School premiums driving up house prices

August 27th, 2014 No Comments By Ian Wade

beacky high 300x200 School premiums driving up house pricesHouse price news now, and if parents want their nippers to go to the best state schools in England, they’re looking down the barrel of half a million to buy a home in the right area.

According to a report from Lloyds, it reckons the average premium to live nearby to a top school is £21,000

The most extreme example was Beaconsfield High School in Buckinghamshire (pictured) where the average house price is £797,000, compared to an average price of £314,000 in the rest of the county, giving it a ‘school premium’ of £483,031, the largest one in England.

Researchers looked at the top 30 secondary state schools in England as well as the top ten performing secondary state schools in each region, based on last year’s [2013] GCSE data.

But it’s not all demented premium news, as Heckmondwike grammar, in West Yorkshire, has results that place it among the top 30 state schools in the country, but house prices nearby average just £99,000.

For that lot in London, Barnet also stands out as an area with some of the best state schools. But house prices are lower in the area than the average for the capital.

A mortgages director at Lloyds, who we’ll call for this purpose Marc Page, said: “Although property values can be significantly lower in neighbouring areas, many parents don’t appear to be put off from paying a premium to ensure their child has the best possible chance to attend their chosen school.”

Shall we look at the Top Ten of where the biggest house price ‘school premiums’ are?:

1. Beaconsfield High School, Buckinghamshire, £483,031, 154%
2. Bishop Vesey’s Grammar School, West Midlands, £131,656, 79%
3. Clitheroe Royal Grammar School, Lancashire, £86,857, 62%
4. St Olave’s and St Saviour’s Grammar School, Kent, £152,680, 59%
4. Sir William Borlase’s Grammar School, Buckinghamshire, £184,058, 59%
6. Altrincham Grammar School for Girls, Cheshire, £117,439, 56%
7. Colyton Grammar School, Devon, £53,309, 24%
8. Newport Girls’ High School, Shropshire, £23,432, 12%
8. Wolverhampton Girls’ High School, West Midlands, £20,195, 12%
10. Nonsuch High School for Girls, Sutton, £23,380, 8%

Mostly Girls Schools too, the pervs.

Kitemarks for money apps

August 27th, 2014 No Comments By Ian Wade

bsi.png Kitemarks for money appsA new kitemark has been launched to help people trust certain apps with their personal data.

The new BSI (British Standards Institution) kitemark has been applied to Barclay’s new Pingit mobile payment service and Barclays Mobile Banking, after they were independently assessed.

Although the kitemark is initially being piloted within the banking industry, the BSI envisages that its use will be adopted by a wider range of firms – for example within the entertainment industry.

Anyone wanting to get a kitemark for their product will have to go through hardcore testing so that their security meets the required standards for dealing with confidential data.

Those that meet the standards will be able to give customers confidence by displaying the kitemark on their products and in their marketing materials.

This is quite the thing as three quarters of Brits now use the internet for shopping and just over half now bank online.

Maureen Sumner Smith who is the UK managing director at BSI, used her mouth and said: “More and more of us are now sharing confidential information through online shopping, mobile banking, booking flights, gaming, university applications or interacting with local government. These behavioural changes from the physical to the digital demand the need for even more rigorous security measures.”

“Many organisations have good information security processes already established, but by having their systems independently tested on a regular basis as part of the BSI kitemark process, they can clearly demonstrate to customers their commitment to safeguarding information.”

Buses: they’ve let us all down

August 27th, 2014 No Comments By Ian Wade

47861821 nbfl no 08 broadgate 140510 300x167 Buses: theyve let us all downAccording to a think tank, it isn’t a great life on the buses as passengers have been continually let down by a lack of competition and a failure of deregulation.

Despite being privatised back in 1986, buses outside of London were deregulated, but those inside of the London remained subject to regulation. According to the IPPR (Institute for Public Policy Research) report, it claimed that Transport for London’s regulation had been a success, elsewhere the whole thing had been a bit of a failure.

One in eight of working Brits relied on getting the bus into work, and also that people made three times the trips on the bus than the train, which worked out over five billion a year.

It also pointed out that the poorest used the bus more, but that fares outside of London had risen by more than 35% above inflation between 1995 and 2013.

The report also recommended the creation of local transport bodies modelled on TfL .

IPPR associate director Will Straw said: “London has the best buses in Britain and that’s no accident. TfL has been a great success while the deregulation of buses outside London has largely failed.”

“Outside London, bus passenger journeys are down and fares are rising higher than inflation. Examples of successful bus markets outside London are all too rare so local transport bodies should be given greater powers to hold uncompetitive providers to account.”

“As well as regulating bus services, routes and fares, these new bodies should have a wider role of encouraging better integration between buses and other modes of transport including rail.”

“This will help increase the number of passengers using public transport. Responsibility for transport related to schools and hospitals should be devolved to these regional transport bodies with any savings made from achieving efficiencies retained and reinvested in other local sustainable transport projects.”

He goes on a bit, but you get the gist.

We all know catching the bus is a nightmare (as night follows day), but what can be done to fix the situation? And no, dear readers, killing annoying or smelly people isn’t a viable solution.

Happy birthday postcodes!

August 26th, 2014 1 Comment By Ian Wade

Bitterwallet Best. Postcode. Ever. 300x164 Happy birthday postcodes!The most desirable postcode in Britain is in Wiltshire.

According to a study from the Royal Mail, to celebrate 40 years of the postcode, Tidworth, with its postcode of SP9 is literally the place to be.

That’s quite some going to beat the rest of the UK’s 1.8 million other postcodes.

Yateley village in Hampshire(GU46) came in at No.2 and Cumbria’s St Bees (CA27) was No.3.

The top postcode in Scotland was in Glasgow (G44) and the nice sounding Brynteg (LL78) topped Wales’ chart; but – hahaha – London didn’t get a look in on the Top 10 at all.

But then the data was brought together from – you guessed – the Office for National Statistics – based on things like crime, jobs and quality of healthcare, so understandably, the smaller and quainter you are, the better you fared.

Enough of all that though, Happy Birthday the Postcode! Sadly, Britain doesn’t seem to have any postcode as funny as the zip code pictured above.

Unless you can tell us different?

tv 300x266 BBC Licence Fee to be extended to catch up services?While most of us still quite like the BBC, the days when the Beeb was the most dominant broadcaster in the country are now gone- even despite the might of BskyB, we are more likely to be a nation of Daves these days. Nevertheless, we are all required by law to cough up £145.50 a year for the privilege of having the BBC, even if we don’t watch it.

Savvy viewers among us know that under the current TV licensing rules, last updated in 2004, provided you never watch live TV, you don’t need a licence. Note that this applies to watching any live TV, not just BBC content. Also, TV that is recorded and watched later (eg Sky+ or TiVo) counts as live, even if you don’t watch it for two months. Therefore you only escape the licence fee if you exclusively watch iPlayer/4OD type content.

However, this may be about to change. Despite previously insisting they were completely not bovvered by the catch up watchers as most viewers still watch live TV and therefore cough up the £145.50, the BBC’s director general has now commented that it is “worth considering” revised licencing rulesto close the ‘loophole’.

The BBC has previously said it had no plans to alter the licence fee arrangement. But in an interview with the Daily Mirror, DG Tony Hall said: “I think the Licence Fee has plenty of life left. But it has always moved with the times, whether it be scrapping the old radio licence or introducing a new colour licence. It could be modernised again – so it applies to watching BBC programmes both live and on iPlayer. This is for the Government to decide, but worth considering.”

Currently fewer than 2% of households only watch on-demand telly, around half a million viewers, and the BBC admit “this is growing only slowly”. Nevertheless, it’s been over ten years since the rules were last updated, and with technology moving apace, with most TVs now capable of streaming iPlayer style content, the BBC are probably already counting the extra cash. Half a million more licence fees would be a nice little earner.

Government now poking nose into barbecues

August 22nd, 2014 No Comments By Ian Wade

bbq 300x168 Government now poking nose into barbecuesPlanning a last barbecue of the Summer this weekend?

Well, you’ve probably been doing it all wrong according to a slightly belated new thing by the government.

The Food Standards Agency have produced a few videos and handy hints on how to keep yourself away from any food-based illnesses and mishaps.

On the FSA website, there’s some reasonably obvious advice, as it bugles:

“If you’re aiming to round off a sensational summer with a barbecue in the garden or park, we’ve served up some advice to help make it a sizzling and safe success. It’s the little things that you do that will help keep your loved ones and friends safe”.

LET’S HAVE A LOOK AT A FILM.

Some of it’s a bit sucking eggs, and we can’t help but think that now the nights are drawing in a bit, and it’s all gone a bit ‘keep a jumper handy’ weather-wise, that this is a little bit, well, late?

Well done everyone. Or more medium rare.

People of Bedford really generous

August 22nd, 2014 No Comments By Ian Wade

 People of Bedford really generousBedford – it’s alright really, according to new findings from JustGiving.

According to figures from the UK’s biggest fundraising website, Bedford is the most generous town in the UK.

The good people of Bedford, in Bedfordshire, gave £1,145,967 in the year to May 2014, with 41,631 people digging deep into their pockets.

Cambridge came in second place, with £1,440, while Reading was third with £1,711,566.

By calculating the figures of funds donated, in proportion to the giving residents of the town in relation to the town’s overall population.

Those Top 10 Towns:

1. Bedford – £1,145,967 given by 41,631; population 79,150
2. Cambridge – £1,440,634 given by 48,295; population 126,480
3. Reading – £1,711,566 given by 58,235; population 159,247
4. Brentwood – £750,509 given by 21,672; population 74,460
5. Woking – £921,165 given by 27,646; population 99,567
6. Aberdeen – £1,872,610 given by 58,307; population 220,420
7. Cheltenham – £976,995 given by 33,381; population 115,900
8. High Wycombe – £1,004,113 given by 31,658; population 93,736
9. Watford – £737,375 given by 22,643; population 93,736
 10. Bristol – £848,674 given by 28,553; population 121,723

Well done Bedford!

You’ve got something going for you, at least!

Help save Earth from cybercrime!

August 22nd, 2014 No Comments By Ian Wade

GCHQ Help save Earth from cybercrime!Fancy yourself as some kind of cyber-crim thwarter? Well, you’re in luck.

The British intelligence agency GCHQ, have launched an online game to test whether you’d be any good at stopping a fictional attack.

GCHQ are hoping to find some masterminds among the gameplayers, and then use them, USE THEM FOR THEIR MINDS.

And it’s not a piece of puff, winners of previous missions have gone on to work at the agency.

In the game, called ‘Assignment: Astute Explorer’, users must protect a fictitious aerospace technology company threatened by imminent attack from imaginary cyber terrorists called The Flag Day Associates. There’s even YouTube threats and all sorts. Fancy that!

The story goes that fictitious company Ebell are concerned about the threat of an imminent attack and have asked GCHQ operatives (the public playing the game) to assess the scale of the threat. Sounds like fun.

If you fancy your chances at, you know, one day possibly saving the world, head here.

Panic on the streets of Derby

August 22nd, 2014 2 Comments By Ian Wade

Jet2.com logo 300x110 Panic on the streets of DerbyMass fighting scenes in Derby, as a promotional stunt by an airline went horribly wrong.

A load of young women (why they had to women, but hey – patriachy) ran down the street dressed in red morph suits, brandishing Jet2 tickets.

The stunt was to celebrate five years of flying from East Midlands Airport.

Whereas the same stunt had gone relatively smoothly in Nottingham and Leicester, Derby saw reports of people tackling some of the promotional morphs to the ground, and general mayhem.

Comments on the Jet2.com Facebook page suggested the event turned a bit mob-like.

Jet2 said in a statement: ”We had three events across the East Midlands yesterday and while Leicester and Nottingham went smoothly, the giveaway in Derby generated a little more excitement than anticipated.”

“Whilst one or two of our team were a bit shaken, we took care to make sure everyone was OK.”

‘A little more excitement’ indeed.

Here’s some people on Facebook talking about what happened, with one person saying that the whole thing turned into a bit of a “Fight Club”. Helps pass the time doesn’t it?

77072666 tpjet2 Panic on the streets of Derby

We’re spending less on food

August 22nd, 2014 No Comments By Ian Wade
lidl shopper 300x199 Were spending less on food

“Mmmm Earlobe risotto! Yum!”

Food shop spending dropped in July for the first time in a quarter of a century.

According to figures from the Office for National Statistics, a year-on-year fall of 1.3% was the first seen since records began back in January 1989.

The price wars have had some effect, as the report says that prolonged discounting was affecting overall sales.

It goes on to suggest that the big supermarkets have been upping their game against having their market share arses kicked by the likes of Aldi and Lidl.

The headline figure for retail sales showed a weaker than expected 0.1% growth month-on-month.

However, a three-month on three-month increase of 0.3% was the seventh consecutive improvement, the longest period of sustained growth by this measure since November 2007.

It’s also quite good news for online shopping, as spending increased 11.2% in July on a year earlier but fell 1.9% compared to June.

Speaking some sense, and illuminating the caution, Ian Geddes, UK head of retail at Deloitte said: “Many consumers are yet to feel the benefits of the economic recovery and are reluctant to let go of their recessionary behaviours, particularly when shopping for food.

“Consumers continue to show a willingness to spend on non-food items, but are doing so selectively.”

Playstation ruining gamers bank holiday

August 22nd, 2014 No Comments By Ian Wade

playstation network 300x216 Playstation ruining gamers bank holidayPlaystation is having a scheduled maintenance. On Bank Holiday Monday.

“THE BASTARDS!”, some of you cry.

The Playstation Network will be off at 5.40pm and won’t be back until 0.50am Tuesday.

PlayStation users will be unable to access the PlayStation Store, PSN account management and Network account registration.

Entertainment services and online gameplay will also be unavailable, and you won’t be able to sign into PSN via the PlayStation website.

So, you know. Go outside. Visit friends.

Finally put those shelves up.

Deathwatch: Hazelnuts

August 21st, 2014 1 Comment By Ian Wade

250px Nutella Deathwatch: HazelnutsIn today’s No. Not this. Not now news, there’s a Nutella shortage a-coming. Widespread riots are predicted among the painfully twee.

Around 70% of the year’s hazelnut crop has been wiped out due to a March frost in Turkey.

The price of hazelnuts has gone right up, too, to a 10 year high, with worries that the prices will only increase as the shortage bites further.

Nutella fans should be very concerned, as it has 50 hazelnuts per jar.

Ferrero, who make Nutella, are the largest consumers of hazelnuts, having bought the Turkish supplier Oltan Group in July.

There’s no clear news at the moment of impending price rises on hazelnut-based treats, but we’ll keep you in the loop about exactly when and where to turn up with pitchforks and the like.

You can also contact the samaritans if you’re having any troubling thoughts regarding this news.

Soundcloud: Now with ads

August 21st, 2014 No Comments By Ian Wade

soundcloud 300x150 Soundcloud: Now with adsMusic platform Soundcloud have announced plans to bring advertising onto the site.

There are also moves being made by the company so that users will be able to collect royalties too.

According to an email to users this morning, Soundcloud founder Alex Ljung explained that “We’re laying this foundation by initially inviting a small group of creators to become Premier partners in the On Soundcloud program, enabling them to make money on the platform. Over time we will roll this out across the creator community.”

“To make this possible, we’re introducing advertising from select brand partners to SoundCloud. When someone sees or hears an ad, they’re supporting an artist. We will include ads gradually and bring on more advertisers as we grow On SoundCloud.”

It is also part of a new licensing deal with various companies, including Sony/ATV and BMG

The adverts will come from the usual suspects, and naturally you’ll be able to avoid them by signing up for a premium account. So far, so Spotify.

Quite what this will mean for the literally penniless unsigned acts and bedroom fiddlers, who use the platform as a free sharing device to get their tunes and mixes out to a wider audience, is anyone’s guess. Although, you could guess that they’ll remain penniless.

The company are still in negotiations with other major companies, in a bid to stop suing anyone who uses one of their tunes on the service.

Radio Times are launching a special animated Dr Who cover with its next digital issue.

The magazine, exclusively to iPhone and iPad, will celebrate the return of the series with a special Blippar-enabled cover, as well as a 68-page supplement about the show’s first decade, with an episode guide and a Dalek-building walk-through.

Dr Who covers have always been a big seller for the magazine in the past, but this is the first time they’ve gone all specially animated.

The cover celebrates the arrival of Peter Capaldi as the new time lord, and features an exclusive interview, as well as hidden clues for the series ahead.

Is this the future of magazine publishing as print dies a slow and, in some cases, quite horrible death?

The special edition Radio Times digital issue is available for a promotional price of 99p for all you giddy, salivating Whovians out there.

Nice day for a Vimto wedding

August 21st, 2014 1 Comment By Ian Wade

vimto 171x300 Nice day for a Vimto weddingA Vimto-obsessed man has had a Vimto-themed wedding. No, he didn’t actually marry Vimto, but has settled on a lady instead.

Michael Tomlin of Cheshire, loves Vimto so much, he had his wedding to his bride Liz themed all around the purple goo.

Guests wore purple, they toasted with Vimto and dined on a variety of the soft drink’s spin-off products – even the priest wore a purple sash at St Gregory’s Church in Bollington, Cheshire.

Even the best man pulled out a presentation and joked that the wedding was sponsored by Vimto.

Michael explains that his obsession stemmed from when his gran used to make him the drink: ”When I met Liz I even took her to a Vimto statue in Manchester city centre for our first date and I proposed to her at the same spot four years later.”

“Vimto is at the centre of our hearts, so it was only fitting that it played a major part in our day. When I first met I was telling her the history of the drink and she loves all things history.”

Vimto is just about bloody EVERYWHERE for Michael, and he’s even snuck in a few cartons into his honeymoon luggage.

Which is the point where one would imagine his new wife should put her foot down.