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Safety practise: A ten-step guide to avoiding falls from height by Katharina Busch

Falling from a height is THE single most common cause of occupational fatalities in the UK. Almost a third of all annual deaths in the workplace result from poor health and safety practices involving falls, slips and trips, writes Katharina Busch.

In order to reduce the number of fatalities over the coming years, companies – as well as employees – need to work closely together to create a safer, more productive and enjoyable working environment.

While regular safety training and thorough risk assessments by a professional health and safety consultancy are crucial to ensure every potential hazard is identified and taken care of, following these 10 steps can minimise the risk of accidents.

The golden rule when working at heights is to maintain three points of contact to a safety point, such as a handhold, or a ladder.

This means two feet and one hand should be holding on firmly. If both hands are needed to be free for a brief time, two feet and the body must be in touch with the safety point.

Wet, muddy, or greasy shoe soles commonly lead to slips during work. Checking soles and gloves for any residue before going to work should be a daily ritual.

Open drawers, left equipment and lunch break spills - or scrap material - can cause unforeseen risks.

Tidying up is often left until the last minute but should be taken care of immediately to avoid trips and other safety risks.

Even soft or small materials, like empty cartons, can be deadly when the person tripping is carrying the wrong tool.

Even the newest and most expensive equipment will not protect a worker from an accident if he does not know how to use it.

Ladders, elevating platforms, or rope systems require an element of training before a worker is able to use equipment safely.

Sometimes, working in bad weather conditions cannot be avoided. Especially in the rain or frost, workers need to pay special attention as to how the weather is affecting the site and equipment.

Parking lots and pavements should be clean and in good condition, whereas slippery areas need to be suspended and marked with warning signs.

Upon entering a dark space – even if you are familiar with the surroundings – turning on lights first is important to avoid running into dangerous objects.

A co-worker might have left boxes in your usual path when leaving in a hurry, which could also cause a fall.

When working at heights, taking one precaution is not enough – if it fails, death is almost certain when falling off a roof or scaffold.

Put up shielding or warning tape to secure off any dangerous edges. Secondly, make sure everyone is protected by a roof anchor system.

Using a safety net on top cannot hurt either.

If you do not feel well that day – do not push it. Working at a height is a challenging task, and should only be done when feeling well prepared, healthy and secure.

Although time is money, an occupational injury, or fatality resulting from a fall, will end up costing the business much more than just a few lost hours.

Towards the end of the day, tasks tend to be carried out in a hurry - which leads to sloppy work and potential hazards.

No matter how much time is left or how urgent something needs to be finished, never take shortcuts.

Safety should be an ongoing procedure that is part of each worker’s daily performance.

Whether it is checking all equipment for visual damage, planning the day’s schedule, assigning responsibilities, or conducting daily inspections, a good housekeeping practice can prevent many unnecessary accidents.Following a safety plan can not only save lives - the returns from a healthy working environment for a business are quite immense.

Increased productivity, a happier and more sustainable working space, and a lower turnover-rate will profit the employer just as much as the worker.

Katharina Busch is a content contributor for Arinite, a London-based health and safety consultancy which focuses on appropriate safety training, risk assessments and risk management in many different industries.

Online Auctions of Ex-Hire Tools Offer Benefits for Both Buyers and Vendors

The disposal of surplus tool hire equipment can be problematic. While a hire business needs to be able to offer the latest and most up-to-date models to its customers, often the existing equipment has plenty of miles left on the clock and is far too good to discard.

Meanwhile, private individuals or small businesses may be looking to buy good quality used equipment at a fraction of the price of brand new items.

Using a reputable online auction site, such as BPI Auctions, brings a number of benefits for both parties.  

Buyers can free up both capital and space through this method of asset disposal. With a traditional auction, vendors need to transport items for sale to the auction site – and bring them home again if they fail to sell.

In addition, an online sale is open to buyers from anywhere in the world – provided they are able to collect the goods they buy – not merely those who are able to attend an auction house at a specific time and date. This opens up the market considerably, as there is no limit to how many bidders can take part, or the number of lots on offer.

Payments are conducted through a secure server, to give both vendor and purchaser peace of mind; in the case of BPI, funds are usually released within 14 days.

The company purchases and then auctions entire stocks of used ex-hire equipment, tools and even fleet vehicles. Options also exist to tailor auctions to the seller’s precise requirements, including the sale of individual items or conducting a joint auction with multiple vendors. Prospective buyers can enjoy a wide choice of equipment, with information at their fingertips – most vendors will make detailed listings with multiple photographs.

BPI Auctions has a broad range of specialist ex-hire tools and machinery on offer at any one time. From generators to sanders, and from strippers to industrial floor vacuums, the vast majority of stock is manufactured by leading brands such as Stihl, Karcher, Honda and Bosch.

The company recently conducted the sale of 350 items of ex-hire equipment through a live auction, where bidding takes place in real time. The goods were sold direct from a number of major tool hire companies, including Hire Station and Jewsons. The sale included a huge selection of equipment, including power tools, road saws, welders, dehumidifiers, access and climate equipment and power generation tools.

Lots included two Pramac P6000 67KVA generators, a brand new Honda petrol-powered forward wacker plate compactor, two Hiretech 240V floor sanders and several Karcher compact power washers. Site vacuums, carpet cleaners, air conditioning units and a dozen Acrotherm fan heaters were also snapped up.

Ex-hire gardening equipment ­– such as lawn mowers, strimmers and shredders – was up for grabs, alongside various high-quality saws, ladders and floodlights. Power tools on offer ranged from drills and hammers to angle grinders, power saws and a resin gun.

Henry Spencer, auction and brand development manager at BPI Auctions, said: “Selling ex-hire tools via an online auction is a simple and convenient way to dispose of surplus equipment. Choosing an experienced site such as BPI will guarantee a hassle-free auction process as well as a swift and secure payment.

“There’s no need to write listings or waste valuable time photographing equipment as we handle all that for you

“Buyers looking to snap up quality equipment with a reduced price tag have all the information they need at their fingertips by browsing online, and there’s a substantial range of goods from leading manufacturers to choose from.”

 Henry added: “We are delighted with how August’s ‘live’ auction of ex-hire equipment went and we will certainly be looking to run more of these in the near future, alongside our regular online sales.”

BPI Auctions, which handles more than 400 sales a year, has an experienced team on hand to offer support throughout the process.

For more information, please see the website ttps://

Growth slows for construction SMEs, says FMB

The SME construction sector grew in the second quarter of 2017, albeit at a slower rate than the first three months of the year, according to the Federation of Master Builders (FMB).


Key results from the FMB’s State of Trade Survey for Q2 2017, which is the only quarterly assessment of the UK-wide SME construction sector, include:

  • Q2 2017 was the 17th consecutive quarter of positive growth which means that the construction SME sector has been growing for more than four years (ie since Q2 2013);
  • Almost one in two construction SMEs predict rising workloads in the coming three months, with just 9% predicting a decrease in activity;
  • 83% of builders believe that material prices will rise in the next six months;
  • 60% of construction SMEs are struggling to hire bricklayers; 57% are struggling to hire carpenters and joiners; and 47% are struggling to hire plumbers;
  • Almost two-thirds (62%) of construction SMEs expect salaries and wages to increase in the next six months.


Brian Berry, Chief Executive of the FMB, said: “Rising material prices and salaries could be starting to dampen growth among construction SMEs. However, it is encouraging to see that the sector has continued to grow despite the recent snap General Election and the resulting hung Parliament. The construction SME sector is particularly vulnerable to any dips in consumer confidence that might come from periods of political uncertainty. It may be that a number of home owners decided to delay any big spending decisions on new extensions or loft conversions while the election campaign was underway – this would account for the slow-down in growth seen in the second quarter of 2017.”

Berry concluded: “Looking ahead, almost two-thirds of construction firms expect wages and salaries to increase over the next six months and this is in contrast to stagnant wages elsewhere in the economy. Rising salaries are undoubtedly the result of the escalating construction skills shortage – construction workers know their worth and are demanding higher wages from their employers. The majority of construction SMEs are struggling to recruit key tradespeople such as bricklayers and carpenters and we’re seeing shortages in other trades, such as plumbers and plasterers, starting to creep up. With Brexit on the horizon and worrying talk of the so-called ‘Tier 2’ immigration system replacing the free movement of people, the construction industry urges Ministers to bear in mind their strategic house building and infrastructure targets before pulling up the drawbridge on EU migrant workers.”

New apprenticeship funding ‘fair settlement’, says FMB

New apprenticeship funding proposals announced today by the Government look like a ‘fair settlement for small employers’, according to the Federation of Master Builders (FMB).

Brian Berry, FMB Chief Executive, said: “Getting skills and apprenticeships policy right is essential to the UK, and particularly so to the construction industry right now. We face serious skills shortages in our industry at the moment. The only long term cure for this is to recruit and train more people, in particular to attract a new generation of talent to take on the skilled jobs the industry creates. Small and medium-sized firms do the majority of training in our industry - micro businesses (those employing fewer than ten people) alone train around half of all construction apprentices. It is therefore crucial that new apprenticeship funding arrangements work for these firms and do not impose higher costs on them.”

Berry continued: “The funding arrangements announced today appear to strike a reasonable balance, which takes into account the support that small employers need. Those employers with wage bills of less than £3 million, who will fall beneath the threshold for paying the new Apprenticeship Levy, will be required to pay 10% contributions towards the cost of training and assessment. This means most small employers should not end up paying more towards training costs than they currently do. Furthermore, FMB members report significantly higher costs and difficulties associated with training apprentices straight out of school. Therefore, it is right that for small employers training 16-18 year olds this co-investment requirement will be waived and a further £1,000 payment will be paid to employers to help with these costs.”

Berry concluded: “One issue on which we have ongoing concerns is the difficulties and complexities which might come with the new digital apprenticeship service. Small firms express nervousness at the more hands-on role they are being asked to play in negotiating with and paying training providers, and there is real danger in the new system being time-consuming and complicated to a degree which puts off small firms from training. As such, we strongly welcome the decision not to require small employers to start using the new system until at least 2018. Government and representatives of small employers need to use this time to thoroughly road test the new system and make sure that it fits the needs of the very smallest firms, those we continue to rely on to train the majority of our industry’s workforce.”   

HOW TO BEAT THE BAD WEATHER - By Northgate Vehicle Hire

Jonathan Pearce, head of marketing at Northgate Vehicle Hire looks at how to avoid the pitfalls of tumultous weather

Any business that operates in a sector involving outdoor work will be fully aware of how the weather can scupper even the best laid plans.

In sectors such as landscaping, a sustained downpour can heavily delay the start of a project, while in construction roofwork can be impossible if heavy rain or high winds tighten their grip.

It is estimated that bad weather causes problems for around 37 per cent of small to medium-sized businesses, but this figure is magnified significantly when the business’s core operation involves outdoor activity.

The result is a number of headaches, from unmet customer expectations, to lost time and money, to a change in the requirements of the job, which may need to be completed within a shorter timeframe and with greater manpower.

Major headache

All of these considerations can combine to keep fleet managers awake at night and prove an overall drain on resources, which is why it is important to have as many contingencies in place as possible to deal with the unexpected.

One of our customers, landscaping company Redlough Landscapes, frequently encounters the problems associated with working outdoors, including seasonal weather changes.

Even in the spring and summer months, bouts of bad weather can scupper plans, and result in some projects being taken on and started at short notice.

Not only can this result in the need to strategically locate staff, but it can also require certain vehicles to be acquired or upgraded at short notice, which would be a major cost burden for an organisation with an owned fleet.

Moving to Northgate’s flexible rental solution enables businesses to increase their fleet size in as little as four working hours thanks to a nationwide network of branches, while the option to add additional equipment to vehicles for a transparent cost helps to meet customer demands.

Northgate has provided Redlough with a variety of vehicles to meet the differing needs of its business, including tippers, 4x4s and vans of all sizes, enabling the company to operate a diverse and highly mobile fleet.

Since teaming up with Northgate, Redlough Landscapes has been able to budget for associated costs far easier and has also benefitted from Northgate’s service, maintenance and repair (SMR) package, which enables work to be carried out at a wholly owned and warranty approved workshop and minimises downtime. 

In an industry where time is money, Redlough has saved €30,000 on SMR alone and seen the average age of its 30-strong fleet cut from seven to three years, meaning fewer repair bills, increased reliability and improved efficiency.

Exceeding expectations

Customer service is becoming a number one priority for many businesses, and reducing costs across the fleet means that organisations can allocate the money elsewhere in the business and focus on customer delivery.

The added flexibility and transparency included in Northgate’s rental package, combined with a reduction in initial outlay for new vehicles, means businesses know exactly how much the fleet will cost, and can ensure a smooth and efficient operation for customers.

This knowledge helps to create overall peace of mind, as fleet and project managers know that an essential component of the business is being taken care of.

Sadly, there is no way of controlling the weather, but by having systems in place to deal with bad weather and help to maintain operations – or restart them at short notice – businesses can help to minimise downtime caused by rain, snow or high winds and focus on the next task.

Contact us to find out about flexible and long-term van rental and leasing today.


Amtech, a new face of DIY

Ishan Kalra - Director, DK Tools

We have seen many changes in the DIY market over the years, but more recently there has been a notable shift among consumers that we have adapted to in order to succeed and help our retailers remain competitive in the industry.

Consumer behaviour and their expectations of DIY brands have changed, which is being fuelled by the new and connected world that's always switched on. The customer now has a wealth of information at their fingertips online and they expect brands to provide them with a new level of support, advice and guidance.

This is particularly prevalent in the DIY market, where the generational gap in skills and know how continues to grow and when you consider most DIYers under the age of 45 feel they lack the necessary skills to undertake a DIY task.

We believe this change in dynamics coupled with the growing DIY skills gap has created a new type of DIY consumer that requires more from a brand, beyond great products at great prices alone. They want a DIY brand that connects with them and offers the new level of service they need.

We decided to seize upon this opportunity in the market by significantly enhancing the value we offer through our Amtech brand and thus created a new face of DIY. The new Amtech brand continues to offer great products at great prices, but now with a more advanced and dedicated support service.

We're providing our Amtech retailers with the tools they need to engage and nurture their customers further. In doing so, we're enhancing the consumer's DIY shopping experience, and helping to build stronger relationships with consumers, which should result in happy, loyal, returning customers and more sales for the retailer.

The new Amtech brand and visual identity is now more friendly, approachable and supportive to consumers. It offers the greater level of support, advice and guidance they require throughout the lifetime of a purchase, before, during and after-sale.

This methodology has been implemented from the very start with the new Amtech packaging that's modern and bold in design. It engages with the consumer in a clear and concise manner, right from the second they see the Amtech products at point of sale.

The ‘jump off the shelf’ standout design, engaging speech bubbles describing exactly what the product is and easy to understand product benefits, help to simplify the purchasing decision for the consumer and give them the confidence they need to choose the right product for a DIY project. Furthermore, all of our Amtech products come with a three year product warranty, providing long term reassurance and peace of mind to the consumer.

After-sale, the Amtech brand continues to engage and connect with consumers through our friendly, approachable and expert advice service.

This new and personalised service provides consumers with all the DIY support and know how they need throughout the life of their DIY projects. The dedicated service is available online through the Amtech website or customers can speak directly to an Amtech DIY expert over the phone.

The support service is also accessible to retailers, helping them answer any customer questions that may arise from the shop floor about Amtech products and improving the DIY service they offer to help retain customers for the long term.

By acting upon the changes we're seeing in the DIY market, we hope the new Amtech will lead the way. We feel that combining Amtech's range of quality and affordable products with a new level of personalised, expert and friendly support will ensure we remain at the forefront of the DIY industry. After all, happy customers, mean loyal customers, which means repeat business.


Ben Law talks Grand Designs to Peter Brett

A Woodsman, Author,National Eco Builder, and whose Woodland House is one of the great success stories of Channel 4's Grand Designs. 

Ben talks to Peter Brett about his home, his methods and staying true to his principles. 

The Woodland years.

PB:How did you acquire your woodland and what drove you to adopt the woodland lifestyle?

BL:I acquired my woodland by Barter. Work in exchange for land. In the late 1980’s I received a leaflet through my door describing the destruction of the Amazon rainforest. After visiting the Amazon and meeting forest dwellers, I decided the best way to take pressure of the rainforest was to manage a wood sustainably and provide local wood products as opposed to tropical forest alternatives.

PB:How long did you live in your “tent” before you decided to build yourself a house?

BL:I lived under canvas for about 6 years and then in a caravan for another three until I got planning permission to build my house.

The Grand Designs Experience

PB:What was the process of getting your house onto Grand Designs?

BL:I knew I was embarking on an unusual build and wanted it filmed for educational purposes. I approached Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall  who put me onto Grand Designs.

PB:How did it influence your approach before going on the show, and did that change after you had been on it?

BL:I had no idea what ‘Grand Designs” was when Hugh put them in contact with me and I was surprised by the huge response the show had.

PB:I am told that your particular Grand Design and revisit is one of the most popular of the whole series. What do you believe it was about your Grand Designs Experience that made you stand out from the others? What do you think it says about the viewers’ aspirations?

BL:I think it was the reality of my situation. I was living in a leaking caravan and needed a home. I was building on a tight budget – not throwing thousands of pounds at a sofa or bathroom. I also think it unlocked some latent feeling deep within us, the simplicity of life and need for shelter, most people who watch it resonate with that and want to experience it.

PB:f you could do it all again, is there anything you would change?

BL:No, I enjoyed the build and I am happy with the end result.

PB:You’ve shown it is possible to stay committed to Eco Living whilst raising a family. What advice would you give to someone who wants to adopt a similar approach, but lives in a more urban environment?

BL:Keep things simple, enjoy time in the outdoor spaces around you. A walk costs nothing and is a great family experience.

PB:More generally, with regards to heating, electricity and energy, how do you feel “ordinary” homeowners could help reduce their carbon footprint without necessarily adopting the high tech solutions that are available?

BL:Improving insulation of their homes, knit a jumper rather than turn up the heating, move to LED lighting, fix dripping taps and reduce dependence on the motor car.

PB:What’s the worst criticism you have received regarding your eco approach?

BL:I haven’t received much criticism. Criticism is usually reserved for those who talk about doing something as opposed to those of us who actually do it!

PB:You run courses that explore country ways. During the sessions, what are the key messages you attempt to get across? What kind of feedback have you received thus far?

BL:My courses are designed to help improve peoples skill set and to encourage them to have a go themselves. I try to empower people to believe they can do it, my Roundwood Timber Framing courses are internationally attended and students go away with the knowledge of how to build a Roundwood Timber Frame house – feedback and results are positive.

New Building Methods

PB:There is a lot of new tech out there making new building methods possible – eg the Wiki House using OSB ply and cutting out components with CNC machines. Or the greater use of prefabrication. like the Userhuus. Have you got a “take” on these, or would you use any of them if you were to build another project?

BL:I think some of the straw/clay panels that have been developed are a useful way of getting natural building materials into the mainstream but the roundwood poles I work with ask for a human hand and a chisel. I am currently cleaving 56,900 chestnut roofing shakes for a local project, each one is split by hand with a froe, shaped with a side axe and bevelled with a draw knife – I think the CNC machines might struggle to do these!

Tools –after all this is ToolBusiness and Hire Magazine!

PB:What are the top five tools that you use most days?

BL:Billhook, Side Axe, draw knife, Japanese saw, framing chisels


PB:Which tools particular have benefited you in your eco approach?

BL:The combination of battery tools and hand tools. I love using my timber framing slick but I have got to admit a pleasure when I use the impact driver!

PB:Could you foresee any ways that power tools could become more eco efficient?

BL:I think it is already beginning with the improved battery powered tools. I use a 12 inch bar Stihl battery chainsaw for coppicing and I am able to charge the batteries on solar power. In fact my whole workshop runs of solar power (no 3 phase mind you!)



Voice of the Industry- The moron’s guide to choosing a tradesman - Lessons learnt

Chris Barling of Powered Now fesses up.

I am a moron. I showed it the first time that I got some work done on my house. We found three random tradesmen. We got three quotes for new guttering and downpipes. We chose the cheapest (by far).

He did the work and announced that he had finished. “What about the downpipes, you haven’t done them” we queried. “That couldn’t possibly be included in the price, did anyone else quote to do them for a price near mine” was the answer. We reluctantly agreed to pay more for the downpipes and the tradesman finished the work. Three weeks later one of the gutters fell off. After weeks of chasing he returned and fixed it back up. A few weeks later it fell off again. Chalk this up to lesson one in the school of hard knocks.

This experience illustrates perfectly why 72% of homeowners use tradesmen based on personal recommendation or previous experience with them, according to the recent Powered Now survey of more than 1,000 tradesmen. The whole field is fraught with tank-traps, so we all want to find a way to navigate through safely.

My daughter and her husband recently had their house renovated. My daughter is an architect so she is in the trade, and used tradesmen that all had been recommended. Unfortunately one was a plumber who had a particular trait. That was, you could always tell where he had been as there would be at least one pool of water slowly accumulating where he had been working. Yes really. After a few such occurrences, he was sacked and someone else used to clear up the mess. So even using recommendation isn’t entirely safe.

What about the new methods of finding people online? You can simply search in Google which has all of the old problems of Yellow Pages. The alternative is to use one of the market places that are now regularly advertising on TV, like Rated People, Checkatrade or My Builder.

In fact, Powered Now’s survey of over a thousand homeowners found that 12% had used one of these market places in the last year to find a trade company, more than had used Yellow Pages, Thomson Local and local papers combined. Of those that used these services, 41% were satisfied or very satisfied, but 14% were still either dissatisfied or very dissatisfied, which is around 1 in 7.

So there you have it. Use personal recommendation where you can, but still beware. If finding a tradesman by other means, be particularly careful, and maybe test them out with a small initial job. Once you have a good tradesmen, try to never lose them.

Am I still a moron? Probably, but certainly an older and a slightly wiser one.

For more information on Powered Now's invoicing mobile app,  please visit


Voice of the Industry- Carl Kammerling's Laura Howard

A recent poll by The Federation of Master Builders reported significant growth in employment for SME construction firms, with continued strength projected for the coming quarter. Despite this, the report detected a serious skills shortage within the industry, whereby employers are struggling to recruit enough skilled workers to service the needs of the surge in work.

According to research by, 15 per cent of entry-level recruitment candidates surveyed were jobless a year after finishing their studies or training. However, among those who had completed apprenticeships, just five per cent were unemployed, far less than the number of unemployed graduates. This shows the construction sector’s positive approach towards taking on vocational workers, resulting in a higher level of employment for apprentices.

As a manufacturer and supplier of tools for professional tradesmen, the recruitment problem for the sector affects our business enormously. We are particularly committed to understanding and pursuing ways in which our tools can have a positive impact on the future of the industry, by encouraging young apprentices in their training schemes.

Rather than relying on recruitment firms to fill the gaps, we place supporting the next generation of tradesmen high on our agenda and offer a hands-on approach to tackling the skills shortage. Since 2003, Carl Kammerling International has supported over 22,500 apprentice electricians as part of its C.K Bright Sparks initiative.

Committed to developing bright ‘sparkies’ of the future, the C.K Bright Sparks programme was established to help support and promote vocational education programmes as an attractive option and a viable career path.

Bright Sparks began with just three colleges, but twelve years later, the scheme has grown significantly. Carl Kammerling International tools now provides sixty colleges and universities across the UK with a bursary and a selection of quality tools to use while training, helping to ensure the future development of professionals within the industry, while also promoting the use of the safest and best quality hand tools.

Bright Sparks not only offers free professional equipment for use in college workshops, but also a ‘prize fund’ to help motivate and enthuse apprentice electricians.

We know the constraints that educational establishments face when kitting out their workshops, but believe that those equipped with professional quality C.K tools will be in a prime position to produce the very best electricians in the country.

The bursaries and tools provided by Carl Kammerling International give the students a comprehensive and useful introduction to the tools and equipment they will use as professionals and gives them the opportunity to use the equipment under the expert guidance of their course tutors. By committing this support through our Bright Sparks initiative we can foster a real sense of encouragement among budding electricians.

Colleges receive up to forty tools each, choosing two professional quality C.K tools from a selection of toolbox heroes, of which they receive twenty of each to kit out their workshops. Colleges that renew their Bright Spark partnership will continue to build up their stock of top quality equipment.

Our approach of continual improvement and development through the Bright Sparks scheme is designed to help train future professionals within the electrical industry. Carl Kammerling International also believe that the tools electricians are introduced to during their training are the ones they choose throughout their careers. These tools must be of the highest quality - tools designed specifically for electricians; tools they can trust.

With the current employment gaps and shortage of construction tradespeople in the industry, as well as the recent findings from highlighting the growth in opportunities for apprentices, there’s never been a better time to encourage the sector’s increasing prosperity by supporting its future tradespeople.

For further information please visit or call 01758 704704.

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