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Britain’s freezing homes, ‘a silent killer’

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COLD homes are a bigger killer than road accidents, alcohol or drug misuse, new research shows.

During the Coalition Government’s five years in power, 46,700 people have died simply because they live in cold homes.

Analysis of official data by the Association for the Conservation of Energy (ACE) today reveals, for the first time, the number of deaths each year directly related to cold homes. This represents 30% of the total number of Excess Winter Deaths according to the World Health Organisation.

The new figures from ACE estimate that this winter (2014/15) has been the deadliest in the last five years, with two thirds more cold homes deaths than the average.

The Energy Bill Revolution, the world’s largest fuel poverty campaign, has slammed the Coalition for failing to live up to its rhetoric on cold homes.

Over 46,000 people have backed an Avaaz petition which was delivered to George Osborne, Ed Balls and Danny Alexander today demanding that all parties prioritise using infrastructure funds to invest in home energy efficiency in their manifestos which are due to be finalised this week.

Campaigners point to a long list of Government failures throughout the last Parliament which have seen an unprecedented fall in the support available to people who can’t afford to heat their homes:

  • The Coalition has cut the Energy Companies Obligation, presided over Green Deal debacle, and abolished schemes like Warm Front.
  • The most effective way to bring down energy bills is to install energy efficiency measures which can save a household more than £400 per year. But the amount of energy efficiency support available to the fuel poor has plummeted 80% in the last two years. This year saw the lowest number of families since 2002 receive Government insulation support to keep their homes warm, according to today’s ACE research.

The Government boasts about installing energy efficiency measures in 1 million households under their new schemes but if they had kept to their old schemes, 2.8 million households would have received them. As a result 1.8 million families have missed out on home improvements during the Parliament.

Ed Matthew, director of the Energy Bill Revolution, said: “Cold homes are one of the most deadly killers in Britain today, but this silent menace is too often ignored because it happens behind closed doors. The evidence shows that insulation support for the fuel poor has plummeted through the floor during this Parliament. The Government must step up and put a stop to these unnecessary deaths, by committing infrastructure funds to home energy efficiency and ending our cold homes crisis once and for all.”

Today’s figures show that cold homes killed more people in 2013 than carbon monoxide, fire, assault, and road/rail accidents combined.

Britain is second only to Estonia for fuel poverty in Europe, and cold homes have led to more people admitted to hospital with breathing problems than Sweden over the past five years.

The NHS is bearing the burden of this Government failure. Cold homes cost the NHS £1.36billion every year, according to Age-UK.

Leaky and cold homes are a cause of illnesses including chronic lung disease, asthma, bronchitis and pneumonia.

According to consultants Cambridge Econometrics, investing just 3% of the infrastructure budget in energy efficiency would take 2 million homes out of fuel poverty by 2020. Such a programme would increase UK GDP by £13.9billion a year by 2030 and create 108,000 new jobs.

Mass public support saw the Energy Bill Revolution’s campaign video recently go viral. The video of political leaders singing a spoof version of Frozen hit ‘let it go’ reached 5 million people.

Sam Barratt, Campaign Director of Avaaz said: “David Cameron may think insulating homes is ‘green crap’, but having a warm home can be the difference between life and death for the most vulnerable in our society. It really is a disgrace that only Estonia has worse fuel poverty than Britain in Europe. All parties must commit to radical action using infrastructure funds to insulate homes to save lives in their manifestos to stop this country’s cold home killer.”

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Business

Pembrokeshire the perfect holiday spot

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Pembrokeshire has been the perfect holiday destination for many years.

The county is home to miles of scenic coastline and beaches, stunning villages full of character and plenty of coastal escapes. It is the perfect place for tourists to sweep the cobwebs away and enjoy the beauty of the scenic Welsh countryside.

But with so many holidaymakers set to staycation in the UK, the question many people have been asking is where will they all stay? This is where Pass the Keys® comes in!

As the demand for staycation accommodation and short-term rentals grows across the UK, and more so in Pembrokeshire, there is an increasing demand for professional holiday let management services to help make the process of short term letting a completely hassle-free and enjoyable experience for property owners.

Pass the Keys® is run by local people & partnered with local companies but backed by a national brand who have are tried and tested infrastructure, as well as award winning technology to keep a cut above the rest. We are proud to be one of the only Professional Co-hosts of Airbnb in Pembrokeshire, so you can rest easy knowing that you are dealing with short-term letting experts.

Mark Pennino and Jamie Smith, Owners of Pass the Keys – South Pembrokeshire

Our holiday homes thrive thanks to our high standards of local support and this is demonstrated by our extremely high ratings on both Trustpilot and Google Reviews, why not take a look for yourself. Our bespoke software systems ensure that your holiday home is successfully marketed, occupied and kept safe, all of which are important factors to consider when selecting a holiday letting agency.

So, if you’re curious to find out more or maybe you are managing your holiday home yourself and it’s all getting a bit too demanding, go to our website and see how much your property can earn.

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Community

Enjoy the beach, but safely says the council and police in joint message

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YOUNG people in Pembrokeshire who are meeting up on the county’s beaches with their friends are being urged to do so safely and with consideration for others.

The message comes from Pembrokeshire County Council, Dyfed Powys Police, and other local agencies.

“It’s been a tough year for young people,” said Cllr Tessa Hodgson, Pembrokeshire’s Cabinet Member for social services.

“They spent much of the winter cooped up at home. Many have also been studying and had assessments. It’s natural to want to socialise – and to enjoy spending time on the beach.

“But please do so safely. If you’re a parent, please advise your child not to meet others at isolated beaches with poor mobile phone reception. We haven’t seen these problems so far, but if a young person has a drug or drink-related incident on an isolated beach, then it’s much harder for them to get help. The same goes if there’s an issue linked to reckless behaviour.”

Young people are also asked to act responsibly while at the beach, and to respect the local community.

It follows some instances where tins and bottles and the contents of bins were left strewn across the sand following gatherings.

“Young people are generally sensibleand we hope these were isolated incidents, but we would like to take this opportunity to remind them to respect the environment, put litter in bins or take it home,” said Cllr Hodgson.

“Please enjoy going to the beach – but please behave and allow others to enjoy it as well.”

National Park Authority Chairman, Cllr Paul Harries added: “As well as having a negative impact on other people who want to enjoy the beach, actions such as littering can also have negative impacts on wildlife.

“We would urge everyone to tread lightly as they enjoy the Pembrokeshire Coast so that all who visit or call this place home can do so safely.”

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Community

Enhancement project nears completion at Withybush Woods

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ONE of Haverfordwest’s favourite woodlands has been transformed over the past two years, thanks to an EU-funded improvement project led by Pembrokeshire County Council.

Withybush Woods is a tranquil dog-friendly woodland featuring two ponds, a wetland area, an accessible 1.5km footpath with bridges and a boardwalk, and lots of wildlife including resident ducks, moorhens and swans.

Owned by the County Council, the wood is located not far from Withybush showground and is part of the Victorian garden of Withybush House, demolished in the 1960s.

Pictured at Withybush Woods are Cllr Cris Tomos, Cllr Steve Yelland, and Helen Ross, External Funding Officer.

Work to improve the site has been carried out by the Council with support of Pembrokeshire Coast National Park Authority youth rangers, and volunteers from Rudbaxton Community Council.

Cllr Cris Tomos, Cabinet Member for the Environment and Welsh Language, said the Council has received lots of positive comments about how peaceful and beautiful the area is.

“Together with our partners, we have worked hard to improve and enhance Withybush woods and we’re delighted with the feedback that we’ve received,” he said.

“We know it was especially popular with local people during the pandemic and we’re pleased that it provided them with some tranquillity and the opportunity to relax and spend time amongst natural surroundings.”

Cllr Tomos said the new features had also been welcomed, and had made a real difference to the overall appeal of the area.

“As well as a newly-restored lower pond and a new wetland area, we have de-silted the upper pond, created an extra 500m section of accessible footpath including bridges, planted thousands of wildflowers and bulbs, installed signage, birdboxes, feeding stations, and more.

“There are still some elements of the project which haven’t been completed as a result of the pandemic, including the installation of an otter holt and planting of native trees – but this work will be carried out as soon as we are able to.”

Cllr Steve Yelland, county councillor for Rudbaxton, said: “I am delighted with the work that has been carried out at the woods, it has greatly increased the attraction and pleasure for many. The extension to the path and the new pond has added to the enjoyment which is used by both children and adults alike and is proving so popular that the car park is quite often full, which is a pleasure to see.

“I have had many people comment and say how much they appreciate the improvements that have been made and how much they enjoy walking through the woods.”

The enhancement work received funding by the Welsh Government Rural Communities – Rural Development Programme 2014 – 2020, which is funded by the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development and the Welsh Government. It also received funding through the Landfill Disposals Tax Communities Scheme, through the WCVA.

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