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NEWS | Self-driving buses and delivery vans could soon hit Herefordshire and other UK roads thanks to government-funded competition

Google Street View - Image Date - June 2021

A new £40 million competition to kick-start commercial self-driving services, such as delivery vehicles and passenger shuttles, has been launched today (Monday 23 May) by Lord Grimstone, Minister for Investment. The funding could create tens of thousands of skilled jobs across the UK over the next decade.

The ‘Commercialising Connected and Automated Mobility’ competition will provide grants to help roll out commercial use self-driving vehicles across the UK from 2025, delivering convenience for consumers and making journeys safer, greener and more reliable.

The competition will help bring together companies and investors so that sustainable business models to be rolled out nationally and exported globally.

Types of self-driving vehicles that could be deployed include delivery vans, passenger buses, shuttles and pods, as well as vehicles that move people and luggage at airports and containers at shipping ports.

Minister for Investment Lord Grimstone said:

Self-driving vehicles have the potential to revolutionise people’s lives, whether its by helping to better connect people who rely on public transport with jobs, local shops, and vital services, or by making it easier for those who have mobility issues to order and access services conveniently.

This funding will help unlock the incredible potential of this new and growing industry, building on the continued development of self-driving technology, attracting investment and helping make our transport cleaner, safer and more efficient.

Transport Minister Trudy Harrison said:

We know that self-driving vehicles have the potential to revolutionise the way we travel, making our future journeys cleaner, easier and more reliable. But our absolute priority is harnessing the technology to improve road safety.

With around 88% of road collisions currently caused by human error, this funding will drive the introduction of new technology to improve travel for all, while boosting economic growth and highly skilled jobs across the nation.

The competition will cement the UK’s reputation as a global leader in self-driving vehicle technology, unlocking a new industry that could be worth £42 billion to the UK economy by 2035, potentially creating 38,000 new skilled jobs.

£1.5 million of the funding will be used to study and explore using self-driving vehicles as a means of public transport that could provide an alternative to mass transit systems. This includes, for example, using self-driving vehicles on routes separated from other traffic that could be cheaper and more flexible than new railway lines.

The UK government is continuing to develop a comprehensive legal and assurance framework for self-driving vehicles to ensure the safety of the technology. The government announced a Transport Bill in the recent Queen’s Speech that will introduce comprehensive legislation for self-driving vehicles to enable safe and responsible deployment.

The first vehicles to be listed as self-driving in the UK – vehicles approved under the Automated Lane Keeping System (ALKS) Regulation – could be available for people to purchase, lease or rent later this year. Vehicles will undergo rigorous testing and will only be permitted to drive themselves when they have met stringent standards.

The work undertaken by the government and its partners has already ensured that the UK has a proven track record in leading connected and self-driving vehicle innovation, enabling joint public and private investment of £440 million.

Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders Chief Executive Mike Hawes said:

Self-driving vehicles offer major benefits to society – improving road safety, supporting new jobs and economic growth, and enabling greater mobility for everyone – so the UK is rightly seeking to be at the forefront of this technological evolution. Recent regulatory reforms have helped Britain establish itself as a leader in the rollout out of self-driving passenger vehicles, and today’s announcement is a significant step towards self-driving public transport and goods delivery services becoming a reality. This new funding competition will help drive innovation and, potentially, private investment in UK automotive, ensuring cutting-edge self-driving technology finds a clearer path to UK roads.

Contains public sector information licensed under the Open Government Licence v3.0.

NEWS | Motorists advised to find alternative route with Ledbury Road in Hereford closed this evening for Welsh Water work to take place

Google Street View - Image Date - June 2021

Motorists are advised to expect disruption, with a busy route in Hereford closed this evening.

The A438 (Ledbury Road), will be closed near the junction for Central Avenue and Portfield Street on Monday evening, between the hours of 6pm and midnight.

Welsh Water will be carrying out the work and access will be made available for residents only. Diversion and further updates available below.

BREAKING | Police arrest hospital staff member on ‘suspicion of administering poison’ after death of a child at hospital

West Midlands Police have arrested a 27-year-old woman on ‘suspicion of administering poison with intent to endanger life’, after the death of a child at Birmingham Children’s Hospital.

A spokesperson for West Midlands Police said:

“We’ve arrested a 27 year-old woman in connection with the death of an infant. 

“The child sadly passed away on Thursday (20 May) at hospital.

“The woman was arrested on Thursday evening at a property in the West Midlands area on suspicion of administering poison with intent to endanger life.

“She has been released while the investigation continues and the results of forensic tests are examined.

“The family of the child are being supported by specially-trained officers.”

NEWS | Police launch investigation after 11-year-old boy has finger amputated after incident at school

Gwent Police have launched an investigation after a 11-year-old boy had his finger amputated following an incident at a school in Abertillery in South Wales.

Shantal Bailey, mother of Raheem Bailey, aged 11 years-old said the following on Facebook:

“My 11 year old son, Raheem Bailey, has faced racial and physical abuse, as well as more generic bullying about his height among other things, since he started Abertillery learning community in September 2021. Although he had mentioned a few incidents of people being ‘mean to him’ recently, I did not realise the extent of what he was going through until an incident this week.

“On Monday, Raheem called me in tears whilst I was at work, saying that he’s being bullied and that the teacher threatened him with detention despite him being the one that’s getting picked on. After work I attended the school and informed them that all this needed to stop. I was then reassured that everything would be handled by the Tuesday morning.

“On Tuesday morning break time, Raheem was attacked and beaten by a group of children whilst in school. He was pushed to the ground and then repeatedly kicked.

“Consequently, Raheem made a desperate attempt to leave the school grounds in order to escape the situation. I received a phone call from Raheem and then the school informing me of the incident. The school told me that the ambulance wouldn’t arrive for 2 hours, but advised me not to drive Raheem to A&E myself. Raheem, his baby brother and I were taken to a minor injuries unit by the school bus, despite them knowing that his injury was severe.

“We spent the next five hours waiting for an ambulance to transfer us to the location where he would undergo surgery, in Swansea, 50 miles away from his home and school.

“As time rolled on, it became more apparent that the possibility my son was going to lose his finger was a real one. The doctors then confirmed this was likely. I had to explain this to him while he sat there in agony. After 6 hours of surgery to save it, which was ultimately unsuccessful, his finger had to be amputated. From the day of the incident until now Abertillery learning community have not reached out to me to check on his well-being. Please share our story.

Gwent Police have confirmed that they are investigating the incident. A spokesperson for Gwent Police said:

Superintendent Vicki Townsend said:

“Our officers are supporting and liaising closely with the family of the young boy who, when leaving the school grounds following the reported assault, received a serious injury to his hand as a result of it being caught in a fence.

“Since we received this report, on Wednesday 18 May, there has been significant interest and coverage of this. I would urge people to think about the impact their social media posts and commentary could have on those affected, as the police investigation continues.

“We’re working closely with the school and officers continue to carry out enquiries in the area.

“Anyone with any information that could help the ongoing police investigation can call us on 101, quoting 2200165495, or direct message us on Facebook or Twitter.”

Abertillery Learning Community Update

Abertillery Learning Community is working with Gwent Police in relation to an ongoing investigation into an alleged assault on the secondary campus. 

All campuses at Abertillery Learning Community will be closed tomorrow on health and safety grounds. Learners will access blended learning for Monday, 23rd May.

The safety and well-being of learners and staff remains of paramount importance to the Learning Community and the Local Authority at all times.

GoFundMe page raises £90,000 for 11-year-old who had finger amputated after incident at school:

“Hello. My name is Shantal Bailey and I’m fundraising to get my 11 year old son, Raheem Bailey, a Prosthetic finger and any additional cost to get him on the road to recovery. 

“Raheem has faced racial and physical abuse, as well as more generic bullying about his height and other things, since he started secondary school in September 2021. Although he had mentioned a few incidents of people being ‘mean to him’ recently, I did not realise the extent of what he was going through until an incident this week.

“On Tuesday, Raheem was attacked by a group of children and beaten (mainly kicked) after being pushed to the ground.

“Consequently, Raheem made a desperate attempt to leave the school grounds in order to escape the situation.

“Whilst climbing the fence, his finger got caught and attached to it, causing the skin to strip and the finger to break in half it. After 6 hours of surgery to save it, which was ultimately unsuccessful, his finger had to be amputated.

“I would really appreciate if you could help in any way to get him a personalise prosthetic finger and any additional cost to get him on the road to recovery.”

Fundraiser by Shantal Bailey : Sunshine (gofundme.com)

NEWS | Passengers heading to Hereford and Leominster stranded for hours after being evacuated from train that caught fire overnight

Passengers on a train travelling to Hereford and Leominster have spent hours out in the cold waiting for transport after a fire on a train between Hereford and Shrewsbury.

The incident occurred near Craven Arms and saw surrounding roads closed due to safety concerns. West Mercia Police, Shropshire Fire and Rescue Service, Hereford & Worcester Fire and Rescue Service, West Midlands Ambulance Service and British Transport Police were all alerted to the incident at approximately 11pm on Sunday evening.

Passengers were evacuated from the train and asked to wait in a nearby car park for a coach. The coach took a number of hours to turn up and then had to wait a further 45 minutes due to the coach drivers hours almost being up.

Your Herefordshire understands that all passengers were evacuated from the train safely and that surrounding roads have now reopened.

Joshua who was travelling on the train told Your Herefordshire that at 5.45am, some passengers were still on a coach heading to South Wales, almost seven hours after the original incident.

Joshua went on to say that he believed the fire started after the train hit an object on the tracks. We are awaiting a further statement from British Transport Police and Transport for Wales.

An operational incident between Hereford and Shrewsbury means all lines are blocked. Trains running between these stations will be revised or cancelled.

Disruption is expected until the end of the day.

Alternative travel advice:

Transport for Wales advise not to travel on this route if possible.

If you do need to travel, a limited replacement road transport service is in place between Hereford and Shrewsbury. Customers are advised to use alternative rail services. 

You may use your tickets on the following services to complete your journey:

  • Avanti West Coast between Crewe and Birmingham New Street
  • CrossCountry between Cardiff Central and Birmingham New Street
  • Great Western Railway between Cardiff Central and Bristol Parkway
  • West Midlands Railway between Shrewsbury / Crewe and Birmingham New Street

NEWS | Passengers evacuated due to a fire on a train between Hereford and Shrewsbury

A number of rail passengers have been evacuated after a train caught fire between Hereford and Shrewsbury.

British Transport Police, Hereford & Worcester Fire and Rescue Service, West Midlands Ambulance Service and West Mercia Police were all called to the incident near Craven Arms at around 11pm on Sunday evening.

Passengers were evacuated from the Transport for Wales service.

A number of road closures have also been put in place due to the ongoing incident. Motorists are advised to use alternative routes for the time being.

BREAKING | Emergency services respond to train fire between Hereford and Shrewsbury

Emergency services are currently responding to a fire on a train between Hereford and Shrewsbury.

West Mercia Police, West Midlands Ambulance Service, Shropshire Fire and Rescue Service and British Transport Police were all called to the incident near Craven Arms just over an hour ago.

Passengers have been evacuated from the train. A number of road closures are also in place due to this ongoing incident.

BREAKING | Jesse Norman appears to support calls for a windfall tax on the oil and gas sector as cost of living crisis hits new levels

Hereford & Herefordshire South MP Jesse Norman appears to support calls for a windfall tax on oil and gas companies, with the cost of living crisis escalating even further, leaving many households struggling to make ends meet.

Jesse Norman shared a number of tweets earlier that appeared to show that he supports plans for a windfall tax, but that it should be a short term move.

Here’s what Jesse Norman said on Twitter:

“I don’t know the Treasury’s mind regarding a windfall tax on the oil and gas sector. Few would embrace the idea with enthusiasm in normal times. But these are extraordinary times, and the arguments against it at present are very weak.

“There are several precedents. One is the Bank Levy, introduced under George Osborne in the wake of the 2008 financial crash — but when the public finances were in much better shape than they are now.

“A new Oil and Gas Levy would need to be temporary and well defined. As several present and former oil and gas CEOs have noted, it won’t much change companies’ investment plans or the incentive to invest. These are not profits any firm was relying upon before February 2022.

“Such an Oil and Gas Levy would be equitable. First, if it were not implemented, then any revenues would otherwise have to be derived from sources that might well make the current cost of living crisis worse for many people.

“And second, many commentators seem to have forgotten that the Government hugely supported the Oil and Gas sector when tens of thousands of jobs were at risk after the oil price crash in 2014.

“Do those who oppose a Levy now on free market grounds also believe that 2014 intervention was mistaken? Do they think oil and gas companies should enjoy a one-way bet, in which they benefit from public support when prices fall but make no extra contribution when prices rise?

”It is also quite wrong to say that a Levy or tax of this kind would be unconservative. On the contrary, it would be both ethically principled and pragmatic. And it would burden future generations less than incurring more debt.

“There is no such thing as a perfectly free market, and preserving the benefits of free exchange and open markets requires intelligent flexibility in times of crisis from Government. This would not breach that norm. Indeed it would reinforce it.

“Finally, for what it is worth, although she rightly would not have liked the idea much, I have no doubt Margaret Thatcher in her pragmatic prime would have levied a limited and temporary tax of this kind. Indeed she more or less did, in 1981 and again in 1982.”

NEWS | Emergency services rescue one person after a collision in Herefordshire earlier today

Emergency services helped to rescue a man from a vehicle following a collision in Lucton, near Leominster earlier today.

Hereford & Worcester Fire and Rescue Service crews from Leominster and Kingsland attended the incident.

BREAKING | Police launch investigation after human remains were found in a river in Shropshire

From West Mercia Police:

An investigation has been launched after human remains were found in the River Severn in Cressage yesterday evening (Saturday 21 May).

We received a call shortly before 9.15pm after a member of the public spotted what they believed to be human remains in the water.

Our officers attended with colleagues from Shropshire Fire and Rescue Service. The remains were removed from the water and have been confirmed to be human. It is thought they have been in the water for a significant amount of time.

The death is currently being treated as unexplained. An investigation has been launched and all lines of enquiry are being explored.

Detective Chief Inspector John Weaver said: “We are in the very early stages of this investigation and enquiries are ongoing.

“Our priority at this stage is to identify the deceased. The remains are being forensically examined and the results will determine the next steps in our investigation. This could be a lengthy process but we will update the public in due course.”

There will continue to be a police presence at the scene over the coming days as enquiries and searches of the immediate area continue.

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