Review of the year: December

THE NHS Trust that runs Lister Hospital in Stevenage was exposed as having an abnormally high death rate. The death rate was found to be 15 per cent higher than expected at the East and North Hertfordshire NHS Trust last year, according to Dr Foster, the

THE NHS Trust that runs Lister Hospital in Stevenage was exposed as having an abnormally high death rate. The death rate was found to be 15 per cent higher than expected at the East and North Hertfordshire NHS Trust last year, according to Dr Foster, the leading provider of comparative health stats. Missing notes, said the report, resulted in 45 operations at Lister being cancelled and Dr Foster only gave the Trust a rating of two out of five.

Trust medical director James Quinn said last year's death rate rise had been taken very seriously and actions had been taken to remedy the situation.

Hertfordshire Police Authority announced it was asking the public how much it wanted to contribute to the costs of policing in the county. This year the Authority had �3.7m of its Government grant withheld which is likely to increase to �4.1m next year. The authority says an inflation increase of 1.5 per cent, 4p on a Band D property, may lead to the loss of around 200 officers but an increase of 15 per cent, or 40p on a band D property, would put an extra 40 officers into the neighbourhood policing teams.

The possibility of Stevenage Day being axed after 50 years was a real threat. Organiser John Wells said the committee that ran the event is insolvent and his fears came after they received a �4,000 from Stevenage Borough Council for services provided at this year's event. "Stevenage Day has been going for 50 years. If it folded it would affect 70 charities some of which would fold," he warned.

Villagers in Aston were horrified when bulldozers decimated an orchard destroying the natural habitat for wildlife and potentially killing animals. The destruction happened when the Little Orchard in Aston End Road was cleared by the trustees of the land ready for a possible planning development for six houses. "Can you imagine our horror, returning home from work to find a bulldozer had completely flattened the whole area, tearing out trees and surely killing any rare species under its heavy tracks," said one resident. "

"It used to be a beautiful place. Bulldozers have torn it apart and it's soul-destroying.

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