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Study: 88% of LGBT people in rural towns hit by hate crime

Around 88 per cent of gay people in villages and rural towns have been the victim of a hate crime, an expert has warned - with figures suggesting the problem is hugely under-reported.

Dr Stevie-Jade Hardy, a lecturer at the University of Leicester's Centre for Hate Studies, interviewed 50 people as part of a new report into crimes targeting gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people.

London Pride Parade 2014 Credit: PA

She said too many were left "lonely and isolated, with nowhere to turn" as hate crime had become an "everyday reality" for them - and they fear police will not take the report seriously.

There were many instances in which LGB and T people were being targeted by young people within their area. It would often start with young people shouting derogatory names and then escalate to where victims' houses were being vandalised.

Victims were often fearful about reporting these forms of hate crime in case it made the situation worse. It is these everyday experiences that are incredibly difficult to deal with - the drip, drip effect.

The impact can be devastating. Some LGBT people are scared to leave the house, feeling anxious, fearful and vulnerable.

It is a big issue.

– Dr Stevie-Jade Hardy, University of Leicester

She said statistics suggested around 35,000 hate crimes against LGBT people went unreported every year.

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Lib Dems: Double council tax for countryside second home owners

Owners of second homes in rural beauty spots could face paying double the rate of council tax under Liberal Democrat plans to ensure local residents are not priced out of the property market.

Lib Dems: Double council tax for countryside second home owners Credit: ITV News/ Louisa Felton

Nick Clegg is in St Austell this morning launching his party's countryside charter, with plans to create 300,000 new jobs in rural areas.

He spoke to ITV News Political Correspondent Emily Morgan:

A source said "we are not saying this will be imposed" but local authorities in areas including Cumbria, Cornwall and Devon have said they would be interested in higher council tax rates to "discourage" second home ownership.

Rural areas play a large part in Britain's economy with the rural economy worth £210 billion. The Liberal Democrats want to unlock this potential so rural areas and the rest of the UK can thrive.

In order to prosper, rural areas need good local services, appropriate infrastructure and more housing.

– Nick Clegg

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Fox beheaded in pro-hunting warning

An investigation is underway after an image of a fox's head on a spike was posted on Facebook with this message from a pro-hunting campaigner Credit: SWNS

Police are investigating after an image of a fox's head impaled on a spike was posted on Facebook by a pro-hunting campaigner.

A man from the Hartlepool area reportedly posted the disturbing image, along with the message: "I keep my promises 1 ban = 1 fox."

"You have cost a fox that was not near a farm or any livestock its life," the man wrote, according to The Northern Echo. "Just for you. Any more bans and another fox dies."

A Cleveland Police spokeswoman said: "Police have been made aware and are following up inquiries.

"Part of our enquires would be to liaise with the RSPCA. If there has been cruelty involved, it would fall under something we would investigate."

An RSPCA spokeswoman said that it was investigating the "distressing" image, which has since been deleted from Facebook.

National Farmers' Union: Milk is now cheaper than water

The president of the National Farmers' Union has said that the price of milk has been devalued to the extent that it is now "cheaper than water".

Speaking on BBC Radio 4's Today programme, he said:

This is only a symptom of what has happened in the milk industry over the last number of months ... There are very few dairy farmers making any money, most are haemorrhaging money at this present time, particularly those at 20p a litre ...

Dairy farming is seen as nearly iconic in the British countryside. We have lost 60 dairy producers in December alone ... We have halved the number of dairy farmers in the last 10 years.

– Meurig Raymond, president, nfu

First Milk delays payments to farmers amid price slump

Britain's largest dairy firm has delayed payments to farmers because of a slump in the global price of milk, its chairman has said.

Dairy farmers faced a year of unprecedented volatility in 2014, First Milks says Credit: Frank May/DPA/Press Association Images

First Milk, a co-operative owned by British farmers, said last year was a "year of volatility that has never been seen before" in the global dairy industry.

Its chairman, Conservative MP Sir Jim Paice, said it will delay today's payments to farmers by two weeks and all subsequent payments by a fortnight in order to put the business on a "stronger platform".

He added: "We are aware that hundreds of UK dairy farmers are unlikely to find a home for their milk this spring."

Read the full statement here

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