Monday, 26 December 2016

House price fall predicted in the short term

A drop in house prices in the short term has been predicted by members of the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) who work in estate agents, with the fall expected to last for the next three months.
The surveyors who expected prices to fall outnumbered those expecting a rise in prices by a majority of 10%.
The last time house prices fell on an annual basis was in late 2009.
The RICS attributed the likely fall to a combination of uncertainty surrounding the EU referendum and a cooling of the market since the changes to stamp duty which went through in April.
Simon Rubinsohn, Chief Economist at RICS, commented: "What we are looking at is a short term drop caused by the uncertainty resulting from the forthcoming EU referendum, coupled by a slow-down following the rush to get into the market ahead of the tax change on the purchase of investment properties."
London and East Anglia are said to be the most affected, followed by South West England and Yorkshire and Humber.
House prices aren't predicted to fall in all areas however, with Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland, the Midlands and the North all expected to see a continued rise.
The number of properties coming onto the market is also at a record low, contributing to continued demand and the short term nature of the expected price fall in the areas mentioned.

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Monday, 19 December 2016

Paris landmarks threatened by flooding

The River Seine in Paris has broken its banks and floodwater is currently around 6m (19ft) above the normal river level.
The famous Louvre and Orsay museums have been shut so that priceless works of art such as the Mona Lisa can be moved to safety.
Emergency water barriers have been constructed along the banks of the river in an attempt to restrict the floodwater, several bridges have been closed and tourist river tours have been banned until the waters subside.
The last time the river was at this level was in 1982, the environment ministry confirmed.
Flooding has affected wider areas of the country and across Europe as well, with over 5,000 being evacuated from their homes in central France, and around 19,000 homes currently without power, according to reports by the AFP news agency.
Germany has also been badly affected, with several losing their lives to the devastation caused by floodwaters in the south of the country.
Belgium, Austria, the Netherlands and Poland have also experienced flooding this week.
The weather was described by French President Francois Hollande as a serious climate phenomenon and a global challenge.

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Monday, 12 December 2016

Olympic Construction win PCA Outstanding Customer Service Award 2016

We would like to congratulate Olympic Construction Ltd for winning the 2016 Outstanding Customer Service Award in the PCA (Property Care Association) Best Practice Awards 2016.
Olympic Construction is a family run company specialising in remedial treatments, and has been a TrustATrader member for over 4 years. The company is based in Oldham and has been serving the local communities for over 50 years, covering Manchester and the surrounding 40 mile radius.
In the photo are (from left to right) Steve Hodgson, Chief Executive of the PCA with Adrian and Simon Dawson of Olympic Construction Ltd.
Adrian Dawson of Olympic Construction says: "I have a hands-on approach to all aspects of the works undertaken by Olympic Construction from start to finish. You could say the buck stops with me!
"My staff and I are committed to undertaking all works to the correct specifications and to a high quality finish. To achieve this we only use time served tradesmen and qualified surveyors with industry recognised qualifications."
The PCA was established to promote high standards of professionalism and expertise within the industry through training and other support services. They work with government departments, respond to consultation documents and provide assistance with the development of new guidelines, all with the aim of improving outcomes and promoting best practice.
The PCA held its Annual Best Practice Awards Dinner at Rectory Farm, Cambridge on 12th May 2016. The evening was well attended by PCA members from all represented sectors as they gathered to hear who had triumphed in the Best Practice Awards categories as well as the Student of the Year categories.
The evening concluded with a charity raffle, which thanks to the generous donations of sponsors helped to raise over £3k for the stillborn charity, SANDS.

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Monday, 5 December 2016

Wall of Buckingham Palace climbed by convicted killer

A man caught in the gardens of Buckingham Palace on Wednesday evening was a previously convicted murderer.
Denis Hennessy, 41, from Wembley, managed to climb the 10ft wall surrounding Buckingham Palace while the Queen, Prince Philip and the Duke of York were at home. Hennessy was unarmed, Westminster Magistrates' Court were told.
Hennessy was reported to have been drunk, and cut his hand while climbing over the wall, also setting off the alarm in the process. He wandered the gardens for around ten minutes before being caught.
He later told police that he had "walked through the gardens admiring the view".
Hennessy's solicitor said that the unemployed man had drunk "four or five cans of cider" on the evening of the incident. He had also had another drink in a pub before deciding to climb the wall of the palace with the help of a nearby tree.
After pleading guilty, Hennessy was today given four months in prison.
Hennessy's previous conviction, for murder, came in 1992 when at the age of 17 he attacked a homeless person who had asked him for money. Hennessy was convicted in 1993 and released in 2002. He was then monitored by the probation service until 2013.

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Monday, 28 November 2016

Car swallowed by hole in London street

Residents of Woodland Terrace in Greenwich woke up on Thursday morning to discover a car which was parked on the street the previous day was now half hidden in a huge sinkhole which had opened up overnight.
Police were called to the scene around 3.20am to find the blue people carrier in the hole outside the Benefice of Charlton St Thomas' Church, and cordoned off the area to ensure the safety of local residents.
Nobody was injured in the incident, though the phenomenon of sinkholes does appear to be becoming increasingly common, with a number of similar incidents being reported in 2015.
A spokesperson for the Royal Borough of Greenwich said that the council was working with emergency services to secure the area: "We are urgently investigating the matter and will update residents the moment we have more information."
Cleo O'Kane, a local resident who lives opposite where the hole opened up, said: "I thought it was thunder - I heard a loud bang, but it was raining so much I thought it was thunder.
"All the car is resting on apparently is a pipe, otherwise it would have disappeared."

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Monday, 21 November 2016

Happy World Naked Gardening Day!

You may not have been aware, but today - the first Saturday of May - has been named World Naked Gardening Day, when gardening lovers are encouraged to embrace their gardens as nature intended.
The award-winning gardeners of the RHS Malvern Spring Festival in Worcestershire marked the occasion by stripping off and being photographed amongst the greenery of their creations.
Today was the third day of the four day festival which over 90,000 people are expected to have visited by the time it finishes tomorrow.
Mark and Gig Eveleigh won Best Show Garden at the event hosted by the Royal Horticultural Society.
The day was marked on Twitter with posts tagged with #nakedgardeningday.
Whether or not you were brave enough to celebrate the day as intended, it was very welcome to have some warmer weather in which to enjoy our gardens this weekend.

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Monday, 14 November 2016

Many UK cities with less than 'superfast' broadband on average

Broadband speed tests have been conducted across 42 UK cities, revealing that almost half of all residents are using connections with an average speed slower than 24Mbps - the point regarded as the start of 'superfast' speeds.
The testing was conducted by comparison site uSwitch, and found that the city with the lowest average speed was Hull with just 12.4Mbps, while even London users were below the 'superfast' rating with an average speed of 22.4Mbps.
Middlesbrough, Belfast and Brighton were the top three cities, with average speeds of 34.4, 34.3 and 33.8Mbps respectively.
The cities with the lowest average broadband speeds after Hull were Aberdeen with 15.6Mbps and Milton Keynes with 17.1Mbps.
It should be made clear that services offering faster speeds may be available in these cities, but the figures represent the actual average speeds people are using in each location.
The government has stated that superfast broadband is available to around 90% of UK homes and businesses now, and further funding has been pledged to increase the total to 95% by 2017.
BT has said that its fibre-based services are available to 24 million homes, but only 22% of these are using the fast connections at the moment.
Although some broadband users want the fastest speeds, many people are still happy with lower download rates as long as they can browse the web, send emails and watch the occasional programme via catch-up TV services.
Faster services can also cost significantly more than those offering lower speeds.
uSwitch's Ewan Taylor-Gibson commented: "We should be asking what more can be done to encourage the adoption of superfast broadband, now it's so widely available.
"The UK's towns and cities should be leading the charge when it comes to broadband speeds, yet just 22 cities have broadband users with average speeds of more than 24Mbps."

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Monday, 7 November 2016

More than 900 beacons lit to celebrate Queen's 90th

On her 90th birthday yesterday the Queen lit the first of over 900 beacons across the world in celebration of the landmark date.
The first beacon was lit in Windsor, before the Queen was joined by Prince Phillip for a private dinner at Windsor Castle.
The beacons have been set up in locations across the countries of the Commonwealth, some being purpose-built gas-fuelled structures, others more traditional bonfires or braziers on tall wooden posts.
Royal gun salutes were fired from the UK's capital cities as the Queen greeted crowds of well-wishers in Windsor.
Her majesty also unveiled a plaque to mark the beginning of The Queen's Walkway, a recently designed 6.3 kilometer trail which links over sixty significant points in Windsor. The trail was developed to commemorate the moment on 9th September 2015 when the Queen broke the record for the longest reigning British monarch.
The Prince of Wales spoke about his mother at the lighting of the beacon in Windsor, saying: "this, ladies and gentlemen, is a very special occasion and this beacon that her majesty is about to light will also represent - as it lights other beacons across the nation - the love and affection with which you are held throughout this country and the Commonwealth."

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Monday, 31 October 2016

Charges introduced to help protect bluebell wood from crowds

The National Trust are introducing visitor charges at their Dockey Wood location in Ashridge, Hertfordshire in a bid to control the crowds which flock to the see the beautiful carpets of bluebells covering the ground in May.
Thousands of people visit the woods every spring to walk through the carpets of blue flowers but this leads to large areas being trampled underfoot, or "chaotic parking" on verges in the local area, damaging other plants.
The National Trust is introducing a fee of £3 for an adult to visit the woods, and £1 for a child. This is the first year charges have been in place, and it is said they will help to pay for rangers and the annual £500,000 costs of upkeep.
A spokesperson from the National Trust commented: "At weekends during bluebell season traffic queues build up and people park chaotically, causing real damage to verges and wayside plants.
"Last year lots of people told us that they thought we should have a much greater staff presence at the wood during the busiest weekends, and make a small charge to help meet some of our costs."
The fees will apply only for the first two weekends of May, when the majority of visitors come to see the bluebells at their peak.
A new route has been laid out to help avoid the trampling of the flowers, and rangers will be on hand to help direct visitors.

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Monday, 24 October 2016

Crisis over - Carlisle biscuit factory operational again

The UK's biscuit lovers will be hugely relieved to hear that a factory in Carlisle which produces several national favourites such as McVitie's ginger nuts and Crawford's custard creams is back to full production levels after it suffered substantial flood damage back in December.
United Biscuits revealed that it was necessary to clear around 40 million litres of water and 540 tonnes of debris from the factory site. It took hundreds of staff, suppliers and contractors working to clean the site and repair machinery before production could be resumed.
Electrical equipment and ovens had to be repaired or replaced before the factory could be brought back to full operation and start producing biscuits again.
The period of downtime resulted in a national biscuit shortage, leading to many anxious customers searching store shelves.
Manufacturing Director of United Biscuits, Mark Taylor, said: "Rather than buy another pack, they actually hunted down the store manager, harangued him for 10 minutes about why ginger nuts weren't there and left the shop without buying anything."
"It was a fantastic team effort to clean the place up, repair it and get it back in great shape" he added.
"We can announce officially, the biscuit crisis is over."
The storms Desmond and Eva caused damage to many homes and businesses across Cumbria, Lancashire and Yorkshire in December.

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Monday, 17 October 2016

Housing no.1 concern for Londoners, poll indicates

According to a recent poll of Londoners carried out by ComRes for BBC London, housing has become the number one concern for those living in the capital.
The last time the poll was carried out in 2012, jobs were considered the highest priority, followed by crime, transport and then housing.
This year, after housing, the highest ranked issues for Londoners were immigration, security against terrorism, and healthcare.
2,062 adults were questioned as part of the poll. Londoners were also asked what they considered to be an affordable cost for a two bedroom home in London. Those responding thought this to be £208,000 to buy, or £646 per month to rent.
However, the actual average selling figure for a terraced house in London last year was £569,000, indicated by the Office for National Statistics. The median monthly rent in London was £1,400 in the year 2014-15, according to the Valuation Office Agency.
24,620 new houses were built in London in 2015, the Department of Communities and Local Government figures show.
Senior consultant at ComRes, Adam Ludlow, commented on the results: "While this poll could not be compared directly to the one carried out four years ago, the relative shift in the priority given to housing would seem to suggest people see it as more important now."

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Monday, 10 October 2016

Happy Easter!

We'd like to take this opportunity to wish all website visitors, and of course our trusted traders, a very happy Easter bank holiday weekend from all at
The weather looks like it may be kind to us, so whether you're planning a short break, some time working on the garden, or just relaxing at home with the family, we hope you have a great time.
If you have plans for home improvements, why not give yourself a restful weekend instead and contact a trusted trader to do a professional job for you this spring?

Find out about our spring time events at TrustATrader Group.

Monday, 3 October 2016

Unexploded WW2 shells found on building site in Liverpool

Seven suspected unexploded shells from World War Two were found in the space of 24 hours on a building site in the Pall Mall area of Liverpool this week.
On Monday two shells were discovered in the ground by construction workers, before a third was found at 8:15 this morning. Three hours later a further four devices were found, when the previously cordoned area had been made accessible again by police.
Experts from the army bomb disposal team were called in to deal with the devices and an area 200m around the site was set up for public safety while the shells were removed. The cordoned off area, at the junction of Pall Mall and Leeds Road, has since been opened again.
The Army Explosive Ordnance Disposal team came to the conclusion that the five later shells were "empty", Merseyside Police reported.
The shells were originally thought to be bombs still capable of exploding, but are now considered to be "non-fused ammunition".
A police spokesman confirmed: "The construction company has now ceased work at the site and the Health and Safety Executive are on site."

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Monday, 26 September 2016

Over 400 skyscrapers planned for London

The London skyline is due to change dramatically in the coming years, as there are currently 436 towers in planning, approved, under construction or completed in London, based on research by New London Architecture.
A tower is defined as any building with more than 20 floors.
Within the past year 119 towers have entered planning. However only 16 have been completed so far, indicating that it will be some time until all 400+ are constructed.
London council's enthusiasm for towers is displayed by the fact that only three have been refused planning permission.
The average height of the new towers is 30 storeys, though there are eight buildings planned which will be 60 storeys or higher.
Tower Hamlets, including Canary Wharf and the Isle of Dogs, has 93 towers planned - the most of any London borough at present. A new skyscraper planned for this location called City Pride will be London's tallest residential building when complete, with 75 floors.
73 percent of the planned towers are to be residential, in response to the strong demand for housing in the capital.

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Monday, 19 September 2016

Housing and Planning Bill could hit the elderly and disabled hardest

The government's proposed Housing and Planning bill is intended to force councils to sell high-value social housing which could significantly affect the elderly and disabled through the selling off of bungalows, a report by The Joseph Rowntree Foundation has warned.
Bungalows are generally most popular with the elderly and disabled people, and the plans could lead to over 15,000 council-owned bungalows being sold off by 2021, the report stated.
The government responded by saying that councils would be allowed to decide not to sell any property which meets "a particular need" or would be difficult to replace.
The bill will go before the House of Lords later.
The government say it will help more people to become home owners.
If the bill is passed, local councils will be compelled to sell expensive properties as they become vacant, helping to "ensure that the money locked up in high value vacant housing stock will be reinvested in building new homes".
What would count as a high value property is likely to vary in different regions, according to the bill.
The Joseph Rowntree Foundation called on the government to make bungalows and sheltered housing exempt from the initiative, as these are in high demand.

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Monday, 12 September 2016

Ofcom says BT must open network to rival broadband providers

Communications regulator Ofcom has told BT that it must open up its network of telegraph poles and underground cable ducts to rivals to allow for more competition between UK broadband providers, helping to improve the availability of good internet connections.
Ofcom mentioned the complete break-up of BT was an option, but has not demanded this at the current time.
BT welcomed the report, saying it was happy for other companies to use its network as long as they were willing to invest in it.
The Ofcom report also highlighted the 'digital divide' between UK homes with access to the latest broadband technology and those out of reach due to their location. The watchdog said that 'decent, affordable broadband should be a universal right'.
BT's rivals had previously called for the separation of BT and Openreach, the part of its operation which manages the infrastructure of its cable and fibre network. They claimed that BT had not invested enough in Openreach, resulting in a poor service with interruptions and slow speeds.
BT will now be required to allow rivals access to underground ducts and telegraph poles so that they can install their own fibre cables.
Ofcom has also stated that it intends to introduce tougher rules relating to BT's faults, repairs and installations, and advised that Openreach should be allowed greater independence from BT to make its own decisions on budget and strategy.
Speaking to the BBC, Chief Executive of Ofcom, Sharon White, said: "Openreach does need major reform and the key thing is that it's independent so that it responds to all its customers, not just BT."

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Monday, 5 September 2016

'Hairy Panic' for Australian city

The rural Australian city of Wangaratta, Victoria, has recently been suffering from an outbreak of 'hairy panic' - the common name given to the tumbleweed Panicum effusum - a grass native to inland Australia.
Recent dry conditions have caused the tumbleweed to appear in unusually huge quantities, threatening to overwhelm the homes of local residents and returning even after it has been cleared away.
The tumbleweed can pile up to several metres high outside homes, making it difficult to deal with.
The source of the hairy panic is thought to be an area or former farmland which is now unused and unmanaged.
The spectacle was captured by a local television station, which brought people from other parts of Australia to see the outbreak for themselves.
There are a number of other similar types of grass, but Panicum effusum is particularly troublesome because it grows quickly and can form tumbleweeds, which are normally intended for the purpose of seed dispersal, helping to propagate the plant.
The local council of Wangaratta has said that it is considering using large vacuums attached to street sweepers to combat the problem.

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Monday, 29 August 2016

Brighton's West Pier damaged by Storm Imogen

The recent impact of high winds from Storm Imogen hitting the south coast on Monday has led to the collapse of part of Brighton's Grade I listed West Pier.
The pier, designed by Eugenius Birch and originally opened in 1866 as a simple promenade, had by the early twentieth century been developed extensively with the addition of a theatre and concert hall. In its heyday in the 1920's it was a thriving centre of entertainment by the seaside.
Unfortunately after World War II the pier became less popular and began to fall into disrepair. By 1975 it was deemed unsafe and was closed to the public.
The pier was due to be restored to its former glory via a Lottery grant in 2003, but was tragically burnt in two arson attacks, reducing the structure to its metal framework.
Despite all this, the derelict structure of the landmark pier remained largely intact until February 2014 when a significant part collapsed, separating the former pavilion into two.
The high winds of Storm Imogen this week resulted in another small section collapsing, and The West Pier Trust have reported that more collapses could follow.
The metal framework remains an impressive sight from the Brighton beach, and is still the most photographed building in the city.

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Monday, 22 August 2016

Ministers told to tackle cold, older homes

Improving the 'key infrastructure' of older UK homes, to make them more energy efficient, has been highlighted to ministers as a priority along with their existing multi-billion pound plans to improve roads, railways, flood defences and energy.
Opposition parties and various institutions reminded the government of the importance of home energy efficiency, via the installation of sufficient insulation, to help the UK to meet targets to end fuel poverty and to cut carbon emissions.
The plan of making home energy efficiency an infrastructure priority was proposed by the think-tank Policy Exchange (PX). The plan has been supported by many groups including the Labour party, Lib Dems, SNP, Plaid Cymru, the CBI, TUC, the union GMB, the all-party parliamentary group Green Alliance, the World Energy Council, the Institution of Civil Engineering and leading energy academics.
The government have not commented, but its advisory body the National Infrastructure Commission said it would consider whether to go further with the idea.
Richard Howard of PX commented: "Bringing people's homes up to standard is incredibly good value for money. We don't typically think of housing as infrastructure like we think of roads and railways - but we've got to change the way we approach this: housing is critical infrastructure."
The CBI's Rhian Kelly, speaking to BBC News, said: "Energy efficiency in homes and businesses is often at the back of the queue, so it's right that we see a sharper focus on making buildings more insulated, leading to significant savings for households and firms and important environmental benefits."

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Monday, 15 August 2016

MoD planning to sell land for house building

The Ministry of Defence (MoD) is planning to sell off the land from 12 of its sites around the UK for housing development, and to raise around £500m for defence budgets.
The land from the sites is expected to be suitable for the building of 15,000 new homes.
Defence Minister Mark Lancaster commented that funds from the sale of the land will be put back into defence budgets, and the land will be used to help reach the government target of building 160,000 homes by 2020.
The 12 sites will be the first to be sold by the MoD, with further sites to be put up for sale in due course. Plans are in place to raise £1bn altogether via the sale of land, which should allow around 55,000 homes to contribute to the government's 2020 target.
The initial 12 sites will include Kneller Hall in Twickenham, Claro and Deverell barracks in Ripon, Lodge Hill in Kent and RAF Barnham in Suffolk.
Details of future sites to be sold will be announced by the MoD later in the year.

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Monday, 8 August 2016

House prices boosted by rush in buy-to-let

The Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) have reported that numbers of house purchases have been unseasonably high in recent months.
This is thought to be caused by large numbers of buy-to-let investors seeking to buy before the government’s proposed changes to stamp duty in April.
RICS said that from its monthly surveys of residential property agents, expectations of further price increases were nearly at a two-year high, with 50% more surveyors seeing price rises than falls.
Prices are rising due to a shortage of supply compared to demand, especially in cities, with homes in Cambridge, London and Bristol showing the highest annual growth in average prices.
In December 2015, 43% more RICS surveyors said they expected further price increases in the next three months compared to those that predicted falls.
Simon Rubinsohn, chief economist for RICS, commented: "Potential buy-to-let investors are looking to pick up properties before the increased stamp duty levy comes into force in April. If that is the case, we can expect to see the housing market heating up further over the next few months."

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Monday, 25 July 2016

Lighthouse in urgent need of help to avoid fall into sea

The Orfordness lighthouse in Suffolk is in danger of falling into the sea, and is in need of donations to help save the iconic building which was built in 1792.
The lighthouse is now only around ten metres from the sea, since coastal erosion has contributed to the gap halving within the last four years.
The Orfordness Lighthouse Trust has set up a £10,000 appeal in a bid to fund crucial repairs and sea defences which could save the lighthouse. Without any action, the historic Grade II listed building would likely be gone within months.
Placing temporary 'Soft Defences' - bags of shingle wrapped in 'sausages' of high performance geo textile bonding - in front of the lighthouse has already extended its life.
A group of able volunteers are ready to start work to enhance the temporary defences, putting another two layers of wrapped shingle to shore up the beach below the lighthouse, but cannot do so without funding.
To allow this reassuring feature of the Suffolk coastline to remain open to visitors the support of the public is important and any donations greatly appreciated by the Orfordness Lighthouse Trust.
Nicholas Gold set up the Orfordness Lighthouse Trust having bought the building from Trinity House, the country's general lighthouse authority, after it was decommissioned as a working lighthouse in June 2013.
Mr Gold said: "If the work is not carried out in the next few weeks, the lighthouse will, in all likelihood, not be standing in a year's time."

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Monday, 18 July 2016

Lord Sugar Trusts Our Trader

You know you can trust a trader when he receives almost perfect reviews and is picked by none other than Lord Alan Sugar.
This year's winner of the BBC series, The Apprentice, is TrustATrader registered Joseph Valente. 25 year old Joseph's plumbing business, Impra-Gas Plumbing and Heating, has been registered on TrustATrader since 2013; those who saw his impressive pipe-work in episode 6 will not be surprised that Impra's services have gained 16 reviews in the past year, and an overall rating of 4.97 out of 5 stars.
Joseph's outstanding levels of service and ambitions for the future of his plumbing business drove him into entering this year's competition, in which renowned entrepreneur Lord Alan Sugar puts candidates through rigorous challenges in order to select a winner. Joseph's performance throughout the challenges and his robust business plan to franchise out his plumbing business resulted in his overall victory despite stiff competition. As well as the accolade of being named Apprentice 2015, Joseph has won Lord Sugar's partnership and a £250,000 investment.
Lord Sugar said of Joseph’s victory: "Joseph is a great example of what's possible. He turned his life around and decided he was going to go to work and here he is today, a well-deserved winner of The Apprentice and I look forward to him being my business partner. I hope it inspires a lot of people to see what is possible in this world."
Since a young age, Joseph has always worked hard to strive for excellence. He gained a plumbing apprenticeship, which led to him establishing his own business. It is his intention to give others like him the opportunity to succeed by making apprenticeships an integral element of his new business model: "Apprenticeships are going to be the backbone of this country, and off the back of this journey I'm going to make sure I go out and promote as much as possible how effective apprenticeships are."
You can take a look at a few of Joseph's reviews here.
At TrustATrader, we are, of course, delighted that another one of our local traders has received the public recognition that they deserve. We offer Joseph our huge congratulations and are proud that our reviewers' opinions of his business have been echoed by Lord Sugar and his team.

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Monday, 11 July 2016

Council give special Christmas gift to young lighting enthusiast

Wigan Council have given a special Christmas gift to a local boy, Ben McKenna, who has been collecting lights and lamps for years - a brand new LED street light.
The grandmother of 15 year old Ben had called the Council to ask where she could buy one of the LED lights that had been recently installed across the region.
Instead, the kind folks at the street lighting team decided to wrap up one of the lights to present to the boy, who was reported to be 'speechless' at the gift.
Ben has loved lights since a very young age, always wanting to go the lighting section of any supermarket they visited, grandmother Carol said.
"Most kids wanted sweets, but he was happy with a light bulb."
He had wanted one of the new street lights since he had seen them being fitted.
The light was given free of charge by the Council's suppliers.
Ben has been signed up as the youngest member of the Institute of Lighting Professionals, and is looking into a career in street lighting.
Wigan Council's Technical and Design Officer for street lighting, Chris Pennington, commented: "He is very knowledgeable and was asking us about what qualifications he needs to progress. We are delighted to encourage it in any way."

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Monday, 4 July 2016

Homes able to be built on Green Belt in planning shake up

Following a new Government consultation, laws related to building on Green Belt land are due to be relaxed to allow the development of new 'starter homes' for young families.
The proposals are the biggest changes to planning protection for thirty years, affecting the laws related to greenfield land around towns and cities which were introduced in 1955 to prevent urban sprawl.
The changes were published on Monday, and are likely to be welcomed by developers which have always wanted to be able to build on Green Belt land.
The changes to the National Planning Policy Framework which was introduced in 2012 no longer require land lost to building to be replaced, instead this will be an option for the local council.
According to the consultation: "We consider that the current policy can hinder locally-led development and propose to amend national planning policy so that neighbourhood plans can allocate appropriate small-scale sites in the Green Belt specifically for starter homes."
Paul Miner from the Campaign to Protect Rural England commented: "We will probably see thousands more houses come through in the Green Belt as a result of these changes every year.
"The current policy isn’t working, but these proposals will make things worse. It could see a lot more planning battles in the countryside over coming years."
Starter homes are for first time buyers under the age of 40, which are sold at a 20 percent discount from the market rate. They are properties worth no more than £250,000 outside of London, or £450,000 in the capital.

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Monday, 27 June 2016

Cat called Smog starts house fire during the night

Firemen were called to a home in Sheffield at 4:30am yesterday to tackle a house fire apparently caused by the family's cat, Smog, walking over the cooker and accidentally switching it on.
A plastic toolbox which had been left on top of the cooker had caught fire, leading to further damage.
The family and Smog fortunately managed to escape to safety, the fire service reported, and Smog is reported to be doing fine after a check-up at the vets.
If this genuine incident seems strangely familiar, it may be because it was remarkably close to the story of the children's book 'Mog's Christmas Calamity' by Judith Kerr, featuring a cat with a very similar name.
You may have seen the story brought to life on television recently as Sainsbury's made it into an animated/live action short film for its Christmas advert this year.
The book version of the story is currently being sold by Sainsbury's and all the related profits are being donated to Save the Children. So far nearly £900,000 has been raised for the charity's UK child literacy campaign.

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Monday, 20 June 2016

Wireless internet through your lights

A new wireless internet access technology called li-fi has been announced, which transmits data through light via standard LED bulbs.
This method of wireless transmission doesn't suffer from the interference of traditional wi-fi and offers speeds 100 times faster, up to 1Gbps (gigabit per second) which is 1000 Mbps (megabits per second). However, lab tests have shown theoretical speeds of up to 224Gbps.
The technology was tested this week by Estonian company Velmenni, in an office environment, allowing workers to access the internet.
The technology works by using a controller to vary the current to an LED bulb (or bulbs) at very high speed, varying the intensity of the light output enough to be detected by a photodetector device connected to a computer, but not enough to be noticed by the human eye.
Any LED lightbulb could be controlled in this way to offer the very high speed internet connection, but there are some downsides. The technology doesn't work outside in daylight for example, because of the presence of the sun. Plus of course, you need to have the lights on for li-fi to work.
The fact that li-fi doesn't cause or suffer from the radio interference of traditional wi-fi is a big plus though, allowing it to be used on aircraft, in hospitals and other such sensitive environments.
Velmenni chief executive Deepak Solanki has stated that the technology could reach consumers within three to four years.

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Monday, 13 June 2016

Queen reopens New Street station in Birmingham

The Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh have officially reopened New Street Station in Birmingham, following its five year, £750m, redevelopment.

The royal couple unveiled a plaque at the impressive new station and paid their respects to railway staff killed in action in the First World War.

They also named a tram while visiting the recently completed Midland Metro Tram Extension at Bull Street, and visited the Birmingham Dental Hospital and School of Dentistry on the former BBC site at Pebble Mill.

Security for the Queen's visit was higher than usual, following the attacks in Paris last weekend, with armed police clearly visible and additional officers on patrol. The central concourse of the station was also sealed off while the Queen unveiled the plaque.

However, Assistant Chief Constable Gary Cann said that the measures were only a precaution and no intelligence had been received relating to a threat.

Some royal fans traveled a long way to see the Queen, with one, Margaret Kittle, coming all the way from Canada.

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