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Drug dealer behind bars

A man has been sentenced to four years in prison for drug possession with intent to supply.

Craig Ferrier, aged 37, of Gatcome Close, Calcot, Reading, was found guilty by a unanimous jury, after a four day trial at Reading Crown Court of one count of drug possession with intent to supply.

Craig Ferrier Credit: Thames Valley Police

On 24 May 2015, Ferrier was arrested after he discarded a small package, when he was told by staff from the Zeus Nightclub, Reading, that he was going to be searched. This was found to contain cocaine as was another bag. There was evidence of intent to supply drugs found on Ferrier's phone.

Ferrier had no regard for the well-being of others and the impact that drugs can have on peoples’ lives. I hope that this conviction and sentence will make it clear to anyone who is dealing, or considering dealing, any kind of drug that they risk a significant prison sentence for their activities.

– Detective Constable Alastair Bagshaw

Petition launched to save arts centre

The South Street Arts Centre is under threat of closure Credit: ITV Meridian

More than three thousand people are fighting to save an arts centre in Reading.

They've signed a petition in protest at plans to close the South Street Arts Centre.

The building's under threat because of a £39mcouncil budget cut over three years.

Protestors say it would be a huge loss to the town's arts community.

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Major archaeological find halts work at park and ride scheme in Reading

Work stops at Mereoak site Credit: ITV Meridian

Work has stopped on a park and ride scheme in Reading following the discovery of some ancient artefacts. Archaeologists were called in when builders unearthed evidence of an iron-age civilisation under the proposed car park. Builders digging the foundations of the 580-spot car park found ditches, rubbish pits and five cremated bodies, two in clay urns. The cremated remains have been sent for carbon dating process to find out exactly how old they are.

While construction teams were aware of the historical significance of the site, they had hoped to build on top of any relics. The council says work at the Mereoak site has been delayed until August. They say archaeological finds at the start of the project mean further investigations will have to take place.

The park and ride, on the Mereoak site at Three Mile Cross in Reading, was originally due to open in the spring.

New centre opens to help children at risk of neglect and abuse

New centre to help vulnerable children Credit: ITV news

A new child protection centre opens in Reading today. It's called MASH - which stands for the Multi Agency Safeguarding Hub and is based at the Civic Offices. Police, social workers, and health experts will be based there and will work together to help protect vulnerable young people who may be at risk.

The centre will act as a central point to collect and analyse safeguarding data known to separate organisations. This pooled information will then be used to identify risk and needs and inform safeguarding decisions about children and young people.

MASH works to assess risks earlier and more quickly so helping children and families access the right services at the right time and prevent the escalation of problems.

Reading's Lead Councillor for Children's Services, Cllr Jan Gavin said: "We have had a MASH in Reading since 2012, but this enhanced facility will allow partners to work even more closely together to identify risks to children and young people and act quickly to ensure effective safeguarding measures are in place. Safeguarding children and young people is a top priority for the Council and its partners and I am pleased that the MASH will be used to strengthen the measures we are taking together to tackle child protection issues."

Bee decline could affect what we eat

Experts say more species are needed to pollinate the food we eat

It's estimated a third of the food we eat is pollinated by bees - and we're not just talking honey. Their role is so important in our food chain that their contribution is worth £650 million to our economy. But experts are warning we need to act now to ensure that continues.

As bees transport pollen from flower to colony they accidentally pollinate all sorts of fruit and vegetables, which end up on our plates. But despite having 200 species here in the UK - only a couple pollinate our crops. Experts say we need to ensure other types are pollinating too, by making the right food and nesting resources available - whether on farmland, or in towns and cities. Ecologists at Reading University have compared it to a game of football.

"You might have all your stars playing on the field currently but you need to have a very strong squad on the bench so if your key player were unable to play for some reason you would need a good substitute to take up that role and that's exactly why we need to focus our efforts on conserving all the bee species that are available to us, and not just focus on the ones that are pollinating crops now."

– Deepa Senapathi, Ecologist, Reading University
Bees are worth £650 to our economy by pollinating the food we eat

The bees we rely on to pollinate crops for us now may not be around in the future because of changes in the climate, or a change in crops that grow on farmland. The University of Reading campus is a green space - full of flowers and plants. And that's what scientists are encouraging - that our urban spots have plenty of parks and gardens, or even balconies, where the right flowers and plants will attract different types of bees.

Deepa Senapathi is encouraging more species to pollinate our crops

"Pollination services in the UK are valued at £650 million per year and that was a figure from three years ago so that figure is only likely to go up so in terms of the econmomic services they provide bees are really important so you wouldn't want the economy to be hit we wouldn't be able to have the good quality strawberries and apples that we enjoy now so it impacts quality of life in very basic ways."

– Deepa Senapathi, Ecologist, Reading University

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Man dies in caravan fire

Police cordon off the scene of the fire in Whitley Credit: INS

A man's died after a caravan fire in Reading early this morning.

Police and paramedics rushed to the scene in Linden Road in Whitley after the fire broke out just before 6am but the mobile home had burned to the ground.

Forensic officers have been combing the scene for clues after police confirmed the cause of the blaze, which happened on a driveway outside a house, was unknown.

Foul play has not been ruled out.

Police cordon off the scene of the fire in Whitley Credit: INS

"That caravan is always parked there, but we don't really know who it belongs to. I thought it was a bit strange because yesterday afternoon I saw it had been moved and then in the evening it was back and a woman was out cleaning it. I heard some noise outside this morning quite early and went to the window and the whole caravan was all ablaze, in fact it really was a monstrous blaze with lots of smoke."

– Neighbour James Breadmore
Police cordon off the scene of the fire in Whitley Credit: INS

"We were called to a fire in Linden Road in Reading, Berks., at 6am today. A man was declared deceased at the scene. His next of kin are yet to be informed and he cause of the fire is yet to established."

– A spokesman for Thames Valley Police

Girl aged 15 due in court on attempted murder charge

The stabbing incident happened in Reading on Sunday

A 15-year-old girl has been charged with attempted murder after a boy aged 16 was stabbed in the chest. It happened at around midday on Sunday 7th June on Granville Road in the Southcote area of Reading.

The 15-year-old girl has been remanded in custody and is due to appear before magistrates this morning charged with one count of attempted murder and one count of possession of a knife blade/ sharp pointed article in a public place.

Girl, 15, in custody after boy, 16, stabbed in Reading

A 16-year-old boy is in a serious condition in hospital after being stabbed in Reading on Sunday. Thames Valley Police were called to Granville Road in the Southcote area of Reading just after midday yesterday.

A 15-year-old girl has been arrested. Our reporter Mel Bloor sent this report from the scene.

“I would like to reassure the local community that we believe this is an isolated incident. We are investigating the circumstances fully. If anyone has information about this I would ask them to contact police by calling 101.

Officers remain on the scene and anyone with concerns can contact the police.”

– Det Insp Mark Spencer, Reading CID, Thames Valley Police
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