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Inside Out: Surprising Stories, Familiar Places

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   Coming Up : Inside Out - East: Monday February 13, 2006

Roadside car traders

Roadside cars
Roadside traders - it's often hard to trace the car's history

It might seem like an easy place to buy and sell a car, but flogging your car in a lay-by is a nuisance the authorities would like to stamp out.

Lay-bys are often the preferred location of dodgy car dealers.

Buyers can easily be caught out by this type of trader - a faulty car's history is often difficult to trace.

Up until recently it has not been an offence to sell a car in at the roadside unless the car itself has a dangerous fault or lacks insurance and an MOT.

But new laws make it illegal for one person to sell two cars or more on the same stretch of road.

This new legislation is aimed at stamping out roadside car dealers.

Nasty surprises

Inside Out's David Whiteley joins Bedfordshire Trading Standards, the DVLA and police in a lay-by swoop on the London Road, a notorious spot for roadside car traders.

There were some nasty surprises to uncover.

The majority of vehicles for sale had serious faults, or problems with paperwork.

One proves to have sub standard welding, a heavily corroded brake pipe and an insecure exhaust.

The car is taken to the pound.

Clamp down

Even with the extra power of the new law, it's not easy to clamp down on traders.

Firs of all, Trading Standards have to prove that someone is operating as a dealer.

Dealers will often use different mobile phone numbers for each car to avoid being caught.

Tim Argent of Bedfordshire Trading Standards says..

"Don't entertain buying a car from the side of the road - it's a false economy.

"You don't know what you are buying, there's no traceability of the vehicles at all, there's no safety checks done by the people that are selling the vehicles.

"You can potentially be in a very unsafe, unroadworthy vehicle that's not what it says it is."

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New Age traveller

Simbar Rainmaker hanging out washing
Simbar Rainmaker is a new breed of traveller

Simbar Rainmaker is not a gypsy - he calls himself a New Age Traveller.

He travels alone with his dog Mutley.

Constantly on the move, he usually stays at a roadside or piece of common land until he is evicted.

Originally from Suffolk, Simbar returned to the county in 2004.

Inside Out caught up with him while he was parked in Halesworth last summer.

Simbar parked his bus behind some houses on the outskirts of the town where he received a mixed reaction from residents.

Eventually he was evicted by the council.

Martin Plane from Waveney District Council explained that eviction was necessary following complaints from residents:

"He first came to our attention when site residents complained about noise and his dog.

"We take a tolerant view but we can't let him stay. He's a traveller and would expect to move on after a period of time."

Travellers' rights

Simbar defends his right to live as a traveller:

"I've lived like this for eight years. It's not about being anti-social - it's a way of life."

He believes that new Age Travellers deserve their own sites, provided by local councils.

Simbar does not believe they can fit in with gypsies on existing sites:

"Brighton Council have a site for New Age Travellers.

"The rent is reasonable, within a travellers means - and by paying rent we're contributing to council tax."

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Tin tabernacles

Tin tabernacle
Tin tabernacle - remarkable heritage building

These days we're always keen to save our historic buildings - and particularly churches.

But some of our most revolutionary places of worship are fast disappearing - and the chances are you've probably never even noticed them.

Tin tabernacles were a cheap alternative to churches, built by the Victorians to cope with swelling congregations.

We tend to think of the Victorians in terms of red-brick and great grandiose structures, but in many ways these buildings are even more extraordinary.

Railway Mission

One example is the The Railway Mission at Bury St Edmunds Station, opened in 1900.

At the time the Mission was built the industrial revolution was sweeping through the country - hundreds of thousands of people were on the move with more than half a million people working on the railways alone.

It was built to provide a place of worship for the railway workers.

To begin with they met in a room on the station platform - they had to raise they money to build this place.

The railway men approached a local lady, Mrs Arthur Ridley, about starting a railway mission in the town.

The churches were ordered as flatpacks - and there were companies all over the country who'd provide the kit including Boulton and Paul in Norwich.

The tabernacle at Bury was put up by a contractor from London and along with its furniture and fittings it cost £317 7s 7d - much cheaper than building a brick church.

Sadly many of the little tin churches have disappeared.

But there are still some that you can see. Other examples can be seen on the Sandringham estate, Burgh Parva in Norfolk, Ipswich, Colchester, Paglesham in Essex, and at the Museum of Rural Life at Stowmarket.

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