place for information on Ross-on-Wye and the Wye Valley
FAMILIES PAY TRIBUTE TO COUPLE KILLED IN HEREFORD....
The families of two pedestrians killed in a road traffic
collision in Hereford on Monday, 7th February have paid
tribute to the couple.
Matts, aged 29, and Terri-Ann Barnett, aged 24, a couple
who lived in Broxash Drive, Hereford, were killed when a
heavy goods vehicle shed its load of timber building supplies
near the railway bridge on Belmont Road at 10.30am. Tom
was taken to Hereford County Hospital by paramedics, but
was declared dead on arrival, while Terri was taken by air
ambulance to Birmingham's Queen Elizabeth Hospital in a
critical condition, but died on Monday evening.
and Tom had an 18-month-old son, Morgan, and were walking
along Belmont Road after dropping him off at his nursery.
Tom was in between jobs while Terri worked at Shoe Zone
in Hereford. Tom was one of six brothers, Mark, Steven,
John, Richard and David. His parents are both deceased.
Terri leaves behind two brothers and a sister, and her parents
Ralph and Diane.
on behalf of Terri's family, Ralph Barnett said, 'Terri
used to be a real party girl in her day and had lots of
friends in Hereford. Since Morgan was born she had become
an outstanding mother. She and Tom were both besotted with
Morgan and were devoted to him. They were lovely parents
and were planning on getting married next year. Diane feels
she has lost a best friend; Terri was helping her cope with
some tough times that she had been going through recently.'
Matts, Tom's eldest brother said, 'We are all in complete
shock. This is a tragedy that has left their son as an orphan.
Tom was a loving brother and friend who will be sadly missed.
He was fun loving, easy going and a doting father. He will
be seriously missed by everybody.'
Barnett added, 'We would like to thank all those people
who tried to help Terri and Tom; from the emergency services
and hospital staff to the passers by on Belmont Road who
came to their aid.'
driver of the heavy goods vehicle was arrested on Monday
on suspicion of causing death by dangerous driving and released
on police bail while the investigation continues. Inspector
Jim McLaughlin said on Monday, 'We have arrested the driver
involved, which is routine in this sort of fatal collision.
Road traffic collision investigations are often complex
and can take some time to conclude, but I want to reassure
everyone in Hereford that our officers will thoroughly scrutinize
how this tragic incident has occurred.
young people have lost their lives and it has had a major
impact on our local community.'
and Tom with their baby Morgan.
ROSS HEADTEACHER CHOSEN FOR KEY SUPPORT ROLE
Head of John Kyrle High School
Headteacher and staff at John Kyrle High School, Ross on
Wye, have been selected for a top role supporting other
Griffiths is one of the latest Headteacher teachers to be
appointed to the prestigious role of National Leader of
Education (NLE) by the National College for Leadership of
Schools and Children's Services. In the latest recruitment
round, Nigel Griffiths is one of only 100 heads to be selected
from across the country. To mark the occasion he has been
invited to the National College's Learning and Conference
Centre in Nottingham in February for a formal induction
and training for the role in driving school improvement.
use their success and professionalism as school leaders,
along with the staff in their school - designated a National
Support School - to provide additional leadership capability
in less well performing schools or those in transition to
federation or academy status. The deployment is tailor-made
to suit the needs of each school. The type of support provided
is flexible and can involve NLEs becoming acting or executive
Headteacher of the client school or schools. They also have
responsibility for bringing on the next generation of NLEs
and National Support Schools.
Griffiths said, 'This is a great honour for the school in
recognition of the hard work of Staff and Governors over
the past several years. The school has well established
systems for working with other schools and was recognized
as an Accredited Consultant School by the Specialist Schools
and Academies Trust three years ago. My experience has shown
that all schools have expertise in certain areas and as
well as aiming to assist others we will also be looking
to utilize schools' ideas for the benefit of our own students.'
Salt, Deputy Chief Executive of the National College said,
'This is about the best school leaders helping the rest
and the results speak for themselves. It's fantastic that
heads like Nigel Griffiths are becoming NLEs, looking beyond
their own school gates and supporting others to help more
and more pupils get the best start in life.'
RYAN GREEN - DISTRICT LIONS YOUNG AMBASSADOR 2010...
International are currently holding a contest to find the
Lions' Young Ambassador of the Year; a young person, who
has worked hard for their community and their fellow men.
Ryan Green was selected to represent the town of Ross and
its Lions Club.
Ryan was an informal carer for his mother who died recently
from cancer; at the same time doing his GCSE's. Ryan was
one of the founders of the Leo Club started in the John
Kyrle High School. This young Lions club runs events and
raises funds to help local charitable causes similar to
the senior Lions Club.
2010, Ryan became a volunteer in the new charity called
'Hope Support Services' whose aims are to support children
and young people who are suffering a family health crisis
in the home. He also assisted the Extended Services Department
create a newsletter that would be distributed to all schools
in the local area. He was instrumental in inviting all the
schools to the John Kyrle High School and facilitated the
design of the pages of the newsletter and set up discussion
between the school council members of the primary schools
and the John Kyrle High School. During all this time young
Ryan has been writing a piece of Musical Theatre entitled
'Moving On' and it is almost ready to go on stage.
by the Ross-on-Wye Lions Club, Ryan was recently invited
to attend the Holiday Inn, Newport, where the voting was
due to take place and after lunch, the Lions and their guests
gathered to hear what the results were. It was a breathtaking
moment when the Lions District Governor, Colin Duncan, stood
up to announce the winner, which was Ryan Green. In
second place was Jake Smaje of Frome in Somerset, sponsored
by the Frome Lions Club.
District Governor, Lion Colin, said the standard of entries
was very high and all deserved to win, but there could be
only one winner and it was by a very small margin. Both
boys do an awful lot for their communities, not stinting
with their time or efforts.
received a cheque from the Lions District organizers for
£500 for his selected charity; he was also presented with
a large silver cup which he will keep for one year. The
Ross Lions Club was awarded the Young Ambassador of the
Year shield. Ryan will now go on to the National Finals,
which are being held in Dudley later this year. There he
will be competing for a further cheque of £1500 for his
charity plus a chance to go to the USA to compete in the
this helps to expel the myth generally thought about the
young people of today. If you wish to know more about the
Lions visit their website at www.rossonwyelions.org
ROSS LIONS HELP SEA CADETS RAISE THE STANDARD....
Ross Lions recently made a donation to help Ross Army Cadets
raise funds to buy a Detachment Standard. The donation will
help raise the pride in the Detachment as the Cadets will
carry the Standard on ceremonial parades with the Royal
British Legion, Remembrance Parades and Standard Bearing
competitions. It will also be used in senior Cadet Drill
Army Cadet Force, (ACF), is one of the UK's oldest, largest
and most successful youth organizations. Consisting of more
than 47,000 cadets in around 1,700 local detachments across
the country, the ACF helps young people between the ages
of 12 and 18. Led by Squadron Leader, Chris Auker-Howlett,
the Ross branch has been transformed over recent months;
so much so that cadet numbers have risen from 9 to 30. The
Force develops young people physically and mentally, improving
self confidence, teamwork, friendship and leadership.
ACF welcome cadets of all abilities and backgrounds who
are able to access the majority of their activities. They
welcome male and female young people from the age of 12
years and provide a broad range of largely free, fun, exciting
and challenging, educational and adventurous opportunities.
Standard will certainly be used by the Cadets with enormous
pride and passion.
Martin presents a cheque to SL Chris Auker-Howlett (Detachment Commander)
with several Army Cadets and Lions Sam, Bernard and Tony.
ROSS MARKET HOUSE VISITOR CENTREY...........
new look Ross on Wye Visitor Centre at the Market House
will have its official opening ceremony on Thursday, 17th
February at Noon.
new service there sees the linking of tourism and heritage
services in Ross on Wye, bringing together the best of the
heritage and tourism offers in order to make the Market
House a one stop destination for visitors to the town and
county as well as for those with an interest in the history
and heritage of the area. As well as the official opening,
there is an open invitation to the community and community
groups to come and visit the centre and to talk to staff
about what the new service has to offer.
O'Reilly and her team are pleased to welcome all to sample
what is a new and exciting venture for the town, its local
history and local businesses.
4 X 4s LOANED TO EMERGENCY SERVICES ON WINTER ....
West Mercia Police have thanked a Herefordshire off-road
vehicle business for loaning the emergency services dozens
of vehicles over the winter to improve their response during
the adverse weather conditions.
Rover Experience, which is based at Eastnor, lent out more
than 24 vehicles from its entire product range to ambulance,
police and fire services throughout the West Midlands during
the difficult period. The two vehicles lent for free to
police officers in Herefordshire - a Range Rover Sport and
a Land Rover Discovery - were handed back with thanks on
Wednesday, 2nd February at Hereford Police Station.
Jim McLaughlin, who is responsible for roads policing in
the county said, 'While we have our own off-road vehicles,
these two 4x4s proved to be an excellent addition to our
fleet. They were not used as emergency response vehicles,
but to ensure that we provided reassurance to our communities
during the heavy snow and the thawing conditions. They enabled
us to get to the most difficult areas where normal vehicle
access would have been impossible.'
McLaughlin highlighted the use of a 4x4 that was used to
locate a couple from London who had become lost and then
broken down in a remote area near Ross-on-Wye. The police
were able to use the Land Rover Experience vehicles to locate
the stranded motorists and ensure that they were taken safely
to their bed and breakfast.
Warner from the Land Rover Experience said, 'We are really
pleased to be able to help the emergency services. These
additional vehicles made a difference and were able to handle
the bad weather conditions with ease.'
to right are: PC Gareth Turner, Sergeant Dave Evans, Jamie Warner
of Landrover Experience and Inspector Jim McLaughlin with one of
FEBRUARY IS SCAM AWARENESS MONTH .............
As part of February's national scam awareness month, Herefordshire
Council's trading standards service is warning people not
to fall victim. Each year an incredible £4 billion is given
over to fraudsters every year in the UK.
of the following top ten scams from 2010:-
Doorstep Crime- always top of the list. Anyone who cold
calls you for property repairs will almost certainly be
a rogue trader and charge excessive amounts for poor quality
and unnecessary work, whether it is for driveways, roofing,
garden/tree surgery or any other work. If you are trying
to find a reputable trader then search the Herefordshire
Council's Trader Register at www.traderregister.org.uk/herefordshire
or phone 01432 260746.
2. Cold telephone calls falsely purporting to be from Microsoft,
claiming you have a virus on your PC. They will take over
your computer and charge you £80 when there is nothing wrong
in the first place.
3. Small business scams:- cold calls pushing advertising
in fictitious publications for the emergency services or
schools etc. and then sending you an invoice for £400. Also
companies who cold call you claiming to be able to reduce
your business rates and others who claim to get you top
of internet searches.
4. Calls falsely offering to get your credit card debts
written off due to legal technicalities and then taking
£400 off your credit card as payment.
5. Calls and emails offering low interest loans if you pay
a large up front fee-usually by wiring the money abroad.
6. Cold calls offering free gifts, e.g. free alarm systems
which come with an extortionate monitoring contract, free
carpet cleans which are merely the hard sell on a vacuum
cleaner costing up to £2400.
7. Timeshare resale / Holiday clubs: those with existing
timeshares coerced to a presentation by false promise of
buying their timeshare - only to be conned into signing
up for a holiday club costing £5,000 or more.
8. Bogus charity collections, still as rife as ever and
cost genuine charities millions every year.
9. Unsolicited calls that result in high pressure selling
from unscrupulous traders for extortionately priced mobility
aids such as bath lifts, reclining chairs and scooters.
10. Last but not least, Prize Draw Mailings, Scratchcards,
usually asking you to ring a premium rate number and implying
you will receive a much better prize than you actually do.
Trading Standards Officer, Tim Thorne said, 'Typically,
it's the elderly or vulnerable who fall victim to such scams.
We can all therefore play our part and be vigilant to ensure
that our relatives or neighbours don't get conned ! There
is a very simple rule to follow to avoid being a scam victim
and that is never deal with anyone who cold calls you at
home or on the telephone and put all unsolicited mail /
flyers in your green recycling bin.'
COUNCIL CONSULTS ON REDUCED SCHOOL BUDGETSY.....
schools are having to face up to reductions in school budgets
as a result of falling pupil numbers, increases in spending
commitments for looked after children and changes to the
way the government allocates its funding.
majority of the funding schools depend upon comes from the
Dedicated Schools Grant, which is allocated to the local
authority by the government on a 'per pupil' basis. In the
past, this has been topped up with a range of other grants,
including the Standards Fund and Area Based Grant. However,
these have either been stopped or reduced, making the Dedicated
Schools Grant the sole source of income for many schools.
the government has set a pupil premium of £430 for vulnerable
children and an additional £200 for service children, there
is still a predicted shortfall in the overall Herefordshire
schools budget of £1.5m.
Schools Forum met this week and agreed to the distribution
of a consultation document which will be tabled at a meeting
of head teachers. A package of cash-saving measures are
included in the document, which could see a number of schools
experiencing cuts to their school budgets from April 2011.
There are also proposed cuts to the nursery education grants,
which will have an impact on private, voluntary and independent
play groups and nurseries. Schools and early years settings
are being given the opportunity to respond to the paper
this month before the Schools Forum considers a set of formal
proposals at the beginning of March.
have to be set by the end of this financial year, March
BOTANICAL ART EXHIBITION AT COURTYARD
interested in botanical art might like to know that the
Courtyard Theatre will be holding an exhibition by Ross
Botanical Art Group from Friday, 4th March until Saturday,
exhibition, called 'A Year in the Life of Wilton Castle
Garden' is the culmination of a year of visits to the beautiful
castle gardens to draw inspiration and subjects from the
plants growing there. The subjects vary from Spring snowdrops
and polyanthus to Autumn medlar and acorns and are in a
variety of media including water-colour and artistsí coloured
Ross Botanical Art Group meets for a couple of hours every
Wednesday during term time at Upton Bishop Millennium Hall.
Its origins lay in the Botanical Illustration classes that
have been run at various venues in the county by Mary Brewin
over the last few years.
the group has 10 members, all of whom enjoy the challenge
of painting or drawing botanical subjects to the best of
Utting of Ross Botanical Art Group.
POLICE WARN HEATING OIL USERS TO BE VIGILANTY.....
West Mercia Police are continuing to urge residents who
use oil to heat their properties to be extra vigilant following
further reports of thefts in Herefordshire. Four isolated
properties were targeted by thieves in recent weeks. The
Between 14th and 28th January, near Phocle Green, Ross on
∑ Some time before 30th January, near Rushall, Ledbury;
∑ Between 24th and 28th January, Lucton, Leominster;
∑ Between 13th and 31st January, Longtown, Hereford.
1500 litres of heating oil was stolen between the four properties.
A number of similar thefts have also occurred recently in
Shropshire and Worcestershire.
David Bishop, of Hereford Police Station said, 'While this
not a large problem, we have begun to notice an increase
in such crimes in the county. Previous publicity and some
local people returning from breaks over Christmas have led
to a clutch of reports coming in over the last week. It's
a crime that's easy to miss until homeowners and farms notice
their oil level has dropped dramatically. We may also be
seeing an increase nationally due to the rise in fuel costs
over recent months.
are warning local people who use heating oil to take precautions
against being targeted by thieves. Among other security
tips, we recommend fitting an alarm which rings if the oil
level suddenly drops or installing security lights to alert
residents when there are intruders. It is also inexpensive
to fit surveillance cameras. Residents
are also urged to keep any eye out for unusual activity
or vehicles and report anything suspicious as soon as possible
on 0300 333 3000, or ring Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800
555111. Of course, if you see a theft in progress, call
Bishop recommends the following hints and tips, which can
help reduce the chances of heating oil being stolen from
Plant shrubs or install fences to hide your tank from view.
This is especially important if you live close to the road
- although heating oil theft has also been known to occur
at secluded properties with long drives.
∑ Remember to check your tank's oil levels on a regular
∑ Where possible, install security lighting that covers
your tank and the immediate surrounding area.
∑ Put in place a cage to stop thieves being able to get
access to the tank.
∑ If your tank is openly accessible to all, consider re-siting
it to an area or building where it is better protected
∑ Be extra vigilant of tankers or large vehicles close to
your property. Note down any suspicious vehicles' registration
numbers and report them to the police.
∑ If your tank is located in an outbuilding, ensure it is
kept locked and secured at all times.
∑ Remove any empty containers or drums from the immediate
area - they could draw attention to the presence of your
∑ Deter thieves from entering your property by installing
and using lockable gates and by maintaining boundaries and
MAN ASSAULTED IN HEREFORD - WITNESSES SOUGHT....
are appealing for witnesses to come forward after a man
in his 20s was assaulted when walking home after an evening
out in Hereford on Saturday, 29th January.
11.15pm and 11.25pm, the man, who was walking home with
a friend along Victoria Street, was approached by three
teenagers who assaulted him before running off towards Friars
Street. The victim sustained facial injuries, including
a cut to his eye that required stitches.
offenders were described as being white males aged between
13 and 15 years old. The main offender is described as 6ft
2ins tall, of a large big build and with dark hair. The
others were a similar age and one of them was wearing two
earrings in his left ear, one with a ball on it.
Charlotte Wells of Hereford Police Station, who is investigating
said, 'This was a nasty incident and it appears to be have
been an unprovoked attack. We are keen to hear from anyone
who may have witnessed this assault and are particularly
keen to speak to a group of teenage girls that were seen
nearby at the time this assault took place. It is possible
one these of girls saw this assault take place and they
may have vital information.'
who witnessed this incident, or who may have information
about the assault, is asked to contact PC Wells on 0300
333 3000 as soon as is possible. Alternatively, please remember
that Crimestoppers can also be called anonymously on 0800
555 111 if you'd prefer to pass on information without identifying
MAN HELD FOR HOURS AS HIS LORRY WAS STOLEN....
are appealing for witnesses to come forward after a lorry
was robbed in Herefordshire overnight.
lorry, which was delivering a large amount of copper piping
to the Plumb Centre on Holmer Road, Hereford, was targeted
at approximately 11.20pm on Monday, 7th February. The driver
had parked up overnight at the rear of the centre and as
he slept, two men entered the cab, threatened him with violence
and tied him up. The men then drove the lorry along the
A49 until they arrived pulled over into a lay-by just south
driver was taken into a nearby field, out of sight of the
lay-by, and held for three to four hours. Meanwhile, at
some point the lorry was driven away by other unseen people,
possibly continuing north along the A49. A dark Vauxhall
Vectra, which detectives believe may be connected to the
robbery, was seen parked nearby on the slip road to Wharton
Sergeant Tim Powell of Hereford CID said, 'Although the
driver was unharmed, it was a long and traumatic experience
for him. We would like to hear from anyone who saw suspicious
activity near the Plumb Centre in Hereford or any activity
around the lorry as it was parked in the A49 around midnight.
The lorry is very distinctive, with a bright yellow and
red trailer, so if anyone saw it parked or travelling north
along the A49, then we would like to hear from them. We
would also like to speak to anyone who saw this dark Vauxhall
Vectra acting suspiciously either near Wharton Court or
perhaps on Holmer Road.'
witnesses or those with information are urged to call West
Mercia Police's non-emergency line on 0300 333 3000; you
can also call Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.
BLUEPRINT FOR COUNTY ROLL OUT OF BROADBAND ....
Ambitious plans for a county roll out of broadband are outlined
in a new strategy produced by Herefordshire Council. The
strategy sets out the importance of broadband to Herefordshire
as well as its potential to support the economic competitiveness
of local businesses and how technology can enhance local
aim is to have 90 per cent of homes and business in the
county linked up to fast broadband by 2015, and by 2020
50 per cent of premises having the opportunity to access
broadband speeds of 100Mbps.
Roger Phillips, leader of Herefordshire Council said, 'Though
we are focusing on making sure the network is in place,
the most important thing is the impact super fast broadband
can have on our businesses and communities. The potential
is massive for the county and we want to make sure people
and businesses make the most of the technologies that are
going to be available.'
benefits, as outlined in the strategy, include allowing
businesses to become more competitive with an increasing
dependency on technology to do business and communicate
in a global economy. Other benefits include easier access
to services for people, particularly those living in rural
areas, and more widely, the use of technologies to improve
services to everyone. In addition there are environmental
and cost benefits that broadband coverage in the county
broadband pilot awarded to Herefordshire will focus on the
south of the county but with the intention of a quick roll
out to the rest of Herefordshire as the lessons from the
pilot are identified. As part of the pilot, Herefordshire
Council will work closely with business and communities
to ensure they make the best use of the technology that
will be available.
strategy is available on the Herefordshire Council website
at www.herefordshire.gov.uk. Alternatively email firstname.lastname@example.org
or telephone 01432 261758 to request a copy.
Roger Phillips with the new broadband strategy.
COUNCIL TAX TO REMAIN AT SAME LEVEL AS LAST YEAR....
the deepest cuts in the funding they will receive from Central
Government, Herefordshire Council has confirmed they are
to keep council tax levels at the same level as last year.
To achieve this, they are to cut management costs and slash
red tape, but have vowed to safeguard most front line services,
including those to the most vulnerable people in Herefordshire.
under no illusion,' Councillor Roger Phillips, the leader
of the council, told fellow councillors at their meeting
on Friday, 4th February. 'These are the deepest cuts we've
ever had to face. Our strategy is to cut the costs of delivery
and protect front line services where we can.'
Philips highlighted the deep partnership which has been
forged with NHS Herefordshire and Hereford Hospital Trust
which has allowed a number of services to be shared as a
key area of savings, along with a commitment to cut around
250 jobs, approximately 12 per cent of the workforce, including
more than 30 management posts.
financial strategy is designed to save just over £10.3 million
in the coming financial year and £5.8 million in the following
year. However, the budget also includes an extra £3.5 million
for adult social care to help support services to the more
than 4,500 older people in the county. The number of older
people is growing rapidly and during the last 12 months
alone has increased by seven per cent.
the cut in Government funding affects concessionary bus
fares, councillors were told that the council proposes to
use some of its financial reserves to retain free travel
for bus pass holders, although free travel will no longer
be available during the weekday morning commuter period
before 9.30am. The budget also means that, unlike many other
areas of the country, Herefordshire will hold on to its
existing libraries but the mobile library service is undergoing
the two hour debate, Councillor Phillips announced that
he was writing to the county's two MPs to raise his concerns
regarding the alarming rise in the cost of fuel which is
affecting individuals, businesses and the public sector.
He also said he would continue to lobby central government
in a bid to ensure maintenance and improvements to the county's
roads remained a priority.
no doubt that this is a tough budget. We've been planning
for it; it will take a lot of effort to implement, but we
have no choice,' he said.
councillors voted in favour of the budget strategy and keeping
council tax to its current level, while 22 councillors abstained.
POPULAR WOOD ENGRAVERS SHOW RETURNS TO CITY....
The 73rd annual exhibition of the Society of Wood Engravers
will show the latest work by their members at Hereford Museum
& Art Gallery from Saturday, 12th February until Wednesday,
6th April. This will be a welcome return visit to Hereford
for this popular show as the Society of Wood Engravers was
last in Hereford back in 2006.
Society was founded in 1920 by a group of artists that included
Lucien Pissaro, Eric Gill and Gwen Raverat. Over the years,
the Society has built up an international reputation for
excellence and subjects are wide ranging as are the techniques.
Paynter, a former chairman of the Society said, 'Our annual
exhibition regularly attracts work from across the globe
with artists in Japan, Ukraine, Poland, Italy, Holland,
France, Brazil, Canada and the USA.'
you would like to see the exhibition, the opening times
are: Tuesday to Friday, 10am until 5pm, Saturdays, 10am
until 4pm. Sunday 3rd April, 10 - 4pm. Closed: Sundays and
Mondays except Sunday, 3rd April.
COUNCIL SETS OUT STALL TO TRADE WITH SCHOOLS....
Council is setting up shop at a market place event for schools
which promises to change the way schools buy services from
the local authority.
than 200 delegates from 85 local schools and academies have
booked to attend the event which will take place at The
Freedom Centre, Hereford and they will be able to talk to
individual service providers and learn more about what is
on offer. A new traded services brochure will also be available
explaining what schools can expect from each service, how
much it will cost and what benefits it will bring to the
year individual schools are given the option of buying a
number of corporate services from the council. Financial
support services, human resources management, school library
services and help with ICT are just a few of the things
schools can purchase at the moment. This year a new suite
of services from the Children and Young People's Directorate
will be available for schools to choose from. Services on
offer include support for newly qualified teachers, educational
welfare, youth support, additional and special educational
needs, governor services, schools library, buildings management,
curriculum advice and support, legal and insurance services.
Baird, assistant director for planning, performance and
development said, 'Now schools have more choices about how
they run their finances and we have responded by developing
a more commercially-based portfolio of services which they
can choose from. The marketplace event will help schools
understand the new way of working and give school representatives
the opportunity to talk directly to service providers about
what is on offer.'