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Council’s contractor Amey calls on communities to reduce litter

Herefordshire Council’s contractor Amey is calling on county residents to help in the fight against litter and help make Herefordshire a better place to live in.

Ruth Kinsella, Amey’s watchman in chief, told members of the environmental scrutiny committee on Monday, April 19, that while Amey will continue to clear litter on behalf of the council, it would be better if it was not dropped in the first place.

Colin Frampton (Street Scene Supervisor), Angela Morgan and Andrew Gunner (both Streetscene Operatives) with the bags of rubbish collected by Amey on the A40.“There is a significant cost to clearing up litter and we could help reduce this if people use existing litter bins or took their rubbish home with them.

“Amey has just cleared a staggering 332 bags of litter from a stretch of the A40 as part of our twice-yearly clear-up of major road routes,” she added.

As part of their campaign to get residents more involved in helping to address litter, Amey issues litter packs to communities and has supported numerous volunteers in carrying out community litter picks. Amey can also help by collecting the litter picked up by volunteers.

Amey has also targeted supermarkets and fast food outlets to get a co-ordinated response to littering and will also be supporting a campaign targeting litter on the Rotherwas Industrial Estate.

Richard Ball, Herefordshire Council’s assistant director, added:  “We need to engender a sense of pride in the community so we can tackle litter and make the best of the available resources.  We will work with communities to help themselves and then share what we learn with other communities who want to start raising community pride in their own areas.”

As part of their own working practices, Amey has taken out a year-long hire agreement on an Aquazura Scrubbing Machine which will be used to deep-clean grime and dirt embedded in paving stones and help to combat the problem of chewing gum deposits.

The machine is going to target High Town in Hereford first and will then be moved out to the market towns throughout the year on a rotational basis. 

Council service partners celebrate outstanding safety record

Herefordshire Council’s service partners Amey are celebrating an outstanding health and safety record.

Amey, who carry out a wide range of services on behalf of the council including maintaining more than 2,000 miles of highways, have just attained a zero AIR (accident incident rate).

The AIR is a specific measure, based on the number of employees within the business against the level of accidents and incidents that must legally be reported to the national Health and Safety Executive.

Geoff Hughes, Herefordshire Council’s director of regeneration, said: “I would like to congratulate Amey for this exemplary health and safety record. It is really good to see one of the county’s largest employers with a staff of 500 taking health and safety so seriously.

“The fact their role involves maintaining some 2,000 miles of highways makes it even more remarkable that they have managed this without having any reportable accidents,” he added.  
Amey has ensured safe working practices by increasing and continually developing site safety visits that are carried out by the businesses management team.

Other areas of improvement include the procurement of better vehicles, plant and equipment, improving personal protective equipment, developing and reviewing operational safety documentation and most importantly listening to what is being said by operational staff which allows the business to further develop its safety culture.

Amey employees are actively encouraged to question and challenge any unsafe working practices, and report “near misses” with a view to preventing anything more serious occurring.

Mark Thomas, service director for Amey said, “I am delighted to confirm that we have attained an AIR of Zero and have now reached a safety benchmark of which we can all be immensely proud.”

School students explore their dream jobs

Local businesses are signing up to a special careers fair that will give young people the chance to explore their ideal career and gain hands-on experience in a range of professions.

Herefordshire Council has organised the fair Me@Work which takes place at the Three Counties Showground on the 29th June 2010.  It aims to open up the world of work to 13 and 14 year old students by encouraging them to talk to professionals and try their hand at a number of skills.

This is the third year the council has run this hands-on style careers fair.  Last year 31 businesses signed up and many others are showing interest for this year including Worcester College of Technology, St John’s Ambulance, MotoV8 and many more.

Fran Wheatley, youthzone co-ordinator, said: “This is a chance for school students to explore the job of their dreams by talking to local experts, having a go themselves and finding out what sort of qualifications they need to get.  We want to attract a wide a range of professions to the event to make sure our young people have a wide and varied choice.  We’ve had quite a mix in the past including funeral directors, social workers, roof thatchers, hairdressers and dancers.

“This is a great opportunity for businesses to help recruit to their respective professions and to raise their profile in the school communities.”

The council is keen to hear from any businesses who’d like to get involved.  Please contact Fran Wheatley on 01432 260670.

NHS Herefordshire provides good service, say residents

More people in Herefordshire believe their local NHS is providing a good service since the primary care trust joined together with the council in close partnership working.

Now 83 per cent of local people are satisfied with NHS Herefordshire compared with 66 per cent three years ago. Public satisfaction with the NHS in Herefordshire is also substantially higher than the overall satisfaction with the NHS in the West Midlands region (72 per cent) and higher than the national level of satisfaction (73 per cent).

The research, undertaken by Ipsos Mori and commissioned by the Department of Health, shows that Herefordshire is number two in the league table of 17 trusts in the region when it comes to a positive perception of service. Herefordshire people are also least likely to feel local healthcare needs improvement. Three out of four residents said their local NHS Herefordshire services need no or little improvement.

People in Herefordshire are most happy about the quality of medical treatment by their GPs and the short amount of time it takes to get an appointment with them. They are also pleased with the information provided about local healthcare and access to services to improve their own health.
But priorities for improvement in Herefordshire echoed those of people identified across the West Midlands. Most important was improved cleanliness of local hospitals, according to 16 per cent of local people. Shorter time spent waiting in accident and emergency were called for by 14 per cent and 11 per cent said they also want easier access to NHS dentists. Care for the elderly was not seen as needing any improvement in Herefordshire.

“It is very encouraging that most people feel their local NHS services have got better since we joined up management teams and many services with the local authority”, said Chris Bull, chief executive of both NHS Herefordshire and Herefordshire Council.

“But there is plenty of work still to do. NHS Herefordshire recently launched its strategy for improvement – called Healthy Herefordshire – and while it is true that the local population as a whole lives longer than average and is comparatively healthy, it is still a concern that nearly one in eight people have poorer quality of life, health and wellbeing”.

NHS Herefordshire, working closely with Herefordshire Council and other partners, has set the challenge over the next four years of improving the health and life chances of two groups in particular. These are young people (affected by poverty, poor diet, lack of exercise, smoking, drinking and taking risks with sexual behaviour), and the increasingly ageing population (who need more care and support to live with dignity in their own homes, often in remote rural areas).  

Reading, Writing and Recycling…. free recycling service coming to a school near you.

Following the successful introduction of a new recycling scheme in Herefordshire, the county’s waste team is now turning its attention to schools.

Schools will be able to help protect the environment but also save money by recycling instead of landfilling their waste. Wheeled bins, similar to those provided to homes across the county, can be provided free of charge to the school.

The bins can be used for paper, cardboard, cartons, plastic bottles and containers, mixed glass and tins and cans. The recyclables collected are taken to a Material Recovery Facility (MRF) which separates the materials using a combination of mechanical separation and hand sorting. Once separated these materials are then bulked and delivered to reprocessing companies.

Councillor John Jarvis, Herefordshire Council’s cabinet member for environment and strategic housing, said: “By recycling in school, you can help protect the environment, promote recycling to the pupils and cut your waste disposal bills.”

If your school is interested in the recycling service please contact Herefordshire Council’s recycling officer, Laura Blackwell, on 01432 260051.

Eggplosive Easter fun in Herefordshire museums

Herefordshire Council’s heritage services is working in partnership with Herefordshire and Worcestershire Earth Heritage Trust to put on a series of explosive family friendly events this Easter.

At heritage sites around the county families have the chance to get in touch with the local geology in a fun and hands on way.

Families can explore Silurian seas at Ledbury Heritage Centre where participants can make an underwater fossil scene and decorate their own trilobite mask on Friday, April 9.

At the Museum Resource & Learning Centre in Friar Street, Hereford, volcanoes are exploding during a family fun day on Thursday, April 15. Families can make their own volcano and recreate an ancient Devonian delta filled with prehistoric fish and plants.
Families can also make their very own fossils to take home and bring in any weird and wonderful rock and fossils to be identified by the council’s own geology experts.

People taking part can see geology from the museum collections and find out more about rocks and fossils in Herefordshire.

Admission is free and there will also be quizzes and tours.  Charges apply for craft activities and refreshments, baby changing facilities and disabled access available.

On Friday, April 16, the Market House Heritage Centre, Ross is getting geological with activities for families. People can make their own 400 million year old Devonian delta and a Devonian fossil fish mask to take away.

Friday, April 9: Silurian Seas, Ledbury Heritage Centre, 11am to 1pm. Booking requiredon  01432 260692.
Thursday, April 15: Volcano!, Museum Resource & Learning Centre, Hereford 11am to 3pm. Drop in or call 01432 260692.
Friday, April 16: Ancient Fish, Market House Heritage Centre Ross, 10.30am to12.30pm. Booking required on 01432 260692.

For more details or information please contact Sarah Skelton or Kate Andrew on 01432 383383

Revised licence conditions for taxis agreed

Herefordshire Council has agreed revised licence conditions for private hire and hackney carriage vehicles.

The revised conditions, which have been developed in consultation with members of the Taxi Association, were agreed by the council’s regulatory committee at their meeting on Tuesday, February 9 and were ratified at their following meeting on March 9.

A full review of the licence conditions originally took place in December 2004. In early September 2008 the Taxi Association contacted the council to seek a further review and submitted their recommendations. Various drafts have been worked on and these have now been ratified.

The conditions have been benchmarked against other local authority’s conditions and have taken into account the latest government taxi best practice document. They also take into account comments from the Taxi Association and entire trade. The conditions aim to fulfil the council’s main aim of protecting public safety.

Marc Willimont, Herefordshire Council’s regulatory service manager, said: “We have carried out a very thorough consultation process which included all members of the trade and I am pleased the committee has now finally decided to accept these decisions.

“These conditions are one of the main ways we, as a regulatory authority, can ensure the safety of the travelling public, by making sure that all the correct safety measures are in place. They also have the added advantage of protecting the trade against any unscrupulous operators who could then gain an unfair advantage by flouting safety rules.

“I would like to thank all the officers involved, the councillors on the regulatory committee and all members of the trade for taking such care in considering these new conditions which will help ensure the taxi trade in the county remains at the highest possible standard,” he added.

Garnet Cresswell, treasurer of the Herefordshire Hackney Carriage and Private Hire Taxi Association, said: “I am delighted that we have been able to work so closely with the licensing authority to agree on these revised conditions which ensure the safety of the public as well as protect the trade from unfair competition.” 

New way of paying council bills supports post offices and village shops

People in Herefordshire are now able to pay council tax bills and other council payments at their local post office.
Herefordshire Council has teamed up with local company Allpay to provide more choice and convenience for residents, in a move that will promote greater use of village shops and post offices in rural areas.

From now, local people can also pay any council bill with a Pay Point outlet. All bills issued will be bar-coded to make it easier to use this service. Allpay.net Limited, the payment specialist company, will also be providing a fully automated, round-the-clock telephone payment service so that paying bills can be easy for everyone.

Head of benefits and exchequer services at Herefordshire Council, Mike Toney, said: “The idea is to provide a much greater choice of where and when residents can pay their bills.

“Many outlets will be also be far more convenient for people, with longer opening hours, and because rural shops and post offices will benefit from greater patronage, it helps sustain communities too.

“It means residents do not have to go to a council info centre, so those cash offices will from April, cease taking payments where a bar-coded bill is issued. As well as cutting down on unnecessary travel, the provision of a more local service helps the county to reduce its carbon footprint”.

Two new part-time 20mph speed limits build on success

Herefordshire Council is building on a successful pilot scheme by putting in place two extra part-time 20mph speed limits – one at Madley primary school and one at Walford primary school.

The schemes, which have been endorsed by the Department for Transport and follow an existing successful part-time 20mph speed limit outside Sutton St Nicholas primary school, are now fully operational.

The part-time limits, indicated by signs with flashing lights, will be in place for an experimental 18-month period during which people can comment on how successful they are. Herefordshire Council will monitor the effectiveness of the speed limits before seeking to make them permanent.  

Councillor Brian Wilcox, Herefordshire Council's cabinet member for
highways and transportation, said: "These part-time signs will only operate at school opening and closing times. Flashing lights will warn motorists they need to slow down but, outside of school times, the limit will rise to the existing speed limits which will help to ensure traffic can keep flowing and prevent motorists from getting frustrated.

"We also want to encourage as many pupils as possible to walk and cycle to school and this 20mph limit will allow them to do this more safely as it will slow traffic when pupils are travelling to and from school," he added.

Sites for the part-time speed limits at Madley and Walford were chosen following consultation with the schools through the council’s Safer Routes to Schools Initiative.

School meals rock!

Children in some of Herefordshire’s primary schools have been enjoying a theatrical performance which promotes the uptake of school meals, healthy packed lunchboxes and a balanced diet.

School halls across the county rocked this month as Charlie and the Kitchen Cook performed by Pawprint Theatrical Productions sang and danced their way through a great interactive show which had the children shouting, laughing and joining in actions in true pantomime style.

Herefordshire Council’s healthy schools team arranged for the 30 minute show to be performed in ten local primary schools.  The show is about Cook Crumble who needs to recruit some new assistants (the school children).  Charlie is keen to work for Cook Crumble but needs to be trained first alongside the other new assistants so that together they understand some of the rules involved in providing school meals.  The key messages are about eating well, having a balanced diet, eating five portions of fruit or vegetables a day as a minim and reducing consumption of unhealthy foods like crisps and chocolate.

Kim Goddard, Herefordshire healthy schools manager, said: “We want our children to enjoy good health and benefit from well balanced diets.  What they eat at school plays a major part in their health and well being.  Nearly all Herefordshire’s schools have healthy school status now and have access to healthy, freshly prepared school meals.  School meals are a good way for children to receive the nutrition they need.  

“Charlie and the Kitchen Cook tour has been incredibly well received by the children who have enjoyed the performances and taken home lessons about eating healthy food to help them grow.”
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