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    Hereford Road Project Spirals Out Of Control

    Hereford Voice
    By Hereford Voice,

    Cabinet members in Herefordshire Council are facing a slew of questions after the city’s major road project careered out of control.

    Furious residents want answers and have submitted numerous questions to the cabinet about the City Link Road which faces a £6 million overspend, jeopardising the Transport Hub and improvements the Commercial, Newmarket and Blue School Street elements, as well as flood mitigation measures in Hereford.

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    Image | Google 

    The ruling Coalition leaders will meet on Thursday to discuss the matter and have expressed grave concerns about the ‘casual culture of overspend’ they say was the hallmark of the previous Conservative administration's approach to the delivery of major capital projects. Cabinet member for transport, John Harrington, said

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    'the previous administration, which held power for 12 years before losing to the coalition of Herefordshire Independents, IOC and The Green Party in May 2019, seemed unaware, or unwilling, to get to grips with what was: ‘at best a lazy approach to procurement that simply sought to shift all projects out to Balfour Beatty to deliver, without anywhere near the tight internal project management and oversight we should have been exercising as a council’.

    At a public Cabinet meeting this Thursday, 22nd July, members will debate a report which they say highlights a litany of errors and possible cover-ups which took place at the council under the Conservatives between 2015-2019. The current administration say previous cabinet members and officers played down the ballooning cost of the compulsory purchase orders needed to deliver the road element of the Hereford City Centre Transport Package. Coun Harrington claims the public and opposition councillors who challenged promises that ‘the most expensive piece of tarmac in England’ was delivered on time and to budget, were misled.

    Coalition members committed themselves to unearthing the overspend on the city road scheme during a purge to improve project management and governance of major infrastructure projects in the council.

    Cabinet Member for Finance, Liz Harvey said:

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    ‘At exactly the same time as past Chief Executive, Alistair Neal, was providing assurances to the Council’s Audit and Governance Committee that lessons would be learned and the council’s project management culture would be improved following the £1m overspend on refurbishing the council's Blueschool House, the City Link Road project was careering off the financial rails. This is another Blueschool House - with bells on, with an overspend of over £6 million.’

    How Did Hereford’s City Link Road Spiral Out of Control?

    Investigations commissioned by the current cabinet into value for money around council capital projects have concluded that land block purchases at the station end of the road created an early £3.8m overspend on the Link Road. The Coalition administration say this hole in the project’s finances was masked by combining the original stand-alone City Link Road project with an entirely separate Marches LEP funded project intended to deliver a transport hub at the station, public realm improvements on Commercial Road, Blueschool Street and Newmarket Street, providing much needed safe walking and cycling routes from the city to the railway station. The GP hub and new student accommodation along the Link Road were included and the combined project was rebranded as the Hereford City Centre Transport Package. Coun Harvey said she believed that combining of separate projects: ‘allowed Peter to rob Paul, and spiralling City Link Road costs were paid for with budgets originally set aside for the transport hub and other public realm improvements.’

    Of particular concern to the current administration is the unusually high level, over 100, of 'compensation events', according to Coun Harrington, that saw contractors, Balfour Beatty Living Places, revise upwards their original bid to deliver the projects. Coun Harrington said: ‘I am not suggesting that BBLP deliberately underinflated their bid to secure the HCCTP contract, but so many compensation events during the delivery of a project raises questions about how the council managed this contract and how realistic BBLP's original bid was. We simply must not operate like this again in the future and, alongside senior officers, we have put in place procedures to ensure that all major capital projects are run by one corporate department from now on, with cross cutting responsibilities ensuring we do not ever again get the kind of silo working that I believe has led to some of the missteps that have dogged this project.’

    Prior to Thursday’s cabinet meeting to discuss the matter Coun Harrington said that

    Quote

    'the Coalition administration had been committed to improving project management in the council and that he was ‘extremely concerned’ when in early January 2021 officers told him that a compulsory purchase mechanism used to buy properties along the Link Road, a route of less than one mile, meant that the council had not yet finished paying for land acquired to build the road, despite the road being opened and the former administration claiming it had been delivered 'on time and in budget'.

    Coun Harrington said:

    Quote

    ‘I had to take a decision to allow already severely depleted existing capital left in the scheme’s budget to be used to pay landowner's final settlements or the council would have faced certain legal action. I made this decision understanding that another decision would have to be taken to add capital to the programme in order to deliver the remaining elements of the package, once we had worked out what we eventually had left in the pot. I was dumbfounded by the approach taken by the previous administration, which was to keep reducing the budget for the non-road elements of the Hereford City Centre Transport Package in order to pay for the burgeoning costs of a road that is less than one mile and will end up costing us in excess of £30 million. At what point did they realise that this was not sustainable and they would have to add more capital to the project? Why didn't they bring this out into the public domain before we came in as administration and began a thorough review? Was it because they were unaware of the major problems around the finances of this project or because they chose to bury the bad news until after the May 2019 local elections?’

    Coun Harrington added:

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    ‘In our first two years of administration, not only have we had to deal with the continued and severe effects of the national Conservative government's devastating austerity policy on rural authorities like Herefordshire, the worst floods in recorded history and an unprecedented global pandemic, but we have had to grasp and deal with structural issues, casual overspends and working practices within the council that the previous Conservative administration seem simply to have chosen to ignore for 12 years. To hear them now in opposition, pandering to the crowd and reinforcing the claptrap in some media outlets about the panacea of a western bypass, a road of several miles with an estimated cost of a quarter of a billion pounds, when they couldn't even deliver a road of less than one mile on time and on budget, just makes my brain hurt.’

    Finance member, Coun Liz Harvey, commented:

    Quote

    ‘It’s reassuring to see that the measures we have put in place to tackle project management and governance failures are flushing out these sorts of issues. What’s concerning is the plundering of other project budgets to hide overspends on land acquisitions via the back door, and that a worrying number of unscheduled changes to the road construction contract itself have been kept under wraps for so long. The most charitable view one can take is that the previous Conservative cabinet were just asleep at the wheel. If that’s not the case, then serious questions need to be asked of those in charge at the time over the misleading statements they made to the public, to council and to the LEP in hiding this mess.’

     


    Have you noticed anything different about your bus stops recently?

    Hereford Voice
    By Hereford Voice,

    Hereford’s looking up, with new bee-friendly bus shelters 🐝

    When you’re next out and about, you may notice that three ‘green’ bus shelters with living plants on the roofs have been installed at the Red Barn Drive stop on Yazor Road, and the Memorial and Victoria bus stops on Whitecross Road. 

    The roofs are planted with 16 different varieties of Sedum plants, which are known to have many benefits for the environment. As plants they help absorb CO2 and release oxygen, while their flowers are also great for bees providing a haven and a welcome food source for many different pollinators along the urban roadsides. 

    The sedum plants can also filter fine dust particles and so help to purify air, cutting pollution levels and they can help to capture rain water - all while bringing a little bit of nature into the City.

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    Cllr John Harrington, Cabinet member for Infrastructure and Transport, said:

    Quote

    “It’s marvellous to see the new sedum bus shelters in situ. They contribute to our efforts to tackle the Climate & Ecological emergency by absorbing CO2 and cutting air pollution, they’re great for bees and other pollinating insects – and with their blend of plants, they look great, too.

    “We funded the shelters through the ‘greening the city’ strand of the Accelerated Towns Fund monies, and have identified shelters in prominent places that needed replacing. I’d like to thank Externiture for making this possible. They have installed quality shelters and been flexible enough to deliver the project on schedule despite several obstacles, none of which were of their making.”

    Read more about the Externiture City Haven shelters and their benefits at externiture.com

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    Herefordshire Council is also running a Bus Service Improvement Survey from Friday 16 July to Sunday 15 August.

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    “We need your views to help shape our Bus Service Improvement Plan, and therefore the future of safe, healthy transport that reflects the needs of local people,” Cllr Harrington added. “We’re looking for feedback from people who currently use buses, and those who don’t, so I’d encourage everybody to take a few minutes to complete the survey.”

    To access the consultation, please visit www.herefordshire.gov.uk/bus-survey

     


    News | Fire Causes Train Disruption between Hereford and Worcester Foregate Street

    Hereford Voice
    By Hereford Voice,

    Disruption between Hereford and Worcester Foregate Street expected until 10:00

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    Ledbury Train Station

    A fire next to the track at Ledbury is causing disruption to journeys between Hereford and Worcester Foregate Street.

    Services may be cancelled, delayed or revised.

    Natioanl Rail anticipate disruption will continue until 10:00.

    Alternative travel advice for West Midlands Railway customers:

    Replacement road transport has been requested to run in both directions between Hereford and Worcester Shrub Hill, however, this is not expected to arrive at Hereford until at least at 08:30.

    📷 Wikimedia Commons


    Town Hall Presents Community Opportunity for Development

    Hereford Voice
    By Hereford Voice,

    The future of Hereford’s Town Hall lies in the hands of those who love it, according to Coalition councillor Gemma Davies.

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    Councillor Gemma Davies

    Regarding news that Herefordshire Council can no longer afford the Town Hall, Councillor Davies said:

    Quote

    ‘As a Herefordian, I am as sad as any that austerity has led to the neglect of our precious civil buildings such as the Town Hall. Yet, under the present conditions Herefordshire Council cannot be a responsible landlord of the Town Hall.

    The Council simply does not have the money to maintain the building properly and it will only deteriorate further. We must find another solution.’

    ‘Herefordshire Council’s revenue support grant from central government has diminished from £60 million in 2010, to £600 thousand in 2021. The effect of that on the council’s ability to support civic buildings, never mind people and families at breaking point, has been catastrophic.’

    Councillor Davies said:

    Quote

    ‘If ever there was a time for a partnership between the Town Hall and the community it serves, that time is now. It is time for a group to emerge that can forge a cohesive plan for how this much loved building can best serve the people of Hereford.

    There is no doubt in my mind that the Town Hall is an asset of community value and I look forward to seeing how a plan for the building can develop and how Herefordshire Council can help facilitate a viable vision.’

     


    Trains delayed and cancelled in North Herefordshire following incident on railway tracks.

    Hereford Voice
    By Hereford Voice,

    The B4362 between Orleton and Woofferton was closed at the railway bridge earlier this afternoon. Rail services between Leominster and Ludlow were disrupted and emergency services attended the scene. Unfortunately one patient sadly died.

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    The road is now open.

    📷 Google


    Positive Hereford | Resurfacing Works Completed at Dorstone in Herefordshire

    Hereford Voice
    By Hereford Voice,

    Herefordshire Council teams have recently completed a programme of resurfacing and drainage works on the U75235 - Browns Lane, near The Bage, Dorstone in Herefordshire 

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    Hereford Voice | 'Councillor Sessions' - Cllr Gemma Davies

    Hereford Voice
    By Hereford Voice,

    Councillor Gemma Davies - Cabinet Member - Commissioning, Procurement and Assets will taking your questions in our next Hereford Voice 'Councillor Sessions' over the next few weeks

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    See our previous sessions by following the hashtag 👉 #hfdvcs 

     

     


    Police appeal for witnesses after a man was attacked in Kington, Herefordshire.

    Hereford Voice
    By Hereford Voice,

    The incident happened around 11.15pm last night (Friday 16 July) in High Street.

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    A 29 year old man attended hospital for lacerations caused by a knife.

    A 26 year old man and a 23 year old woman have been arrested on suspicion of assault and are currently in police custody.

    Officers are carrying out enquiries and appealing for witnesses, in particular two people seen on CCTV in the area at the time.

    Detective Sergeant Jim Moore, from Hereford CID, said: “We believe we have identified two people we have on CCTV who may have witnessed the assault and would ask they get in contact with us.”

    Witnesses can contact Hereford CID on 01432 347399 or alternatively online under the Tell Us About section of West Mercia Police’s website (quote reference 00192_I_17072021). If you do not wish to speak to police direct you can speak to the independent charity Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.


    West Mercia Police & Crime Commissioner, John-Paul Campion out with Hereford Police

    Hereford Voice
    By Hereford Voice,

    Good to see West Mercia Police & Crime Commissioner, John-Paul Campion out on the streets with Hereford Police last night.

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    Livestreamed documentary Rivercide to unmask UK’s water polluters tonight

    megilleland
    By megilleland,

    Livestreamed documentary Rivercide to unmask UK’s water polluters

    George Monbiot hosts innovative investigation naming the farms and water firms damaging Britain’s rivers

    Giant livestock farms and privatised water firms accused of polluting the nation’s waterways are to be named in what is thought to be the world’s first livestreamed investigative documentary.

    The crowdfunded investigation Rivercide, which will be broadcast online at 7pm on Wednesday, will be hosted by environmental journalist and Guardian columnist George Monbiot. Monbiot will travel along the River Wye, which flows between England and Wales, to collect water samples that will be analysed as the documentary unfolds.

    “This is a really shocking story of how our rivers are being devastated,” said Monbiot. “We’ll be revealing some serious wrongdoing.”

    Monbiot decided to focus on the River Wye after a disturbing canoeing trip last summer. He found the Wye, which was once prized for its salmon, had changed beyond all recognition over the course of a decade. “There hadn’t been any rain so it should have been crystal clear but you couldn’t see anything,” he said. “I made the mistake of going swimming. As soon as my nostrils got near the water I nearly gagged because it was so disgusting. When I got out, my whole body felt like it was coated in slimy snot. It was like something out of a 1970s science fiction film.”

    https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2021/jul/14/livestreamed-documentary-rivercide-to-unmask-uks-water-polluters


    Breaking News | The 900th Hereford May Fair rescheduled for August has been Cancelled

    Hereford Voice
    By Hereford Voice,

    Hereford Voice understands today that the Showman's Guild have pulled out of bringing the May Fair to Hereford in August due to lack of its members willing to change their current commitments.

    825754377_HerefordVoice-MayFair.thumb.jpg.09433c71292d9439515b7c962d547afe.jpg.420c6f12468ab8011961f31009af18de.jpg 439596067_HerefordVoiceMayFair1.thumb.jpg.114a1660b3551003af9a46b582fd3767.jpg.c06239591efc7af76bfdf18864d20a2e.jpg

    We previously reported back in March here 👉 https://hfd.news/ry1 that due to the Coronavirus pandemic the original 900th May Fair was rescheduled to arrive in the city from Tuesday 3rd to Thursday 5th August 2021. 

    It was also due to arrive a few days earlier in Leominster from Thursday 29 to Saturday 31 July, which we understand has also been cancelled.

    The Hereford May Fair will celebrate the 901st anniversary as usual in May 2022.


    Embrace Hereford | Reflecting on the Knife Angel

    Hereford Voice
    By Hereford Voice,

    Exceptional photographs again from our good friend Jon Simpson, the Knife Angel Monument looks even more incredible in the rain, we're just loving the reflections and another set of extraordinary images that Jon has managed to create.

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    Jon wrote;

    Reflecting on the Knife Angel.

    • The Knife Angel Hereford is free to visit and on display outside Hereford Cathedral until 12 July.
    • Created by Alfie's Art and the The British Ironwork Centre, to highlight knife crime and educate young people of the harmful effect violent behaviour can have on their communities.
    • It was absolutely chucking it down when I took these and despite the rain people were still stopping on their walk home from a night out to stand for a while and take it in.
    • The 2nd photo is the reflection in the water on top of the Knife Bank Amnesty Bin, and is among my favourite photos I've ever taken. 👇

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    Positive Hereford | Over 100,000 People Visited Knife Angel Hereford

    Hereford Voice
    By Hereford Voice,

    As Hereford bids farewell to the Knife Angel, the official figures have just come in and during the month that the National Monument Against Violence and Aggression was on display at Hereford Cathedral there were 102,000 visitors.

    £9,200 raised from the generosity of visitors filling the charity boxes - these funds will go toward the continuation of supplying educational resources and workshops for schools and youth organisations.

    217957545_241201771149831_6139384037669793529_n.jpg.68bce5273c0c6638ff09766ca3ce5a13.jpg
    Knife Angel Statue on the lorry heading back to the British Iron Works Centre in Oswestry, photo courtesy of our friend Jon Simpson (official knife Angel Hereford photographer) 

    284 knives, 2 guns were surrendered and there is still a surrender box at Hinton Community Centre, so we don’t know what is in there yet.


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    Alison Davies looks at the hundreds of weapons and knives handed in.

    What a fabulous achievement by Alison Davies and Meryl Cain who have worked tirelessly for over 2 years just to bring the monument to Hereford. 

    Alison Davies lost her son Mark to knife crime in December 2018 and together with Meryl Cain and a small group of friends wanted to raise awareness of the catastrophic impact violent crime has on individuals, families and communities. The team’s involvement with this project was carried out on a completely voluntary basis. The group are known as The Knife Angel Hereford Team.

    Hereford Voice is so proud to have been able to promote and support the Knife Angel Hereford project as an official 'Working Partner' for the many months leading up to the arrival of the statue in Hereford last month and would like to thank Alison Davies, Meryl Cain and the whole team behind the scenes for being hugely successful in highlighting the devastating impact violence has on all our lives and for boosting tourism in Hereford by bringing this fabulous statue to our city.

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    NHS Dentists in Hereford?

    megilleland
    By megilleland,

    I have to get a new NHS dentist in Hereford as mine in Leominster is retiring. I am caring full time and travelling to Leominster without someone sitting with my partner, makes it nigh impossible. From my searches it appears that no dentist in Hereford is taking NHS. As a last resort I will be willing to pay if there is no alternative. The Conservatives said they would destroy the NHS through Creative Chaos. They appear to be achieving this very well and are now applying their skills to our hospitals. Unless you pay you won't get treatment,


    Embrace Hereford | Knife Angel Farewel

    Hereford Voice
    By Hereford Voice,

    Today (Sunday 11 July) is the final day to see Knife Angel Hereford before it returns to The British Ironwork Centre

    The project has truly had a massive impact on our community - as of this weekend we are approaching 100,000 visitors, 250+ weapons have been handed in and the project has worked with over 600 schoolchildren.

    So many people have been involved in bringing the Knife Angel to Hereford so we have spoken to just a few members of the team to share their experiences.


    Knife Angel Hereford Last Weekend

    Hereford Voice
    By Hereford Voice,

    Embrace Hereford | It's the last weekend before the magnificent Knife Angel Hereford leaves us.

    Have you visited this magnificent ‘National Monument Against Violence and Aggression’?

    212938361_4099930730100864_5906261570323605080_n.jpg.a70a96d38bf02587ea242712f911fde5.jpg

    The fabulous thought-provoking Knife Angel Hereford has had a huge impact on the city with plenty of daily visitors.

    Hereford Voice is so proud to have been able to promote and support the Knife Angel Hereford project for many months leading up to the arrival of the statue in Hereford last month and would like to thank Alison Davies, Meryl Cain and the whole team behind the scenes for being hugely successful in highlighting the devastating impact violence has on all our lives and for boosting tourism in Hereford by bringing this fabulous statue to our city.

    Even after the Angel has left us, Hereford Voice will continue to support the Knife Angel Hereford project who are hoping to continue with a programme of legacy events, so that important messages regarding the futility of violent crime are continued into the future.

    For further information about the Knife Angel’s visit to Hereford, please visit the website https://knifeangelhereford.co.uk/.

    Donate to support Knife Angel Hereford 👉 https://hfd.news/u4c

    #EmbraceHereford and please make time to visit this thought-provoking 'Knife Angel' statue before it leaves us.

    📷 Official Knife Angel Hereford photographer Jon Simpson

    #herefordvoice #positivehereford #herefordnews


    Ian Rivers Cheering on England from the middle of the Atlantic Ocean

    Hereford Voice
    By Hereford Voice,

    Row Sentinel Ian is one very happy football fan and he’ll be cheering England on from the middle of the Atlantic Ocean.

    Is he England’s most socially distanced fan?! 🏴󠁧󠁢󠁥󠁮󠁧󠁿

    Quote

    "Despite the weather throwing all it has at him and an unexpected swim, Ian Rivers is making good progress on his journey to be the first person to row 3400 miles unsupported from New York to the Isles of Scilly. He's raising funds for the SAS Association's charity and St Michael's Hospice - Hereford"

    Follow his journey and donate here 👉 https://rowsentinel.com


    Nobody wants to know about abandoned shopping trolleys

    megilleland
    By megilleland,

    I have taken an abandoned ASDA trolley off my street and placed it in my garden. Children have been using it to get on the garage roofs.

    723443015_HVASDATrolleys20210624.thumb.jpg.298864d24ef4cc495b8a463e6745d020.jpg

    To get the trolley picked up I started by going to the Herefordshire Council Website - report an abandoned shopping trolley. To report an abandoned trolley, please identify the retailer it belongs to, then call the relevant collection service below. 

    In this case a company called Trolleywise deal with ASDA trolleys. So I sent a report to Tolleywise only to receive an email saying that:

     

    Good morning Martin,

    Thank you for your email.

    Unfortunately we are not contracted to collect ASDA trolleys anymore. You need to contact your local store for organising the collection.

    Kind regards,
    Trolleywise team

     

    Before I rang the store I called Herefordshire Council to tell them the information on their website was not up to date, and that maybe the other supermarkets contracted to Trolleywise were in the same situation. The lady at the council also said contact ASDA direct to recover the trolley. 

    When I rang ASDA T: 01432 346300 this is what you hear:

    Thank you for calling ASDA Hereford. To keep improving our service we may record or monitor your calls.

    If a customer press 1 
    If a colleague press 2
    If a supplier or contractor press 3

    press 1 and you get this:

    Due to unprecedented demand we cannot connect your call to our store. Please visit our website.
    This takes you to the Trolleywise section on the website which states:

    Have you found an Asda trolley in your community that has been taken from our store? Let us know exactly where it is and we’ll come and collect it and return it back to Asda.

     

    Ha Ha technology overpowers humanity again. It is impossible to speak to a human being when resolving problems nowadays.

    Oh I have just taken another abandoned trolley off the street. I now have got two trolleys in my garden.
    I better report this to the council ! ! ! !

    I have a better idea - the local scrap dealer comes round the street every Sunday so if the the trolleys are not picked up by then he can have them.


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