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Issue No. 81 [Back Issues]
31st January 2006

This Week - [The Elusive Ross-on-Wye Otters]
[Sixth Form Success - Men and Motors - Symonds Yat and Wye Valley Tourism Network]

[Heritage Centre Trunk Call - February Half Term]
[Topical Photography - Nature Watch - Readers' Letters - Readers' Photos - Rugby]
[Home Page] [Classified] [What's On?] [A to Z Site Map] [Property]

Topical Photography

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Above: Somerfield Manager, Mike Wood presents £50 worth of Somerfield vouchers to Ross Gazette prize winner, James Davies and his mum, Karen.

Below: Howle Hill Football Club before their match against Newent Town on Saturday, which they won 2 - 1.
Left to right: Back row - Andy Stale, Manager, Tom Cutter, Lee Barrington, Sam Loftus, Dave Jewel, Paul Element, Ben William, Stephen Davies (1st team coach) Front row: Andy Francis, Craig Powell, Tony Stevens, Bobby Hatch, Aiden Cook, Andy French and Peter Martin.

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Nature Watch

Whilst searching for otters during the week, I snapped these photographs of gulls on the banks of the River Wye at Ross. Not exactly a rare bird but nonetheless, quite pretty. I believe that 'all the nice gulls love a sailor', but you don't get many of them on the Wye, so an oarsman will have to do!

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Readers' Letters

The views expressed in readers' letters are those of the authors and are not necessarily the views of Wyenot News or Letters are published as received and are not edited in any way. Wyenot News and do however reserve the right to either edit or not to publish readers' letters.

Welsh Water

Did anybody receive a letter recently concerning Welsh Water's revision of Assessed Measured Charge Volumes? If so, and you are as concerned as I am about what this means for your water charges, I am keen to hear from you as I want to form an effective protest against these measures.

What the Assessed Measured Charge means is that you have asked for a water meter to be fitted in order to lower your water charges, but the water company was unable to fit one for one reason or another. They then estimate the amount of water you would use if you had one fitted. This system has worked well for people who, like me, either live alone, or, use very little water.

However, Welsh Water is now looking to move the goal posts and increase water charges to people like us by a staggering amount. My own charges will rocket by about 25% in April, and, I suspect, so will yours.

This is grossly unfair as it penalizes us for using little water and we end up subsidizing people who have no meters but use a lot of water. I have already written to Welsh Water to complain but have had no reply as yet. I hope you are as outraged as I am about this situation and are prepared to help me apply a bit of people power to show them they can't get away with this.

If you don't want to make your own complaint against Welsh Water directly (and they really don't make it easy), would you be prepared to sign a petition? Let me know what you think. Either way, don't just lie down for them. They've got themselves in financial trouble through their own incompetence and we should not have to bail them out.

Contact me at or write to Kevin Sale, 46c Broad Street, Ross-on-Wye, Herefordshire. HR9 7DY.

Kevin Sale

Quote Me Happy - Leave Me Distraught!

On 23rd November my house caught fire, subsequently it was discovered that the fire was caused by an electrical appliance, one of a few plugged into a couple sockets most probably the iron which my wife concedes that in the morning frenzy of getting the kids ready for school and herself ready for work she may well have done.

A friend who lives opposite the house just before 11.00 am to tell me that he had seen a fire and had called the fire brigade called me. Upon hearing this I ran back to the house and was passed by several fire engines along the way. When I got there, there were flames erupting from the second floor window, that of my sons bedroom.

For the next 4 hours or so I watched as 5 fire engines poured water onto the blaze and the ash and debris of what was left of the house swirl away and flow off down the hill toward the river. It was not a pleasant day and I didn't think it could get much worse but it has and not by accident but by the deliberate manoeuvrings of the insurance company, their loss adjusters and surveyors.

That afternoon was something of a blur but there was not one person in the neighbourhood that did not try to help in one manner or the other with either offers of somewhere to stay to clothes for the children because literally it was all gone, I had what I was standing up in and my two boys had the school uniform they were wearing.

Finding somewhere to stay for the night was the first priority and I took up a friends offer to use his holiday cottage for a few days as it was empty. The next day I phoned the insurance company, told them what had happened and asked what to do next. Where I was told that I had insurance cover for alternative accommodation and that I should check into a hotel one of the two they have on their approved list, which was either the Chase or the Royal. The lady I spoke to told me that the way this normally works is to stay in a hotel until the damage is repaired or alternative longer term accommodation can be found, normally a holiday let as no lease is required. I told her that we had stayed the previous night in such a holiday cottage where she replied that we could stay there should we wish and that a loss adjuster would be out to see me within a few days and that we could sort it all out then.

A couple of days later the loss adjuster arrived and spent the day going through the remains of my house, duly noting down the damage and estimating the repairs, we discussed the accommodation issue and he concurred it was best all round, cheaper for the insurance company and a lot easier for me to deal with two small boys and it had Sky. I was asked to negotiate a rate with the owner as it was going to be for a longer period that the normal weekly/fortnightly and let him know how much.

I asked the loss adjuster what was to happen next and he told me that with fires of this size it was the normal procedure to appoint a surveyor who oversees the repairs, which in this case included the roof, all the floors within the property (what had not burnt was ruined by water damage) all the electrics, plumbing, central heating system, not to mention every item of or clothing and all the contents. Too also have all the contents removed and either listed as damaged and beyond repair or stored and to have a fire investigation officer ascertain the cause to see if a third party product was at fault and if any claw back was possible.

We ended staying in the cottage as agreed and I got a call the next day from a surveyor and a company called Munters and I meet them at the house within a day or two. Munters began clearing out the debris, which was mostly ash; the entire contents of the top floor had been shovelled out of one of the bathrooms and into the yard below by the fire brigade. Pretty much all of our possessions were to found 3m by 3m by 2 m deep and consisting of ash and burnt plastic, so I wasn't to keen to stay and left them about their business, whilst leaving the fire investigation officer arrived, I explained what I knew and went back to my office.

In retrospect I wish I'd stayed and kept an eye on the surveyor but I hadn't really slept since the fire and this was now Monday, looking at what was left was not making me feel to well and to top it all I had missed a delivery deadline for our first client the week before. Which as luck or lack of it would have it, was 2 days after the fire, not surprisingly I didn 't get it finished, what with having to deal with an extremely distraught wife and two small confused children.

Fortunately, one of the guys that works for me had the presence of mind to inform our client of the situation and we were given an additional week in which to deliver the project.

At this juncture things were not to bad, yes we had no house, yes we had no clothes, yes the boys had no toys worse no play stations or game boys, but we had insurance and I managed to get the project delivered. It could have been far worse nobody got hurt, if it had happened during the night it could have been a completely different story.

Unfortunately, things have gotten far worse, for approximately one week later I get a letter from the insurance company asking me to meet with another loss adjuster the following Monday at 11.00. I agreed and met him initially at the house and as I still wasn't very comfortable there we moved the venue to a café up the road.

During this meeting I was asked about events that happened that day and to go through general insurance details etc., which we did for an hour or two, he then got onto specifics asking about which electrical appliances were connected into which sockets, obviously trying to narrow down the cause to a particular appliance for this claw back the first loss adjuster had mentioned. Even down to when and were these items were purchased and then at the end of the meeting he refers to a report that has been produced by the surveyor, in his words he said "and there might be financial implications with regards to the surveyors report".

I had neither seen nor heard of any report, the only contact I had had with the surveyor was to initial let him into the house, speak with him twice on the phone plus an e-mail. When I let him know that the house had only been just built (2 years or so) by subcontractors I had employed and that I had not got around to finally having the building regulations signed off on and that all the relevant details including all the drawings were available from the council, they were on one of the computers in the house but not any more, if it wasn't the fire the water killed of all our computers.

The loss adjuster produced this report and put it on the table in front of him and it looked to have about eight points or so (he wouldn't let me look at it). The first he said was most damning, in it he the surveyor maintained that the top floor of the house was not built to meet fire regulations in that it did not have an enclosed staircase to the ground floor. This is true because the lounge is open planned, that was why an alternative means of escape was request by the planners, which was how the house was built. How the surveyor can have missed that is almost impossible as there was a mountain of ash all the way done the external staircase leading to the backyard were four Munters staff were bagging the remains of our possessions.

The next point claimed that there was to much demand on the sockets to the room were the fire started, again there were many things plugged in but each in an individual socket. The electrical layout of the whole building had been designed to provide each room in the house with its own ring main and each floor to have it's own distribution panel as well as gigabit computer and internet communications.

On hearing this from the surveyor I got extremely angry, pointing out we had all the relevant visits from the building regulations department during construction and that planning permission had been given before I purchased the land and the house had been built according to those plans under the supervision of that architect. And, that any competent surveyor could look at the electrical distribution panels and realize that there was no overload and see that a secondary means of escape had been provided. The loss adjuster listened to this but said that now the report had been written they would have to contact the council, architect, engineer etc.

We finished the meeting at this, there was no point going on until this had been sorted out and I left the café demanding a copy of this report. I remember on the way back to the office thinking Oh! my god they are trying to get out of paying for it.

This was on the 12th December and since then I have heard nothing new, I rang before Christmas and was told they were waiting for the council, I asked for the report and was told it was being sent. I waited all over Christmas trying to block out the constant worry, were we about to loose our house. I have sent numerous e-mails and rang about every department within the insurance company and the loss adjusters only to be told that someone would ring me back.

The week or two leading up to Christmas was not very pleasant it was one of my sons birthday and obviously all the presents we had bought for this and for Christmas had gone up in smoke, so it was a struggle to get something sorted out. There was also the problem of no nothing from clothes to mobile phones and what with all the stress I was under my doctor advised I start taking some tranquillizers. I really did expect to hear something before Christmas but with Christmas being what it is I could understand.

The first contact I had was the Tuesday after new year when I phoned the loss adjusters and spoke to his secretary again, I asked him to call me back and this time he did. I was told that he had written to me on the 30th December sending all the documents I had requested and that I should receive them in a day or two.

A week later I appointed a loss assessor to act on behalf, as advised by my solicitor, he wrote a letter and e-mailed it to the loss adjuster but we still have not had a reply.

To date I have spent a considerable sum of money, firstly to replace the bare necessity of clothing for my wife and children, bedding, toiletries, cosmetics, presents, toys the list goes on and then the alternative accommodation, boarding up of the house and making it safe and secure. I have had to cover the expenditure of 2 months in guesthouse accommodation with out any assistance from the insurance company because in their words "until we have had a look at all the appropriate paperwork and decide if we have any liability we can't make any payments"

I don't understand how they expect a family to survive like this it is putting everyone under immense strain. I couldn't carry on paying that sort of money every week so I have had to take on another house, which has involved me taking out a full lease and paying all the deposits etc. To make matters even worse, whilst moving to this new house over the weekend I believe I may have had a small stroke from all the stress. I went to the doctors on Monday and my blood pressure was through the roof even for someone under stress and my blood pressure is always very low, so now whilst awaiting the results of the battery of tests my blood is being submitted to I am also having to take beta blockers what ever they are and unable to work.

I have explained the situation to the insurers but they don't seem to care and if I don't get reimbursed by them before the rent is next due, we will all be living in a burnt out shell of a building for what remains of the winter and I'll be working on a piece of animation titled Quote Me Happy Leave Me Distraught.

Nic Taylor
Address supplied

Readers' Photographs

Thank you to Chris Constable for emailing these photographs from his holiday in Punta Arenas, South America.

Apparently, Chris has seen all kinds of wildlife during his travels, including killer whales.

I look forward to seeing more photos Chris. Enjoy the rest of your adventure!

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Ross RFC - Rugby

The visit by Ross to Gloucester Civil Service always had the look of the fixture that would decide which team took that automatic promotion spot. With Ross on top, and Civil Service second, this game was critical for both teams. It proved to be a nervy encounter. Both sides had good patches during the match, but neither were able to build a winning momentum, as a consequence neither team got a full score ahead, and the match hung in the balance until the final whistle.

As expected of the home side, Civil Service started the stronger, sensing that a defeat would put an end to their hopes of winning the league. Within three minutes, they were 3 - 0 ahead, and for the next 10 minutes they camped themselves in the Ross half, but, for all their endeavour, they never really looked like breaching a Ross defence that has been imperious throughout this league campaign.

As the game settled down, Ross began to make inroads into the Civil Service defence with some strong and elusive running from Mike Davies, Gavin Oates and Andy Hunt. Whenever Ross moved the ball quickly out of contact, gaps began to appear.

After some good work by Tara Barnett and Dave Mince, the ball was taken on by Kevan Healy, quick recycling enabled Simon Gwynne to move the ball out to Hugh Bellamy, who fed Chris Gage, whose perfectly timed pass put Wayne Bishop into space. He outpaced the defence to score. Chris Gage converted making the score Ross 7 - Civil Service 3.

With a try under their belts, the Ross players looked to increase the tempo of the game and stretch the Civil Service defence even further, however as the referee¹s whistle began to dominate the game, it began to lurch from set piece to set piece. This played into the hands of Civil Service and just before half time they converted another penalty narrowing the score to 7 - 6.

With the elements now in their favour, Ross began to dominate territory in the second half. Kevan Healy and Matthew Redman managed to get some momentum into the game, and Craig Creed, Gavin Oates and Flos Morgan were proving productive at the ruck, so Ross were able to dominate possession. After a period of pressure, Gavin Oates broke free from the back of a ruck and looked sure to score until the Civil Service full back managed to get his body between the ball and the try line. But a score did come with Chris Gage converting a penalty to make it 10 - 6.

Ross were now controlling the game. They might have added to their score if, first, Mike Davies, and then, TC Leach, had managed to get their passes away after surging clear of the defence.

Civil Service launched one last salvo in the dying minutes, but Ross held out for the win, cementing their position as clear league leaders with only four league matches to play.

Next Saturday February 4th, Ross play Evesham in the North Midlands Cup, at Ross Sports Ground. As the England v Wales game kicks off at 3:30 pm, the Ross players are hoping for a 1.30 pm kick off for their match, and they also hope the game will attract a good crowd.

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