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Train ticket forger told to repay £17,000 or face jail

A train passenger from Doncaster who used forged first-class rail and parking tickets totalling more than £17,000 to travel round the UK has been told to pay back the cash or face jail.

Stock photo Credit: Press Association

Mark Mason used computers at his home to create the forgeries, which he used to travel for more than two years, British Transport Police (BTP) said.

Suspicions about Mason were first raised in autumn 2013 when staff at Doncaster railway station spotted various discrepancies with parking tickets on the contract worker's black Vauxhall Meriva in the executive car park.

These included an expired ticket as well as tickets with the wrong colours, no date and time printed, incorrect emblems and the wrong price paid.

Mason was arrested in December 2013 when he returned his car and 10 more tickets were found in the vehicle which were believed to be forged.

BTP said a search of the defendant's home led to the discovery of forged travel and parking tickets, genuine tickets, glossy photographic paper, computers and printers, craft knives, scissors and a cutting board.

Forensic examination of the computer devices revealed that Mason had used the computers to produce forged travel and parking tickets.

Mason, 44, of Thorne Road, Hatfield, Doncaster, was convicted of fraud charges relating to 85 tickets, valued at £17,000, on September 16 2014 at Sheffield Crown Court, BTP said.

He was sentenced to six months in prison, suspended for two years and ordered to undertake 240 hours of unpaid work and a 12-day restorative justice course.

The force confirmed that a judge at a proceeds of crime hearing last week ordered Mason to pay £17,884 over six months. Failure to pay will result in a default sentence of 12 months in prison.

The offences were committed between March 24 2011 and December 19 2013.

Detective Constable David Williams said: "This sentence sends a clear message to anyone thinking of trying to evade payment of train fares and/or parking that it really isn't worth it.

"Mason must now pay back all the money he thought he had saved with his fraudulent behaviour or face serving a prison sentence."

North Yorkshire village to benefit from proposed fuel rebate

Drivers in some of the most remote parts of the UK, including a village in North Yorkshire, are to get a discount on petrol and diesel thanks to a rebate scheme.

North Yorkshire village to benefit from fuel rebate Credit: Press Association

The rural fuel rebate is being extended to 17 of the most isolated communities in Scotland and England at the end of May, allowing motorists living there to get 5p off every litre.

Chief Secretary to the Treasury Danny Alexander said the move will help up to 125,000 people in areas that are currently faced with some of the highest fuel prices in the country.

It is the first time that the European Union has approved a fuel discount for people living on the UK mainland.

Currently, islanders off the coast of Scotland and in the Isles of Scilly are eligible for a 5p discount on petrol and diesel because the costs of transporting fuel there means prices at the pump are much higher.

From the start of next month, people living in 17 parts of the UK will be able to register for the scheme, with the rebate then coming into effect from May 31.

Mr Alexander said: "Thanks to my action in Government, motorists across some of the UK's most remote rural areas will now benefit from a fuel discount.

"I have made introducing the rural fuel rebate a top priority because I know from my own experience that cars are a necessity, not a luxury, for people living in remote communities - and that petrol in these areas is far more expensive than the rest of the UK.

"People will see lower prices from the end of May, with filling stations in the 17 selected areas able to register for the scheme from April 1. Combined with the current fall in oil prices and the freeze in fuel duty rates nationwide, this 5p discount on fuel prices will provide a much-needed boost to families who face the highest fuel prices."

The rebate will apply in the postcode areas IV14, IV21, IV22, IV26, IV27, IV54, PH19, PH23, PH36, PH41 and KW12, all in the Scottish Highlands, as well as those in the PA38 and PA80 areas of Argyll and Bute.

In England it will help those in the NE48 area of Northumberland, the LA17 area of Cumbria, the EX35 area of Devon and Hawes in North Yorkshire.

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Thousands of homes still at risk of coastal flooding

Seventy five percent of homes at risk of coastal flooding in East Lindsey are still not signed up to receive advanced flood warning, it has been revealed today.

Councils and the Environment Agency are warning that thousands of people on the Lincolnshire coast are putting themselves at risk of harm by not registering with Flood Warnings Direct.

Despite East Coast flooding being the greatest risk to the County, an estimated 75 per cent of households in coastal flood risk areas in East Lindsey have not signed up to the scheme, which is free of charge and provides a telephone call to a landline or mobile to give advance warnings of potential flooding.

"The tidal surge proved that flooding can have devastating effects on communities and it is important people are aware if their home could be affected.

"By signing up for flood warnings from the Environment Agency you will receive plenty of notice which can help you to protect your home and your family."

– David Powell, Head of Emergency Planning at Lincolnshire County Council

"In recent years we have seen the devastating effects of flooding – most recently in 2013 when flooding caused by a tidal surge devastated many homes and businesses across the country.

"While we will never be able to prevent flooding entirely, those living in areas of flood risk, be it on the coast or inland, should be as prepared as they can be, limiting the devastation that a flood can cause.

"I would urge anyone who lives in or has a business in a flood risk area to sign up to the FWD scheme now."

– Cllr Steve O'Dare. Portfolio Holder for the Environment

"Despite year on year campaigns it remains very surprising that such a small percentage of households are signed up to receive free flood warnings. Please don’t delay - make that call as it really can make a huge difference."

– Rachael McMahon. Flood Resilience Advisor

To register for flood warnings go online at www.gov.uk/flood, or call Floodline on 0345 988 1188. You can choose five ways that you would like to be contacted with flood warning messages including phone numbers and email addresses so that whether you are at home or away, you will get the messages.

Husband and wife to tackle 100km challenge

A husband and wife are set to tackle the Blind Veterans UK 100k London to Brighton challenge this June.

Mark Sullivan, 56, from York, and his 46-year-old wife Rachel have both signed up for the event after Mark took part in last year's 100k on his own.

Rachel used to run regularly but was forced to switch to cycling and walking after she damaged her cartilage in an accident.

"After my accident my sons and I were watching Walking With The Wounded, and they said if they can do it without sight or limbs then I can do it with missing cartilage.

"My husband does the Blind Veterans UK 100k challenge each year and I've been wanting to do it. After hearing about how great it was for him last year, I'll finally be joining him on the start line."

– Rachel Sullivan

Mark joined the Army in 1976 and became part of the Intelligence Corps.

He served in Northern Ireland, Hong Kong, Cyprus, Germany and Bosnia before leaving the service in 1998.

Mark then went on to become a lecturer at York's St John University and joined the Army reserve, where he again was part of the Intelligence Corps until late last year.

"I've seen for myself the amazing work that Blind Veterans UK does and the huge difference it makes in the lives of the thousands of veterans it supports."

– Mark Sullivan

The 100k is Blind Veterans UK's biggest annual fundraiser and takes walkers from a starting point in south London along the banks of the Thames, through countryside paths in Surrey, Sussex and the North and South Downs to the charity's centre in Ovingdean, Brighton.

Registration is open and costs £50 per participant for the 50k or £75 for the 100k.

Teams taking part in the relay have a registration fee of £120.

The entrance fee includes hot food at three rest stops, snacks and refreshments along the route and a free event t-shirt.

To find out more about Blind Veterans UK's 100k challenge, and to sign up for the event on June 6, visit www.blindveterans.org.uk/100k.

To sponsor Mark and Rachel as they tackle the 100k, please visit www.justgiving.com/Rachel-Mark-Sullivan.

Distinctive dresses stolen in Bradford raid

Police have released pictures of some distinctive Asian dresses which were stolen in a burglary in Bradford.

The dresses were among a significant amount of clothing and accessories taken when thieves broke into commercial premises in Tickhill Street overnight on Wednesday, 25 February.

One of the dresses stolen in a burglary in Bradford Credit: West Yorkshire Police
One of the dresses stolen in a burglary in Bradford Credit: West Yorkshire Police

A quantity of cash and computer equipment was also stolen in the burglary, which is believed to have occurred between 8pm last Wednesday, February 25 and 11am on Thursday February 26.

"We would like to hear from anyone who saw any suspicious activity in the Tickhill Street area between the times above.

"It is likely that the thieves will have used a vehicle to transport this clothing, which is distinctive and quite rare.

"We would also like to hear from anyone who is offered similar clothing or accessories for sale, possibly at a reduced price."

– Insp George Bardell, Bradford East Area Neighbourhood Team

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RMT protest over privatisation of East Coast

A leading rail union is staging a a series of protests including one in Doncaster to mark the final day of a train company being run in the public sector.

RMT protest in Doncaster

The Rail, Maritime and Transport (RMT) union has organised demonstrations along the East Coast Main Line today, including London, Doncaster and Edinburgh. The union is opposed to the franchise being switched to private operators Virgin and Stagecoach.

Six years ago the East Coast Main Line collapsed into chaos when National Express threw the keys back because they couldn't extract enough profit. That followed an earlier spectacular private sector failure on the line when Sea Containers went bust. It was left to the public sector to not only rescue this vital north-south rail link from total meltdown but to turn around its performance and to start handing hundreds of millions of pounds back to the taxpayer in contrast to the rip-off private companies. This weekend, in an act of gross national betrayal of the British people that will cost us dear, the route is being handed over to Virgin/Stagecoach to be run again solely in the interests of private profit, taking a third gamble after the two previous corporate failures. This re-privatisation is based on pure, hard-right, Thatcherite ideology and is an act of industrial vandalism that will smash apart Britain's most successful rail company for just one reason - it is publicly owned. On Saturday RMT will mark this latest scandal on Britain's privatised railways and the union will renew the fight to return the entire network to public ownership - a policy supported by 70% of the British people.

– Mick Cash, General Secretary RMT

Virgin, who will in part take over running of the franchise say passengers will get "new services, faster and more frequent journeys." Richard Branson's company argue the taxpayer will benefit from the privatisation.

Announcing the deal in December, Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin said:

This is a fantastic deal which will give passengers on this vital route more seats, more services and new trains, and give British taxpayers outstanding value for money.

– Patrick McLoughlin, Transport Secretary

Cold homes 'could kill 11,000 in region by 2030'

Almost eleven thousand vulnerable people in Yorkshire and northern Lincolnshire could die in the next fifteen years because they're unable to heat their homes.

The charity National Energy Action's released figures warning about the threat to vulnerable people from cold homes Credit: Peter Byrne/PA Wire

That's the stark warning from the charity National Energy Action says domestic energy consumers are being hit hard by Treasury energy taxes. They're calling on politicians to address the issue as a matter of priority ahead of the general election.

Government figures show there are currently 4.5 million households which are unable to properly heat their homes across the country.

  • In Yorkshire and The Humber, 244850 households (10.8%) live in fuel poverty.
  • NEA believes that of the 3000 'excess winter deaths' in Yorkshire and The Humber every year, 30% of these were attributed to cold homes.
  • Fuel poor households in Yorkshire and The Humber typically need to pay£440 more than their more affluent neighbours to sustain a warm home.
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