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Issue:- 19 August 2010

Time called on Southport cowboy scrap dealers

TIME is being called on the activities of cowboy car scrap dealers.  A loophole in vehicle licensing rules that has allowed millions of cars to be scrapped but not deregistered is to be closed after a campaign by Liberal Democrat Euro-MP Chris Davies.

Environmentalists claim that it has led to thousands of tonnes of oil and brake fluid being poured down drains, while millions of old tyres have ended up dumped on wasteland or in the countryside.  The loophole allows owners of old bangers to claim that they are scrapping the cars themselves.  It has been exploited by rogue scrap dealers who use it to avoid paying to meet the depollution requirements of EU end-of-life vehicles legislation introduced 10 years ago.

Now the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) in Swansea is to start the issue of revised V5C registration forms.

Davies has been working for 4 years with operators of licensed waste treatment facilities to get the changes made and environmental standards improved.  He said:- “The figures suggest that up to a million cars have been taken apart and scrapped on peoples’ driveways in the last 5 years. This is clearly absurd, but it’s been an uphill task to persuade the DVLA to make the changes required. Rogue scrap dealers advertising for old cars need to be put of business. They are not paying tax, they harm the environment, and they undercut legitimate vehicle dismantlers.”

However, the DVLA claims that it will take at least 2 years to issue new registration documents to every car owner and that could mean another 300,000 to 400,000 cars slipping through the net.

Davies, who will shortly meet with new Business Minister Mark Prisk to discuss the issue, wants owners of every car destined for the breaker’s yard to be told that they should insist now that scrap dealers supply them with a key document.  He said:- “A Certificate of Destruction is essential. It ensures that the car is deregistered and properly depolluted.”

Davies says that DVLA procedures have until now failed to ensure that vehicles are deregistered even when they have in fact been dismantled. He warns that if a car taken for scrapping is in fact put back on the road by a rogue trader, the original owner will unknowingly retain responsibility if it is involved in an accident.

“The EU end-of-life directive is a good environment law intended to ensure that the millions of cars disposed of each year are treated properly. The time is long overdue for Britain to apply it across the board.”

Andy Kenny, spokesman for the End of Life Vehicle Recyclers Association said:- “Cowboy dealers with a mobile phone and a van have been undercutting legitimate businesses for years with the help of the DVLA.  Chris Davies has worked with us to slam the door on the people who dump tyres in laybys and pour poisons down the drain.  There have been many false dawns on this issue and I hope that this time the DVLA will stick to its guns.”

Man fined for Council Tax benefit fraud

A LIVERPOOL man has pleaded guilty to fraudulently claiming Council Tax benefit worth over £10,000 – when he owned properties worth a total of half a million pounds.  Geoffrey Berg, of Carnatic Road in Mossley Hill, admitted falsely receiving £10,799.34 between February 2003 and March 2010.   The case at Liverpool Magistrates Court was brought by the city’s benefit fraud team, run by Liverpool Direct - the council’s joint venture with BT.

Suspicions were aroused when the Council Tax team noticed that Mr Berg had two properties.   During the investigation it emerged he had moved into a flat which he had bought outright for cash. He then sold his previous residence, a house, for a £70,000 profit. He then bought a 2nd flat outright for £205,000, which he rented out for around £1,000 a month, which he has since sold.  The law states that people who have over £16,000 in savings are not eligible for Council Tax benefit, and Mr Berg has around £200,000 in capital.

Deputy council leader Paul Brant, who has responsibility for finance, said:- “Every penny claimed fraudulently is a penny less that can be used for people who are genuinely in need.  During these difficult economic times, it is more vital than ever that benefits go to those who are eligible.  We will not hesitate to investigate and take action against people where we believe they have lied and cheated in order to claim benefits.  If people think they may be mistakenly receiving benefits they aren’t entitled to, they should get in touch with us to discuss it as soon as possible.”

District Judge Ian Lomax today ordered Mr Berg to repay the whole amount, with £5000 of it to be handed over within a month. He was also fined £5,000 and ordered to pay the council's full costs of £1,228.



ITS not just kids who need a bed time cuddle from their favourite teddy to send them to the land of nod. Over a 3rd of British adults also rely on a bear hug, to send them to slumber; new research has revealed.

The survey conducted with 6,000 Britons by Travelodge revealed 35% of adults admitted they sleep with their teddy because they found cuddling their bear comforting. Also the calming feeling of a bear hug also helps them to de-stress after a hard day – which aids sleep.

The survey was conducted to investigate the nation’s fascination with sleeping with a teddy bear. As in the last 12 months, the hotel chain has had to reunite over 75,000 forgotten cuddly bears that have been left in its 452 hotels with their owners.

Research findings also revealed 25% of male respondents reported they take their teddy bear away with them when going away on business. As it reminds them of home and a bear cuddle helps them to nod off as they miss a bedtime cuddle from their partner.

Corrine Sweet, Psychologist, said:- “Cuddling a teddy bear is an important part of our national psyche as it evokes a sense of peace, security and comfort. It’s human nature to crave these feelings from childhood to adult life, which is why 35% of British adults sleep with their teddy bear. It's not surprising, then, that taking a cuddly bear on a business trip is so popular, even among men (25%). As a bedtime bear evokes the secure feelings of home and warmth which can aid sleep - just like in childhood.”

Further findings from the research revealed that 51% of British adults still have a teddy bear from their childhood and Briton’s average teddy bear is 27 years old.  10% of single men surveyed admitted they hide their teddy bear when their girlfriend stays over. 14% of married men reported they hide their teddy bear in the wardrobe or under bed when any family and friends come to visit.  Interestingly more men at 15% compared to 10% of women reported they treat their teddy as their best friend and will share their intimate secrets with their bear.  Also 26% of male respondents stated it is quite acceptable to have a bear regardless of your age.

'Dawn James, Arctophile and editor of Teddy Bear Times said;- “Teddy Bears represent happiness and security in childhood. They are the best friend that always listens and never criticises. This is why so many adults hang on to their childhood bears, because they see them as a lifelong friend.  The popularity of teddy bears is going from strength to strength. There are collectors across the UK who have thousands of bears in their houses.”

The research also looked into which bear has the ‘Zzz ‘factor and is the nation’s favourite bedtime bear. Topping the ‘Zzz’ factor bear poll was the traditional teddy bear – which has also appeared in cult TV programmes such as: Playschool (Big & Little Ted), Andy Pandy (Teddy) and Brideshead Revisted (Aloysius).

Listed below is the nation’s all time top ten favourite cuddly bears:-

1. The classic teddy bear
2. Winnie the Pooh
3. Paddington Bear
4. Tatty Bear
5. Sooty
6. Care Bears
7. Yogi Bear
8. Fozzie Bear
9. Rupert the Bear
10. Super Ted / Baloo

'Dawn James, Arctophile and editor of Teddy Bear Times said;- I'm not surprised that the traditional teddy is the nation’s favourite bear. It’s a design that has lasted for well over a hundred years and most people have had a traditional teddy bear as part of their toy collection whilst growing up. The movie industry has recognised the importance of teddy bears and has included a new character in Toy Story III a beautiful big pink teddy bear called Lotso.”

Shakila Ahmed, Travelodge Spokeswoman said:- “We are definitely a nation obsessed with teddy bears. We have never had as many as 75,000 cuddly bears left behind in Travelodge hotels before. Our hotel staff have worked extremely hard in reuniting the bears with their owners. Interestingly the owners have not just been children, we have had a large number of frantic businessmen and women call us regarding their forgotten teddy bear.”

Other key findings from the research were:-

► 26% of adults use a teddy bear hot water bottle so that they can have a warm bear hug to help them nod off.

► 14% of parents surveyed said they had passed down their favourite teddy bear to their children as a keepsake.

► 80% of parents reported the first toy they brought their child was a teddy bear

► 62% of parents said it is important for a child to grow up owning and loving a teddy bear as it helps them to develop a more caring nature.

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