Thursday, 26 June 2014

Health: Health chief joins calls to save our NHS

The chief officer of Calderdale NHS’s Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) Matthew Walsh has said the Foundation Trust’s ‘preferred option’ of closing Calderdale Royal Hospital’s A&E department is not his preferred option.

Dr Walsh explained that he was upset that the public see the CCG as uncaring.

He said: “This organisation does actually care. The thing that’s distressed me over recent months is the sense that we’re hell-bent on destroying the NHS.

“I want to be out on the streets marching, I want to save the NHS - that’s why people in this organisation get out of bed in the morning.”

He stressed that the work the CCG are doing is to improve care for people living with long-term illnesses.

He said: “The work we’re doing at the moment is looking at how traditional nursing and community services can link in with what the hospitals are doing in areas like diabetes and respiratory disease.

“A lot of people go into hospital because they aren’t getting what they need from community services.”

“Our duty is to look forward to begin to change our system so that it can meet the challenges of the future, and in doing that we’ve got to be brave enough not to hold onto the past.”

However, when asked directly if he could assure the people of Calderdale that the A&E will remain open, he could not.

He said: “I don’t know - I don’t know what the right model of care will be yet.

“What we know is that we need to improve the way community services are delivered and reduce the reliance on hospitals. “

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Saturday, 14 June 2014

Theatre: HG Wells’ dark vision of society takes audience back to the future

There are few short stories that have had the impact and influence of The Time Machine by H G Wells - a tale that popularised the concept of time travel and coined the phrase ‘time machine’.

Next Friday, actor and playwright Robert Lloyd Parry will be performing his one-man adaptation of Wells’ 1895 classic at Square Chapel, Halifax.

“What a brilliant idea to think of a vehicle that could travel through time,” says Robert.

“It’s an amazing idea, and to think that he was the first person to come up with something so influential makes it very exciting.

“I’m approaching it as a piece of storytelling. It’s a one-man show where you encounter the time traveller just after he’s returned from the future. It’ simply me on stage recounting the experiences.”

The Time Machine recounts the story of an unnamed time traveller who invents a machine to travel into the distant future.

He travels to the year 802,701 to find the human race has degenerated into two distinct species - the decadent Elois that evolved from the upper-classes and the sinister and cannibalistic Morlocks that evolved from the Victorian working-classes.

“H G Wells was a founder member of the Fabian society - he was definitely interested in the way society works and the divisions within society,” says Robert.

“It’s a satire of its own time, which I think is no less relevant today.

“Society has always been divided, and his vision of the distant future takes that division to the ugliest extremes.”

The play is staged around the central prop of a full-size time machine - a giant metronome designed and built by Factory Settings Ltd who created many of the giant props used in the opening ceremony of the 2012 Paralympics.

“It’s basically a ten-foot high metronome with steps up to the top so I can climb up it and over it,” says Robert.

“It becomes the focus of whatever I’m talking about at the time - at one point it’s the pedestal beneath the Sphinx where the time machine gets hidden, and then it becomes the well he climbs down where he meets the Morlocks for the first time - it’s a multi-purpose central focus for the audience.”

The Time Machine contiues Robert’s obsession with late-19th century fiction, and follows his eerie retellings of the ghost stories of M R James.

He recently played the author in Mark Gatiss’ documentary “Ghost Writer” shown on BBC2 on Christmas Day 2013.

“That period of literature, the end of the 19th century, just thrills me and has done since I was a teenager,” says Robert.

“I first read The Time Machine when I was 13. There’s a great philosophical, political and satirical dimension to it, but more than anything, it’s just one of the great adventure stories, one of the great achievements of the human imagination - I just love the thrill, the horror and the absurdity of the story,” he says.

“You have this Golden Age of the English short story towards the end of the 19th century.

“Literacy greatly improved during the 19th century, so there was a real appetite for accessible stories.

“Wells produced a few works like War of the Worlds and the Invisible Man within a very short period.”

Robert says he has tried to keep the story as close to the original novella as possible, but made changes to the beginning and casts doubt onto whether the time traveller is telling the truth.

“I’ve cut out the first 20 pages where the time traveller is arguing with his dinner guests about the reality of time travel and the fourth dimension and so on,” says Robert.

“I didn’t think that had much place on stage, so I’ve reduced it to the adventure itself,” he says.

“I like the idea that audiences would be perfectly justified in thinking that the narrator is simply a mad man - you don’t get that so much in H G Wells’ novel, but there is doubt among his listeners.

“I look pretty disheveled when I arrive back from the future, so people would be justified in thinking that I was a tramp who’d taken something that has expanded his mind.”

“I’d like people to think that he is telling the truth, but it is open,” he says.

lThe Time Machine will be performed at Square Chapel, Halifax, on Friday, June 20.

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Thursday, 12 June 2014

Reportage: Calderdale swears in new Mayor

The new Mayor of Calderdale Patricia Allen was sworn in at the mayor making ceremony at Halifax Town Hall.

Mayor Allen takes over the duties of retiring mayor Ann Martin, who represented Calderdale along with her deputy Lisa Lambert.

In her inaugural speech, Mayor Allen said: “I am very much looking forward to the year ahead, especially next month when the Tour de Frace cines through Calderdale.

“It’s a diverse community that I will be very proud to represent.”

The Mayor will be supporting three local charities over next 12 months: the Percival Whitley Educational Trust, DART and Weekend Care.

Councillor Malcolm James was sworn in a deputy mayor. The Mayor’s Consort is Mr Robert Weeks and the Deputy Mayoress is Mrs Janet James.

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Sunday, 8 June 2014

Court: Cannabis farmer avoids prison

A 25-year-old Halifax man avoided jail after pleading guilty at Bradford Crown Court to producing almost half a kilo of cannabis.

Police raided the home of Andrew Sirmond at Sunnybank Road, Halifax, in April 2013 and discovered a locked room containing a dismantled cannabis farm and 437g of the ‘skunk’ varient of the drug with an estimated value of £3,745.

The father-of-three was sentenced to four months in prison, suspended for 18 months, and to attend 30 days supervision from the Probation Service.

Presiding judge Colin Burn said: "Even though you have responsibilities, you let yourself go in a bad a way - the reality is that you're making your house a target to criminals who know what’s there.

"It seems to me that if you had decided to have a trial, it would have certainly been a five month sentence in jail.”

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Saturday, 7 June 2014

Court: Filthy - shocking pictures of Halifax sausage factory revealed

Shocking video footage and grisly photographs of a sausage factory in a Halifax barn expose appalling and filthy conditions which put thousands at serious risk.

The sausages were distributed to high profile pubs, cafes, hotels and restaurants across Calderdale and West Yorkshire - and were even supplied to the canteen at Halifax Town Hall and Eureka! The Children’s Museum.

The operators of a B&L Sausages Ltd were sentenced this week after being convicted for breaches of food hygiene and safety regulations.

Prosecutor Howard Shaw told Bradford Crown Court how Brian Wainwright, 45, and his 38-year-old wife Lorraine had operated a company that produced sausages from \a barn at Mixenden Lodge Cottage Farm, Mixenden, that posed a ‘high risk to public health’.

Mr Shaw said that when the barn was raided by Environmental Health inspectors in May 2012, officers discovered rat poison directly above the work station where the sausages were prepared, and filthy conditions including hanging cobwebs, cement dust and animal manure in the preparation area.

Sausage meat was left in open containers and dead animals including a cow and a chicken were left on the floor, in crates and hanging from a rusty hook.

Particles from the unsealed barn wall had fallen into the mincer and the tools including a meat cleaver and whisk were found to be rusty and caked in filth and blood.

During the raid, the farm’s dog ran off with a lamb’s head that was lying on the barn floor.

Mr Shaw said the sausages, produced during the time spent at the barn between April and May 2012, accounted for approximately 27,000 meals.

One cafe owner, not named in court, said the sausages “had a strange taste and would stick to teeth when you bit into them.”

Mr Shaw added that there was no evidence of any actual food poisoning as a consequence of the breaches.

Judge Colin Burn said: “It is hard to imagine a more lethal environment for providing food for public consumption.

“It was undoubtedly a serious public health risk waiting to happen - it’s a miracle that no one was seriously affected.”

Mr Wainwright, of Lee Mount Road, Lee Mount, Halifax, was sentenced to eight months in prison for each offence, suspended for two years and was ordered to carry out 300 hours of community service.

He is also prohibited from managing a food production business.

Wainwright’s wife, also of Lee Mount Road, received a fine of £750 for failing to provide information about suppliers of food to the company and businesses which had been supplied with products by B&L Sausages.

The sausages were described on the B&L Sausages’ packaging as being “Passionately sourced in Yorkshire.”

Speaking after the case Calderdale Council’s Cabinet member for Economy and Environment, Barry Collins, said: “The Council welcomes this verdict. Our Environmental Health officers have worked tirelessly on this case, alongside the Food Standards Agency.

“People should be able to have faith that food businesses are following hygiene rules, and that the products they buy are safe to eat. When health is put at risk we won’t hesitate to take action.

“We work hard to give local businesses the information they need to comply with food hygiene and safety rules, but when the advice and direction aren’t taken, our only option is to prosecute.

“I thank everyone who has shown such determination in pursuing this case. It sends a clear message to other food businesses to make sure they put their customers’ safety first.”