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10th March 2010 NEWS FROM ROSS-ON-WYE AND AROUND THE REGION
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PANCAKE RACES BOOST MAYORS CHARITY BY £150

The recent revival of the Ross Pancake Races was a tremendous success. Not only did this event which was put on by the Association of Ross Traders provide a great morning of entertainment for participants and spectators, it also helped to raise money for Ross Town Mayor's chosen charity, Macmillan Cancer Support. After covering the costs of putting on the event, the entrance fees for the races went to the charity along with a further £100 which was donated by the many people watching the fun.

The Association held it's latest meeting at Pots and Pieces Tea shop, where Helen Kiddy from Essential Sewing Services presented a cheque for 150 to Mayor, Councillor John Edwards on behalf of the Association.

Over three hundred people attended the revived event and people of all ages raced with their pancakes up Broad Street. A.R.T. would like to thank all those who took part and helped to make this day such a great success. The event is to be repeated next year on Shrove Tuesday, 8th March 2011.


Helen Kiddy of Essential Sewing Services presents Mayor Edwards with a cheque on behalf of the Association of Ross Traders.

CAR SET ALIGHT IN WALFORD ROAD

Ross-on-Wye Police are appealing for information following the arson of a car in the town during the early hours of last Saturday morning.

At 5am on Saturday, 6th March, residents in the Walford Road area of Ross were awoken by the sound of loud bangs. Shortly before, an unknown person had set alight a red Volkswagen Golf which was parked in the street. The vehicle was completely gutted by fire and required the Fire and Rescue Service to extinguish it.

As the owner awoke to investigate the noises, he looked out of his window and saw a man in a black hoodie with a torch, crouching down in his rear garden. When he went to challenge him, the suspect immediately jumped over a garden fence and ran off.

Police are keen to speak with anyone who saw any suspicious activity, persons or vehicles in the Tudorville area at approximately 5am last Saturday morning. Anyone with information is urged to contact PC Matt Bishop at Ross Police Station on 0300 333 3000 or call Crimestoppers on 0800 555111 without delay.


NEW PART TIME SPEED LIMIT AT WALFORD SCHOOL

Councillors Wilcox and Jarvis, Walford Head Teacher Louise George and pupils.

A new, part time 20mph hour speed limit is now in place and fully operational at Walford Primary School, Ross-on-Wye, which will enable pupils to travel to school more safely.

The new limit is a bid by Herefordshire Council to build on a successful pilot scheme, endorsed by the Department of Transport, at Sutton St. Nicholas Primary School by putting in place two further part-time 20mph speed limits; one being at Walford and the other at Madley Primary School.

The part-time limits are indicated by signs with flashing lights and will be in place for an experimental 18-month period, during which people can comment on how successful they are. Herefordshire Council will monitor the effectiveness of the speed limits before seeking to make them permanent.

Councillor Brian Wilcox said, 'These part-time signs will only operate at school opening and closing times. Flashing lights will warn motorists they need to slow down but, outside of school times, the limit will rise to the existing speed limits which will help to ensure traffic can keep flowing and prevent motorists from getting frustrated.

We also want to encourage as many pupils as possible to walk and cycle to school and this 20mph limit will allow them to do this more safely as it will slow traffic when pupils are travelling to and from school.'

Sites for scheme were chosen following consultation with the schools through the council's Safer Routes to Schools Initiative.


NEW CENTRES WILL BRING FAMILY SERVICES CLOSER TO COMMUNITIES

Children and families across the county will soon find it easier and quicker to access services as seven new hubs are to be built over the next 12 months which will help different organizations and services work together better. Last year, Herefordshire Council successfully bid for 2.4 million to develop new multi agency centres across the county. The centres, known as hubs, will be a welcome addition to existing community facilities such as schools, children's centres and youth centres. They will help teams who work with children and parents to have a local base within the area they support.

Under the new scheme, a school improvement officer working with schools in the north of the county could share a desk and office space with a social worker, community police officer or student counsellor from a location in Leominster, possibly also a with a youth worker, special needs co-ordinator and health visitor too. Sharing office space helps people work together better, which will make things easier for families needing extra support. The location of the hubs has been agreed after detailed research into where families prefer to access services.

A project undertaken by Herefordshire's Children's Trust, known as No Wrong Door, has been going on since last summer to design the detail of how the hubs will work. Some council and primary care trust staff are likely to be redeployed so that each centre has a core team of people based there. Each hub will provide some flexible office space, as well as private interview rooms and a space for group activities or meetings that could be made available for use by the local community. Using a combination of refurbishments and extensions, it is planned to develop a hub in Ross-on-Wye, Bromyard, Leominster, Kington and Ledbury, as well as two further hubs in Hereford.

Staff from different agencies will be able to 'hot desk' from the new hubs, which will mean that they have to spend less time and money travelling. The new hubs will also make a big contribution to the council's accommodation strategy and mean a reduction in the use of more expensive and less flexible offices elsewhere.

'Like all other authorities in the country, we are having to change the way we work with children and families in Herefordshire,' said Sharon Menghini, Chair of the Herefordshire Children's Trust and Director of Herefordshire Council's children's services. She continued, 'Children's Trusts are strategic partnerships consisting of representatives from agencies and organizations who work with children and families. We think it is important to provide as many services as we can locally for children and families to be able to access them more readily.

Children and families should only have to tell their story once. That story should be shared and appropriate support and resources provided, regardless of which organization is providing it. Herefordshire Council is leading on the building of the hubs, but the way they will operate is very much down to the Children's Trust. This is why the trust has been consulting with agencies, children and young people over the last 12 months.

Now that the location of the hubs has been agreed, we can begin the building programme, plan the way each hub will work and begin delivering excellent services to improve the lives of children and young people now and in the future.'


BOOK SWAP SHOP TO CLOSE FOR STAFF TRAINING

The Ross Recycling book shop is moving the training of its volunteers up a gear. The Recycling book shop opened in Cantilupe road 12 years ago and started as a result of the recycling initiatives that were facilitated by the volunteers and staff working from the Ryefield Centre.

A mixed group of parents and carers looked for activities that would help people be seen as contributing members of the community and when the paper recycling took off, people welcomed the involvement of the people from the Ryefield Centre. To capitalize on this success, the parents and carers contacted and involved members of the local business community to help the scheme grow to a town owned initiative and EnviroAbility was born, and has since grown and gone from strength to strength. Dennis Humble directed the initiative whilst working for the County Council and now works for EnviroAbility. He is proud to point out that whilst the directors have done a good job in developing a sound business model, all the projects that have been developed are from ideas from local people.

One concern coming from the people of Ross was that whilst it was good to recycle paper they noticed that perfectly good books were being thrown away, that concern turned out to be the birth of the Recycling book shop. The venture has enabled lots of people to take big steps towards developing their skills to be part of a team running a business. One of the team at EnviroAbility used their involvement with the shop to help them obtain both a level 2 and 3 in business administration. Another member of the team has actually been awarded an NVQ in customer care, with another team member about to start the same course. We are hoping that yet another team member is about to start an NVQ qualification in care.

The book shop is usually open six days a week. However, on the morning of Thursday, 11th March, the shop will close for a couple of hours for staff training. The shop has recently had lots of new people wanting to get involved. You may have noticed lots of new faces in the shop if you have visited recently. This training is to bring all the new volunteer staff up-to-date with using the new systems that are now in place. EnviroAbility will have an ongoing training programme for volunteers going into the future and if anyone would like to get involved please give them a call on 01989 763388.

If you pay a visit to the second hand book shop, you will see well categorized titles in abundance, ranging from murder mysteries to love and romance stories, well known biographies, medical advancement literature, memorabilia books on many subjects and, importantly, there is a good selection of books for toddlers, and pre-school infants; in fact, all types of books that would be of interest throughout school years and beyond.

The volunteer group are looking forward to this project being a successful venture and are always very grateful for the general public's help. The new and the seasoned shop volunteers express their thanks, especially to those who so regularly and kindly donate books that they have finished with. The volunteers are hoping, that the public at large will continue the valued support of the venture, taking books from the second hand book shop and monetary donations in the box provided is all that it takes.

Shopmobility is also run from the Book Swap Shop premises, so for those who find walking around the shops too difficult, there are battery operated scooters available.

To be a member of the Ross Shopmobility scheme, just call into the book swap shop in Cantilupe Road, where help and information can be obtained.


Volunteers at the Book Swap Shop.

HEREFORDSHIRE COUNCIL TAX RISE IS LOWEST EVER

Herefordshire Council approved the lowest council tax rise ever in its history on Friday, 5th March. The rise of 2.54 per cent represents 29.85 a year, or 57.4 pence a week, on a Band D property, which will rise to 1,205.09 in the next financial year but is still below the average council tax level for the country. In a challenging budget setting, the council balanced its books last year for the seventh year running and achieved 5.6 million in savings for the next financial year.

On Friday, the Council announced it had allocated an extra 1.5 million in capital and extra reserves for road maintenance, following the worst cold spell in the county for 30 years. The council, with its contractor Amey, is filling in 200 potholes a day, dealing with the most urgent first, but allocating 3.7 million over the next twelve months to bring roads up to repair and resurface the road network.

Councillor Roger Phillips, leader of the council, said the council recognized the impact of any rise on local communities but Herefordshire was facing huge pressures in providing more social care for vulnerable and older people, a section of the population that is growing rapidly, as well as facing more expensive safeguarding for children. The numbers of people receiving intensive home care has risen by 25 per cent in two years, and the number of children under child protection has rocketed by 100 per cent in the same period. The council today announced an extra 500,000 in contingency for increased pressure on social care next year.

Councillor Phillips announced that he expected soon to hear details of the new dedicated schools grant funding formula from the Department for Children, Schools and Families. Herefordshire Council has been lobbying for a fairer deal for schools, as Herefordshire gets just over 4,000 funding per pupil from government, compared with the national average of nearly 4,400. The county is fighting for government recognition of the higher overheads involved in providing education in sparsely populated areas.

Herefordshire people get 317 each from the central government formula grant, which is 17 per cent less funding per head of population than the average for similar authorities, despite the fact that public services are more expensive to provide in rural settings.


PHILIP HAMMOND MP ADDRESSES BUSINESS LUNCH IN ROSS

More than forty local business people were given a recent insight by a senior Conservative politician into the economic challenges facing the next government. Philip Hammond, MP, the Shadow Chief Secretary to the Treasury, spoke at a very well attended business lunch at the Royal Hotel in Ross-on-Wye, which was organized by prospective local MP Jesse Norman.

In his remarks, Mr Hammond described the 'triple challenge' facing government after the General Election. The huge present level of debt had to be reduced, he said, the country's stagnant economy had to be revived, and international confidence renewed in the UK. Under normal circumstances any one of these would be daunting. But to face all three was a huge task. Too many difficult decisions had been ducked by the present government, helping to create the present crisis.

Separately, Jesse was able to brief Mr Hammond on the size of the under funding gap endured by Herefordshire. The effects of this were everywhere apparent, he said, especially of late with all the potholes and the recent state of the roads.

Commenting after the event, Jesse said, 'I am delighted to be able to invite another Conservative Shadow Cabinet minister to visit Herefordshire and be quizzed by a local audience. Herefordshire needs a far higher level of public investment than we have seen in recent years. My goal is to get our message heard loud and clear in Westminster. This is one more step towards that.'


Jesse Norman with Philip Hammond, MP at the Royal Hotel in Ross-on-Wye.

POLICE WARN OF CAR DISTRACTION THIEVES

Hereford Police are warning shoppers using the city's supermarket and council car parks to be on their guard following incidents of a couple using distraction techniques to steal bank cards and use them afterwards.

At 12.40pm on Wednesday, 17th February, a woman was sitting in her car in the car park at Tesco's in Belmont with her handbag on the front passenger seat. She was about to start the ignition when another woman approached the car and, in broken English, requested assistance with directions. The woman got out of the car and they were joined by a male who produced a road atlas to ask the way to Chesterfield. It is believed that during this encounter, the female suspect, who was now standing back from the others, entered the car and removed a bank card from the victim's handbag. The card was later used to obtain around 1,000 worth of goods from a number of outlets in the city.

The female suspect is described as white, mid 40's, 5'8" tall, of stock build with long dark hair and a fair to medium complexion. The male suspect was described as of Asian appearance in his mid 30's, 5'6" tall, medium build with short dark hair and spoke broken English in an unknown dialect. Police are linking this incident with a similar one in the Sainsbury's car park in Hereford in September where a couple similarly asked another shopper for directions and removed a purse containing a credit card from the bag the woman had over her shoulder at the time. The card was later fraudulently used at three outlets.

Police advise all shoppers to be on their guard for persons asking for directions in car parks and to keep a close eye on bags. They also advise that drivers ensure that if they step out of a vehicle to give directions, they lock the car as soon as they get out.


COUNCIL ADDRESSING THE CHALLENGES BETTER BROADBAND FOR COUNTY

Leader of Herefordshire Council, Councillor Roger Phillips with the document 'Broadband in Herefordshire - Developing a County Approach'.

Businesses and communities in Herefordshire are missing out because of the limited broadband coverage. However, a new document produced by Herefordshire Council sets out an ambitious way forward to address the challenges.

Herefordshire, like all rural areas, is not able to achieve the broadband coverage and bandwidth of more urban areas because the network coverage is not in place. The document entitled 'Broadband in Herefordshire - Developing a County Approach' sets out a vision for the future, as well as outlining how solutions can be met. This document makes clear that waiting for market forces to solve the problem is unlikely, with Herefordshire not having the population density to make the laying of optic fibre financially viable for commercial operators.

Councillor Roger Phillips, leader of Herefordshire Council said, 'People of the county are losing out, including businesses who are not able to compete on a level playing field with companies in the more urban areas who have faster connectivity. Within Herefordshire Council and NHS Herefordshire we are keen to have more services available electronically to aid access to services specifically in the rural areas but this will prove difficult without a broadband solution.'

The document will be launched at a Community Broadband Conference on Thursday, 18th March, from 4.30pm until 7pm at The Three Counties Hotel, Hereford. The conference is open to anyone with an interest in improving broadband and will include national and local speakers.

Natalia Silver of Herefordshire Council said, 'The conference and document produced aims to stimulate debate about a way forward for the county working with local businesses and communities to create solutions for different parts of the county.'

To book a place at the conference please contact Kate Amos on 01432 260638 or email to kamos@herefordshire.gov.uk For anyone unable to make the conference the document can be sent (electronically or in paper form) after the event.



NOT TOO LATE TO HELP SHAPE THE FUTURE OF HEREFORDSHIRE

Herefordshire Council has confirmed that residents who may just miss Friday's deadline for completed questionnaires on the important Shaping Our Place consultation, will still have their views taken into account. Although thousands of residents have already responded in what is likely to be Herefordshire Council's most successful consultation ever, many will have left it to the last minute to submit their views. The deadline for the end of the eight week consultation on the future of Herefordshire is Friday, 12th March, however, any completed questionnaires that arrive after the weekend or during next week will still be valid.

The council has presented a series of options for creating a new land of opportunity, with more and better paid jobs, more affordable homes, more vibrant communities, more enterprises, better transport links and improved public services. Around 40 public meetings, events or workshops have taken place in the city, the market towns, villages, parishes, schools and businesses across the county.

'The issue will affect everyone who lives and works in the county, in what will become the planning blueprint for Herefordshire over the next 15 years,' said Councillor John Jarvis, cabinet member for environment and strategic housing. 'It is important that everyone takes the opportunity to influence the outcome, whether you are interested in where new communities might go, the route of the Hereford or Leominster relief roads, the site of new employment land or the type of jobs, homes, transport links or public services we create for the future. We don't want to deny anyone their contribution if it arrives just after the deadline, so any questionnaires arriving after the weekend, or until the end of next week, will still count.'

There are three ways that people can still get involved:

1. Pick up a consultation paper and questionnaire from your local council info centre - there is one in Hereford and in every market town.
2. Log onto the council's website www.herefordshire.gov.uk and complete a questionnaire online.
3. Fill in a simplified version of the questionnaire in the current issue of Herefordshire Matters, which is distributed to every household in the county, and pop it in the post with the freepost address.

People's views will be analysed and proposed policies developed and presented back to the council's 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.

In parallel, the council is also running a consultation on the Local Transport Plan, which is also due to finish on Friday, 12th March. The plan will be adopted by April 2011 and will drive the county's transport strategy for the next 15 years. The review of the transport strategy is intended to align transport policy with the wider needs of the county and will help co-ordinate support for growth. The Local Transport Plan consultation enables local people to let the council know what their priorities for transport are for the county, whether it is greater public transport investment, more cycle routes, better highway maintenance or further road safety improvements.


JESSE QUIZZED ON CITIZENSHIP BY BISHOPS SCHOOL PUPILS

Local Conservative candidate, Jesse Norman visited Bishop's School last week and found himself being quizzed about citizenship for nearly two hours by enthusiastic pupils.

Jesse was speaking at the Year 11 class at the Kielder Special Education Centre at Bishop's, at the invitation of class teacher Dorothy Kennedy, as part of the pupils' citizenship programme. He answered questions from every member of the class, discussing local issues like traffic in the City and the Edgar Street Grid, and wider ones as well; such as why the House of Commons is arranged the way it is, the changing roles of the monarchy and parliament, and his own personal heroes such as William Wilberforce and George Washington.

Speaking afterwards, Jesse said, 'Many people are rightly cynical about much of modern politics. So it is very thrilling to be able to talk about important public issues with such an engaged and interested group of young people, the Herefordshire citizens of tomorrow.'


Jesse Norman with Dorothy Kennedy and her Year 11 pupils.

GIVE COUNCIL YOUR VIEWS ON HEREFORD'S OPEN RETAIL MARKET

Herefordshire Council is gauging the public's views on the Hereford Open Retail Market, which was introduced into Commercial Street in July last year. The market is currently in the middle of a 12-month trial period, designed to give members of the public sufficient time to gauge the impact it has had on their shopping habits and also the vibrancy of the city centre every Wednesday and Saturday.

As well as the public consultation, the council has already consulted with retailers in the area and is in the process of consulting with other key city centre individuals and organizations, so that a balanced picture of the relocated market effects can be assessed. These opinions will then form part of a retail impact study and report to the council's cabinet, which is due to be presented in May.

Members of the public can register their comments regarding the market until Friday, 9th April, through the Herefordshire Council website at www.herefordshire.gov.uk , by clicking the 'Have your say' button. Alternatively, you might like to give your views in person by visiting a manned display trailer which will be in High Town on Wednesdays, 17th and 24th March, and Saturdays, 27th March and 3rd April.

The trailer will also be present in High Town on non-market days, Thursday 18th and Friday, 19th March.


COMPETITION FOR ARCHITECTS TO REDESIGN ICONIC BUTTER MARKET

A national competition has been launched by Herefordshire Council to design a Victorian-style interior to improve the much loved Butter Market in Hereford. A regeneration grant of 35,000 has been awarded by the regional development agency Advantage West Midlands (AWM) to fund the design competition as part of the council's plans to boost the city's retail economy.

The Butter Market Steering Group, comprising Butter Market traders and Herefordshire Council, agreed to seek ideas that reflect a traditional Victorian style for the market, which started trading in 1860 and today, still has popular appeal for local people. The grant allows for prizes of 5,000 to be awarded to the best five ideas presented by architects in an open design competition, which will be managed for the council by the respected Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA). The Institute's Competition Office in Leeds offers a national profile and service, which follows a professional process. Herefordshire Council will put together a judging panel - including representation for the Butter Market traders - to assess the ideas.

The competition was launched on Monday, 8th March and the council will announce the winning design in the summer of this year. A public consultation was undertaken in 2009 and almost 1000 people took part. Two thirds favoured a traditional Victorian interior, while just one in six people preferred a 'more modern style'. Almost all the responses (95 per cent) were from people who live in Herefordshire, half of which visit the market about once a week.

'Local people love the Butter Market and they strongly support the proposal for the covered market to be restored in classic Victorian style,' said Councillor Blackshaw, cabinet member for economic development. 'An architectural competition is a tried and tested approach, and we look forward to some of the best design practices presenting ideas that will do justice to the Butter Market It is important too that local people will continue to have the opportunity to view and comment on the ideas.'

Len Tawn, chairman of the Butter Market Traders Association said, 'We welcome this stage of the proposal to restore our working environment. We would like to thank all of our customers who took part in the consultation and our own survey. We look forward to having some influence regarding the final design.'

Phil Roberts, partnerships director of Advantage West Midlands said, 'Our support for this project demonstrates that even in a period of financial constraint, we are able to support measures that kick-start improvements to the established retail centre of Hereford, as well as our continuing support for Edgar Street Grid. The Butter Market provides an opportunity to improve the quality and variety of the retail experience, which will strengthen the appeal of the city centre for local people and visitors alike.'

Herefordshire Council believes the landmark building needs to be safeguarded, promoted and polished as 'the jewel in the crown' for the city. This would help underpin its future as well as other markets and independent shops in the city centre. The new market should encourage more shoppers to come and spend more in the historic core of Hereford.

The council has also started work on the refurbishment of Widemarsh Street in the city centre, which is a key gateway to the Butter Market The pedestrian friendly route will encourage visitors to the city to move between the historic core and the new retail and leisure development. The specification for the architectural design competition will also be placed on the Herefordshire Business Portal, set up by the council to promote opportunities for local businesses. To access the portal visit the council's website on www.herefordshire.gov.uk and select the Business section.


An example of how a Victorian themes Butter Market might look.

SECONDARY SCHOOL PLACES FOR 2010 AND STUDENTS TO INTERVIEW STAFF

Over 90 per cent of parents in Herefordshire have been offered their first choice of secondary school to which their child will go in September and 6 per cent have been offered their second preference.

When parents apply for a secondary school place with Herefordshire Council, they get the opportunity to list their three preferred choices of school. Out of a total of 1654 applications, only 40 children have not been offered one of their first three choices, and this figure is likely to improve further as places are accepted or rejected and the appeals process begins.

Councillor Price, cabinet member for ICT, education and achievement said, 'We have been working with schools to make sure admission places are available to meet local demand and are delighted to be able to offer so many of the county's parents their first choice.'

Offers of primary school places are due to be made later this month.

Young people across the county will also be able to play a part in recruiting new employees for essential public services provided by Herefordshire Council and NHS Herefordshire. The council's youth services are offering young people the chance to be part of a young person's recruitment panel. They will be provided with accredited training in a variety of skills, which will involve them in interviewing prospective new employees, most of which will be involved in health and social care.

Andy Preedy of Herefordshire Council said, 'This is a wonderful opportunity for young people to learn about the interview process. The skills they will develop will hold them in good stead when applying for work or for places at university.'

Any young person, aged 13 to 19, from across the county who is interested in getting involved can attend a meeting on Thursday, 11th March at the Castle Green Training Centre, Hereford from 4.30pm until 8pm. Alternatively they can contact Hag Sugg on (01432) 383008 or hsugg@herefordshire.gov.uk


THE UNSEEN DANGERS OF BINGE DRINKING

Young people in Herefordshire are being warned of the dangers of alcohol consumption through an exciting new project being delivered in the county's colleges. NHS Herefordshire has successfully bid for 12,000 to pilot a new innovative programme which will help young people understand all the risks involved with alcohol consumption.

The primary care trust is working in partnership with 2XL, a voluntary run group that uses the creative arts to raise awareness and stimulate discussion on a wide range of issues affecting young people. Aimed at colleges and sixth forms, 2XL is developing an exciting, vibrant, dramatic performance called Blind Delusion which will take their student audience on a journey challenging perceptions and myths so that they have a clear understanding of the risks involved with alcohol. Safe and sensible drinking is the key message. The project is a pilot project and will consist of ten performances being delivered around Herefordshire's colleges between March and April this year. Each performance is followed by an interactive workshop where students can ask questions, exchange information and, if they wish, talk to health professionals.

'It's about presenting issues in a social context,' said Sue Carter from 2XL. She continued, 'We have put the performance together after detailed discussion with a group of young people who we work with on a regular basis, so we can make sure the issues addressed are from a young person's perspective.

Roger Hanson of NHS Herefordshire said, 'The antisocial effects of binge drinking are well documented, with national hospital admissions at an all time high, but we also want students to be aware of the other effects of alcohol misuse such as links to cancers, heart attacks and strokes. There is also a whole range of issues around control and responsibility, which has an impact on sexual health and relationships.

Drinking sensibly isn't a problem, but many don't understand what the NHS recommended limits are, and that the impact of abusing these limits goes beyond liver damage. Using drama is a great way of getting messages across to students in an accessible way and encouraging them to consider changes in their own behaviours.'

NHS Herefordshire hopes to develop the programme further and bids are in for additional funding to facilitate this.


A photograph taken from a performacne of Blind Delusion.
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