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Charities warn older people about insulating lofts with spray foam  

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THE WALES Against Scams Partnership (WASP) is urging older and other vulnerable people to seek advice before agreeing to insulate their lofts with spray foam following a spate of rogue traders misleading older people worried about soaring energy bills.  

The Partnership warns that while spray foam is legal, it is only appropriate in specific and limited circumstances and should only be applied by specialists. It should never be marketed as a quick fix solution to loft insulation problems as improper use can cause structural damage and make it very difficult to sell a property, as mortgage lenders are becoming increasingly cautious about spray foam.  

Age Cymru’s policy officer Sam Young, who heads WASP, says “We understand that many older people are worried about how they are going to pay their fuel bills this winter and as a result may be even more vulnerable to rogue traders.  

“Previous studies have shown that older people are the most likely age group to be targeted by scammers, with data from National Trading Standards showing that 85% of victims of doorstep scams are over 65.   

“In all situations we would urge older people to seek expert advice first and then make sure they’re claiming all their entitlements.  

“However, millions of pounds worth of support, including £200m worth of Pension Credit, go unclaimed in Wales each year.    

“Age Cymru publishes a free guide called More Money in Your Pocket that offers information about a range of benefits and how to go about claiming them.”  

Care & Repair Cymru, also a WASP member, provides home safety improvements for their clients.  From their work in the community, they found:  

One client paid more than £4,000 for spray foam loft insulation that was sold by a doorstep trader. The clients were older people with various health problems, including sight and hearing loss and would have appeared vulnerable to the rogue trader.  

  • Another older client was persuaded to pay a £2,000 deposit for spray foam. Their family stopped the work from going ahead.  
  • One rogue trader claimed that a UK Government grant would cover most of the work, and that the client would ‘only’ have to pay £2,500 for installation.  
  • An older client bought spray foam loft insulation for £3,500 and found they were unable to sell their house as a result. It cost £2,000 to remove the foam before the house could be put back on the market. However, the house was off the market for two months and during that time property value had dropped by £15,000.  

Care & Repair Cymru’s chief executive Chris Jones says “Making your home more energy efficient is still important for your health, your finances, and the climate. However, we would urge people to be cautious and to do lots of research before going ahead with spray foam insulation work.  

“Some local authorities have trusted trader lists, while they all should be able to advise on housing and environmental health queries.    

“Trading Standards will have lists of approved traders under their ‘Buy with Confidence’ service while local Care & Repair Cymru branches will be able to offer advice on reliable contractors working in their areas.”  

Tony Neate, chief executive officer at Get Safe Online added “Although traditionally you think of rogue builders approaching you on your doorstep, it’s also important not to be conned by online adverts.  “Before you commit, make sure you do your homework. Check that the builder is reputable by looking at reviews and ensure your mortgage provider agrees with any alterations you’re thinking of doing.” 

If you want to talk to someone directly about benefits and entitlements, and any of the issues raised in this news release call Age Cymru on 0300 303 44 98 (charged at a local rate) Monday to Friday between 9am and 4pm. You may also email [email protected] or visit www.agecymru.org.uk/cost-of-living.  

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Community

Pop up museum opens in Haverfordwest whilst Castle works continue

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WITH Haverfordwest Castle closed for the next couple years due to building works for the Heart of Pembrokeshire project the Haverfordwest Town Museum has had to relocate to the town centre.

Last September, plans to move temporarily Haverfordwest’s museum to the town’s Riverside Quay while levelling-up works in the town are ongoing were given the thumbs-up.

An application for a change of use of the former GAME electronic games store at 24-25 Riverside Quay to the temporary home for the ‘pop-up’ museum was submitted to county planners by historian and council presiding member Dr Simon Hancock.

The museum itself is moving from its current site at the Governor’s Office next to Haverfordwest Castle due to ongoing works connected with the £24m Heart of Pembrokeshire levelling-up redevelopment of that part of the county town, which is expected to last until Spring 2026.

Work is ongoing to set up displays and create a museum shop and the new Riverside home is hoped to open to the public on March 25.

Museum Curator Dr Hancock said: “We want to make the pop-up museum an informative and entertaining space. We will have models of the castle and Tudor Merchant’s house, displays on the Llewellin churnworks, the Port of Haverfordwest, items made in the town during the Victorian period, David Lindley paintings and the People of Haverfordwest panels.

“We will be open all year round in our new premises and so we will ensure there will be regular changes of content. We would like to hear from anyone who would be interested in volunteering for us.

“The pop-up museum would only be possible thanks to the stalwart support of the county council with funding from the Shared Prosperity Fund for which we are extremely grateful.”

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Community

Local group demands action on Cardigan sewage crisis

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THE GRASSROOTS organisation Save the Teifi has called upon authorities to urgently address the severe sewage pollution afflicting the lower Teifi and its estuary. The situation, which has deteriorated over the last decade, has been highlighted as the most alarming instance of sewage pollution in Wales, according to a comprehensive report by Peter Hammond in 2023.

The organisation is pressing for prompt completion of necessary upgrades to the Cardigan sewage treatment facilities. Save the Teifi advocates for a nature-based solution in the redesigning of these works and challenges authorities to provide substantial reasoning should these eco-friendly options be considered impractical.

Contradicting claims by Dŵr Cymru that the pollution has no environmental impact, Save the Teifi demands intensified surveillance of the river and estuary pollution levels, alongside the quality of bathing waters at Poppit Sands. The visible decline in biodiversity and the health of the river underscore the community’s concerns.

The organisation is urging the initiation of a citizen science programme by summer 2024, aimed at involving the community in assessing river health and bathing water quality. This move seeks to foster a collaborative effort between residents and regulatory bodies.

Regulatory Inadequacies Highlighted

Natural Resources Wales (NRW) faces criticism for its inadequate enforcement against unauthorized sewage discharges. Save the Teifi argues for a bolstering of NRW’s resources, enabling it to effectively safeguard natural resources.

The leadership of Dŵr Cymru/Welsh Water and NRW are called upon to accept responsibility for the delays in acknowledging the need for an overhaul of the Cardigan Sewage Treatment Works. The group suggests linking executive compensation to environmental performance as a means to ensure accountability.

Save the Teifi is calling for an official apology and a clear, time-sensitive plan for mitigating the sewage crisis. The community’s patience wears thin, and the urgency for remedial action has never been more critical. Save the Teifi remains steadfast in its mission to protect the river and its environs for the benefit of current and future generations.

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Community

Pembrokeshire Lane Blighted by Illegal Dumping Incident

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OVER a dozen large plastic vegetable oil drums along with assorted rubbish were discovered discarded along a rural lane in Pembrokeshire, sparking outrage amongst local residents. The unsightly scene, strewn with 15l and 20l drums and accompanying cardboard packaging, was first noticed by Councillor Di Clements near her farm residence, spanning across the road between Martletwy and Minwear.

Upon the unsightly discovery, Councillor Clements undertook an immediate investigation into the debris, sifting through the detritus in hopes of uncovering any clues that might lead to the identification of those responsible. The presence of numerous black bin liners containing smaller containers suggested the waste originated from a food service establishment. It is believed that the rubbish was illicitly deposited sometime between 4 pm on Sunday, 25th February, and the early hours of 6:30 am on Monday.

Prompt action was taken by Councillor Clements, who reported the incident to Pembrokeshire Council. The council’s swift response was commended by Clements, as a waste advisor was quickly dispatched to the scene to further investigate the matter. By Monday afternoon, the council had successfully cleared the debris.

Councillor Clements is currently appealing to the public for any information regarding suspicious activities that could lead to the identification of the perpetrator, who she suspects may be a repeat offender in the area. Expressing her dismay, Clements remarked, “I am extremely disappointed to see this and I can’t believe someone would do this.”

The council and Councillor Clements extend their gratitude to those involved in the prompt cleanup and urges anyone with information to come forward.

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