Friday, 25 April 2008

Molly is warm and well thanks to free insulation

A DUNSTER woman has become the 500th local resident aged 70 years or older to have her home insulated free of charge through the popular Somerset Warm and Well scheme
To mark the occasion, Mrs Molly Hathaway was presented with a bouquet of flowers by West Somerset Council’s health and well-being portfolio holder, Councillor Kate Kravis.
Somerset Warm and Well is a local scheme which offers residents free or discounted loft and cavity wall insulation.
Mrs Hathaway, who knew her home had never been insulated, contacted the scheme after hearing about insulation grants on Radio 4.
She said: “I wanted to find out if there was anything they could do for me.”
The team arranged a survey and found that Mrs Hathaway’s loft needed insulating and her windows were not draught proofed.
Because Mrs Hathaway was aged over 70 years, she was entitled to have all the work carried out for free.
Mrs Hathaway said the surveyors were ‘very good, very helpful’ and ‘quick to get in touch and dealt with the work in a very efficient way’.
Since having her loft insulated, Mrs. Hathaway has noticed her home keeps its heat much better, especially at night, and it is also less draughty.
She said: “Before, the wind would blow the curtains out, but it has been fine since they put the draught proofing round.”
Mrs Hathaway has talked about her experience at her local Women’s Institute.
She said: “Some people think that they may have to pay for it or are not too happy having people in their loft.
“I did not experience much disruption. It was definitely worth it - wonderful.”
Councillor Kravis said: “We are really proud of our partnership with Warm and Well because it directly helps local people to save money and to be more comfortable in their own homes.
“I would urge people to get in touch with the team, particularly as fuel bills are rocketing and insulating homes is one of the most simple and effective ways of saving money and energy.
“All applications are treated in confidence and the team is actively looking to help more people.”
Sarah Jeffrey, the Somerset Warm and Well manager, said: “Lots of residents put up with living in cold homes because they assume that home improvements would be too expensive.
“We are delighted that we have already helped 500 older people in West
Somerset to cut their bills and have more comfortable lives, and we urge all local residents to get in touch and see what we can do for them.”
Somerset Warm and Well is supported and part-funded by West Somerset Council.
Residents who are aged over 70 years, or on a low income or in receipt of certain benefits, may be eligible for free loft or cavity insulation through the scheme, as well as hot water tank jackets and draught proofing.
Anybody who wants to find out what help is available should call freephone 0800 512 012 for a chat with the Somerset Warm and Well team.
  • Our photograph shows flowers being presented to Mrs Molly Hathaway (right) outside her Dunster home by West Somerset Council health and well-being portfolio holder Councillor Kate Kravis (centre) and Somerset Warm and Well marketing officer Lucy Hellier. Photo submitted.

Radio station battles to survive parent company's financial woes

STAFF at West Somerset’s commercial radio station, Quaywest 102.4 FM, were this week putting a brave face on its parent company’s financial troubles which threaten its future.
Both Watchet-based Quaywest and its sister Bridgwater station, formerly BCR FM but rebranded as Quaywest 107.4 FM, are owned by Laser Broadcasting, which has its headquarters in Darlington.
The West Somerset Free Press recently reported on how Quaywest’s Watchet telephone and fax lines had been lost for several days and listeners could only contact the station by email.
The station has also been without a website for several months - although it can still be heard over the internet – and staff had received late payments of wages.
Now, The Post has discovered that Laser Broadcasting has had a county court judgement entered against it for a £34,147 unpaid debt.
And a High Court petition for the winding up of one of Laser’s companies has also been presented by the Commissioners for HM Revenue and Customs.
The county court judgement was made in Leeds on March 17, and the winding up petition went to the London Companies Court on April 9.
The Revenue was seeking to wind up Fresh Radio Ltd, which Laser bought for more than £1 million only a year ago.
Laser also owns also owns Sunshine 855 in Ludlow and Classic Hits in Hereford and Worcester among its portfolio of six stations.
The move came after some staff at Fresh Radio quit amid claims they had not been paid. Staff at other Laser-owned companies around the country had also complained of late salary payments.
The problem of telephone, fax, and broadband connections being cut off has also struck a number of Laser’s stations.
In March, Fresh Radio suspended its live broadcasting in Skipton for several days and instead played a continuous loop of pre-recorded music.
The Post was this week twice told that Laser operations director Stuart Linnell would make a statement on the company’s position, but he had not done so at the time of going to press.
However, Mr Linnell has told other newspapers that Laser was forming a new company to run Fresh and was working hard to settle its problems and looked forward to a positive future.
Laser, which has invested £3.5 million in its stations in a 12-month period, has also set itself a target of owning 15 stations in three years.

Thursday, 24 April 2008

Association suspends rogue photographer

POLICE in two counties have now been informed of the business practices of rogue West Somerset photographer Mark Stothard.
Mr Stothard, aged 40, who lives with his wife Sarah Masters off Seaward Way, Minehead, trades as Mark The Photographer and also uses a number of other business names.
They include South West Debt Recovery, as well as several internet-based businesses, including,, and
The Post complained to Avon and Somerset Constabulary about Mr Stothard’s business conduct and is compiling a comprehensive dossier of information to pass to detectives.
Now, Mr Stothard has also been reported to police in Sussex, where he traded before moving to Somerset about four years ago and first living and working near Yeovil, before relocating to Timberscombe.
He has now also had his membership of the British Press Photographers’ Association suspended - becoming only the second photographer in its history to be suspended – following inquiries into the copyright of pictures he has been using on his websites and on his BPPA gallery.
Many of the photographs were of international politicians and celebrities, such as France President Nicolas Sarkozy, Germany’s Chancellor Angela Merkel, and footballer David Beckham, as well as rally cars competing in Spain and New Zealand.
However, the BPPA has received information that many of the photographs were actually taken from the European Press Agency, Reuters, and other organisations.
As word of The Post’s investigation into Mr Stothard has spread, the newspaper has been inundated with telephone calls and emails from people around the country claiming to have outstanding debts for work they carried out on his behalf.
Some of the information relates to businesses he ran in Hailsham, Sussex, before he was made bankrupt in 2005.
They include Confused Media, High Quality Film Scanning, and a wedding photography business which used advertising in glossy magazines.