Archive for November, 2011


Using a laptop wirelessly connected to the internet can harm a man’s fertility, researchers have warned.

Concern: A quarter of sperm exposed to WiFi radiation in the study were no longer swimming around after four hours

They discovered that WiFi radiation can ‘nuke’ sperm – meaning the risk arises when the machine is used as it was designed and placed on the lap.

When the wireless connection is switched on it creates electromagnetic radiation that damages semen, the scientists said.

The Argentinian researchers made the connection after taking semen samples from 29 healthy men, placing a few drops under a laptop hooked into the internet via WiFi and hitting download.

Four hours later some of the sperm appeared to have been nuked by WiFi radiation.

It may be convenient, but using a laptop on your lap could be harming your sperm, say researchers (file picture)

A quarter of the sperm were no longer swimming around, compared with just 14 per cent from semen samples stored at the same temperature away from the computer.

And 9 per cent of the sperm showed DNA damage, three-fold more than the comparison samples.

Lead researcher Conrado Avendano of Nascentis Medicina Reproductiva in Cordoba says the culprit is electromagnetic radiation generated during wireless communication.

Writing in the venerable medical journal Fertility And Sterility, he says: ‘Our data suggest that the use of a laptop computer wirelessly connected to the internet and positioned near the male reproductive organs may decrease human sperm quality.

‘At present we do not know whether this effect is induced by all laptop computers connected by WiFi to the internet or what use conditions heighten this effect.’

A separate test with a laptop that was on, but not wirelessly connected, found negligible EM radiation from the machine alone.

Concern: A quarter of sperm exposed to WiFi radiation in the study were no longer swimming around after four hours

The findings fuel concerns raised by a few other research teams.

Some have found that radiation from mobile phones creates feeble sperm in the lab, for example.

And last year urologists described how a man sitting with a laptop balanced on his knees can crank up the temperature of his scrotum to levels that aren’t good for sperm.

So between the heat and the radiation from today’s electronic devices, testicles would seem to be hard-pressed.

However, Dr Robert Oates, the president of the Society for Male Reproduction and Urology, has managed to father two kids despite having both a laptop and an iPad.

He told Reuters Health he doesn’t believe laptops are a significant threat to male reproductive health.

Remarking on the new study, he said: ‘This is not real-life biology, this is a completely artificial setting.

‘It is scientifically interesting, but to me it doesn’t have any human biological relevance.’

He added that so far, no study has ever looked at whether laptop use has any influence on fertility or pregnancy outcomes.

‘Suddenly all of this angst is created for real-life actual persons that doesn’t have to be,’ said Oates, also of Boston Medical Center.

He added: ‘I don’t know how many people use laptops on their laps anyway.’

According to the American Urological Association, nearly one in six couples in the U.S. have trouble conceiving a baby, and about half the time the man is at the root of the problem.

While the impact of modern technology is still murky, lifestyle does matter, researchers say.

Earlier this month, a report in Fertility And Sterility showed that men who eat a diet rich in fruit and grains and low in red meat, alcohol and coffee have a better shot at getting their partner pregnant during fertility treatment.

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Asylum seekers service

As part of the national dispersal programme for asylum seekers, Salford City Council entered into a contract with the National Asylum Support Service (known as NASS and is part of the Home Office). The city council’s housing support service, is responsible for managing this contract which covers 30% of the asylum seekers in Salford with the remaining 70% being housed by private landlords.

A number of properties are assigned to the Social Housing team solely for the use of asylum seekers.

The Social Housing team is notified when somebody is being dispersed to the area. They then decides which property is best suited for that person or family. All properties are furnished, approximately half of which are three bed houses for families of up to five persons. The remaining are two bed flats for two single people who, in the majority of cases, may not know each other. Once the family have moved in, a Social Housing Support Officer will visit regularly to ensure that everything is satisfactory, conduct property inspections and assist the people to integrate into the local community.

Asylum seekers are helped to register with a local G.P, those with school age children will be helped to access schools, and everyone will be offered help to register to learn English.

This work continues until the asylum seeker receives a decision on their asylum application. If a positive decision is reached they are entitled to work. At this stage they would become entitled to apply to the homelessness section and/or register for housing. However they must leave their asylum property soon after receiving a positive decision.

If an asylum application is refused and the appeals system has been exhausted then they must vacate their asylum property. They will not be entitled to work, claim benefits or access public housing. Removal directions should be issued to them by the Home Office. Whilst waiting, Refugee Action should be contacted or if they wish to be considered under the National Assistance Act then contact should be made with Social Services.

The Social Housing team have the following responsibilities:

  • Pay rent for the property
  • Pay council tax, gas, electric and water for the property
  • Pay for and arrange repairs
  • Decorate and furnish properties and maintain gardens
  • Move occupants of properties when deemed necessary
  • Inform local office of anti-social behaviour issues and assist in investigation

    Below is a letter sent by the Asylum seeker team and list of items an Asylum seeker must be given by law

     It reads like the MP expenses green book

    Were you aware? No you were not… And you are not allowed to become aware either.

    ASYLUM SCANDAL THEY MUST BE GIVEN THE FOLLOWING ITEMS BY LAW

    We know they’re going to move asylum seekers in there. All the flats have been done up, central heating, the works. And they’ve put up brand new net curtains. That’s a sure sign.

    This is the kind of message that we have been hearing from angry locals all over Britain for the last couple of years. Many of the details change, but the total renovations and the highly visible net curtains crop up time and time again.

    So too do the denials by local councils that the premises concerned are going to house asylum seekers. And almost as regular is the spectacle of those same councils being forced to eat their words within weeks as local residents wake up to find that new neighbours from Albania and Somalia have been moved in overnight.

    The repetition of this pattern over the entire country has been something of a mystery up until now. Strangest of all has been the sight of so many councils telling lies to local residents and newspapers alike, even though the bureaucrats and local councillors telling the lies must know that they will be exposed and discredited within weeks. Just such a sequence of events, for example, played a major role in the by-election victory of our Robin Evans in Blackburn last autumn.

    Secret Tenancy Agreement

    The answers to this puzzle lies in a secret 26-page document the Revised Tenancy Agreement April 2001 – produced by the Secretary of State for the Home Office, acting through the Immigration and Nationality Directorate. Its very existence is supposed to be secret, Section 3 (p), on page 8 has this warning for people or companies thinking of making money out of housing asylum seekers:

    The Landlord’s attention is drawn to the Official Secrets Acts 1911-1989. The landlord shall take all reasonable steps to ensure that all individuals engaged on any work in connection with this Agreement have notice that these statutory provisions apply to them and shall continue to apply after the expiry or termination of the Term.

    I don’t know whether there is anything to make a reader who is not planning to be a signatory to the document subject to the provisions of the Official Secrets Act. I don’t know, and I don’t care. This document is so shocking that the truth about it has to be told. All I will say is that this article is published here solely on my authority, so if some Home Office legal bigwigs wants to prosecute over this shockingly democratic breach of their veil of secrecy, they know where to find me.

    The anti-free speech restrictions continue on page 9, although by this time the section numbers seem to have become somewhat confused and very unclear. The actual meaning of Section (a) (iii), however, is all too clear:

    The Landlord shall ensure that no press release or other public document containing Confidential Information is issued and shall not make any public statement concerning Confidential Information without the prior written approval of the Directorate and the Tenant Company as to its content and the manner and extent of its publication.

    This is the answer to one key asylum mystery. This is why local councils and private companies alike, which are providing accommodation for ‘refugees’, continually refuse to comment or lie about their role in housing asylum seekers. Once they’ve signed up to this Agreement, they simply don’t have a choice.

    Detailed list of items for asylum seekers

    So what doesn’t the Home Office want you to know? Take a look at Schedule 1 on page 14, and you can see for yourself:

    This list of requirements for any property being used to house asylum seekers begins, reasonably enough, by insisting that it shall be fit for human habitation, and have adequate light. Let us ignore the fact that many hundreds of thousands of our own people are either homeless or live in houses which are unfit for human habitation because, according to central government and local councils, there isn’t enough money to deal with all the problems.

    By the time we get to Section 1.3, the secret Agreement begins to lay out requirements which are beyond the reach not just of a relatively small number of the homeless or desperately poor:

    all meters shall be of the quarterly type, the use of card or key meters shall not be allowed.

    Isn’t that nice? If you and your family fall into arrears on your utility bills, particularly electricity, you have to agree to the installation of a card meter set at such a rate that it gobbles up money. British families with children can’t be officially cut off but if they run out of meter credit, their lights and heating go off anyway and they have to go to bed at dusk in the winter to try to keep warm. Such hardships are unacceptable, however, when it comes to asylum seekers.

    Section 1.7 insists that The Property shall have a full and safe central heating system installed. Paraffin or bottled gas fed heating systems shall not be used. Perish the thought! Such devices are fine for British pensioners and young families shivering on the poverty line, but far too smelly, inconvenient and dangerous for Mr Blunkett’s favourites.

    New electrical goods

    After laying down requirements on issues such as fire safety, the Schedule reaches Point 10: All electrical appliances in the Property shall be either new or, if second hand, shall be supplied complete with a twelve month guarantee. Well, I don’t know about you, but when my wife and I got married and set up home, we had to get our first electric cooker and heaters from an auction, completely without any guarantee at all. And, of course, ordinary British youngsters moving into places of their own still face the same choice between paying through the nose for new equipment or going without guarantees.

    Pages 15 and 16 go on to provide a long list of the things needed in the kitchen, living room, bedrooms and bathroom of each asylum property. As you’re probably expecting by now, this features everything from chip pans to teaspoons, from an easy chair for each bed space to a Boots first aid kit.

    The long ‘General’ list in Section 1.13 even proves that the popular observation about new net curtains showing that asylum seekers are moving in is true, since landlords are ordered to provide net & drawable curtains to all living rooms and bedrooms. They get everything, in fact, including the kitchen sink.

    Free colour TV and licence paid!

    One item does, however, stand out:

    For Each Living/Dining Room

    1 new twenty inch screen colour television complete with licence which shall be renewed at each annual anniversary of the Start Date throughout the Term.

    Native Brits, of course, have to wait until they are 75 to get a free TV licence, and non-payment of this iniquitous tax is the biggest single ‘crime’ that puts British women in prison.

    Many of those women can’t afford a TV licence because they are struggling to bring up young families on pitifully low incomes. As a result, they are also often unable to afford proper child safety equipment. No wonder, then, that the Home Office bureaucrats being so generous with our tax money wanted to keep Section 1.20 secret:

    Where there are to be children living in the Property, the Property shall include:

    Adequate cot and highchair facilities

    Appropriate sterilisation equipment;

    Child safety gates on all stairways;

    Childproof resistant devices or casement stays on all windows;

    Appropriate play areas both inside and outside the Property.

    Another thing that ordinary families on average incomes find a big problem is the occasional cost of major repairs. Asylum seekers have no such worries. Under this Agreement, the Landlord is bound to do all repairs within seven days, and to provide an emergency repair service (Section 1.23) where a threat to health and safety is apparent. The rest of us have to turn to Yellow Pages or pay for call out insurance, but it would be unfair to expect asylum seekers to do the same, wouldn’t it?

    Similarly favourable treatment is also specified in the Letting Provisions, Section (f) of which commits the Landlord to redecorate all parts of the Property in the third year of the Term. The rest of us may have to fork out down at “Do It All”, but not Mr Blunkett’s special guests.

    Perhaps most ludicrous of all, however, is the next section (g) of the Letting Provisions, whereby the Landlord agrees: To have the exterior of all windows of the Property cleaned once every twelve weeks. I kid you not, it’s there on page 7. What would George Formby have had to say about it?

    Who pays?

    So what do all these modcons and services cost the lucky occupants of such premises? Nothing. Absolutely nothing. When various bleeding heart liberals tell us how asylum seekers only get basic income support payments, they don’t tell us about the Letting Provisions on page 4 of the Home Office’s Revised Tenancy Agreement, do they? Yet these show that not only do asylum seekers get their TV licences paid for them, we also pick up the tab for their rent, water rates, gas, electricity and council tax bills.

    Surely, you must think, these people must want to spend night after night on the phone to all their friends and family back home, telling them all about the wonders of Soft Touch Britain? A lot of their pocket money must go on paying the phone bill? No, as you probably guessed, they don’t have to pay a penny. Section 1 ((b) of the Letting Provisions sets out the fact that the Tenant Company (funded by the taxpayer) agrees to pick up the phone bill for every single property provided by the Landlord in question to asylum seekers.

    Don’t forget that every single council or housing association in this land which is housing asylum seekers has signed this document. Thousands of councillors in the ruling party in Labour, Lib Dem and Tory councils alike have either read this document or studiously avoided seeing it so they didn’t have to.

    It only took one BNP member in one council to leak this insulting and undemocratic document. By contrast, we will never know how many Lib-Lab-Con merchants have seen this Agreement since it first started being used in 2001, but not a single one of them has had the guts to put the interests of democracy and their constituents before asylum seekers and the Home Office.


Bordesley Abbey ruins gets £150,000 repairs

Work begins to repair historic Redditch ruins

Work to repair stonework at Redditch’s historic Bordesley Abbey will begin next week following £150,000 funding from Natural England.
The project, being led by Redditch Borough Council, will involve restoring some of the vandalised stonework in the north wall of the nave as well as repairing the monastery night staircase steps. Work will also be carried out on a nearby 200-year-old Hawthorn Hedgerow which will ensure the plant’s healthy growth for the next 100 years.
During the restoration work, the area will be covered with a tent which will help protect the lime mortar as well as help avoid delays during bad weather.
Visitors will still be able to visit the ruins at Forge Mill Needle Museum, in Needle Mill Lane, but will not be able to enter the area where work is taking place.
Cllr Derek Taylor, Portfolio Holder for Leisure, said: “The funding from Natural England will help the Council carry out this vital work, which will not only improve the experiences of visitors to our important heritage site but will mean that it can be enjoyed by generations to come.”
As a ‘scheduled monument’, the medieval Bordesley Abbey is recognised and legally protected by the government as a nationally important archaeological monument. These works are designed to address the ongoing deterioration of the precious fabric of the Abbey, which English Heritage has identified is ‘at risk’.

Council apologises over breach

A SERIOUS data breach which led to sensitive information being emailed to the wrong people has led to Worcestershire County Council being fined £80,000 by the Information Commissioner’s Office.

The breach occurred in March this year when a staff member accidentally clicked on an additional contact list and sent an email intended for internal use containing sensitive information about a large group of vulnerable people to 23 care providers including fostering organisations and schools.

The staff member realised her mistake immediately and attempted to recall the emails as well as phoning the unintended recipients to ask them to delete the original email.
Fortunately as the recipients were used to dealing with sensitive information, 21 of the 23 emails were deleted while one was undeliverable and one was no longer used.

While Information Commissioner Christopher Graham recognised the staff member and council had taken action to try and rectify the situation, he concluded there had been a serious breach of data protection and measures taken to prevent such a breach were not appropriate considering the impact it could have.

The commissioner described it as ‘fortuitous’ the email had gone to recipients bound by confidentiality clauses. He was particularly critical of a lack of training for staff, the failure to differentiate between internal and external addresses in the central and local email distribution lists and failure to hold the information in a secure system that could only be accessed by staff who need to see it.

“There is too much of this sort of thing going on across local government,” Mr Graham said.

“People who handle highly sensitive personal information need to understand the real weight of responsibility that comes with keeping it secure. Of course this includes having the correct training and policies in place, but it’s also about common sense. Considering whether email is the appropriate medium, checking and double checking the right recipients will receive the information – and measures like encryption and data minimisation – should be routine. I hope these penalties send a clear message to those working in the social care sector. The Information Commissioner takes this sloppiness seriously – and so should you.”

A spokeswoman for the county council said they accepted the ICO’s findings and called the incident regrettable adding they were very sorry.

“We are a large, people-based organisation and this means sometimes, through human error, mistakes are made. It is important on the occasions when we do fall below standards, improvements are made to minimise the chance of future mistakes and rigorous new processes have been up-and-running since this unfortunate incident.”

Freddie Starr set for Celebrity Big Brother

I’m A Celebrity star Freddie Starr could take part in the next Celebrity Big Brother

After his early exit from I’m A Celebrity, Freddie Starr could be set for an altogether less stressful reality TV experience – Celebrity Big Brother.

Freddie Starr has told pals he now wants to enter the Celebrity Big Brotherhouse when the show returns in January, after being forced to quit I’m A Celebrity earlier this week.A Channel 5 insider told The Daily Star: “The jungle may have been deemed too tough for Freddie but anyone can sit in a house for a couple of weeks.”Celebrity Big Brother would be right up his street as it wouldn’t put massive pressure on his health.

“And it would give him the perfect platform to entertain the nation.

“We believe he would be perfect for the show. He’s not afraid to say what he thinks and during his trial he showed that he’s a real game player.

“All that makes Freddie exactly the kind of character we want in the house.”

We like the idea of this – Freddie was shaping up to be great TV on I’m A Celebrity – let’s get him on CBB!

How corpses could power a television to save on energy

 (DURHAM UK)

A UK crematorium wants to install turbines in two of its burners which would use the heat generated during cremation to provide enough electricity to power 1500 televisions. A third burner is to be used to heat the site’s chapel and offices.

The scheme in Durham would be the first of its kind in the UK, but experts say it could be followed by similar projects. Many crematoria are currently replacing their furnaces to meet government targets limiting the amount of mercury escaping into the atmosphere. Up to 16 per cent of mercury emitted in the UK comes from crematoria because of fillings in teeth. That figure is likely to rise to 25 per cent by 2020.

Mercury accumulates in the air and water, and can harm the brain, kidneys, nervous system and unborn children. It also affects the food chain, particularly when it is deposited in water and ingested by fish. Crematoria are required to halve such emissions by next year and eliminate them by the end of the decade.

Some have already fitted systems which use the heat from the burners to heat their buildings, nearby offices and, in one instance, a swimming pool.

Durham Crematorium, which is run by the local county council, is undergoing a £2.3 million project to install three new furnaces. The first phase, due to be completed early next year, will see a “heat recovery system” fitted to one burner to heat the building.

In a second phase, turbines on the other two burners could be installed to generate electricity.

Alan Jose, the crematorium’s superintendent and registrar, said: “We will have far more electricity than we can possibly need, so we would be feeding a reasonable amount into the grid. If there is genuine spare capacity to generate electricity, then we are certainly interested in investigating that.

“And if it was thought to be acceptable in the eyes of the public we would almost certainly pursue that. Apart from it being common sense for us to try to conserve energy, it also enables us to keep the fees down.”

Mr Jose said the crematorium did not want to upset anyone over the plans and added: “We don’t want to become known as a power station rather than a crematorium because we try to provide a reverend and decent place for people to have a cremation service.”

The amount of electricity which could be produced by the furnaces would depend on how much they are in use.

The crematorium currently has about 2100 services a year. On some days, all three burners are required. On others, only one is needed.

The turbines would be powered by steam produced from cooling the hot gases, at temperatures of at least 816 degrees Celsius, used to cremate bodies. Most heat comes from the gases used in cremation, with only a negligible amount from the bodies themselves.

Engineers estimate each turbine could produce up to 250 kWh. With both furnaces operating efficiently on full power, they could power about 1500 television sets.

In return, the crematorium would receive an income from energy companies under the feed in tariff scheme. The “heat recovery” system installed for phase one will provide about £2500 of heating per month.

In the UK, about 75 per cent of the dead are cremated.

Dr John Troyer, of the Centre for Death and Society, part of the University of Bath, said such schemes were likely to increase, but warned: “When you are talking about how to handle dead bodies, you need to take time and move slowly to avoid sounding too glib, insensitive or utilitarian.”

No more sitting on Father Christmas’ knee because volunteers aren’t checked by the CRB

It is one of the defining images of Christmas, as children cosy up to Santa on his knee to tell him exactly what presents they want.

But in an age of ‘government guidance’ and overcautious school bosses, it was only a matter of time before it became a tradition of the past.

A rising number of schools are now forbidding children from sitting on Santa’s knee, with increasing numbers of teachers banning any physically contact with Santa at all.

Thing of the past: The scene of children sitting on Santa's knee could be over after government guidance suggested there should be no physical contact between Father Christmas and children.Thing of the past: The scene of children sitting on Santa’s knee could be over after government guidance suggested there should be no physical contact between Father Christmas and children.

With those playing ‘Santa’ no longer required to pass a CRB check, more and more schools are opting to ‘err’ on the side of caution and impose strict rules on children visiting Father Christmas.

Parents who volunteer for the role of Santa don’t have to undergo CRB checks as they do not come into regular contact with children.

But those who want to don the red suit and big festive white beard can now only do in many schools as long as they are not left alone with the children and don’t let them sit on their laps.Government guidance now states: ‘Under no circumstances must a volunteer who has not obtained a CRB disclosure be left unsupervised with children.’

Russell Hobby, the general secretary of the National Association of Head Teachers, told the Daily Telegraph this ruling meant many members had decided it is better if Santa avoided all physical contact with children.

‘Err on the side of caution’

He said: ‘The climate we work in, and the risk of getting it wrong, mean many school leaders err on the side of caution.

‘And if you are going to ‘err’ on the side of caution, that’s the side most parents would prefer.’

A spokesman for the Department for Education said children could still sit on Father Christmas’s knee as long as parents were consulted and were ‘completely comfortable’ with the situation.

Christine Blower, of the National Union of Teachers, told the Telegraph: ‘It would be a great shame if misinterpretation of regulations deterred schools from traditional festive celebrations

Children sitting on santas knee may be a thing of the past

Christmas lights go dim amid Britain’s economic gloom

Cash-strapped local authorities are cutting back on festive decorations – even though they attract shoppers

Edinburgh Launches Its Christmas Light Night

Christmas lights are shining in Edinburgh, but many local authorities cannot justify the cost.

To light or not to light is proving a major seasonal dilemma for local authorities across the UK, with many deciding to pull the plug on the traditional displays of Christmas street decorations.

But the cost-cutting is seen as a further blow to businesses relying on Christmas shoppers to come out in force and bring some balance to the books after a tough year for retailers.

With budget cuts and rising pressures on services, many councils do not have the money to keep the lights on. Even those not cancelling the tree and fairy lights are cutting back on their switch-on events, replacing the usual reality TV star or pop band guest with the mayor or local school children. A survey this weekend found 38% of England’s villages would be without their Christmas decorations this year because of cost.

“It’s not about being Scrooge, but being sensible with your budgets,” said Robert Oxley of the TaxPayers’ Alliance, which supports the cutbacks. “You get some local authorities spending tens or even a hundred thousand pounds of taxpayers’ cash on a huge switch-on when they are cutting back on essential services. In times where savings have to be found, it would seem sensible not to spend a fortune on fairy lights.

“Everyone wants to enjoy Christmas and lights in town centres are often part of the festivities, but that doesn’t mean taxpayers should be left footing million pound bills just for decorations.”

In Chichester, West Sussex, businesses failed to match the £15,000 the council put in, leaving the town without Christmas lights. A collection among retailers in Newquay, Cornwall also failed to raise much cash but they are drafting in volunteers to help with their Christmas celebrations. “Our parade is really important to the town,” said the clerk of Newquay council, Andrew Curtis. “It brings a lot of people every year.” He said he had asked for more from retailers but did not get much in the current climate.

Cheltenham has also cancelled its switch-on to save the £33,000 it cost the town last year. But in big cities that attract shoppers from miles around, councils are conscious they could lose custom to competing city centres.

In 2009 Birmingham city council saw crowds of 20,000 when pop stars JLS were booked to switch on their lights. This year the local newspaper featured complaints that the switch-on parade featuring tap-dancing turkeys and Darth Vader had failed local businesses and left shoppers more likely to be lured by Liverpool and Manchester where X Factor stars and Girls Aloud appeared.

“We believe in the current financial climate it is more important than ever to attract shoppers and other visitors to our city centre,” Manchester councillor Pat Karney told the BBC. His council had spent £50,000 on the event and tens of thousands turned up to see X Factor winner Joe McElderry press the button that lit up the city centre.

A spokesman for Birmingham city council defended its change of line-up: “We do not believe it is low-key. We believe it is different. We’re very much pushing the real meaning of Christmas and the traditional elements. It’s a different take more directed at families.”

The National Association of Local Councils insisted councils would be trying their hardest to find money for Christmas displays. “We know that many local councils are looking to continue Christmas lighting for their community as it brings social and economic benefits for the area,” said a spokesman.

In Brighton, along with stocking their shopping streets with low-energy bulbsthere is a new plan to help retailers face economic downturn over Christmas. A project called Dressed For Success is offering expertise in festive window dressing to shopkeepers.

Brighton and Hove city council has put £7,000 into the scheme to help the city’s unusually high number of independent shops which lack the financial might of a chain to support them.

“Unlike chain stores, independents don’t have the backing of big organisations with lots of cash and expertise,” said councillor Amy .

In my home Town Of Redditch in  Worcestershire the Town centre grotto is now the size of a garden shed located outside the Debenhams store in the Kingfisher Shopping Centre and the lights hardly shout out it’s Christmas. I took Emilia my brothers eldest child for the grand switch on but we didn’t even notice they had been switched on due to the lack of them.

But Redditch Borough Council switched on the outside lights on Saturday and scrooge seems to be in charge of the money pot. Yet again a huge let down but i have never understood why Councils cut back on the lights and decorations as it gets shoppers in the Town Centre spending money.Instead that money will be ringing in the tills of shops in Birmingham and Merry Hill when it could of been spent in Redditch.

Residents went on social networking sites calling the lights “the big turn off” and comments on the local newspapers Facebook Page were mainly complaining that the Kingfisher Shopping Centre lights were a waste of time and the grotto looks like a garden shed.

fire service managers will reappear in court on January 20th charged with the manslaughter of four of their colleagues who died in a blaze at a warehouse in Warwickshire.

 Dear Supporter,

May we take this opportunity of wishing you a very Happy New Year and thanking you for the wonderful support you have shown to the “Warwickshire Three”

As you are no doubt aware it has been four long years since the tragic fire at Atherstone, this has put an unbearable strain on all those concerned and their respective families. All involved need closure and indeed the fire service itself waits with bated breath for the outcome, because the future of the fire service as we know it rests with this decision.

The next Court date has been arranged for the 20th January, this has now been confirmed at Wolverhampton Crown Court and it is expected that an appeal will be made to the Judge to dismiss the case.

We are therefore appealing for a show of support for our Warwickshire fire-fighters on the 20th, it is vitally important that the judicial system recognise that so many people believe that these charges should be dropped. It is also very important for the morale of the men to see that they have your backing. Should you be able to attend please email

support@supportwarwickshirefirefighters.co.uk as coach transport has been booked with local pick ups from Leamington Spa and Nuneaton. 

You have been tremendous in your support in so many guises: signing our petition, attending hearings, signing the guestbook on the web page, donating towards raising the awareness for our campaign, displaying our campaign car sticker or wearing one of our supporters t-shirts. Whichever it may be, or indeed all – we are eternally grateful and are very humbled that you continue to support us. The 20th January is an incredibly important day as this is possibly the last opportunity for the case to to be dismissed before it is expected that it will go to trial in April/May.

This case affects every one of us – why?

Going forward the decision will have an impact on health and safety issues, for all the emergency services .

The question is likely to be that senior officers may hesitate at an emergency scene as they deliberate that should something tragically go wrong will they find themselves in the dock, as the Warwickshire Three are now.

Fire Scenes are unpredictable and dangerous, even with the best training in the world things still can go wrong, that is why it is vitally important that fire fighters are unrestricted and can act as they see fit at the time without the fear of prosecution.

I am sure you will agree that the fire service is a tremendous service, often undervalued and overlooked until we need them, please show your support and come along on the 20th January.

Thanking you in advance for your continued support and we look forward to seeing you on the 20th. 

Coaches to depart from Leamington Spa and Nuneaton on the 20th January. Approx times are depart Leamington at 7.45am and Nuneaton 8.15am. These may change as confirmation still not received re court time. Please email and reserve your space!

 

If you are making your own way to Wolverhampton address as follows:

 

Wolverhampton Crown Court, Pipers Row, Wolverhampton WV1 3LQ

 below is an article from an earlier hearing

Station manager Timothy Woodward and watch managers Paul Simmons and Adrian Ashley were charged with gross negligence manslaughter in February after a long-running inquiry into the fire in Atherstone-on-Stour, Warwickshire, in November 2007.Warwickshire County Council also faces a charge of failing to ensure the health and safety of its employees in relation to the blaze, which claimed the lives of firefighters Ian Reid, John Averis, Ashley Stephens and Darren Yates-Badley.None of the defendants was required to enter a plea to the charges at Friday’s hearing at Warwick Crown Court in Leamington Spa.Simmons, 50, from Hampton Magna, Warwickshire, Ashley, 45, from Nuneaton, and Woodward, 50, from Leamington Spa, were all bailed until a further hearing, expected to take place at Stafford Crown Court in January.

Campaigners in support of the the charged firefighters

Thirty One Drain Covers Stolen In Redditch in one night

11 drain covers were stolen from Arthur Street, , four from Costers Lane, five from Broad Ground Road, one from Stonepits Lane, and 10 from Walkwood Road.

All of the offences happened between yesterday evening, Thursday 24 November, and this morning, Friday, 25 November.

The Arthur Street incident happened at 10.30pm yesterday evening when a worker reported a man in a silver Ford Transit-type van was taking the drain covers. Police attended and an extensive search of the area was carried out but the van had gone.

In Broad Ground Road a car was damaged by driving across one of the holes left in the road.

The drain covers are worth around £100 each.

West Mercia Police is liaising with Worcestershire County Council Highways over the thefts.

The force’s Crime Reduction Advisor for Worcestershire, Mr Peter Aston, said: “Thefts like these hit us all in the pocket as obviously the drain covers need to be replaced.

“However quite apart from the cost, the theft of drain covers obviously leads to safety concerns for road users.

“One car was damaged by driving into the hole left by a missing drain cover and pedestrians and cyclists in particular risk being seriously injured. We are urging all road users to be vigilant, especially during darkness.”

Officers are appealing to residents and night shift workers to report anything suspicious. Thieves may try to pass themselves off as highways workers, wearing fluorescent jackets and using official-looking vehicles. However legitimate vehicles will always be marked with Worcestershire Highways livery.

Anything suspicious should be reported to police on 0300 333 3000, ideally while the crime is in progress, and if possible witnesses are asked to note the registration number of the vehicle. Alternatively calls can be made anonymously to Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.