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5 heritage sites and nature reserves now in care of Chiltern Society

Chiltern Society heritage site Credit: Buckinghamshire County Council

Five important heritage sites and nature reserves in Buckinghamshire have been handed over into the care of the Chiltern Society.

The Society has taken a 99 year lease on Whiteleaf Hill near Princes Risborough; Captain's Wood in Chesham; part of Cholesbury Camp; Cobblers' Pits by Wendover Woods and the Hampden Monument near Prestwood.

Buckinghamshire County Council retains ownership of the sites and is charging the Society a peppercorn rent. It says the arrangement saves the Council taxpayers tens of thousands of pounds while safeguarding the future of the sites.

This agreement makes good sense for both parties. It enables the Council to focus its resources where they are most needed, and our Society to demonstrate its commitment to safeguarding special Chiltern sites for the future.

– Roger Newman, Chiltern Society Vice Chairman

Gatwick expansion could mean cheaper airfares

Aeroplane at Gatwick Airport Credit: Press Association

A report published today underlines the benefits to passengers that an expanded Gatwick would bring. The report states that:

“Expansion of Gatwick is likely to have the strongest positive impacts on competition, with benefits to the consumer due to the expected increase in low-cost carrier competition and a less dominant position of a single alliance, resulting in more choice for the consumer and lower fares.”

Airport liberalisation and the introduction of competition between airports has been one of the great successes of aviation policy in the UK. It has increased choice, improved service and caused airfares to fall. It has also enhanced the resilience of London’s airport system.

Expanding Gatwick would create two world-class airports in the southeast and UK consumers will benefit from cheaper airfares as the two airports compete more vigorously.

Ever since BAA’s monopoly of the three London airports was broken up and competition introduced, consumers have seen standards improve and prices fall. There is now the chance to build on this success and ensure that passengers have more choice and lower airfares. Expanding Heathrow would reinstate a monopoly and turn the clocks back. Expanding Gatwick would build on the success of the last five years and bring further benefits to the UK and all passengers.

– Stewart Wingate, Chief Executive at London Gatwick

Hospital says boiler to be fixed by end of the week

For two weeks patients have been forced to wear hats, scarves and blankets on a hospital ward in Kent because the heating broke down. Patient Reg Hansell says up to forty people a day have been putting up with unacceptable temperatures as they receive dialysis treatment at the Kent and Canterbury Hospital. In a statement the hospital said the temperature has NOT dropped below twenty degrees and the boiler should be fixed by the end of this week.

Reg Hansell Dialysis patient

Man prosecuted and barred from taxis after racially abusing and assaulting another man

John Michael Hughes Credit: Sussex Police

A criminal anti-social behaviour order has been put on a Brighton and Hove man after a number of racially motivated crimes against taxi drivers in Brighton and Hove.

John Michael Hughes, 50, of Dean Gardens, Portslade, appeared at Brighton Magistrates Court on Wednesday, November 26, charged with racially aggravated crimes and causing intentional harassment, resisting arrest and criminal damage.

On May 24 this year in George Street, Hove, Hughes approached an Asian taxi driver and made racist comments to him, he then assaulted the driver. When the police attended he resisted arrest and caused damage to the police car he was initially placed in. He was given 14 weeks in prison on September 16 for the racially aggravated common assault and 12 weeks for racially aggravated harassment, alarm or distress, which ran concurrently.

Brighton & Hove City Council's Partnership Community Safety Casework Team and Sussex Police's Safe in the City Unit worked together to secure the anti-social behaviour order against Hughes based on the offences he had committed. The order was obtained under the Crime & Disorder Act 1998.

The terms of the order stop him from using or encouraging others to use racist or abusive language in any public place in Brighton and Hove and stop him travelling in any licensed taxi vehicle within the city.

Sgt David Palmer, Brighton and Hove Safe in the City Team, said: "The order on Hughes sends a strong message that racist behaviour will not be tolerated anywhere in this city. Hughes' behaviour and language is totally unacceptable and always completely unprovoked.

"This is a great example of partner organisations in the city working together to deter an offender who has caused harm in our communities."

Cllr Jason Kitcat, Chair of the Community Safety Forum, said: "No-one should suffer from racial abuse or physical assault including people like taxi drivers and those working in the night time economy. This case shows that we will work closely with our city partners to stop offenders in Brighton & Hove ruining people's lives.

"We will make use of the latest powers available to us to tackle anti-social behaviour and hate incidents which are specifically designed to tackle persistently anti-social individuals and those persons involved in criminal activity.

"If anyone experiences anti-social behaviour we would urge them to make contact with our community safety team or the police."

Anyone experiencing antisocial behaviour should contact the community safety team on 01273 292735 or email or report to the police on 999 in emergency or 101 if it's not an emergency.


Parents warned about toddlers swallowing batteries

X-ray of a child who swallowed a 'button' battery Credit: NWTS

Doctors in the south are warning parents that a common battery found in musical Christmas cards and toys could be fatal for toddlers if swallowed.

The tiny 'button' batteries can cause serious burns to internal organs as well as make small children choke.

'Button' batteries Credit: ITV Meridian

They are perfectly safe if made by reputable manufacturers and used correctly.

Number of tree sparrows on the increase

The Wiltshire Tree Sparrow community is thriving according to MDNIA Credit: MDNIA
The Wiltshire Tree Sparrow community is thriving according to MDNIA Credit: MDNIA

The Wiltshire Tree Sparrow community is thriving according to the Marlborough Downs Nature Improvement Area (MDNIA) project. The MDNIA covers 10,370 hectares (25,625 acres) of chalk downland to the south of Swindon, within the North Wessex Downs.

In 2014 the number of Tree Sparrows in Wiltshire has increased. Across the county in total 170 pairs were nested, raising 1542 nestlings to fledgling's, which is an increase on last year when 890 fledged from 125 pairs in 2013. The MDNIA recorded 76 pairs in its boundary that had fledged, with 623 nestlings to fledgling's (510 fledged from 62 pairs in 2013. See table below).

The species is reaping the benefits of the MDNIA Tree Sparrow project. Working with the MDNIA farmer's, 1000 nest boxes have been sited across 300 square miles, creating sparrow villages in the area surrounding Marlborough. This has resulted in the majority of Tree Sparrows nesting within five miles of the MDNIA, growing their colonies beyond the nature improvement area boundary.

Since 1999 circa 14000 Tree Sparrows have been ringed in the Marlborough Downs area.

Last winter's feeding has definitely helped the birds survive. A great breeding season last spring combined with us putting out large quantities of food again this winter means we are very excited about the prospects for Tree Sparrows in the Marlborough area next year.

– Matt Prior, who manages the MDNIA Tree Sparrow project

Two car passengers killed in crash

Police are appealing for witnesses after two passengers died when the car they were travelling in left the road and hit a tree at Handcross on Wednesday night (17 December).

A man aged 21, from Lindfield, and a man aged 22 from Haywards Heath who were sitting in the back of the BMW died later in hospital from their injuries after the car struck the tree and flipped on its roof.

The BMW was travelling east to west on High Beeches Lane heading towards Handcross village when it came off the road.

Two die in car crash Credit: Press Association

The driver, a 20-year-old man from Lindfield, suffered serious injuries and was taken to the Royal Sussex County Hospital, Brighton.

A front seat passenger, a 16-year-old girl from Haywards Heath, suffered minor injuries and was treated at the Royal Sussex County Hospital before being released.

No injuries reported and police have now dealt with incident

Police were called at 12.06pm today to reports that an air weapon had been fired at groundsmen working on fencing surrounding Highcliffe School in Christchurch. No one was injured. Police officers, including armed response units, attended and conducted a search of the area. A 26-year-old man from Christchurch has been arrested for firearms related offences and is currently assisting police with their enquiries. A number of air pellets were found in the area. During the incident school children at the nearby Highcliffe School were asked to remain inside as a precautionary measure for safety reasons. The matter has now been dealt with and we would like to reassure the community, the school and parents that there is no risk to anyone’s safety.

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