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Southport Reporter®

Edition No. 227

Date:- 14 November 2005

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MENINGITIS TRUST ISSUES WINTER WARNING...

THE Meningitis Trust, the UK's leading meningitis charity, is urging the people from the North West to learn the signs and symptoms of meningitis as the predicted cold-spell this winter is expected to bring with it a rise in cases.

The early symptoms of meningitis can easily be mistaken for those of flu, they include; fever, headache, stiff neck, dislike of bright light, drowsiness, joint pain, vomiting, diarrhoea, confusion and in some cases a rash. Symptoms can appear in any order and may not all appear at once. The disease affects people of all ages.

Chief Executive Philip Kirby says:- "During the winter months we will see more cases of meningitis and septicaemia. Worryingly, the symptoms can easily look like other, less harmful conditions. The Met Office has predicted a 'colder than average winter' so it is all the more important to err on the side of caution, to look out for the signs and symptoms of meningitis and to seek medical attention immediately if you suspect the disease."

The Meningitis Trust produces a life-saving card designed to fit inside your wallet, it displays the signs and symptoms of meningitis in both babies and adults - it's available free of charge - to receive one, call the Meningitis Trust's 24-hour nurse led help line on 0845 6000 800.

Property price crash expected

IT is estimated that thousands of homes across England and Wales currently accessed by a minor public roads, will suffer substantial loss of value following the introduction of the Natural Environment and Rural Communities (NERC) bill.

Section 62 of NERC is well intentioned, setting out to remove illegal “nuisance” use of motor propelled vehicles from sensitive rural areas. However this poorly drafted and ill-conceived piece of legislation will leave thousands of properties with no legal vehicular access rights.

The bill, in its current form, removes public rights to drive motor vehicles on Minor public roads such as RUPPs (roads used as public paths) and UCRs (unclassified roads). In itself NERC is a landmark piece of legislation, never before has any Government sought to remove any our public rights of way, this in itself sets an unsettling precedent, however its impact on thousands of properties across the country will be enormous. NERC has already brought many transactions to a standstill, as blighted properties have become unsaleable during the transit of the bill.

The fix drafted by government, is to provide access for property owners via a yet to be defined, and understandably unproven, form of private right, this is a legalisation of access, which in law is substantially inferior to a public right. Legalising the use of the road does nothing to ensure landowners provide an unobstructed, suitably maintained route, as the current right of does, thereby accessing the property may be lawful, but could easily be made physically impossible.

It is unlikely, being a new procedure, that obtaining this as yet undefined new right will prove easy and more importantly quick, it also puts the onus on the property owner to claim and prove it. This situation is compounded by the legislation being backdated to May 2005. If the bill goes through as is, access rights have already been removed.

Estimated by the House of Lords to impact on billions of pounds worth of property, the proposed law will undoubtedly have little or no impact on its principle target, illegal drivers of quad bikes and off-roaders, a change in the law will not change the habits of those that choose to break the law.

BEAT THE COLD THIS WINTER, HELP THE AGED

BRITISH Gas and Help the Aged hold special event in Crosby, Liverpool to give older people practical advice on how to beat the cold this winter.  Tips on how to keep a home warm and how to maintain good health will be amongst some of the advice offered to the older people at a special event organised by British Gas and Help the Aged at the Help the Aged store at 3 Moor Lane , Crosby, Liverpool on the 22 November, starting at 10.15 a.m.

Recently published Government statistics show that 3,900 people over the age of 65 in the North West died last winter from cold related illnesses including bronchitis and pneumonia – the highest figures in 5 years. In response the British Gas Help the Aged Partnership has organised a roadshow that will provide practical information to older people about how they can prepare for the coldest winter predicted for 10 years.

Steve Jones, spokesperson for the British Gas Help the Aged Partnership:- “Many older people are still dying needlessly each winter from cold-related illnesses. Since 1999, Help the Aged and British Gas in partnership have been urging the Government to take appropriate action to end this suffering. In the meantime we want to give older people the best chance to beat the cold and we have organised this roadshow to help them do that by providing them with useable practical information.”

The roadshow will see mass distribution of the Partnership’s ‘Cold can kill’ packs. This simple guide endorsed by both TV presenter, Carole Smillie and practicing GP and media doctor, Dr Hilary Jones gives older people the facts about how the cold effects their health and suggestions to keep warm during the winter months. It also includes details of useful telephone numbers, benefit entitlement and a user-friendly thermometer that can be used to monitor room temperature.

“The Cold can kill’ pack is an excellent way to make sure you have at your finger-tips simple measures to keep warm during the winter,” says, House Expert and TV presenter, Carole Smillie, “It’s a scandal that so many people die each year in the world’s fourth largest economy from the cold but this booklet produced by British Gas and Help the Aged helps older people help themselves and could prevent someone suffering a poor quality of life this winter. It is important that older people come down to an event and collect a pack.”

British Gas Help the Aged Partnership launched a hard-hitting campaign in October to combat fuel poverty among older people by publishing disturbing new research on the extent of the problem.  The research reveals that over 25% of households in the North West, (211,000 which is comparable to the population of Oldham), containing 1 or more individuals over 65, fail to meet minimum national standards for home decency.

In response, the British Gas Help the Aged Partnership is urging Government to adopt a 5 Point Plan to:-

(1) Increase investment in its Warm Front fuel poverty programme by a minimum of £100million per annum to ensure the 2010 elimination of fuel poverty target for older people is reached.

(2) End the means testing of Warm Front so that all pensioners receive free central heating.

(3) Target the delivery of Government programmes including Warm Front at deprived and rural areas where many fuel poor live.

(4) Extend the gas main and where this is not possible consider increasing the range of measures e.g. grants to include more expensive installations such as heat pumps and other renewable sources of energy.

(5) Provide more face to face support and practical help for older people. For instance, whilst a grant for loft insulation is helpful, clearing a loft to allow this insulation to be put in can be an impossible task for someone who is very frail. Much more hands on assistance need's to be provided in these cases.

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