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16th March 2011 RYAN GREEN IS YOUNG LIONS AMBASSADOR FOR BRITAIN.

Congratulations go to Ryan Green, a member of Ross-on-Wye LEO Club who has recently been selected as the Lions Young Ambassador for Great Britain and Ireland. Facing stiff competition from 12 other fantastic young people from all parts of Britain and Ireland, Ryan had to tell the judges just what he did and how he helped in the community.

Whilst studying for his 'A' levels at John Kyrle High School, Ryan still found time for Sea Cadets, acts as secretary for the Ross LEO Club and has carried out charitable work for Macmillan Cancer Support and St. Michael's Hospice. Ryan's greatest involvement, however is with Hope Support Services, where Ryan acts the Youth Chairman. Hope Support Services is a Ross based charity whose aim is to support young people who have a close family member diagnosed with a life threatening illness. No other organization does this.

A truly remarkable young man, Ryan fully deserves the accolade of being awarded the title of 'Lions Young Ambassador for 2011.' As well as bringing home four magnificent trophies (two for Ross Lions as sponsoring Lions Club), Ryan receives a generous bursary from Lions Clubs International towards his main project, Hope Support Services. The attached photo shows Ryan at the Lions Convention in Fishguard with District Governor Lion Colin Duncan, Ross-on-Wye Lion President Trevor Smith (with wife Barbara), and four other Ross Lions - and the four trophies!


Ryan Green at the Lions Convention in Fishguard with District Governor, Lion Colin Duncan, Ross-on-Wye Lions' President, Trevor Smith (with wife Barbara), four other Ross Lions and the four trophies.

16th March 2011 VODAFONE APPEAL FOR TUDORVILLE MAST DISMISSED...

There is good news for the residents of Tudorville. Vodafone's appeal against a decision refusing planning permission to erect a 15m high telecommunications pole on the verge at Fernbank Road has been dismissed.

Many people in the area were concerned that the mast would have a detrimental effect on the health and well being of themselves and their children as a childrens' play park is situated adjacent to the proposed site. However, the appeal was not dismissed on these grounds but due to the fact that the mast would appear as 'a jarring and incongruous feature in the street scene' and that 'the sizeable equipment cabinets, unscreened by landscaping would [in my assessment] add to this harmful visual impact.'

Whatever the reasons, the residents of Tudorville have cause to celebrate.

Local MP Jesse Norman is delighted at this news as he has been working with local residents to fight the plans from the outset. Jesse said, 'I am delighted that this proposal has been rejected. We badly need better mobile coverage in Ross and surrounding areas But this proposal was totally inappropriate for a busy location, and would have been visible from much of the Wye Valley Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.

I wrote to the Planning Inspectorate and Eric Pickles, the Secretary of State, in December last year to outline the reasons for my objection. In the event the Planning Inspectorate agreed with me that the mast would cause ‘significant harm to the character and appearance of the surrounding environment’.

The way is open for Vodafone to come back to the table but to do so it must respect and work with, and not against, the local community.'


16th March 2011 HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO JACQUI IAN AND JANET...

Our special Happy Birthday greetings go to three special people this week. Yesterday, Jacqui Newman of the White Lion Inn celebrated her special day. Jacqui unfortunately injured her leg last week but has still somehow managed to work and greet visitors to the lovely riverside inn, despite having to use crutches. We hope you enjoyed your birthday Jacqui.

Ian Sackville is 20 years old today. Ian works at the White Lion but is taking a very well earned day off to celebrate. Don't have too many Ian. (Oh... go on then!)

Special birthday greetings also go to Janet Wood, Alan's sister. Jan has suffered very much with her health but always seems to manage to see the brighter side of things. We love you Jan and hope you enjoy your birthday.


16th March 2011 BLAKE GARDENS MAKEOVER FOR GOLDEN JUBILEE

In the year 2012, Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth II will be celebrating the Diamond Jubilee of her reign and people are working on ideas to mark this special occasion. Councillor Caroline Utting though it would be a lovely idea if a group was formed to 'do up' The Thomas Blake Memorial Gardens in Wye Street, Ross-on-Wye so that they are back to their former glory by the time of the Jubilee.

The proposal has met with a great response from local residents, businesses and organizations and on Sunday, 13th March no less than 19 people turned up to begin the tidying up process. Ross-in-Bloom are helping with the organization of the project and have volunteered the use of their bank account and constitution to get it off the ground. The project has been registered through RiB with the Royal Horticultural Society’s 'It’s Your Neighbourhood' scheme and the results will be included in the Heart of England In Bloom judging in the summer.

Alison and Glynn at Ross Garden Store regularly make generous donations to causes of this nature and will be taking a major role in this project by bringing in professional help and expertise and by donating lots of goods. Amey Herefordshire are also keen to assist by removing waste and helping out when they can.

Councillor Utting hopes that many of the residents living near to the gardens, will also get involved. She has also applied for a grant from Herefordshire Housing to help the project on its way.

The Thomas Blake Memorial Gardens used to look so beautiful. It will be wonderful to see them restored.


Making a start on the Thomas Blake Memorial Gardens.

The youngsters' turn to take a breather.

16th March 2011 JESSE WELCOMES NEW RAPE VICTIM SUPPORT CENTRE

Local MP Jesse Norman has warmly welcomed the Government's announcement that one of four new specialist Rape Victim Support Centres will be established in Hereford. The announcement was made by Justice Minister Crispin Blunt on the 100th anniversary of International Women’s Day as part of a series of measures to improve the support available to victims of rape.

Crispin Blunt said, 'Rape and sexual violence are devastating crimes which ruin lives. By providing long term funding for new rape support centres, the Government is demonstrating its commitment to ensure that every victim receives the specialist support they need to rebuild their lives.'

Commenting, Jesse Norman said, 'The Government’s decision to invest £150,000 in the next twelve months to establish the centre and to guarantee funding until at least 2014 is very welcome news. At a time when public spending is necessarily constrained, it is very good to have this support for local victims of sexual violence.'


16th March 2011 GOVERNMENT FUNDING UNFAIR FOR RURAL AREAS

Rural residents are bearing the brunt of budget cuts that are forcing the withdrawal of vital public services. The Rural Services Network issued the warning following an in depth analysis of the government’s funding settlement for local authorities. Local authorities face an average reduction of 18.5% in funding from central government over two years.

Rural Services Network Chief Officer Graham Biggs said the settlement was a step too far for England’s most sparsely populated areas. Although the situation was also bad for urban areas, it was particular unfair on people living in the countryside, said Mr Biggs. 'Rural authorities receive a lot less funding per capita than urban authorities even though it costs more to deliver services in the countryside,' he said.

An extra £10m in government funding to compensate for the loss of concessionary fares funding did nothing to alter the imbalance. This was because the £10m was shared between town and country.

Mr Biggs added, 'The gulf in per capita funding between town and country remains. Some urban authorities might have done worse than their rural counterparts, but they would have done so from a much better position. Rural residents are continuing to pay more in council tax than their urban neighbours and clearly getting less service expenditure in return.'

The analysis comes as councils and other service providers set their budgets for the coming year and government cuts begin to bite.


16th March 2011 PANCAKE DAY EVENT HELPS SHOPPERS REDUCE BILLS

Herefordshire Council's waste management team cooked up a Pancake Day treat in Hereford's High Town to show families how they can save up to £480 a year on their shopping bills if they stopped wasting food.

Traditionally, Shrove Tuesday, the day before Lent, was the last day for people to indulge themselves and to use up foods people should not eat during Lent such as fat, butter and eggs. Pancakes were a way to use up all of these items before Lent started and the event in High Town aimed to show how all residents can use up leftovers and fridge staples to make tasty meals and help reduce their shopping bills. The campaign also aims to ensure people buy food wisely, taking note of use by dates and only buying what they need by planning menus.

Councillor John Jarvis, of Herefordshire Council said, 'We chose today to launch our campaign because of the symbolic link to Shrove Tuesday to highlight the fact people can save up to £480 per year if they stop wasting food. Many people came to our stand in High Town where we were able to show them how a few staple items from fridges such as eggs, milk and butter can be made into a tasty treat and, when combined with leftovers, can be made into a nourishing meal.

I hope these people will now join in with the spirit of the campaign and see how leftovers and items they already have in their larders and fridges can be used to make meals rather than throwing them away. Using up such items also prevents the food waste from ending up in landfill where it rots and releases methane, a damaging greenhouse gas and also costs the council money which ultimately comes from local council taxpayers. If we stopped wasting food which could have been eaten, it would have the same environmental impact as taking one in four cars off the road.'

For further information on the Love Food, Hate Waste campaign, log onto www.lovefoodhatewaste.com This website also contains lots of recipes and ideas for using up leftovers. For more local issues and events log on to www.letswasteless.com


Councillor John Jarvis getting the Love Food Hate Waste message across in High Town on Tuesday.

16th March 2011 GOVERNMENT CUTS FORCE REDUCTIONS IN FARES SCHEME

Herefordshire Council has been forced to reduce the hours of its concessionary fares scheme after significant Government cuts to its funding for public transport. With such a large reduction in funding, the council has been forced to reduce the period of free concessionary travel to the statutory requirement of 9.30am until 11pm Monday to Friday, and all day at weekends and bank holidays. These changes will come into effect on 28th March 2011 and bring Herefordshire into line with decisions taken by all neighbouring English authorities.

While it is acknowledged that concessionary pass holders will be impacted by this change, the Council does not feel that variations on the operating times would be workable. Those pass holders who wish to travel before 9.30am and after 11pm will have to pay for this element of their journey but many will be able to re-time journeys to still travel for free.

The council has not taken this decision lightly, but it has to consider all elements of discretionary expenditure given the scale of government funding reductions. It has identified funding from its reserves to help protect bus services into the next financial year but this has not allowed for the retention of free travel before 9.30am and after 11pm on weekdays. The council is maintaining free travel for companions of disabled people and it is honouring free travel into Wales, within the revised operating times, and these are important enhancements to the statutory minimum service.

Leaflets and posters informing bus users of the changes to the operating times for concessionary travel have been printed and are being distributed with the support of the bus operating companies and parish councils. The leaflets also highlight the need to review all bus services over the summer 2011 but assure users that no major reduction in services is planned. More details of this review and the consultation will be issued in early summer.


16th March 2011 JESSE WELCOMES TREASURY INVESTIGATION INTO PFI

Jesse Norman, MP, has warmly welcomed the news that the Treasury Select Committee is to investigate the Private Finance Initiative. The investigation comes at the urging of Mr Norman, who sits on the Committee, and who has conducted a sustained campaign to claw back a £500 million rebate on PFI contracts. Over 60 MPs from all the major parties have joined the campaign.

Commenting, Jesse said, 'This is excellent news. It shows that Parliament is taking this issue seriously at the highest level. Far too many PFI contracts are expensive, non-transparent and inflexible. Over the past few weeks the Treasury has published new interim guidance for managing PFI contracts, the MOD has announced that it is opening up three of its contracts, and the Cabinet Office is taking a forensic look at the £835m contract at the Queen's Hospital in Romford. Now the Treasury Committee has cleared the way for a full evaluation of the strengths and weaknesses of the PFI.

We need to know what went wrong in the past and how to correct it. And we need a new approach to procurement which is inexpensive, effective and properly accountable to the taxpayer. This will be a major step in the right direction.'


16th March 2011 LIBRARIES AND BBC JOIN FORCES TO GET PEOPLE ONLINE.

The Library service is working with the BBC to get more people online, using computers and the Internet through its First Click programme.

Colwall Library, working with the BBC and the council's Community Learning and Employability team, has been offering 10-hour beginner sessions in using the Internet which have already attracted 16 learners. There is also a waiting list for people to attend the course at Colwall so the course will be running again in the summer and a new course will be starting at Hereford Library on Thursday, 7th April. A follow-on course organized by Community Learning and Employability will also be running in March and April for the present learners at Colwall.

Sarah Chedgzoy of Herefordshire Council said, 'The course at Colwall has proved to be a great success with many people wanting to learn basic computer skills so they can use email and the Internet and we are now setting up a follow on course as well as starting a new course at Hereford Library. For some learners, it will mean they can now email family in other parts of the country or world and for others it will give them access to information about their interests.'

Learner Pat Turner, aged 88 said, 'I have family in Thailand, France and Luxembourg and would love to be able to communicate with them by email so this course is wonderful and I will be attending the follow-on course as well.' Her friend Doris Collings, aged 89 said she had never used a computer before and wanted to get more familiar with using a keyboard and being able to write documents and letters. She said, 'I felt so stupid not being able to use a computer because all the younger generation can.'

The First Click computer course for beginners at Hereford Library starts on Thursday, 7th April and will run from 9.30 until 11.30am. For further information and to book your place, please telephone 01432 383600.


First Click learners at Colwall Library.

16th March 2011 OPEN DAYS FOR POTENTIAL FOSTER CARERS. . . . . . ......

Herefordshire Council is currently recruiting special people who want to make a difference to a child's life by becoming a foster carer.

The council has seen a steady growth in the number of people making enquiries about becoming foster carers in the county, but still needs to boost the number of fostering households from the current 75 to 90 in order to make sure Herefordshire children are looked after by Herefordshire carers. The fostering team is also looking for caring people who have a spare room or annexe to offer a young person aged 16 or over who needs some support to make the transition from foster care to independence.

If you are interested in becoming a foster carer, you are invited to attend one of two information sessions which are being organized for Saturday, 2nd April and Monday. 11th April from 11am at Moor House in Hereford. (Tea and coffee available). A team of fostering social workers and foster carers will be at each event to chat to people interested in fostering about the pros and cons, the process involved in applying and the opportunities available.

All foster carers recruited by the council receive comprehensive training. Once a child is placed with them, they receive a fostering fee together with allowances for clothing, holidays and reimbursements for travel expenses. Support and help is available through direct contact with a supervising social worker and carers have access to a range of supporting events through a network of around 120 other Herefordshire carers.

Jules Walwin, assistant fostering team manager said, 'We are looking for a wide range of foster carers from all walks of life and we welcome the diversity of our community. We'd love to see as many people as possible who really want to make a difference to a child's life.'

Anybody who thinks they have got what it takes to become a foster carer is encourage to contact the fostering team and sign up to attend one of the information days. Please telephone 01432 383243 for further information.'


16th March 2011 HUGE TRAINING OPPORTUNITIES AT REGENERATION SITE

The prestigious regeneration of Hereford's old livestock market is set to bring massive training opportunities which will leave a lasting legacy of employment and improved job prospects for scores of local people. Following negotiations with developer, Stanhope, Hereford Futures can announce that the Hereford Skills Academy for Construction (HSAfC) is to be created.

Through the academy, local people will be given opportunities to take up gaps in the workforce during the construction phase on the old livestock market site and, importantly, locals will be offered opportunities to gain experience and qualifications in a range of construction disciplines through the proposed establishment of a quality apprenticeship programme.

'This is great news for the county and has come about after discussion and negotiations between Herefordshire Council, Hereford Futures and the scheme's developer, Stanhope,' said Councillor Roger Phillips, Leader of Herefordshire council. 'We envisage that a full range of trades will be represented on site; bricklayers, plasterers, carpenters, plumbers and more highly specialized skills that will be needed on a site of this size and complexity. Where there are gaps in the workforce, the academy will work with the developer to fill these vacancies with local people where possible. This is a very exciting project for the city which brings with it the added bonus of jobs and training for locals.'

Jonathan Bretherton, chief executive of Hereford Futures added, 'Due to the large scale of the work programme, there will be huge scope for training and up-skilling opportunities. These will leave local people with the relevant experience, skills and confidence to obtain further work well into the future after the development is complete. This is a once in a lifetime opportunity for Hereford city, Herefordshire and local residents and we expect a lot of interest from local people in the opportunities that will become available.'

Alistair Shaw, from Stanhope said, 'We're incredibly proud to be associated with Hereford Skills Academy for Future Construction and we are sure that the time and expertise which we are investing in the city will equip a number of local people with the skills necessary to succeed in the construction industry. Over the course of the last 25 years, Stanhope has sought to engage and include the public in numerous projects which we have worked on throughout the country, ensuring that local communities share in the fruits of development. Since being appointed to the old livestock market scheme in 2007, we have thrown ourselves wholeheartedly into this process and now, as we hopefully near the start of the construction phase, we look forward to working even more closely with the local community.'

The Hereford Skills Academy for Construction is aligned to the National Skills Academies, which are supported by the Sector Skills Council for Construction. They ensure that training and qualifications gained through various schemes are relevant to the industry sector that they support, in this case, construction. National Skills Academies already operate in a range of key sectors of the economy, including financial services, construction and manufacturing.

The academies are also active across many other sectors, for example engineering, logistics and environmental technologies. Plans are also being worked on for training in hospitality and retail in readiness for the cinema, shops and restaurants opening. The HSAfC will be responsible directly to the Delivery Group that has been assembled to support it. This group has members whose skills, experience and expertise will be crucial in making sure every opportunity is taken to boost jobs and training opportunities throughout the work programme on the old livestock market site.

The members comprise Herefordshire Council, developer Stanhope and principal contractor representatives, Hereford Futures, Jobcentre Plus (JCP), Cskills, local contractor representative, Hereford Group Training Assn (HGTA), Hereford College of Technology (HCT) and the South Wye Regeneration Partnership (SWRP). All the partners fully support the aims and objectives of the HSAfC in its efforts to bring quality and sustainable jobs and training opportunities to the communities of Herefordshire throughout the project.

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