Category: National

Too cold to lay bricks, says FMB

A number of construction sites across the UK have ground to a halt due to heavy snow, according to the Federation of Master Builders (FMB).Sarah McMonagle, Director of External Affairs at the FMB, said: “Heavy snow showers have led to many construction sites across the UK grinding to a halt. Some construction bosses have told their staff to take the rest of the week off and not return to work until Monday. But it’s not just the snow that’s playing havoc with construction projects – some firms are reporting that the freezing temperatures mean it’s too cold to lay bricks. The overall impact of bad weather on construction growth remains to be seen but this situation is concerning given that the FMB’s latest research shows that growth among construction SMEs slowed in the final three months of 2017. We hope that the cold weather we have seen this week is just a blip and that all workers will be able to get back on site in coming days.


Brits will throw out 108 million rolls of wrapping paper, 54 million platefuls of food – and use 189 million batteries over Christmas, a study has found.

But eight in 10 admit they don’t bother to try and justify the huge amount of waste they produce, with six in 10 saying they don’t feel at all guilty about what they throw away over the festive period.

A poll of 2,000 adults found the nation will also get through more than 40 million rolls of sticky tape and bin almost 100 million black bags full of packaging from toys and gifts.

Seven in 10 admit to buying far more food than they need, with two thirds saying at least some of the turkey usually ends up in the bin.

And rather than recycling where possible, many simply throw their wrapping paper, packaging and old Christmas cards out with the rubbish.

A spokesman for GP Batteries, which commissioned the research, said: “Christmas is a time of great celebration, but this can result in a huge amount of waste – many of which we don’t always do the right things with.

“And it seems many don’t worry about the amount of their Christmas produce that ends up in the bin, despite the nation as a whole trying to do all we can to cut down on waste at other times of the year.

“Reusing things, such as Christmas Cards or wrapping paper, or using rechargeable batteries are small things to most people but will drastically reduce the amount you end up throwing away.”

The study of 2,000 adults found the average household will get through four rolls of wrapping paper and throw away seven batteries over the Christmas period.

A roll-and-a-half of sticky tape will be used per household, while three-and-a-half black bags full of packaging will be thrown out.

The equivalent of a whole plateful of food will end up going to waste on Christmas Day, along with another plateful in the following days.

An average of 24 Christmas cards will also be discarded once the festive period is over, while 14 per cent will even be binning their fake Christmas tree this year.

But researchers, from, found many aren’t recycling or reusing their waste with one in five admitting to throwing their used wrapping paper into the bin.

More than one in four throw batteries into the bin, despite knowing they shouldn’t, while three in 10 still use disposables instead of rechargeables.

Others admit to throwing out leftover food rather than trying to use it in other meals and binning cards and packaging instead of recycling or reusing.

But one in six often try to justify the amount of waste they produce, with 34 per cent of those believing it’s just part of Christmas.

One in five think it’s OK as everyone else does it while 43 per cent believe it is impossible to avoid waste over the festive period.

It also emerged one in ten have even had rows with their family because of the amount of waste they produce.

As a result, many are trying to cut down on the waste they produce, with 48 per cent turning their Christmas dinner leftovers into other meals in the following days.

Forty-two per cent buy a fake tree instead of having to dispose of a real tree every year while a third simply buy less food than usual.

Others reuse Christmas cards as gift tags the following year, buy rechargeable batteries and even avoid wrapping presents at all.

A spokesman for GP Batteries added: “These days a battery is for life, not just for Christmas.

“A modern rechargeable battery can be used up to 1,500 times and over its lifetime – saving a fortune in cash and waste. Once you go rechargeable you never go back.”

Top ten things people have done to try and reduce their waste at Christmas:

  1. Turn leftovers into other meals

  2. Buy a fake tree to reuse every year

  3. Buy less food

  4. Reuse Christmas cards as gift tags the following year

  5. Use rechargeable batteries

  6. Order online but in one order to reduce the amount of packaging

  7. Send e-cards

  8. Buy fewer toys

  9. Order less online to cut down on packaging

  10. Don’t wrap presents at all                                                                                                                                                   Source: 


Don’t Tell The Bride is back in the New Year with some brand new episodes on E4.

The premise of the show is the groom plans a wedding in 3 weeks with absolutely no contact from his bride-to-be. Most grooms think this is easier said than done.

We’ve had some spectacular weddings over the years, from getting married in the air to going back to school, but the taste for something simple can be just as effective as well.

The new episodes showcase weddings underwater, on a rollercoaster, and a groom who loves to prank his bride-to-be. Thankfully she had a sense of humour!

The new series airs Wednesday 3rd January on E4. For press stills please email

We are also back casting for a new series with weddings happening throughout 2018.

Christmas and New Year appear to be engagement season, and what better time to get engaged than surrounded by family and friends ready to celebrate.

Couples can apply via the Channel 4 Take Part website or via this link

UK Prepares for Winter Fly Tipping Crisis

Councils across the UK are bracing themselves for a fly tipping crisis this winter, an expert has warned. 

 Families clearing out their homes to make room for Christmas and New Year purchases put extra pressure on Britain’s already beleaguered waste disposal services during December according to Harsha Rathnayake of waste consultancy

 The purchase of new white goods such as fridges, washing machines and tumble dryers as well as new sofas and TV sets in time for the festive season has a knock-on effect on the number of items dumped illegally across the UK at this time of year.

 Mr Rathnayake says the problem is set to peak in January when domestic bins are filled with huge amounts of Christmas packaging causing some householders to carry waste away and dump it anywhere they can.

 Mr Rathnayake, CEO of, says many householders and business owners are tempted to dump unwanted junk themselves rather than rely upon their local authorities.

 He also says many members of the public now have the impression that council services are patchy and sometimes expensive when it comes to disposing of large items such as unwanted sofas and fridges.

 And he warns that councils who struggled to collect lightened loads over the summer when many families were aboard, will feel even more stretched when their communities return to work and school routines.

 Some local authorities have begun reducing their waste collection services to every three weeks or even once a month, in part to encourage the public to recycle more regularly.

 This comes at a time where latest figures show that fly tipping is already on the rise, with 2015 – 16, the most recent period available for Government published statistics, recording a four per cent increase on the previous year. Two thirds of all illegally dumped rubbish was household waste.

 Mr Rathnayake believes reports of events such as this summer’s Birmingham bin strike may add to the problem and encourage some members of the public to take the issue into their own hands.

 And he also claims many people now believe their council are more focused on recycling initiatives rather than waste clearance.

 Mr Rathnayake and his team at investigated which local authorities across the UK experienced the highest number of fly tipping incidents, discovering that London provided half of the 20 worst boroughs in the entire country.

 Enfield received 70,930 incidents of fly tipping during the year 2015 – 16, more the double the amount of second placed Haringey, who saw a total 34,975 cases.

 Closely behind them was Newham, with 32,718 reports of illegal waste dumping, meaning that London occupies the three worst UK boroughs for fly tipping.

 Major cities in the North of England are also contributing to the UK’s saw high levels of fly tipping, with Manchester coming in fourth place with 22,251 incidents, whilst Liverpool was sixth with 20,016.

 Anyone wishing to avoid the unsightly horrors that fly tipping brings, should perhaps consider relocating to the idyllic Isles of Scilly, which reported zero incidents of illegally dumped rubbish for the same year.

 Mr Rathnayake said: “There is a real concern within the industry that more needs to be done to tackle fly tipping.

 “Summer is traditionally a quiet time but we have seen a steady flow of news reports about fly tipping even during these months when the roads are less busy and many families are away on holiday.

 “Usually council bin services are able to cope very well over the summer but this year events such as the Birmingham bin strike may have led to the impression amongst some members of the public that it’s easier to dump rubbish themselves than rely on their council.

 “This is particularly true for large items such as unwanted furniture and things such as discarded fridges and washing machines.

 “We have found that many people believe it’s too troublesome to rely upon the council to dispose of these items and the danger is a growing number will choose to just dump them somewhere illegally.

 “Across the autumn and in the months leading up to Christmas and the New Year I would like to see more assurance being given to households that their local authorities are able to meet their waste disposal needs.”

Local Authority Name
Total Incidents
Hammersmith and Fulham


The Manufacturing sector has seen a dramatic fall in confidence in the third quarter, as Brexit talks stall and business organisations warn of increasing uncertainty across the UK.


Figures in the Q3 2017 UK Credit Managers’ Index (CMI), a quarterly barometer from the Chartered Institute of Credit Management (CICM), shows a 10.6-point fall in confidence for Manufacturers from 64.0 to 53.4, despite a continually improving position in the previous two quarters.


The fall contributes to a Headline Index that is also in decline, settling 4.5 points down to 55.6, which includes a 1.4-point drop in Services. The positive impact of currency fluctuations on UK exports, seen as positive news in Q2, appears to have had only a temporary beneficial effect.


The Headline Index is also more pessimistic than the market; the FTSE All Share suggested an increase in business confidence, though the figures are far from convincing.


The CMI is important because it gauges nationwide levels of credit being sought and granted by credit professionals across the UK and acts as a primary indicator of actual levels of business being conducted. Certain ‘favourable’ and ‘unfavourable’ factors are measured to provide an overall view of confidence.


Perhaps most significantly, the ‘unfavourable’ factors (e.g. rejected credit applications, Days Sales Outstanding, overdues, disputes etc.) are all getting worse, with a particular lengthening in DSOs and overdues.


Philip King, Chief Executive of the CICM, says this is often the first sign of potential trouble: “When situations become tough, businesses hang on to their cash for longer, and that means the DSO and overdues figures will rise.”


Every single unfavourable factor experienced a decline, the overall index falling from 57.2 to 49.9 and below the critical 50.0-point threshold.


In Q2, Mr King warned that confidence, and the economy, were still fragile at best. ‘Favourable’ factors witnessed a small improvement, rising from 66.8 to 68.8, and certain sectors, notably construction, also reported improving conditions.


Confidence within the regions suggest a clear divide: many regions in the west (including Wales) and the North (including Scotland) were in decline, with the exception of certain pockets of resistance, such as the North West and Northern Ireland; most regions within the East, and notably the East Midlands, the South East and London remain positive.


The CMI is a diffusion Index, producing scores of between one and 100 (typically in a range of 40 – 60). Ten equally weighted factors are included – three favourable and seven unfavourable and the Index is calculated on a simple average of the 10 factors.

North East beaches are a beacon for excellent bathing water

Thirty-two of the region’s 34 Bathing Waters have either an ‘excellent’ or ‘good’ status, with every one of the North East’s coastal sites passing the water quality standards, Defra announced today.
Twenty-five of the North East bathing waters have met the excellent standard, seven are classified as good, two as sufficient and none as poor.
Compliance is based on the current and previous four years of sample data (a maximum of 80 samples per beach, from 2014 to 2017).   The samples are taken by the Environment Agency between May and September each year to assess the bathing waters against the strict regulations.
Northumbrian Water’s Wastewater Director, Richard Warneford, said: “Our two decades of investment has yielded significant benefits, and we are confident that by maintaining focus upon the North East coastline we can continue to drive improvements and make the region’s coast a beacon for excellent bathing water.
“Investment in improved storm water storage facilities throughout our network over the years and through our Rainwise initiative, where we remove surface water from our sewer network and divert it into the natural environment, will have contributed to these results.
“Back in 2000, only four North East bathing waters achieved the standards that were in place at the time, so today shows a massive improvement that we and all of our partners can be proud of.   We place the environment at the heart of what we do and are extremely proud of the investment and partnership working that we carry out to make our beaches a great place to visit.
“There is always work to be done to improve things further and we will not be complacent. For example, a team from North Tyneside Council, the Environment Agency and Northumbrian Water, is investigating what we can do better at Cullercoats.   We are also funding an investigation into the quality of the eight Bathing Waters between Seaton Carew North and Marske to see what further improvements we can make.”
The results have been heralded a huge success despite the summer rain. Rainwater that runs off through urban areas and agricultural land into the sea can result in a temporary dip in water quality. This means water quality will fluctuate each year depending on the weather.
Sir James Bevan, Chief Executive of the Environment Agency added: “Maintaining such high water quality standards at English beaches is a huge success and a credit to all those individuals and organisations working hard to keep our bathing waters clean. “Water quality has improved significantly over the last two decades – but to protect and enhance water quality even further we will need everyone to take the small actions that will help.”
North East bathing waters which have achieved the ‘excellent’ standard are Bamburgh Castle, Seahouses North, Beadnell, Low Newton, Warkworth, Amble Links, Druridge Bay North, Druridge Bay South, Newbiggin South, Blyth South, Seaton Sluice, Whitley Bay, Tynemouth Longsands North, Tynemouth Longsands South, Tynemouth King Edwards Bay, South Shields, Seaburn (Whitburn North), Roker (Whitburn South), Seaham Hall, Seaham, Crimdon, Seaton Carew (Centre), Seaton Carew (North Gare), Marske Sands and Saltburn.
Those that have achieved the ‘good’ standard are Newbiggin North, Marsden, Seaton Carew (North), Redcar Coatham, Redcar Lifeboat Station, Redcar Granville and Redcar Stray. Spittal and Cullercoats are rated as ‘sufficient’ meaning all 34 of the region’s bathing waters pass the European standards.
Northumbrian Water is encouraging their customers to also help to look after the region’s bathing waters by only flushing toilet paper, pee and poo down the loo and by not putting grease and fat down drains. This will help to prevent blockages and potential pollution.

For more detailed information on these bathing water results please log on to or

Each bathing water will have to display a standardised symbol for its classification. The symbols and further information can be found at If a bathing water is designated as poor it must also display the standardised ‘advice against bathing’ symbol.

The Environment Agency publishes information about water quality at England’s bathing waters on their online bathing water data explorer, which can be found at


 UK police announced today that they are using an unmarked lorry to patrol Britain’s motorways and catch drivers committing offences behind the wheel. Amanda Stretton, motoring editor at comments:

“Dangerous driving is a serious problem on UK roads, but it’s sometimes difficult for the police to catch offenders in the act. With our research showing that four in five (79%) drivers admit to breaking the speed limit, we hope that police efforts such as the undercover police lorry, will discourage dangerous behaviour on our roads.

“Ultimately, the sort of behaviour captured by police can cause accidents, jeopardising the safety of other drivers. And, as a result, convictions and claiming for vehicle damage can lead to expensive repair costs and car insurance premiums, so it’s in all motorists’ interests to drive safely.”

To arrange an interview with motoring editor Amanda Stretton, please contact / 020 7637 0656

Majority of young drivers are ‘revving up’  for the new driving test changes

With less than a month to go before the UK sees driving tests undergo the biggest change in generations, Marmalade has been delving into the mind-set of the young learner driver to see how they are preparing to deal with the new format on Monday 4th December 2017.
In a recent Twitter poll, Marmalade asked its 4,491 followers which prospective drivers were cramming to pass their driving test before the new format comes into place and who is taking it in their stride. The results revealed that 63% of young drivers aged between 17 – 24 years are choosing to cram in their driving test.
Crispin Moger, CEO for Marmalade, comments: “It’s fantastic to see that the majority of young drivers are embracing the driving test changes about to come into place. I believe the new changes are a really positive, much needed adaption and will encourage our next generation of drivers to be confident, prepared and equipped with the necessary skills needed to drive the UK roads safely.”
In order to gain a better understanding of the mind-set of the learner drivers ahead of the changes, Marmalade spoke to two employees who are both currently learning to drive.
Social Media Executive Chloe has recently picked up learning to drive after graduating in April. She is really positive about the new changes and is especially thankful for one of them in particular: “Honestly, the fact that there will be a sat nav in the driving test is a life saver. One thing I really struggle with is directions, so I can only see the sat nav as a bonus; I know I will definitely be using one when I have passed. I’ve already been learning some of the manoeuvers that will be on the new test.”
Despite the majority of learner drivers being supportive of the changes, Anthony from Marmalade’s Learner Insurance Admin team is doing all he can to pass his test before the changes come into force and has booked an intensive driving course for this month. He has been learning to drive since May but since September has ramped up his driving lessons from one to two per week, to four: “I don’t fancy the idea of the new changes, and I would have to spend more money on lessons.”
Amanda Green, Learner Driver Week’s Driving Instructor of the Year, says: “I wouldn’t recommend intensive driving courses to young or new drivers because they don’t gain enough driving experience. You can teach anyone to pass a test in a week but it won’t make a safe driver. They need life skills so I am extremely supportive of the new driving test changes which will shortly be in place.”
In a bid to encourage motorists to be safer and more independent, the Driving and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) has announced that in addition to the traditional mirror, signal, manoeuvring, learner drivers will have to showcase four ‘real life’ driving skills to pass their test. These ‘real life’ skills will be: following directions from a sat nav, independent driving increasing to 20 minutes instead of ten, answering a vehicle safety question while driving, and doing one of three possible reversing manoeuvres.
Not everything of the driving test is changing. Learner drivers can expect the test to still last around 40 minutes and the pass mark will remain the same – no more than 15 minor driving faults and no serious or dangerous faults will get you a licence.
For more information about Marmalade visit

‘And the bride wore…’

The fascinating stories of North East brides through the ages will be told at an illustrated talk this month.

The session, at the Centre for Local Studies at Darlington’s Crown Street Library, will feature wedding photographs from the archives of Durham County Record Office.

Although focusing on the dresses and changing fashions, the talk by principal archivist Gill Parkes will also reveal some of the stories behind the images.

Gill said: “Some of the photos we will be looking at feature Edward Backhouse Mounsey and Rachel Ann Fryer, who were Quakers. They married in 1878 and settled at Tees Grange in Darlington.

“They were captured on camera more often than most couples tying the knot in the 1870s, probably because the groom was so interested in photography himself.

“We also know quite a lot about them – we know where Edward proposed and also that he designed the pendant worn by his bride on their big day.”

Gill will also be shedding light on a society wedding that took place in Spennymoor in 1911, when the bride, groom and bridesmaids all had the same name, and an elegant bride from 1947, who borrowed her dress and had to spray her shoes the right colour because of post-war rationing.

The hour-long talk takes place on Tuesday, 14 November from 2pm. Tickets, priced at £2, are available in advance from the library.

For more information, call 01325 349 630 or email

Bonfire Night Safety Guide by

With Bonfire Night now just a few days away, an online garden retailer has crafted a handy and helpful guide brimming with information on how the whole family can enjoy the fun-filled evening safely.

In order to educate firework enthusiasts and minimise risks, the experts at have collated lots of information to create their own handy safety guide to Bonfire Night.
The guide reveals everything you may need to know for the night, from how to keep your pets’ safe, to choosing the right fireworks for your garden. It advises people to never smoke around fireworks, not to let fireworks off on windy nights, and to wait 20 minutes before going back to a dud firework.
It also includes crucial information regarding the legality of buying and using fireworks that many may not know, including the fact it is illegal to set off fireworks between 11pm and 7am, except on Bonfire Night when the cut off is midnight. The guide states that you can only buy fireworks for Bonfire Night between 15th October to 10th November, and informs readers that category four fireworks should only be used by professionals.  Category four is the default category which refers to any firework which has not been tested to confirm that it should be in category one (“indoor”), category two (“garden”) or category three (“display”).
A spokesman from “It’s one of the most exciting times of the year full of rockets, sparklers and fireside delights, but fireworks and bonfires can be extremely dangerous if not treated properly and unfortunately accidents can – and do – happen. Often people buy fireworks without really knowing what they’re doing or the risks involved, so hopefully our guide will serve as a quick lesson on how to choose, light and handle fireworks correctly so that everyone can enjoy them safely.” 
“A big chunk of the guide is also dedicated to pet safety at this time of the year. Loud bangs and flashes can be really scary for pets so it’s vital that pet owners take precautions to ensure they’re safe and calm. Taking dogs for long walks before dusk, making sure smaller animals have plenty of bedding, covering hutches with blankets, and letting your neighbours know if you plan on letting off fireworks so they can take their own pet safety precautions are just some of the ways you can keep yourselves and your four legged friends safe and happy on Bonfire Night.”