the crucial first phase of our theatre project, installing a new ceiling in the main hall at Kindle.'

Presenting a cheque to Lara for money raised on the night, Jesse said, 'Young people in Herefordshire get a lousy deal at present. It is great to be able to do something important to help them, and to bring in new community investment, especially in such difficult economic times.'


Jesse presents a cheque to Lara Latcham of the Kindle Centre.

BARONESS SHIRLEY WILLIAMS TO VISIT HEREFORD

With the general election less than six months away, Sarah Carr, the Liberal Democrat candidate for Hereford, Ross and South Herefordshire and local Lib Dem MP Paul Keetch will welcome Baroness Shirley Williams at a sold out dinner at All Saints in Hereford on Friday, 4th December.

Elected as MP in 1964, Shirley Williams, now Baroness Williams of Crosby, was a member of the Wilson and Callaghan governments and was also the Secretary of State for Education. As one of the Gang of Four, Shirley Williams famously broke away from the Labour Party to found the SDP in 1981 and later supported its merger with the Liberal Party to form the Liberal Democrats.

Commenting on the visit, Sarah said, 'Shirley Williams is an amazing woman and politician and I am delighted she is coming to Hereford to support my campaign to be the next Member of Parliament. Shirley is widely respected and has appeared more than any other panellist on the BBC political talk show Question Time. Shirley has just published her fascinating autobiography and I am sure it will be a wonderful evening.'

Three years ago, Paul Keetch MP announced he would not be standing at the next general election and local campaigner Sarah Carr was selected as his successor to be the Liberal Democrat candidate.


HEREFORDSHIRE RESIDENTS URGED TO SHAPE THE COUNTY'S FUTURE

Growth is coming to Herefordshire which may result in over 16,000 new homes, new enterprises, more jobs and prosperity and a bypass for Hereford and Leominster. But making sure the county grows the right way is up to everybody, say Herefordshire Council, who are launching a major consultation in the New Year to shape the future of the county, the city and the market towns.

Leader of the council, Roger Phillips, urged the silent majority to speak out on the options laid out for the Local Development Framework when the consultation starts on 18th January 2010. Speaking at the council's cabinet, he said this was Herefordshire's big chance to write the blueprint for planning and development up to 2026.

Cabinet members considered various 'place shaping options' outlined in a draft consultation paper, which has been published on Herefordshire Council's website www.herefordshire.gov.uk and these are detailed for Hereford, Bromyard, Kington, Ledbury, Leominster, Ross-on-Wye and the rural areas of the county. The council will hold exhibitions and road shows across the county early next year, with workshops in schools and colleges. People's views will be analysed and proposed policies developed and presented back to cabinet later in 2010 and publicized, before being submitted to the Secretary of State, who will arrange for a public examination and inspector's report with final adoption anticipated in 2011.

Previous consultation had highlighted that nearly 80 per cent of respondents feel that a blend of public transport improvements and a new relief road would be the preferred solution to Hereford's traffic problems. However, the route, either to the west or the east of the city needs careful consideration and the draft consultation paper details the implications of either option. The paper also outlines possible locations for the new homes, which will also affect the route of a bypass and the location of a second river crossing, as developers would need to contribute to infrastructure improvements.

The aim is to regain the city's place as an economic power in the region in order to bring prosperity and opportunity for future generations. The strategy for the market towns is to further promote their roles as service and economic centres for their rural hinterlands but also improve links with Hereford. The largest single allocation of new homes outside of Hereford could go to Leominster, due to its economic importance located on the A49 corridor and its rail links, with growth providing a southern link road for the town.

Ledbury and Ross could support more development than Bromyard and Kington with the amounts of new homes and employment land balanced by their respective needs and environment considerations. Several villages and groups of villages could see development designed to increase affordable housing and create and retain employment and services.

The cabinet approved the 'place shaping paper' as a consultation document and agreed the formal consultation period of 18th January to 12th March 2010.


HOSPITAL QUIZZED ON PARKING CHARGES FOR ELDERLY AND DISABLED

Local Lib Dem campaigner, Sarah Carr is championing the cause of many elderly and disabled residents in Herefordshire who have contacted her about their anger over the expensive car parking charges at Hereford County Hospital. Mrs Carr has been contacted by local disabled and elderly residents about the cost of parking at the Hospital.

As a result of their concern Sarah has written to the Hospital Chief Executive, Martin Woodford asking why there are no car parking charge concessions or exemptions for patients and visitors with Blue Disabled badges and further whether they have considered revising the concessions list or abolishing Car Park Charges for more vulnerable groups. In Scotland and Wales hospital car parking charges have been abolished.

Sarah said, 'Parking at the County Hospital is expensive especially for the elderly and disabled who often have to manage on a limited fixed income. They simply cannot afford expensive car parking charges for essential treatments. In times of recession hospital car parking charges become much more prohibitive for a wider group of residents including those with young families and those with long-term illnesses. In reviewing this issue I have been surprised to find the car parking concession list to be very limited including that no concession is given to those people in receipt of Disability Living Allowance when they visit Hereford County Hospital.

As a result, I have written to the Hereford Hospital Trust Chief Executive about the car parking charges and will share his reply to all those who have contacted me on this issue. Nationally, pensioners get a poor deal from government. I strongly believe that the link between pensions and earning must be reintroduced as currently many pensioners struggle to get by. With some pensioners facing the dilemma of ‘eat or heat’ they do not need the added burden of expensive car parking charges for essential hospital treatments.'


POLICE WARN PARENTS AND PET OWNERS OF MORDIFORD OF POISON BAIT

Following police activity near Mordiford, parents and pet owners in the area are being asked to keep an eye on their charges as poisoned bait has been found placed in the grounds of a country estate.

On Wednesday, 25th November, West Mercia Police undertook an investigation into allegations of illegal wildlife poisoning on the Sufton Estate near Mordiford, Herefordshire. A search warrant was executed and a ground search took place. The police were assisted by officers of Natural England and the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds. A number of items were seized and enquiries are continuing. Two men who work on the estate have been arrested and enquiries are continuing.

All of the agencies involved are asking countryside users near Mordiford to take additional care when out with their children and to keep dogs on a lead. If anyone encounters a suspected poison bait, which may comprise dead pheasants or pigeons laced with poison, they are urged not to handle it but to contact West Mercia Police immediately on 0300 333 3000.

Illegal poisoning of birds of prey, other wildlife and pets remains a serious problem across the UK.


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