Orleton’s good neighbours are example to all

OrletonA new scheme has been launched to help residents of Orleton who struggle with everyday tasks.

The village’s Good Neighbour Scheme was launched to help those who struggle with day-to-day tasks, such as changing a light bulb, collecting a prescription from the surgery, filling in a form, shopping or getting to the doctors.

This help is provided free by a team of local volunteers from the village, all of whom have been police checked.

Such kind and community-spirited action deserves respect and should exist in all other villages and neighbourhoods throughout the county.

We need more council housing!

Plans have been submitted to turn former council offices in Hereford into 77 flats.
The application comes from social housing landlord Herefordshire Housing, who are looking to demolish a section of the Bath Street offices as part of the development.

But the current plans only allow for 28 social housing flats, with the other 49 to be sold on the open market.

Although this represents a greater proportion of social to privately-owned housing than many recent developments in Hereford, it is still not enough to meet demand.
Over the past few years Herefordshire has consistently failed to achieve the level of affordable properties it needs.

Herefordshire Council data from September 2015 states that 181 affordable homes are needed every year between 2012–2017.

Yet just 39 units of low-cost housing were built in the first half of the 2014/15 financial year. In the first half of 2015/16 only 23 homes had been built. This isn’t good enough.

No doubt Herefordshire Housing is constrained by a lack of money and will need to sell properties on the open market to finance the building of other social housing projects.

The stalled-Conservative policy of extending the right-to-buy to housing association tenants will only exacerbate an already serious crisis.

What is needed is for planning applications to be refused if a development primarily consists of ‘unaffordable’ housing (the 110 new Bishop Fields houses on Hampton Dene Road are marketed at £297,950 to £379,950. These clearly aren’t for your average working class Herefordian).

We need affordable socially-owned flats and houses that will meet local need. Housing association homes are more than a quarter cheaper than private rentals in Herefordshire.

Just as importantly, housing associations need to be brought back under the control of a properly democratic council to allow for greater transparency and public input.

With almost 1,000 people waiting for a housing association property in the county, something has to be done.

Badger cull coming to Herefordshire

badger_2369182bThe controversial badger cull is coming to Herefordshire and it could start within a matter of days.

Around 4,000 badgers have been killed, either by high powered rifles or with shotguns after being caught in traps, since the culls began in Gloucestershire and Somerset during the autumn of 2013.

Last year the culling was extended to a third zone in north Dorset. This year the cull is expected to be extended to five new areas at the start of September, with badgers in south Herefordshire, areas of north and south Devon, Cornwall and west Dorset joining others in the firing line.

The government says that the culling is part of its 25-year plan to eradicate bovine TB, which it and the National Farmers’ Union claims is spread to cattle by badgers. Opponents however, claim that the killing is not helping to reduce the spread of bTB and may in fact be making it worse, and that the cull has the aim of reducing the badger population rather than limiting the spread of the disease, as they are not tested for bTB before they are shot.
Initially due to begin in Autumn 2012, the ‘trial’ badger culls have faced a number of setbacks along the way. The start was postponed until 2013 after DEFRA, the government body overseeing the cull, admitted that they had wrongly estimated the number of badgers in the zones.

When the first year of culling did get underway it failed to go to plan, with the cullers falling significantly short of their target of 70% of badgers killed in both zones. In an attempt to make sure they hit their target, it was revised down and DEFRA extended the cull, but despite this the cullers again failed to reach this.

Protesters were blamed by some. Their presence in parts of the cull zones meant that the cull contractors were unable to operate as they had planned, with it also reported that hundreds of cages used to trap the badgers had been destroyed or had gone missing.

The independent expert panel, which was appointed by DEFRA to monitor the effectiveness, humaneness and safety of the cull, found the first year had failed to be effective and that it was inhumane, with over 5% of the badgers shoot taking over five minutes to die.

For the second year of culling, the independent panel was scrapped and since then the culls have carried on much in the same light. Protesters have continued to expose what they claim are a number of breaches of the cullers own rules, including marksmen shooting while in close proximity to protesters and failing to retrieve badgers that had been shot but had not died instantly.

Between 2012–2015 it is estimated that the badger culls cost the taxpayer over £16m, with the figure set to rise dramatically as it is extended this year.

Despite the government’s insistence to carry on with the culls, and successful lobbying from the NFU for this, the badger cull continues to face huge opposition from a number of camps and for a whole host of reasons.

In 2012 Lord Krebs, a scientific advisor who oversaw a previous badger cull in the 1990s, described the plan to cull as ‘crazy,’ saying that it would deliver little or no advantage to the bTB situation and advising that the routes of increased biosecurity and vaccination are instead used to try to tackle the disease. Many have also warned of the effects of what is known as the perturbation effect, when badgers fleeing the cull areas leave the territories which they usually inhabit, potentially spreading bTB to new areas. A recent study on contact between badgers and cattle claims that the animals do not spread the disease through direct contact, as previously thought, with lead author Prof. Rosie Woodroffe of the Zoological Society of London urging a rethink on government advice to farmers and its current disease control policy.

Organisations ranging from the RSPCA to the Wildlife Trusts and Hunt Saboteurs Association have called for the cull to be ended on animal welfare grounds, with the latter taking an active roll in trying to sabotage the culls, freeing badgers from traps and trying to prevent marksmen from going about their business.

There have been around 40 protest marches in towns and cities across the country in the last few years, including the march in Hereford back in November. A large, grassroots anti-cull movement has sprung up around the country, particularly with ‘Wounded Badger Patrols’ being set up locally to walk the fields and footpaths where the culls are happening, a way for many people to have a presence in the zones regardless of previous experience.

There is plenty that can be done to help protect the badgers in Herefordshire, from keeping an eye on your local badger sett, reporting on any suspicious activity or tip-offs that you’ve heard from people in your local area, getting out in the fields and lanes of the county as part of a badger patrol, to raising awareness and funds so that the costs of petrol and equipment can be covered and more people hear about the slaughter taking place on our doorstep. If you want to act for Herefordshire’s badgers, now is the time! Follow some of the links below to see how you can help.

For more information
Badger Action Network
No Herefordshire Cull
Stop the Cull

Council cut Funding to Youth Homeless Charity

“Before being housed I was sofa surfing and putting myself in dangerous situations. I was going to kill myself if I could not be housed. SHYPP helped me to turn my life around and go to university.”

These are the words of Laura one of the many young people helped by local charity SHYPP (Supported Housing for Young Peoples Project). SHYPP works with 16 – 25 year olds across Herefordshire. They provide advice, housing, training and employment opportunities as a way of tackling youth homelessness. SHYPP also provides a range of accommodation for young people including foyer accommodation, move on flats, shared houses and supported lodgings.

Unfortunately the importance of these services has been over looked by Herefordshire Council who revealed last week that they plan to cut their funding to SHYPP by 66%.

Herefordshire Council has already shown its utter disregard for young people when it closed the Youth Support Service. But further cuts like the ones proposed to SHYPP will leave young people without the support and advice that this service offers

These cuts will have a massive impact on the ability of SHYPP to help some of the most vulnerable people in Herefordshire.

“This is a significant cut for SHYPP and will put key areas of our service at risk.” Tracey Brumwell SHYPP Central Team Manager told the Heckler. “In particular they are proposing to de-commission our floating support service which is the key preventative work we do with young people, this is where we provide housing, benefits and debt support to young people across Herefordshire working to prevent them from becoming homeless. They are also proposing cuts to our foyer services.”

Campaigners are hoping that people will put pressure on their local councillor to reverse the decision and continue to support the vital service SHYPP provide. An online petition has been set up and can be accessed here.

For more information visit SHYPP’s facebook page here

Luther Blissett


Herefordshire Supports Refugees

In September this year the Hereford Times ran an online poll asking whether Herefordshire Council should accept 10 refugee families.

The result of the poll and the comments that were left on the Times’ website and Facebook page were truly depressing. They painted a picture of a county full of misinformed bigots with no sympathy for those far worse off than themselves. Many comments were racist and offensive, most were removed. The result of the poll was overwhelmingly against helping the refugees.

Three months on and the picture couldn’t be more different. Many grass roots organisations across the county are now working directly with those 6000 desperate people who are stuck in Calais. Our faith in people has been restored.

Groups are now working in Ross, Ledbury, Leominster, Bromyard and Hereford offering practical support and assistance. The collection of food, clothing and other essentials are being collected and taken directly to France. Ross for Refugees has even assisted in the construction of a school for those children currently living in Calais.

But with cold weather fast approaching the need has never been greater to get involved or help in any way possible.

Please find below links to groups who are helping the refugees. Please contact them to find out what donations they are accepting –

Ross for Refugees

Food Parcels for Calais, Hereford Group

Ledbury Refugee Support

Priory Church Leominster 01568 610785 or text 07790 762138

Please comment below if you know of other groups accepting donations.

Luther Blissett