Tag Archives: local

Firefighters called to chimney fire


British woman reported dead in boat accident in France

Avignon and its famous bridgeImage copyright Getty Images
Image caption The incident happened near the town of Avignon

A British woman has died after a boat accident in southern France on Saturday night.

The 27-year-old was thrown overboard when the boat she was on collided with a warning beacon on the river Rhone.

Her body was found six metres underwater, firefighters near Avignon told the AFP news agency.

Five other people, including one Briton, were injured and taken to hospital. Two of them are in serious but not life threatening condition.

“Everyone is in shock,” local police said.

An investigation has been launched to determine the circumstances of the incident.

Eight friends, four French and four British, aged between 20 and 30, were on the boat, along with the captain.

They were on the river near the popular tourist town of Avignon.

Man, 19, to appear in court after PCSO assault

Arrest made in rape investigation

Virtual reality: Tourism firms use VR to attract visitors

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Media captionGina Gavigan, of The Wildlife Trust of South and West Wales, explains the benefits of VR

Tourism businesses are being encouraged to use virtual reality in a bid to promote Welsh attractions.

Visit Wales revealed it has awarded £290,000 to six VR projects under its Tourism Product Innovation Fund.

Economy Secretary Ken Skates said growing numbers of businesses were “embracing” the technology to “market themselves”.

Businesses and organisations claim it has increased engagement with potential visitors.

The Wildlife Trust of South and West Wales received £30,000 from Visit Wales to create two VR videos – “Dolphin dive” off the coast of Pembrokeshire and “Flight of the kingfisher” over Teifi Marshes Nature Reserve in Cilgerran.

They were created in partnership with Island Friends as part of Wales’ 2017 Year of Legends campaign.

Gina Gavigan, the charity’s marketing development manager, said they have showcased the videos at consumer shows, wildlife attractions and schools.

“As a charity we want to inspire people about the amazing wildlife we have here in Wales and what a better way to it do it than using the virtual reality experience,” she said.

“The younger generation is so tech savvy, they get it straight away, but it’s interesting to see the older generation, how completely blown away they are as well.

“The project is still in it’s very early stages… we’ve promoted these experiences to encourage visitors to come to our sites and we’ve got really good feedback from people, and from Visit Wales and local tourist organisations who are keen to work with us.

“We’ll be looking to develop more experiences going into the future. We’ve got something special planned for the 2018 Year of the Sea using 7D augmented reality, which takes the whole technological element to another level, which is great.”

‘Lasting impression’

She added 85% of people who had watched the videos responded to a survey saying they would visit Wildlife Trust attractions.

Dr Nigel Jones, senior lecturer in information systems at Cardiff Metropolitan University, said VR was becoming increasingly popular as it becomes more affordable and accessible.

He argued it was appealing to tourists because it enabled people to interact with a location or attraction they might otherwise not consider visiting.

“You’re able to give something that’s more tangible to the person, they can see where they’re going to go, see what’s happening in that location,” he said.

“The other advantage is to give people an experience that they can’t do. You could take them to a place that’s off limits – like a dungeon in a castle.”

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Media captionDr Nigel Jones said VR makes people “really feel like you’re there”

He believes VR works particularly well for tourism in Wales because of the country’s “beautiful” and “immersive” landscape.

But he said businesses need to keep up-to-date with advances in the technology to ensure quality is maintained.

Economy Secretary, Ken Skates, said VR left a more “lasting impression” than a brochure or advert.

“The increase in the use of technology such as virtual reality presents many opportunities for tourism businesses in Wales,” he said.

“When trying to entice someone to Wales and selling the concept of what a holiday in Wales could be like, virtual reality is a perfect way of bringing those possible experiences to life – and giving a glimpse of what Wales has to offer.”

Junior rugby club in protest at lack of village venue to play matches

A JUNIOR rugby club staged a protest in anger at the lack of a local venue to play the sport.

Members, players and supporters of Queensbury Juniors ARLFC gathered with signs and banners outside Queensbury High School, Deanstones Lane, before making their way to the half-finished clubhouse and field at the Albert Road Recreation Ground in a bid to highlight their plight.

Construction work on the ambitious project to provide changing rooms, a club room and pitches for amateur rugby league in the village began in 2009.

The facility was 17 years in the planning and received substantial funding from both Sport England and the Council.

But in 2011, work on the clubhouse ground to a halt after money ran out.

Last month, Bradford Council forced Queensbury Sports and Social Club into liquidation, citing failure to pay back a Ward Investment Fund grant and not meeting the terms of funding agreement.

At the time, the Council said one of its “key priorities” was to ensure rugby league could return to the site.

It’s a dream which the club would like to see materialise, providing Queensbury clubs with a place to play matches.

Chairman Alan Turner said the junior teams had suffered a setback last year after being told they could no longer play at Queensbury High School on a weekend.

Mr Turner said while Foxhill Park acts as a training base during the week, a proper pitch is needed to play matches on.

Because of that, younger teams were forced to go across the border to Halifax to play at Trinity Academy.

Mr Turner said: “It was our only option. The facilities are good, but it’s out of the village – it’s not in Queensbury or the Bradford district.”

The older junior teams play at the ASA Briggs pitch at Clayton Heights which have no changing facilities or toilets, so have to use those at Foxhill Park.

Mr Turner said the club had unsuccessfully tried to meet with Queensbury High School and was told there are no plans to open the facilities on a weekend.

He said the ideal situation would be for Bradford Council to finish the facilities at Albert Road and for junior teams to be able to play at the school in the meantime.

A Bradford council spokesperson said: “Bradford Council is committed to working closely with the rugby club to ensure that the Albert Road Recreation Ground site can be used by them as soon as possible.”

While a statement issued from the Feversham Education Trust, which runs Queensbury High School, said: “The school has hosted Queensbury rugby teams on our pitches at weekends and also other groups within the school for a number of years. We are currently willing to work with local and voluntary organisations to see how our facilities can be better utilised by the community however during the current financial climate, the school is keen to find a sustainable cost-neutral solution.”

Police investigate after man found at bottom of steps

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

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.


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

Aberdeenshire man ‘kidnapped’ in Vietnam

Connor LeslieImage copyright Leslie family
Image caption Connor Leslie was last seen in a taxi which drove off after the group had an alternation with the driver

The family of a 23-year-old British man who has gone missing in Vietnam say they fear he has been kidnapped.

Connor Leslie, from Newtonhill in Aberdeenshire, was last seen at about 02:30 local time (21:30 BST) in Hanoi.

He was in the city with a group of friends who got out of a taxi which sped off before Mr Leslie could step out of the car.

Mr Leslie’s friends and family said he had been “taken against his will”.

Local police have been informed of Mr Leslie’s disappearance. He was last seen at Tay Ho 395 on Lac Long Quan.

Members of Mr Leslie’s family have shared information about his disappearance on Facebook.

His cousin Scott Leslie said the whole family was “absolutely terrified”.

“He was in a taxi and his friends were getting out. Connor was the last to get out and the taxi driver just sped off before Connor could get out of the car,” he told BBC Scotland.

“They had an altercation with the taxi driver. I believe they had already given a large sum of money to him and then he asked for more.”

Mr Leslie was with a group of friends who were just starting their holiday in Vietnam before going on to Australia.

Friends and family have been trying to contact him on his mobile, but his cousin said on Saturday afternoon that his messaging app had not been online for about 17 hours.

A Foreign and Commonwealth Office spokeswoman today: “We are assisting the family of a British man who has been reported missing in Vietnam, and our staff are in contact with the Vietnamese police.”

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