Archive for February, 2012


The swimming pool branded “sick and eerie in Redditch
(photo simonpreston31 )

THE newly revamped Abbey Stadium has come under fire from a number of disabled people saying little or no thought has been given to them.

Sylvia North, who supports and helps disabled swimmers, said that facilities at the £6.5m stadium are not up to scratch and they are expected to swim alongside members of the public.

Disabled swimmers have been given lanes cordoned off intended solely for their use but members of the public are using them.

Mrs North said: “We used to get 45 minutes on a Thursday afternoon for free with no general public present at Hewell Road before it was closed.

We were promised the same when the new pool opened but that hasn’t happened.

“Now we’re expected to swim with the general public, most of whom have little knowledge of the special needs of disabled swimmers.”

She added: “All we ask is a little time and space to ourselves – we don’t think it’s that big an ask.”

Regular swimmer Ron Preston, who suffers from a muscular disease, said: “I just think there has been very little consideration for disabled people.

“It’s important for me to go swimming for my health but I’m worried about being knocked which doesn’t sound much but it could break my leg.“On top of that the facilities are not very good. The ramp to get into the pool is often broken, the wheelchairs are not very good and the lift to the gym is not working.”

The stadium was officially opened last week when a number of special guests including swimmer Jamie Salter, cut the ribbon.

Kim Mitchel said I cannot believe people are complaining that the new pool isn’t disabled friendly. i took harry last week and we were treated like royalty anything we needed in regards to harrys disability we got! access to the pool was brilliant no trouble with his wheelchair and we had a fantastic time!

A Redditch Council spokesman said the stadium was designed to be disabled friendly.

“While we had initial teething troubles with the platform hoist, this has now been resolved and the facilities, which include a high dependency changing places function and a special platform into the pool, far exceed what was provided at Hewell Road,” she said.

“The group has two lanes of the pool cordoned off for their use during a public session time and we did consult with the group’s representatives prior to making these changes.”

In an interview published in the Daily Mail Simon Preston,  said , ‘I think it’s disgusting, using burning bodies to heat a pool.

‘I don’t think anyone will use it and it will be closed down in 12 months if that’s the case.

‘The council says they have 90 per cent of people in favour of it but I don’t know who they have talked to because everyone I speak to about says they won’t use the pool.

‘The plans were leaked about two weeks ago and if that hadn’t happened I don’t think they would even have put it out for public consultation, and what “full” consultation can they have taken in that time?’

After i contacted the Daily Mail the story made headlines around the world i even did an interview for  radio stations in Canada.

when the plans were first announced i was critical in the international press and my views haven’t changed  and now that it’s built, finished, and open i haven’t changed my mind, so i won’t be using it.

My sister has used the pool and moaned how cold the water was.

1o  Creepiest Abandoned Morgues on Earth Sky news strange stories

By Simon Preston

The Leader of  Redditch Borough Council Carol Gandy said some of it could be used towards helping young people.

Residents will now meet with local groups, charities, the public sector and businesses to ensure the money is used to fund sustainable and vital projects over the next decade.

Funds could be allocated to social projects or training schemes where money can be reinvested in the community.

Each community was chosen as it has been affected by issues such as unemployment and has struggled to get financial support.

Seven communities in the West Midlands are among 50 in England to be awarded £1 million each in a Big Lottery Fund scheme.

The funding is part of the Lottery’s £200 million Big Local initiative, which gives residents the chance to decide how money is spent in their areas.

John Taylor, head of the West Midlands region, said: “This funding scheme is going to put residents in these areas at the heart of decision making and give them a real say in how to improve their local area.

“But more than that it’s going to strengthen these communities and help local people to build on their skills and experience so that they can continue to work together to overcome challenges, address local problems, and make a positive difference in their communities over the next ten years, and beyond.”

The scheme is being managed by the Local Trust organisation, which will support residents in making funding decisions.

Debbie Ladds, chief executive of the trust, said: “Big Local is an exciting community initiative working with residents, community groups and others in the Big Local areas across England to help them make their area an even better place to live. Local Trust will work with communities and a range of partner organisations to help them identify what matters most to them, and to take action to change things for the better.”

Leader of  Redditch Borough Council Carol Gandy said some of it could be used towards helping young people.

She said: “Now we can do some work on the ground with young people there and follow through on projects we have put on the back burner.”

Plans to rebuild the estate’s shopping centre are already in place.

Ms Gandy said: “Church Hill is an area that has had problems with anti-social behaviour.

“The money gives us opportunity to work alongside other agencies and ensure the people living there get some good youth activities and improved quality of life.”

Karen Lumley MP for Redditch County,  said she was extremely pleased to hear that £1 million will be invested into Church Hill in Redditch over a period of ten years as part of Big Local, a groundbreaking long-term Lottery programme to achieve lasting change in 150 small areas across England.

“ I am excited by the announcement from the Big Lottery Fund that there will be such a huge investment into Redditch over the coming years.

I am most enthusiastic about the fact that funding and support to the area will be delivered by the Local Trust, a new independent organisation set up by the Community Development Foundation and its consortium partners to run Big Local.

Local Trust will work closely with local residents so that they can have a real say into what issues should be a priority for funding.

The aim is to empower local people to improve the places in which they live in a sustainable and innovative way.

This is great news for the residents of Church Hill and is a fantastic opportunity for local local groups, charities, the public sector and local businesses and residents to work together for a brighter future in Redditch.”

My thoughts on the Lottery Funding for Church Hill

when i first heard of the news of  the Lottery funding i thought Church Hill needs the investment then alarm bells rang when i heard Redditch Borough Council were involved.

I think  they should of had the £1Million in one go rather than dribs and drabs over ten years as a lot of it will be eaten up with employing council officers with community cohesion in the job title.

The County Council got £900,000 to help disadvantaged families and the first thing they said was they plan to use it employing a team of ‘Trouble-Shooters’

The same thing will happen here.

I can see the Council re-writing it’s press release as we speak avoiding the words community cohesion .

 UK: Rolling stock leasing company Angel Trains confirmed on February 29 that it had signed contracts to procure and finance 20 four-car Class 350 Siemens Desiro electric multiple-units for London Midland and First TransPennine Express, ‘as part of a contract worth around £145m’.

‘The finalisation of these contracts with London Midland and TPE is a significant milestone’, said Angel Trains Chief Operating Officer Kevin Tribley. ‘The combining of orders for London Midland and TPE with an existing train specification means we can deliver value for money by reducing the whole-life cost of operating the fleets’.

From December 2013, London Midland is to receive 10 Class 350/3 EMUs, three of which will be deployed to increase capacity on the CrossCity line in Birmingham where the service frequency to Redditch is to be increased from two to three trains/h from December 2014. The remaining seven units will increase capacity on commuter services into London Euston, where modifications to the existing London Midland Desiro fleet will enable the maximum speed to be increased from 160 to 176 km/h, cutting off-peak journey times from the December 2012 timetable change.

With a different interior configuration to reflect the needs of long-distance passengers, the 10 Class 350/4 EMUs for TPE are to be deployed on services from Manchester Airport to Edinburgh and Glasgow, following completion of infill electrification between Manchester and the West Coast Main Line south of Wigan. This will enable Class 185 Desiro DMUs to be cascaded to increase capacity elsewhere on the TPE network.

Leasing and operation of the new Desiros is being funded by an increase in support paid by the Department for Transport to the London Midland and TPE franchises, worth £41m. The agreement with TPE includes electrification of the depot at Ardwick in Manchester which is to maintain the Desiro EMUs.

Transport Minister Theresa Villiers said that the additional trains were ‘a key part of the major programme of rail capacity expansion we have promised to deliver’. In addition to responding to ‘passenger concerns’ about overcrowding, they would provide ‘an important stimulus to economic growth’, she added.

GKN sales up £683 million and £444 million for new acquisitions

I asked  Redditch based GKN for a statement and they sent me 37 pages of figures and it’s very good news heres the basics.
GKN has lifted its profits after taking over two German companies last year.
Full year sales were up 13% for GKN, delivering a 15% boost in profitability for the UK-based automotive and aerospace parts company.
The FTSE 100 listed company delivered a 20% boost in share dividends (LSE: GKN), whilst full year share values rose 9% to 22.6p.
“2011 was a year of good growth,” comments Nigel Stein, GKN Chief Executive. “GKN achieved a strong financial performance with all four divisions at or near record profits.
“Each division has leading technology and market positions and out-performed their respective markets, with a strong pipeline of new business. GKN Driveline and GKN Land Systems were further strengthened with the two highly complementary acquisitions of Getrag Driveline Products and Stromag.
Financial highlights include: • Group sales up £683 million (13%) to £6.1 billion, an underlying increase of 10% • Excluding net £19 million Gallatin charge: o Trading profit of £487 million, up £76 million, an increase of 18% o Group trading margin of 8.0%, up from 7.6%, and increased targets set for three divisions • Profit before tax of £417 million (2010: £363 million), an increase of 15%. Reported profit before tax, £351 million (2010: £345 million) • Earnings per share up 9% to 22.6 pence per share (2010: 20.7 pence per share) • Return on average invested capital (excluding 2011 acquisitions) of 18.3% (2010: 17.0%), reflecting higher profitability • Final dividend of 4.0 pence per share, giving a total for 2011 of 6.0 pence per share (2010: 5.0 pence per share), a 20% increase • Net debt of £538 million (2010: £151 million), reflecting £444 million for new acquisitions

Sales rose strongly in all of the group’s four main divisions, but growth in its aerospace operation was dampened by US military spending cutbacks.

Its UK pension deficit also widened by £188m to £259m. GKN took over German company Getrag in a £283m deal, making it a world leader in components for off-road vehicles such as Jeeps

Analysts speculate that GKN, which is interested in strategic acquisitions in aerospace and land systems, might be looking at Volvo’s aero division.

Missing Woman Investigation

The senior police officer leading the investigation into the disappearance of a 63-year-old woman from Herefordshire last month, has today confirmed that fresh searches are to be carried out in and around the village of Orleton in an attempt to find new evidence that might help establish her whereabouts.

Police have confirmed they are conducting further searches for Alethea Taylor Mrs Alethea Taylor – who is described as being white, around 5ft 7inches tall and as having short, dark but slightly greying hair – was last seen at around 8.30am on Thursday 19 January when her husband left their home in Orleton for work.

There was no sign of her when he returned home at 4pm.

With committed assistance from more than 80 local residents, West Mercia Police teams – including dog handlers – scoured the village and surrounding countryside in the days following Alethea’s disappearance looking for clues relating to where she had gone.

In addition, members of the Severn Area Rescue Association (SARA) focused their efforts on streams and other water courses, while the Longtown Mountain Rescue team also brought their dogs to help with the search.

Unfortunately, despite the best efforts of everyone involved, no trace of Alethea was found.

Speaking about the fresh searches, Detective Inspector Dave Williams, who is based in CID in Hereford, said:

“We have been working with the NPIA (National Policing Improvement Agency) in relation to the ongoing investigation into the disappearance of Alethea Taylor and I can confirm that further searches will be taking place later this week.

“The searches will involve the use of air support and ground support teams with specialist search dogs and will focus on selected areas in the countryside around the village.

“Due to the passage of time we are now extremely concerned for the welfare of Mrs Taylor, as she has now been missing for over 4 weeks.

“Can I take this opportunity to remind people that anyone who believes they may have information that could help find Mrs Taylor is asked to call West Mercia Police on 0300 333 3000 or 101.”

Judge Robert Juckes QC who gave him a life term with a recommendation that he should serve a minimum of 22 years before being considered for release.

A man who murdered a pensioner while burgling his home at Rednal, North Worcestershire, was today (Monday, 27 February) given a life sentence when he appeared at Worcester Crown Court.

Cory Youlden broke into the home of 83-year-old Paul Cox in June last year (2011) and strangled him to death before taking keys from the body and stealing his car from the driveway along with groceries and a small amount of cash.

Youlden, aged 23 (Date of Birth 18/6/1988), care of HMP Hewell and formerly of Birmingham, appeared for sentencing before Judge Robert Juckes QC who gave him a life term with a recommendation that he should serve a minimum 22 years before being considered for release.

Victim Paul CoxYoulden had initially denied the offence but changed his plea to guilty at a hearing earlier this month. He had previously admitted burgling Mr Cox’s home at Waseley Road on the same occasion on 3 June and stealing his Ford Focus which was found burned out in Erdington, Birmingham, two days later (5 June).

He was given concurrent sentences of five years each for the burglary and the car theft.

Detective Chief Inspector Paul Williamson, who led the investigation for West Mercia Police, said that Mr Cox lived alone and was just days short of his 84th birthday (7 June) when he was murdered.

Mr Cox was worried about being burgled following previous break-ins at his home and slept downstairs in a chair in a living room at the back of the house. He was attacked when Youlden, then living a ten-minute walk away in Frankley, broke in during the night through a front window.

DCI Williamson said: “Mr Cox was a frail old man who was defenceless and stood no chance against a man some 60 years younger. He was strangled by Youlden and also received head injuries during the assault.

The scene outside Paul Cox”Mr Cox always kept his car keys on him and we believe Youlden took those and cash from his victim before stealing his Ford Focus from the driveway along with a groceries which were in the vehicle.”

Police were alerted next morning by a concerned neighbour who noticed a smashed window at Mr Cox’s property and that his car was missing from the driveway.

A Major Incident Room was set up by detectives at Redditch Police Station and details of the stolen car were circulated as part of a media appeal. That led to a woman coming forward the following day, Saturday 4 June, to say she knew Youlden had been in possession of the car. Youlden had in fact already sold on the vehicle and it was found burned out in a car park at The Gardens in Erdington on Sunday, 5 June.

DCI Williamson said: “We launched a manhunt after Youlden went on the run and later that same day (5 June) he was caught by police on a train at Bristol’s Parkway station.

The window Cory Youlden smashed to get into Paul Cox”From the outset he was
deceitful, callous and calculated. He desperately tried to cover his tracks by cleaning up at the murder scene but we were still able to establish he had been there through our forensic work which included matching fingerprints and footprints to him. He also had a cut on his arm which was consistent with him climbing through the broken window at Mr Cox’s house.

“His deceit carried on after his arrest when he implicated two other people who were arrested on suspicion of murder but later eliminated from the inquiry.

“Youlden has never shown any remorse and even lied to his partner at the time to conceal his involvement. However the weight of evidence stacked up against him was overwhelming and finally he realised it was futile to deny responsibility for the death.

“The tragic and brutal killing of a vulnerable man who was loved by his family and popular with his neighbours was all the more senseless because Youlden gained very little from his crime.

“It was a despicable offence and the seriousness of that is reflected by the sentence. He fully deserves to be behind bars for a very long time.

“Our heartfelt sympathy goes out to Mr Cox’s family who have lost a father, grandfather and brother. They miss him and have been deeply affected by this. We hope that the fact that his killer has been brought to justice provides them with some small measure of comfort.

Cory Youlden”Hopefully it will also reassure the wider community that as rare as offences like this are, when they do happen we will act robustly and spare no effort in ensuring those responsible are brought before the courts and made to pay for their crimes.”

A statement by Mr Cox’s family said: “Paul Cox was found murdered at his home on 3 June, 2011, four days before his 84th birthday.  Before his death Paul had been living independently, and was still able to drive and do his own shopping. Still able to enjoy life, have a pint, watch sport on TV and spend time with his family.

“There is no reason to think that he would not be with us now if it was not for the vile actions of another person.

“Paul was the victim of a brutal, cowardly and senseless crime carried out by an individual 60 years younger. The perpetrator gained nothing from taking a human life but his son and daughter lost a loving father, his granddaughter and grandson lost their devoted granddad, a brother lost his last surviving sibling, nieces and nephews lost their uncle whilst others lost a loyal, true and caring friend. It’s they who feel they have the life sentence.

“The family would like to thank West Mercia Police for their commitment to finding Paul’s murderer and bringing him to justice.

Mr Cox”Cory Youlden was apprehended swiftly and has received all the consideration that the Law has to offer after eventually pleading guilty to murder.  It is hoped that the custodial sentence passed by the court today will ensure that he takes responsibility for what he has done and is unable to harm anyone else for a very long time.

“As Paul’s family and friends continue to try to come to terms with what has happened they ask the Press and other media to respect their privacy at this most difficult and distressing of times.

“Thank you.”

“Due to the extent of the victims’ injuries it is believed he was assaulted”

Police are appealing for witnesses and information after a man received serious facial injuries in Redditch.

It happened between 11pm on Saturday, 25 February and 5am on Sunday, 26 February in Park Way, near Church Hill.

The victim, a man in his late teens, was walking along Park Way when he was approached by two males who asked if they could borrow his mobile phone to send a text message. Having lent them his phone, they walked off with it and he tried to get it back. Some hours later he was discovered by police officers with injuries to his jaw and face as well as a number of cracked teeth, and was in a confused state.

He was taken to the Worcestershire Royal Hospital for treatment and has since had surgery on his jaw. He is currently recovering in hospital.

Detective Constable Lindsey Hewitt said: “Due to the extent of the victims’ injuries it is believed he was assaulted and we would therefore like to speak to anyone who was in the area late on Saturday evening or early Sunday morning and remembers seeing a man being assaulted.”

Witnesses or anyone with information are asked to contact DC Hewitt at West Mercia Police on 0300 333 3000, quoting incident 177-S-260212, or ring the independent charity Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555111.

If your not on benefits then the Limitation Act 1980 would apply where appropriate to prevent court action being taken to recover the debt.

A number of people asked if i would do a story on the DWP as they have been chased for a loan they had taken out 15 0r 20 years ago whilst claiming benefits.
So i put in a FOI and asked what the rules were as most debts are statutebarred after 6 years.
This is what they said.
To Mr Simon Preston via email to:
28 February 2012
Dear Mr Preston
Freedom of Information Act – Request for Information

Our Reference: FOI 608

Thank you for your Freedom of Information request received on 3 February 2012.   You asked for the rules when someone owes DWP money for a debt or loan that is over 6 years old.

The time limits for taking civil action to recover debts in England and Wales are prescribed in the Limitation Act 1980. Different legislation applies in Scotland.

The Limitation Act prevents civil action being taken against a customer where the last acknowledgement of the debt or effective recovery was more than 6 years previously. In relation to DWP debt however, the Act does not prevent DWP from continuing to seek recovery by any other means, including deductions from future benefit payments or instructing our private sector partners to pursue repayment on our behalf. However, where the customer is no longer in receipt of a benefit, the Limitation Act would apply where appropriate to prevent court action being taken to recover the debt.

The Department’s policy is to continue to seek recovery of any outstanding overpayment or Social Fund debt, regardless of whether or not recovery of the debt in court would be time-barred under the Limitation Act. Although Court action may not be possible, the customer may still be invited to repay. Where a customer returns to benefit at any time, deductions from that benefit will be taken to recover any debt that remains outstanding.

If you have any queries about this letter please contact Dean Francis on 0113 232 4095 quoting the reference number above.

Yours sincerely

Communications Team

Commercial Directorate

DWP Finance and Commercial


Your right to complain under the Freedom of Information Act

If you are not happy with this response you may request an internal review by e-mailing or by writing to DWP, Central FoI Team, 2nd Floor The Adelphi, 1-11, John Adam Street, London WC2N 6HT. Any review request should be submitted within two months of the date of this letter.

If you are not content with the outcome of the internal review you may apply directly to the Information Commissioner’s Office for a decision. Generally the Commissioner cannot make a decision unless you have exhausted our own complaints procedure. The Information Commissioner can be contacted at: The Information Commissioner’s Office, Wycliffe House, Water Lane, Wilmslow Cheshire SK9 5AF

Fraudster who bombarded banks with fraudulent mortgages jailed

A fraudster at the helm of a criminal gang that defrauded high street banks out of almost £8 million by taking out mortgages on properties they didn’t own has been jailed.

Mohammed Asif Younas, 50, was handed a seven year prison term earlier today (16 February 2012) at Southwark Crown Court. He had previously pleaded guilty to conspiracy to defraud and conspiracy to money launder in November 2011.

The court had heard how Younas, operating under the alias Mahmood Ali, was director of bogus Montague Mason Solicitors. He submitted false paperwork to Birmingham Midshires and Abbey banks in connection with 33 fraudulent mortgage applications in a two month period (October to December 2008).

His fellow gang members had previously identified suitable properties across the south-east to use for false mortgage applications – with the homeowners unaware of the crime.

The fraudulent mortgages were finalised when false paperwork was completed by the solicitors, and signed by Younas, including the Certificates of Title requesting the banks release the funds.

Once the deals were signed-off and the funds transferred, the stolen money was quickly transferred from the solicitor’s account into a network of bank accounts,controlled by Younas and the rest of the gang. The money was then withdrawn in cash.

Det Supt Bob Wishart, of the City of London  Police, said: “Younas is a sophisticated fraudster who hid behind an alias to con banks and evade police.

“His meticulous planning and precise execution of this fraud ensured maximum gains– but the scale of his crime resulted in the lengthy sentence passed today.

“Mortgage fraud damages the UK’s economy and therefore affects us all. As the National Lead Force for Fraud, we actively go after people who orchestrate and commit this crime and continue to work with the banks to ensure people can have faith in the integrity of the mortgage system”.

In March 2009 Abbey and HBOS asked the City of London Police to look into the activities of Montague Mason Solicitors, based in Essex.

Working in collaboration with the two banks, detectives uncovered an extensive criminal network that led them to execute search warrants at addresses across the UK in June 2009.

Four men – Khawar Khan, Imran Mirza, Nadeem Mirza and Farhan Khan – all part of the same gang as Younas, were arrested during the warrants. They were subsequently jailed having pleaded guilty to numerous fraud related offences in December 2009.

But ‘Mahmood Ali’ remained elusive, until detectives working with the DVLA were able to match ‘Ali’s’ driving licence image to one with the name of Mohammed Asif Younas.

That licence provided legitimate. Detectives now had Younas’ home address in Croydon and he was quickly arrested.

On searching Younas’ home, detectives recovered more false documents and items linking him to his alias and as a result he was charged with numerous fraud offences.

Younas was sentenced to seven years imprisonment for conspiracy to defraud and four-and-a-half years for conspiracy to money launder, to run concurrently.

Police arrived in numbers with a hundred bailiffs to enforce a court order to evict the protest camp at St Paul’s Cathedral after legal action by the City of London Corporation.
‘Mr Justice Lindblom had said the City’s action was “lawful and justified”.
But lawyers for the protesters said the City’s action was “more extreme and more draconian than was necessary”.
Occupy London group, which has been campaigning against corporate greed, set up the camp outside the cathedral, their first in the capital, on 15 October.
The local authority sought a possession order from the court after the group ignored an order to clear its tents from the public highway.

The corporation said in a statement on its website that it has “begun to enforce the High Court orders for the removal of the tents and equipment outside St Paul’s”.

It went on: “We regret that it has come to this but the High Court Judgment speaks for itself and the Court of Appeal has confirmed that Judgment.

“High Court enforcement officers employed by the City of London Corporation are undertaking the removal with the police present to ensure public safety and maintain order. We would ask protesters to move on peaceably.

“The City of London Corporation is ensuring vulnerable people are being helped and supported to find appropriate accommodation in partnership with Broadway, a charity for the homeless. See notes below for more information.”

The High Court found in favour of the City of London Corporation in the case against the camp on January 18, 2012.