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Southport Reporter® covering the news on Merseyside.

Date:- 4 December 2006

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THE NORTH IS AT RISK OF 'SILENT KILLER' WARNS CALOR

EVEN after the recent incidents relating to carbon monoxide poisoning in the news, nearly half of the homes in the North still haven't taken any measures to protect themselves or their families from the 'silent killer', according to new research from Calor.

The YouGov survey, commissioned by the leading energy supplier also reports that one in four of these households admit that they hadn't even thought about the risks of carbon monoxide poisoning. Worryingly, 9% are confident that it won't happen to them or their families.  A further 10% admitted that they simply don't know what measures they should be taking, with 17% confessing that they hadn't got around to doing anything yet. But, with winter well underway and more of us turning on gas appliances that have been left unused throughout the summer months, Calor warns that it is crucial that people know the facts and act now to protect themselves against this very dangerous threat.

Andrew Ford, corporate affairs manager at Calor, says:- "Carbon monoxide poisoning kills over 30 people in the UK each year with thousands more experiencing symptoms of intoxication, yet it is clear that lack of awareness is still very much a problem in the UK.  The number of cases of carbon monoxide poisoning is much higher during the winter months and it is vital that people start checking their heating systems and portable gas heaters before they start using them as the cold weather kicks in.

Over 70% of people we questioned admitted that they hadn't had their boilers or gas appliances serviced, despite recommendations that servicings by a CORGI-registered engineer should be carried out every year. Carbon monoxide is an invisible gas that you cannot smell, taste or see and symptoms such as dizziness and headaches are often misdiagnosed as flu, so appliance servicing is the only way to flag up faulty equipment that could cause dangerously high levels of the toxic gas. 

We are calling on all homeowners to make sure they're armed with the facts this winter, as just a few simple measures will mean peace of mind for themselves and their families."

Always ask for a CORGI registration number and check the number when getting your gas appliances serviced and fixed.

Local singer/songwriter puts Southport on the map

A SINGER/SONGWRITER from Southport has beaten stiff competition from hundreds of applicants for the chance to break into the British music industry.

Andrew Michael Bowers has been selected to enter Pringles Unsung which is providing unsigned bands and solo artists with the chance to upload their musical offerings online to be judged by the biggest music critics of all, the public. Fronted by music legend and singer with Echo and the Bunnymen, Ian McCulloch, the aim is to support unsigned British talent and hopefully help discover the next big thing.

The competition has been inundated with entries from all musical genres who are competing to be given a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to perform for one of the most influential judging panels in music. Andrew Michael Bowers’s track is now live on pringlesunsung.com and is proving an instant hit with the public. Andrew Michael Bowers is competing with hundreds of other hopefuls to win one of the most exclusive prizes in British music, with the chance to perform at an private, live gig in Central London for the Pringles Unsung judges. Alongside Ian McCulloch the panel includes ex-Island Records MD Marc Marot, multiple Grammy and Brit award winning producer Jonathan Quarmby and leading industry journalist Paul Sexton.

This will be the most important live set of Andrew Michael Bowers’s career with a life-changing opportunity up for grabs. The successful act will get to record a demo produced by Jonathan Quarmby, who during his career has produced for the likes of David Bowie, the Fun Lovin Criminals, Ian Brown, The Sugarbabes and Simply Red. They will also receive management advice from Marc Marot who in his time with Island Records enjoyed significant success with the signings of Pulp, The Cranberries, the Stereo Mc’s, PM Dawn and the reinvention of U2 from Achtung Baby onwards.

A Pringles Unsung spokesperson commented:- “Andrew's track is one of the best we have had. The standard so far has been exceptionally high and we are extremely excited about breaking the next big thing in British music. We hope that their hometown gets behind them and helps them to realise their dream.”

If you’ve got a good ear for what’s hot and what’s not check out pringlesunsung.co.uk to nominate local acts that you think are good enough to be the next big thing.

HOUSE SALES CAN STUMBLE IF GRUMPY NEIGHBOURS GRUMBLE

HOUSE sellers need to think beyond just cleaning up their own home for sale and make sure their neighbours just smile nicely and don't let slip any dirt on the neighbourhood according to a new report.  New Yorkshire Bank research found that 32% of house hunters would be put off buying a property simply if the next door neighbours looked unfriendly.  It is not just how the neighbours look that could sabotage the sale either. Off the cuff negative remarks from the person next door about the area, street or even the house would prompt 21% to pull out of the sale.

Gary Lumby, Yorkshire Bank's head of retail, said:- "All the effort and expense homeowners go to in order to sell their home from redecorating to tidying the garden could be for nothing if it's actually the neighbours that are putting prospective buyers off - despite the house itself potentially being perfect in every other way.  Many buyers really do their homework and that often includes chatting to the neighbours of the property they are looking to move in to. Although it's certainly not a good idea to get your neighbours to lie about the area or the house, it might be worth some gentle encouragement to focus on the positive aspects of the neighbourhood rather than the bad, should they be asked."

Yorkshire Bank's research found that buyers are looking beyond just what the house is like and are considering the area and location of a property very carefully. 45% would ensure they drove around the area at different times of the day to check on the noise levels and what the traffic is like before putting in an offer.  Not only that, but the fear of anti-social behaviour in an area is also a concern for 24% of house hunters who would be put off a property if they saw groups of young people hanging around on the streets nearby.

Gary Lumby said:- "With traffic congestion on the increase and councils even looking at charging to park outside your own home, in terms of the commute to work and the house's location, the area is just as important as the house itself.  A dream house is all well and good but if you're stuck in traffic for hours on end it makes sense to think ahead and consider the wider picture beyond what simply the house has to offer. In addition, if having young people hanging around on the streets is a worry, the location again is a major factor to work into the buying process."

With energy prices still at an all time high, energy efficiency is high on the agenda for house hunters. 25% people would not buy a home if it did not have double-glazing or insulation.  On top of that, the rising cost of water is also causing concern. 12% would not buy a house with a water meter.

Gary Lumby said:- "Utility bills can often come as a bit of a shock when they come through the door so it's a good thing that house hunters are concerned with ensuring properties are energy efficient to try and keep the costs down. Although wholesale energy prices are starting to fall, it may well be a while before these reductions are passed onto domestic consumers.  Water meters often have a bad reputation as people perceive they lead to higher bills. However, they can often be cheaper for some householders partly because consumers are more conscious about their water consumption. Should we experience more dry summers like the one we enjoyed this year, then householders may well have to get used to water meters as they could become compulsory in certain parts of the country."

ANYONE CAN SING

SINGER James Loynes, former winner of 'Search For A Star' for the North West, has formed a singing organization (United Voice) with the sole objective of bringing the joy of music to everyone.

United Voice is offering the opportunity, with NO AUDITION (no experience needed) for anyone who just loves to sing, to perform on 5 March 2007 in 'The Sound of Musicals' at The Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Hall, accompanied live by The Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra! In the lead up, all will receive professional vocal coaching at weekly rehearsals (Tuesdays - Preston, Wednesdays - Liverpool, Thursdays - Southport), which will result in an opportunity of a life time, that people may by no other means receive!

Other exciting information is that Sir Cameron Mackintosh (producer of musicals such as Les Miserables and The Phantom of Opera) has granted special permission for some of his newest songs to be used for the 1st time ever in a concert setting. The Walt Disney company have also granted special permission for some of their songs to be used!

ITV presenter Baroness Margo Charmichael Grimshaw will be hosting the event.

The deadline is drawing near... 20 Dec 2006!  Details and application forms can be found on our website: www.unitedvoiceuk.com. Or you can call (01257) 279851 or 07732345475.

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