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27th January 2010 NEWS FROM ROSS-ON-WYE AND AROUND THE REGION
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NEW MINIBUSES FOR JKHS AND OTHER COUNTY SCHOOLS

Seven new minibuses will help the county's secondary school students get training in specialist subjects, thanks to Herefordshire Council. To take part in the new young apprenticeship programmes and diplomas, 14 to 19-year-old students need to be able to travel from their base school for training in specialist subjects at other educational establishments. The courses include business, administration and finance, construction, engineering, hospitality, social care and creative and media.

Following a successful proposal, the council secured £1 million in government funding. Schools were asked how they wanted this money to be spent and as a result, more than £200,000 was used to buy seven 17-seater mini buses, which have been converted for use by disabled people and wheelchair users. The rest of the money will go towards equipment, ICT and building works.

Councillor Jenny Hyde, cabinet member for children's services said, 'This really boosts the opportunity for young people in our schools, and because we face significant transport problems in getting students around our large county, the minibuses are going to be a great help. This was a wise choice made by the county's schools.'


The students of John Kyrle High School with some of the minibuses.

COUNCIL BIDS FOR EMERGENCY GOVERNMENT FUNDING TO FIX POTHOLES

As Herefordshire thaws after the big freeze, the full damage to the county's road network is becoming clear. Herefordshire Council estimates it will cost over £5.5 million to repair the potholes created as the water froze, expanded and broke up road surfaces. The council and its highways partner, Amey Herefordshire, are currently scouring the county's roads and lanes to repair hazardous potholes and keep roads safe.

In the meantime, council leader Roger Phillips has written to the Department of Transport to request the government to enact emergency funding. He makes the case that the road network has 'suffered considerable damage as a direct result of the recent and unusually severe weather, which has left roads not meeting the high expectations of the public'. He urges the government to act by making available extra financial support to address the full impact of the damage urgently. Several councils are expected to make similar requests.

'As in previous years, Herefordshire continues to effectively deliver winter gritting and snow clearance to keep the county's primary routes open,' said Councillor Phillips. 'There is great regret that there is never enough rock salt available in the national supply system for the council to grit over 2,000 miles of minor and unclassified roads - the focus always has to be on the A and B roads together with key access roads, such as to the county hospital, that keep the county open for business and emergency vehicles. However, now we face another challenge to repair hazardous potholes in the road network as quickly as possible - and although there are contingencies in the council's budget, the financial impact is out of all proportion to what could have been expected during the winters Herefordshire is used to.'

Over 10,000 tonnes of grit have been used on Herefordshire's roads this winter so far, mostly during the first two weeks of January. A typical recent winter would normally require about 5,000 tonnes of grit for the entire season. If anyone spots a pothole, they are asked to contact the council's street care line on 01432 261800 or at streets@herefordshire.gov.uk


JESSE HIGHLIGHTS IMPORTANCE OF BROADBAND IN RURAL AREAS

Local campaigner and Conservative parliamentary candidate, Jesse Norman saw what could be the future of broadband in Herefordshire last week, when he visited the Allpay wireless broadband pilot scheme in Kingstone. He toured the Allpay broadband technical centre with their CEO Tony Killeen and tested the system personally, before visiting the antenna site located on the top of St Michael and All Angels Church.

The new network offers up to 2 megabit broadband. Jesse launched a major initiative to develop broadband access in Herefordshire in May 2008, when he convened two seminars on the different possible technologies and the opportunities they offered for local people and businesses. At the same time, he published his 'Wireless Herefordshire' discussion paper on the same topic. Only last week Jesse encouraged Peter Luff MP, Chair of the influential House of Commons Select Committee on Business, Innovation and Skills, to push for wider rural access to broadband, at a breakfast event in Hereford.

Speaking afterwards, Jesse said, 'Herefordshire is already a centre for creative people and businesses. But we badly need better infrastructure, including better telecoms. The sad fact is that huge parts of the county lack any decent access to broadband at all. The government is preoccupied with high speed communications in city centres, when it should be equally focused on decent access in rural counties such as this one.

Allpay have declared themselves very happy with the Kingstone trial and are now moving forward with plans to develop further coverage across the county. There is thus a huge opportunity for local people and local communities to form user groups and approach Allpay with a view to joining their network.'

Those interested in learning more about getting wireless broadband should write to Jesse at 49 Broomy Hill Hereford HR4 0LJ, or email him at jesse4hereford@gmail.com.


Jesse with Tony Killeen Chief Executive Officer.

HEREFORDSHIRE LOBBY'S GOVERNMENT FOR FAIRER FUNDING FOR SCHOOLS

A delegation from Herefordshire met with Minister for Schools and Learners, Vernon Coaker on Monday, 25th January to lobby for fairer funding for the county's schools. This follows a similar meeting which took place between Herefordshire Council and the previous Minister for Schools, Jim Knight in March 2008. Herefordshire Council's director of children's services Sharon Menghini, was invited to join MPs Bill Wiggin and Paul Keetch, Peter Box, head of Sutton, Lord Scudamore and Kings Caple primary schools, Chris Barker, head of Fairfield High School, Denise Kennedy, vice chair of governors at Kingstone High School and John Spackman, community governor at Dilwyn Primary School.

The delegation told the Minister that Herefordshire remains the third worst funded authority in the country which has made development, investment and opportunities for improvement very difficult. As pupil numbers fall, Herefordshire is facing reduced funding and as schools feel the squeeze on budgets, there is serious concern that the quality of education is likely to suffer. Mr Coaker heard about the difficulties local schools have recruiting head teachers, the growing number of schools with budget deficits and the rising costs of school redundancies. 'We are already beginning to see the quality of education being affected by reduced funding and are concerned that we have more schools needing local authority support and a growing number in Ofsted categories,' said Sharon Menghini, Director of Children's Services.

Mr. Coaker explained that the way schools are funded is set to change in 2011 and that as a result of a nation-wide consultation, five key principles would be used to set funding from 2011. Although he was unable to provide detail, he explained that the new formula will continue to work on an amount per pupil with additions made for sparsity, additional educational needs, deprivation and area cost adjustment.

'Collectively we outlined our hopes that future funding would align Herefordshire with average levels of funding rather than remaining one of the poorest,' continued Sharon Menghini. 'Although the meeting went well and Mr Coaker listened to our concerns, he explained that any change would produce winners and losers and that all local authorities would have good arguments as to why their authority deserved more. The meeting was a welcome opportunity and of value in raising awareness and understanding of the issues with the minister although I believe we will continue to face challenging times in the months ahead.'

Herefordshire's head teachers will discuss the implications of Mr Coaker's comments and the new funding formula when they meet with the council's director of children's services on 12th February.


POLICE GIVE YOUNG PEOPLES MOTOR CHARITY A CASH BOOST

A charity run by police officers for worthy causes has donated money to a youth project in Herefordshire and Worcestershire that helps disaffected young people.

Motov8 was set up to help young people who have become disengaged from mainstream education and are in danger of not reaching their full potential. Its activities are based around cars, motorcycles and bicycles and seeks to address issues such as vehicle crime, antisocial behaviour and social exclusion. The charity is based in Worcester, Hereford and Kidderminster. To help Motov8 in its work, officers from West Mercia Police's Force Operations Department have donated £250 to the charity. The money came from West Mercia's Police Community Fund which is largely made up of donations from Police officers and staff and other interested parties.

PC Billy Keys of the Roads Policing unit nominated Motov8 for a donation from the PC fund. He said, 'As a Roads Policing officer, I come across a lot of young people who are involved in vehicle crime and I see at first hand how destructive and dangerous their crimes are. 'These young offenders are among those that Motov8 targets, redirecting their interest in cars from illegal activity into a useful and constructive route. They learn mechanic skills and life skills at the same time, as well as having a great time. Motov8 helps young people turn their lives around and they've had some fantastic results over the years. The Force Operations Department is keen to engage and support our local communities; Motov8 is a charity we believe a donation can make a difference to.'

Motov8 Managing Director, the Reverend Mark Badger said, 'We greatly value our connections with West Mercia Police and value their support in our work with young people. This donation will help us continue that work and hopefully help divert more young people from negative to positive activities.'


PC Billy Keys with Mark Badger of Motov8.

SARAH TALKS BUSINESS WITH CHAMBER OF COMMERCE

Sarah Carr, Liberal Democrat Prospective MP for Hereford and South Herefordshire, met with business members from Herefordshire and Worcestershire Chamber of Commerce on Friday 22nd January. The meeting took place at the Leadership Trust in Weston-Under-Penyard, near Ross-on-Wye, where Sarah was briefed of the Chamber of Commerce’s ‘Business Blueprint for opportunity, jobs and growth’.

Sarah also presented Liberal Democrat policies on issues such as tax, skills and infrastructure and gave attendees insight into her successful business career in the telecoms industry which she gave up three years ago to campaign full time for Herefordshire.

Commenting Sarah said, 'In campaigning full time for Herefordshire I meet a very wide range of groups. Our local businesses are absolutely vital and as a result I am pleased to work in partnership with the Chamber of Commerce to support local business, entrepreneurs and our economy.'


TRADING STANDARDS WARN PENSIONERS OF HIGH PRESSURE SALES

Herefordshire Council's Trading Standards Service is issuing a warning following complaints that vulnerable people are currently being targeted for high price mobility products by a firm called ABM Mobility. The company, from Long Eaton in Derbyshire cold call pensioners selling mobility scooters, memory foam mattress toppers, adjustable beds, reclining chairs, stair and bath lifts. One Leominster pensioner was coerced into buying a reclining chair for £3,500 last week and another local couple had a representative in their home for three hours and signed up for a reclining chair merely to get rid of the rep.

Tim Thorne, principal trading standards officer said, 'These incidents may be typical of the way the company operates. The £3,500 sale is simply disgraceful and in the other case, the sales rep claimed the chair was discounted from £3,000 to £850. I doubt these items are really worth £850, let alone £3,500 and to make it worse the couples didn't need or want one.'

ABM Mobility have recently had a court injunction against them ordering them to trade fairly. This was due to there being more than 100 complaints in other parts of the UK during 2009. Breach of this order can lead to the firm being fined or the owner being imprisoned. Mr. Thorne added, 'Anyone who is interested in such products should get quotes from reputable local companies and decide on a purchase without feeling under pressure.

There are companies out there who target some of our most vulnerable members of society and cold calling for expensive mobility equipment is one of many tactics used by potentially unscrupulous salespeople. As always, trading standards advice is to never deal with any cold callers. Anyone who has signed a contract with ABM Mobility and is concerned, should immediately notify us via Consumer Direct on 08454040506 and consider using their 7 day legal right to cancel.'


NATIONAL PROJECT TO INCLUDE HEREFORD MUSEUM OBJECTS

Herefordshire Council's heritage services team has been working closely with the BBC as part of a year-long project aimed at bringing world history to life using museum objects as a catalyst. Five objects from Herefordshire, three of which are from the council's own museums and galleries, have been selected to feature on radio broadcasts associated with the A History of the World Project and on the A History of the World website.

At the heart of the project is the BBC Radio 4 series, 'A History of the World in 100 Objects' with 100 programmes written and narrated by Neil MacGregor, Director of the British Museum. These will focus on 100 objects from the British Museum's collection. The programmes will travel through two million years from the earliest object in the collection to retell the history of humanity through the objects we have made. Each week will be tied to a particular theme, such as 'after the ice age' or 'the beginning of science and literature', and the programmes will broadcast in three blocks, in January, May and August.

Inspired by the Radio 4 series and as part of the larger project involving museums across the UK, Herefordshire's museums have teamed up with BBC Hereford and Worcester and chosen objects from their own collections that reflect world history from each area's perspective. On Tuesday, 16th February, BBC Hereford and Worcester will be broadcasting a live radio show, from noon to 3pm, from the Destination Africa open day at the Museum Resource and Learning Centre on Friars Street where two of the five objects are on show. The BBC will also have a live link to the Worcestershire County Museum in Hartlebury who will be covering the five objects selected from Worcestershire's museum collections.

Kate Andrew, Herefordshire Council's principal heritage officer said, 'We had to work closely with the BBC and go through a rigorous process to get items selected for inclusion in the project. We are delighted that five of the objects have come from Herefordshire and that three are from our own collections and offer an insight into the wide and varied history of the county. All of the items will be featured on BBC Hereford and Worcester and the museum objects are also available to view in a special case in the foyer at Hereford Museum in Broad Street and also at the Museum Resource and Learning Centre in Friars Street.

The items are:

A Roman Spatha sword, left, made 2AD to 3AD, from Hereford Museum and Art Gallery. This object was found by a man walking his dog along the bank of the River Lugg. It is one of only eight such swords in the country and it is possible it was either lost by a Roman soldier or a ritual offering to a water god. It seems to have been deliberately bent as part of a ritual but may have been bent in a process by which Spanish spatha were tested for quality.

The photograph on the right shows a With Astronomical Mirror, 1863, from Hereford Museum Resource and Learning Centre. This object was made by George Henry With, headteacher at Bluecoat School, who later became Dean of Hereford Cathedral. In the mid 19th century he was one of the first exponents of silvered mirrors for use in astronomical instruments alongside the Reverends Thomas William Webb and Henry Cooper Key, also of Herefordshire. George With made more than 200 mirrors for amateur telescopes.

In 1863 Webb experimented with a 5½-inch silvered-glass mirror made by GH With. This was brand new technology as reflecting telescopes had only previously used metal speculum mirrors which tarnished quickly and required frequent re-polishing. In 1864 Webb up-graded by purchasing an 8-inch from With which could then be compared with his 5½-inch refractor. In 1866 Webb was bought a new telescope with a 9.3-inch silvered-glass mirror made by G. H. With.


The Mappa Mundi.

The Mappa Mundi, c.1300, Hereford Cathedral. The Hereford Mappa Mundi is an outstanding treasure of the medieval world recording how thirteenth century scholars interpreted the world in spiritual as well as geographical terms. It bears the name of its author 'Richard of Haldingham or Lafford' (Holdingham and Sleaford in Lincolnshire) and was created around 1300.

Drawn on a single sheet of vellum (calf skin) measuring 1.58 x 1.33 meters, it tapers towards the top with a rounded apex. The geographical material of the map is contained within a circle measuring 52" in diameter and reflects the thinking of the medieval church with Jerusalem at the centre of the world. Superimposed onto the continents are around 500 drawings of the history of humankind and the marvels of the natural world, including some 420 cities and towns, 15 Biblical events, 33 plants, animals, birds and strange creatures, 32 images of the peoples of the world and 8 pictures from classical mythology.


The Alfred Watkins Bee Meter.

The photograph above shows the Alfred Watkins Bee Meter, 1890, from Hereford Museum Resource and Learning Centre. Alfred Watkins, born in Hereford, invented the Bee Meter which was patented in April 1890. This was the first light meter to measure the relative intensity of light through Watkins' invention of the actinometer, which allowed a numerical value to be assigned to light. The Bee Meter was a pocket calculator for determining exposure, so called because it was small and highly efficient. It was manufactured in Friars Street, Hereford, in a building known as The Meter Works.

Its success was demonstrated when H G Ponting, the photographer on Scott's Antarctic Expedition in 1910, used a Watkins Meter to produce his amazing landscapes of this unknown continent. He told Watkins that without the meter, the photographs would have been impossible and one of the photographs, in the collection of Leominster Folk Museum, is also included. Sales of the bee meter grew and they were exported worldwide. An order was received from China for which the half crown was eventually received. Watkin's son records this as one of his father's most treasured experiences.

Also on display will be The East Window, St John's Medieval Museum and Coningsby Hospital, Hereford. This window depicts the history of the St John Hospitaller Knights whose influence was far-reaching in the medieval world, particularly in the Holy Land. They stemmed the growth of the Ottoman empire through the great Siege of Malta in 1565.

The window shows St John the Baptist kneeling before Jesus at the River Jordan, with the founder of the order, Blessed Gerard, in the centre who was born in 1070 in Amalfi, Southern Italy. At that time, a pilgrimage to the Holy Land would clear you of all your sins. It also shows pilgrims being treated by the Hospitaller Knights, the church of the Holy Sepulcre, St Michael weighing the soul of a pilgrim, plus numerous eight pointed stars, the symbol of the Knights Hospitallers. The Knights of St John still exist today as the Knights of Malta.

The window was brought from the St John chapel at Harewood Park, Herefordshire when it was deconsecrated in the 1970s.


POWER BOOST FOR WIDEMARSH STREET TRADERS AND RESIDENTS

As part of its plans for a major refurbishment of Widemarsh Street in Hereford, Herefordshire Council has secured agreement from Central Networks to renew the mains network along the street.

During consultations held with residents and traders over the scheme, concerns were expressed about problems with the existing electricity supply which was affecting trade in Widemarsh Street due to repeated power failures. Herefordshire Council raised the issue with Central Networks who agreed to start work on renewing the mains electricity along the length of teh street on Monday, 25th January.

Councillor Brian Wilcox, Herefordshire Council's cabinet member for highways and transportation said, 'These works by Central Networks have been timed to coincide with the refurbishment works already planned for Widemarsh Street and this will minimise the disruption for traders, residents and shoppers. I am delighted we have been able to secure this agreement from Central Networks before our scheme starts and they can now work with our contractors, Alun Griffiths to make this street a flagship entrance to the city. Businesses and residents will now also benefit from a new mains supply which should address the concerns raised during the consultation and ensure traders can operate in future without any problems with their electricity supply.

Main paving works will start on 22nd February and the whole scheme should be completed before Christmas. Access to shops and for deliveries will be maintained throughout the works. Natural stone paving materials will be used throughout and, wherever possible, any 'street clutter' will be removed. This means signs and street lights will be mounted onto buildings instead of having posts and lighting columns. A road closure came into force on Monday to allow the works to start and access will only be allowed for deliveries and taxis.

Councillor Wilcox added, 'With any major scheme like this, there is bound to be some disruption and I hope everyone will bear with us while works are carried out. I would ask shoppers to carry on using all their usual shops in Widemarsh Street as access will be provided to every property. I am sure everyone will be delighted with the new appearance of the street which will become an attractive entrance to the new Edgar Street Grid retail quarter and thus attract many more shoppers and visitors.'


FLY TIPPING WILL NOT BE TOLERATED IN HEREFORDSHIRE

Herefordshire Council has successfully prosecuted a Herefordshire man for fly tipping Martin Campbell, 42, of Top Hill Cottage, Much Dewchurch, pleaded guilty to the offence at Hereford Magistrates Court on Friday, 22nd January and was fined £350. He was also ordered to pay costs of £525.71, a further £135.35 in compensation to pay for the clear up of the fly tipping, and a £15 victim surcharge, making a total of £1,025.98.

Mrs Sam Evans, prosecuting, told the court that on 4th June 2009, two council enforcement officers received a report of fly tipping in a lay-by at Haywood Lane and found a large amount of rubbish had been deposited there. The rubbish included household rubbish, hairdressing consumables and wooden roofing pallets and when it was collected it weighed 300kg, she added. Mrs Evans added that among the rubbish collected from the lay-by was correspondence with the defendant's address on it and this allowed officers to trace him. The defendant initially denied the offence but later admitted he had deposited it.

Mrs Evans added that the lay-by was 3.2 miles from the defendant's house whereas the household waste site at Rotherwas was 7.9 miles away. Campbell, who represented himself, told the court it was his responsibility and it had been a moment of madness. He told magistrates he was in a hurry because his son was due to go to hospital but he now wished he had never done it and would not do it again.

After the court case, Shane Hancock, Herefordshire Council's acting regulatory manager said, 'Our community protection team is there to respond quickly to any reports that the public make about incidents of fly tipping, ensure it is cleared up, and then find and prosecute the offenders. In this case, the defendant has gained credit for his early guilty plea but I am pleased we not only gained a fine but also our full costs for prosecuting the case and clearing up the rubbish. Herefordshire is a beautiful county and we must all work together to ensure it stays that way and fly tipping will not be tolerated.'


The rubbish left in the lay-by at Haywood Lane.

BAG SNATCH IN WALNUT TREE AVENUE

Hereford Police are appealing for information following a bag snatch in South Wye. The theft happened at 1.30am on Saturday, 16th January as a 36-year old woman was walking home along Walnut Tree Avenue, Hereford. A group of six young males passed her, one of whom came back towards her, pushed her backwards and grabbed the handbag she was carrying. All six males then ran off into Holme Lacy Road.

The offending male is described as white, late teens / early 20's, 5'9" tall, slim to average build with dark spiky hair. He was wearing light-coloured trainers and dark-coloured tracksuit bottoms. The stolen handbag was made of black leather with a metal stud and metal chain affixed to it.

Police are keen to hear from anyone who may have witnessed the incident or may know of the current whereabouts of the stolen handbag. Anybody with information should contact PC Rebecca Colcombe at Hereford Police Station on 0300 333 3000 or call Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555111.


LEDBURY LIBRARY NEEDS VOLUNTEERS FOR INTERGENERATIONAL PROJECT

Ledbury Library is working on an inter-generational project bringing together two generations to share stories about their teenage years. The idea behind the project is that today's teens will learn what it was like to be a teenager years ago and will have the opportunity to tell the older generation what it is like being a young person in Ledbury today. This will all form part of a project to get young people working with different areas of the community, involving the library, as well as John Masefield High School and Age Concern.

To ensure the success of the project, Herefordshire Council is looking for people, young or old, who are interested in being involved and can invest a few hours in order to meet up with everybody to share experiences. In return, the council aims to help with transport, offer refreshments and also hope this project will be fun. There are plans to hold a celebration event at the end of the project to bring everyone together and the young people will be awarded with nationally recognized certificates as a reward for their volunteering and entertainment. A professional photographer will be following the project to capture images that will be displayed in the library and around the community.

If you are interested in being involved in the project, or would like further information, please contact either Lauren Price or Emma Stevens at Ledbury Library on 01531 632133.


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