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17th March 2010 NEWS FROM ROSS-ON-WYE AND AROUND THE REGION
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KEMPLEY DAFFODIL WEEKEND

Kempley Daffodil Weekend has been running successfully for over thirty years and this year's event, which runs from Saturday, 20th to Sunday, 21st March it is expected that hundreds of people will be paying a visit to the miniature daffodil strewn village. On each of the days there will be four guided walks for visitors to enjoy, after which home-made teas will be available in the village hall and the heritage churches.

The students of Hartpury College have been walking along the route, looking out for potential hazards and removing them in the interests of public safety and all is now ready for the public to enjoy.

Kempley Daffodil Weekend is always special, so if you're looking for somewhere to take the family this weekend, why not go along and enjoy the famous spectacle for yourself. As John Fishpool, Chairman of the Kempley Daffodil Weekend says, 'A fabulous weekend is to be had by all.'


Hartpury students rest after preparing the Waymarked walk on which they and other members of Wild Daffodil Project have worked throughout the winter.

CYCLE OFFENCES A PACT PRIORITY FOR ROSS

Cycle offences will now fall into the spotlight for attention after a recent PACT (Partners And Communities Together) meeting in Ross identified the issue as the top priority for agencies in the town to tackle. Concerns were raised at the meeting over the number of cyclists seen riding around during the hours of darkness without lights, riding along one way streets in contravention of the one way flow and riding on pavements.

PC Mark Murphy, the Local Policing Officer for Ross Town said, 'Apart from the fact that these activities are illegal, it does not set a very good image for a town which relies on tourism to see cyclists openly flouting the law in such an antisocial manner. I also regularly stop youngsters around the town who are riding bikes that are in a very poor, sometimes dangerous, condition. I would urge all parents whose children have bikes to check the machines over and make sure they are not used unless they are roadworthy. If anyone would like advice regarding this, there are several specially-trained police cyclists at Ross Police Station who would be happy to help.

As always, with initiatives in the town, we are going to attempt to educate people first. If that process fails, we will then resort to legislation and issue fixed penalty notices for those found committing offences. At the end of the day, what we are trying to do is maintain safety on the roads and ensure that Ross-on-Wye remains a place that visitors want to come to.'

Police in Ross-on-Wye, together with their partner agencies, are committed to listening to the local community and working with them to resolve any issues raised by them. If anyone would like to have a say on what should be a priority to be dealt with in Ross by the police and local agencies, then contact the local policing team on 0300 333 3000 or come to the next PACT surgeries at the Library in Cantilupe Road at 11am on Wednesdays 18th and 25th March.


MAN ASSAULTED IN CROWN & SCEPTRE

Ross-on-Wye Police are appealing for witnesses to an assault that took place in the Crown & Sceptre public house to come forward. The incident happened at approximately 11pm on Saturday, 6th March when a verbal argument between two male customers became a physical confrontation.

As a result, one man received a cut to his head and a broken arm, which required surgery at hospital. Another man has been arrested in connection with the incident and is currently on police bail whilst police make further enquiries into the matter. Police are anxious to speak to everyone who was in the Crown & Sceptre that night around 11pm in order to establish exactly what happened.

Anybody with any information that can help should contact PC Mark Robinson at Ross Police Station on 0300 333 3000. Alternatively, call the Crimestoppers line, anonymously on 0800 555111.


BAROQUE SACRED MUSIC FOR HOLY WEEK

Lovers of Baroque sacred music can enjoy an unusual concert for Holy Week in St Catherine’s Church Hoarwithy on Wednesday, 31st March. Promoted by Ross Live! and generously sponsored by the Alan Cadbury Charitable Trust, the concert opens with a Stabat Mater by the Sicilian composer Emanuele d’Astorga (1680- 1757). This lovely work, which lasts 27 minutes, has only recently been rediscovered and transcribed into a performing edition by King’s Music. Soloists and chorus are all from the Birmingham Conservatoire, with a period instrument ensemble provided by The Musical and Amicable Society directed by Martin Perkins.

Next in the programme is the more familiar choral piece, Crucifixus by Antonio Lotti (1667-1740), with words from the Creed. This is followed by the great Passacaglia for unaccompanied violin by Heinrich Johan von Biber (1644-1704), when the soloist will be the German Baroque specialist, Christiane Gagelman.

After the interval, when wine will be served, the house lights will be turned off and the concert will be lit by candles and stand lights to create the authentic setting for Tenebrae, the ancient office sung during the afternoon and evening of Wednesday to Friday of Holy Week. Lights are extinguished one by one to commemorate the darkness that fell over the earth ‘at the sixth hour’ during the Crucifixion.

The works to be performed were all composed for Tenebrae . There are two Lamentations of Jeremiah, the first for bass soloist with strings and chamber organ by the Czech composer Jan Dismas Zelenka (1679-1745) which will be followed by the Ténèbres response Ecce quomodo for solo tenor by Marc-Antoine Charpentier (1645-1704). The second Lamentation is by another French composer Michel-Richard de Lalande (1657-1726) and is for solo soprano and basso continuo.

The concert ends with the famous Miserere mei Deus by Gregori Allegri (1582-1652). This unaccompanied piece was jealously guarded by the Vatican where Allegri sang in the choir, until the young Mozart heard it once and wrote it down note and word perfect from memory. This hauntingly beautiful work is in the form of a choral plainchant with ad libitum soprano solo ornamentation floating ethereally over the choir.

True enthusiasts could enjoy back-to-back Baroque if they attend J S Bach’s St John Passion in Hereford Cathedral the night before. The Italianate Grade I listed St Catherine’s Church is one of Herefordshire’s lesser-known treasures. There is a steep path with steps up to the church but muscular portage is available for wheelchairs. Users should telephone 01989 730439 to arrange parking and assistance.

Tickets cost £12 and are now on sale at The County Collection, 1 Market Place, Ross-on-Wye. Telephone 01989 563883. Tickets are also available from The Outback, 19a Church Street, Hereford. Telephone 01432 275063. Cheques in favour of Ross Live! with SAE.


St Catherine's Church, Hoarwithy.

St Catherine's Church, Hoarwithy.

PROMPT POLICE RESPONSE CAUSED MISSING CHILD HOAX TO BACKFIRE

Shoppers in High Town, Hereford will have seen a large number of uniformed police staff flooding the area last Thursday lunchtime, in a very prompt and effective response to a report of a missing child in the city. The incident happened at 1.14pm on Thursday, 4th March when a woman reported to security staff at Marks and Spencer's that her young daughter had gone missing from the store.

Within minutes several officers were on the scene to co-ordinate a search and even more staff were deployed to the incident, which police graded as high-priority. People in the vicinity welcomed the impressive turnout to the incident, which turned out to be a hoax by the woman in order to distract security staff from approaching her male accomplice in crime.

Gabrielle Wright, Police Strategic Partnership Manager for Herefordshire Division said, 'I think the duo got more than they bargained for as the area was flooded with officers very quickly. The response is indicative of the changes that we have made to the response structure in the Division this February, which allows us to deploy a larger pool of officers to anywhere in the county with much greater effectiveness.

The restructuring includes the provision of an extra team, working alongside the late turn response shift and staffed by members of the county's local policing teams, whose sole role each evening is to deal with antisocial behaviour incidents as they come in. These changes came about as a result of communities wanting more officers in their areas to deal with antisocial behaviour. After listening to what local communities wanted us to do, we advised them of our proposed changes at the time and our efforts two months on have seen a significant drop in disorder and poor behaviour.

We are very focussed on preventing harm, as in the case of this missing child, and in tackling antisocial behaviour, wherever it may occur. Calls involving the possibility of harm or antisocial behaviour will attract the highest priority and the strongest response. By offering an even faster and even more effective response to incidents, we can prevent them from escalating, thereby reducing repeat calls to a minimum and maximizing the quality of life of our local communities.'


QUAD BIKE AND TACK STOLEN FROM UPTON BISHOP

Police in South Herefordshire are appealing for information in an effort to locate property that was stolen during a burglary that took place at Upton Bishop, near Ross-on-Wye.

The burglary occurred between 7pm on Sunday, 14th and 7am on Monday, 15th February, when thieves approached the stable buildings of a property in Upton Bishop and removed an amount of leather saddles, a mower and a quad bike.

The saddles, all black leather, comprised an Anky-make dressage saddle, a Jaguar-make dressage saddle, a Jaguar jump saddle and a Treless-make saddle. Also taken was a red Logic flail mower and a Yamaha quad bike, bearing the registration number Q875RFB.

Police would like to hear from anyone who saw any suspicious activity in the Upton Bishop area at the time or who may know the current whereabouts of the stolen property.

Anybody with information should contact PC Liz Bishop at Ross Police Station on 0300 333 3000 or call the free Crimestoppers line on 0800 555111.


POLICE WARN QUAD BIKE OWNERS TO BE ON THEIR GUARD

Herefordshire Police are warning farmers and owners of quad bikes to be on their guard after a number of thefts of the machines in recent weeks across the county. Since Monday, 22nd February some seven quad bikes have been stolen from farms and isolated outbuildings, the thieves going to some lengths to break in, cutting padlocks to barns and gates. Thieves have stolen from rural locations in Pixley, Dormington, Preston Wynne, Cradley, Knill, Bishops Frome and Wellington Heath and on each occasion the quad bike was clearly the intended target.

Detective Chief Inspector Sean Paley, Head of Herefordshire CID said, 'These offenders have shown some determination to get at the property they want but there are still things that owners can do to prevent theft or to make the goods un-sellable. Consider the use of lighting and / or cameras in vulnerable areas, paint your postcode in large letters on all the mudguards of the vehicles or consider having the machine chipped with an electronic tag which makes it easy to identify when found.

Police patrols are out actively looking for these offenders but we need the help of the public to act as additional eyes and ears. The key factor is vigilance. Please report any suspicious activity or vehicles in the rural areas when you see it. Write down the numbers of vehicles towing trailers late at night, especially if they have a quad bike on board, and contact the police immediately.'


BRITISH TOURISM WEEK

Herefordshire's Tourist Information Centres are now celebrating the fourth annual British Tourism Week which began on Monday, 15th March and will run until Sunday, 21st March. During 2008 visitors brought nearly £411 million into the county and the council is keen to celebrate British Tourism Week by putting on events to raise the profile of the tourist information centres and encourage visitors and residents to use them. Last year's British Tourism Week saw 230 events take place across the country and a list of the 2010 events is available at www.britishtourismweek.com.

In Herefordshire the Leominster Tourist Information Centre will be offering free samples of local food and drink from local producers, throughout the week. Tyrrells potato chips, cider from Dunkertons, jams and pickles from Sally's Pantry, and Herefordshire cheeses from Monkland Cheese Dairy are just some of the tasty samples donated for people to try.

Ross-on-Wye TIC has some fabulous prizes to give away in a competition which will run throughout the week. Prizes include tickets to see Jools Holland at Eastnor Castle on Saturday, 10th July, £50 worth of Theatre Tokens and National Express tickets. To enter, simply call into the Tourist Information Centre.

Hereford Tourist Information Centre is running two competitions; one for adults and the other for children. The prizes on offer here are two return tickets to travel anywhere in the United Kingdom by National Express and for the children, a big cuddly teddy bear.

Councillor Adrian Blackshaw said, 'Herefordshire is a beautiful county to visit so it's no wonder we receive so many visitors each year. Tourism is an important part of our local economy. Our tourist information teams have a wealth of knowledge about the county's culture and history, together with lots of information about places to visit and things to do. During National Tourism Week, we hope that local people as well as visitors, will be encouraged to visit the centres more often so that they can explore some of the county's hidden treasures.'


PRIME MINISTER GIVES SEAL OF APPROVAL TO COUNTY CUSTOMER SERVICES

Local people receive excellent customer service from Herefordshire Council and NHS Herefordshire, according to the Prime Minister, Gordon Brown. The Customer Excellence Award has been developed by the cabinet office and assesses the attitude, professionalism and helpfulness of customer service staff, as well as the timeliness and quality of information provided. There is also emphasis on how well the council and the primary care trust understand their customers, and their experience of, and satisfaction with, nearly 1000 different services delivered to over 170,000 people across the two organizations.

An assessor spent two days with the customer service team, scrutinizing evidence, visiting customer service centres and checking experiences with customers, partners and staff. The new award replaces the Charter Mark for excellence in customer services, which Herefordshire Council has won for the previous five years running.

Councillor June French said, 'Herefordshire Council has a strong track record in excellent customer services and I am delighted that the team have again met the highest standards to achieve this new award. Public services are usually well ahead of the private sector when it comes to providing a knowledgeable and responsive customer service, either face to face or by telephone or email. It is very important that residents are able to access local services and be able to talk to someone about the issues that concern them. Now that the council and the primary care trust are working in their unique partnership, staff have to know about nearly 1,000 different services that often affect the quality of life of thousands of local people. This level of service is something many other organizations. can only aspire to.'

All employees working in the council's customer service centres and contact centre have received extensive training and are able to provide a wide range of information on public services. There are customer service centres in Hereford, Ross-on-Wye, Bromyard, Kington, Leominster and Ledbury. Information can also be obtained by ringing the contact centre on 01432 260500.


VALUABLE BIKE STOLEN FROM BOSBURY

South Herefordshire Police are appealing for information following the theft of a valuable bike from a garage in the village of Bosbury.

The theft occurred in the grounds of a cottage near the village between 7pm on Tuesday, 9th and 7am on Wednesday, 10th March 2010 when thieves forced the padlocks from the garage door and stole a Santa Cruz, Blur pedal cycle, valued at £4,000.

The bike was a bespoke model, which was black in colour with silver lettering. Police have released a picture of a very similar machine and would like to hear from anyone who is offered the bike or who may know its current whereabouts.

Anybody with any information that can help should contact Shirley Knox in the Public Service Desk at Hereford Police Station on 0300 333 3000 or, alternatively call Crimestoppers on 0800 555111.


HEREFORDSHIRE WALKING FESTIVAL

Herefordshire Walking Festival is offering more than 50 walks this year over a nine-day period, so visitors and residents alike can discover the nooks and crannies of the county's rich, rural landscape. The featured walk at this year's festival, which runs from 19th to 27th June is 'In the Steps of the Mortimers,' a three day walk covering 30 miles from the north of Leominster through to Ludlow, uncovering the secret past of its undulating scenery.

In the south of the county, the Ross Round offers a chance to hike all or part of an 18-mile circuit around the market town, passing ancient sites and where steep climbs are rewarded with magnificent views. Several of the walks offer a chance to sample the county's wonderful locally grown produce over a delicious breakfast, lunch, tea or evening meal while other walks provide refreshment stops or free tasting of local ice cream, apple juice or perry. There are also many walks catering for special interests such as archaeology, ornithology, nature, history and wildlife.

Jane Lewis, Herefordshire Council's tourism, food and marketing manager said, 'This festival really does offer something for everyone, whatever their interests may be. This year we have two morning walks to hear the bird chorus, a special evening walk to search for bats and even a chance to go walking with llamas.'

Budding photographers have the chance to improve their skills under the guidance of travel photographer Nick Meers, on a twilight amble at Croft Castle and there is also a chance to find out more about the hauntings and horrors of Hereford city on a special ghost walk.

For further information and to book tickets log onto www.walkingfestival.com, contact the booking office on 01568 797842 or pick up one of the Herefordshire Walking Festival programmes from one of the county's libraries and tourist information centres.


YOU CAN NOW PAY YOUR COUNCIL BILLS AT LOCAL POST OFFICES

People in Herefordshire are now able to pay council tax bills and other council payments at their local post office. Herefordshire Council has teamed up with local company Allpay to provide more choice and convenience for residents, in a move that will promote greater use of village shops and post offices in rural areas. From now, local people can also pay any council bill with a Pay Point outlet. All bills issued will be bar-coded to make it easier to use this service. Allpay.net Limited, the payment specialist company, will also be providing a fully automated, round-the-clock telephone payment service so that paying bills can be easy for everyone.

Head of Benefits and Exchequer services at Herefordshire Council, Mike Toney said, 'The idea is to provide a much greater choice of where and when residents can pay their bills. Many outlets will be also be far more convenient for people, with longer opening hours, and because rural shops and post offices will benefit from greater patronage, it helps sustain communities too. It means residents do not have to go to a council info centre, so those cash offices will from April, cease taking payments where a bar-coded bill is issued.

As well as cutting down on unnecessary travel, the provision of a more local service helps the county to reduce its carbon footprint.'


HRH COUNTESS OF WESSEX TO VISIT HEREFORDSHIRE

Toddlers, parents, and looked after children will be dusting off the bunting, and putting on their glad rags in preparation for a Royal visitor next week. Some of the county's youngest and some of the oldest will have the opportunity to meet HRH The Countess of Wessex when she visits Herefordshire on Wednesday 17th March.

Arriving in the county at 12 Noon, The Countess's first engagement will be at Growing Point, a registered charity based in Holme Lacy that uses horticultural therapy to help children and adults with disabilities. As well as meeting some of the county's civic dignitaries HRH will learn about the history of Herefordshire's Growing Point before touring the site and meeting staff, users and volunteers. Groups present will include Scope (individuals with learning difficulties), Over 60s, Barrs Court School and Ledbury ABI Transitional Living Unit.

Her next visit will be Breast Haven, Hereford for lunch, before arriving at Herefordshire Council's Centre 18, Symond Street, Hereford at 2.20pm to meet some of the county's looked after children. Developed specifically for young people in care, Centre 18 provides a meeting place where young people in care can get together on a regular basis. The centre also provides them with support and new skills, helping them make the transition to independence. During her visit, The Countess will meet some of the young people who use the centre including a group who will be painting a new mural outside. Amongst a range of other activities, The Countess will enjoy learning about the listening tree, a unique project developed by young people, before planting an apple tree in the grounds of the centre to commemorate her visit.

Leaving Centre 18 at 3pm, the Countess will visit the HOPE Family Centre in Bromyard for 45 minutes where she will meet families and be introduced to the trustees and council staff. The Countess will be offered a cup of tea before beginning a tour of the building and a chat with members of the computer group, volunteers and supporters of HOPE. Thanks to more than £1.3 million funding from Advantage West Midlands and Europe through the Rural Development Programme for England, the centre is about to embark on an exciting building project and will become one of the county's first new co-location centres. The Countess will get an exclusive peek at the plans and meet some of the architects involving in developing them. HRH will also meet some of the three and four year olds in the butterfly room, some two year olds in the caterpillar room and staff in the sensory room.

Councillor Jenny Hyde, cabinet member for children's services said, 'We are very proud of our looked after children and are delighted The Countess is going to spend some time getting to meet them. I believe they are looking forward to talking to her about all the things they enjoy doing at Centre 18 and showing off some of their cooking skills too.

We are also very proud of our children's centres, and have great plans to change the way we deliver services for children and families over the next few years. HOPE Family Centre was one of the first children's centres to open in Herefordshire and will be one of the first new CO-location centres to open as well, so it is fitting that The Countess should meet some of our youngest customers there.'


POLICE WARN OF THEFTS FROM CAR PARKS

Hereford Police have issued a warning to motorists using certain car parks to be on their guard against car crime as some of the car parks in the area are being targeted by thieves. Officers are warning drivers not to leave valuables and other desirable items in their vehicles if they are parking in the Merton Meadow and Blackfriars Street/multi-storey car parks in the city and the car park at Breinton Springs, used by people out enjoying the Herefordshire countryside. In recent weeks, police have noticed a slight increase in the number of thefts at these locations, though they are sporadic and not confined to particular days or times.

Superintendent Kevin Purcell, leading Herefordshire Division said, 'Thefts of and from vehicles are not commonplace in the county and we aim to keep it that way. That said, we must not be complacent as thefts do occur from time to time, as this slight increase evidences. I would simply urge motorists, when leaving their vehicles in any car park, to take the common-sense approach and to remove items that thieves might want to steal such as satnavs, handbags, and clothing. If you cannot remove it, put it all out of sight in the boot.

And as the weather starts to improve make sure you don't leave windows open, even a little bit. If you have to leave an animal in the car, use a device that allows you to open the window but prevents anyone from putting their hand through the gap. I have also directed officers to pay regular visits to not just these car parks but all car parks on their patrol area to deter and disrupt the activities of any car thieves.'

Anyone who sees suspicious activity in any car park in Herefordshire should report it immediately, using the 999 emergency number or the non-emergency 0300 333 3000 number, depending on the circumstances. If you'd like to know more about how to prevent car crime, go to the West Mercia Police website (www.westmercia.police.uk) and then click on the 'Advice Centre' and 'Vehicle Security' buttons.


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