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Firefighters begin four-day strike

Firefighters across the region have just begun a four day strike in their campaign against plans to increase their retirement age sixty.

They will not be going back until Tuesday. And their strike comes at what is usually a busy period in the run up to Bonfire Night on November the fifth.

The government said today the strike was regrettable and that it had worked hard to give firefighters one of the most generous pensions in the public sector.

Tina Gelder reports:

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Rhinos' Ryan Bailey moves to Hull KR

Hull Kingston Rovers have snapped up Leeds Rhinos forward Ryan Bailey on a two-year contract as the club continues to bolster its squad for the 2015 season.

Bailey leaves Leeds Rhinos for Hull KR Credit: Press Association

A former England and Great Britain international, the prop is one of the most decorated players in Super League having won six Grand Finals, three World Club Challenge titles and one Challenge Cup with the Rhinos.

I’ve achieved a lot of things at Leeds over a 14-year period but I’m ready for a new challenge at Hull KR.

We’ve got a big game at the start of the season against Leeds and that will be a perfect way to hopefully make my debut. I know from experience that the ground is a daunting place to go to, it’s tough for opposition teams and we’ve got to make the most of that.

I know the ins and outs of all the players at Leeds so hopefully I can pass on a few things to Chezzy and we can get a win first game of the season to get us up and running.

– Ryan Bailey

Making his Super League debut for Leeds at the age of 18 in 2002, Bailey has gone on to rack up more than 300 appearances for his hometown club and was granted a testimonial last season for his service to the Headingley side.

Ryan is a fantastic signing and an important one for the club.

With Justin Poore retiring, we lost a lot of experience there and a bit of grunt up front and that’s what Ryan brings to the table. He has a wealth of experience at Super League level and also in big games.

He’s a great athlete, a good trainer and a wonderful player. He gives the impression that he’s a player who plays to the boundaries of the rules at times but he’s aggressive and that’s what you need in a front rower sometimes.

– Willie Poching, New Assistant coach

York Maze displays biggest pumpkin

The biggest carved pumpkin in the North East on display at York Maze for Halloween this year.

York Maze Halloween festivities include the biggest carved pumpkin in the North East Credit: York Maze

A pumpkin carved to look like York Maze owner Tom Pearcy has scooped the top prize and a cheque for £300 in the York Maze pumpkin carving competition at the weekend.

A pumpkin carved to look like York Maze owner Tom Pearcy has scooped the top prize Credit: York Maze

Simon McMinnis travelled from his home near Blackpool to enter the competition.

Unlike the traditional Jack-o-Lanterns, Simon creates intricate 3D sculptures in the pumpkin flesh in a similar way to the way a sculptor models clay.

I’ve been carving pumpkins for the past five years. I grow giant pumpkins myself and I thought it was a shame to just compost them, so I started carving and it turned out quite well.

I wanted to do the carving for the York Maze competition with a topical theme. York Maze’s owner Tom Pearcy’s face surrounded by corn plants worked well with the shape of the pumpkin.

– Simon McMinnis, Pumpkin carver

We had some great entries from some very talented sculptors, but Simon’s carving was chosen by the judges to win first prize. It was quite a shock to realise my face had been carved into the pumpkin. Simon caught the likeness of me very well and set it in a frame of maize plants

– Tom Pearcy, York Maze

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Riley Turner murderer loses appeal for whole life sentence

A murderer who killed a child in West Yorkshire has lost a challenge against an order that he can never be released from prison.

Riley Turner

Former soldier Anwar Rosser, who savagely killed 4-year-old Riley Turner was handed a whole-life tariff by a judge at Bradford Crown Court in February

Today's ruling was made by Lord Chief Justice Lord Thomas, Mr Justice Wyn Williams and Mr Justice Sweeney, and the court announced that there was "no basis on which it can properly be argued that a whole-life order was not required".

Lord Thomas said that the punishment handed out for the "horrific" murders was "just".

Rosser, now 34, who admitted murdering four-year-old Riley Turner in a "savage and gratuitous" attack.

He was staying the night at the boy's home in Keighley in January last year when he stabbed and strangled the "happy and bubbly" child as he lay in his bed.

His appeal centred on the amount of credit to be given in relation to his age and guilty plea.

Fire Minister: Robust plans in place to cover strike action

All fire and rescue authorities have robust and well-tested plans in place that include back-up support if needed.

Public safety is the primary focus and if anyone needs emergency assistance, they should dial 999.

It is regrettable that the Fire Brigades Union has announced this strike action, which is unnecessary and the aim of which is unclear.

Pension regulations were laid in Parliament on Tuesday after extensive consultation and amendment.

The Government recognises the role firefighters play in keeping the public safe and has worked hard to give them one of the most generous pensions in the public sector. We are also consulting on changes to ensure that no firefighter aged 55 or over will face a risk of being left without a job or a good pension.

Under the new scheme, nearly three-quarters of firefighters will see no change in their pension age in April 2015.

A firefighter who earns £29,000 will still be able to retire after a full career aged 60 and get a £19,000-a-year pension, rising to £26,000 with the state pension. An equivalent private pension pot would be worth over half a million pounds and require firefighters to contribute twice as much.

Our thanks are with those who are working to keep the public safe over this period.

– Fire Minister Penny Mordaunt
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