An Evening with Simon King OBE – hosted by Lancashire Badger Group

The Big Cat Watch presenter and nature photographer, Simon King OBE, is coming to Preston to celebrate Lancashire Badger Group’s 25th Anniversary.

As part of 25 years of promoting and protecting badgers, Lancashire Badger Group has invited Simon King OBE to share his stories and photographs, creating this unique opportunity to share in some of Simon’s own encounters with nature.

‘An Evening With Simon King’ will take place on Thursday 22nd June, 7pm, at the Marriot Hotel, Broughton, Preston. PR3 3JB.

Come along and share an evening with the man behind the lens and let Simon take you on a journey as he recounts his encounters with wildlife, including badgers.

Photo courtesy of Alan Seymour

Tickets can be purchased online from the Lancashire Badger Group website

www.lancashirebadgergroup.org.uk/2017/04/14/evening-simon-king-obe/

The cost is £20.00 (plus £1.99 booking fee.) For further information please see our website or e-mail events@lancashirebadgergroup.org.uk

Tickets can also be purchased through the post: please phone 0844 870 7908 for further information.

We look forward to seeing you on this special evening.

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BREAKING NEWS: Arrest made after driver dies in m-way smash

A van driver was killed in a five-vehicle smash which blocked the westbound carriageway of the M55 for around eight hours today.

Police say the 53-year-old from Chorley was pronounced dead at the scene of the collision involving two lorries, two vans and a car near to junction 3, the Kirkham turn-off.

And officers say they have arrested a 34-year-old man on suspicion of causing death by dangerous driving.

An appeal for witnesses has been made following the crash which happened around 8.45 am.

Hundreds of drivers were trapped on the westbound carriageway for several hours between junction 1 at Broughton and the scene of the collision. The road was only re-opened at around 5 pm.

At one point workmen cut a gate in the central barrier to allow vehicles to cut through onto the eastbound lanes, where a rolling road block was in force to allow the traffic to exit.

A police statement at around 3.30pm said: “We were called at around 8.45 am to junction three of the westbound carriageway to reports five vehicles – two HGVs, two vans and a car – had collided shortly before the exit slip road.

“Sadly the driver of one of the vans, a 53-year-old man from Chorley, was pronounced dead at the scene.

“A 34-year-old man was arrested at the scene on suspicion of death by dangerous driving and remains in police custody.

“The westbound carriageway of the motorway was closed fully between junctions one and three for several hours while collision investigators attended the scene.

“One lane has since reopened. The eastbound carriageway was partially closed for a while, although has now fully reopened.

“We are now appealing for information about the collision.

Sgt Steve Wignall, of the Roads Policing Unit, said: “Our thoughts first and foremost are with the family of the man who died. I can only offer them my deepest condolences.

“Although we have made one arrest we are now working hard to piece together exactly what occurred and are appealing for anybody with information to contact us as soon as possible.

“If you saw the collision itself, or saw any of the vehicles involved in the collision in the moments before it happened, please get in touch.”

Anyone with information can contact Lancashire Police on 101 quoting log number 277 of May 2.

Alternatively, the independent charity Crimestoppers can be contacted anonymously on 0800 555 111 or online at crimestoppers-uk.org.

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M55 remains closed following five-vehicle collision

Police have issued an update following a five-vehicle collision on the M55 this morning.

Emergency services were called at around 8.45am to junction three of the westbound carriageway to reports five vehicles had collided shortly before the exit slip road.

Officers attended with the ambulance and fire services and the motorway was closed in both directions between junctions one and three.

The eastbound carriageway has now reopened although the westbound side is expected to remain closed for some time while police carry out a detailed investigation.

Two lorries are thought to be involved in the crash along with two cars and a van.

First Aid has been administered to two people at the scene with a third person cut from a car.

More: M55 closed near Preston as two lorries involved in crash

Sgt Steve Wignall, of the Roads Policing Unit, said: “This was a serious collision which occurred in busy morning traffic and we are very much in the early stages of piecing together what happened and what the level of injuries are.

“We would like to thank motorists for their patience while we continue our investigation. We will reopen the motorway fully as soon as we possibly can.”

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‘Insufficient evidence’ for charges over baby’s death at vicarage

The Crown Prosecution Service has said there remains “insufficient evidence” to charge anyone over the death of a baby boy at a vicarage.

An inquest into the death of Jonathan Percival was halted last October when a coroner decided to refer the case to the Director of Public Prosecutions after a medic told the hearing the youngster would have survived if resuscitation attempts had been made.

Jonathan’s mother, Ruth Percival, 30, gave birth in a downstairs bathroom of the vicarage in Freckleton, Lancashire, while on the toilet, and her father, James, 66, then vicar of Holy Trinity CE Church, came in to help.
The Rev Percival went on to tell police the child appeared “sallow and lifeless” and he thought was “obviously deceased”, but Blackpool Coroner’s Court was told the baby could have survived up to 15 minutes after delivery on November 25, 2014.

Both Mr Percival and his daughter were arrested and questioned on suspicion of child neglect before prosecutors advised police last April there was insufficient evidence and to take no further action. The pair were initially arrested on suspicion of murder and conspiracy to conceal the birth of a child.

In a statement to the Press Association, the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) said: “The CPS has conducted a further detailed review of the evidence in the case of the death of a baby, Jonathan Percival, following the adjournment of the inquest and the referral of the case by HM Coroner Alan Wilson to the DPP.

“The CPS has concluded that there remains insufficient evidence to provide a realistic prospect of conviction for a criminal prosecution. The further review included a review of the transcripts of evidence given during the inquest and an additional report which was commissioned from Dr Gottstein, a consultant neonatologist following the adjournment.

“The CPS has written to the Coroner to explain the decision and to confirm that the inquest can now be continued.”

Last October, the inquest heard Jonathan was born with the umbilical cord wrapped around his neck between 3.30pm and 4 pm, but was not seen by a medical professional until about 5.35pm when Mr Percival let paramedics into the family home at Sunnyside Close.

During that period, the baby was left alone in the house wrapped in a towel on a sofa as the pair visited their local GP for a pre-arranged appointment, the inquest was told.

Mr Percival waited in the car park of the GP’s surgery while his daughter sat in the waiting room, the court heard.

After Miss Percival gave an account of the incident, an ambulance was called to the surgery for Miss Percival and her father was told he should go home to meet paramedics.

But, the inquest was told, Mr Percival did not immediately go home and instead went to collect his wife from a local garden centre and drove her to the surgery.

The inquest was told Miss Percival was living with her father and mother, Susan, 66, at the time of the birth, which was a full-term pregnancy.

She was said to have known she was pregnant and had wanted an abortion, but was told by the Marie Stopes clinic in Manchester that she was ‘”too far on”.

In medical notes, it was recorded she had then “buried her head in the sand and forgot about it”

Miss Percival told detectives that following the birth, she thought the baby was asleep or deceased.

No attempt was made to ring 999, the inquest was told.

A post-mortem examination concluded the cause of death was “unascertained”.

Giving evidence, consultant neonatologist Dr Ruth Gottstein said statistical data showed that when babies were born with the cord around their neck, there was an 80% survival rate with resuscitation.

She went on to tell the court: “If resuscitation had been initiated, I think the baby would have survived.

“Mouth-to-mouth would have done a good job.”

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Rodent infestations on rise across Preston

Rodents running around the streets of Lancashire are a pest that no-one wants. Council rat-catchers have been laying bait across the county, as Brian Ellis reports.

Work to refurbish Preston Bus Station has been hit by an invasion of rats and mice, it has been claimed.

Preston’s worst streets
Call out in 2015/16:
Blackpool Road 25
New Hall Lane 15
Deepdale Road 12
Watling Street Road 12
Ribbleton Avenue 11
Castleton Road 11
Fishwick Parade 11
Robin Street 10
Tulketh Road 10
Callon Street 9

Call outs first half of 2016/17:
Fishwick Parade 9
Watling Street Road 9
Waterloo Road 8
Lytham Road 7
Parklands Drive 7
Avenham Colonnade 5
Brant Road 5
Fir Trees Avenue 5
Manor House Lane 5
Slade Street 5

The facelift, part of a £23.3m youth zone scheme, has been overrun by vermin, stirred up by recent construction activity.

It is understood private pest controllers are being brought in to deal with a “widespread” problem, although owners Lancashire County Council have played down the issue, insisting it is not a problem.

Bus station manager Linzi King said: “We don’t consider there to be a problem. We’ve had to bring in pest controllers at times to deal with incidents in certain areas of the bus station site, although this is only occasional.

“We regularly check for rodents on the site and take suitable action when needed.”

The claims of a major infestation come at a busy period for rat catchers both in the city and across the rest of Lancashire.

Preston Council has been inundated with calls, with its pest control officers called out 40 times to just two streets in Preston last year to deal with rats.

And now all householders are being urged to help stem a worrying increase in vermin across the city by taking better care of their rubbish.

Rat catchers made 25 visits to Blackpool Road and a further 15 to New Hall Lane during 2015/16, according to figures released by the city council in response to a Freedom of Information request.

There’s fewer traps being set in sewers, so they grow in numbers before coming to the surface.

The picture was even worse in the Chorley area where one street alone had a staggering 53 visits from the borough’s pest team during 2015.

Where available, statistics across the county suggest that the rat menace is growing due to milder winters – and the council-sourced figures do not include additional call outs made to private pest controllers.

After years where sewer baiting looked to be tackling the problem, vermin numbers are back on the increase.

Preston Council’s pest controllers answered 1,120 calls to deal with rats in 2015/16. But that did not give the full picture, with private contractors also busy fighting the menace.

“We’re being called out more and more and homes and buildings being overrun is quite regular,” said Michael Flynn of Bamber Bridge-based exterminator Alpha Pest Control.

“There’s fewer traps being set in sewers, so they grow in numbers before coming to the surface. They’re also harder to catch because they’ve started to eat different types of food, meaning finding bait that works for all of them is tricky.”

Deepdale Road was another hotspot in Preston, with 12 visits for rats. Watling Street Road also had a dozen call-outs and Ribbleton Avenue 11.

Others, where rat infestations were a problem, included Fishwick Parade (11 call-outs), Castleton Road (11), Robin Street 10), Tulketh Road (10) and Callon Street (nine).

South Ribble Council, which includes Leyland, Bamber Bridge, Lostock Hall and Penwortham, refused to reveal the numbers of pest control visits – fearing identifying problems streets could have an adverse effect on house prices.

When the Post appealed the decision an exemption panel met to reconsider their application, but still declined to release figures, something the council did with a similar FOI request back in 2015.

In Chorley, where figures are gathered on a calendar year basis, residents in Preston Road summoned council pest control teams 53 times in 2015 and a further 22 times last year.

The figures show Grasmere Grove, near to the River Lostock in Whittle-le-Woods, had 45 visits to deal with rats in 2015, but only four last year.

Higher Meadow had 37 in 2015 and 14 last year, while Chorley Road was visited 33 times in 2015 and a further 13 in 2016.

“We have identified certain areas where there had been damage to drains and property which we’ve now had repaired and we are continuing with the sewer baiting that we do,” said Coun Paul Walmsley, who looks after environmental health issues for Chorley Council.

Preston is one of the few local authorities which operate a free pest control service to households. But budget cuts have seen the number of full-time staff halved from six to three.

The British Pest Control Association says a typical home has more than a dozen potential entry points for rats. And it is calling on householders to be “pest aware.”

The rodents can get through the tiniest gaps – as small as 2cm – and they use plumbing pipes, vents and even gaps in the roof eaves to gain access. Once in they build nests in attics or walls and breed rapidly.

With wheelie bins overflowing with household waste, especially over the Christmas and new year break, the visitors have had a plentiful supply of food to sustain them.

“We’ve had abnormally mild conditions throughout the UK (in 2016) and that is likely to have led to an increase in the number of rats,” said Dee Ward-Thompson, technical manager of the BPCA.

“Any cold snaps will drive them into buildings in search of shelter. They also go scrounging for food from bins and bird tables.”

Preston

The city’s pest controllers answered 1,569 call-outs in 2015/16, with 1,120 of those involving rats and a further 425 to deal with mice.

They made visits to a total of 607 properties during the year.

In the period from April to October 2016 – before the cold weather – they took a further 665 calls, almost 500 of those to deal with rats.

Blackpool Road, with 25, had the highest number of visits in 2015/16.

However, it is the longest street in the city and also had a much-publicised rat problem around the pond in Moor Park caused by people feeding the ducks.

A city council spokesman admitted the number of call-outs to rats had increased, although a more accurate assessment of the scale of the problem could not be made because not everyone had used the free public service.

“As well as carrying many diseases that can be passed to people, rats also cause considerable damage to buildings by gnawing.

“Their teeth don’t stop growing, so they need to gnaw to keep them short, said the spokesman.

“In colder weather, they are more likely to be found indoors as they seek shelter, where there is often easy access to lots of food for them too.

“The council still has a small team of pest controllers, although over the last few years of continuing budget cuts the number of full-time staff has reduced from six to three.

“We are one of the few remaining councils in Lancashire to offer a free at point of use rodent control service for domestic property.

“Due to sewer baiting work part funded by United Utilities, rat numbers have been declining over recent years.

“However, latest figures have started to show an increase, and this is where the public can really help.

“Really simple things that most people do help tremendously – putting litter in the bin, disposing of domestic waste properly, not leaving plastic bags containing food outside and so on.

“The recent rise in popularity of keeping chickens means that those who don’t carefully provide feed for them are unfortunately also feeding rats.

“The council has preferred to offer a free service in the past, although we have powers to require people to take appropriate actions to control vermin when necessary.”

Fylde

Fylde District Council’s pest control team had only seven call-outs to deal with rats in 2015/16.

They made four visits to Green Bank in Wesham, two to Kilnhouse Lane, Lytham and one to Pool Foot Lane, Singleton.

The authority no longer provides pest control services and therefore there are no figures for the current financial year.

Ribble Valley

Pest control teams dealt with only nine call-outs for rats in the district in 2015/16. Three were in Whalley Road, Wilpshire, three in Greendale, Grindleton, two in Whalley Road, Clitheroe and one in Henthorn Road, Clitheroe.

In the current financial year – up to mid-October – there were also nine.

Three were in Inglewhite Road, Longridge, three in Branch Road, Mellor, two in Hillcrest, Langho and one in Bradyll Court Old Langho.

South Ribble

South Ribble Council refused to release details of the district’s pest control problems citing the possible effect on house prices in the worst-hit areas.

The Post submitted a Freedom of Information request which was rejected by the authority. An appeal against that decision was also refused.

Explaining the decision not to co-operate, the council said the newspaper was seeking to obtain information which would “likely prejudice the commercial interest of any person or public authority”.

The statement went on: “We consider that the release of the information you have requested may have an adverse effect on the property prices in the streets in question – hence the commercial interests of the residents could be compromised.”

The authority also said the information “could prejudice the effective conduct of public affairs.”

“The council is concerned that to release the information…could act as a deterrent to other residents to report instances of pest infestation,” said the statement.

“People need to feel confident that they can report such problems without it necessarily being made public.”

Chorley

Council pest controllers were summoned 2,367 times to deal with problems in the district during the 2015 calendar year. Just over 1,500 of those were involving rats.

The figures fell during 2016 due to extensive work carried out by the authority to bait sewers and broken drains. The total was down to 1,787 call-outs, with 1,157 to deal with rats.

Coun Paul Walmsley, who looks after environmental health issues, said: “We have identified certain areas where there had been damage to drains and property which we’ve now had repaired and we are continuing with the sewer baiting that we do.

“I also think that people are being more vigilant and making sure they cover compost bins and keep the lids on household waste bins.

“However, there is always more that can be done to help, such as if you feed birds, use a bird feeder basket.

“If you keep livestock, even rabbits and guinea pigs, make sure there is no food left out at the end of the day. And don’t drop litter including.”

In 2015 the streets with the highest number of pest control visits for rats were:

Preston Road 53 , Grasmere Grove 45, Higher Meadow 37, Chorley Road 33, Station Road 31, Chorley Old Road 26 , Withnell Road 26, Bolton Road 23, Highfield Road 21, Park Road 21,

In 2016 the call outs were: Bolton Road 36, Fairview Drive 22, Preston Road 22, Rockwood Avenue 16, Park Road 15, Steeley Lane 15, Grundy’s Lane 14, Leeson Avenue 14, Higher Meadow 14, Chorley Road 13, Spring Meadow 13, Studfold 13

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Firefighter jobs up for grabs in Preston

New full-time firefighters are being recruited for Preston and Lancashire.

Lancashire Fire and Rescue Service has opened its recruitment window for Prestonians wishing to become a firefighter.

Called whole time firefighters it follows a round of recruiting retained firefighters for the Garstang, Longridge, Bamber Bridge and Tarleton stations.

Applications can be made to the fire service until midnight on Wednesday (8 March).

The fire service state: “If you are looking for a job with variety, a challenge and good career progression, we are currently recruiting firefighters. It is essential that you have a minimum of three GCSE’s including English language and maths at Grade A – C, or equivalent.

“You must be able to deal calmly and professionally with people in distress and emergencies like fires, road traffic collisions, chemical spills and floods, working alongside other emergency services and your colleagues as part of a multi-disciplinary team.

“In addition, you must be able to communicate clearly and be capable of delivering community safety messages to local groups and also be able to support vulnerable people with different needs who live in the community.”

What are the steps?

First, you have to fill in the online application form.

If you get through this you’ll be invited to a bleep test and further online assessments, which take place between 24 March to 30 March.

A Practical Assessment Day is the next step which is from 10 April to 13 April – you will need to be physically fit!

If you make it through this there’s an interview and presentation to do between 24 April and 5 May.

A medical assessment then takes place from 10 May to 17 May, and finally a measuring for the uniform in late May.

How to apply?

There’s an online sign-up form via the fire service website.

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Football fans turn out in force to celebrate Sir Tom Finney’s glittering career

University teamed up with PNE Former Players Association to host the charity event

Football fans turned out in force to celebrate the life and career of Preston North End legend Sir Tom Finney at a charity night hosted by the University of Central Lancashire (UCLan).

Eric Jones and Peter Higham, two former team mates and close friends of the Preston Plumber, regaled the packed audience with amusing tales of playing alongside one of the world’s greatest ever players.

Peter said: “To pull that white shirt on and run out of the tunnel at Deepdale for the first time alongside Sir Tom was a dream come true. Then to score a hat trick as well was unbelievable. It was a pleasure to play in the same team as the great man.”

The event, which was organised by UCLan’s Creative Communities Group in partnership with the Preston North End Former Players Association, included interviews with Eric and Peter, a screening of the UCLan Honorary Fellow’s ‘This is your Life’ TV programme, a football quiz, hotpot supper and music from acoustic duo Ben Ainsworth and Darren Jackson.

Brian Finney, Sir Tom’s son, was in attendance at the busy event, held in UCLan’s Mitchell and Kenyon Cinema. He said: “I was delighted to be invited to attend the event and it was great to catch up with dad’s former footballing colleagues and listen to them reminisce about the old days playing for Preston North End Football Club.”

Proceeds from the ticket sales have gone to two local charities.

UCLan Honorary Fellow Russell Hogarth, community ambassador and chair of the Creative Communities Group, added: “What a tremendous evening we had looking back at the life and times of Preston’s most famous footballer Sir Tom Finney.

“Former PNE players Eric Jones and Peter Higham had the audience spellbound when reminiscing about the old days playing alongside Sir Tom in the 1950s. It was delightful to see Sir Tom’s son Brian making a personal appearance at the University to support his father’s legacy. On a personal note it was also a very special night for me because I chair the UCLan Honorary Fellows and Sir Tom received his Honorary Fellowship back in 1988.”

From left to right Phillip Parramore, Russell Hogarth, Eric Jones, Peter Higham, Phil Gittins, Ian Rigby and Malcolm Rae

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