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24th February 2010 NEWS FROM ROSS-ON-WYE AND AROUND THE REGION
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SOULS OF THE FIRE DRAGON BY ROSS-ON-WYE AUTHOR, JOHN WRIEDEN

If you like to lose yourself in a good fantasy novel, then why not buy yourself a copy of 'Souls of the Fire Dragon' written by local author, John Wrieden? Souls of the Fire Dragon introduces you to lovers, Fate and Chance, twins, Life and Death, dragons and magicians, tyrants and heroes, characters who are cleverly woven into a web of dark fantasy coupled with a good deal of humour.

The story is set in an Orwellian society which is controlled by the Patrician and the Watchmen via CCTV and where freedom of speech and magic are forbidden. One word out of place was punishable by death, not only for the offender, but his entire family too.

The Hero of the story is Akea, who, with the help of dragons, magic and friends endeavours to fight the tyranny of the state, discovering many things along the way, including powerful magic, love and his true self.

John's idea for this story came from a dream he had, the details of which he wrote down, later adding scenes from his imagination.

After leaving school with no qualifications, John later discovered that he is dyslexic, which spurred a turning point in his life. John has, apparently, been able to solder since before he could walk, often taking apart toys, then rebuilding them. He went on to obtain a degree in electronics, inventing his own cable analyser which could point to an underground cable fault to within 10cm.

John's novel, Souls of the Fire Dragon, is currently available on Amazon, Tesco.com and Book 24, priced at £8.99 and will soon be available online from Waterstones and W.H. Smith.


John Wrieden on Saturday with his newly published novel.

RADICAL REWARD SCHEME TO HELP HEREFORDSHIRE SMOKERS TO QUIT

NHS Herefordshire is to help smokers kick the habit with a radical new scheme that provides practical help and support and rewards local people who quit for good.

The Stub Buddies campaign was launched today, Wednesday, 24th February and aims to encourage smokers to make use of free and effective NHS services. Everyone who signs up and manages to stay off cigarettes will be rewarded with either a free spa treatment, a healthy food hamper, or vouchers for physical activities of their choice. There will also be a prize draw for an even bigger prize.

There are 12 million smokers in the UK, a number the NHS aims to cut by half over the next ten years. Research shows smokers are four times more likely to give up if they have the support of their local health service and are twice as likely to maintain cessation if they have a 'buddy' to give up with. A Stub Buddy could be a GP, a pharmacist or another stop smoking expert at a pharmacy, GP's surgery or local leisure centre. People are encouraged to get together with friends, neighbours or work colleagues who are smokers and are keen to quit forever and a Stub Buddy will be made available by NHS Herefordshire to work with them as a group.

Herefordshire's director of public health, Akeem Ali said, 'People are more likely to give up smoking if they feel good, not guilty. Scare tactics do not work as well as support and reward - and rewarding quitters works out much cheaper than treating chronic health problems. This is absolutely in tune with the national policy and we hope local smokers will find this innovative approach a breath of fresh air.'

Almost a quarter of people living in Herefordshire smoke and almost three out of four of these say they want to quit. Over half (57%) say they want 2010 to be the year they succeed. Smoking is the main cause of chronic lung disease, lung cancer, other cancers and circulatory diseases. In fact, patients hospitalized for circulatory diseases in Herefordshire alone last year cost £7 million.

Potential quitters in Herefordshire are asked to visit the unique website, www.HerefordshireStubBuddies.co.uk , where they can choose a quit date, take a quiz to identify their ideal Stub Buddy and get all the help, support and motivation they need. They can also use an Ash Cash Calculator to work out how much money they'll save. There are tips and true-life success stories and plenty of information. The whole Stub Buddy campaign uses humour, honesty and healthy rewards to help people quit for good.

World-leading stop-smoking guru, Professor Robert West, of the Health Behaviour Research Centre at University College London says, 'A stop-smoking specialist gives practical advice on how to deal with the powerful urge to smoke that can strike a quitter at any time. We know that it is much better to do something active, even just tensing and relaxing the muscles, than just trying to wait it out. Specialists can also devise ways of changing a smoker's routine so they are not exposed to the triggers that set off the cravings. This might involve taking an alternative route to work, sitting in a different chair, changing their tea-break routine or avoiding the local pub garden.'


PAINTING AFRICAN TEE SHIRTS AT ROSS HERITAGE CENTRE

Ross Heritage Centre was busy on Wednesday morning, during half term when lots of local children spent the afternoon with Kenyan artist, Gakonga, designing and painting their own African influenced tee shirts.


Kenyan dancing with Gakonga at the Heritage Centre.

Painting tee shirts.

NEW JOBS HOPE FOR HEREFORDSHIRE'S YOUNG UNEMPLOYED

There is good news for young unemployed people in the county after Herefordshire Council has secured funding for new jobs. The funding comes from a new Future Jobs fund developed by the Department of Work and Pensions in a bid to help unemployed people between 18 and 24 years of age gain employment.

Funding under the scheme was due to finish at the end of March, but the council has secured funding which means the scheme can run for a further 12 months. The criteria for the funding stipulates that applicants must be aged 18 to 24 years old who have been unemployed for six months. The council has been working with local employers in both the private, public and voluntary sector, to identify possible job opportunities. As a result, a diverse range of jobs are on offer, including work in horticulture, leisure, health, caring professions and construction. All posts will be advertised through Job Centre Plus and financial support may be available to help with travel and training costs.

Councillor Adrian Blackshaw, Herefordshire Council's cabinet member for economic development and community services said, 'We're delighted to be able to offer some of the county's young people hope in the current economic climate. We understand how difficult it can be for young people beginning their working lives. Employers want to see evidence of experience, which makes it very difficult for some to get their first break. Although the posts are temporary, the six month contracts will help many get a foot on the employment ladder by providing them with valuable experience, boosting their skills and helping them decide on future career prospects. I hope those invited to apply will do so and make the most of this great opportunity.'

The council is keen to hear from employers who may want to take someone on for six months under the scheme. 'The salary, plus any other associated costs, are covered by the grant. We're particularly looking for companies which work to benefit their local community,' said Melvyn Davies, the council's employment placement officer for the scheme.

Companies interested in taking part in the scheme can contact Melvyn on 01432 261606.


HAVE FUN DURING FAIR TRADE FORTNIGHT IN ROSS-ON-WYE

Fair Trade Fortnight began on Monday, 22nd February and Ross Fair Trade Steering Group are running a series of Fair Trade events in the town during this period.

On Friday, 19th February the Ross-on-Wye Fair Trade Treasure Hunt was launched and the forms are available from local retailers. When completed these should be handed in or posted to Ross Town Council offices at The Corn Exchange, High Street by Friday, 5th March. The prize is a hamper full of Fair Trade goodies.

On Saturday, 27th February, Christ Church in Edde Cross Street will be hosting a Fair Trade coffee morning.

On Monday, 1st March visitors to Court House, Archenfield Road will have the opportunity to see some of the ETHOS range of Fair Trade products during their coffee morning, which will take place between 11am and 2pm. There will also be a collection for the children of the Shakti Orphanage in Nepal, which is supported by ETHOS.

Mary Sinclair-Powell of Ross Heritage Centre will be entertaining visitors to the Friends Meeting House, Brampton Street with some 'Tales of Old Ross' on Wednesday, 3rd March from 7pm. Entrance to the event costs £3.50 in advance or £4 on the door, which will go towards the Mayor's charity, Macmillan Cancer Support and the Fair Trade group. Fair Trade refreshments will be provided.

On Saturday, 6th March a coffee morning will be held at the Friends Meeting House from 10am until 12 Noon, then from 2pm until 4pm there will be a Strictly Fair Trade Tea Circle Dance. All are welcome to try out Circle Dances from around the world and enjoy some Fair Trade snacks and treats.

For further information on Fair Trade Fortnight, please contact Jane Roberts on 01989 563299, 07931 561553 or by email at janedotroberts@tiscali.co.uk


Some of the children from the Shakti orphanage.

A mother spinning at the Shakti orphanage in Nepal.

WOMAN SERIOUSLY INJURED IN COLLISION NEAR BRAMPTON BRYAN

Herefordshire Police are appealing for witnesses following a three vehicle road traffic collision which left one driver seriously injured. The incident happened on the A4113 Leintwardine to Kington road near Brampton Bryan at 3.20pm on Monday, 22nd February. A silver Peugeot 206 travelling towards Knighton was in collision with a silver Ford Transit travelling in the opposite direction and a red VW Golf also travelling towards Knighton.

The driver of the Peugeot, an 81-year old lady from Knighton, received serious injuries in the collision and was flown by air ambulance to Selly Oak Hospital in Birmingham where her condition this morning is described as serious but not life-threatening. The road was closed for several hours whilst police collision investigators examined the scene and recovery experts removed the crashed vehicles.

Police would like to hear from anyone who witnessed the collision or saw any of the vehicles on the A4113 immediately before the crash. Anyone with information should contact PC Adrian Davies of the Roads Policing Team at Hereford Police Station on 0300 333 3000.


BAYWATCH RETURNS TO HEREFORDSHIRE

Herefordshire Council is urging people to respect parking bays for blue badge users and is reviving its successful Baywatch campaign to get this message across.

Baywatch, a campaign to raise awareness of parking issues for disabled people, ran throughout February and March last year. Its main objectives were to stop people parking illegally in disabled parking bays, reduce Blue Badge fraud, eliminate stereotypes of disabled people and reduce abuse received by Blue Badge users. The campaign was such a big success that the council has decided to run it again during March this year. For thousands of people living in Herefordshire, blue badges and disabled parking bays are vital facilities which improve the quality of their day-to-day lives.

Herefordshire Council's diversity officer, Harriet Yellin, commented, 'An important part of the Baywatch message is to try to reduce the fraudulent use of badges. Carers, family members and friends of a Blue Badge holder may feel that a badge is associated with a vehicle, and that the vehicle is the badge holder; this is not the case. All Blue Badges are issued purely for the use of the person named on the badge, and anyone who condones the misuse of the scheme is depriving legitimate badge holders of vital parking spaces.'

The Baywatch message will be spread across the county using bus advertising, Herefordshire Matters, leaflets and free car stickers! Community Enforcement Officers will be particularly vigilant at this time, checking to see whether people using Blue Badges are the legitimate holders.

Anybody who would like further information is welcome to telephone 01432 260216 or visit the website at www.herefordshire.gov.uk/baywatch.


SPORTS COACHES URGED TO TAKE ADVANTAGE OF COURSES

All sport coaches in the county are being urged by Herefordshire Council to take advantage of three courses aimed at ensuring they are aware of their responsibilities for safeguarding children and that they can also deal with emergencies.

The courses, being run by Herefordshire Sports Development and the Sports Partnership Herefordshire and Worcestershire, are:

Thursday, 25th March - Safeguarding and Protecting Children
Wednesday, 19th May - Emergency First Aid
Thursday, 8th July 8 - Safeguarding and Protecting Children 2

All three courses are being held at Hereford Rowing Club, with a 6.30pm start, lasting three hours. If you would like to book a place on any of these courses, please visit www.morethansport.com/courses or ring Georgina Fenton at the Sports Partnership on 01905 542260.

Jan Perridge, Herefordshire Council's senior sports development officer said, 'It is extremely important that everyone who has regular contact with children is aware of their responsibilities in safeguarding and protecting children. Qualified coaches are required to attend safeguarding courses every three years and the first one is best suited for people who have not attended one before.

Coaches who have already completed the first workshop may prefer to reinforce and strengthen their understanding of safeguarding without repeating the first workshop by attending the Safeguarding and Protecting Children 2 Reflecting on Practice course. This differs from its predecessor in that it deliberately builds upon the practical experience people have already gained in their day-to-day role as a coach, giving them a chance to reflect upon as well as learn from other coaches' experiences. Coaches must have attended the Safeguarding and Protecting Children course before attending this course.'

Sports Coach UK, the course provider, delivers a whole range of other courses. Details of these can be found on the Herefordshire Sport website at www.herefordshiresport.co.uk. If there is enough demand for any of these courses (at least 15 people interested in booking), then more courses could be put on in Herefordshire.

For further information, please contact Amy Jenkins, sports development officer, on 01432 261539.


SARAH CARR TAKES VINCE CABLE TO VISIT HEREFORDSHIRE TRADERS

Sarah Carr, Liberal Democrat Prospective MP for Hereford, Ross and South Herefordshire welcomed Vince Cable MP, the Liberal Democrat party Deputy Leader and Shadow Chancellor to Herefordshire on Thursday, 18th February.

Sarah first took Dr. Cable to Ross-on-Wye to meet members of the Association of Ross Traders who are actively promoting Ross-on-Wye. In visiting many of the retailers Vince congratulated them and spoke of the importance of what they are doing in ‘ground up action’.

Sarah, Vince and Paul Keetch, MP then visited Hereford's home grown business, Taylor Lane Timber Frame Ltd. based at Rotherwas, Hereford which employs more than 100 people. Vince, Sarah and Paul met staff members and went onto the factory floor to see the house frames being constructed. Commenting on the visit Sarah said, 'I am delighted that Dr. Vince Cable, MP came to Herefordshire to hear first hand from local businesses on how they are working through the recession and the particular challenges they are facing.

Vince was very impressed by the businesses he met and their action in working together to promote Ross. The Liberal Democrats are also determined to help people with affordable housing. I have been impressed by Taylor Lane and I wanted to show Vince how a local company is providing housing that is environmentally sustainable and affordable.

Vince Cable is widely respected across all political parties and I am honoured to have his support in my campaign to be the next Member of Parliament for Hereford, Ross and South Herefordshire.'


Sarah Carr and Vince Cable MP with Lib Dem Councillors and some Ross Residents on Thursday.

JESSE WELCOMES TORY PLANS FOR CO-OPS TO IMPROVE PUBLIC SERVICES

Prospective MP for Hereford, Ross and South Herefordshire, Jesse Norman has welcomed new Conservative plans for employee-owned co-ops to improve public services. Under the bold new proposals, public sector workers would be given the right to form employee-owned co-operatives to take over the services they deliver, potentially empowering thousands of public sector workers across Herefordshire.

The new co-op right will apply throughout the vast majority of the public sector, including JobCentre Plus offices, community nursing teams and primary schools. Employee-owned co-operatives would continue to be funded by the state so long as they meet national standards, but would be freed from much of the present Whitehall bureaucracy, red tape and political micro-management. They would be voluntary sector, not-for-profit organizations able to decide on management structures, innovate to cut costs and improve the quality of service. Any financial surpluses would be reinvested into the service and the staff who work there, rather than be distributed to external shareholders.

Local candidate Jesse Norman founded the Conservative Co-operative Movement in 2007. Pictured here at a co-op book launch with David Cameron, he has been widely credited in the national newspapers with pushing the Conservatives to embrace co-ops as a means to improve public services. He said, 'Co-ops are often extraordinary organizations, which empower their employee-owners and release terrific energy. They are particularly appropriate to the public services, because employee ownership gives them a natural human scale, as well as great flexibility and enterprise.

This could mark a huge shift of power away from government to people -- something we very badly need, both in Herefordshire and in the UK as a whole.'


Jesse launches his Food Co-op Book with David Cameron.

RECORD NUMBER OF YOUNG PEOPLE SIGN UP TO D OF E AWARD SCHEME

More than 400 young people in Herefordshire have signed up to start a Duke of Edinburgh's Award programme this year and the country as whole has seen a 20 per cent increase in the number of young people taking part over the last two years. Herefordshire has been part of this increase with record numbers signing up for the Award which is managed by Herefordshire Council's youth service.

Mal Mason of Herefordshire Council said, 'Each of the three levels of the Award recognize commitment, initiative and teamwork, exactly the qualities employers are looking for. We all know the job market is extremely competitive at the moment, and as well as qualifications, any activities which can set you apart from the next applicant is very beneficial. I have even heard of employers saying they always look for candidates with a Duke of Edinburgh Award when they are recruiting.'

As well as giving young people a great qualification and many experiences to add to their curriculum vitae, the Duke of Edinburgh Award is fun to do and anyone can join. You don't need any qualifications to start and training and guidance are provided for you all along the way. To give young people the opportunity to find out more and talk to some of the Award's local leaders, the council is holding an open event at the Hereford Canoe Centre between 3pm and 7pm on Wednesday, 24th February.

Just call in or email dofe@herefordshire.gov.uk for further information.


OVER £15.7 MILLION FOR ENGLAND'S HISTORIC PLACES OF WORSHIP

English Heritage and the Heritage Lottery Fund have announced more than £15.7 million to support urgent repair work to 154 Grade I and II listed places of worship across England - with more than £1.9 million to 28 places of worship in the West Midlands.

Herefordshire's Grade I listed Church of St John the Evangelist has been offered up to £682,000 - the largest amount for 2010 across England under the organisations' joint Repair Grants for Places of Worship scheme.

On Thursday, 18th February, at the Church of St John the Evangelist, Shobdon, Herefordshire, English Heritage and the Heritage Lottery Fund announced grants totalling £1,919,000 to help repair eight listed churches in Herefordshire, seven in Warwickshire, six in Shropshire, four in Worcestershire and three in the West Midlands conurbation. Nationally, since 2002, £123 million in grants have been awarded to almost 1,300 Grade I and II* historic places of worship through the partnership scheme, which is the largest single source of funds to help congregations to care for historic churches, chapels, synagogues and other historic places of worship.

This enchanting building in Shobdon is one of the most notable Rococo Gothick churches in the country and was built in 1756 by the Hon Richard Bateman of Shobdon, Bateman rebuilt his estate church with only the original church's fourteenth century tower incorporated into the new building, but now without additional structural support, it faces an immediate risk of partial collapse. Initial attempts at restoration work have revealed that the unique building faces complex repair challenges. The striking blue and white ornate interior finish is judged to be of greater historic importance than the structure that supports it. However, unlike many churches, most of its structural timbers are buried behind interior plasterwork and ornamental arches. As a result, repairs have to be carried out from the outside so as not to disturb the interiors.

Continued...


An initial grant of £25,000 has been awarded by English Heritage to carry out project development works in order to identify what is involved in the entire restoration. This will be followed by a maximum of £657,000 to complete the extensive repair works. The total cost of the repair works is estimated to be in the region of a maximum of £1 million.

Work on the repairs to the church is expected to start in 2011. Tim Johnston, Regional Director for English Heritage in the West Midlands said: 'Places of worship form a priceless part of our region's heritage and are of great significance to many local communities. Unfortunately the maintenance of this legacy poses some tough challenges, so these grants are vital in boosting fundraising efforts to ensure we all continue to enjoy these remarkable buildings.'

Anne Jenkins, Head of the Heritage Lottery Fund in the West Midlands, said: 'The West Midlands is home to some of the country's most important and precious places of worship but sustaining them is always a big challenge. We are delighted, in partnership with English Heritage, to be able to offer grant support to twenty-eight of these wonderful structures from all corners of the region, helping to ensure that these magnificent buildings are safeguarded for the future.'

Penny Corbett, speaking on behalf of Shobdon Parochial Church Council, said: 'We are delighted that English Heritage and the Heritage Lottery Fund are able to provide essential support for the repair works of our historic church at Shobdon, and that we have been allocated the scheme's largest amount of funding in England for 2010! The church forms a very important centre for our community and it is vital that we carry out the major and urgent restoration work to secure the future of this unique Grade I listed building.'


DOG ATTACKS PUPPY ON BROMYARD DOWNS

Bromyard Police are asking for the assistance of the public to trace the owners of a Staffordshire Bull terrier which attacked a Border Collie puppy on Bromyard Downs, leaving the puppy's owners with a vet's bill of £200.

The incident happened at approximately 2.40pm on Monday, 15th February when Dylan, a four-month old Border Collie puppy and his owner were walking across the Downs. Without warning, the puppy was attacked around the throat by a brindle coloured Staffordshire Bull terrier, called Druid, who was accompanied by two women who also had three lurchers with them.

It took a while to get the terrier off the puppy and in the owner's rush to get the blood-covered pup to the vets, he did not take any details of Druid's owner. The vet managed to stitch the wounds in the neck but the pup lost three teeth in the attack. The owner was also given a tetanus shot at Worcester A&E as he sustained minor cuts in trying to stop the attack. Local police in Bromyard and Dylan's owner have expressed concern that Druid might again attack another dog or even a small child, if not properly supervised.

Police are anxious to trace Druid's owner who is described as a white female in her 20's. She was accompanied by another young woman. Police would like to hear from Druid's owner or from anyone who may know who his owner is, so that they can ascertain whether the animal is a danger to other dogs or people or not.

Anybody with information is urged to contact PC Jill Richardson at Bromyard Police Station on 0300 333 3000 or call Crimestoppers on 0800 555111.


CHAMPAGNE AND SHAMBLES AT HAMPTON COURT

The libraries service is seeking to encourage more people to share their love of reading by joining a book group. Local writer and historian Catherine Beale will be giving an illustrated talk about her very readable book Champagne and Shambles at Hampton Court on Saturday, 13th March 3pm until 4.30pm.

The book tells the story of the Arkwright family who owned Hampton Court, which once was the largest estate in Herefordshire. The story shows how the landed gentry went into decline, and the details about life in Herefordshire, particularly in Leominster in the 19th century, are absolutely fascinating. Tickets cost £5 and are available on the door. There will also be signed copies of the book and tea and cakes for sale.

This book is being read by a number of book groups in the county and Anne-Marie Dossett, Herefordshire Council's reader development librarian says, 'This is a good book for readers' groups. There is much to discuss and it has been so brilliantly researched. After the talk there will be time to ask questions and have an informal discussion in the beautiful setting of the library at Hampton Court. This would be a perfect afternoon out for a book group.'

Champagne and Shambles is available to borrow as a 15 copy readers' group set from Herefordshire libraries. To find out more about the service for readers' groups go to www.herefordshire.gov.uk/readersgroups or contact Anne-Marie Dossett on email amdossett@herefordshire.gov.uk. Alternatively, you are welcome to telephone 01432 260646.


CHANGE YOUR LIFE WITH FREE Wii FIT SESSION

Getting fit and active doesn't have to be boring or tedious; it can be great fun and NHS Herefordshire intends to prove the point by inviting families to a free Wii fit session at Whitecross Sports College.

Aerobics, balance, skiing, snow boarding, boxing, running; whatever you fancy having a go at, the Wii fit can do it all so NHS staff are keen to encourage people to have a go as part of the Change4Life programme. The session will take place on Tuesday, 9th March from 6.30 until 7.30pm at Whitecross Specialist Sports College and High School. Children aged two to eleven are invited to bring their families along to an hour of fun trying out new types of exercise to help them move more. More exercise combined with eating well will help Herefordshire families to live longer too.

Lisa Purslow, healthy lifestyle co-ordinator said, 'This is one type of computer game the health officials approve of as it requires active participation rather than passive gaming. We will have a number of Wii fit stations up and running so anyone can just call in and have a go. We don't expect everyone to like all types of exercise, but the Wii fit is great fun and gives people options to try: and of course there's a bit of healthy inter-family competition involved too. Mums and carers at Green Croft Children's Centre have already tried out the new Wii fit plus consoles and had a great time.'

The Wii fit exercise session is one of many events being organized by NHS Herefordshire to help local families change the way they live their lives. Full details of all events together with Top Tips on how to make small, meaningful changes to benefit health and well being are available on www.herefordshirechange4life.org


COUNCIL ON TRACK TO BALANCE BUDGET FOR SEVENTH YEAR RUNNING

Herefordshire Council is on track to bring in its finances within budget at the end of the financial year, balancing its books for the seventh year running. The council's cabinet heard that the council will not overspend this year, despite another year of severe financial pressure, as a result of the escalating costs of providing social care for the county's growing older population, safeguarding children and keeping primary routes open during the recent extreme weather.

Director of Resources David Powell reported that the finance team were confident that the budget would balance by 31 March 2010. The position is in contrast to many other local authorities across the country, which are announcing major overspends, swingeing cuts to public services and job cuts. The cabinet heard that there was a projected overspend of £2.7 million for social care and £0.6 million for children's services. But recovery plans and spending controls in other directorates, the use of social care contingency funds and reductions on borrowing costs will achieve a balanced budget overall.

The budget report also showed that 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. This has put pressure on the winter maintenance budget of £1.1 million and cabinet approved the transfer of £500,000 from reserves.


ROTHERWAS GETS HIGH SPEED BROADBAND

Businesses on Hereford's Rotherwas estate will soon be able to enjoy the benefits of super fast high speed broadband. Thanks to the Rotherwas Futures project, a £20m joint venture between Herefordshire Council and Advantage West Midlands, an agreement has been reached with wireless broadband provider Airband Community Internet Ltd.

The company is to provide 4M8, 8Mb and 20Mb broadband services to the whole of the estate. This is good news as most businesses on the estate have had to put up with low broadband speeds for years. A previous wireless service was withdrawn in 2008 because it was unsustainable with the number of users it had, which meant that businesses had to install more expensive leased lines to keep up with the digital economy. The new service will make WiFi available to the whole estate for mobile devices and residential users within reach will also be able to use the service.

Councillor Adrian Blackshaw, the council's cabinet member for economic development and community services said, 'At last Herefordshire businesses have access to the sort of broadband service that metropolitan businesses take for granted! This new service is crucial to attracting new businesses and new jobs to Hereford, and promotes Rotherwas to the premier league of business parks.'

Redmond Peel, managing director of Airband said, 'We're delighted to be back at Rotherwas and old customers are keen to sign up to our much faster service. This will give Rotherwas businesses the fastest broadband available in Herefordshire. Part of our agreement with the council is to promote our broadband service more, and this time round we hope more Rotherwas businesses will recognize how good a deal we are offering and the benefits and time savings they can get from a 4Mb, and faster, services.'

Ian Edwards, Team Leader at Advantage West Midlands' Rural Regeneration Zone, added his support. He said, 'Giving growing businesses access to high speed broadband is a must if we are to drive the rural economy forward and this introduction marks an important stage in the development of a longer term vision for Rotherwas.'

Businesses wanting further information about the Airband service should visit www.airband.ltd.uk, or ring 0800 0350025.


CABINET APPROVES PLANS TO SAVE £5.4M PER YEAR BY SHARING FUNCTIONS

Herefordshire Council have approved business proposals to share more of its central functions with the primary care trust and the county hospital. The cabinet, who met on Thursday, 18th February, supported the move, which could save up to £5.4 million a year to be invested in protecting services for the most vulnerable members of the community. The boards of the primary care trust and the hospital trust are also to consider the proposals during February and March.

The aim of this move is to avoid the scale of cuts in public services seen in other parts of the country by sharing central functions and making them more efficient. These administrative savings could then be reinvested in essential health and social care services. Herefordshire Council, NHS Herefordshire and Hereford Hospitals Trust started work on a business case in April last year and proposals include the three organizations either setting up their own joint venture, or outsourcing many corporate functions to the private sector, or one of the three organizations providing the services for the other two.

Now the cabinet has given the green light, negotiations will continue between the three organizations and a formal report, seeking a formal decision will be presented soon. Herefordshire's unique approach to public services partnership, which is increasingly being seen as a model for other local authorities and trusts in the UK, means that many corporate functions and costs can be shared. These comprise information technology, finance, procurement, human resources, payroll and expenses, communications, internal audit, legal, transport, estates, printing and emergency planning across the three organizations

The move is prompted by the need to protect services to the most vulnerable members of the community, including Herefordshire's ageing population, disabled people and children looked after by the local authority. Local government and health will also focus on how together they can manage contracts, purchase goods and services and achieve further economies of scale across the three organizations


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