Page 1

OCTOBER 2019

Keyless cars OK for the crooks - P2-3

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Beware of ghost brokers see P5

Cruel trade in puppies see P11

COMMUNITY WATCH MAGAZINE


2 KEYLESS CARS

Keyless driving is a dream...

Land Rover Discovery - gone in 30 seconds

WHAT CAR TESTS

SOME of the UK's newest and most popular cars are at risk of being stolen in seconds by exploiting weaknesses in keyless entry systems. The systems let drivers open and start their cars without taking their key out of their pocket. What Car? magazine tested seven different car models fitted with keyless entry and start systems. A DS 3 Crossback and Audi TT RS were taken in 10 seconds, and a Land Rover Discovery Sport TD4 180 HSE in 30. What Car? security experts performed the tests using the same specialist technology operated by thieves. They measured the time it took to get into the cars and drive them away. Car theft rates in England and Wales have reached an eight-year high. In 2018, more than 106,000 vehicles were stolen. And motor theft insurance claim payouts hit their highest level in seven years at the start of 2019. The Association of British Insurers said claims for January to March were higher than for any quarter since 2012. It said a rise in keyless car crime was partly to blame, but did not have figures on what proportion of claims were for keyless vehicles. Audi's parent company, the VW Group, said it collaborated with police

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DS3 Crossback - gone in 10 seconds

and insurers as part of its "continual" work to improve security measures. The PSA Group - the parent company of DS - told What Car? it had a team dedicated to treating potential security weaknesses and worked closely with police to "analyse theft methods". It also said dealers could deactivate the keyless entry systems on the latest cars at the owner's request. Some car makers have introduced new security measures to combat the theft of cars with keyless entry systems. Manufacturers, including Audi, BMW, Ford and Mercedes, have introduced motion sensor technology to some or all of their cars’ keyfobs. This detects when a key hasn’t moved for a specified time and deactivates it so that it no longer emits a code. As soon as the key is moved it emits a code again. Jaguar Land Rover has taken a different approach, fitting some of its models with ultra-wide band radio technology that transmits over a wide range of frequencies at once so thieves can’t pick up the signal. Tesla has also introduced its own security upgrade to new and many secondhand cars. A software update adds a PIN number to the infotainment system, which has to be entered to allow the car to be driven.

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Security choice

The Ghost 11 is the world’s first aftermarket CAN bus immobiliser.It protects your car from key-cloning, hacking, and even key theft. The only way a thief could take a Ghost protected car is by physically towing it away, even then they will never be able to drive it! The Ghost has no key-fobs or LED indications to give away its location. It uses the buttons in your vehicle such as those on the steering wheel, door panels or centre console, to allow you to make a unique, changeable, PIN code sequence that must first be entered before you can drive your car. In order to make extreme security also be hassle free, the manufacturers have created an iPhone application that connects to your car and allows you to get in and drive without having to enter the PIN code. This iPhone pairing allows a single, authorised, connection with a secret pairing code that is unique to every Ghost and communication between the Ghost and the iPhone is encrypted. All you have to do is pair your iPhone with your Ghost, leave the Autowatch Ghost application running in the background with Bluetooth enabled and you can drive securely.

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KEYLESS CARS 3

...for unscrupulous crooks VW Golf - susceptible

WHICH? CAR TESTS

KEYLESS cars are commonplace today and they are obviously the future of the motoring industry. Yet not everyone accepts that they are a good thing and consumer magazine Which? has revealed that the keyless revolution is also a goldmine for thieves. Hundreds of popular cars - including four out of the UK’s five best-selling models - are susceptible to keyless theft, according to Which?. They analysed research from the General German Automobile Club (ADAC) to find out the impact of keyless attacks on the five best-selling cars in the UK in 2018. Four of them - the Ford Fiesta, Volkswagen Golf, Nissan Qashqai and Ford Focus - were found to be susceptible to this kind of theft. Only the Vauxhall Corsa was deemed safe from such attacks, because it is not available with keyless entry and start. Thieves have been using keyless theft also known as the relay attack - for several years, but manufacturers continue to make new models that can be stolen in this way, meaning there is an ever-larger pool of vehicles for thieves to target. ADAC tested a total of 237 keyless cars and found that all but three of them are susceptible to relay attacks. Mor than 220 of the vehicles tested, from more than 30 brands, could be unlocked and started using relay boxes,

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Focus - an easy target

Which? advice to protect your car from theft:

n Don’t make your car look more appealing to thieves than it already does (e.g. never leave valuables on view). n Cars are far more likely to be stolen at night. If you can’t park overnight in the locked garage, try and park in a well-lit area, or consider investing in CCTV. n If you use the remote-locking button on your key fob, make sure you check the doors are actually locked - this will ensure you beat any thieves using a remote signal blocker. n Keep your car keys out of sight at home and never within close proximity of your front door. If you own a keyless car, contact your manufacturer to find out how you can protect yourself. n Use a steering wheel lock. The best locks are approved by Secured by Design and cost around £120.

while a further four models could be either unlocked or started. The only three keyless cars that ADAC has tested that were not susceptible to relay attacks are from Jaguar Land Rover the latest  models of the Discovery and

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Range Rover, and the 2018 Jaguar i-Pace. Which? researched the cost of installing keyless technology. If you were to buy the 2018 model of the VW Toureg, for instance, equipping it with keyless entry and start would set you back £700 and for the Volvo V60 (2018) would cost you £500. While these upgrades could be seen to offer additional convenience in everyday life, it could be seen as paying hundreds of pounds for a less secure vehicle. What’s more, the 2018 models of the Ford Eco-Sport and Nissan Leaf are among those that include keyless technology as standard, and yet are still susceptible to these attacks. Which? is concerned that car manufacturers are sacrificing the security of cars for a small added convenience. To find out more about how cars can be susceptible to theft, and to see a full list of which cars failed the test, visit: www.which.co.uk/keylesscars Editor of Which? Magazine,Harry Rose, said: “With more than one car being stolen every seven minutes, it’s important that people can feel confident in the security of their vehicle. “The fact that so many cars on the road are susceptible to keyless theft simply isn’t good enough. We want manufacturers to up their game when it comes to making their vehicles safe from theft.”

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4 GHOST BROKERS

WITH car insurance prices on the rise, it’s no surprise that drivers are looking for discounts anywhere they can get them. Unfortunately, some offers really are too good to be true. While most people think of insurance fraud as unscrupulous drivers making false claims, there’s a different type of insurance scam where drivers themselves are the victims. So-called ‘ghost broker’ target drivers looking to get a good deal, and sell them fake or invalid insurance policies that aren’t worth the paper they’re written on. Students are particularly targeted by this type of brotker because they are aware that money is tight. Getting caught up in a ghost broking scam could leave you out of pocket, uninsured and even with a criminal record — despite you unknowingly falling victim to the fraud. What is ghost broking? Ghost brokers will often target higher risk drivers, claiming to act as an intermediary between the driver and the insurer. They often advertise on social media, forums and even around universities and pubs, and lure people in with promises of cheap premiums. While fraudsters have many inventive ways of ripping off innocent drivers, there are three main methods ghost brokers use to trick drivers into buying fake insurance policies: Cancellation The ghost broker will act on behalf of the driver, purchasing a valid insurance policy from a genuine provider. Once the driver pays the broker for the policy (and sometimes for their ‘broking services’), the broker will then cancel the policy and pocket any refund. Forgery The scammer will forge insurance documents including the driver’s details. With advances in technology, these fake insurance documents can look very convincing and are often designed to imitate papers from reputable insurance companies. Falsification The ghost broker will purchase a real policy from an insurer, but will provide false details to get an attractive price for the driver. This scam is often used on drivers with typically expensive premiums, for example those with a history of claims or penalty points. The fraudster will take out a policy by

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Don’t be afraid of the ghosts

giving the insurer details of a low-risk driver. They can then doctor the policy documents to include the driver’s real details, making it seem like the policy will be valid. In all cases, the driver will be left with no valid insurance policy. What happens if I’ve bought a fake insurance policy? If you’ve bought a policy from a ghost broker, you won’t have valid insurance cover — which is a legal requirement. From a legal point of view, unknowingly buying a fake policy is the same as having no policy at all, and you could face penalties including a £300 fine and your car being impounded. That’s not to mention that if you need to make a claim on your car insurance, you won’t be covered. This could leave you out of pocket for any repairs to your car and, in some cases, liable for injuries and damages to any third parties. You’ll also need to pay out for a valid insurance policy to make sure you’re covered in the future. How to make sure your insurance policy

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is genuine If you suspect you may have bought a fake policy through a third party, there are a few ways you can check.

In the first instance, contact the insurer. The ghost broker will usually have set up a policy with a well-known provider (or claim to have done so). The insurer should be able to tell you whether you have a valid policy with them. You can also check the status of your insurance on the Motor Insurers’ Database. This will show whether your car is insured, but not whether your correct details were used on the application, so it’s still best to contact the insurer if you suspect you’ve bought a fake policy. Of course, the best way to avoid being ripped off is by buying insurance from a reputable source. You can compare insurance quotes from leading insurers using the tool below:

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SUPERMARKETS CHEATING 5 WE all have to use supermarkets at some time for our shopping whether it is for a few odd items or for a regular weekly shop. And we are always led to believe by the big chains that this is where you find the bargains. Which? magazine has found something quite different and they have discovered that supermarkets appear to be disregarding government pricing guidelines by continuing to offer misleading discounts and special offers. Which? crunched the numbers on more than 450 products on offer online at major UK supermarkets and found multibuys that actually cost you more despite the alleged offer, dubious discounts that allude to a price that isn’t the most recent and not-so-special offers in which items are sold at their ‘special’ price for the majority of the year. Among the dodgy deals that the consumer champion found, Iceland offered a misleading multibuy, with customers enticed by Kellogg’s Crunchy Nut available at ‘2 for £4’ (£2 each). While this may have appeared to be a good deal on the surface, Which? found that the price was just £1.49 each a week earlier - £0.51 less per item. Asda labelled Wall’s Carte D’Or Strawberry Ice Cream (1L) ‘was £3.50 now £2’. However, this product was sold at £2 for more of the year than £3.50, with the ‘special offer’ on show for 12 weeks. Which? also found examples of dodgy discounts that weren’t really discounts at all. For example, Cathedral City Mature Cheddar Cheese (350g) was available from Morrisons, promoted ‘was £3.50 now £2’ during the week of 17th September 2018. However, the product was actually available for £2 the week before. Following Which?’s super-complaint on misleading pricing practices in 2015, the government rolled out new guidance through the Chartered Trading Standards Institute to make sure that retailers’ pricing practices comply with consumer law.

Are you being cheated by your supermarket?

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The rules state that retailers must ensure the information they present to consumers is fair and does not waste time or cause annoyance, disappointment or regret. Neither should it cause a consumer to overspend or buy a product that is inappropriate for them. However, this latest investigation appears to reveal that many UK supermarkets continue to flout the rules by offering deals that don’t necessarily constitute a legitimate saving. While Which? continues to urge shoppers to be vigilant of dodgy deals when shopping in supermarkets, the consumer champion is demanding that supermarkets comply with government guidelines and provide shoppers with clearer pricing. Which? is now reporting its findings to the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA). Natalie Hitchins, Which? Head of Home Products and Services, said: “Four years on from our super-complaint on misleading pricing practices, many of the big supermarkets are clearly still in the wrong, with numerous examples of dodgy discounts and never-ending offers. “These retailers must stop tricking shoppers with deceptive deals and spurious special offers - if not, the CMA must intervene to ensure that

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pricing guidelines are followed.” Responses • Iceland responded to explain that it will review its promotional calendar, incorporating the findings by Which?. • Asda disagreed with the suggestion that their offers are misleading. • The other supermarkets did not respond. Which? advice for spotting misleading discounts • Stay vigilant when shopping in supermarkets as misleading pricing tactics are clearly still being used. • Don’t be enticed by a ‘special offer’ that might turn out to be a dud. • Don’t feel pressured by a time-limited offer as the reduced price may come back sooner than expected. Notes: • Which? used pricing data from May 2018 to June 2019, provided by MySupermarket, for 459 popular branded and supermarket own-brand products at seven of the UK’s biggest supermarkets: Asda, Iceland, Morrisons, Ocado, Sainsbury’s, Tesco and Waitrose.

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6 TRADING STANDARDS ADVICE

Solar panels...

ESSEX Trading Standards receive many complaints from older consumers who tell us they have been mis-sold their solar panel systems. Typically, they are cold-called, and agree to have the panels installed then take out a loan to pay for them. They are told that the panels will pay for themselves, make money, reduce their energy bills and that they will receive a payment to cover the costs, but when the loan repayments are taken into account, they are considerably worse off. We have even prosecuted one Essex based company (Smart Save Solutions Ltd) for exactly this type of misselling, which is, unfortunately replicated throughout the Country. By the time you realise you have been mis-sold the panels, the seller may no longer be trading. Continued on page 7

BE SURE AT THE DOOR

Follow our advice - don't fall victim to a rogue trader. n Choose a ‘Buy With Confidence’ accredited trader n Obtain several quotes n Get a written quote detailing exactly what work will be carried out, how much it will cost. and what the terms of payment are. n Take your time to make sure you’re happy with what you’re undertaking n Ask a trusted friend/relative for advice n Ask to see identity

A genuine trader will not: n Call without an appointment n Ask you or offer to take you to the bank to withdraw cash or make a money transfer n Ask you to pay in full before the work is complete n Insist that you decide about the work they're offering to do on the spot n Bully or scare you into doing work

www.buywithconfidence.gov.uk Follow us on Facebook and Twitter for useful leaflets to share with your friends and family. Don’t take chances, follow our advice to avoid being scammed.

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TRADING STANDARDS ADVICE 7

..get you hot under the collar From page 6 However if the loan is linked to the purchase of the panels, you can ask the credit provider to consider the misrepresentations made which could result in a reduction or even a refund of the cost of the solar panels and cancelling the loan under Section 75 of the Consumer Credit Act. If you are not happy with the answer you get, you can ask the Financial Ombudsman Service (FOS) to adjudicate on your complaint. FOS has now received thousands of complaints regarding the mis-selling of original solar systems. If you feel you have been mis-sold your solar panels, your first step is to raise a complaint with all your supporting evidence with your credit provider. Repeat targeting of existing panel owners

Other companies are preying on owners of solar systems trying to sell unnecessary and overpriced devices and services. If you receive a cold call offering you a system ‘health check’, it is likely that it is really a sales visit trying to get you to replace inverters or install other equipment like voltage optimisers or ‘PV+’ devices. We have even had instances where companies claim your insurance will be invalidated or the fire service will not attend if certain devices, such as ‘kill switches’ are not installed. They may also attempt to sell you service contracts, probably not worth the paper they are written on. Solar systems do not need routine maintenance or ‘health checks’, however if you have concerns and want to have your system looked at, then use a Buy With Confidence Business registered with the Microgeneration Certification Scheme (https://mcscertified.com/) For further advice or to report an issue to Trading Standards please phone the Citizens Advice Consumer Helpline on 03454 040506.

Case study 1: Mis-sold solar panels

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Mrs P a pensioner from Canvey Island was sold a solar system for £7,300, paid for by a 10-year bank loan. She was told the panels would “pay for themselves” and she would make a profit each month. The benefits were exaggerated by at least 50% and the cost of the loan interest was not taken into consideration. The overall shortfall was around £100 per month, causing financial hardship. She complained to the bank and then escalated her complaint to FOS who accepted that she was mis-sold and, considering she would receive some benefit from the system, wrote off the balance of £6,375.

Health check claims are usually bogus

Buyers usually find they are worse off

Case study 2: Solar add ons

Thousands of complaints have been reported

Mr H from Colchester is a vulnerable elderly consumer living on his own with an existing solar system. In around 18 months Mr H was targeted by 4 different companies and sold 10 separate products including battery storage, new inverters, PV+, voltage optimisers and even air to air heat pumps in addition to a service contract. The total cost for these ‘energy saving’ products and contracts was £37,500. Mr H’s case is forming part of a larger criminal investigation into the sellers.

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8

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SHOCKING new research shows one in UK four puppy buyers take less than two hours to decide on their pup, with thousands then being duped by rogue breeders and online scams. The research, for the Kennel Club’s recent Puppy Awareness Week, shows those who buy on a whim or purely for looks are left particularly vulnerable and unable to spot the signs of an unscrupulous breeder, with thousands ending up with a sick pup, suffering emotional hardship and paying high vet’s bills. As part of this culture of instant gratification, the research shows over three in five find a pup online and buy it before even seeing it, and 22 per cent have it delivered directly to their door. Advertising online or via social media is an easy way for puppy farms to mask horrific conditions; more than one in ten puppies advertised online get sick or die before their 1st birthday and nearly half of pups bought online, without being seen first, end up with serious health problems that require expensive and ongoing veterinary treatment from a young age. Similarly, the research shows a growing trend in choosing a dog solely because of how it looks. Two in five said they chose their puppy based on looks - this is 40 per cent more than those who considered how much exercising it needs and 28 per cent more than those who considered its health. Nearly a third (30 per cent) of puppy buyers who spent less than two hours to pick their pup admit they could have bought from a puppy farm. Those who did little research - less than an hour - missed key red flags: n 44% didn’t see pup interacting with mum n 90% weren’t asked any questions by the breeder about their suitability for dog ownership n 83% didn’t see relevant health tests for parents n Overall, one in three puppy buyers acknowledge they are clueless about how to find a reputable source for their puppy and the scams that should ring alarm bells. These hasty buying habits, which cause many to miss the warning signs or buy a pup simply because they think it’s ‘cute’, are resulting in serious health and welfare implications. One in five puppies bought on an

PETS WARNING 9

Cruel trade in puppies

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Picture: Sian Hampton, The Kennel Club

impulse get sick or die before their first birthday, while one in three puppy buyers who bought impulsively spent more than they anticipated looking after their puppy’s health. The Kennel Club has now produced a video with Dragons Den entrepreneur and Assured Breeder, Jenny Campbell, which demonstrates to puppy buyers what a responsible breeder looks like. The video includes the Kennel Club’s top tips to help puppy buyers #PAWs4thought, is available at www.thekennelclub.org.uk/paw Following this damning research, the Kennel Club is warning puppy buyers about making quick or superficial decisions about both the dog they choose and the source they buy it from, and the increasing amount of irresponsible breeders profiting from this.

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Caroline Kisko, Kennel Club Secretary said: “Millions of puppies are suffering as a result of being irresponsibly bred and sold, and millions of consumers are completely unaware that their buying habits are actually fueling this cruel trade. “The impact of this is truly devastating and brings with it suffering, heartache and financial problems, all for the profit of rogue breeders and puppy farmers. “A puppy is for life, it’s not something you should just search for online, see a cute photo and buy within an hour, having it delivered to your door. “This is a dangerous trend which is growing with the likes of Instagram, but puppies are not a commodity. We are urging people to do proper, careful and extensive research – to ‘Paws for thought’ and make sure the pup is right for you, and that you can spot the signs of a bad breeder. “The more time you spend, the more aware you will be, and the much more likely you are to bring home a happy, healthy puppy, rather than fueling untold suffering and heartache. “It is crucial for anyone thinking about getting a dog to go to a responsible breeder, such as a Kennel Club Assured Breeder, or to a rescue organisation.”

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10 ESSEX POLICE NEWS

Messenger, Instagram, WhatsApp and Snapchat were used in 70 per cent of the instances where police recorded and provided the communication method in the east of England. Instagram was used in more than a quarter of them, up from 62 in 2017/18 to 113 last year.

Robbed at knifepoint

Mark Francois

Mark meets Chief

POLICE are investigating after two women were robbed in the Melbourne area of Chelmsford. It was reported the women, both in their 30s, were approached by three people on bikes in Melbourne Parade last month. They were threatened with a knife and had a bank card and money stolen. The group on bikes have been described as men or boys in their late teens to mid-20s, two were black and one was white, and they were all wearing dark clothing.

RAYLEIGH and Wickford MP, Mark Francois, recently held a meeting with Ben Julian Harrington, the new Chief Constable of Essex Police, to talk about ways of combatting recent incidences of anti-social behaviour in and around the Town. The meeting took place in Rayleigh and the two men, supported by their respective staff, spent around an hour discussing the Chief Constable’s plans to expand policing in Rayleigh, including the deployment of a dedicated ‘Town Team’ of Officers, specifically designed to patrol High Streets in the District, including Rayleigh. Mr Francois raised with the Chief Constable, a number of unfortunate incidents of violent anti-social behaviour that have taken place in and around Rayleigh. The Chief Constable pledged to encourage his officers to do all they can to combat this menace in the area.

ESSEX Police have confirmed there is "no clear evidence" to suggest six suspected drug-related deaths in Essex were linked. An investigation was launched in July after six people died in the space of three days (July 28 - 30) in the Westcliff, Leigh, Benfleet and Canvey areas of the county. Due to the closeness of the deaths, in both time and location, as well as the possibility of Class A drug use, officers launched an investigation. The force confirmed that tests show there is no clear scientific evidence to suggest a link between those who died.

GROOMING crimes recorded by Essex Police have soared by 177 per-cent in the last year, figures obtained by the NSPCC has revealed. Police in Essex recorded 166 offences of sexual communication with a child in the year up to April 2019, up from 60 in 2017/18. Last year, 22 victims were aged 11 or under and the figures show the most likely to be targeted were girls aged 12 to 15. In the last two years, Facebook,

A DRUG dealer caught with £3,000 of Class A drugs, who bit a police officer whilst he was being arrested, has been jailed for five years. Basildon Crown Court heard how officers from the South Operation Raptor team were patrolling in Ravensfield, Basildon in August when they saw two people acting suspiciously and suspected a Class A drug deal was about to take place. As they approached, 28-year-old Rangarirai Gwatidzo made off on his

Rise in grooming

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Deaths not linked

Drug dealer jailed

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bicycle. Officers tried to arrest him, he grappled with them and bit one Police Constable on the hand. He was arrested and found to have £144 in cash, cannabis and a phone linking him to the supply of Class A drugs. Officers then searched his home in Ravensfield, Basildon where they found 280 wraps of the Class A drug crack cocaine worth £3,000, a knuckle duster, drug weighing scales and a bag of cannabis. Gwatidzo pleaded guilty at Basildon Crown Court to two counts of possession with intent to supply a Class A drug, possession of cannabis and assaulting an emergency worker and was jailed for five years.

Robbing spree ended

A MAN has jailed for six years for robbery offences in Tilbury where two men were threatened and told to withdraw cash at ATM machines. Kurtis Randall, 28, of Leicester Road, Tilbury, received six year concurrent sentences at Basildon Crown Court. Randall pleaded not guilty to two counts of possession of an offensive weapon and one count of attempted robbery and these will remain on file. He admitted threatening men in Civic Square before asking them to withdraw three-figure sums. The first robbery took place shortly after midnight on May 4 and the second on May 9.

Boy racers fined

TWO men have been disqualified from driving in connection with an operation to help tackle street racing in Essex. Billy Roe, 27, of Thorney Bay Road, Canvey, was disqualified for six months by Colchester magistrates and was ordered to pay a £660 fine, £90 costs and £66 victim surcharge after admitting failing to give information relating to the driver of a vehicle. Tony Barber, 20, of The Fremnells, Basildon, was disqualified for 12 months and was ordered to pay a £440 fine, £90 costs and £44 victim after admitting taking part in a race on a public highway. The two men were caught racing on Roscommon Way, Canvey, in a silver Honda Civic, and a silver Skoda.

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Make sure you have adquate insurance to cover you October 2019

PAGE 2

Ways to prevent your car from losing much of its value

PAGE 5

Autumn leaves can be used to enrich your garden soil

PAGE 7

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Chocolate treats are bad for your dog - P6

ESSEX COMMUNITY WATCH


y r e v e g n i k a ‘m nt’

u o c y a d x e s s e in

When a family has been told that there’s no cure for their loved one’s illness, Havens Hospices can help, making the journey as comfortable as possible, controlling pain and medication, offering respite and caring for adults, babies, children and teenagers at the end of their lives. Our specialist care is free - for as long as is needed - within the home and at our two hospices. Our hospice care can only exist because of the support and generosity of the community. Please get in touch to find out how you can get involved:   | 01702 220305   | fradmin@havenshospices.org.uk   | havenshospices.org.uk/donate Follow us on social media @HavensHospices

Havens Hospices includes Fair Havens, Little Havens and The J’s Registered Charity Number 1022119

every one of us making every day count


COMMUNITY MOTORING ADVICE:

REDUCING DEPRECIATION

How to reduce depreciation

SMOKING is bad news for your health… but did you know it’s terrible for your car too? Light up in your vehicle and you could be diminishing its sell-on value by as much as a staggering £2,000. We’ve put together the top six ways in which you’re ruining your chances of a fair return on your car – read now, or don’t say you weren’t warned. Smoking in your car A car that has been smoked in on a regular basis can leave behind both a lingering smell and physical damage to the interior, making it difficult to trade in or sell privately. Cigarette smoke becomes ingrained in the upholstery and trapped in the air conditioning system, which can be incredibly difficult to remove, requiring a professional valet and special equipment to clean. In the most severe cases, the internal fabric and seat cloth may have to be stripped out too. This process alone can cost hundreds of pounds. Skipping regular maintenance If you neglect your car, you can’t hide it forever. Regular fluid, filter and belt changes make the engine run smoother, while washing it routinely prevents a build-up of rust. Regular maintenance is a must, not only for safety and reliability while

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you’re driving the car but to increase its resale value in the future too. If you fail to have your car serviced regularly, and never clean it, it will wear out faster. You should also keep comprehensive records of the car’s service history, including oil and filter changes. Substandard part replacement Some amateur mechanics have been known to try their hand at fixing their car themselves, using second-hand or cheaper non-genuine parts instead of brand new ones. If you’ve ever repaired your car with used parts rather than the manufacturer’s originals, it could devalue its overall price and increase the bill for future repairs as they could wear out in half the time of genuine parts. Painting it a garish colour Surprisingly perhaps, a car’s colour can have a big impact on its resale value. While that bright orange respray might have seemed like a good idea at the time (when you

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wanted to make a statement), you might end up regretting the decision when you try to sell it. Neutral colours such as silver, white or black tend to maintain their value best, while bold colours such as red, yellow and green might not be worth as much since there is a smaller pool of buyers looking for those hues. Painting it a garish colour Taking your dog out in the car Like smoke, pet odours often linger and could give the impression to a buyer that you haven’t taken the best care of your vehicle. If you’ve used the back seat for transporting pets, try to neutralise the smell and remove any visible pet hair. If there are hairs ingrained in the nooks and crannies that you can’t get out, it’s likely to bring down the value of the vehicle. That’s unless you can find a buyer that is also a dog owner who plans to use the back seat for their pet too. Driving when you don’t have to Do you pop down to the shops in your car when it’s only a 10-minute walk? Drive to work every day when you could share a lift with a colleague? Mileage affects resale value, so stop to think before using your car. Walk, bike, take public transport or share rides whenever you can.

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COMMUNITY LEGAL ADVICE

PARKING TICKET DISPUTE

Just the ticket - not in this case

STEPHEN Jones from Romford contacted us about a parking ticket he has been disputing under circumstances that are sounding all too familiar. And it’s a story that lots of readers have contacted us about over the past six months about the same issue. Stephen parked his car in the town within a ‘pay and display’ area. He didn’t have any change so he used the telephone payment service via his mobile phone, which was advertised on the side of the pay meter. During the call, he gave the location

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he was parked at, his number plate and payment information and then went about his day. However, two hours later he returned to his car to find a parking ticket stuck to his windscreen. Naturally Stephen telephoned the company to ask why he had received a ticket. He was told that the number plate he had given over the telephone did not match the number plate of his vehicle that had received the ticket. It transpired that he had got the last two letters the wrong way around. Stephen appealed the ticket and was shocked when he was informed that the independent adjudicator had found against him, stating “the onus was on Mr Jones to ensure that the details he gave about his vehicle were correct”. We hav heard similar stories from other readers. Sally Bidway from Colchester had forgotten to change her vehicle details on her telephone payment account, Graham Stuke from Benfleet entered

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the wrong location code and Fran Richards from Harlow accidently paid for the following day. All received a parking ticket. So, should you have to pay a parking fine when you genuinely paid for a ticket but typed an error by mistake? In my opinion no and here’s why: • The land owner/council are not out of pocket as payment for the ticket was made; • The obligation (under most terms and conditions of parking I have seen) is to pay a certain amount for a specified time – there is often no requirement to get all of the information correct when you pay remotely or a penalty for failing to do so. If they want to impose a penalty in these circumstances the operator should make this clear on the side of the parking meter and on an automated message when you call to purchase your ticket. Hopefully someone will take the fight to court sometime soon

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COMMUNITY TRAVEL ADVICE:

FLIGHT DELAY STATISTICS

Flight delays -the worst offenders

NEW analysis from Which? has revealed the UK’s top 10 most delayed flight routes – with one plagued by substantial delays of an hour or more on a quarter of journeys. The worst offender was Thomas Cook’s route from London Stansted to Dalaman in Turkey, with passengers flying this route suffering more delays than any other departing from or arriving at a UK airport last year.  The analysis, based on Civil Aviation Authority flight delay data, found a quarter (24.1%) of passengers flying between the two airports in 2018 were delayed by more than an hour – increasing to around a third (36%) for those who travelled in July. This was closely followed by Ryanair’s route between Liverpool John Lennon Airport and Italy’s Milan Malpensa Airport, where passengers saw one in five (22.4%) flights delayed by an hour or more. Thomas Cook’s route between Stansted and Antalya was little better, coming in as the third most delayed and affecting one in five (22.2%) flights. Seven of the UK’s 10 most delayed routes belonged to Ryanair - with five of them on flights to and from Stansted.  One in five (21.9%) Ryanair flights between Stansted and Nice in the

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South of France were delayed by an hour or more, along with its routes between Stansted and Leipzig in Germany (21.1%), Luxembourg (20.2%), Billund in Denmark (19.4%), and Bari in southern Italy (19%).  One in four (20.4%) of its flights between Bristol and Bergamo were also substantially delayed. EasyJet completed the top 10 most delayed routes of 2018, with one in five (18.6%) of its flights from Stansted to Ibiza late by an hour or more. Stansted was the UK’s worst performing airport for delays in 2018, with more than 10 per cent of its flights departing an hour late, and an average delay of nearly half an hour. High-profile walkouts by Ryanair’s pilots and cabin crew certainly played their part in Stansted’s poor perform-

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ance. But even if Ryanair flights had been excluded from the analysis, Stansted would still have come out as the worst UK airport for punctuality. While the airlines offered a range of explanations for their poor performance - including issues with weather, airspace or strikes - the European Organisation for the Safety of Air Navigation, commonly known as Eurocontrol, told the consumer champion the carriers themselves were most often to blame for delays.  Which? Travel’s Naomi Leach said: “The last thing holidaymakers want when they’re looking forward to their trip is to be stuck at the departure gate or on the tarmac, waiting to leave. “So it’s unacceptable to see some airlines show such blatant disregard to their passengers by performing so poorly on punctuality. “Not only are these delays inconvenient, but they can also leave people hundreds of pounds out of pocket when they miss connections or transfers, are fined for picking up their hire car late or miss their train or cab home. “The worst airlines and airports need to ensure they have the staff and capacity to run an on-time service - and that they look after their customers if delays do occur.”

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COMMUNITY PET ADVICE: DID you know that a small bar of dark chocolate could be deadly for your pet? Surveys from vets and pet owners across the country each year found that some pets were still being given chocolate as a treat every month – even though it could be deadly. Why is chocolate so bad for pets? Chocolate contains something called theobromine which is very harmful to our pets. Chocolate with a higher cocoa solid content has more theobromine in it. You can find out how much cocoa solid is in a chocolate bar by checking the ingredients. High quality, dark chocolate is usually the most toxic to your pet but keep all chocolate away from pets to be safe. Which pets are at risk? A lot of people already know that chocolate is toxic to dogs but it can be deadly for other pets, too, including cats and rabbits.  Most of the cases of chocolate poisoning we see each year involve dogs. Dogs are naturally curious and are opportunists when it comes to food, meaning they’ll eat anything they find. This is why they’re more at risk from any chocolate left in easy reach. Our vets see pets who’re suffering from chocolate poisoning all year round. But with more chocolate in our homes at Easter and Christmas, we see more cases at these times of year. The signs and symptoms of chocolate poisoning  You’ll usually notice the effects of chocolate poisoning within 4 hours of your pet eating it. These symptoms can last for up to 24 hours. If you think your pet has eaten chocolate, you should contact your vet for advice immediately. The sooner any treatment begins, the less severe the effects will be for your pet. Keep the chocolate packaging to hand so your vet will have an idea of how serious your pet’s poisoning might be. At first, you might notice your pet is:

DANGERS OF CHOCOLATE

Chocolate treats - just say no

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• thirsty and drinking more than usual • being sick • has runny poo • has a sore, tender tummy and doesn’t want to be touched there • is very restless and won’t settle. As the poisoning gets worse you might notice you pet is: • shaking and trembling • has an unusual and irregular heartbeat

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feels like they have a temperature • is panting or breathing quickly. In really severe cases your pet can start to have a fit and might suffer from kidney failure. If the worst comes to the worst, your pet could die from eating chocolate. Most cases of chocolate poisoning happen when your pet accidentally gets hold of chocolate while you’re not looking. Try to store chocolate in the same way as you would medicine or cleaning products – safely, securely and well away from your pets. If you’re giving chocolate as a gift to a pet owner, let them know they’ll need to keep it out of reach of curious paws. Alternatives to chocolate If you want to include them at Christmas or Easter, here are some safe alternatives to feeding them chocolate: • There are lots of healthy treats made for pets. This is a much better option that giving them human food. • A new toy. Your pet will really appreciate a new toy. It will last much longer than a piece of food and will keep them happily occupied. • Your love and attention. This is what your pet wants more than anything. They don’t need any food treats (especially not toxic chocolate) as long as they’re loved and looked

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COMMUNITY HEALTH ADVICE:

MIGRAINE RELIEF

Migraine - knowing the signs

THERE are thousands of migraine suffers across the country and it is a symptom that can leave you drained and in despair. It is a neurological syndrome that causes several symptoms, the most prominent symptom being the headache. Usually, migraine causes severe or moderate one-side and pulsating headache, which may last from four to seventy two hours. The other symptoms may include nausea and vomiting and a great sensitivity to bright lights and noise. A majority of the people having migraine experience a preceding aura, which gives a strange light and unpleasant smell. Migraine can be classified into four types depending upon the intensity of the headache namely, no pain, mild pain, moderate pain and severe pain.

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Mild pain is the one that does not disturb the usual day-to-day activities, moderate pain exists but does not fully prevent usual activities and the severe pain disturbs all activities. The most commonly occurring type of headache is the migraine without aura wherein the patients suffer from headache with unilateral location and moderate or severe headache along with nausea and or high sensitivity to bright lights and sound. Migraine without aura can be diagnosed if there are at least five attacks fulfilling the criteria such as untreated headache for six to forty eight hours, at least two symptoms of unilateral location, moderate or severe pain, obstructing routine physical activity, and pulsating quality. While experiencing a migraine without aura, there must be nausea or vomiting, or sensitivity to light or sound. The next common type of headache is migraine with aura and people suffering from migraine with aura may also experience without aura. Migraine with aura is characterized by at least two attacks with visual symptoms, sensory symptoms and speech disturbance which are all fully reversible. The visual and sensory symptoms may affect just one side of the body

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and each symptom may last from 5 to 60 minutes. Acephalgic migraine is a type of migraine in which the patient may experience other symptoms but not headache. Other types of migraine are abdominal migraine and menstrual migraine. The signs and symptoms of migraine vary from one patient to another and therefore, cannot be generalized. But still, there are four phases of migraine namely, prodrome, which occurs hours or days before the headache, the aura, which is just before the headache, the pain phase, which is the headache and the post drome. The causes of migraine, known as triggers, can be many. They may be due to environment, behavior, infection, diet and so on. The treatment for migraine headaches may vary from simple remedies like applying hot or cold water to the head, getting adequate rest in a dark and silent room or a cup of coffee at the right time to over-the-counter medications. Naproxen is found to be effective in aborting migraine headache and a light or moderate headache can be controlled through paracetamol. A simple analgesic combined with caffeine may be of great relief.

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COMMUNITY GARDENING ADVICE:

Using Autumn leavea

Autumn leaves...recycle them

DON’T throw away those autumn leaves. Instead, turn them into leaf mould. Leaf mould is great for enriching your soil. Plus, it’s good for the environment – and costs you nothing. What to do 1. Fill several heavy-duty dustbin bags with leaves, then wet them. This’ll help rot them down. 2. Using your rake, punch holes in the bags around the sides and, most importantly, at the bottom. 3. Fold over the top of the bags (you don't need to tie them up). 4. Store them somewhere out of sight (behind a shed or at the back of some shrubs) and forget all about them. Ensure that the bottom of the bags are in contact with soil rather than storing them on concrete as this will allow more worms and other organisms to enter through the holes. 5. Once or twice throughout the year

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during dry periods you could wet the leaves again to speed up the process. 6. After a year or so, the leaf mould will turn into a great weed suppressing mulch. After two years, you’ll have a fine mould perfect for soil conditioning and making composts. Trees with small leaves such as ash, oak, alder, hawthorn and beech, break down quickly in one to two years. Those with evergreen leaves or large woody leaves like walnut, plain, horse chestnut and sycamore take longer. To speed up the process, shred the leaves by raking them onto your lawn. then run your lawnmower over them. Then all you do is empty the finely shredded leaves into sacks.

How to use your leaf mould Using leaf mould as a soil conditioner Spread a generous layer over your borders – hungry earthworms will incorporate the leaf mould into the earth so

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you don’t need to do any digging. On sandy soils, leaf mould helps the soil hold onto more moisture and nutrients – which means less watering and feeding. On heavy clay soils, over time, it improves drainage and makes sticky soils easier to dig.

Using leaf mould as a top dressing for plants Leaf mould helps retain moisture, keeps plant roots cool, provides nutrients and encourages fibrous roots. When it’s made from pine needles it’s acidic, and perfect for acid loving (ericaceous) plants, like rhododendrons, azaleas and camellias. Using leaf mould as compost Sieved leaf mould is a great seed compost. Or you can make your own potting compost by mixing it with sharp sand, garden compost and quality top soil.

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COMMUNITY FINANCIAL ADVICE:

HOME INSURANCDE

Is your insurance way too low?

HOME insurance is a necessary evil No one likes paying for it, but it's a necessary evil for most of us. This doesn't mean you have to pay through the nose for it though - try these 8 easy tips for cheaper home insurance and see how much you could reduce your premiums...Home insurance policies are helpful when you own a home. Most times when people take out mortgage loans, the lender will expect the buyer to purchase coverage. The mortgage lender may ask the buyer to opt for minimal coverage; however, is the minimal coverage enough. At any time, a natural disaster can sweep a home from its roots and sling it across the region. Statistics have shown that floods alone have targeted “25%” of low risk and moderate risk neighbourhoods, therefore, at any time your home could be at risk. The home is not the only issue to consider, since homes often have valuable property. Thus, insurance companies’ are designed to protect both your home and its contents. Most insurance coverage will offer flood insurance upfront, however few companies fail to make the offer. The insurance companies’ that present flood coverage will often ask if you are in a flood risk area. ”There are many things to consider when searching for home insurance. If you have a home-based business, you will need the maximum icoverage, since expensive equipment is often involved.

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The weather is unpredictable alone, however, other unforeseen occurrences, such as explosive water pipes. The insurance companies will often cover unforeseen disasters. The internet has become perhaps the greatest influence on our lives this decade allowing us to do things online which previously we had to do physically.one of such things is getting a home insurance quote online, with most people spending hours searching foe quotes. Other things need consideration when applying for home insurance. If you live in a mobile home, or a flat, then you will need coverage that will accommodate the special circumstances. While, insurance companies’ offer different types of policies for lats and apartments, they are susceptible regarding mobile homes. Most likely, the company will charge high premiums and higher rates to insure the property. New mobiles often cost less to cover, but not as low as the homes that are not risky. Researching the market can help you find the right agency that offers the best rates on home insurance. Not only will you find better rates, lower premiums, and comprehensive coverage, you will also learn details about the specific company you are applying for coverage. If you are still paying mortgage, then lenders will expect coverage on your home. Therefore, if you agreed to the mortgage loan arrangements, you may want

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to find out if you have coverage. It is your choice to find a reasonable home insurance agency, therefore, if you find a good deal you might want to talk with your mortgage lender to drop the insurance integrated into your mortgage payments. We all spend money on lots of things in our lives, but for most of us, our home is the single biggest purchase we'll ever make. Fires are common in many neighborhoods. At least one home out of 100 in a single neighborhood will experience fire. If your home is destroyed by fire, you will loose your home and everything in the home. If you do not have insurance, then getting back on your feet can become a struggle.The premiums on the policy will offer a measure of coverage against fires. Many insurance companies’ will factor in fire from the onset of the application. The companies’ will consider fire, flood, depreciation, replacement charges and so forth when considering coverage. Thus, when taking out home insurance make sure you talk with your agent about changes in rates and premiums as a result of depreciation. Most times if the depreciation of the home has dropped, the company will charge steeper premiums, but you must make sure that the policy is covering the entire content of your home, plus the home itself.

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Profile for Peter Faulkner

Essex Community Watch magazine, October 2019  

The magazine is published every six weeks and offers residents advice and information on safeguarding themseves against scammers, fraudsters...

Essex Community Watch magazine, October 2019  

The magazine is published every six weeks and offers residents advice and information on safeguarding themseves against scammers, fraudsters...

Profile for peter2491
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