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Issue Date:- 11 August 2008


HOUSING associations across the North West have turned up the heat on the main energy companies in the region. As part of the National Housing Federation campaign, 20 North West associations have urged the companies to align pre-payment meter (PPM) tariffs in line with best quarterly bill rate in a bid to help bring low-income consumers in from the cold.  The joint letter has been sent to the chief executives of all the energy companies operating in the North West calling for urgent action.

Last week British Gas owner Centrica raised gas prices by a record 35% and electricity prices by 9% and the other leading energy companies are likely to make similar rises. Those on PPM, often low income families, can already pay up to £298 more for their energy than those who are better off. Around 187,400 households in the North West already suffer from fuel poverty according to the Government. With massive hikes in prices and greater rises predicted, this number is likely to grow sharply.

The Government has been advising customers to switch supplier to make savings on rising gas and electricity bills. However according to figures from the Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform five million people who have prepayment gas and electricity meters have ended up paying more.

The Government has acknowledged that pre-payment meter customers get an unfair deal. The Chancellor, Alistair Darling, recently said:- "we want to see the 5 million customers on pre-payment meters given a fairer deal" and has given energy suppliers a deadline of next winter to sort this out

Sallie Bridgen, National Housing Federation regional manager said:- "Too often, the poorest in society end up paying more for the kind of services most people take for granted. With predicted fuel price rises of up to 60% over the next year it is now more urgent than ever that action is taken.  By working collectively, associations can put pressure on the energy companies and the Government to put an end to fuel poverty and give a fair deal for all!"

LETTER TO THE EDITOR:- "I am looking for any decedents..."

"Looking for any descendants of Edward Albert Crowley, born 1887, married to Kitty Wynne in 1917.

He had one daughter, Marjorie, married to Philip Clancey.

I will be staying at the Britannia Bolton Hotel from, 11 August 2008, so please get in touch 08458385553."
  Mrs.Susan Spear


FIGURES released for Playday 2008 show that children are facing serious restrictions to their opportunities for adventurous play. An ICM survey commissioned by Play England for Playday shows that 51% of children aged 7 to 12 years are not allowed to climb a tree without adult supervision and 49% also report that they have been stopped from climbing trees because it was considered to be too dangerous.

The research also finds a change in the places where children and young people today experience adventurous and challenging play. As children, 70% of adults enjoyed most of their adventures in natural outdoor environments. This compares with only 29% of children today as both the space and the freedom to roam has dramatically declined in recent years. Today, children’s experiences of adventure are confined to designated areas such as playgrounds (56%), their homes (48%) or theme parks (44%).

Playday, this year supported by Persil, is the annual celebration of children’s right to play and takes place on Wednesday 6 August 2008. This year’s theme – Give us a go! calls for a rethink of our risk-averse culture of banning conkers in the playground and outlawing tree climbing. The campaign highlights the need for children to experience risky and challenging play in order to ensure they are able to manage risk in their daily lives.

‘Playing is an essential part of growing up,’ said Adrian Voce, Director of Play England. ‘Starting from their earliest play experiences, children both need and want to push their boundaries in order to explore their limits and develop their abilities. Children would never learn to walk, climb stairs or ride a bicycle unless they were strongly motivated to respond to challenges; but we must accept that these things inevitably involve an element risk.

Adventurous play that both challenges and excites children helps instil critical life skills. Constantly wrapping children in cotton wool can leave them ill equipped to deal with stressful or challenging situations they might encounter later in life.’

Hundreds of fantastic events will be taking place across the UK to celebrate Playday. In honour of this year’s theme, local communities will be organising adventurous play opportunities, such as go-kart building, assault courses and tree climbing.  To mark Playday, Play England has published a body of research, which looks benefits and challenges of enabling children to manage their own risks whilst playing.  Play England will also publish top tips to help inspire children to engage in adventurous play outside their home and within their community.  This year Playday is pleased to announce that Persil is supporting the campaign as part of their Every Child Has The Right campaign.

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