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Full steam ahead for beer festival

CROWDS turned out in force to raise a pint at this year’s Keighley and Worth Valley Railway Beer and Music Festival.

The event, which runs across three sites at Keighley, Ingrow and Oxenhope, began on Thursday and organisers say the festival welcomed around 2,500 to 3,000 people across the four days.

Discerning ale drinkers had around 150 beers from across the country to choose from and there was also a selection of cider and wine on the menu for visitors who enjoy those as their tipple of choice.

As in previous years, special beers were brewed for the event from the Kirkstall, Ossett and Timothy Taylor breweries.

And in a fresh addition for 2017, artisan gin was available at Oxenhope station and there was a ‘Cocktail & Gin Shack’ at the new Ingrow site.

Visitors also took in live bands and music at both Exhibition Hall at Oxenhope and in the marquee at Ingrow.

Sarah Howsen, from the Keighley and Worth Valley Railway, said: “It has been busy again – we thought with the weather it might have been quiet but the first two days were just as busy as last year.

“Everyone seems to have had a really good time.

“There’s regulars that come every year and it’s nice that they do come back year on year to support it.

“Even in the bouncing rain, the trains were packed and everyone was enjoying themselves.”

She added that the mix of beer and music, along with the unique railway location was a pull for the crowds.

Saturday was the main day for live music and Sunday was a family friendly day, with activities for younger visitors to enjoy.

At Ingrow, magician Tall Paul kept people entertained as the festival got underway on its fourth and final day.

Youngsters could also enjoy face painting and balloon modelling.

Money raised at the festival will be put back into the railway, which famously appeared in the 1970 film The Railway Children.

It also hosted the world-famous steam locomotive the Flying Scotsman earlier in the year.

With the festive season just around the corner, upcoming events include the railway’s Santa Specials, which run on weekends from November 25 up until Christmas Eve.

A carol service train will also run on December 16. Visit kwvr.co.uk for more.

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Church of Scientology opens Birmingham HQ

Pitmaston house decorated with a blue rosetteImage copyright PA
Image caption The building was officially opened at an extravagant ceremony

The Church of Scientology has opened a £4.2m HQ in Birmingham.

Grade II listed Pitmaston House, in the Moseley suburb, was snapped up in 2007 by the group, which was founded by science fiction author L Ron Hubbard.

There was a heavy security presence around the building during an opening ceremony, at which senior church figures gave speeches.

An request for an interview about the new “Ideal Org”, or headquarters, was turned down.

The church claims the building, which is the second of its kind in the UK, will house a training centre and a chapel.

‘Betterment of Birmingham’

A huge blue rosette and ribbons were draped across the front of the building ahead of the opening ceremony, while lighting and camera equipment could also be seen.

Speeches were played back on two large screens erected on either side of the main entrance.

Groups of protesters, including ex-church members, gathered outside during proceedings, according to the Birmingham Mail.

Image copyright PA
Image caption There was a heavy security presence outside the building
Image caption Protestors gathered outside the ceremony
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Scientology explained

Scientology offers believers a life improvement strategy it calls dianetics.

People take courses of dianetics counselling, known as auditing, in the hope of ridding themselves of destructive influences from their current or past lives.

Scientologists say it is a religion, but a string of defectors have accused it of being a dangerous cult. They allege physical and emotional abuse, brainwashing and unethical fundraising, which the church has always strongly denied.

It has a number of celebrity followers, including Tom Cruise and John Travolta.

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A promotional video released by the church claimed the new HQ would provide “community programmes for the betterment of Birmingham“.

It claims to have had a dediciated following in the area since the 1980s.

Plans to convert Pitmaston House met with some opposition when they were approved in 2013, although a local community group said its main worry was an increase in traffic.

Image caption Coaches and other vehicles obscured views of the proceedings
Image copyright Church of Scientology
Image caption The church’s promotional video says the centre will serve western and central England

Raise a pint to that! Crowds turn out to beer and music festival

CROWDS have turned out in force to raise a pint at this year‘s Keighley and Worth Valley Railway Beer and Music Festival.

The event, which runs across three sites at Keighley, Ingrow and Oxenhope, began on Thursday and organisers expect around 2,500 to 3,000 people to have visited by tomorrow.

Discerning ale drinkers have around 150 beers from across the country to choose from and there’s also a selection of cider and wine on the menu for visitors who enjoy those as their tipple of choice.

As in previous years, special beers have been brewed for the event from the Kirkstall, Ossett and Timothy Taylor breweries.

And in a fresh addition for 2017, artisan gin is available at Oxenhope station and there is a ‘Cocktail & Gin Shack’ at the new Ingrow site.

Visitors will also be able to enjoy live bands until the festival closes tomorrow at both Exhibition Hall at Oxenhope and in the marquee at Ingrow.

Sarah Howsen, from the Keighley and Worth Valley Railway, said: “It has been busy again – we thought with the weather it might have been quiet but the first two days have been just as busy as last year.

“The trains are full, it’s really good. Everyone seems to be having a good time.”

She added that today was the main day for live music and bands while tomorrow is a family friendly day with activities for younger visitors to enjoy.

Money raised at the festival will be put back into the railway, which famously appeared in the 1970 film The Railway Children.

Earlier this year, it also hosted the iconic steam locomotive the Flying Scotsman.

Rise in airport drop-off and pick-up charges ‘eye-watering’

Passenger with suitcases at airportImage copyright Chalabala/Getty Images
Image caption The RAC advised drivers to check airport charges in advance “or be prepared for an unpleasant shock”

Charges for picking up and dropping off passengers at some of the UK‘s busiest airports have risen by as much as 100% over the past year, a new study claims.

RAC research found eight of the top 20 UK airports had increased pick-up fees, while five airports had raised charges for drivers dropping passengers off.

The RAC described tariffs as high as £3.50 for 10 minutes as “eye-watering”.

But the Airport Operators Association said fees were “clearly flagged” and were channelled into site facilities.

Seven airports, including London‘s Heathrow and Gatwick, continue to offer free drop-off parking.

‘Bone of contention’

London Stansted is currently the most expensive airport in the UK to drop passengers at the terminal, the RAC said – with prices jumping by 50p to £3.50 for 10 minutes in the last year.

Liverpool‘s John Lennon airport, the second most expensive, raised drop-off fees by 100% – from £2 for 20 minutes to £3 for 20 minutes.

Glasgow airport, where it was previously free to drop off passengers, introduced a charge of £2 for 10 minutes in April. Similarly, Southampton has introduced a £1 fee for 10 minutes.

RAC spokesman Simon Williams said: “The eye-watering drop-off and pick-up costs at some airports is likely to be viewed by drivers as another way of making money out of them – particularly in instances where public transport to and from the airport simply isn’t a viable option.”

“Drop-off charges are the biggest bone of contention, as for many they appear severe when they are simply pulling up for less than five minutes and often don’t even get out of the car themselves.”

‘Costly’ good deeds

Rising pick-up charges are also exposed by the research.

Motorists collecting family or friends from London Luton are charged the most in the UK at £7 for 40 minutes, according to the report – although there was no increase in charges for 2017.

London Stansted was again among the most expensive airports – this time for collection – raising charges by 50p to £5 for 30 minutes, £1.50 more expensive than London Gatwick for the same service, which increased changes by 30p.

Image copyright Reuters
Image caption London Heathrow, the UK’s busiest passenger airport, does not charge to drop off passengers

London City airport raised fees by £1, to £3.50 for a 10-minute stop, while Southampton and Cardiff airports both introduced charges of £1 for 10 minutes, having previously charged nothing for the first 10 or 20 minutes respectively.

Belfast City, Leeds Bradford and Liverpool John Lennon continue to offer free short-stay parking for passenger collection for a minimum of 10 minutes (in Belfast), stretching to 60 minutes in Bradford.

Mr Williams said airport charges for short-stay parking had turned “a good deed [into] a costly experience”.

But a spokesman for the Airport Operators Association defended the charges, saying the income earned was channelled into airport facilities and allowed airports “to keep charges to airlines low, benefiting travellers through lower air fares”.

He cited congestion and environmental impact among the reasons for the range of charges across the regions.

The spokesman said charges were clearly flagged up and passengers had a “high level of awareness of the different ways they can choose to get to the airport, ranging from public transport to travelling by car”.

Plaid Cymru promises youth basic income for 18-24 year olds

Adam Price
Image caption Mr Price said the party would offer the “most comprehensive package of support for young people

Plaid Cymru would try to wipe out youth unemployment if it were in power.

In his speech at the Plaid conference, economy spokesman Adam Price will outline what he is calling a “Youth Basic Income” for 18-24 year olds.

It would comprise of four options, including work, volunteering, education and business support grants.

Adam Price said the party would offer the “most comprehensive package of support for young people across the entire world”.

Youth unemployment in Wales was 13.1% for the year to the end of June 2017. The overall unemployment rate was 4% between June and August.

Media playback is unsupported on your device

Media captionLive: Plaid Cymru conference

Under the proposal, set to be announced in the Carmarthen East and Dinefwr AM’s speech on Saturday, the “Youth Basic Income” would include:

  • a “guaranteed” job
  • a national citizen service similar to the AmeriCorps model
  • support for further and higher education
  • an enterprise allowance assisting young people to start their own businesses

Detailed research on how to finance the proposal will be undertaken by Plaid’s new think tank, Nova Cambria, which will be launched before the end of the year.

Speaking ahead of his conference speech, Mr Price said: “Nova Cambria will be tasked with working up the detail of ideas that I want to see at the heart of the Plaid Cymru government of 2021, in which I hope to serve.”

“From additional business support for Welsh companies, replacing the out-dated model of business rates, to delivering the most comprehensive package of support for young people across the entire world, Plaid Cymru will deliver the policies to utilise the creativity and productivity of our people to enhance the nation’s prosperity,” he added.

Media playback is unsupported on your device

Media captionBBC Wales political correspondent Daniel Davies says one Plaid AM wants the party to focus on policies that say what it is about

On Saturday morning party leader Leanne Wood highlighted her plans for a “rail revolution” on a visit with Network Rail at Bangor railway station.

The opposition party wants to issue a rail bond to finance electrification to Swansea – a model it says could also be used to create a Metro for the Swansea Bay and Western Valleys region.

Ms Wood said: “We would re-establish a Carmarthen to Aberystwyth rail line and ensure that it links with the north, to Pwllheli and beyond. These links are key to revitalising our western coast, and creating an all-Wales rail line, running the length of the country.”

“We have already secured funding for the outline business case for such an initiative to go ahead,” she added.

On the first day of the conference, Ms Wood said the party could back another Brexit referendum if there was no deal with the EU by March 2019.

Ms Wood also said she needs to earn the trust of non-Plaid Cymru voters and vowed to lead the party into the assembly elections in 2021.

One of longest serving police horses in Bradford dies unexpectedly

WEST Yorkshire Police mounted section has announced the unexpected death of one of its horses.

Police horse Connor, age 19, joined the force on October 7, 2003, and had served for 14 years.

He was one of the longest serving horses in the mounted section and took part in the policing of countless football matches, patrols, demonstrations and ceremonial events across the Force during his service.

Connor was admitted to an equine clinic in North Yorkshire on Monday, October 16 after becoming unwell. Exploratory tests revealed an untreatable tumour in his abdomen.

He died at midnight on Wednesday.

Inspector Julie Fitzpatrick said: “Connor was a handsome, hardworking and consistently brave horse who was popular with the team at Carr Gate and the public alike.

“He policed many significant events across the Force during his long service. Standing at almost 18 hands his size was matched by his huge personality both on and off the yard.

“His unexpected death has come as a massive shock to the team and he will be sadly missed.”

Blast-off for museum’s programme of space-themed half-term fun

CHILDREN can shoot for the stars at a series of space-themed half-term activities at the National Science and Media Museum.

Nine days of free family fun begins tomorrow, as part of Bradford’s Family Learning Festival.

Taking inspiration from being the first venue on the national tour of Tim Peake’s space capsule, the museum is launching a raft of space-themed activities.

John Darnbrough, the museum’s learning programme developer, said: “In addition to seeing the incredible display of the Soyuz TMA-19M capsule which carried Tim Peake from the International Space Station back to Earth, visitors will be able to build and test their own balloon-powered Mars rover, design a Space Mission Patch, make a mini rocket to launch across the museum and have a go at astronaut training exercises.”

Also throughout the half-term, the Picturehouse will be screening Wallace and Gromit’s trip to the moon in A Grand Day Out, as well as animated aliens the Floogals, in the museum’s cinemas. Cinema admittance fees apply.

Flood protection improvements to face scrutiny in wake of devastation in 2015

EFFORTS to better protect the district from flooding disasters in future will go under the microscope next week.

Bradford Council had faced criticism over its response to the devastation brought about during the 2015 Boxing Day floods.

And last year, an in-depth scrutiny review into its response to the floods made seven recommendations for improvements.

Now on Thursday the same corporate scrutiny committee will consider what progress has been made since then.

One committee member, opposition Conservative leader Councillor Simon Cooke, told the Telegraph & Argus he felt progress was still too slow.

He said there had been some good work in helping communities to become more resilient against flooding, although there was “more that could be done”.

But he said in terms of mitigating future floods by building the “key bits of flood infrastructure”, there was a lot of work still ahead.

A new report, by strategic director of place Steve Hartley, lists a number of key improvements the Council has made since the 2015 floods, including setting up a permanent stock of 6,000 sandbags and around 2,000 other water blocks.

Road drains are now inspected on either a monthly or quarterly basis, depending on how likely they are to get clogged up, and flood information packs have been sent out to 6,000 of the most at-risk properties.

But more work needs to be done before any big flood alleviation projects can begin, the report reveals.

The Environment Agency and Bradford Council have finished desktop studies looking into how to better protect fifteen areas across the district.

Now more detailed studies are either under way or in the pipeline, looking to highlight the exact improvements needed and how they might be funded.

One study is under way into the Bradford Beck along the Canal Road Corridor, another is looking at the River Worth and its tributaries and a third is looking at watercourses in Esholt village.

A major study into the whole catchment of the River Aire through the district has yet to start but should be commissioned within this financial year, the report says.

Councillor Alex Ross-Shaw, executive member for regeneration, housing, planning and transport, said: “The floods that hit our district two years ago had a devastating effect and I know how hard residents and communities have worked to get back on their feet and the Council has done all it can to support them in that.

“This report shows our progress so far, that work is ongoing and has not stopped but we know there’s always more to do.

“We’ve made good progress in repairing and strengthening our highways structures that were damaged in the floods and have been working closely with the Environment Agency and Yorkshire Water in assessing flood risk across the district to identify where we can do more in the future.

“The scrutiny process has been helpful in giving us the opportunity to engage with councillors on what we’ve been doing and how we’ve reviewed our own responses to flooding. Bradford Council takes flooding very seriously and I think this report shows that.”

Mounting fears over street harassment in Bradford’s student quarter spark new campaign

A NEW campaign is under way to tackle the problem of street harassment and keep Bradford students safe.

Bradford Hate Crime Alliance has announced it is dedicating the next 12 months to a major awareness campaign in the city’s Great Horton area.

The Alliance will work alongside the University of Bradford, Bradford College, West Yorkshire Police Crime Commissioner, the police and Bradford Council.

Action comes amid growing concerns that students are at risk. A recent student union survey revealed more than eight out of ten students have experienced harassment in that area, said Jed Dinn of the Alliance.

Kingston 2016’s Complete University Guide named the city’s campus area as the most high risk university neighbourhood in Yorkshire.

The Alliance wants students to speak up about the problem and report incidents. Over the past two days, its campaigners have spoken to more than 1,700 students. A number of events have been lined up to highlight the campaign, including plans for students to form a human chain from Bradford College to the Great Horton traffic lights in Legrams Lane.Campaign supporters are also visiting community centres, places of worships and businesses to crank up awareness and beat street harassment, said Mr Dinn.

“We’re determined to reduce hate crime figures in this area. Students come from all over the world to study in Bradford and we don’t want them to feel unsafe.”

Mark Burns-Williamson, the county’s Police and Crime Commissioner, said: “No-one should have to live with or fear harassment, unwanted contact or abuse. The core focus of this campaign is to raise awareness of these issues and the support available across the community, prevent incidents from happening in the first place and encourage swift reporting to the proper agencies.”

Mark Burns-Williamson, West Yorkshire’s Police and Crime Commissioner, who is supporting the campaign said: “No-one should have to live with or fear harassment, unwanted contact or abuse. The core focus of this campaign is to raise awareness of these issues and the support available across the community, prevent incidents from happening in the first place and encourage swift reporting to the proper agencies.

“I am a big believer and advocate of partnership working and this is a very good example. Bradford Hate Crime Alliance are doing some really valuable work and have linked in with the police, council, college, university, local businesses including the night-time economy, and most importantly the students themselves. I am a former graduate of Bradford University and also regularly visit the Bradford College and want to ensure students, visitors and the local community are as harmonious as possible.”

Both the university and college have hate crime reporting centres on campus but in case of an emergency 999 should be dialled or 101 if it is a non-emergency.

Bradford men caught in armed swoop charged with drugs offences

TWO men from Bradford have been charged with conspiring to supply heroin across the UK.

Fariman Khan, 45, and Francis Cooper, 61, both of Reynolds Avenue, were arrested on Wednesday, October 18, by the National Crime Agency’s Armed Operations Unit.

Officers believe Cooper was responsible for the handover of two kilos of heroin in 2016, under the direction of Khan.

After their arrests, Khan’s home address was searched and officers recovered a significant amount of cash.

They have been charged with conspiracy to supply class A drugs and remanded in custody until their next appearance on November 16 at Leeds Crown Court.