Archive for February 22, 2012


Young girl abandoned in Folkestone library

(Police update below article)

CCTV of woman at Folkestone library
A woman police want to question was pictured on CCTV leaving the library

A girl, believed to be two or three years old, has been abandoned in a pushchair in a Kent library.

Staff at the Folkestone library in Grace Hill discovered the child while they were closing the building at about 18:00 GMT.

Kent Police are looking for a woman, who is described as white with fine, dark, medium length brown hair.

She was caught on CCTV and was wearing blue jeans when she left the blonde-haired child.

The girl is well and being cared for by social services, said a Kent Police spokeswoman.

Anyone with any information has been asked to contact Kent Police.

(Police update woman found safe and well)

The woman Kent Police were urgently trying to trace after a young girl, aged approximately two to three years old, with blonde hair, was left in a pushchair at a Folkestone Library, has been found safe and well. She is currently being questioned by officers.

Kent Police was called at just after 6pm this evening by staff at the library who discovered the child whilst closing the library.

Advertisements

Hundreds of jobs have been axed and 20 Peacocks stores in the West Midlands  closed after the ailing fashion chain was sold out of administration.

A bleak day for the region’s retail sector was confirmed when the stores  were closed as part of the sale of Peacocks to Edinburgh Woollen Mill.

Across the UK, the deal will save 388 shops and more than 6,000 jobs but  administrators from KPMG said it had been forced to close 224 stores with  immediate effect, leading to 3,100 redundancies.

  Among the stores to close in the West Midlands are the branches in Birmingham  St Andrews, Redditch, Wolverhampton, West Bromwich, Merry Hill, Halesowen,  Worcester, Sutton Coldfield and Swadlincote, as well as two in Coventry.

In Shropshire, two stores in Telford and shops in Market Drayton, Whitchurch  and Oswestry are to close, along with those in Tunstall, Hanley and Stafford in  Staffordshire.

Chris Laverty, joint administrator at KPMG, said: “Today’s deal ensures the  continued trading of a well-known name on the high street.

“While it is unfortunate that redundancies have been necessary, we are  pleased that we have been able to preserve the majority of the business  and jobs.”

Edinburgh Woollen Mill, which has 380 stores, will keep the Cardiff  headquarters of Peacocks but KPMG said 16 jobs will go in the city.

Peacocks collapsed under a debt mountain last month in the biggest retail  failure since Woolworths, placing 7,500 jobs in jeopardy.

Edinburgh, which beat off Indian textile and clothing giant S Kumars  Nationwide, said it would attempt to save some of the stores and jobs being lost  today.

However, chief executive Philip Day added: “As you can imagine, there will be  a considerable amount of work to undertake over the next few months to stabilise  the situation, turn this business around, get the supply chain moving again and  excite the customers with great products.”

Edinburgh last year bought 33 of Jane Norman’s 94 stores out of  administration, saving some 400 jobs.

Fashion chain Bonmarche, which was part of the Peacock Group, was sold last  month in a deal that will lead to 1,400 job losses and 160 store closures.  Private equity firm Sun European Partners bought 230 stores and will continue to  employ 2,400 staff.

Privately-owned Edinburgh Woollen Mill, which is based in Langholm, Scotland,  is to take on 338 stores, 50 concessions and three distribution centres as part  of the deal. It said Barclays and Santander had helped fund the  acquisition.

KPMG had already announced 249 redundancies from Peacocks head office in  Cardiff. Combined with the 1,400 job losses at Bonmarche, the total number of  jobs lost in the failure of Peacocks is now about 4,750.

The chain, which was owned by hedge funds  Och-Ziff and Perry Capital, collapsed under its £240 million of net debt despite  strong trading.

Its profit  margins also came under pressure from the frenzy of discounts on the high street  as shoppers reined in spending. Peacocks can trace its history back to  Warrington, in Cheshire, in 1884 when Albert Frank Peacock founded Peacock’s  Penny Bazaar. It moved to Cardiff in 1940.

The business developed and expanded in the 1990s, floating on the London Stock Exchange in  1999. The Peacock Group acquired low-cost retailer Bonmarche in 2002.

The company delisted from the London Stock Exchange to become a  privately-owned business once again in 2006 and broke the 500 stores mark in  2008.

Compay and Managing director were each fined £30,000 and ordered to pay and £26,147 Costs

A Redditch freight firm, its managing director and a Birmingham contractor have been prosecuted for putting at least 20 people at risk of lung disease from asbestos fibres.
NDS
The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) prosecuted Avon Freight Group Ltd (AFG) and its managing director Simon Poole, together with builder Ronald McPhee, over the exposure during work to convert the unit in Hemming Road, Redditch, into a new storage centre and headquarters for AFG.AFG’s architect commissioned a survey that identified asbestos insulation board in a number of partition walls, which the company wanted to demolish, and obtained estimates for its removal from three licensed contractors.However, Worcester Crown Court heard Simon Poole instructed builder Ronald MacPhee, who was carrying out minor refurbishment work on the premises, to carry out the work even though he did not have a licence.

Mr MacPhee and two other workers removed almost 1.5 tonnes of asbestos insulation board from the site and disposed of it as asbestos cement, which can be removed without a licence, some time between 24 April and 16 May 2008.

Five months later, two other companies, who had been commissioned to demolish parts of the building and build an extension, discovered pieces of asbestos insulation board on the floor and still attached to retaining screws on the walls and alerted HSE.

Analysis of the area revealed that it was contaminated with asbestos fibres and required decontamination by a specialist licensed asbestos contractor.

HSE’s investigation into the incident found that at least 20 people – including contract workers on the project, employees of AFG and workers for a tenant who had been using the site for storage, could have inhaled asbestos fibres during the five months.

Speaking after the hearing, HSE inspector Tariq Khan said:

“As a result of the appalling failings of the company and two individuals concerned, at least 20 people now have to live with the knowledge they have been exposed to asbestos. This type of exposure could cause life-threatening illnesses in years to come but because it takes so long to develop, these people will be left with years of uncertainty.

“AFG and Simon Poole knew that asbestos insulation board was present in the walls and presumably knew they should get an appropriately qualified person to dispose of it, having received estimates from three properly licensed contractors. Regardless of safety, they instructed Ronald MacPhee to remove it.

“Mr MacPhee should never have carried out the work, and his partial removal of the asbestos insulation board left the site in an even less safe state than before, as it was contaminated with fibres.

“Only licensed contractors are allowed to remove asbestos insulating board. If we find evidence of anyone who does not have a licence working with asbestos, we will not hesitate to bring enforcement action.

“It is no excuse to claim ignorance of the law, especially as there is a wealth of advice and information available from HSE free of charge.”

Avon Freight Group Ltd, of Hemming Road, Redditch, pleaded guilty today to breaching Section 3(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 and was fined £30,000 and ordered to pay £26,147 costs.

Simon Poole, of Streetly Lane, Sutton Coldfield, pleaded guilty to breaching Section 3(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 and was fined £30,000 and ordered to pay £26,147 costs.

Ronald MacPhee, of West Avenue, Handsworth Wood, Birmingham, pleaded guilty to breaching Section 3(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 and was fined £2,500 and ordered to pay £500 costs.

Asbestos is the biggest cause of occupational deaths in the UK, with an estimated 4,000 people dying every year from related diseases such as mesothelioma and lung cancer.

Information on working safely with asbestos is available at http://www.hse.gov.uk/asbestos/hiddenkiller/index.htm and www.hse.gov.uk/asbestos

Police Charge Man With Bewdley And Thornbury Murders

Today (Wednesday 22 February) Avon and Somerset Police and West Mercia Police have charged 47-year-old Stephen John Farrow with two counts of murder.

Detectives from Avon and Somerset Police have been working alongside detectives from West Mercia Police and the Crown Prosecution Service and will continue to do so.

Farrow is accused of murdering the Reverend John Suddards in Thornbury between 13 and 14 February this year (2012) and the murder of Betty Yates in Bewdley between 1 and 5 January this year (2012).

In addition the 47-year-old faces a charge of burglary relating to a property in Thornbury, between 21 December, 2011, and 3 January, 2012.

Farrow will appear at North Avon Magistrates Court on Thursday, 23 February, 2012.

Officers would like to thank members of the public for all their support on this investigation to date.

Detective Chief Inspector Simon Crisp from Avon and Somerset Constabulary’s Major Crime Investigation Team said: “I would like to thank members of the public once again for the support they have shown us and for their courage in providing us with vital information.”

Detective Chief Inspector Neil Jamieson of West Mercia Police said: “I would also like to express my gratitude to those members of the public who have helped us and responded to our appeals and I would also still encourage people to come forward and talk to us if they have information which could assist our inquiry.

“We still have a strong police presence in Bewdley and hope this will help reassure people that the area, and indeed the whole of the West Mercia, remains a very safe place in which to live, work and visit.”

CPS Senior District Crown Prosecutor Siân Sullivan said: “Having reviewed this case in line with the Code for Crown Prosecutors, I have today decided that there is sufficient evidence to charge Stephen Farrow with the murders of Betty Yates and John Suddards. I have also authorised a charge of burglary at a separate address in Thornbury.

“I would like to remind all concerned that Stephen Farrow now stands charged with criminal offences and has the right to a fair trial. It is very important that nothing is said, or reported, which could prejudice a trial.”

Tesco backs down and offers paid work experience after customer backlash

Supermarket giant Tesco has offered to pay youngsters on a Government work experience scheme amid continuing controversy over the programme.

One of the firm’s supermarkets in central London was forced to close on Saturday after it was invaded by members of the Right to Work campaign who said they were angry at a job advert looking for permanent workers in exchange for expenses and Jobseeker’s Allowance.

The group said it planned to hold protests at a number of Tesco stores, including two in London and one in Kingston upon Thames.

Tesco announced that from now on any young person accepted for work experience with the company will be offered a choice of participating in the Government scheme, which protects their benefits for the duration of the four-week placement, or being paid by Tesco for the four-week placement, with a guaranteed permanent job at the end of it, provided they complete the placement satisfactorily.

Tesco has suggested to the Department for Work and Pensions that to avoid any misunderstanding about the voluntary nature of the scheme, the risk of losing benefits should be removed.

Richard Brasher, chief executive of Tesco, said: “We know it is difficult for young people to give up benefits for a short-term placement with no permanent job at the end of it.

“So this guarantee that a job will be available provided the placement is completed satisfactorily should be a major confidence boost for young people wanting to enter work on a permanent basis.”

Tesco has committed to 3,000 work placements under the Government’s work experience scheme, with around half already delivered.

“We will offer the choice of paid work and the jobs guarantee to all of the remaining placements we will deliver under the scheme. Three hundred young people undertaking work experience with Tesco have already found work with us and we are confident that many more will through this approach,” the company said.

Tesco has today announced that from now on any young person accepted for work experience with Tesco will be offered a choice:

– – To participate in the Government scheme, which protects their benefits for the duration of the four-week placement. Tesco has suggested to the Department of Work and Pensions that, to avoid any misunderstanding about the voluntary nature of the scheme, the risk of losing benefits that currently exists should be removed.

– – Alternatively, to be paid by Tesco for the four-week placement, with a guaranteed permanent job at the end of it, provided they complete the placement satisfactorily.

Richard Brasher, CEO of Tesco UK, said “We know it is difficult for young people to give up benefits for a short-term placement with no permanent job at the end of it. So this guarantee that a job will be available provided the placement is completed satisfactorily, should be a major confidence boost for young people wanting to enter work on a permanent basis.”

Tesco committed 3000 work placements under the Government’s work experience scheme. To date around 1500 have been delivered. We will offer the choice of paid work and the jobs guarantee to all of the remaining placements we will deliver under the scheme. 300 young people undertaking work experience with Tesco have already found work with us and we are confident that many more will through this approach.

Tesco employs 293,676 staff  in 2,715 stores across the  UK.