Archives for February 2011

Investigation: Oil thieves target north Wales

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X-Ray production team X-Ray production team | 12:01 UK time, Monday, 28 February 2011

Callous crooks profiting on rising oil prices are leaving home owners out in the cold, according to an X-Ray investigation.

This winter the number of homes in north Wales targeted by heating oil thieves has almost tripled and the devastating practice is costing residents hundreds, sometimes thousands of pounds.

Between October and December last year 43 homes in the north of the country were burgled, with numerous community halls, churches and village buildings also targeted.

At the same time the price of heating oil rose from around 41 pence a litre to a staggering 73 pence a litre, meaning an average 500 litre tank would cost £365 to fill, compared to £205.

According to Consumer Focus Wales 16 per cent of people living in Wales are off the gas mains - that's in comparison to nine per cent in England.

97 year old Alice lives in one of the 143,000 homes in Wales that use domestic heating oil.

Last December, her daughter Sue Nicholls filled up her heating oil tank while her mum was in hospital having a hip operation. Two days later, it had all gone. Just over a thousand litres had been taken, at a cost of around £800.

Sue Nicholls and her mum Alice

Sue Nicholls and her mum Alice

Sue told us: "I wonder if these people will do it to their own mothers if they knew the situation that they'd left my mother in.

"And what would've happened if she was at home. Then the house would've been cold. So in one respect it was good that she was in the hospital, but in another respect not very good at all."

The worrying trend has prompted a large scale investigation by North Wales Police.

PC Gary Aldous is on the trail: "the individuals who we believe are doing this kind of crime, they know what they are doing, they have got all the equipment ready and obviously they've got an industry and are selling it on.

"We've only actually caught somebody in the process of doing it on the one occasion. It's not something that's definitely happening of a night time either, we've got suspicion on one of the other jobs we've been at, that it's been as early as seven o'clock in the evening."

He says the thefts have shocked the local community: "having looked at the crime figures since November, I've had 32 thefts of oil, and over 12 village areas, which has had a massive impact on those communities."

Reverend John Jones is responsible for two churches in South Flintshire, in Nercwys and Treuddyn, both of which have been hit by heating oil thieves twice this winter.

Reverend John Jones

Reverend John Jones

He said: "it's been absolutely freezing at times. We've shortened services because the breath that was coming out my mouth at the alter was like icicles.

"We have a somewhat elderly congregation and it's just not fair. I truly wish they could appreciate the distress that they are bringing to communities and especially to the elderly and those who are vulnerable."

And despite the weather starting to warm up, and the price of oil falling again, the thieves aren't being put off.

Only a couple of weeks ago self employed builder Ian Davies from Mold was hit: "It was about half past seven one night. I heard a little bit of knocking on the fence and didn't really pay much attention to it, until the next night when I turned my heating on and of course it didn't work. So I went outside, had a look, the lid was off the tank and it had been drained dry."

Ian Davies

Ian Davies

Mr Davies lost just over a hundred pounds worth of fuel. He's now considering building a concrete wall around the tank and only fills it with 25 litres at a time: "Cheeky people, they just don't care about anybody or anything. It's really low."

The following advice is given to people to help them protect their heating oil tanks:

  • The more difficult you make it for a thief to get to your tank, the more chances you have of putting them off.
  • Place your tank so that it can't be viewed from the main road but can easily be seen from inside your house.
  • Use plants and shrubbery around it to make it difficult or painful to access, for example planting holly or gorse bushes. A small trace of blood or clothing can also help the police catch the thieves!
  • Install security lighting around the tank. You can buy lights which only turn on when someone walks into their beam.
  • Check the amount of oil in your tank regularly and, if you can, only fill it up with small quantities, leaving the rest of it somewhere out of site in containers.
  • If it's affordable, install a metal cage or guard around the tank. Get advice though on how much space you need around the tank to make sure it can "breathe".
  • Watch out for unusual vans or lorries in your village which are parked close to homes or gardens, if you have your suspicions contact your local police station.
  • Buy a closed shackle padlock for your tank which is difficult to get through with a bolt cutter. Remember, however, that although this will put off some thieves, others are simply encouraged to drill through the tank instead, causing more expense.
  • You can also buy alarms to put inside the tank which only go off when the oil drops below a certain level or faster than it should.
  • If money is no object, you can install CCTV around your house although the bill for this can be hundreds, if not thousands of pounds.

Just remember with all these security measures, ensure the oil tanker that arrives with your delivery is able to get to the tank in your garden to fill it up.

Vauxhall Meriva recall

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X-Ray production team X-Ray production team | 11:55 UK time, Monday, 28 February 2011

Last month, X-Ray viewer Lianne Roberts was furious to receive a letter from Vauxhall recalling her car, especially as she had just forked out almost £700 to get the repairs done herself.

Lianne's story starts back in November last year when she was driving from Neath to Cardiff: "I'd just come off the motorway and a warning light came on. So I pulled over and just called the breakdown service who came out and towed me home."

She took her Vauxhall Meriva to a local garage in Neath. They took it apart and after days of searching, found out two of her camshaft bolts had come loose and had to be replaced - all in all it cost her £662.01.

Lianne Roberts with her Vauxhall Meriva

 

But she wasn't happy, the mechanic told her it was an unusual problem, one they had "never" seen before. So Lianne went home to do her own research: "I went onto the internet and found quite a lot of other Meriva users had had the same problem.

"I contacted Vauxhall and they told me that the car had actually been recalled for this problem. I said well I haven't had any recall letter and they said they'd gone out that week."

Finally in January the letter dropped onto her doormat. It was entitled "Customer Satisfaction Programme" but Lianne wasn't too satisfied.

Particularly as it went on to say: "it has been established that a number of Meriva models could be affected by the camshaft bearing bolts not being tightened to specification. Therefore in line with our commitment to our customers, we have decided to call in a number of these vehicles to have the camshaft bearing bolts checked and retightened if necessary... The work will of course be carried out free of charge."

A fuming Lianne could be forgiven for feeling she wasn't experiencing their commitment to customers: "I wanted them to reimburse me... basically they turned around and said that because the car didn't have a full service history that they won't pay out for it."

So where did she stand? Lianne had bought her car second hand and it had a part service history with a low mileage.

X-Ray spoke to Gareth Rees, an independent expert witness for the motor industry: "Basically, the servicing, or lack of servicing as Vauxhall claims, wouldn't have caused this defect to arise, neither would it have prevented it. For Vauxhall to argue the fact that her servicing record wasn't correct is not really a reasonable argument."

Mr Rees explained that the camshaft bolts wouldn't be checked during a typical service so the problem wouldn't have been identified, and anyway, it was an inherent manufacturing default from the factory and nothing Lianne could have done would have prevented it.

When we put this to Vauxhall they caved, admitting: "Following a review of Miss Lianne Roberts' case we are pleased to confirm that we will be refunding the full cost of repair. We would like to take this opportunity to apologise to Miss Roberts for any inconvenience caused and hope that this brings a satisfactory conclusion to the matter."

But what should you do if you get a recall letter through the post or hear rumours of one from other drivers?

Chris Mason is the Managing Director of Motorcodes: "It's important to do two things. First of all don't panic, but secondly don't ignore it. The letter will tell you what the recall is regarding and it should direct you to contact your local franchise dealer.

"If you have already paid for the work, best advice is to contact your vehicle manufacturer's customer services department and this will be assessed on a case by case basis.

"If you hear rumours [about a recall] have a search on VOSA's website and that will tell you whether your vehicle is actually subject to a safety recall campaign or not."

www.motorcodes.co.uk is a self regulatory body for the motor industry where consumers can get help with complaints against a manufacturer or garage.

The Vehicle & Operator Services Agency (VOSA) website details current and past safety recalls on cars.

Dangerous dogs

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X-Ray production team X-Ray production team | 15:24 UK time, Monday, 21 February 2011

Cases of illegal dogs being kept as family pets are on the rise in Wales, posing a serious risk to the public. But specialist police officers are on their tail.

At South Wales Police, the dog section not only trains police dogs - but also tries to keep a lid on the number of dangerous dogs being kept by private owners.

The Dangerous Dogs Act 1991 not only prohibits any dog from being dangerously out of control in a public place, but also bans the ownership, breeding, sale and exchange of four types of fighting dogs: Pit Bull Terriers, the Japanese Tosa, the Dogo Argentino and the Fila Brasiliero.

Photo of a caged dog

 

These dogs are bred for fighting and causing injury, mostly to other animals. The more their ownership increases, the greater the potential risk to the public.

Last year in Wales the number of incidents concerning dangerous dogs rose dramatically. In 2009, South Wales Police seized just two dogs. This figure rose to 103 seizures in 2010. By February this year, 11 dogs had already been taken into custody.

X-Ray joined officers as they carried out a dawn raid at a property in Swansea after receiving a tip-off from a concerned member of the public, who had reason to believe a dangerous dog was being kept there. The officers knocked on the door and asked the owner if he had any pit bull terriers. They decided to seize the two dogs for closer inspection.

A police officer putting a dog into a van

 

Dangerous dogs have become something of a status symbol, being used to safeguard criminal houses and drug dens. There has also been a disturbing increase in cases of dog fighting.

The police may seize a dog by obtaining a warrant under the Dangerous Dogs Act if they think it is a banned breed. The maximum penalty for possessing a dangerous dog is a fine of £5,000 or six months’ imprisonment, and in some cases, both.

Sergeant Ian Roderick of South Wales Police gave X-Ray exclusive access to the secure kennels at a secret location deep in the Welsh countryside. This is where the police keep dogs who have been seized because they could be dangerous. At the kennels, officers assess the dogs’ breed and behaviour. Sgt Roderick needs to work out how much of a risk each new arrival poses to the public.

Putting a dog into the kennels

 

Sgt Roderick told X-Ray: “If the owner is responsible, we don’t think they or the dog is going to pose a danger, then we can apply to the courts to return the dog. Ultimately if it’s not, if the dog is dangerous or it’s an irresponsible owner then the court can order destruction.”

If a court decides a dog is not a danger to the public, it can be returned to its owner and put on the government’s index of exempted dogs.

Strict conditions are applied if an owner is given a licence to keep an illegal dog. It must be neutered, microchipped and tattooed with its licence number. It must be muzzled in public places and the owner must take out insurance.

Sgt Roderick said: “It’s always nice to see a dog going back to its owner, seeing the happiness. But on the other hand, there’s always that concern about these dogs.”

Automatically renewed insurance

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X-Ray production team X-Ray production team | 15:04 UK time, Monday, 21 February 2011

North Wales viewer Pauline Edwards likes to shop around to make sure she gets the best deals, and this is especially true when it comes to her home insurance. She uses comparison sites and is keen to look after her money.

So when it came to taking out home insurance she checked out all of the best options on the internet. She purchased what she thought was a one-off policy with Tesco Home Insurance, but had unknowingly signed up to automatic renewal of the insurance even though she tries to avoid the practice.

Pauline said, "From previous experience I was aware of their Automatic Renewal but saw nothing on paperwork so was happy that I wasn't committed to them for any further years."

Pauline Edwards

Pauline Edwards

When her policy ended Mrs Edwards thought she was free to shop around and that her Tesco policy would end without her needing to take any action, but she wasn't. They had sent her what she assumed was a quote and ignored it. So she was shocked when, a few weeks later, Tesco's were able to renewal her policy and take £215 from her credit card, even though it had expired.

Pauline was furious but Tesco's was using a method called continuous payment authority which insurers use to take money from your account when they automatically renew your policy.

This method means you've agreed that the company can keep charging you for the same product again and again. And unlike direct debits where you contact the bank to cancel the payment, with these agreements you need to contact the company to cancel the payment.

Money expert Ed Bowsher from LoveMoney.com says automatic renewal using continuous payment authority is becoming increasingly common and that customers need to be aware of the practice.

He said, "When they're asking you to tick a box to ask if you want Automatic Renewal after a year, don't tick the box.

"They're relying on consumers being lazy and just renewing the same old policy and so what they'll do is bump up the premium after the first year and then you carry on paying premiums year after year and what you should be doing is shopping around and getting the best deal that's on offer at that time."

Tescos have since refunded Pauline's fees after we contacted them. They say they regret that she felt the process wasn't clear but stress the need to check the terms and conditions carefully before buying a policy. They also point out that customers can now simply tick a box online if they don't want their insurance to be automatically renewed.

Now Pauline wants other people to be aware of the practice when they take out their next insurance policy.

Ceiber Challenge: volunteers wanted

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X-Ray production team X-Ray production team | 17:32 UK time, Monday, 14 February 2011

The volunteers at Penrhiwceiber Institute Community Hall have been busy trying to breathe new life into the building and achieve their dream of staging a Welsh film festival during February and March 2011.

This week the team have been on the hunt for volunteers to help them not only at the film festival but to keep the hall running for years to come. At the moment they have a small but dedicated band of 11 volunteers - but they need dozens just to staff the film festival.

Members of the Ceiber Challenge team

Members of the Ceiber Challenge team

So to give them some tips on recruiting volunteers we've taken Michelle, Kelly and Dean to Gilfach Goch Community Association. The centre has more than a hundred volunteers on its books and sees more than 4,000 pass through its doors each month.

Alison Patterson - the volunteer coordinator at GGCA - also gave Michelle and Kelly some helpful tips to get people to give a helping hand:

  • Find out what people are interested in helping out with. Make flyers and questionnaires to hand out at community events to help you find out what people think of your project and what they'd like to do there.
  • Offer your volunteers training and support. If the volunteers feel like they're getting something back for their time then they'll be more likely to stick at it.
  • Give your volunteers a voice! Set up a committee which they can attend regularly and have their say about the project.
  • Make your volunteers feel appreciated. Make sure you speak to them regularly, get special t-shirts printed for them and hold an awards ceremony each year to reward them for their loyalty.
  • Use the resources in your local community for extra support. Contact nearby businesses and ask them to sponsor your event or project. Offer them advertising in exchange for support.

If you're interested in helping out at the hall you can contact 01443 476750 between 9am and 5pm weekdays.

Meanwhile, tickets are now on sale for the Ceiber Film Festival. If you're keen to get hold of a ticket for one of the films please call 01443 479734 or 01443 473711 - or visit www.thevalleys.co.uk for more information.

The films showing include:

  • How Green Was My Valley, (U) (Feb 25, 7pm)
  • Zulu, (PG) (Feb 26, 2.30pm)
  • The Edge of Love (15) (March 4, 7pm)
  • The Princess and the Goblin (U) (March 5, 2.30pm)
  • Twin Town (18) (March 11, 7pm)
  • Tiger Bay (U) (March 12, 2.30pm)
  • House! (15) (March 18, 7pm)
  • Prince Valiant (U) (March 19, 2.30pm)
  • Legends of the Fall (15) (March 25, 7pm)
  • Vikings (PG) (March 26, 2.30 pm).

 

Picture Frame Appeal

As part of their mission to get more people to use the hall they're hoping to give part of the building a little spruce up - and they need your help.

They're looking for old picture frames, lampshades, chairs and a birdcage! It doesn't matter what shape or size the pieces are - as long as they're in good working order. If you can help, please drop your item into the hall on Penrhiwceiber Road, Penrhiwceiber, CF45 3SP.

Self Realization Meditation Healing Centre

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X-Ray production team X-Ray production team | 11:40 UK time, Monday, 14 February 2011

Retired RAF officer Richard Curtis from Brecon doesn't come across as a person who can be easily influenced, but in April 2004 he agreed to sign his farmhouse over to a charity which aims to "give unconditional love and teaching to help all to Self-Realization".

After the breakdown of his marriage four years later, Richard found himself without a home, and out of a job. He speaks for the first time about his battle to win his share of the property back on BBC Wales' X-Ray programme.

Richard Curtis

Richard Curtis

Richard became involved with the Self Realization Meditation Healing Centre in Somerset after his wife had sought guidance from its founder Mata Yogananda Mahasaya Dharma - or Judy Rena Denton, as she's also known - in 1995. The charity's Mother Centre has been open since 1988, and sister centres have since opened all over the world.

Richard was initially unconvinced by the organisation, but soon the Guru's charismatic personality convinced him that their unconventional approach to counselling was right for him too.

He told X-Ray, "She does have a great deal of self belief. The effect on people who are searching or needing help in life is they feel they have someone to turn to, she listened to me and understood me in a way other people didn't."

Although Richard and his wife had disagreed over a donation of £35,000 she made to the group without his permission in 1997, they decided to work through their relationship problems and move to the Cothi Valley near Llandeilo to try and set up their own centre offering counselling and retreats.

In 2003, the couple bought a property in the grounds of the Edwinsford Estate near Llandeilo for £350,000. With a renovated smithy in the grounds, the farmhouse came with land attached and huge scope to develop their own meditation centre. But it wouldn't be theirs for long. The Curtises were invited to join forces with the Guru and make their enterprise a 'sister centre' to the charity.

The farmhouse in the grounds of the Edwinsford Estate near Llandeilo

The farmhouse in the grounds of the Edwinsford Estate near Llandeilo

Richard says, "The agreement was we would sign over home, our vehicles, all our possessions and chattels to the centre and in return for that we would be allowed to live there rent free, accommodation free and work there as healings and counsellors, maintaining the garden, doing the DIY etc."

So what makes an intelligent former RAF officer agree to hand over everything he'd worked for, to a charity?

According to Richard, "It's hard to explain what makes you fall under a guru's spell, I was a bit susceptible. Even when your conscious screams out to you, you don't listen. And I was so happy that my wife and I had found this profession with the support of the centre that giving my house to them didn't seem so significant at the time."

Richard Curtis

 

The couple signed over their home to the charity without taking any independent advice. At the time they didn't think they needed to. The Fundraising Standards Board says people need to know the risks of making big donations to charity.

Spokesman Simon Boex advises, "Get independent advice about doing that donation. It's important that they are not unduly pressurised or harassed into making that decision, so it's entirely their own decision about whether to give or not."

In 2008 when Richard's marriage finally broke down, he began to wish he had taken advice from outside the charity. He says, "On the day I left the centre I had no money, no car, no home. The Guru had been in the chapel and offered me £1,000 and an S reg Freelander to leave. I was really angry at her and when I left that centre I told them I wanted my home back, and I would sue them for it."

True to his word, in January 2011 Richard took his fight to Cardiff Civil Courts of Justice. In court Judge Milwyn Jarman accepted the agreement to hand over his house to the charity had been "disadvantageous" to Richard and there had been "undue influence" by the charity. He ruled that Richard was entitled to his share of his home.

The charity has now told X-Ray they're appealing this decision. They say Richard's failure to seek legal advice means that the presumption of influence could not be rebutted and this is a far cry from the allegations of brainwashing and cultism which Mr Curtis and the media sought to portray.

Since 2004, they've introduced a requirement that anyone wishing to donate to the Centre must first seek independent legal advice.

Charity bag crime

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X-Ray production team X-Ray production team | 17:31 UK time, Monday, 7 February 2011

When you leave a charity bag on the doorstep, you may assume that your jeans or your top will end up being sold in a charity shop here in Wales.

However, your clothes could also be legitimately sold to other countries for up to a thousand pounds a ton. Whether they are sold here or exported, the money should go to charity, but it's becoming increasingly likely that the bag you leave on your doorstep won't go to a good cause at all.

Simon Jones from Caerphilly Trading Standards is cracking down on illegal collectors in his area. "In the main they are commercial collection companies who pass on very little if any to the charities they purport to have a link with," he explained. "Often these charities are in Eastern European bloc countries and they may not be legitimate anyway."

Rachel Treadaway-Williams

Rachel Treadaway-Williams

To get a licence from a local authority, collectors must prove they're working for a genuine charity, but a growing number of unlicensed collectors are pocketing the profits themselves.

Consumers can look out for tell-tale signs on the bags which suggest that a collector may be lining their own pockets. These include using a company number instead of a charity number, there may also be spelling mistakes or a mobile phone number instead of an official helpline.

And charities are also being hit by a more sinister crime - theft. British charities are losing more than £14 million pounds a year when their bags are stolen and it’s a growing problem in Wales.

Now Simon Jones' team is on their tail, with several prosecutions in the pipeline. Recent cases include the arrest of a Lithuanian bag collector who was found with dozens of unlicensed bags in his van, as well as bags which had been stolen from the Salvation Army.

Paul Ozanne, from the Salvation Army Trading Company said, "It's an increasing problem. Last year the Salvation Army clothing collections lost about four to five percent of their total collections - we're now talking about 2,000 tons of clothing and that obviously has a big effect on us.

"My biggest fear is that it will affect confidence of people giving door to door collections. I can only speak for Salvation Army, but if it's a Salvation Army bag it will be a Salvation Army branded van. If it isn't, get the registration number and call the police straight away."

The rest of the confiscated bags were donated to the local Barnardos shop in Bargoed. Manager Judith Voyle said, "It's absolutely wonderful they've brought them to us. A bag of clothes is worth a minimum of £20, so it'll make a tremendous difference. People are giving with a good heart, when it doesn't get to us it's deplorable."

So if you want to make sure your clothes go to a good cause, take them to the charity shop yourself!

Pothole problems

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X-Ray production team X-Ray production team | 13:46 UK time, Monday, 7 February 2011

Rachel Treadaway Williams investigates the plague of potholes affecting roads all over Wales and meets motorists who've been left out of pocket.

There are around 10 potholes for every mile of road in England and Wales, and the situation tends to be worse in winter as the snow and ice cause more holes to form. But even as the weather improves, the pothole situation is unlikely to, with government funding for road maintenance set to plummet over the next few years.

Photo of a pothole

Pothole

So who should foot the bill if you drive over a pothole? Councils are usually responsible for maintaining public roads but if your car is damaged by a crater, getting the local authority to cough up can be tricky. Motorists have to prove that the council knew about the hole and hadn't repaired it within a reasonable period of time.

However, each council's definition of 'reasonable' can be very different. X-Ray conducted a survey of local authorities in Wales, asking each one how many pothole claims they've paid out on in the last two years. Of the 19 that gave us their figures the average payout rate was just 22%, but it varied hugely, ranging from just 6.5% in Flintshire to 50% in Conwy.

X-Ray also spoke to two motorists who tried and failed to claim compensation from their local council after driving through potholes which caused hundreds of pounds worth of damage to their cars. Both have now paid for the repairs out of their own pockets.

Another option is to claim on your own car insurance, but be warned - you will usually have to pay for any excess and you also stand to lose your no claims bonus and could face higher premiums in future.

Have you experienced problems with potholes, or is there a big pothole in your area? If so, why not email us a picture? The email address is x-ray@bbc.co.uk.

- - - - -

UPDATE: Top of the Pots!

We asked you to send in pictures of the worst potholes in your area and we've been inundated with replies. Here are some of the craters you've spotted around Wales.

Pothole, photo by Tony Richards

 

Tony Richards took this picture of a monster pothole on Hendrefoilan Lane in Swansea. Mr Richards’ son, Harri, burst two tyres after driving into the five-foot deep crater, which was full of water and so hard to see. Harri is currently pursuing a compensation claim from the local authority.

Damaged wheel caused by a pothole
Pothole, photo by Calum Duncan

 

Calum Duncan's mum badly damaged a wheel on her car in July 2010 after hitting this pothole on Cross Street in Bargoed, Caerphilly.

Pothole, photo by Justin Cooper

 

Justin Cooper damaged the suspension on his car after driving into this pothole near the Royal Oak pub in Ystrad Mynach. The repair bill came to £160. He has submitted a compensation claim to his local council but says the pothole has yet to be repaired.

Damaged wheel, picture by Russell Eveleigh

 

Russell Eveleigh’s son damaged a tyre after hitting a pothole on Caerau Lane in Cardiff - his compensation claim is ‘ongoing’.

Pothole, image by Fran Curtis

 

Fran Curtis drove into this pothole that had formed next to a drain. He had to pay £1,000 for repairs to his car’s suspension, wheels and tyres.

Pothole

 

This pothole caused almost £1,000 worth of damage to an X-Ray viewer’s car. All four wheels had to be repaired, together with road springs and wheel bearings.

Pothole, photo by Rachel Marsden

 

And Rachel Marsden damaged her car after driving into this pothole on the A4222 near Cowbridge in the Vale of Glamorgan. Rachel's repair bill came to £320, which included paying for a tow truck.

Keep sending us your photos! The email address is x-ray@bbc.co.uk.

Ceiber challenge: marketing the big event

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X-Ray production team X-Ray production team | 11:57 UK time, Monday, 7 February 2011

We catch up with the residents of Penrhiwceiber as they continue on their mission to breathe life back into the Working Men's Hall and Institute.

With just a few weeks to go until the launch of the Ceiber Film Festival, Rhodri Owen finds out how the preparations are going.

This week, the spotlight is on marketing. So far the leaflet printing hasn't been going quite according to plan and as the big day approaches, many local people still seem to be unaware of the festival and the other activities which regularly take place in the building.

So this week, X-Ray took the committee to visit a marketing agency in Cardiff to get some advice from PR expert Alastair Milburn on how to spread the word and get visitors through the doors.

PR expert Alastair Milburn

PR expert Alastair Milburn leading a brainstorming session

His suggestions included newspaper and radio campaigns, advertising on buses and in train stations, getting local businesses to sponsor or contribute to the event, involving young people and even using a town crier to ensure that the message is heard!

If you're planning on holding a fundraising event in your community, then Alastair has some tips to help you make it a success. Whether it's a winter fair at the local primary school or a sponsored walk for the rugby club then you need to get the word out if you want your event to be successful.

Here are his top five tips for marketing success:

  • Once you've decided on your objectives then work out who needs to know about them - these are the people you're trying to attract to your event.
  • Establish where those people get their information from. Will it be at the local shop or by reading the newspaper or are they more likely to go on the internet? You need to use these to get the word out.
  • Be creative - put your thinking caps on and create PR stunts! These are activities where you think "outside the box" and get people talking. It'll help to create a buzz about the event that should get more people interested.
  • It doesn't have to cost you money. These PR activities can all be done for free with a little imagination and a lot of persuasion. Use the resources you have in the community and negotiate deals with local firms to get them to chip in.

     

Good luck!

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