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    Landowner Sentenced To 12 Months In Prison For Destruction Of River Lugg, In Herefordshire

    Hereford Voice
    By Hereford Voice,

    Natural England and Environment Agency see justice delivered for nature as landowner sentenced for destruction of part of the River Lugg in Herefordshire.

    • Natural England and the Environment Agency welcome the sentencing of John Price for the destruction of 1.5km of the protected River Lugg in 2020
    • Habitats of otters, kingfishers, trout and salmon were among those destroyed
    • The damage is the worst case of riverside destruction seen by the organisations and could take several decades to be fully restored
    • This is the first prosecution under Farming Rules for Water

    Natural England and the Environment Agency have today welcomed the seriousness with which the Court has treated the severe and lasting damage to the River Lugg, which destroyed habitats and wildlife on a stretch of one of the country’s most unspoiled rivers.

    John Price appeared today at Kidderminster Magistrates Court where he was sentenced to 12 months in prison. He was also ordered to pay prosecution costs of £600,000 and disqualified from being a director of a limited company for three years. In addition, a Restoration Order under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 was imposed requiring Mr Price to carry out a number of actions to restore the river.

    The sentence is the result of legal action launched last year by Natural England and the Environment Agency following a joint in-depth investigation into environmental harm caused by the work in 2020 and 2021.

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    The River Lugg before destruction by the landowne

    Mr Price used heavy machinery including bulldozers and excavators to dredge and reprofile a 1.5km stretch of the River Lugg at Kingsland, Herefordshire, destroying the riverbed and banks. The unconsented works were in breach of several regulations, including the Reduction and Prevention of Agricultural Diffuse Pollution (England) Regulations 2018, also known as the Farming Rules for Water; and operations prohibited in the notification of a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI), which persisted despite Mr Price being issued with a Stop Notice.

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    After destruction of area

    Due to the exceptionally high diversity of wildlife, the River Lugg is a designated SSSI, with 121 river plant species that live in the river and provide habitat for invertebrates, fish and birds. The damage to the river and banks removed the habitats of hundreds of these species including otters, kingfishers and salmon as well as destroying trees, aquatic plant life and invertebrates. It is predicted to take decades to re-establish mature trees to provide the stability, cover and shade to restore the diversity of the river. Fish, plants, native crayfish and birds may take years to make a gradual return to previous populations.

    In sentencing Mr Price, the Judge noted that neither the Environment Agency nor Natural England did anything to encourage these works.

    Speaking after the verdict, Emma Johnson, Area Manager for Natural England said:

    “The destruction of this section of the River Lugg was devastating for the abundance and range of species which thrived in this river. The River Lugg is one of the most iconic rivers in the UK and to see this wanton destruction take place was devastating. This is why we have used our powers as regulators to see that justice was done and to act as a stark warning to others that we will take the strongest action against those who do not respect the laws that protect the environment and wildlife we all cherish. “We want to ensure that Mr Price now takes the necessary actions which we hope, in time will restore this much-loved stretch of river to its former condition.”

    Martin Quine, Environment Agency Place Manager for Herefordshire added:

    “We welcome the outcome of this prosecution for the unconsented works on the River Lugg.

    “The Environment Agency is working hard to restore the health of our rivers. It is a complex task that can only be achieved in partnership with landowners. We provide advice and guidance but will impose sanctions or prosecute where appropriate to protect the environment and ensure those who breach regulations are held to account. The vast majority of landowners and users fully cooperate with this process.

    “While Mr Price’s justification for the works was to help prevent flooding to local properties, his actions did not have any flood prevention benefit. The destruction of river banks is not appropriate flood management. It is important that the Judge recognised that the works significantly weakened flood prevention measures rather than improved them.“We urge landowners never to take extreme measure such as this and instead to always work closely with the Environment Agency around river management to agree the best solutions for both landowners and the environment.”

    As a designated Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI), the Lugg is afforded the highest level of environmental protection. Works to SSSIs or any watercourses must be done in such a way that protects the environment and does not cause any impact on flooding. Such works can only be undertaken after securing permits from the Environment Agency.


    Armed Police Deal With Incident In Hereford

    Hereford Voice
    By Hereford Voice,

    High Town Hereford Has Been Completely Sealed Off.

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    The whole of the city centre has been cordoned off as emergency services continue to deal with an ongoing incident.

    LIVE 24/7 CAMERA FEED - https://bit.ly/HfdLive

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    Regular Sea life Expected In River Wye Because Of Global Warming

    Hereford Voice
    By Hereford Voice,

    Dolphins are often spotted in the River Wye as seen in this footage and we could soon begin seeing other marine life such as sharks in the River, that’s the claim by local flood expert Stefan Copinio.

     

    Stefan is a local flood expert and has been studying the water levels and floods in Herefordshire for many years and says the world’s climate is changing, and these changes are having an enormous impact on our planet, especially our oceans and rivers.

    Speaking as part of Ocean and Rivers Podcast, he says: “Short-beaked dolphins or common dolphins (Delphinus delphis) can be seen in the estuaries, though sightings of these species are becoming far more common in the River Wye. This species can be seen travelling at rapid speeds in groups. They have large, triangular dorsal fins that curve slightly backward. From above the water, the common dolphin appears dark grey in colour but underneath the water the white underside and yellow-cream hourglass pattern on their sides becomes visible”

    Stefan said that we could even start seeing Sharks visiting our rivers saying; “The most common sharks in the UK are the basking shark and the porbeagle, but they are entirely harmless but we could soon start seeing other sharks. The great white shark also has the same capacity to raise body temperature as the porbeagle, allowing it to swim in cooler waters and climate change is believed to be the reason sharks have started appearing in areas they have never been seen before in other parts of the world, and even venturing hundreds of miles up rivers in search of food.

    So keep an eye open in the River Wye in the coming years as you may spot the occasional mammal or marine life that you did not expect to see.

    M Thomas


    50 Year Old Man Charged With Hereford Rape

    Hereford Voice
    By Hereford Voice,

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    Joao Coutinho, 50, of Widemarsh Common in Hereford has been charged with rape, engaging in sexual activity with a child, and inciting a child to engage in sexual activity.

    The charges are in relation to a rape which took place in Hereford on Monday 17 April.

    Coutinho is currently in custody and will be appearing at Kidderminster Magistrates’ court this morning (Wednesday 19 April)


    Man Arrested Following Rape In Hereford.

    Hereford Voice
    By Hereford Voice,

    A man has been arrested following a rape which took place at around 12.30pm today in the male toilets at Castle Green in Hereford.

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    Following on from our article earlier HERE

    Officers responded to the report immediately and an extensive search of the area was undertaken to locate the suspect. As a result of the search a 50-year-old man has been arrested this evening on suspicion of rape, and he remains in police custody.

    The toilets remain cordoned off while the investigation continues.

    Detective Inspector Catherine Taylor, said: “I know that incidents of rape and sexual assault can be alarming for the local community, especially when there is a large police presence like there was today. I hope that the swift arrest of the suspect in this case provides some reassurance that we take reports of this nature incredibly seriously.

    “I’d like to thank the public for their patience and understanding while we carried out our searches this afternoon. You may see an increased police presence in the area this evening and overnight, and I’d urge anyone with any concerns to speak to an officer.”


    Police Cordon In Place Following Report Of Rape In Hereford.

    Hereford Voice
    By Hereford Voice,

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    A spokesperson for West Mercia Police told Hereford Voice;

    "Police officers received a report of a rape which had taken place at about 12.30pm in the male toilets at Castle Green in Hereford today (April 17).

    A scene guard is currently in place at the toilets and an extensive search of the area is underway to locate the suspect"


    Herefordshire Primary School Places Announced Today.

    Hereford Voice
    By Hereford Voice,

    95% of parents are offered their preferred primary school

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    Parents in Herefordshire join those across England today (Monday 17 April) with finding out which primary school their child will be attending in September 2023.

    Herefordshire Council has made 1729 offers of places in primary schools across the county with the following parental preference success rates:

    First preference: 1643 offers, which is 95% of the total offers

    Second preference: 55 offers, which is 3.2% of the total offers with a cumulative success rate of 98.2%

    Third preference: 10 offers, which is 0.6% of the total offers with a cumulative success rate of 98.8%

    The balance of places offered, which is 21 (or 1.2%) were to parents whose preferences could not be met and their offer was for the nearest school to their home address with available spaces.

    Last year, 96% of parents received their first school preference and 99.1% received a place in one of their three preferences.

    As in previous years, Herefordshire schools continue to be a net importer of pupils, with more pupils from neighbouring counties requesting places in the county’s schools than Herefordshire pupils requesting places in other counties.

    There are currently 15 Herefordshire primary schools with waiting lists and 58 have available spaces.

    The council has continued to promote its online application service this year, which was used by 97% of applicants.


    Hereford Lions Club Support Midlands Air Ambulance Charity

    Hereford Voice
    By Hereford Voice,

    Last month the Lions club donated £500 to the Midlands Air Ambulance.

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    Emma Grey their CEO writes;

    ‘The Lions support will directly help fund our rapid response air ambulance-led service, enabling us to save countless lives’

    ‘With your support, the highly skilled doctors and critical care paramedics deliver hospital-level clinical interventions and medicine at the incident scene, giving patients the best possible chance of recovery and survival’

    ‘Our essential service relies on donations from kind-hearted people such as the Lions and your fundraising as we do not receive Government funding for our daily missions.’

    ‘Without you, we would not be able to carry out 4,500 vitally important missions by air ambulance helicopter or critical care car each year."

    "Again, thank you for your support, it means a great deal to us and the 12 patients we treat daily."

    The photo shows members of the Club presenting a cheque for £500 to Nicole Bee from the Midlands Air Ambulance Charity.


    Flags across West Mercia Police fly at half-mast for officer who has died on duty

    Hereford Voice
    By Hereford Voice,

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    PC Andy Boardman

    In a statement a spokesperson said;

    "It is with immense sadness that we can confirm a serving West Mercia Police officer has sadly died whilst on duty.

    PC Andy Boardman was taken ill and collapsed whilst on duty in Broseley, Shropshire, yesterday afternoon (Tuesday 11 April). He was just 43 years old.

    Chief Constable Pippa Mills said: “This is a terrible shock for everyone that knew Andy and my thoughts, and the thoughts of all of us at West Mercia Police, are with his wife, Luci, their two daughters and all his family, friends and colleagues.

    “Andy was a familiar and friendly face across the communities he served and well-liked by his colleagues across the whole force. Today we are flying our flags at half-mast as a sign of respect.

    “Andy was responding to an incident alongside paramedics from the West Midlands Ambulance Service when he was taken ill. I want to pass on our sincere thanks to the paramedics who did everything they possibly could for Andy and to the officers that were with him.”

    Andy joined West Mercia Police in 2015, having started his policing career in 2007 with West Midlands Police. Prior to joining the police Andy served in the Armed Forces for seven years.

    During his service with West Mercia Police he worked in Kidderminster, Stourport and most recently within the Safer Neighbourhood Team for Broseley and Much Wenlock.

    Andy’s wife Luci has asked us to pass on her thanks to all their colleagues and members of the public who have sent her and their family kind and thoughtful messages of support"

     


    The Courtyard Hereford ‘Beauty And The Beast’ Wins Best Director In UK Pantomime Awards

    Hereford Voice
    By Hereford Voice,

    The Courtyard team are delighted to announce that Estelle van Warmelo has won Best Director for Beauty and the Beast in the UK Pantomime Association’s Pantomime Awards 2023.

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    L-R: Ellis Kerkhoven, Estelle van Warmelo and Madeleine MacMahon with the Best Director award for Beauty and the Beast at the UK Pantomime Awards

    Beauty and the Beast was nominated for two awards this year: Best Script (Lyndsay Maples) and Best Director (Estelle van Warmelo).

    "What an honour it is to receive this award from the UK Pantomime Association!” says Estelle van Warmelo, “I'm enormously pleased for the whole Courtyard team who have worked tirelessly and devotedly on all the in-house productions since The Courtyard began.

    Panto is difficult to get right, and every year we strive to improve, develop and bring freshness and quality to the show, a challenge our writer Lynday Maples tackles with aplomb alongside the rest of the creative team. I'm particularly grateful for the support Ellis Kerkhoven and Madi MacMahon have given me personally over the past two years. Bringing them into the directing department has helped us through an enormously difficult time while raising the bar on the integrity of the show. I'm delighted to acknowledge that this award reflects the strength of our department, not just a single person.

    Huge thanks to the UK Pantomime Association, John Good Ltd for the award and to Ian Archer for letting me go wild every year. Having that artistic freedom is a rare gift from a producer so I'm grateful for his faith in me. Here’s to next year!”

    The Courtyard prides itself on producing, writing, and directing its professional annual pantomimes in-house. Many members of the cast return to The Courtyard year after year and the seasoned writer and director have been working together on these productions for over 10 years.

    The Pantomime Awards are the industry recognised awards for celebrating the best of this British theatrical institution. Judges are selected from a range of backgrounds for their knowledge and passion for pantomime. During the judging process, judges watch and mark the show based on a wide-ranging criteria covering all elements of the pantomime, for which they write a detailed commentary.

    Following its’ best-selling year ever, The Courtyard’s pantomime for 2023/24 will be the classic tale of Dick Whittington. Spirited hero Dick and his feline friend pack up their handkerchief to embark on an epic adventure seeking fame and fortune. Their magical rags to riches tale will take audiences on an exciting journey to London Town… but will the streets be paved with gold?

    As part of The Courtyard’s commitment to inclusivity, there will be a range of accessible performances including Relaxed, Dementia Friendly, BSL signed and Audio Described performances.

    Tickets for Dick Whittington are on sale now and can be booked via Box Office in person, by calling 01432 340555 or online at courtyard.org.uk.


    Balance Bike World Championships at Eastnor Deer Park

    Si Paton
    By Si Paton,

    Three days of racing to be crowned the Pinkbike Balance Bike World Champion at the UK's biggest mountain bike festival!

    Date: 24-27th of August (August Bank Holiday Weekend).
    Venue: GT Bicycles Malverns Classic Mountain Bike Festival at Eastnor Deer Park, Herefordshire. HR8 1RQ. England.

    Riders Ready, let's go racing!! Children aged from 2 to 5 years of age are invited from all around the world to race in this fun and competitive competition. Race categories are split between both boys and girls in their age category. There are three days of racing with Quad Eliminator, Slalom and Downhill. Enter every race to be in with the chance to be a World Champion!

    Race 1 Friday 25th of August – Balance Bike Quad Eliminator 
    Four riders on the BMX style start gate, elbows out and go! This is action-packed head-to-head racing down into the main arena. Riders will fire out of the four-man start gate at the same time, battling elbows high into the first corner. The course will be fast and flowing with plenty of passing places for the skilled and the brave. The top two racers from each round will go through to the next heat, a simple elimination format as we head to the super finals! 

    Race 2 Saturday 26th of August – Balance Bike Slalom 
    Racing one at a time down the slalom course, the race is against the clock! This is action-packed racing as riders fire out of the BMX style start gate and around the coloured gates. The fastest four from each category will go into the super finals.
    The super finals will be based on one race, racing dual slalom head to head. Gate pick goes to the rider that qualified fastest.

    Race 3 Sunday 28th of August – Balance Bike Downhill 
    Downhill is the Formula 1 of mountain bike racing. The purest form of racing with riders racing against the clock. The course will be fast and flowing with plenty of corners for the riders to showcase their skills.

    The festival weekend is free to children aged 12 and under as are all the Fair Ground rides, Pump Track, Air Bag and Slack Lines. 

    If you require any further information regarding the Pinkbike Balance Bike World Championships at the GT Bicycles Malverns Classic, or to enter your child into the races please check out the website - https://malvernsclassic.com


    Lloyds Pharmacy At Sainsbury's Hereford Closing!

    Hereford Voice
    By Hereford Voice,

    Hereford Voice have been advised today that Lloyds Pharmacy within the Sainsbury's store at Barton Yard in Hereford will close on the 22nd.

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    We have also been advised that is no replacement pharmacy planned at the store.

    Do you use this pharmacy?


    West Mercia Arrests More Than 100 During Targeted Week Of Action

    Hereford Voice
    By Hereford Voice,

    A force-wide week of action to target individuals who cause the most harm in their communities saw West Mercia Police officers arrest more than 100 people.

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    Operation Justice focused on individuals persistent in their criminality arrested for a range of offences including theft, drugs, domestic violence, recalls to prison, stalking, underage sex, criminal damage, harassment and revenge pornography.

    Local Policing Areas in Worcestershire, Herefordshire and Shropshire were actively involved in raids during the week which ran from March 27-31.

    Chief Superintendent Paul Moxley, who oversaw the operation, hailed it as a success that made local communities safer places to live.

    Chief Superintendent Moxley said: “This was a concerted force-wide operation across our five Local Policing Areas which resulted in 103 arrests for 183 offences, with 38 people charged so far with a multitude of offences.

    “A number of individuals are still being investigated on suspicion of outstanding offences. The aim was to track down those suspects who thought that they may have evaded prosecution, those who have gone to ground and those who continue to blight local communities with their unacceptable anti-social behaviour.”


    Police Seek Witnesses After A Man Was Bitten In Hereford

    Hereford Voice
    By Hereford Voice,

    West Mercia Police have released an image of a man who they believe may be able to help with enquires after a 17-year-old boy was bitten by a dog in Hereford.

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    The incident happened yesterday (Sunday 2 April) at around 4.30pm at the rear of The Oval on the junction of Spofford Street.

    The teenager was approached by the dog, which was on a lead, before it bit him on the face. The dog is described as large Bull-type dog, with short black fur and wearing a green harness.

    Officers believe the man in the image may have information that could help with the investigations.

    Anyone who may know the man in the image, or has any information regarding the incident is asked to contact the South Wye Safer Neighbourhood Team by emailing herefordsouthside.snt@westmercia.police.uk.


    Hereford Police Station Closed As A Precaution After A Hand Grenade Handed In.

    Hereford Voice
    By Hereford Voice,

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    In a message issued by West Mercia Police the spokesperson for the force said;

    "Hereford Police Station is currently closed as a precaution after what is believed to be a hand grenade was handed in by a member of the public. Explosive Ordnance Disposal have been informed and are attending the scene assess the device and ensure it is disposed of safely"


    Herefordshire Fantasy Map

    Hereford Voice
    By Hereford Voice,

    This fabulous map has been created by our Old Hereford Pics member Chris James Birse, in an interview today he told Hereford Voice;

    "The idea started when I was writing a fantasy novel. I needed a map to go at the front of the book and rather than pay someone to do it, I thought I'd give it a go myself. It turned out well; so I drew some real-world locations like Scotland and Wales in this fantasy style for a bit of fun and posted them online. The response was brilliant and so I've since turned my attention to Herefordshire.

    This has been great fun to do since there's simply so much history in the area which lends itself perfectly to being depicted in the classic fantasy style. The response from the public was fantastic too back when I was asking for ideas to put on the map. From the hundreds of hill forts, castles, barrows and standing stones, to the more mythological features such as the Mordiford Dragon, the Marden Mermaid and the witches of Garway Hill - everyone's feedback has been added to the map where possible"

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    If you would like to purchase this wonderful fantasy map follow this link https://www.etsy.com/uk/listing/1437362192


    Police officer numbers hit a historic high in West Mercia

    Hereford Voice
    By Hereford Voice,

    West Mercia Police Statement 

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    We are proud to officially announce that we have exceeded the uplift recruitment target set by the Home Office in 2019. We now have 2494 officers – the highest number in our force history.

    A record number of police officers are now serving Herefordshire, Shropshire and Worcestershire communities, as officer numbers hit a new high.

    In 2019 a government campaign, known as Uplift, was launched to recruit 20,000 officers nationally and the force was given a target to hire 290 extra police officers. Thanks to our recruitment efforts and investment by the Police and Crime Commissioner John Campion, we have now not only reached this target, but exceeded it by 19. 

    This investment in additional officers means that, from today, we have a headcount of 2494 officers within West Mercia Police – the highest number in our force history. Since 2016, police officer numbers in West Mercia have increased by 508. This has been made possible as a greater proportion of the police’s budget has been focused on front-line service delivery.

    Reaching this landmark moment has been a collective effort across the whole force with officers and staff working to recruit the right people, carrying out thorough vetting and properly train new officers. The benefits are already being felt across the communities of Herefordshire, Shropshire and Worcestershire

    Chief Constable Pippa Mills said: “This is a fantastic achievement and great news for the communities we serve. These new officers will be vital in helping us protect people from harm and deliver an excellent service that the public deserve. We’re ensuring this investment increases visibility across our communities and helps us get the best possible outcomes for victims of crime.

    “As a result of this recruitment drive we are now a more representative force as well and we have achieved a long-standing of having 35% female representation across the force. We’ve now revised our target and reset it at 50% as it’s important we continue to be ambitious to achieve a more balanced level of representation.

    “Officers from ethnic minority backgrounds have also increased, from 2.4% in 2019 to 3.3% today and so we continue to work to be a force that is truly representative of the communities we serve.”

    Police and Crime Commissioner John Campion said: “I am extremely proud to see police officer numbers at their highest level in West Mercia Police’s history.

    “As the voice of the public in policing, I have listened and delivered on calls for more officers to be visible and accessible in the heart of your communities.

    “Since I was first elected in 2016, I have overseen a year-on-year increase in police officer numbers and while the force has now hit this momentous milestone, I am funding a further 40 officers - exceeding the Government’s target.

    “As PCC, I will continue to champion a journey of reform in West Mercia Police to ensure you feel the benefit of the increase in officers, working to meet your priorities.”

    Our efforts to recruit police offices will not stop post Uplift. We are committed to our recruiting and resourcing plan for 2023/24, where we have committed to recruiting an additional 40 officers whilst also maintaining our uplift numbers. This makes sure we have enough police officers in the right roles to keep our communities safe.


    NEWS UPDATE | West Mercia Police Provide Update On High Town Incident

    Hereford Voice
    By Hereford Voice,

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    A spokesperson for West Mercia Police told Hereford Voice

    'Officers were called around 3.20pm today (Monday 27 March) to a concern for someone’s safety and welfare at a home in East Street, High Town in Hereford.

    The incident has now been brought to a safe resolution and we would like to thank the local community for their patience and understanding'


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