Leominster News

Leominster News is a monthly publication. It costs £1 and is full of local news, stories, information and more. It is available to purchase from Leominster TIC, aswell as numerous newsagents and shops in Leominster and surrounding villages.

Online & Telephone Ordering:

The Leominster News is available to purchase online or by telephone for £2.20 each including UK delivery. Copies can be ordered from the online shop at https://leominsternews.square.site or by phone - ring 07484 627841.

Leominster Town Council Updates - Leominster News

July 2020

COVID – 19 Community Update
Since the beginning of lockdown in mid-March, staff at Leominster Town Council have been working closely with the Leominster COVID-19 SOS Volunteering Group, HVOSS Community Wheels and Herefordshire Council’s Talk Community Team to develop a system for connecting offers of volunteer support with local residents who are currently vulnerable or in self-isolation. We have set up a central telephone contact point for incoming enquiries, which continues to be answered 8am-6pm on weekdays and 3pm-6pm on weekends. We have also been working in close collaboration with local support services such as the Leominster Foodbank and Leominster NILS. 
Over the past few months we have been overwhelmed by the generosity and goodwill of all those who have volunteered to be a part of the Response Scheme. The Leominster area has registered some of the highest volunteering levels in the County during the COVID-19 crisis and, thanks to the fantastic levels of community support, many vulnerable and at-risk people have received the essential assistance that they needed at this difficult time.
Although lockdown measures are gradually easing, there are still many people in our community who are shielding or self-isolating. Volunteers are continuing to help with tasks such as grocery shopping/deliveries, collection of prescriptions (requires DBS clearance), pet support, and essential transport. Even those who are shielding have been able to get involved, helping to tackle loneliness by offering much-needed telephone support. 
The Leominster COVID-19 Community Response Scheme has been supported by a number of funding grants. We are very grateful to the Herefordshire Community Foundation for providing us with a grant from the #NETCoronavirusappeal. This funding has enabled us to purchase the software we needed to develop a central volunteer database, while also covering printing costs for a bookmark promoting the COVID-19 helpline that local pharmacies have kindly been dispensing with prescriptions in Leominster and surrounding villages/parishes.  Our thanks also go to the Fastershire ‘Keep Connected’ Fund, for funding that covered the cost of telephone forwarding software for the Town Council Office phone line and an extended Zoom licence for use in Council and Committee meetings.
Last, but not least, it has also been wonderful to see the efforts of Leominster’s retailers in putting in place the measures required to keep local residents safe as they shop. It is fantastic that so many of Leominster’s shops and businesses are now reopening and we all need to do what we can to support them by shopping local.

Leominster TIC Reopening 
The Tourist Information Centre at 11 Corn Square will reopen for the first time since mid-March on Wednesday 1st July. Until further notice we will be following the below restrictions:
• We will be open 10am until 2pm
• Service will be through the arched window
• There will be no access to the shop, gallery or offices 
• Please adhere to social distancing measures whilst queuing and being served
• Payment by card only (Contactless if possible)
• Staff will have access to appropriate PPE
• The building has been assessed and meets COVID-19 safe standards
The TIC will be able to offer the majority of services and products as before. We can advise on local places to visit, walks and activities, we will have our range of books, guides and maps for sale as well as souvenirs, toys, produce and drinks. We will also be able to sell National Express Coach Tickets. 
We look forward to welcoming you back.

New Signage for Leominster 
In April 2019 Leominster Town Council was successful in securing grant funding to support a project to improve and enhance signage and interpretation materials in Leominster. The grant, part of the European Union LEADER funding initiative, aims to encourage investment in recreation infrastructure, tourist information and small scale tourism infrastructure. 
The funding was provided to help us develop:
• improved pedestrian finger post signage throughout the town 
• a trail of 10 heritage interpretation boards, located around the town centre
• replacement welcome signs located on town entrances 
• updated visitor information signs in the town car parks, bus station and railway station. 
We have been working with heritage groups and historic sites from across Leominster to identify the best content for each of the signs and to ensure that we make the most of this opportunity to draw attention to our town’s fantastic heritage and attractions.
The timeline for the Enhancing Leominster’s Heritage project has been affected by the recent COVID-19 crisis, however we look forward to unveiling Leominster’s new signage in the near future!
Council and Committee Meetings
Monday 13th - Planning & Highways 7pm
Tuesday 14th - Communication & Events Committee 11.30am
Monday 20th - Environment & Services Committee 7pm
Monday 27th - Full Council 7pm
Due to current social distancing regulations, all meetings will be held remotely via Zoom, unless they are lifted by central government. Please see the website for the meeting ID number and email townclerk@leominstertowncouncil.gov.uk for joining instructions and the meeting password.

June 2020

COVID-19 Can We Help?
At this difficult time, Leominster Town Council is working with the Leominster COVID-19 SOS volunteering group, Herefordshire Council, HVOSS Community Wheels and other local partners, to support those living in and around Leominster.
Registered volunteers are ready to give you a hand with:
• Collection and delivery of essential items such as prescriptions, shopping and other essential items
• The delivery of personal care items. These may include cooked meals, toiletries etc
• Transport to urgent appointments
• A weekly chat
• Care of pets. Including Dog walking
• Help accessing the latest Government guidance
• Advice and support for those experiencing hardship
• Help with basic IT
To speak to a member of our support team, just call us on:
01568 737 940 (8am – 3pm Monday to Friday)
01568 611 734 (3pm – 6pm 7 days a week)
If you are phoning on behalf of a neighbour or family member, please ensure that you ask their permission before passing on any personal details.
We are here to help!

Public Open Spaces
At time of printing, public spaces remain open to the public. The current advice for England is as follows:
• You can spend time outdoors – for example sitting and enjoying the fresh air, picnicking, or sunbathing
• You can meet one other person from a different household outdoors - following social distancing guidelines
• You can exercise outdoors as often as you wish - following social distancing guidelines
• You can use outdoor sports courts or facilities, such as a tennis or basketball court, or golf course – with members of your household, or one other person while staying 2 metres apart
• You can go to a garden centre

At all times, you should continue to observe social distancing guidelines when you are outside your home, including ensuring you are 2 metres away from anyone outside your household.
As with before, you cannot:
• visit friends and family in their homes
• exercise in an indoor sports court, gym or leisure centre, or go swimming in a public pool
• use an outdoor gym or playground
• visit a private or ticketed attraction
• gather in a group of more than two (excluding members of your own household), except for a few specific exceptions set out in law (for work, funerals, house moves, supporting the vulnerable, in emergencies and to fulfil legal obligations)
If you are showing coronavirus symptoms, or if you or any of your household are self-isolating, you should stay at home - this is critical to staying safe and saving lives.
Please note these guidelines are for England only.
For up to date information on COVID-19 please visit:

Blandford Fly Bites
There has been an increase of people contacting our local GP surgeries suffering from bites and stings, specifically involving the Blandford Fly. The Marches Surgery have shared the following advice:
Blandford fly bites are common during May and June. They often occur on the legs and are very painful. They can produce a severe, localised reaction (a reaction that is confined to the area of the bite) with symptoms such as:
• Swelling
• Blistering
• A high temperature of 38 degrees (100.4F) or over
• Joint pain
The Blandford fly is a 2-3 mm bloodsucking black fly. The bugs tend to fly at less than half a metre from the ground - so most people are bitten on the legs. It is recommended that people should cover up and use insect repellent when out and about particularly near affected rivers and streams.
Treatment for Blandford Fly Bites - clean the bite wound with water and dry gently. Creams bought over the chemist counter can soothe the pain of a bite, as can an antihistamine tablet. Even though it may be itchy, try to avoid scratching the bite because you may damage the skin and allow bacteria to get in.
Redness and irritation are common and should settle within a few days with these measures. Secondary infection is less common. If you notice red lines appearing on the skin, redness and swelling which keeps spreading outwards and enlarged lymph nodes (swelling) in your armpit or groin, seek medical advice.


May 2020

COVID-19 Update
In response to the current situation, Leominster Town Council have begun working in partnership with Community Wheels, Leominster COVID-19 SOS volunteer group and Herefordshire Council to coordinate a network of support to elderly and vulnerable residents through shopping and medication collection. We now have 90 volunteers helping to support Leominster and surrounding areas in this difficult time and we are also able to make food bank referrals and signpost people to other organisations for additional support. We have been totally overwhelmed by the resilience, generosity and kindness of people in and around the town and indeed across the county, in the face of this global pandemic. 
What are the needs of those most affected by COVID-19?
• Collection and delivery of essential items such as prescriptions, shopping and other essential supplies
• The delivery of personal care items
• Transport to urgent appointments
• Communication & support to combat loneliness
• The care of pets, including dog walking
• Help accessing the latest government advice and information on local services
If you know of anyone who needs help and support, please refer them to our helpline numbers as set out below:
01568 737 940 (8am – 3pm Monday to Friday)
01568 611 734 (3pm – 6pm 7 days a week)
If you are phoning on behalf of a neighbour or family member, please ensure you have their permission before passing on any personal details.
What can we do?
• Consider not only what you need to do to keep you and your family safe, but also about the needs of others in your community
• Register as a volunteer
• Donate supplies to Leominster Food Bank at all of Leominster supermarkets
• Support local businesses and shops where possible
• Have a plan in place in case you or one of your household fall ill
Keep up the fantastic work and stay safe! 
For up to date information on COVID-19, visit www.gov.uk/coronavirus 
For information on symptoms and what to do if you feel unwell, visit www.nhs.uk
NET Coronavirus Appeal Support
Leominster Town Council would like to thank Herefordshire Community Foundation for supporting the Leominster COVID-19 Community Response Scheme with funding from the NET Coronavirus Appeal. This funding will enable us to purchase the software we need to develop a central volunteer database, allowing us to effectively connect those who are vulnerable and self-isolating to the vital support that they need during the Coronavirus outbreak.

Leominster Town Council is keeping up to date with the fast-moving government guidance to keep staff and members of the public safe. With this in mind the Council have decided to send out invoices and collect allotment rent at a later date, probably after the summer, depending on developments. Please be aware if using the allotments, that the gate, toilet and community shed may be areas where you may wish to take extra precautions as everyone will be touching them. Closure as a precaution against the spread of covid-19 may be advised in the future. We will keep you updated.

Advice to the public regarding Exercise
If you do choose to take your daily exercise outside, make sure you follow the government’s social distancing when accessing countryside or public open spaces local to you. Stay local and use open spaces near to your home where possible. You can leave the house for one form of exercise a day, for example a run, walk, or cycle – alone or with members of your household only. Even when doing these activities, you should be minimising time spent outside of the home and ensuring you are 2 metres (3 steps apart) apart from anyone outside of your household.
Follow the Countryside Code. If walking your dog in areas used by other people, you should walk your dog on a lead to ensure you can safely keep 2 metres away from others.
Take home your used tissues and litter. 
Ensure you wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds when you return home. Use hand sanitiser gel if soap and water are not available.

Dog Fouling
In order to keep our open spaces safe for the public to exercise daily, our staff are carrying out essential maintenance. There has been a marked increase in dog fouling on the open spaces, creating a health hazard for our staff and the public. The staff are carrying out essential maintenance and empting the bins. The Community Protection Team have been informed and if you witness someone letting their dog foul and not picking up, please report it on the web form: https://myaccount.herefordshire.gov.uk/report-dog-poo




April 2020

Coronavirus/Covid-19 Advice

Updates, information and advice regarding Coronavirus are constantly changing, therefore we are using our space in the Leominster News to remind you of the following: 

‘Catch it. Bin it. Kill it’: If you sneeze or cough remember to catch it with a tissue; bin it and kill it by washing your hands with soap and water for 20 seconds or using a hand sanitiser that contains at least 60% alcohol if soap and water isn’t available.

Regularly Wash Your Hands: with soap and water for a minimum of 20 seconds, especially when entering your home, workplace etc, before cooking and eating, after using the toilet, and using public transport. 

For up to date information and advice on Coronavirus, please visit: www.herefordshire.gov.uk/coronavirus www.gov.uk and www.nhs.uk websites. 

A Few Words from the New Town Clerk – Julie Debbage

Following on from the departure of our previous Town clerk, Paul Russell, I am extremely excited to have been appointed as new Town Clerk for Leominster. Some of you may already know me, as I have worked in the town in a number of various roles over the past years. My background covers horticulture, education, tourism, retail and highways as well as spending 3 years working for the Town Council managing the Environmental Services Team. I am looking forward to leading the team and supporting the Town Council to continue the great work already being carried out in Leominster, to help the town realise its full potential.

Flooding Response

Leominster Town Council’s Community Emergency Response Team were on call throughout February to respond to Leominster residents affected by or at risk of flooding. Our team monitored river levels alongside Environment Agency alerts, Met Office forecasts and weather warnings and Herefordshire Council advice. 
Storm Ciara 8th/9th Feb: Strong winds brought down trees and branches and the CEP cleared trees debris where necessary. 
Storm Dennis 14th – 17th Feb: heavy and persistent rainfall quickly affected river levels, The Lugg reaching highest recorded levels, peaking at 3.75m. The CEP responded to requests for assistance throughout the town until a major incident was called by Herefordshire Council, meaning only emergency services could respond to calls for help.
Storm Jorge 28th/29th Feb: CEP activated once flood alerts from Environment Agency received. Requests for Sandbags received, delivery would take place if situation worsened. 

The Community Emergency Response Team is available to assist vulnerable and less abled residents of Leominster Town in situations such as flooding or during storms. For advice on what to do in these situations, please visit: https://www.herefordshire.gov.uk/info/200196/roads/345/flooding

Citizens Advice

Citizens Advice Herefordshire hold 2 sessions a month at Leominster Town Council. These face to face appointments are only available by booking in advance with Citizens Advice Herefordshire. These sessions are currently held on alternate Wednesdays. Occasionally a drop in session is available and this will be advertised in advance. 

For advice and information, or to book an appointment, you can contact Citizens Advice Herefordshire by calling 0344 826 9685 (open Mon, Weds & Fri 10am until 3pm).

Please note, Town Council and Tourist Information Centre staff are unable to assist you with CAB queries and are unable to book appointments. The CAB phone lines can be busy so we ask you to try again if you cannot get through.

Contacting Your Local Police Team

The Leominster Police team hold surgeries on Fridays between 10:30am and 11:30am at Leominster Town Council, 11 Corn Square. There will always be an intention for a member of the local SNT to attend and support these events, however due to the nature of policing, attendance by an officer is not always guaranteed.

To contact your local policing team, please use the following numbers:

Inspector James Ashton – 07773045224
Sergeant Nick Green – 07791665731
Police Constable Chris O’Donovan – 07976938975
PCSO Gareth Maddox – 07976938951
PCSO Adam Michniok - 07773048272
PCSO Stephanie Harper – 07773043483

Alternatively, you can email the team on: Leominster.snt@westmercia.pnn.police.uk

To report any crime, you must call 101 or in an emergency 999.


March 2020

2020/21 Budget and Precept Update

At the Full Council meeting held on Monday 27th January 2020 Leominster Town Council resolved to request a precept of £557,574 from Herefordshire Council for 2020/21, which will result in a Band D charge of £151.58.
At the same meeting the Council adopted the 2020/21 budget that had been developed by a Task & Finish Group appointed specifically to develop the budget. A full public consultation exercise took place during November 2019 and the results of that informed the final budget.
The Town Council continues to invest in a number of projects including the refurbishment of the Central and Grange public conveniences, the development of the Secret Garden as an outdoor events venue and new visitor and welcome signage.
To help support the grass cutting in Leominster the Town Council will be renting a larger depot to improve efficiency. Now in its second year the initial teething problems have been ironed out and the service will improve.

Further investment in the Festive Lights and CCTV in the town centre will be made and it is hoped that a refurbished CCTV system, which is overseen by Herefordshire Council, will be implemented during 2020.
The Town Council will continue to support Grange Court, the Community Centre and the provision of a dedicated Citizens Advice Bureau in Leominster. There is also funding for small grants of up to £1,000, but this is limited and there will be continued investment in Youth projects.
An income of around £80,000 has been projected and many of the refurbishment projects will be funded from the loan taken out for that purpose. In 2020/21 a spend of £123,000 has been projected to enable the refurbishment projects to be undertaken.

A few words from our departing Town Clerk
It has been an incredible privilege to be the Town Clerk to Leominster Town Council for the last five years. Following the General Election in 2010, when the Coalition Government came to power, the landscape of local government began changing significantly. By 2014 local authorities throughout the country were beginning to feel the financial pressure due to austerity measures introduced, and in Herefordshire the Unitary Authority, Herefordshire Council, was looking to devolve a range of services to town and parish councils.
Leominster Town Council embraced the challenge wholeheartedly and actively sought to save a range of services that were being threatened, as well as taking responsibility for a number of additional services. 
When I arrived for my first day on Monday 17th November 2014 I began working with a very pro-active Town Council to ensure that many of the services under threat continued. In February 2015 the Friday Market was devolved to the Town Council and by the middle of 2016 the freehold of the Grange, Pinsley Mead, Sydonia and the Linear Park (now known as Ginhall Green) had been transferred to the Town Council alongside Grange and Central car park toilets. In addition to these the Tourist Information Centre, previously supported by grant funding, was taken in-house.
The purchase of 11 Corn Square was completed in August 2017 and refurbishment began in earnest. The building was to house the new Tourist Information Centre, the Town Council Offices, provide a gallery for local artists and organisations to display their works and two local charities, HVOSS Community Transport and Marches Family Network made it their Leominster base.
Although I had a role in overseeing much of this development it could not have been achieved without the incredible support from staff and Councillors. The staff here are absolutely fantastic and so committed to making Leominster a better place to live, work and visit. 
The Town Council continued to invest and in May 2019 completed a holiday flat to encourage visitors to stay in the town centre. Toilet facilities are currently nearing completion to the rear of 11 Corn Square and the “Secret Garden” will be hosting a range of events during 2020.
There is still confusion as to who does what regarding local government services. The Town Council now undertakes the majority of grass cutting in the town but all the verges beyond the main conurbation of Leominster is still the responsibility of Herefordshire Council via its main contractor, Balfour Beatty. The Town Council only has one statutory duty to provide allotments. Every other statutory duty is the responsibility of Herefordshire Council, from libraries to highways, adult social care to safeguarding children and young people.
The Town Council is in good hands and I am sure it will go from strength to strength under the leadership of its new Clerk, Julie Debbage. 
I am going to miss everyone here. As I have said, the staff and Councillors are fantastic and I am very glad that Leominster will be my last big Council. Thank you to everyone for making this such a memorable and rewarding experience. It’s been a privilege and a pleasure.
Paul Russell


Leominster Town Council Update 
February 2020

Climate Change
As many of you will know, Leominster Town Council has declared a Climate Emergency and is currently working towards developing an action plan to reduce its carbon footprint.
In Herefordshire workshops have been organised to help councils begin to develop action plans. These have been organised by the Herefordshire Green Network under the title “The Great Collaboration”. The workshops are free and the Leominster event will be held on 6th February at the Talbot Hotel, West Street beginning at 6.30pm.
In declaring this climate emergency, the Town Council aims to: 
• Commit to an accelerated reduction of our carbon emissions, with the aspiration to become a carbon neutral community by 2050 at the latest in accordance with CCC recommendations. 
• To work with local partners to produce a carbon reduction plan and an action plan covering all relevant council strategies during 2020. 
• To work with our local community to enable them to take all possible measures to match or better our efforts, and to support our community at both an individual and business level to demonstrate, inspire and share best practice both within the parish and further afield. 
• To ensure our community buildings only use 100% renewable energy and lowest carbon where this is not possible. 
• To focus on local key issues, including public and community transport, recycling, management of our open spaces to help protect and enhance biodiversity, and other areas where we can have a positive role to play. 
• To strongly encourage Herefordshire Council, and departments within it, to act in accordance with wider international agreements relating to climate as an absolute minimum.
• To help provide the necessary resource to deliver on this carbon reduction commitment, and to monitor and report annually on our progress.

Tourist Information Centre Update
Here at Leominster Tourist Information Centre, we are getting ready for the 2020 season. Our brochures, leaflets and guides for attractions and destinations, both near and far, have begun to arrive. Please come in and visit us and begin planning your adventures for the coming year.
February is a great time of year to enjoy some of the countryside we have in North Herefordshire. Snowdrops coat the ground, the days become longer, so why not pull on your walking boots and explore the area in which we live? We stock a wide range of walking guides and maps. Such as the Kittiwake range of books covering mainly circular walks in the Leominster & Hereford area (from £4.99). Our range of Ordnance Survey maps also cover our area and beyond (£8.99). If you are looking at joining an organised walking group, come in and we will be able to advise you on some of the groups running in the area. 
Valentine’s Day will soon be upon us. We stock a great range of locally made jewellery, including items of cutlery crafted into bracelets, enamelled jewellery and wire jewellery. For those who enjoy a little tipple, we have a wide range of locally produced alcoholic drinks. Including our new Framboise, produced in nearby Lyonshall. Not forgetting ciders, ales and much more. 
Leominster Tourist Information Centre is open Monday to Saturday, 9.30am until 4pm.

Through the Wardrobe, the annual Christmas event put on by Leominster Town Council for the children of Leominster, took place on Saturday 14th December. 540 people bravely faced the poor weather conditions to enjoy our winter wonderland. A huge thank you to everyone who volunteered their time and services and to everyone who ventured “Through the Wardrobe”.
We are hoping to put Through the Wardrobe on again in early December 2020. We will announce in Leominster News, on social media and in the TIC the date in due course. Tickets will be available, first come first served, in the autumn.



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