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Bright idea to improve Cumbrian landscape

A project to remove hundreds of old overhead power lines and poles in an area of the Solway Coast has started. Some of the poles and lines are 60-years-old, and clearing them from the countryside is welcome news to the Solway Coast Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.

The work's being carried by Electricity North West, helped by the Solway group and Natural England.

Kim Inglis went to find out more.

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Safety guidelines issued following death of sheep farmer

Safety guidelines have been issued following the death of a well known sheep farmer from the Borders earlier this year.

Jim Sharp, 66, of Newbigging Walls near Lauder, Berwickshire, died of multiple injuries after his shoe lace became entangled in the rotating blade of a sweep auger in a grain silo.

A fatal accident inquiry was held into his death at Selkirk Sheriff Court earlier this month.

The National Farmers Union of Scotland and the Health and Safety Executive have teamed up to remind farmers to use the safe stop procedure when working with any agricultural machinery.

The guidelines include putting the handbrake on;

  • Make sure the controls are in neutral
  • Make sure equipment is made safe
  • Stop the engine or turn off the power
  • Remove the key or lock off the power supply

Farmers were reminded that this was especially important when carrying out maintenance or repairs on machinery.

The guidelines state:

“Use a padlock to prevent the power being turned on accidentally or remove the ignition key and keep the key with you until the work is complete."

They added that farmers should never enter a grain silo when the auger is running as several accidents have been caused when someone has become entangled in the sweep auger by a boot lace or clothing. In addition, farmers were urged not to enter grain silos to clear blockages of any kind unless the power is isolated and there is no chance of bridging in the grain.

“The tragic death of Mr Sharp has once again brought home the dangers involved in the farming industry, particularly when working with agricultural machinery.”

– Hand Safety Executive inspector Hazel Dobb

“Farming remains one of the most hazardous industries to work in and the loss of an important industry figure like Mr Sharp simply strengthens the union’s resolve and commitment to work with others to improve our sector’s health and safety record.”

– NFU Scotland vice president Allan Bowie

Mr Sharp - who died in March - was a former livestock convener of NFU Scotland and a prominent breeder of Blackface sheep. He was also captain of Melrose Rugby Club for several seasons.

Winter Warmth Appeal launches

A campaign to keep older people warm over winter launches today.

The Winter Warmth Appeal raised more than £100,000 for elderly people in the region last year.

Its flagship event is the Big Sleep, a sleep over in a field in south Cumbria, which takes place on February 7.

And tonight the Chief Executive of Cumbria Community Foundation, Andy Beeforth, will be sleeping in a bed - on Windermere - to raise awareness.

“Every year 300 elderly people in Cumbria die because they can’t afford to heat their homes throughout the winter and that is why appeals like the Winter Warmth are so important.

"The Big Sleep is a fun way for people to raise money and help reduce this number. If we can manage to sleep on Lake Windermere and not fall out, it will be easy to sleep out one night on the Low Wood’s fell side."

– Andy Beeforth, Chief Executive

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Settle line strike 'unnecessary'

The Settle to Carlisle railway line is known as one of the most scenic in the UK. Credit: John Giles/PA Archive/Press Association Images

The general manager of the company that runs the historic Settle to Carlisle railway line has called a strike by staff, scheduled for this Saturday, "unnecessary".

Staff employed by the Settle and Carlisle Railway Development Company, who provide at-seat catering, will take action on Saturday 13 December.

The row is about compulsory redundancies, which the National Union of Rail, Maritime and Transport Workers calls a "kick in the teeth":

“The last thing we expected on the historic Settle/Carlisle rail line was a compulsory redundancy situation - it seems the company's actions are at odds with their stated objectives leading them into a regrettable and wholly avoidable dispute with Britain's biggest rail union.

This is a kick in the teeth for loyal and hard-working staff who have fought to save and develop this well-loved service."

– RMT General Secretary Mick Cash

But the Settle and Carlisle Railway Development Company insists it was necessary to offer a member of staff a voluntary redundancy package, which that staff member then turned down:

"We regret the unnecessary strike action and hope it does not undermine the future of the service.

We had offered a generous voluntary redundancy package and another job, but sadly these were turned down."

– Drew Haley, General Manager
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