You are currently browsing the monthly archive for December 2013.

A confidential fraud hotline for Medway residents has been launched this week. Customers can use the hotline to report all fraud against Medway Council from false benefit claims to fraudulent use of the Blue Badge for disabled people.

The types of fraud against the council people may report include: false applications for benefits, the unlawful sub-letting of council housing and the misuse of disabled badges or discounted bus passes. By phoning the new number- 01634 332233- a resident can select the type of fraud they wish to report and will be directed to the appropriate department, where they can speak to someone in confidence.

Reports can be made anonymously and information may be passed on to other relevant organisations the council work with, such as the police or Department for Work and Pensions.
The hotline is part of the council’s drive to help reduce fraud and protect public funds. The council has the power to investigate and prosecute those who commit council related offences in Medway.

For example, failing to declare a change in circumstances – such as getting a new job or moving in with a partner who is working – and wrongly claiming Council Tax, Housing Benefit or Income Support is a criminal offence.

It is hoped the confidential hotline will encourage more people to come forward. Cllr Alan Jarrett, Deputy Leader of Medway Council and Portfolio Holder for Finance, said: “I am very pleased with the introduction of this fraud hotline as I welcome anything that is done to clamp down on crime.

“I would urge people to contact us if they know of anyone acting fraudulently against the council, especially when a person wrongly claims benefits as they are using public money, which is paid for by taxpayers.” “Equally, it’s really important that people contact the council when their circumstances change to avoid the possibility of a criminal conviction.”

The Fraud Hotline number should not be used for enforcement type offences such as Fly- tipping and Trading Standards etc.

Advertisements

main copy.qxdHouse prices in the South East will see an increase of seven percent over the course of next year while the cost of renting a home should rise by a further two percent. This growth is being driven by the acute imbalance between burgeoning buyer demand and sluggish supply with new instructions to estate agents close to stagnating.

Although significant challenges remain to achieving a sustainable economic recovery, 2014 may well see the nascent pick-up in activity gather pace and this will be reflected in the housing market. In addition to rising prices, the number of transactions should also see a further increase, moving up to 1.2m (from 1.05m in 2013). Although this represents an improvement, to put this in context, total sales in 2006 were well above this at 1.67m.

With the shortage of homes coming onto the market a key factor behind the price rises, some comfort may be drawn from a likely twenty percent jump in new starts in England over the next year. That would push the total towards the 155,000 mark compared to 125,000 this year and only around 100,000 in 2012. While this is an encouraging trend, it is still insufficient to address the more rapid growth in population and will leave significant shortfalls in all tenures.

Across the UK, all parts of the country should see prices rise next year. Predictably, the biggest increases are to be seen in the capital, where the cost of a home will jump by around eleven percent. It remains to be seen what impact the recently announced increase in capital gains tax for overseas vendors will have on the prime central London market.

Meanwhile, the North East and Northern Ireland will experience the lowest rises with prices increasing by five percent and four percent respectively.

2014 UK housing market at a glance

UK REGION GROWTH

East of England ——————10
East Midlands———————10
London—————————-11
North East————————-5
Northern Ireland——————-4
North West————————-7
Scotland—————————7
South East————————-7
South West————————-7
Wales——————————7
West Midlands———————-7
Yorkshire and Humberside———–7
UK———————————8

• Cost of renting to grow by two percent
• Transactions to increase to 1.2 million
• Housing starts to edge up to 150,000 in England

Peter Bolton King, RICS Global Residential Director, commented:
“The cost of a house is now picking-up right across the country and next year should see more of the same. We expect all areas of the country to see prices increase with London, predictably, recording the biggest rises. The improving economic picture aside, this is largely down to the fact that buyer numbers considerably outweigh the amount of homes on the market. While the number of new homes being built is now on the rise, it still won’t be anywhere near enough to meet demand and we expect the problem of insufficient housing stock to be the main driver behind price increases over the next twelve months.”

Earlier this month, mhs homes staff members spent three days volunteering with Medway Foodbank.

The volunteers worked at Medway Foodbank’s warehouse and main office in Medway City Estate, allocating goods to six local centres across the Medway area. This included organising goods in date order, packing up boxes of food to replenish the centres, and sorting the ‘Christmas corner’ which contained seasonal treats such as mince pies to help bring some extra Christmas cheer to Foodbank users. The volunteers sorted through donations received from Tesco shoppers, Medway churches, the general public and mhs homes staff.

Kevin Jennings, Medway Foodbank Warehouse Manager said:

“We really appreciate the wonderful help we have received from mhs homes staff. It has been really busy in the warehouse and the extra help has been a real blessing. During the first weekend in December we had approximately 4.4 tonnes of food donated by generous Medway residents, for which we are extremely grateful.”

Joanna Blackwood, Housing Systems Co-ordinator said:

“At the time the warehouse seemed packed to the rafters but we were told that this was only because of the food drive. In fact the Foodbank manager said that if we came back after Christmas we would see a much depleted stock! It was great to see how generous the public had been, and especially that there were also some extra treats to provide some extra Christmas cheer.”

For more information about Medway Foodbank, or to give a donation please visit http://www.medway.foodbank.org.uk or call: 01634 757057

There is a bit of a trend happening this morning, after the brilliant Paul Hollywood star of The Great British Bake off revealed his best loved Boxing day treat on television last night (if you missed it you can see it here).

A very much loved but underused pastry called Hot water crust pastry more commonly found on pork pies and alike had the nation watering at the mouth! Paul Hollywood demonstrated a fabulous Boxing day pie, one that all of us can enjoy regardless of our pastry skills. This versatile pastry may feel tender to handle but its ability to hold its shape makes it perfect for this dish.

 

Make the most of Christmas dinner leftovers with a turkey, stuffing and cranberry pie made with hot water crust pastry.

Ingredients

For the pastry
  • 450g/1lb plain flour, sifted, plus extra for dusting
  • 100g/3½oz strong white flour, sifted
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 75g/2½oz chilled butter, cut into cubes
  • 150g/5½oz lard, cut into cubes, plus extra for greasing
  • 1 free-range egg, beaten, to glaze
For the filling

Preparation method

  1. Sift the plain and strong flour and salt into a mixing bowl. Using your fingertips, rub the butter into the flour until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs. Make a well in the centre of the mixture.
  2. Heat the lard and 200ml/7fl oz water in a small saucepan over a medium heat. When the mixture is simmering pour it into the well in the flour mixture and stir with a wooden spoon, gradually drawing the dry mixture into the liquid, until the mixture comes together as a dough.
  3. Grease a 18cm/7in springform cake tin, or raised pie mould with melted lard. Make sure you grease the tin liberally to prevent the pastry from sticking.
  4. Tip the dough onto a lightly floured work surface and knead until smooth and pliable. Roll out three-quarters of the dough and use it to a line the prepared tin. Press the pastry into the base and sides of the tin to prevent air bubbles from forming. Leave the excess pastry hanging over the edge of the tin.
  5. For the filling, spoon half of the stuffing into the pastry case and press down with the back of a spoon. Arrange half of the turkey over the stuffing, then season with salt and pepper. Mix the cranberries and cranberry sauce together and spoon half over the turkey. Repeat the layers once more, pressing down as before.
  6. Roll out the remaining pastry until it is large enough to cover the pie. Brush the overhanging edges with water and place the lid on top, squeezing it together at the edges to seal. Trim off most of the excess pastry using scissors or a knife, and crimp to create a decorative edge. Make a small hole in the centre of the lid and chill for 30 minutes.
  7. Preheat the oven to 180C/350F/Gas 4 (fan 160C).
  8. Place the chilled pie in a roasting tin (to catch any juices that may leak from the pie tin) and cook for 45 minutes. Remove from the oven and brush with beaten egg to glaze. Return to the oven for 15 minutes.
  9. When the pie is cooked, remove from the oven and leave to cool on a wire rack for 10 minutes. Leave to cool for a further 30 minutes before removing from the springform tin or pie mould.

 

Now i am not sure about you but this wonderful Boxing day pie sounds like a hit for anyone!

Shoppers cashing in old gold to buy new Christmas presents are facing a price war.

A batch of scrap gold offered to different local shops by Medway Council Trading Standards officers fetched prices varying by as much as £50. The best offer was £130 and the lowest £80.

Now trading standards is urging people who want to sell their old gold to shop around for the best price.

Cllr Peter Hicks, Medway Council Portfolio Holder for Community Safety, said: “Our trading standards officers have shown just how much gold prices can vary. People wanting to sell old gold shouldn’t just accept the first offer they receive.”

All the stuff we have always done has moved to

http://www.peninsulatimes.co.uk

%d bloggers like this: