Archives for March 2010

Choosing cavity wall insulation

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X-Ray production team X-Ray production team | 17:00 UK time, Monday, 29 March 2010

In many properties, cavity wall insulation can help save energy and cut fuel bills. But what should you consider before making the decision to have it installed in your home? And what should you expect from a reputable installer?

With the help of RICS chartered surveyor Tim Davies, we've put together a checklist of things to look out for throughout the cavity wall insulation process, to help you spot potential problems early.

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X-Ray investigates cavity wall insulation

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X-Ray production team X-Ray production team | 15:08 UK time, Monday, 29 March 2010

A damaged wall

A BBC Wales investigation into cavity wall insulation has revealed concerns about unsuitable homes being fitted with the product.

Two industry whistleblowers spoke out to BBC Wales' consumer programme X-Ray and their accounts raise fears that poor workmanship and inadequate pre-installation checks are leading to damaged homes.

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South Wales mounted police

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X-Ray production team X-Ray production team | 10:33 UK time, Monday, 29 March 2010

If you've been to a rugby international in the centre of Cardiff lately, you're likely to have noticed the horses of the South Wales Police's mounted section on patrol.

South Wales Police and horses patrolling Cardiff city centre

The South Wales Mounted Police on patrol in Cardiff city centre

Rachel Treadway-Williams went behind the scenes to see what training the police officers and their four legged colleagues undergo, and she took to the streets of Cardiff on the day of the recent Six Nations clash between Wales and Italy to see how the mounted police got on.

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Portland Street got fitter and healthier

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X-Ray production team X-Ray production team | 10:03 UK time, Monday, 29 March 2010

What a difference a couple of months can make - that's the view of some of the residents of Portland Street, Abertillery, who have taken part in X-Ray's One Street, One Goal challenge.

Living in one of the poorest and unhealthiest parts of Wales, the neighbours resolved to become fitter, healthier and more active and with the help of each other - and some experts provided by the X-Ray team.

Some of the residents before the Sport Relief mile

Some of the residents of Portland Street before they took part in the Sport Relief mile this March

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X-Ray is looking for a new street

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X-Ray production team X-Ray production team | 10:48 UK time, Wednesday, 24 March 2010

Three months ago when X-Ray met the residents of Portland Street, Abertillery there were a number of things they wanted to change about themselves and their lives.

They wanted to throw away the takeaways and convenience food, learn about cooking from scratch, get fit, stop smoking, lose weight, shrink bottoms, sleep better, feel better, get to know their neighbours and find out what's on their doorstep.

 

Residents from Portland Street

Residents of Portland Street

It all sounded like a tall order. And understandably many of the families didn't know where to start.

But with help from X-Ray the residents were quickly introduced to a range of experts - on and off the street - and soon threw themselves into these challenges throughout the series.

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B&Q and the leaky bathroom

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X-Ray production team X-Ray production team | 16:29 UK time, Friday, 19 March 2010

Faced with the prospect of spending several thousand pounds on having a new bathroom fitted in your home, you might think it safer to get the job done professionally by a big name firm.

But, as X-Ray viewer Hannah Bettiss from Ammanford, Carmarthenshire, discovered, that is not always the case.

Last year Hannah, a 26-year-old radiographer, decided to throw out her old leaky bath and treat herself to a brand new bathroom.

 

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Hannah Bettiss shows Rachel Treadaway-Williams her problem bathroom

But after her new B&Q suite was bought and installed at a cost of £3,000 altogether, Hannah immediately realised that all was not right. "My shower was leaking from the offset," she said. "I was back and forth to B&Q for a couple of weeks trying to get it sorted."

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Sharia-compliant mortgages

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X-Ray production team X-Ray production team | 14:43 UK time, Friday, 19 March 2010

This week X-Ray looks at a different type of mortgage - one governed by Islamic principals but available to everyone: the Sharia-compliant mortgage.

Islamic or Sharia law is a set of principles derived from the Qur'an, the holy book of the Muslim faith.

 

Photograph of a Cardiff mosque

A Cardiff mosque

These principles can affect every aspect of how Muslims choose to live their lives, including how they approach financial transactions.

The most important of these principles are:

  • No interest must be paid or received.
  • Everybody participating in a financial transaction must be adequately informed and not cheated or misled.
  • Investment is forbidden in what are considered to be socially detrimental activities - such as gambling, alcohol, armaments or pornography.
  • The investor and investee must share the risk of all financial transactions.

(source: The development of Islamic finance in the UK: the Government's perspective. HM Treasury. Dec 2008)

As of 2008 the UK topped the league table of Western countries with Sharia-compliant assets (valued at over $18 billion) and ranked eighth worldwide.

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Walking in the great outdoors

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X-Ray production team X-Ray production team | 10:59 UK time, Friday, 19 March 2010

The residents of Portland Street in Abertillery have been getting out in the fresh air in their bid to get fitter and healthier, by talking up walking in their local area.

The initial health survey carried out on the residents for X-Ray's One Street One Goal showed that only one person in the street was taking the recommended weekly dose of exercise.

So, Rhodri Owen and some of the Portland Street residents teamed up with walk tour guide - and neighbour from the street - Ivor Beynon and his family for a walk in the Blaenavon area.

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Portland Street resident Ivor Beynon is a walk tour guide for the valleys.

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X-Ray investigates illegal cigarettes and tobacco

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X-Ray production team X-Ray production team | 10:42 UK time, Monday, 15 March 2010

This week X-Ray investigates the illegal cigarettes and tobacco trade.

Smoking has become less socially acceptable over the years, and the number of smokers in Wales has fallen in the last decade.

But more than a fifth of the Welsh adult population are still lighting up, and a recent survey showed that in the poorest areas of Wales more than 35% of adults choose to smoke.
 

Image of packets of cigarettes in a warehouse

With ever-increasing retail prices, some smokers are turning to the black market - it is thought that one in 10 cigarettes smoked in the UK is smuggled.

In the last three years more than £7m worth of illegal cigarettes and tobacco have been seized in Wales' ports and airports by the UK Border Agency.

But despite more than 2,000 seizures between 2007-2009, bootlegged stock is still being sold from people's homes and on the streets.

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James Sommerin's cooking with kids

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X-Ray production team X-Ray production team | 16:11 UK time, Friday, 12 March 2010

James Sommerin is the head chef at the Crown at Whitebrook restaurant with rooms in Monmouthshire. He took over the kitchen there in 2003 and has won a coveted Michelin star each year for the past four years.

James Sommerin with children and teenagers from Portland Street

Chef James Sommerin shows the children and teenagers from Portland Street how to cook rice pudding

James's first memories of cooking are as a young boy visiting his grandmother at weekends. "I used to go over there on a Friday and a Saturday when I was around four, five or six," he recalls.

"I used to do everything in the kitchen with my grandmother from making bread to baking biscuits and cakes. I particularly remember helping her make the gravy. I always had to try it first with a teaspoon."

James now has two young children himself and says he enjoys cooking with them in the kitchen whenever he can.

And he recently enjoyed passing on a few tips to some of the younger residents of Portland Street, Abertillery, who are taking part in X-Ray's One Street, One Goal project to improve their health. You can get James' chicken casserole recipe along with his recipe for rice pudding, by downloading our recipe card.

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Household cleaning the old fashioned way

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X-Ray production team X-Ray production team | 10:50 UK time, Friday, 12 March 2010

Do you use a multitude of different cleaning products to keep your home clean and tidy?

Have you ever thought about swapping the modern cleaning products for everyday items more at home in your kitchen cupboards, such as vinegar and lemons?

Black and white photograph of Lucy Owen dressed as a 1950s housewife.
Lucy Owen dressed as a 1950s housewife.

Lucy Owen investigates whether there's any truth behind these old wives tales, and if traditional cleaning methods really do work in the fight against grime.

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X-Ray investigates Utility Warehouse

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X-Ray production team X-Ray production team | 19:15 UK time, Monday, 8 March 2010

This week X-Ray reports on the experiences of two families who have run into problems after switching their energy supplier to sign up with the same company - the Utility Warehouse.

 

The company, which supplies gas, electricity, phone and broadband and puts it all on one monthly bill, rewards its customers with discounted energy bills every time they recruit a friend or family member.

 

 

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Robert and Kella Pitts from Llanharry, Rhondda Cynon Taff, switched to the Utility Warehouse in the summer of 2008.

 

"Our friends had recommended them and claimed they would be cheaper, we just thought it's worth looking at," explained Kella Pitts.

 

Everything went smoothly to begin with, but in October last year the Pitts received a gas bill for almost £3,000.

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How to avoid problems with your energy supplier

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X-Ray production team X-Ray production team | 16:58 UK time, Friday, 5 March 2010

Switching suppliers

The competition between energy companies is heating up as more people switch between providers searching for the best deal. But as far as household utilities are concerned, it appears the grass is not always greener on the other side of the fence.

The Energy Ombudsman has received almost 6,000 complaints in the last year, with billing disputes at the top of the list followed by problems switching supplier.

 

gas.jpgX-Ray's top tips on avoiding problems with your energy supplier:

  • Read your meter regularly, keep records of your readings and make sure they are appearing on your bills - if they're not, or you spot a problem on your bill, contact your supplier as soon as possible.
  • If you run into difficulties with your supplier you should give it eight weeks to resolve matters.
  • Consumer Direct can advise you on the best way to complain in the first instance.
  • If you are still not happy you can ask the Energy Ombudsman to look at your case. 

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Chewing gum costs Welsh councils

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X-Ray production team X-Ray production team | 11:28 UK time, Friday, 5 March 2010

When you've finished with your chewing gum, do you put it in the bin? Or are you guilty of dropping it on the pavement like many others?

It may seem like an inconsequential act but it's littering, is against the law and and if you're caught in the act you could face a fixed penalty fine of £75.

Lucy Owen took a trip to Caernarfon for X-Ray and met Iona Lewis Thomas from Gwynedd Council's Tidy Towns initiative. She informed Lucy that while an average piece of chewing gum would cost you about three pence, it costs Welsh councils approximately 10-12 pence to clean up each single piece of gum off the street.

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A Caernarfon street littered with chewing gum

Do you know a particularly bad street for chewing gum litter in Wales? Let us know below or send us a picture message to 81012 (for picture messages standard network rates apply. Check with your network provider for more details).

Fraud gang stole dead child's ID

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X-Ray production team X-Ray production team | 15:46 UK time, Monday, 1 March 2010

ID fraud is a concern for us all, but one heartless gang stole the identities of children who had died to commit a fraud which netted tens of thousands of pounds before they were brought to justice.

X-Ray spoke to the officers who tracked them down and a mother who is calling for a change in the way deaths are registered after her son's birth certificate was used in the crime.

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Suspects Kolajo John Ojomo, Hamda Khahin and Michael Olusegun Olusanya were arrested and charged with conspiracy to commit fraud.

 

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Why do we wear daffodils and leeks?

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X-Ray production team X-Ray production team | 09:52 UK time, Monday, 1 March 2010

Do you wear leeks or daffodils for St David's Day? Both these plants are associated with this popular festival, and a number of interesting legends explain how they came to symbolize the pride of being Welsh. Dr Juliette Wood, a professional folklorist and lecturer at Cardiff University, looks at why we have adopted these plants as our national symbols.

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