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Archive for October, 2010

Lighting Masts for Hire

October 29th, 2010 Comments off

mast

National Tool Hire Shops has a wide range of Lighting Masts in stock and ready to hire from over 90 locations nationwide. Whatever size and type of lighting mast you require, National Tool Hire Shops can supply. Delivered to your worksite or available for collection from your local tool hire shop.

Popular items include: Lightweight Aluminium Lighting Masts, Link Tower Lights, Metal Halide Lighting Towers and Mini Tower Lights

Not sure which lighting solution best fits the job? No problem, call the Hire Team today on 0800 142 2033 – we’re happy to help!

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Customers switching for greener energy

October 29th, 2010 Comments off

The proliferation of direct and internet insurers plus the emergence of a new generation of online aggregators mean that an increasing number of people now change providers of financial services products such as mortgages and car and house insurance every year.

When it comes to paying for domestic electricity supplies, moreover, switching has been officially embedded into UK competition policy and energy industry practice.

Just look at this quote from the Energy Retail Association’s guide to the UK electricity market.

“The engine of competition in the retail energy market is customer switching or ‘churn,'” it states. “By switching suppliers, customers can act as a competitive constraint on suppliers’ pricing and provide strong incentives on suppliers to reduce costs, improve services and develop new products.”

The motivation for consumers is cost, with the ERA estimating that customers who have never switched and pay on receipt of their bill, or by using a prepayment meter, can save around £100 a year by moving suppliers.

Online and telephone comparison and switching service uSwitch goes even further, claiming that 10pc of all people who switch both their electricity and gas suppliers save up to £530 a year. It says one family of eight recently saved an annual £2,500 by switching to an online dual energy plan.

Five million Britons have got the message and are switching at the rate of 100,000 a week – the highest rate in any of the world’s large energy markets.

Now, compare this vibrant switching market with surveys that consistently show respondents claiming that they prefer to buy goods and services with sound green credentials.

The latest Landor ImagePower@Green Brands survey, for example, found that 50pc of UK respondents were actively buying products with less packaging or recycled packaging.

Nearly six out of ten Brits are now apparently eschewing plastic bags when shopping for groceries and 55pc of people are apparently choosing energy-saving appliances over conventional ones.

In addition, a survey of UK consumers this year by The Centre for Retail Research found that UK consumers are happily paying an average price premium of 44pc for green retail products.

Factor in the growth of the internet with its wealth of comparison information and instant order-taking abilities and this is where future-gazing gets rather exciting for those plotting the transformation that Britain needs to comply with its carbon reduction commitments.

What could happen when all three trends combine? Can Britain develop a consumer electricity market where progressive companies that buy green energy from renewable or low-carbon sources are actively preferred by consumers through regular, direct and highly transparent green buying behaviour?

Might consumers one day get electricity bills detailing exactly how much of their power has come from wind, wave, solar, tidal and biomass energy? If they don’t think it’s enough, they could switch to a greener competitor.

The direct channel of the internet could effectively allow consumers to challenge the environmental credentials of their energy suppliers.

Power company laggards in meeting the climate change challenges would face a new and forceful consumer-led punishment in addition to penalties under European Union and UK carbon reduction regimes, whilst consumers would be given the opportunity to practice what they preach in the aforementioned surveys by voting with their power bills for a more sustainable future.

It’s quite a breath-taking scenario but so far, progress has been slow. Firstly, the switching trend is relatively new and is taking time to translate to the energy market.

The ERA reckons that only 17pc of UK energy consumers are proactive switchers, changing every 12 months and regularly checking prices.

Of the remainder, 37pc are reactive, having switched at least once but typically only responding to a sales call from a salesperson, and 46pc have either never switched or have done or so only once and say they are unlikely to do it again,

The results among older consumers are even worse, with 69pc of the over-60s having never having switched supplier. Overall, uSwitch reckons that just 13pc of the UK’s 26m households are paying the cheapest energy prices on the market through online dual energy plans.

Then there’s the difficulty in sustaining consumers’ green preferences and translating this into buying behaviour choices.

Evidence suggests that the recent recession for example has focused consumers’ attention on energy prices to the detriment of green electricity plans, which have tended to be less competitive than other plans.

There is also a lack of clarity over what constitutes a green energy plan. Electricity industry regulator Ofgem at one stage talked about introducing a very simple traffic light system to help people decide how green they wanted their electricity to be.

However, this has since been diluted to the point that some specialist “green” electricity suppliers have refused to be accredited under the scheme.

All this means that the brave new world of energy where customers can drive the behaviour of power companies like they influence product ranges and pricing power in supermarkets is some way off.

Yet, consumers have long driven corporate behaviour on environmental issues in Germany and Scandinavia. As Britain develops strategies to cope with the energy challenges over the next 50 years, linking consumers’ choices to their green ideals may be an important part of building a sustainable future.

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HSE cuts ‘could put construction workers at risk’

October 27th, 2010 Comments off

imagesPeople working in the construction industry could be at risk of injury as a result of cuts to the Health and Safety Executive (HSE).

During the Spending Review it was announced that the funding to the HSE will be reduced by 35 per cent, something that the Union of Construction, Allied Trades and Technicians (UCATT) has stated will put lives at risk.

Alan Ritchie, general secretary of UCATT, said: “Any cuts in frontline services will inevitably lead to a greater number of workers being killed or injured at work.

“Sadly, the risks are greatest in safety critical industries such as construction.”

The announcement of the cuts comes just days after Lord Young’s report into health and safety which recommended that there should be no changes to the safety laws in place for dangerous industries.

Approval of the report had also been given by the HSE, which stated that it agreed with the creation of the Occupational Safety Consultants Register.

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Industry-approved locks ‘essential at home’

October 26th, 2010 Comments off

Homeowners have been urged to install industry-approved locks in their property.

According to Graeme Trudgill, technical and corporate affairs executive at the British Insurance Brokers’ Association (BIBA), adding approved locks will not only add extra security, but could make insurance cheaper.

When it comes to home security, Mr Trudgill recommended taking all the necessary precautions to prevent a property being attractive to burglars.

“Have them fitted by a proper fitter and if the budget permits go [for] an alarm system as that is an extra deterrent,” the expert added.

He explained that simply having an alarm could act as a deterrent to potential thieves, as opportunists will go for the easy option of a house without an alarm rather than one that is clearly protected.

A recent study from Mintel found that only a third of adults in the UK take care to ensure their door is properly locked when leaving the house.

Door Lock Combination
Huge range of Locks, Latches and Security products at IronmongeryDirect.co.uk

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Heat for Hire: Hire a Heater for 2 Weeks – Get a 3rd Week FREE OF CHARGE

October 25th, 2010 Comments off

h4hFeeling the cold? Winter blues getting you down? Don’t worry, Mammoth Hire is here to help!

Special Offer: For a limited time only you can hire any heater for 2 weeks and get the 3rd week FREE OF CHARGE. Offer applies to any heater hired before 12 noon 30th October, subject to availability. Please call 0800 142 2022 for more details. Special offer applies to popular heating products including: cabinet heaters, fan heaters, rocket heaters, infrared heaters, warehouse heaters and more…

Not sure what type of heater you require? No Problem! Call the Hire Team today for expert advice 0800 142 2022

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Eco-friendly home improvements ‘can pay-off’

October 25th, 2010 Comments off

Making some simple eco-friendly improvements at home can reap financial benefits, according to one homeowner.

Susan Carpenter spent two years working on her property in California to make it environmentally-friendly and found that some ideas worked better than others.

She explained that installing solar panels to her home has so far been of benefit as they have reduced her electricity bills and made her feel happy in the knowledge that she is reducing her carbon footprint.

Another success story for her was installing water barrels which capture the rainwater that falls on her home.

“The water they catch isn’t stored only for summer use. It can be drained in between rains to water nearby plants,” she explained.

Making a property kinder to the environment was recently noted by Matt Hunt, spokesperson for BritishEco.com, as being a big trend now for homeowners as they seek to take some small steps into making their house better for the planet.

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Pop-Up Low Level Access Platform for Hire

October 22nd, 2010 Comments off

popup

The indoor POPUP goes anywhere even through single doors. POPUP replaces the need for ladders and steps to be used indoors in low level access environments. Its detailed design means that it can offer a multitude of special features that ensure the user has a safe yet simple solution to low level access.

– Immediate low level access

– 8 seconds to reach full platform height

– Designed to be fully stable with a safe working load of 240kg

– Platform height fully extended platform height of 1.63m

– Average working height of 3.63m

Hire the POPUP today

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Homes built reaches record low

October 22nd, 2010 Comments off
Housing Plans

Housing Plans

Government figures show number of new homes built is down 23% on the previous year

Figures released today reveal that the net number of homes added to the housing stock in England fell to a record low in 2009-10, down 23% on 2008/9.

According to data published by the communities and local government department (DCLG) just 128,680 net additional dwellings were provided last year compared with around 167,000 in 2008/9.

This figure is even lower than the previous record low of 130,510 in 2001-02.

Fewer net additional dwellings were supplied in the 2009-10 financial year than in the previous year in every English region.

The North West saw the largest annual decrease (38%), followed by the South East (32%).

The figures were published a day after government announced large cuts to housing budgets in their spending review.

Stewart Baseley, executive chairman of the HBF, said, “There is no doubt that the previous planning system was not succeeding in delivering enough homes – but housing delivery, crucial to solving the housing crisis, is not yet increasing and in many areas has actually fallen.

“These figures reveal the extent of the housing supply problem and the need for real action now – cutting red tape and implementing incentives so we can build the homes the country needs.”

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The knock-on impact of spending cuts

October 21st, 2010 Comments off

When 20 schools in Coventry had their rebuilding or refurbishment work cancelled by the government in July, it wasn’t just the pupils who were upset.

Building firms across the city and the wider West Midlands region suddenly found they would no longer be able to bid for parts of the 10-year, £355m project.

And Coventry’s services industry – everything from restaurants and bars, to hotels and taxi companies – was at a stroke deprived of the custom of hundreds of engineers and building workers.

“We were devastated,” says Labour councillor Lynnette Kelly, cabinet member for education on Coventry City Council. “Of course primarily for the children, but also for Coventry’s economy.

“The school rebuilding project would have brought quality, long-term employment to the city, and given us a major economic boost.

“And we were just weeks away from signing the contracts for the first two schools, with work due to start before Christmas. It was a very big blow.”

‘Needless bureaucracy’

The situation in Coventry has been replicated across England.

The school rebuilding programme in the West Midlands city was part of the giant £55bn Building Schools for the Future (BSF) programme.

It was due to see every English secondary school rebuilt or renovated.

But BSF was cancelled on 5 July by Education Secretary Michael Gove, as one of the first spending cuts announced by the coalition government.

The move meant that the revamp of 719 schools in the pre-construction stage of the scheme – including those in Coventry – was called off overnight. A total of 706 schools that had already signed construction contracts will see their work go ahead, but will have to make substantial savings.

Mr Gove said his department had to make savings as part of the wider government cuts, and that the BSF scheme – which was introduced by the previous Labour government – was too costly and bureaucratic.

He explained: “Throughout [the project] life it has been characterised by massive overspends, tragic delays, botched construction projects and needless bureaucracy.”

But regardless of any merits that cancelling BSF may have had, the move leaves construction companies that were expecting to be involved in the work bitterly disappointed.

And with the government due to announce further spending cuts in its comprehensive spending review on 20 October, the scrapping of BSF is also indicative of how such cuts can have a wider impact.

Clive Dickin, chief executive of the Association of Plumbing and Heating Contractors says the end of the BSF project, together with the wider government review of public procurement in buildings, “has had a profound affect on its members”.

“Some of our member companies have had to lay off or make redundant up to 80% of their workforce as a result of the current financial uncertainty,” says Mr Dickin.

“We are now hearing a significant number of reports about contractors submitting unprofitable tenders in an effect to win contracts, simply so they can keep their businesses turning over.”

One construction company that has been directly affected by the decision to cancel the BSF programme is BAM, one of the final two bidders for the work in Coventry.

BAM’s Midlands regional director is Richard Dakin, based in Coventry. He says his firm had more than 20 people working on the Coventry BSF scheme for more than 18 months.

“We were only weeks away from submitting our final bid for Coventry, and were as confident as we could be,” he says.

“We had invested heavily, so it was very disappointing.

“At the same time, we are a very large and stable construction company, so we can move on and deal with these things, and relocate staff to other projects.

“Where it is difficult is for the smaller firms who had hoped to pick up sub-contract work, says Mr Dakin. “It is a real shame for the Coventry economy.”

Replacement work

While the smaller construction companies in Coventry that had hoped for work as sub-contractors are all complaining about the BSF cancellation, none want to be named.

As one explained: “Everyone is gutted, but choosing to keep their heads down.

“The thinking is that while BSF has been cancelled, some of the schools in Coventry are still desperately in need of repair work, and we all hope to pick up smaller ad hoc contracts in the future.

“So no one wants to rock the boat or complain.”

BAM’s Mr Dakin agrees: “Some of the schools in Coventry are in need of replacement, so while BSF may have been cancelled, this work is still going to have to be done at some point in the future.

“It may have to be done more cheaply, but there will be contracts out there.”

In the short term, this is little comfort for the pupils and teachers at the schools in Coventry that until 5 July were excitedly preparing for new buildings.

Nor for Coventry City Council, which had invested £4.5m in BSF preparation work.

Westwood School was going to be one of the first two secondary schools in Coventry to be renovated.

“We spent more than three years working with the council and architects, and we were so close to the final hurdle – the winning contractor would have been chosen this month,” says Westwood’s headmaster, Roger Whittal.

“The BSF process was overly bureaucratic, and should have been done quicker, but we played it by the rules only to miss out right at the end.

“We are now looking at alternative ways to raise the money and get the work we need done, but everyone is obviously very disappointed.”

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Huhne says all new homes should meet Passivhaus standard

October 19th, 2010 1 comment

Secretary of state for energy and climate change indicates that he would like to see all new homes meet the German low energy standard

Chris Huhne, the secretary of state for energy and climate change, has indicated that he would like to see all new homes in the UK meet the German low energy Passivhaus standard.

Speaking at the the inaugural UK Passivhaus Conference held in London, Huhne described the energy and comfort standard as “a watershed moment in our relationship with the built environment” and said he “would like to see every new home in the UK reach the standard.”

He also added that: “We need a new paradigm in housing. Where value is measured in the running costs to 2050 and beyond”.

Huhne is not the only one proposing wider uptake of the standard. Jonathon Porritt, the founding director of Forum for the Future, has called on the UK construction industry to urgently embrace the Passivhaus standard to meet the government’s 2016 zero-carbon target.

Speaking in the foreword to Green Building Store’s new technical film ’Passivhaus low energy building in the UK’ Porritt stressed the urgency with which the construction industry needs to adopt low energy construction.

“I think people in the UK are just waking up to how far behind we are on really energy efficient housing, in comparison with other European countries,” said Porritt.

The coalition government has confirmed the zero carbon housing target for 2016. “We’re going to have to be doing a huge amount to catch up. We’re going to have to see an unprecedented wave of innovation around construction techniques and design. For me it’s really important that what’s been going on elsewhere particularly in Germany with Passivhaus is now brought in as part of that innovation cycle in the UK,” says Porritt.

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