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Un-safe as houses: 3 million keys loose in UK gardens

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Insurer is urging homeowners to keep their homes secure as lockdown restrictions ease

With lockdown restrictions easing across the UK, Admiral Home Insurance is urging homeowners to make sure their home is secure when out and about, after its recent investigation revealed people could be putting their homes at risk from unwanted intruders.

Analysis of Admiral’s home insurance data revealed there were 57% fewer burglary claims during the lockdowns in 2020 compared to the number of claims during the same time periods in 2019, as people stayed at home.

However, the insurer has revealed that one in five people admit to keeping a spare key under a door mat or flowerpot outside their home meaning that collectively, there could be as many as 3 million keys at risk of being found in people’s gardens, making their homes an easy target for burglars while people are out enjoying the better weather and relaxed lockdown restrictions.

A further one in five homeowners also admitted to losing a set of house keys they’ve never found, and 60% of homeowners have failed to replace the locks after losing their keys.

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Admiral warns there could be a spike in burglary claims as lockdown restrictions ease, especially if people aren’t keeping the keys to their home safe or replacing the locks after losing their set of keys.

The investigation also revealed the average home has seven sets of house keys, with spares given out to neighbours, cleaners and even co-workers, while 20% of property owners confess to still having a set of keys to a home they used to live in.

Do burglars know where you keep your spare house keys?

Noel Summerfield, Head of Household at Admiral said: “We’ve seen the number of burglaries go down significantly during the national lockdown periods, as people stayed at home. However, with lockdown restrictions easing and people venturing away from home it’s alarming to think just how easy it could be for someone to gain access to your house, and your possessions, without having to force their way in.

“Whether you’re venturing close to home or further afield, it’s vital that you take the time to make sure your home is secured before you leave. Opportunist burglars will be aware that more people will be away from their homes and under the doormat or flowerpots will be the first place they’ll look to find a spare key in order to gain entry to your home and help themselves to your belongings.

“If you’ve lost a key to your home and can’t find it, make sure you change your locks as you never know whose hands your keys could fall into. Similarly, if you’ve recently moved home it’s wise to change the locks so the previous owners, or anyone they may have given a spare key to, can’t access the property without your permission.

“If you do need a spare key, in case of emergencies, it’s worth paying that little bit extra for a high-quality key safe to make sure it’s secure and don’t be tempted to leave your keys in a different hiding place in your garden. You should also avoid leaving spare keys anywhere on show inside your home, like near a door. We’ve seen incidents where burglars have found a way of getting hold of them through cat flaps and letter boxes.

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“As a word of warning, if your home is broken into by someone who has been given a key, it may not be covered by your home insurance policy. Make sure you know who you are giving a spare key to and that they will keep it safe and secure.”

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Commenting on Admiral’s campaign, Superintendent Peter Crowcroft at Cheshire Police said: “Burglars will always be on the look-out for any lapses in security so it is important that people do all they can to protect both their home and their prized possessions.

“If people are going to be late home from work or out for the night, they need to ensure their home looks lived in, is properly secured and not a target for thieves. “I would ask all residents to remain vigilant and to report any suspicious activity to the police immediately. Even the smallest amount of information can be useful when piecing together a case. “I would also urge them to address their own home security measures to help make life even more difficult for thieves.”

To help homeowners keep their homes and belongings safe and secure, Admiral has created a helpful tool for people to quickly find out if their home is at risk and if it’s time to get their locks changed.

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Admiral has also created a list of top tips to help keep your home safe while on holiday – or out on a day trip:

  • Avoid sharing photos on social media until you return
  • Check your privacy and security settings on social media before posting any information about your holiday or trip out
  • Lock all windows and doors – and don’t forget about side gates and upstairs windows
  • Lock ladders away and out of sight as these could provide easy access to your home
  • Don’t leave any valuables on display or near windows
  • Put lights, televisions and radios on a timer switch to give the impression someone’s at home
  • Outdoor lighting, including motion-censored lighting can deter thieves
  • Cancel milk deliveries
  • Get a neighbour or relative to put out your bins and arrange for a trusted person to come into the house to open and close curtains when you’re away
  • Ask someone with two cars to park one on your drive overnight Cheshire Police advice on keeping your home safe:
  • Ensure that your home is kept secure at all times – even when you are at home. If you are replacing or fitting new doors and windows, get ones that are certified to British Standard BS7950 (windows) or PAS 24-1 (doors)
  • Fit mortise locks (Kitemarked BS3621) to all front and back doors and locks to all downstairs windows or windows which are easy to reach
  • Keep your house and car keys safe and away from doors and windows
  • Fit a burglar alarm, but make sure it is installed properly and works
  • Fit external security lights around your home, garage or any sheds etc.
  • Keep your garage and garden shed locked with proper security locks, and keep any tools secure and out of sight
  • Trim back any plants or hedges that a burglar could hide behind
  • Make sure you have up-to-date home insurance
  • When the darker nights draw in, consider buying timer switches to turn on table lamps, standard lamps and radios around the home as it gets dark to make it look as if someone is at home
  • Keep desirable items out of view to passers-by – valuables should not be visible from windows and doors in your home

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Ammanford

£500,000 for the love of Franks’ Gelateria

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It was in 1922 that Francesco Dallavalle first started selling his ice cream around the Amman Valley on a horse and cart.

The Italian art of making ice cream has since been passed through the generations with grandsons Renaldo and Giulio Dallavalle, Directors of award-winning Frank’s Ice Cream, having now opened a new gelateria and innovation centre alongside the company’s existing manufacturing site in Capel Hendre.

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Funded by a £500,000 loan from the Development Bank of Wales, the new purpose-built facility houses the latest in ice cream making machinery and technology. Built by lead contractors Malpross Services of Cross Hands, the 4,300 square foot building features a product development centre and an ice cream parlour specialising in artisan gelato and semifreddo deserts that will be open to the public along with an open viewing and tasting area. Interactive classes will be available in a bespoke visitor room that will also host school visits.

Up to 12 new jobs are expected to be created in the new facility, which includes a short-run manufacturing unit that will improve efficiency by enabling the creation of specific one-off flavours and occasion ice creams.

Having been awarded their first major supermarket contract in 1990, Franks Ice Cream opened their first manufacturing site in Capel Hendre in 1993. The company went on to launch a diabetic range of ice cream with Morrisons before investing £1.5 million to increase production capacity and then beginning to export to the Middle East in 2019. They now supply dairy ice cream, vegan ice cream and ice cream for diabetics to a range of UK supermarkets and global brands.

Director Giulio Dallavalle said: “Our story is almost 100 years old. Since the early 20th century, my family has worked hard to grow our business with the same passion and integrity we use to create our award-winning ice cream.

“Our love of great-tasting, high quality, ice cream desserts is now shared by customers throughout the world. Our new innovation centre will allow us to stay ahead of the competition with rapid product developments as well as giving our loyal customers a place to enjoy our ice cream here in the community.

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“The funding from the Development Bank has helped us to begin the next chapter of our story; creating jobs and further enhancing our offering in this highly competitive market. We couldn’t have asked for better support which is why we now very much consider them as part of our Frank’s family.”

Giulio Sallavelle, Director Frank’s Ice Cream, Alun Thomas, Development Bank of Wales

Alun Thomas of the Development Bank of Wales said: “Franks’ is a long-established manufacturing business. This latest development enables the family to go back to their roots and sell ice cream direct to the public while also showcasing the very best innovation in the Welsh food sector. They’re a lovely family with a great business making the very best Italian ice cream. We wish them every success with their latest venture.”

Funding for Frank’s Ice Cream came from the £204 million Wales Business Fund. Financed by the European Regional Development Fund, the Welsh Government and the Development Bank of Wales, the fund offers loans, mezzanine finance and equity investments from £50,000 to £2 million for small and medium-sized businesses (those with fewer than 250 employees) based in Wales, or willing to relocate to Wales. Terms range from one to seven years with finance prioritised for businesses in economically deprived areas of Wales.

Lead image: Giulio Sallavelle, Director Frank’s Ice Cream, Alun Thomas, Development Bank of Wales 

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Farming

Welsh farming union slams ASDA for withdrawing 100% support for British Beef

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The Farmers’ Union of Wales (FUW) has written to ASDA regarding the supermarket’s decision to step away from its pledge to source 100% fresh British beef just weeks after implementing the pledge.

The letter comes after farmers from across Wales contacted the union to express their anger and disappointment.

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The FUW has met with representatives from ASDA on a number of occasions throughout the pandemic to discuss the importance of supporting Welsh and UK producers at a time when global food supply chains were most volatile. 

Therefore, the commitment to source 100% British dairy, potatoes and fresh beef following the sale of a majority stake of the retailer had been welcomed.

In a letter to ASDA, FUW President Glyn Roberts said: “Nevertheless, the recent decision to withdraw the pledge to source 100% fresh British beef after only two months of doing so has come as a shock for FUW members, particularly given the fact that other major retailers have committed to maintain such promises despite current market conditions.”

While the UK red meat sector has experienced buoyant prices over the past twelve months, Mr Roberts wrote, this must be considered in the context of cuts having already been made to farm support payments in England, increased input costs, supply chain issues which ASDA will also have experienced and uncertainties surrounding further red tape, future agricultural support and the impact of trade deals.

“For example, during the week ending 1st January 2022 the GB deadweight price for all cattle was on average 10% higher year on year whilst GB fertiliser prices in November 2021 were on average 153% higher than 2020 levels.

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“In light of the great deal of uncertainty and volatility facing the UK agricultural industry, the FUW would urge ASDA to reconsider its commitment to sourcing 100% fresh British beef in order to provide certainty to UK producers that they won’t simply be replaced in future,” wrote the Union President.

ASDA meanwhile blamed an increase in prices for its move away from British Beef.

A spokesperson for the supermarket said: “We know that it is important to our customers that the beef on our shelves has been produced to high welfare standards and is affordable,” ASDA said.

“Unfortunately, the price of British beef has risen and whilst we continue to work hard to keep prices as low as possible for our customers, these increases are significant.

“All fresh beef in our premium Extra Special tier is and will remain 100% British and all of our fresh beef will be sourced from farms in the UK and Republic of Ireland. This allows us to provide quality products which caters to all customer budgets.’’

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(Lead image: FUW)

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Food & Drink

Morrisons scrapping ‘use by’ dates from milk to help customers reduce waste

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From 31 January Morrisons will scrap ‘Use By’ dates on 90 per cent of its own brand milk – and encourage its customers to use a sniff test – to help to reduce food waste in the home. 

Morrisons anticipates the move will stop millions of pints of its own brand milk from being thrown away every year. 

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‘Use By’ dates will be scrapped from Morrisons own brand British and Scottish milks, Morrisons For Farmers milks and Morrisons organic milks in store – supplied into Morrisons by Arla farmers. Morrisons South West milk and The Best Jersey milk are yet to be converted. 

Morrisons will instead encourage its customers to use a simple sniff test to check if their milk is still good to consume. The milk packaging will show ‘Best Before’ dates to indicate to customers when they should drink it by – to get the best taste. Unlike some other fresh products, drinking milk after a ‘Best Before’ date is not a food safety issue. 

Milk is the third most wasted food and drink product in the UK, after potatoes and bread, with around 490 million pints wasted every year. And milk has the largest carbon footprint of these food and drink products because its production is so resource-intensive. One litre of milk can account for up to 4.5kg of  CO2. 

Research shows fresh milk can often last a number of days past the ‘Use By’ date shown on the bottle. However UK customers are routinely throwing away milk – as they incorrectly believe the milk is unsafe to drink. WRAP estimates that 85 million pints of milk waste may be a result of customers sticking to ’Use By’ labels or ‘once opened use within’ guidance – when products may still be good to consume. 

Ian Goode, Senior Milk Buyer at Morrisons, said: “Wasted milk means wasted effort by our farmers and unnecessary carbon being released into the atmosphere. Good quality well-kept milk has a good few days life after normal ‘Use By’ dates – and we think it should be consumed not tipped down the sink. So we’re taking a bold step today and asking customers to decide whether their milk is still good to drink. Generations before us have always used the sniff test – and I believe we can too.” 

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Marcus Gover, CEO at WRAP, said: “I am delighted that Morrisons is the first UK supermarket to take this important step to help reduce household food waste – it shows real leadership and we look forward to more retailers reviewing date labels on their products and taking action. WRAP’s joint Best Practice with FSA and Defra is to only apply a ‘Use By’ date when required for food safety reasons. Applying a Best Before date to indicate quality on all other products means people have longer to use their food. Almost 300,000 tonnes of milk is wasted from UK homes each year, worth £270million, with the main reason being that it isn’t used in time. Making improvements to labelling forms an important part of WRAP’s efforts under the Courtauld Commitment 2030 to reduce household food waste. It is fantastic to see Morrisons, as a Courtauld signatory, making this change – giving people the confidence to use their judgment and consume more of the milk they buy.”

Morrisons has already scrapped ‘Use By’ dates across some of its own-brand yogurt and hard cheese ranges in 2020. 

Morrisons say they have committed to reducing food waste in stores by 50% by 2030, and say they take great care to order what it thinks it can sell and where products are close to their ‘Use By’ or ‘Best Before’ date, they are offered to customers at reduced prices.

When waste does occur, Morrisons ‘Unsold Food’ programme works with a range of partners including Too Good to Go, The Bread and Butter Thing and local food banks, charities and community groups, to ensure food can be redistributed. Where food cannot be redistributed, Morrisons use anaerobic digestion to generate electricity, which in turn contributes to renewable energy generation across the UK.

The milk sniff test: 

  • Hold the milk bottle to your nose – if it smells sour then it may have spoiled
  • Look at your milk – if you can see that it has curdled then it is not right. 

How to make your milk last longer:

  • Put your milk in a cool bag when bringing it back from the supermarket
  • Refrigerate your milk as soon as you get your shopping home
  • Maintain your fridge at between 1- 4 degree Celsius
  • Never drink from your milk bottle
  • Close your milk bottle immediately after use
  • Do not leave your milk out of the fridge.
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