Humberside Police ask public to be vigilant following recent indecent exposure reports.

Police are advising residents in the Grimsby and Cleethorpes area to be vigilant following recent reports of indecent exposures in the area.

The incidents have been reported between 20 and 24 November and have involved women walking alone.

Detective Inspector Kev Foster who is overseeing the investigation said:

“We are currently actively investigating these reports which are said to have happened in the Hereford Avenue, Brereton Avenue and Alexandra Dock areas of Grimsby and Cleethorpes.

“At this stage we are keeping an open mind as to whether these incidents are linked. They are reported as having taken place at different locations and at different times of day, but with the similarity that the victim has been a lone woman and the suspect a white man aged between 20 and 40.

“As part of our enquiries we are appealing for a potential witness to the Alexandra Dock incident which happened at around 2230hrs on the 24 November. It Is thought that a man walking a dog nearby may have seen the incident take place and may be able to provide information which could help us progress the investigation.

“We would ask members of the public to be vigilant to both their personal safety and any suspicious activity. Anything which gives cause for concern should be reported to us as soon as possible.”

Anyone with information is asked to call 101 quoting crime reference number 2082760.

Warning to road users from Humberside Fire and Rescue as winter weather hits

Dark mornings, dark nights and freezing weather conditions can make driving conditions hazardous. During the winter months the number of road traffic collisions attended by Humberside Fire and Rescue Service increases and road users are urged to take extra care and take the weather conditions in to account before making a journey.

Louise Marritt, Road Safety team leader at Humberside Fire and Rescue Service, said: “Winter weather can make the roads hazardous and as temperatures start to fall the risk of having a collision due to ice and snow increases. Some small preparations before setting out could save you from problems on the road.

“It may sound obvious but make sure you de-ice your windows fully before starting off and check your car has antifreeze and lots of screen wash. Give yourself a bit of extra time for your journey and, in ice and snow, drive more slowly than usual keeping your distance from the vehicle in front, if they brake sharply you will have more time to react,” Louise added.

Here are a few tips to help you be prepared for bad weather:

*Check your local weather forecast before you travel and plan your journey accordingly *Check all exterior lights are working correctly *Check there is sufficient tread on your tyres – worn tyres won’t hold the road well in wet conditions *Make sure your windscreen wipers are in good working order and your screen wash is full *Manoeuvre gently, avoiding harsh braking or acceleration *Use the highest gear possible to avoid wheel spin, if you start to skid, ease off the accelerator but do not brake suddenly. *Avoid overtaking (unless absolutely necessary)

For more safety advice follow us on twitter @humbersidefire or like us on facebook

Supporting struggling schools to raise education standards

More than 2,000 struggling schools could be turned around if they had effective support, Liberal Democrat Schools Minister David Laws has said.

Speaking to CentreForum, David said the Conservatives’ determination to monitor all schools from Whitehall threatens standards in education.

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He said the Conservatives refused to introduce proper oversight for academies and free schools, relying only on the Department for Education.

David said this led to large numbers of schools getting no proper support to improve and problems going unnoticed.

He added that if all academy chains and local authorities were performing to their best, there would be 2,000 fewer schools requiring improvement, or in special measures.

David said:

“Here lies an inherent contradiction in the drive for autonomy – it has led to even more meddling from the centre.

“But this provides a limited capacity for scrutiny which inevitably drives attention towards only the very weakest schools.

“Regional Schools Commissioners are a response to this limited capacity and limited ability to micromanage from the centre. But they still cover absurdly large areas.

“As a consequence of not putting enough focus on a middle tier of accountability, we are allowing too many underperforming schools, weak local authorities and mediocre academy chains to deliver poor education for too long.

“Top down oversight, led by officials often hundreds of miles away, is allowing schools to slip through the net and contributing directly to lower standards.

“Many chains and local authorities across the country are doing a good job in driving up school performance.

“But others are lagging behind, with significantly higher levels of underperforming schools.

“If all local authorities and chains were performing at the level reached by many of the better middle tier bodies across the country, we would today have over 2,000 fewer ‘requires improvement and inadequate’ schools.”

More seats, more services and new trains for East Coast passengers

Rail journeys between London and Edinburgh will be transformed by more seats, more services and new trains after the government announced its intention to award the new East Coast franchise to Inter City Railways, a consortium of Stagecoach and Virgin, today (27 November 2014).

The new deal will include a host of extra benefits for passengers:

  • 23 new services from London to key destinations, with 75 more station calls a day
  • plans for new direct links to Huddersfield, Sunderland, Middlesbrough, Dewsbury and Thornaby
  • proposals for more trains to London from Bradford, Edinburgh, Harrogate, Leeds, Lincoln, Newcastle, Shipley, Stirling, and York
  • 3,100 extra seats for the morning peak time by 2020
  • across the entire train fleet there will be 12,200 additional seats – a 50% increase
  • 65 state of the art Intercity Express trains brought into passenger service from 2018, totalling 500 new carriages
  • journey times from London to Leeds reduced by 14 minutes, and from London to Edinburgh by 13 minutes
  • a £140 million investment package to improve trains and stations.

View the individual station benefits on this interactive map.

Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin said:

This is a fantastic deal for passengers and for staff on this vital route. It gives passengers more seats, more services and new trains.

We are putting passengers at the heart of the service. I believe Stagecoach and Virgin will not only deliver for customers but also for the British taxpayer.

This government knows the importance of our railways. That is why they are a vital part of our long term economic plan, with over £38 billion being spent on the network over the next five years.

Martin Griffiths, Chief Executive of Stagecoach Group, said:

A passion for customers, employees and the community is at the heart of our plans for the franchise. We want to build on the quality and pride of the people who will be joining our team.

We have some fantastic ideas to deliver a more personal travel experience for customers. Investing in the committed people who will make that happen is a big part of our plans, giving opportunities for them to develop and grow into more senior roles. At the same time, we have developed major programmes to help young people, communities and small businesses along what is one of Britain’s major rail routes.

Over the 8-year franchise, Inter City Railways will invest £140 million to bring extra benefits for passengers, including:

  • complete refurbishment of the existing train fleet
  • better wi-fi connections and onboard catering on the new Intercity Express train fleet
  • improved ticket offices and 170 new ticket vending machines
  • over 500 new car parking spaces
  • 411 additional cycle spaces and new secure cycle facilities
  • a customer and community improvement fund
  • a training fund for new apprenticeships, internships and staff development.
East Coast infographic.

The new services announced today have only been made possible thanks to the government’s significant investment in the railways. Over the next 8 years Inter City Railways will pay the government around £3.3 billion to operate the franchise.

The company will shortly begin talks with Network Rail and the Office of Rail Regulation to agree its plans to run new direct services from London to Sunderland, Middlesbrough and Huddersfield.

It will also seek approval to run more trains to Edinburgh, Leeds, Lincoln, Shipley, Stirling, Harrogate and Bradford.

From 2018, Inter City Railways will take delivery of the new Intercity Express trains, to be assembled at Hitachi’s factory in Newton Aycliffe, County Durham. By 2020 all of the 65 modern high-speed electric trains will be in service and will replace 39 existing trains.

In addition to more seats, passengers will benefit from cleaner, more reliable trains and faster journeys. The new franchise will provide regular journey times of 2 hours to Leeds and 4 hours to Edinburgh.

Inter City Railways has also given a commitment to reduce all long-distance standard anytime fares by 10%. This could save passengers travelling from Edinburgh to London around £15 on those journeys.

The operator will also develop its own website, smartphone and tablet apps that will make door-to-door travel easier for customers, including planning journeys and buying tickets.

Inter City Railways is a joint venture comprising Stagecoach Transport Holdings Ltd and Virgin Holdings Ltd. It will take over the franchise from Sunday 1 March 2015.

Following the announcement, and in accordance with usual procurement practice, there will be a standstill period of 10 days before the department will be in a position to enter into, and complete, the formal contractual documentation and make the award to Inter City Railways.

Alert from Action Fraud – Watch out for premium rate “personal numbers”

The National Fraud Intelligence Bureau (NFIB) is raising awareness of the methods used by fraudsters to trick victims into calling apparent mobile phone numbers beginning with “070”which transpire to be premium rate numbers.

“070” numbers featured in over 2,600 fraud reports received by Action Fraud over the past year. Known as ‘personal numbers’, they are virtual numbers often programmed to forward incoming calls to one of a list of fixed or VoIP telephone numbers pre-selected by the client.

VoIP numbers allow phone calls over the Internet, enabling calls to be made or received anywhere with an internet connection, which makes tracing the calls much more difficult.
This enables potential fraudsters to provide an “070” number to victims while masking the number(s) that it diverts to, thus adding some protection to their true identity and location.

Although legitimate numbers, calls to “070” numbers are charged at a premium rate and they have long been used by fraudsters to scam unwitting victims. Calls from a landline can cost up to 65p p/min and may incur an additional call set-up fee of up to 51p. Calls from mobiles can cost up to £1.50 p/min. In extreme cases, victims have received triple figure phone bills as a result of calling these premium rate numbers. Providers of ‘personal numbers’ include Vodafone, Magrathea, and Digital Mail.

Key methods used by fraudsters

  • Fraudster sends a text message to or leaves a voicemail/missed call on the victim’s phone. The victim then calls back assuming this is a UK mobile number and is unwittingly connecting to a premium rate number.
  • Fraudster places an advert for a job on an online shopping/auction site along with an “070” number for the victim to call to obtain more information about the post and/or apply for it over the phone.
  • Fraudster contacts an individual who is selling an item on a shopping website and sends fake PayPal emails to the victim requesting a shipping fee to be paid via Western Union, prior to the payment being released to the victim. They will often provide an “070” number, causing the victim to incur further charges if they attempt to make contact.

Protection advice

  • If anyone approaches you online or otherwise providing an “070” number for contact, be wary that this could be a scam and do not call the number.
  • Consider informing PhonepayPlus, which regulates premium numbers and has statutory powers to stop mobile phone frauds and fine the offenders.
  • If you, or anyone you know, have been affected by these, or any other scams, report it to Action Fraud.

To report a fraud and receive a police crime reference number, call Action Fraud on 0300 123 2040 or use their online fraud reporting tool.

Bringing empty buildings back to life in the North

Liberal Democrat Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg has announced plans to see abandoned buildings brought back to life in a renewed effort to tackle a chronic problem where vast Empty homes in Bradfordsites in Northern cities become empty and unused for long periods of time, making areas look blighted.

Nick wants to help match-make entrepreneurs and community groups with local authorities and land-owners to find temporary uses for vacant buildings and land rather than let those sites go to waste.

The North has nearly twice as many hectares of previously developed vacant land and buildings than the South.

The vacant buildings could provide invaluable space for a wide range of local people to set up a business, open a shop or put on an event. It can have a knock on effect and revitalise city centres drawing in talent and investment from far and wide.

On a visit to Berlin to a project called Betahaus, Nick saw how collaborative working space in the heart of the creative district has been set up using derelict land and property.

Nick said:

“Leaving useful land in the North to languish is not only bad for business, it can hamper the success of an area in so many ways. Which is why I want to see empty buildings brought back to life and back in business.

“We need to understand what stands in the way of some of the most incredible space in the country being used, and make things more flexible so that we can fill these buildings with artists, start-ups, and other entrepreneurs to restore the buildings’ purpose and appeal.

“Through my Northern Futures initiative, I’m championing innovative ideas from people in the North to build a stronger economy and fairer society.”

To help unlock this potential, Nick will form a working group immediately – comprised of local government, businesses and charities – to investigate how more vacant buildings and land across the North can be brought back into temporary use. The group will explore sites with potential across Manchester, Leeds, Sheffield, Liverpool and Newcastle.

36 years ago today the world lost gay rights pioneer Harvey Milk

Today marks the anniversary US politician and gay rights pioneer Harvey Milk.

Milk was the first openly gay man to be elected to public office in California, winning a post on the Board of Supervisors as a result of changes in the social makeup of San Francisco after three unsuccessful attempts to gain office.

Read more about Harvey Milk in the rest of this article at http://ht.ly/EZ3ZQ 

Nick Clegg announces mental health taskforce

Deputy Prime Minister and Liberal Democrat Leader Nick Clegg announced that he will be establishing and chairing a new Mental Health Taskforce, which will include Cabinet Ministers from across the coalition.

The Liberal Democrats have been campaigning on mental health issues for many years, with a focus on bringing treatment for mental health problems in line with physical health and ending years of discrimination.

You can back our campaign to help us stamp our mental health stigma here.

Mental Health Matters

October this year, Nick Clegg announced a £120 million investment in mental health, which will include the introduction in April 2015 of the first ever waiting time standards for mental health in the NHS.

Nick said:

“Mental Health affects every aspect of our lives. One in four people in the UK will experience a mental health problem and it costs the country more than £100 billion. This is too big an issue for the NHS to deal with alone.

“The whole of Government needs to combine its efforts and pool its resources to help the millions of people whose mental health condition is preventing them from getting on in life.

“For far too long mental health has been in the shadows and many people have suffered in silence as a result.

“It is time to turn a corner on outdated attitudes and bring mental health issues out into the open. It is time that the whole of society started providing the care and support to those with mental health conditions in the same way that they would to those with a physical condition.”

Mental health issues such as stress or depression are now the leading cause of illness in the workplace, with more than eleven million working days lost last year.

Liberal Democrat Care Minister Norman Lamb is calling on big businesses to focus more on the mental well-being of their employees.

The taskforce will meet within days and urgently discuss how we can improve mental health services for young people, welfare and employment issues and how we can improve crisis care.re mental health problems ending up in police cells and prisons.

Deputy PM announces £214 million investment in cycling

The biggest single investment in cycling will be unveiled by Nick Clegg today to help make it easier and safer to get on your bike in the UK.

In July, the Liberal Democrat Deputy Prime Minister said he wanted to see the number of journeys made by bike more than doubled by 2020. Today, at a dedicated cycling summit hosted by him in Bristol and attended by Chris Boardman MBE, the Deputy Prime Minister will discuss how the government can make this happen with a package of measures totalling £214 million.

The investment will include:

  • £114 million to secure funding to support the Cycling Ambition Cities Programme for the next 3 years (Bristol, Birmingham, Cambridge, Leeds, Manchester, Newcastle, Norwich and Oxford) accelerate their development of local cycling networks, increase protection for cyclists at junctions and traffic hot spots and help prevent accidents
  • £100 million investment over the next years to improve the conditions for cyclists and walkers travelling alongside and crossing Britain’s most important and busiest roads – what’s called the Strategic Road Network

This brings the total invested in cycling by the government to £588 million.

The Deputy Prime Minister said:

I want to bring cycling down from the Alps and onto British streets. The inspiration and legacy of the 2012 Olympics and the Tour de France starting in Yorkshire this year has started a revolution in cycling for everyone, not just in velodromes, not necessarily in lycra, but for going to school or to work or to the shops.

I’m committed to helping our dream of becoming a cycling nation, similar to places like Denmark and the Netherlands, become a reality.

The rewards could be massive. Billions of pounds in savings for the NHS, less pollution and congestion, and a happier and safer population. In government, we’re putting the money down: now we need the public and local authorities to jump on their bikes and get us to the finish line.

On top of this investment, The Deputy Prime Minister will also launch 2 new initiatives to help inspire a new generation of cyclists:

  • a new scheme from Halfords, which will recondition and donate bikes and helmets to primary school children in disadvantaged areas of the 8 current cycling cities
  • a new pilot scheme to enhance the Bikeability cycle training programme to provide extra training to schools and parents, each designed to address a specific barrier to cycling

Olympic gold medallist Chris Boardman MBE said:

This is a great stepping stone on the road to creating a safer environment and enabling more Brits to choose cycling as their preferred mode of transport.

The new funds are fantastic for the 8 cycling cities – giving them more security to plan for the next 3 years and I thoroughly welcome the announcement. The benefits of cycling – as outlined by the Deputy Prime Ministers speech and in the press release – show how investing in cycling will pay dividends. If we want to a cycling revolution, something I truly believe we can achieve, we have to invest in it, commit to it long term.

To that end, the next step, building on today’s announcement, is to make investment like this one a permanent, embedded and an ongoing part of our transport strategy. If we do, then the benefits for our nation’s health, wealth and environment will be monumental.

Today’s summit will be attended by local leaders, cycling experts and businesses who joined together to discuss how cities in the UK can seize the economic, social and environmental gains that come from being a cycling nation.

It follows recent research commissioned by British Cycling, which found that if the UK became a cycling nation like the Netherlands or Denmark it could:

  • save the NHS £17 billion within 20 years
  • reduce road deaths by 30%
  • increase mobility of the nation’s poorest families by 25%
  • increase retail sales by a quarter

Over the past 4 years, this government has made significant investments in cycling by:

  • more than doubling funding for cycling to £374 million in 2011 to 2015 to improve cycling safety, infrastructure and availability and affordability of bikes for more people across the country
  • helping leverage an extra £248 million of local funding to deliver these programmes
  • giving Bristol and 7 other major UK cities (Birmingham, Cambridge, Leeds, Manchester, Newcastle, Norwich and Oxford) access to £94 million of grants to help them improve their cycling infrastructure and build a reputation as modern cycling cities

Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin said:

Under this government the Department for Transport has doubled the amount money available for cycling.

We want all new roads cycle-proofed, making cycling safer and encouraging awareness on our roads. This additional funding is about further improving the thousands of short journeys made by bicycle every day.

Citizens Advice: More private renters are struggling with horror homes

More people are struggling with private rented homes which are damp, dangerous and in need of significant repair, reveals Citizens Advice.

The national charity helped people with 14 per cent more repairs and maintenance problems between July and September this year than in the same period in 2013.

Difficulties getting repairs and maintenance is the most common problem with private rented homes reported to Citizens Advice. In the past 12 months the charity helped people with almost 17,000 of these issues.

In one case a couple with two young children were living in a rented home which had severe damp problems, causing mould all over walls and in cupboards. Their private landlord repeatedly refused to treat the damp, but after the family contacted environmental health he agreed to pay for some anti-mould paint. Not long after this he evicted them.

In its Advice Trends report published today Citizens Advice highlights that one in three private rented properties in England does not meet the Government’s decent home minimum standard. Yet renters in England have very few rights and find it hard to hold landlords to account over poor conditions, for fear of eviction. Citizens Advice helped with 20 per cent more issues where people are facing eviction despite being up to date with rent.

The new Advice Trends report highlights a range of problems private renters are increasingly turning to Citizens Advice for help with. Between July to September 2013 and the same period this year Citizens Advice helped with:

  • A seven per cent rise in the number of issues around paying rent up front.
  • Seven per cent more issues where people struggle to get their deposit back.
  • A 15 per cent increase in the number of issues where people are harassed or illegally evicted by landlords.

Further analysis of the figures shows that young people are more likely to have problems with private landlords compared with older renters. One in six people in their twenties receiving help from Citizens Advice has an issue with a privately rented home.

Citizens Advice wants protections for people renting from private landlords to be improved. On Friday 28 November the Tenancies Reform Bill will be debated in Parliament. If enacted the Private Members Bill would prevent such retaliatory evictions.

Gillian Guy, Chief Executive of Citizens Advice, said:

“It’s hard to feel at home in the private rented sector. People can struggle to lead a normal life when their home is in a state of disrepair and they could be told to leave at any time. But many feel powerless to speak out.

“People face a huge number of different housing problems. But despite one in five now renting privately, the sector is subject to comparatively little regulation. Rogue landlords and letting agents are free to mistreat tenants and charge ever increasing rents. In other markets consumers have far more protection, such as the right to refunds or repairs, if the product or service the pay for is not up to scratch.

“Urgent action is needed to bring renters’ rights up to a decent 21st century standard. Putting an end to retaliatory evictions is a good place to start.  We hope that MPs support the Tenancies Reform Bill on Friday.”