Archive for January 28, 2012

Bored of the same old box of chocolates and tired roses? Then give your loved one something different this Valentine’s Day

Would you want a Fruit Tree as a Valentine’s gift?

County Council sells Valentine’s Trees

Have you had enough of giving the special person in your life the same old presents on Valentine’s Day? Then this year why not buy them a Fruit Tree and help protect Worcestershire’s dwindling orchards?

It’s thought that around 85 per cent of Worcestershire’s famous orchards have been lost over the last 50 years. To tackle this problem Worcestershire County Council’s Countryside Service team manage the Fruit Trees scheme that offers residents the chance to purchase Apple, Pear and Plum trees.

So, whereas flowers wilt and end up in the bin a fruit tree will blossom for many years to come and with spring just around the corner it’s the perfect time to get involved.

There are 5 varieties of apple tree’s available including the popular Worcester Pearmain, Pitmaston Russett, Hope Cottage Seedling, Edward VII and Colwall Quoining all priced at £14.00 each. 2 plum varieties which are the ever so popular Yellow and Purple Pershore at £15.50 each. Pear trees this year are The famous Worcester Black Pear and Pitmaston Duchess priced at £16.25 each.  Trees are available until 16th March 2012.

To purchase a tree simply visit, email or call the Worcestershire Hub on 01905 766493. Anyone with any questions at all about fruit trees can speak with one of the Community Greenspace Team by calling the Worcestershire Hub.

Joanne Taylor, County Council Community Greenspace Officer, said: “There’ll be thousands of people across Worcestershire thinking about what to get for that special person in their lives with Valentine’s Day fast approaching. Buying someone a fruit tree will mean this year’s gift will continue to grow and help protect our heritage rather than ending up in the bin after a few days.

“This time of the year is perfect for planting so why not give something a little bit different?”

All the trees are specially grown on behalf of the County Council by Walcot Organic Nursery, in Drakes Broughton.


Worcester County Council are barking up the wrong Tree with this.

I think if the Council aimed this idea at children by growing a tree it might get them to eat more fruit as they could water it and watch it grow.

But the idea of giving a fruit Tree as a Valentine’s gift is laughable and will back fire on them. It will also leave the person giving the gift in the dog house.

Escaped prisoner back in custody

A prisoner who went on the run after being sprung from the clutches of prison officers as they escorted him to hospital has been arrested, police have said.

Andrew Farndon, 26, has been at the centre of a nationwide manhunt since an armed accomplice helped him escape custody outside West Suffolk Hospital in Bury St Edmunds, Suffolk, on Wednesday evening.

Suffolk Police confirmed the prisoner, who is serving an indeterminate sentence for public protection, was in custody after being detained by officers from another force area. The force did not reveal where he was discovered.

A police spokesman said: “In relation to the investigation into the escape of Andrew Farndon from Bury St Edmunds on Wednesday evening, Suffolk Constabulary can confirm that Farndon has been detained by police and is in custody in another force area.”

Farndon’s arrest came as his mother made a public appeal urging him to contact police. Asking her son to hand himself in on Sky News, Kate Farndon said: “Hi Andy love, it’s mum. I would like to know that you’re ok, I would like to know how your wound is, if it’s serious, if you need medical attention, but most of all sweetheart, I would like you to hand yourself in.”

It is understood Farndon suffered a knife wound at Highpoint prison in Stradishall, near Newmarket, before being taken to the West Suffolk Hospital’s Accident & Emergency (A&E) department in a taxi accompanied by two guards at 6.50pm on Wednesday evening.

On arrival, a waiting gunman confronted the male and female prison officials and threatened them with his weapon, before fleeing with Farndon across the car park.

His escape was the second in just a week, after an “extremely dangerous” category A prisoner, murder suspect John Anslow, was sprung from a prison van after it left Hewell Prison in Worcestershire. He remains at large.

Farndon previously escaped by leaping from the dock at Coventry Crown Court in 2007, but was sentenced in his absence to an indeterminate sentence for public protection (IPP) and told he must serve at least two years before being considered for parole.

He was found guilty of grievous bodily harm after a hammer attack that left his victim with a fractured skull, but officials only classed him as a category C prisoner – meaning he was deemed unlikely to make a determined escape attempt.

Fines threat for credit text messages

Firms face raids and fines of up to £500,000 for sending unsolicited text messages about credit or compensation.

Good article by Catherine Burns Business reporter, BBC News

Text message
Various text messages are sent out trying to encourage people to take out loans

Firms face raids and fines of up to £500,000 for sending unsolicited text messages about credit or compensation.

The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) said tackling the issue was a “high priority”.

Typical messages claim recipients are entitled to money, promise to write off debts or find a loan, or suggest accident compensation can be claimed.

But in many cases, the products they are selling can actually make people financially worse off.

The ICO said it was investigating several cases at the moment, and had identified certain companies to target.

The Consumer Credit Counselling Service (CCCS) charity is running a campaign against unsolicited texts, and believes the messages cynically target vulnerable people.

Late-night texts

Sarah Stocks, from Plymouth, said she started to be bombarded by texts after enquiring online about applying for a loan. She decided not to go ahead with the application, but by then, her contact details were already being used.

“I got [texts] all the time, sometimes four or five a day. You know, you’re lying in bed reading, about to switch off the light, and you get a text at 10.30pm. But when you pick it up it says ‘Do you want a loan for £5,000?’,” she saiOur recent survey reveals that half the population has received this type of spam texts, causing people alarm and distress

“It is just absolute harassment. I think they have sold my details on to more companies.”

Many of these texts can be from legitimate companies, and come after a box is ticked, or terms and conditions are agreed to that allow the company to get in touch.

But others are randomly generated, and are against the law if no consent has been given to allow such messages to be sent.

These companies do not know anything about the recipient or their finances, or even if the phone number is real. If a reply is sent, the number becomes more valuable because the sender knows it is genuine.

Christmas concerns

The CCCS is highlighting this issue on social networking site Twitter. It is asking people to tweet every time they get an unwanted spam text.

Matt Hartley, who is helping to run the campaign, said one person received 90 messages from debt and loan companies on Christmas Day

Tips on dealing with unsolicited texts

  • Be careful when giving out a mobile number
  • When shopping online, ensure the trader does not contact you by text
  • Check the privacy policy when buying online
  • Report spam texts to the mobile network
  • Inform the Information Commissioner of spam texts


“These companies are really preying on financially vulnerable consumers. In many cases they are offering services that could make their situations much worse. It is a really big problem,” he said.

Many of the texts were from fee-charging debt management companies, even though charities would help people sort out their finances for free, he said.

Steve Eckersley, head of enforcement at the ICO, said the issue had been elevated to a “high priority”.

“Our recent survey reveals that half the population has received this type of spam texts, causing people alarm and distress. I am particularly worried about vulnerable people in the community, that they are being targeted,” he said.

It can be difficult to pin down who is sending these texts, because many come from unregistered pay-as-you-go SIM cards.

But he said the ICO had made progress and was investigating the possibility that some cases were linked to organised crime.

“We have been able to identify where these text messages have been sent from. And that is really important to us because we have been able to focus our activities around particular premises,” he said.

“The next stage of our investigation is to execute search warrants, and we have got several premises identified that we are going to target.”


After more than a year of constant texts, Sarah Stocks has finally got some peace – by changing her mobile number.

“I begrudge having to do that, but I did not know what else to do. I feel really annoyed, angry at times, quite helpless,” she said.

The ICO said the best way to prevent companies sending spam messages was to be very careful about giving out a mobile number.

It suggests that anyone buying something online should check the privacy policy carefully, and tell companies not to contact them by text.

But if it is too late for that, people already receiving them can take certain steps.

Mr Hartley, from the CCCS, said: “Don’t reply. Instead, report it to your mobile network. You can also complain to the Information Commissioner, online, by e-mail or over the phone.”