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BBC Radio 4 In Touch
11 November 2008

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Factsheet



IN TOUCH
11/11/2008
WEEK 46


CONTENTS
PROGRAMME ADDRESS.. 1
TELEPHONE.. 1
ROYAL NATIONAL COLLEGE FOR THE BLIND.. 1
GENERAL CONTACTS.. 2


PROGRAMME ADDRESS

IN TOUCH
BBC Radio 4
Room 6084
Broadcasting House
London
W1A 1AA
Email: intouch@bbc.co.uk
Web: www.bbc.co.uk/radio4/factual/intouch.shtml

SHARED SURFACES
Guest: Sue Sharp Head of Public Policy and Campaigns, Guide Dogs for the Blind

The programme discussed the idea of shared street surfaces which came originally from the Netherlands.

The principle is that if artificial barriers, such as guardrails or even pavements are removed then road users will behave more considerately.

The latest concern is the newly opened giant shopping centre Westfield, in West London. Local visually impaired people say they have been in negotiation with the planners since February.

Dave Kent, one of the organisers of a protest over the shared surfaces, went to the centre for In Touch with his Guide Dog Quince, to explain his concerns.

Well listening to all that has been Sue Sharpe, who is head of policy and campaigns for Guide Dogs. The organisation has become increasingly concerned about the development of shared surfaces.

CONTACT

THE GUIDE DOGS FOR THE BLIND ASSOCIATION (GDBA)
Burghfield Common
Reading
RG7 3YG
Tel: 0118 983 5555
Email: guidedogs@guidedogs.org.uk
Web: www.guidedogs.org.uk
The GDBA’s mission is to provide guide dogs, mobility and other rehabilitation services that meet the needs of blind and partially sighted people.


RNIB
105 Judd Street
London
WC1H 9NE
Helpline: 0845 766 9999 (UK callers only - Monday to Friday 9am to 5pm)
Tel: 0207 388 1266 (switchboard/overseas callers)
Web: www.rnib.org.uk
The RNIB provides information, support and advice for anyone with a serious sight problem. They not only provide Braille, Talking Books and computer training, but imaginative and practical solutions to everyday challenges. The RNIB campaigns to change society's attitudes, actions and assumptions, so that people with sight problems can enjoy the same rights, freedoms and responsibilities as fully sighted people. They also fund pioneering research into preventing and treating eye disease and promote eye health by running public health awareness campaigns.


GARDENING

In Touch reported on the Thrive Blind Gardener of the Year awards. This year's competition focussed on sustainable gardening, and leading a healthy and active lifestyle.

The awards were given out at a ceremony in London last Thursday, where Elliott Roberts, who is twelve, won the Young Blind Gardener category. Mani Djazmi visited him at his plot.

The top award of Blind Gardener of the Year went to 82-year-old Jean Harrington from East Sussex.

The other category was the Blind Gardening Group of the Year, which was won by The Meristems Garden Group in Sutton-in-Ashfield, Nottinghamshire.

CONTACT

THRIVE
The Geoffrey Udall Centre
Beech Hill
Reading RG7 2AT
Tel: 0118 9885688
Email: info@thrive.org.uk
www.thrive.org.uk
http://www.thrive.org.uk/gardening-for-partially-sighted-people.asp
www.carryongardening.org.uk
Thrive is a national charity, founded in 1978, whose aim is to research, educate and promote the use and advantages of gardening for those with a disability. Thrive’s vision is that the benefits of gardening are known to, and can be accessed by, anyone with a disability.

Thrive has been supporting blind gardeners for over 30 years, and established the Blind Gardeners’ Club with RNIB in 2006 to help gardeners share information and techniques. Membership of the club costs £9 a year and includes:


RNIB
105 Judd Street
London
WC1H 9NE
Helpline: 0845 766 9999 (UK callers only - Monday to Friday 9am to 5pm)
Tel: 0207 388 1266 (switchboard/overseas callers)
Web: www.rnib.org.uk
The RNIB provides information, support and advice for anyone with a serious sight problem. They not only provide Braille, Talking Books and computer training, but imaginative and practical solutions to everyday challenges. The RNIB campaigns to change society's attitudes, actions and assumptions, so that people with sight problems can enjoy the same rights, freedoms and responsibilities as fully sighted people. They also fund pioneering research into preventing and treating eye disease and promote eye health by running public health awareness campaigns.


IPOD

The programme reviewed the new Ipod Nano, which for the first time has a built-in speaking function, allowing navigation through songs, albums, podcasts or videos independently.

Ipods are one of the most widely available Mp3 players and though lots of other accessible music storage devices exist the Ipod is very much the market leader.

Apple’s free iTunes software has to be downloaded from the internet, which allows songs to be put on to the iPod from a collection and also allows them to be purchased from the Apple store.

According to Mani Djazmi, the screenreader Windoweyes works well with iTunes but JAWS is not very compatible. For people who use Jaws Mani suggested downloading another piece of software called J-Tunes.

J-Tunes costs £35 and can be downloaded from the website of T & T Consultancy. Along with the J-Tunes software, you get an extremely comprehensive and easy-to-understand user guide.

The new Ipod Nano comes in 2 sizes; 8 gig, which has capacity for around 2000 songs and costs £105 and the 16 gig, 4000 songs, £137.

There are a number of other MP3 players on the market which are accessible, such as the Creative Zen Stone. That has a capacity of one gig, which is about 260 songs and coasts £30. It does not have a screen and although it does not talk, navigation is very easy.

The Victor Reader Stream is an all-round and very popular MP3 player for visually impaired users. It plays music files, as well as audio books and it also converts plain text into synthetic speech. That is more expensive at £199.

The BookCourier and BookPort are more expensive still. Like the Stream, their biggest selling point is making audio and print books accessible, though they also play music.

There is also a gadget called the I-Tel which plugs into any iPod and speaks some of the menus, though the quality of the voice is dubious. That is available from the charity Cobolt.

The Ipod Nano is available from most electrical retailers.


GENERAL CONTACTS

RNIB
105 Judd Street
London
WC1H 9NE
Helpline: 0845 766 9999 (UK callers only - Monday to Friday 9am to 5pm)
Tel: 0207 388 1266 (switchboard/overseas callers)
Web: www.rnib.org.uk
The RNIB provides information, support and advice for anyone with a serious sight problem. They not only provide Braille, Talking Books and computer training, but imaginative and practical solutions to everyday challenges. The RNIB campaigns to change society's attitudes, actions and assumptions, so that people with sight problems can enjoy the same rights, freedoms and responsibilities as fully sighted people. They also fund pioneering research into preventing and treating eye disease and promote eye health by running public health awareness campaigns.


HENSHAWS SOCIETY FOR BLIND PEOPLE (HSBP)
John Derby House
88-92 Talbot Road
Old Trafford
Manchester
M16 0GS
Tel: 0161 872 1234
Email: info@hsbp.co.uk
Web: www.henshaws.org.uk
Henshaws provides a wide range of services for people who have sight difficulties. They aim to enable visually impaired people of all ages to maximise their independence and enjoy a high quality of life. They have centres in: Harrogate, Knaresborough, Liverpool, Llandudno, Manchester, Newcastle upon Tyne, Salford, Southport and Trafford.


THE GUIDE DOGS FOR THE BLIND ASSOCIATION (GDBA)
Burghfield Common
Reading
RG7 3YG
Tel: 0118 983 5555
Email: guidedogs@guidedogs.org.uk
Web: www.guidedogs.org.uk
The GDBA’s mission is to provide guide dogs, mobility and other rehabilitation services that meet the needs of blind and partially sighted people.


ACTION FOR BLIND PEOPLE
14-16 Verney Road
London
SE16 3DZ
Tel: 0800 915 4666 (info & advice)
Tel: 020 7635 4800 (central office)
Web: www.afbp.org
Registered charity with national cover that provides practical support in the areas of housing, holidays, information, employment and training, cash grants and welfare rights for blind and partially-sighted people. Leaflets and booklets are available.


NATIONAL LEAGUE OF THE BLIND AND DISABLED
Central Office
Swinton House
324 Grays Inn Road
London
WC1X 8DD
Tel: 020 7837 6103
Textphone: 020 7837 6103
National League of the Blind and Disabled is a registered trade union and is involved in all issues regarding the employment of blind and disabled people in the UK.


NATIONAL LIBRARY FOR THE BLIND (NLB)
Far Cromwell Road
Bredbury
Stockport
SK6 2SG
Tel: 0161 406 2525
Textphone: 0161 355 2043
Email: enquiries@nlbuk.org
Web: www.nlb-online.org
The NLB is a registered charity which helps visually impaired people throughout the country continue to enjoy the same access to the world of reading as people who are fully sighted.


DISABILITY RIGHTS COMMISSION (DRC)
Freepost MID 02164
Stratford-upon-Avon
CV37 9BR
Tel: 08457 622 633
Textphone: 08457 622 644
Web: www.drc-gb.org
The DRC aims to act as a central source of advice on the rights of disabled people, while helping disabled people secure their rights and eliminate discrimination. It can advise on the operation of the Disability Discrimination Act (DDA).


DISABLED LIVING FOUNDATION
380-384 Harrow Road
London
W9 2HU
Tel: 0845 130 9177
Web: www.dlf.org.uk
The Disabled Living Foundation provide information and advice on disability equipment.


THRIVE
The Geoffrey Udall Centre
Beech Hill
Reading RG7 2AT
Tel: 0118 9885688
Email: info@thrive.org.uk
www.thrive.org.uk
http://www.thrive.org.uk/gardening-for-partially-sighted-people.asp
www.carryongardening.org.uk
Thrive is a national charity, founded in 1978, whose aim is to research, educate and promote the use and advantages of gardening for those with a disability. Thrive’s vision is that the benefits of gardening are known to, and can be accessed by, anyone with a disability.

Thrive has been supporting blind gardeners for over 30 years, and established the Blind Gardeners’ Club with RNIB in 2006 to help gardeners share information and techniques. Membership of the club costs £9 a year.


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Transcript

IN TOUCH

TX: 11.11.08 2040-2100


PRESENTER: PETER WHITE

PRODUCER: STEVEN WILLIAMS


White
Good Evening. It's good to share; that's what we're always told as children. But when it comes to sharing road surfaces with traffic, organisations of visually impaired people have given it a very firm thumbs-down. We'll be looking at the latest disputed example in a moment. And Mani, you've got two contrasting stories for us today I think.

Djazmi
Yes from growing fruit and veg, to the Apple iPod - I'll be reporting on gardening and accessible portable music players.

White
Nothing too heavy I hope. We'll hear from Mani in a few minutes time. But first, the idea of shared surfaces came originally from the Netherlands. The principle seems to be that if you remove a lot of artificial barriers from our roadways - guardrails, street furniture, crossings, even pavements - then all road users will have to think for themselves and, freed from a lot of restrictive rules, will behave more considerately to each other. But as the idea spreads to Britain, with somewhere in the region of 40 towns and cities trialling systems from Leeds to Lewes, some visually impaired people are less than impressed by this. For them the idea of putting cars, bicycles, and vulnerable pedestrians together, with no demarcating restrictions between them, seems a recipe for disaster. Well we're going to be looking at the evidence soon, but first, the very latest dispute concerns the newly-opened giant shopping centre in West London, Westfield. Local visually impaired people say they have been in negotiation with the planners since back in February. One of the organisers of the protest, Dave Kent, went to the centre for us with his guide dog Quince, to explain his concerns.

Kent
Okay, well I'm walking alone, Quince is weaving in and out of the people, there are any number of obstacles - there's some huge spherical like obstacles in the middle which I really don't know what they're for, apparently they look very pretty. As yet I haven't found a cycle track, for all I know I could be in the middle of it.

Good lad Quince, on you go, on you go sweetheart, good boy.

Now you can just imagine, can't you, how with all of this noise going around you wouldn't have a chance in heck to hear whether a cyclist was bearing down on you or if you'd accidentally through a dog like Quince avoiding an obstacle then puts you into the path of an oncoming cycle or indeed a cycle coming behind you. It would be absolutely impossible.

Now I've been told I'm about five yards away from the cycle path, so I'm going to have a go at walking across this, just to tell you if I think that I've found the edge of the cycle path, so here we go. One, two, three, four steps, five, six, seven - haven't found it yet - six, nine, dub de dub da, and here I am, I've reached a metal barrier, I didn't have a clue that I'd walked across that cycle track. Walked into a potentially dangerous situation.

Well there's a cyclist just pulling up over here, tying their two wheeled steed to a mooring post, let's go and ask her what she feels about shared surfaces.

Cyclist
I think that if a cyclist is going at a faster pace than anybody else then it's their responsibility to look out for anybody else that's going slower than them. And if they don't then they're just being rude.

Kent
Do you think that all cyclists are considerate?

Cyclist
No not at all but then again I don't think all bus drivers are or taxi drivers are too, there's like what 12 million people in our city and they're not all on the same level.

Kent
Do you think that shared surfaces - cyclists and blind people are a good mix?

Cyclist
Well I think it has to be because in London there's a very limited amount of space and limited people. I definitely think that you should - people need educating because I think that people become very selfish. And even pedestrians are possibly the worst.

White
Dave Kent with a very thoughtful cyclist.

Well I met Westfield's development executive Tony Westbrook on the site where Dave had been looking around, and I put to him Dave Kent's complaints that they had not really taken visually impaired people's concerns seriously enough.

Westbrook
I think as soon as we heard the concerns of particularly local disabled people but also from the national organisations like Guide Dogs for the Blind we started looking again at some of the original ideas. And certainly for this area we've now looked at having a cyclist dismount policy through this area. And I can tell you today that the local authority have now agreed to allow us to put up cyclist dismount signs and therefore Westfield will be able to have a policy through this area of asking cyclists to dismount while they traverse this area.

White
And that is a change of heart really is it on the part - as a result of the pressure from visually impaired people?

Westbrook
This is a direct result of the consultations that we've had and Dave Kent was one of those interested local blind people and he raised the point very well with a very good argument.

White
But you have been open a couple of weeks, I've been hearing concerns from people really for months now, wouldn't it have been better to have got this all sorted out before the centre opened?

Westbrook
Well we've been consulting, as I said, for a while since before the centre opened but there are a number of processes and approvals that we've had to go through, there are a number of stakeholders like Transport for London and the local authority, to get approval from.

White
Can it be enforced, I mean how are you actually going to police this?

Westbrook
Well we can't guarantee this of course, just like on the public streets the local authorities can't guarantee this, but we will have our own security force out here and we have CCTV cameras and we will monitor how well it goes.

White
What other kinds of things are you doing, I mean you've mentioned that there is consultation going on, so what other things might you consult on?

Westbrook
Well I think we've been discussing with Guide Dogs for the Blind a clearer demarcation for the cycle tracks where they're on the same pavement as pedestrians and also looking at some guidance systems and we've got some meetings set up over the next few months to look into how else we can help. We're extending the tactile paving, from the crossing just next to us here, right across to the building line and that'll be being done in fact next week.

White
Tony Westbrook. Well listening to all that is Sue Sharpe, who is head of policy and campaigns for Guide Dogs. Sue, the organisation has become increasingly concerned about the development of shared surfaces. We've heard Dave Kent's worries. How justified do you think they are?

Sharpe
I think they're entirely justified. There's been experience of shared surfaces with pedestrians and cyclists over many years and it's never been a happy tale. And now we're seeing the extension of the idea through the shared space concept into our towns and cities where we're seeing sharing, not just with cyclists, but also with the taxi drivers, with the bus drivers, in some cases with heavy goods vehicles as well as just the ordinary motorist.

White
The issue creates a great deal of heat but what does the research actually say, I mean I thought there was evidence as close to Westfield as Kensington in West London that shared surfaces had cut the level of accidents to pedestrians, that's good isn't it?

Sharpe
Well if you look at the example from Kensington and Chelsea, I think the one you're referring to is Kensington High Street and there they have achieved a shared space scheme but they've maintained kerbs and they've maintained crossings. And it's that distinction between what you could regard as a safe space for pedestrians and then the shared area that - if you want to share that's fine but people who are more vulnerable prefer to have an area where they have confidence to move around. Provided you've got clear demarcation for that then it seems to be able to work.

White
So the kerb is the crucial factor really?

Sharpe
Well we've done some research to see whether we could come up with a different form of delineation which would be as effective as the kerb and we did that work with University College London last year. Unfortunately none of the delineators we tested proved to be effective. And our position at the moment is until a delineator is shown to be effective, and I think research is absolutely critical here, then the kerb needs to be retained but of course with that dropped kerbs as well for people with mobility problems too. We're not against people friendly streets, we just want people friendly streets that everyone can use safely.

White
What's the legal position about this, I mean we have Disability Discrimination Act, local authorities have got a disability equality duty that they must abide by, what does that say about this kind of issue?

Sharpe
Well I mean we believe that by introducing shared surface schemes local authorities are at risk of failing in that disability equality duty and it's something that we're looking at very seriously, we're taking legal advice at the moment and we're certainly looking at possible legal action in the area, though I should say at this point we haven't identified a specific case.

White
But have you warned local authorities about this in negotiations that have taken place?

Sharpe
We have absolutely said this consistently throughout.

White
Sue Sharpe, thank you very much indeed.

Well after that, some people may find the idea of retiring gracefully to the safety of their back gardens quite an attractive one, and gardening amongst blind and partially sighted people seems to have gained a boost recently with the development of the organisation Thrive, and its Blind Gardener of the Year awards. This year's competition focussed on sustainable gardening, and leading a healthy and active lifestyle. The awards were given out at a ceremony in London last Thursday, where Elliott Roberts, who's 12, won the Young Blind Gardener category. His plot is at his school, just outside Cambridge, where our reporter Mani Djazmi went to meet him.

Watts
Okay Elliott, I'm going to give you the dog bowl, there you go and then you can put it down on the ground. Right by the frog pond, okay.

Roberts
This is a dog bowl and I've started converting it into a bird bath, so the birds can have a bath and a drink.

Djazmi
How often do you come out here Elliott?

Roberts
Mostly every Wednesday. It just depends on what the weather's like. If it's chucking down with rain then I don't.

Djazmi
Tell me why you like gardening so much, what is it about it you like?

Roberts
Because I love getting mucky, it's something nice to do that I can get outside in the sunshine.

Djazmi
What else can you show me Elliott?

Roberts
The greenhouse.

Djazmi
Okay, let's go to the greenhouse.

Watts
My name is Helen Watts and I'm a specialist teacher with the visual impairment service in Cambridgeshire. Elliott has really enjoyed working here in the garden, he's certainly gained a great deal of confidence and independence. It's a change from the heavy academic work in school and he likes to explore and develop his mobility skills and create things that are for him.

Roberts
Here we are in the greenhouse and this is some of the stuff that we do. We've planted popcorn, we've planted pumpkin, we've planted some broccoli, some basil, some thyme and some chives.

Djazmi
So you've been very busy in this greenhouse, haven't you, what was your most successful vegetable that you planted?

Roberts
The basil.

Djazmi
Were they edible, would you eat some of your own produce?

Roberts
Yeah.

Djazmi
Would you? So they're quite safe are they?

Roberts
Sometimes I eat them.

Watts
He does have quite a degree of control because everything is specialised for him and his individual needs. So when I work with Elliott I know that he needs particular things such as large seeds and not tiny things that are very difficult for him to feel.

Djazmi
What do you think about while you're gardening?

Roberts
I feel very peaceful, very relaxed that I get to do it on my own. I get to create my own garden, I can put what things I want in and where I want them.

Djazmi
Do you ever get bored of gardening Elliott?

Roberts
No, I don't get bored of gardening.

Djazmi
So if there are people your own age listening who think oh gardening's boring, that's just for old people, what would you say to them?

Roberts
No it's not, they can put in vegetables and fruit and frog ponds and all that type of thing.

Djazmi
So gardening is cool is it Elliott?

Roberts
Yes.

White
That's 12-year-old Elliott Roberts in uncompromising mood. So Mani just briefly can you run down the other winners for us?

Djazmi
The top award of Blind Gardener of the Year went to 82-year-old Jean Harrington from East Sussex. She was diagnosed with Macular Degeneration seven years ago but that clearly hasn't stopped her getting her hands dirty. Her top tip is to swallow your pride and wear waterproof trousers.

White
I'll bear that in mind.

Djazmi
Absolutely, especially in this climate. The other category was the Blind Gardening Group of the Year. That's the proud accolade of The Meristems Garden Group in Sutton-in-Ashfield, Nottinghamshire which has only been going since last year.

White
Mani, thank you.

Now one of the Holy Grails that has been pursued for visually impaired people is an accessible version of one of this decade's most popular gadgets. Regular listeners to In Touch will have heard us review several Mp3 players in the past. For the uninitiated, which I count as really, these players allow you to keep your whole record collection, for example, or a range of films or photos on a single portable device, to listen to while you're on the go. So Mani, showing your versatility, what's special about this one?

Djazmi
This is interesting because it's the first iPod to have a built-in speaking function, allowing us to navigate through songs, audio books and podcasts independently. IPods are one of the most widely available music players and although lots of other accessible music storage devices exist, and I'll be coming on to those later, the iPod is very much the market leader.

White
So for those of us who haven't seen it before what does it look like?

Djazmi
It's slightly narrower than a credit card and about as thick as three credit cards put together. It's got two buttons and a screen. One of the buttons is like a ring or a wheel, which navigates around the various menus, and the other, which is at the centre of the wheel, performs the function of confirming your selections.

White
So how does it work, in terms of actually programming it yourself?

Djazmi
Well you have to download Apple's free iTunes software from the internet, which let's you put songs on to the iPod from your collection or the Apple store. In terms of the iPod itself, you move through the menus by sliding your finger round the extremely touch sensitive navigation wheel.

Clip navigation wheel
Music, videos, photos, podcasts, shuffle songs.

Djazmi
So that's the main menu which is telling you about the various sub menus you can go into and what you can put on you iPod - i.e. music, photos or podcasts. And each click that you heard there was an individual item. Now if you were slide your finger too quickly around that navigation wheel, you get this …

Clip navigation wheel
Music, podcasts....

White
So very much sleight-of-hand needed, Mani. What about playing songs, how easy is that?

Djazmi
Again, using the navigation wheel, if you'll indulge me Pete actually I'll show you by taking you into my music collection.

White
I've been looking forward to it.

Clip navigation wheel
Artists: The Beautiful South, Blur...

Djazmi
So we're in the 'music' sub menu, which has categories like artist, song, album and genre and if we go to artists:

Clip navigation wheel
Paul McCartney.

Djazmi
They're all listed alphabetically. My favourite band are the Pet Shop Boys, so if we spool through to P...

Clip navigation wheel
Pet Shop Boys.

Djazmi
And you can choose which album to listen to, so let's pick Very, which is the last album in this particular list.

Clip navigation wheel
Can you forgive her.

Djazmi
That's the first song on the album. The one I want is Go West, which is the last track. And there you go.

Clip navigation wheel
Go West, now playing.

Music

White
I mean that kind of thing always sounds a bit complicated when someone else is doing it on the radio, but I suppose you could even use it to download our own pocast could you?

Djazmi
Absolutely, that's what it's for.

White
Good well we'll give you details of that later. How independently could you set it up, I mean could you do it on your own?

Djazmi
I did it all without sighted help but it wasn't straightforward. I'm going to put all the gory details on the fact sheet, if you want to know them, but just make sure you don't do what I did which was inadvertently change the language setting on the iPod from English to Dutch.

White
And what about prices?

Djazmi
Well it comes in two sizes. The 8 gig which has capacity for 2,000 songs, that can be found as cheaply as £105 on the internet. And the 16 gig, which can hold 4,000 songs, you can have that for about £137.

White
Now this is the first iPod that speaks but it's not the first accessible music storage device is it.

Djazmi
No, there are a number of accessible MP3 players on the market, such as the Creative Zen Stone, which we've talked about before on In Touch, that's got a capacity of 1 gig, which is something like 260 songs. It doesn't have a screen and although it doesn't talk either navigation is very easy and it's pretty affordable at £30. The Victor Reader Stream is an all round and very popular bespoke MP3 player for visually impaired people. It plays music files, as well as audio books and it also converts plain text into synthetic speech. That's a lot more expensive though at £199. The BookCourier and BookPort are more expensive still. Like the Stream their great selling point is that they make print and audio books accessible and they also play music. And finally it's also worth saying that there's a gadget called the iTell which plugs into any iPod and speaks some of the iPod's menus though the quality of the voice on this is arguable. That's available from a company called Cobolt for £59.

White
I shall retire to a darkened room after that. Mani Djazmi thank you very much indeed. That's all for today but if you'd like anymore information about anything you've heard on the programme or indeed you want to check on something you've heard or you can suggest issues we should take a look at do call our action line on 0800 044 044 or e-mail us via In Touch. And, as we mentioned, we do have a podcast of this programme which you can download as from tomorrow using whatever method you like. That's it for today, from me, Peter White, today's producer Steven Williams and the team, goodbye.


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