News Article | August 13, 2014
London's escalating love affair with giddying views will reach a new height this autumn. Starting in November, up to 6,000 City workers will move their swivel chairs and espresso machines into the highest offices in Britain, in the Leadenhall building. The Guardian was granted access to the 225m skyscraper – known as the Cheesegrater – ahead of completion. We saw how workers will be whisked skywards at a stomach-dropping 18mph in fully glazed lifts. Desks will look down on the Gherkin, the roof deck of the NatWest tower and, across the Thames, to the viewing decks of the Shard, the only taller building in the UK. No one in the City will enjoy a loftier view, apart from the falcons that have been provided with a nest box on the roof. But this is more than just another notch on London's priapic skyline – soon to see the addition of "the scalpel" and "the helter skelter" tower, which will overshadow the Cheesegrater as the tallest building in the Square Mile. The Cheesegrater, at 122 Leadenhall Street, is directly across the road from the Lloyd's building, the Grade I-listed tangle of ducts and pipes, recognised by some as a masterpiece of the hi-tech movement after it opened in 1986 and derided by others as looking like a misplaced oil refinery. Both buildings were designed by Richard Rogers and bookend 30 years of one of the country's most celebrated star architects and British architecture itself. The buildings beg a question: is anything left of the radical vision of Lloyd's, or has British architecture become afraid to offend? Graham Stirk is well placed to answer. This softly spoken architect was raised in Leeds, and began his career in 1983, aged 25, as a junior in Rogers' practice, designing brackets to hold those famous ducts and vents. Now, one of Rogers' senior partners, Stirk has overseen the design of Leadenhall. "I knew we would be compared," he said. "It is a terrifying prospect". The two buildings opened in starkly different circumstances. Lloyds opened three weeks after the big bang deregulation of financial markets which unleashed a confident City boom that fuelled the 1980s' "loadsamoney" culture. Leadenhall will open in the cautious atmosphere of a fragile financial recovery. Both buildings were shaped in part by wars that date them. The famous external staircases of the Lloyd's building were redesigned in steel after the sinking of the Sir Galahad supply ship in the Falklands war was partly blamed on the flammability of its aluminium superstructure, while glazed staircases on Leadenhall were scrapped after the 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Center in New York. But, said Stirk, the buildings had "their DNA and an evolutionary path" in common. "They share a really tough structural language," he said. "If anything, Leadenhall is tougher. Lloyd's has nice rounded concrete columns, this has big manufactured I-sections. It is almost bridge engineering. It has a much more dominant impact on London's skyline than Lloyd's." The sheer heft of Leadenhall's 15,000-tonne steel frame as it crashes into the ground at its base is undeniably impressive, yet the simple triangular glass-skinned silhouette is far more polite than the riot of the Lloyd's exterior. One key reason for the difference, Stirk explains, is that the latter was designed for a client while Leadenhall was designed for British Land, a speculative developer. Hence its sleeker, less aesthetically challenging profile. "When I look at Lloyd's, it is amazingly dense," said Stirk. "It is almost a medieval cathedral in terms of its surface complexity. When I look at Leadenhall, it is something that has to have sufficient neutrality [to work as a speculative office building]." The services and lifts are all encased in a glazed "cassette" on one side of the building rather than being exposed, which Stirk describes as a "jellyfish" effect. The inside-out design of Lloyds has recently been cited as a concern to its main occupiers who are considering moving out. Last year, Richard Ward, then chief executive of Lloyd's of London, said: "There is a fundamental problem with this building. Everything is exposed to the elements, and that makes it very costly [to maintain]." The building's exposed innards caused widespread palpitations when it was built in the 1980s and Stirk recalled "a very, very mixed reaction". "We had very little work after this," he said. "Everyone says it must have been amazing, but no. Some of those reactions were, 'We like Lloyd's but we don't want one of those.' It had a particular exuberance. It was not fully understood what problems this building was solving." He said there was a view that the architects had "imposed something", but that ignored the way "it was the product of an evolutionary process over eight years". Since Lloyd's, Stirk thinks there has been an increase in the "homogeneity" of architecture. Marco Goldschmied, Rogers' former partner who was instrumental in the creation of Lloyd's, said that was partly down to the suppression of architects' "experimental energy" by the planning process. "Lloyd's sparked the rise of the monsters that are the National Trust and English Heritage and the use of questions in the planning process such as does a proposal 'cause harm' which implies a fear of non-conformity," he said. "There was a subtle closing of the ranks against this kind of architecture." As a result, he said, an "international corporate style" had emerged as developers tried to reduce the risk of schemes being rejected by planners, which could cost international investors fortunes. "Offices are the most difficult buildings to design as an architect," Stirk said. "It is not like an art gallery or airport. These buildings come automatically with a primary message. Office buildings are kind of anonymous and are the most unloved building type on earth." • This article was amended on 14 August 2014. An earlier version misnamed Richard Ward as Michael Ward.
News Article | February 21, 2017
WASHINGTON, DC, February 21, 2017-- Jesse Merrell has been included in Marquis Who's Who. As in all Marquis Who's Who biographical volumes, individuals profiled are selected on the basis of current reference value. Factors such as position, noteworthy accomplishments, visibility, and prominence in a field are all taken into account during the selection process.His latest book, "Reflections of an Ole Alabama Country Boy," reflects on some of the colorful and humorous characters Mr. Merrell met while growing up in Shelby, Alabama. It came out in December 2016.The writer who originally hails from Shelby, Ala., Mr. Merrell began his career in minor league baseball in 1958 as a pitcher for the Cincinnati Redlegs. After retiring from baseball and service in the U.S. Army, he became a reporter and news director for WHAP Radio in Hopewell, Va. This led to a position as a writer and editor for the Hopewell News, followed by a stint as state editor for the Daily Progress in Charlottesville, Va. Mr. Merrell then relocated to Washington to become the associate editor of Transport Topics. In 1975, he served as special assistant to the president of the American Trucking Association before returning to Transport Topics as editor. Since 1977, Mr. Merrell has been the president of Merrell Enterprises in Washington.Over the years, Mr. Merrell also utilized his writing skills in a number of other capacities. He served on the public relations committee of the American Movers Conference for three years, taught Dale Carnegie courses for seven years, and served as a speechwriter for the Interstate Commerce Commission in 1982. His first novel, "A Christmas Gift," was published in 1979. His later publications include "The Merrells of Alabama," published in 1995, and "My Name is America: I Was Born at Jamestown!" published in 2002.Mr. Merrell has also been an active member and supporter of several organizations, including the National Press Club, the National Trust for Historical Preservation, the Association for the Preservation of Virginia Antiques, the Regent's Circle of Mount Vernon, the Jamestown-Yorktown Foundation and the Colonial Williamsburg Raleigh Tavern Society. He is a charter member of the General Washington's Council of The 1607 Society. Mr. Merrell received the George Washington Honor Award from the Freedoms Foundation in 2002, an honor certificate from the Freedoms Foundation in 1972, and a Liberty Award from the Congress of Freedom in 1970. He has received a number of writing awards as well.Mr. Merrell's accomplishments were taken into consideration when he was chosen to be featured in the 24th through 27th editions of Who's Who in the East, as well as several editions of Who's Who in America and Who's Who in the World.About Marquis Who's Who :Since 1899, when A. N. Marquis printed the First Edition of Who's Who in America , Marquis Who's Who has chronicled the lives of the most accomplished individuals and innovators from every significant field of endeavor, including politics, business, medicine, law, education, art, religion and entertainment. Today, Who's Who in America remains an essential biographical source for thousands of researchers, journalists, librarians and executive search firms around the world. Marquis now publishes many Who's Who titles, including Who's Who in America , Who's Who in the World , Who's Who in American Law , Who's Who in Medicine and Healthcare , Who's Who in Science and Engineering , and Who's Who in Asia . Marquis publications may be visited at the official Marquis Who's Who website at www.marquiswhoswho.com
News Article | February 7, 2017
Climate change is already wrecking some of Britain’s most significant sites, from Wordsworth’s gardens in Cumbria to the white cliffs on England’s south coast, according to a new report. Floods and erosion are damaging historic places, while warmer temperatures are seeing salmon vanishing from famous rivers and birds no longer visiting important wetlands. The report was produced by climate experts at Leeds University and the Climate Coalition, a group of 130 organisations including the RSPB, National Trust, WWF and the Women’s Institute. “Climate change often seems like a distant existential threat [but] this report shows it is already impacting upon some of our most treasured and special places around the UK,” said Prof Piers Forster of Leeds University. “It is clear our winters are generally getting warmer and wetter, storms are increasing in intensity and rainfall is becoming heavier. Climate change is not only coming home – it has arrived,” Forster said. It is also already affecting everyday places such as churches, sports grounds, farms and beaches, he said. Wordsworth House and Garden in Cockermouth, where the romantic poet William Wordsworth was born in 1770 and learned his love of nature, was seriously damaged by two recent flooding events linked to a changing climate. In November 2009, torrential rain caused £500,000 of damage, sweeping away gates and walls that had survived since the 1690s. Floods inundated the site again during Storm Desmond in December 2015. “When I saw the damage the floods had caused in 2009 I was shocked and it took almost three years to repair the garden,” said the house’s head gardener, Amanda Thackeray. “Then after all that hard work to see the devastation from flooding in 2015 was very upsetting.” A century-long record shows the UK is experiencing more intense heavy rainfall during winter. Researchers can also use climate models to reveal the influence of global warming on some extreme events and have found the UK’s record December rainfall in 2015 was made 50-75% more likely by climate change. Another study found Storm Desmond was 40% more likely to have occurred because of the human activities that release greenhouse gases, such as burning fossil fuels. Birling Gap is part of the world famous Seven Sisters chalk cliffs on England’s south coast and over the last 50 years, about 67cm of cliff is eroded each year. But during the winter storms of 2013-2014, the equivalent of seven years of erosion occurred in just two months. “The succession of storms provided a stark warning that coastal ‘defence’ as the only response to managing coastal change looks increasingly less plausible,” said Phil Dyke, coastal adviser at the National Trust. “We must learn how to adapt.” Existing buildings at Birling Gap are being lost and new buildings will be designed to be easier to move back as the cliff disappears. Scientists know that climate change is driving up sea levels and increasing the likelihood of more intense storms, meaning the rate of erosion is likely to rise. Rising temperatures are also affecting wildlife, including in the famous salmon rivers, the Wye and Usk, where otters and kingfishers also live. December is peak spawning time for salmon in Wales, but recent winters have been exceptionally warm. “After eliminating other potential causes such as disease and lack of adults, we have come to the conclusion that the exceptionally high water temperatures of November and December 2016 are the reason for the disastrous salmon fry numbers this year,” said Simon Evans, chief executive of the Wye & Usk Foundation. 2015 was little better, with young salmon found at just 17 sites out of 142, when they usually would be expected at 108 areas. Research has shown salmon populations across the Wye catchment fell by 50% from 1985-2004, despite cuts in water pollution. But stream temperatures have risen by up to 1C in that time, leaving researchers to conclude that climate change is a key factor in plummeting salmon numbers. Slimbridge wetlands in Gloucestershire is one of the UK’s most important bird sites, hosting 200 species from all over the world, but is also seeing changes as the climate warms. Numbers of migratory white-fronted geese have fallen by 98% in the last 30 years due to warmer weather further north. Geoff Hilton, at the Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust said the shrinking flocks could have knock-on effects on the wetland habitat: “These are quite big changes ecologically. If you suddenly lose thousands of geese from a wetland, there are bound to be big effects on that wetland.” Warmer conditions have also meant water primrose, an alien invader to the UK, has grown aggressively in wide, dense mats and is seriously damaging native plants and fish. However, warmer winters have seen little egret numbers visiting Slimbridge increasing from just eight in the 1990s to 30 in 2013. Other sites being ruined by climate change, according to the new report, include a famous riverside pub on Manchester’s river Irwell, the Mark Addy, which has not re-opened after the 2015 winter floods and the historic clubhouse at Corbridge cricket club in Northumberland, now demolished after the same floods. The report also warns that the 5,000-year-old neolithic village at Skara Brae on Orkney, revealed after a great storm in 1850 stripped away grass and sand, could be destroyed in future as violent storms become more common.
News Article | November 10, 2016
Leprosy in Britain's red squirrels is being caused by the same species of bacteria responsible for human infections, a DNA study has found. One of the strains - affecting squirrels on Brownsea Island, off England's south coast - shares close similarities with that responsible for outbreaks of the disease in medieval Europe. Researchers tested 25 samples from red squirrels on the island and found that all were infected with the bacteria Mycobacterium leprae, though not all showed signs of the disease. The bacteria shared close similarities with a strain discovered in the skeleton of a leprosy victim buried in Winchester 730 years ago. It is also similar to a strain that is endemic in armadillos in southern states of the US. Scientists say their findings suggest that leprosy has affected red squirrels on Brownsea Island for centuries but stress that the chances of people catching the disease are low. Red squirrels in other parts of England, Scotland and Ireland are also affected by leprosy. The study found that these animals were infected with another species of the bacteria called Mycobacterium lepromatosis. DNA analysis revealed that this strain is similar to those found in human cases of leprosy in Mexico and the Caribbean. The international team - led by the University of Edinburgh - collected samples of the bacteria during post mortems carried out on red squirrels from each of the locations. Not all of the squirrels that were infected with the bacteria showed symptoms of leprosy. Those that did had swelling and hair loss on the ears, muzzle and feet. Red squirrels have drastically declined in the UK with fewer than 140,000 remaining. The main threat is from habitat loss and the squirrelpox virus carried by grey squirrels. The species was re-introduced into Ireland by transfer of animals from England in the early 1800s. The team says their findings suggest that the squirrels transported were likely infected with leprosy at the time. Researchers say it is unclear whether leprosy poses a significant threat to the future of red squirrels. They have recently launched a major study on Brownsea Island to study the disease. Human cases of leprosy are virtually unheard of in the UK but the disease continues to affect people in developing countries. The scientists say their findings suggest that animals could be a reservoir for the bacteria in these areas, thwarting efforts to eradicate the disease. Vet experts from the University's Royal (Dick) School of Veterinary Studies worked with researchers at the Moredun Institute and experts in human leprosy from the École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne in Switzerland. The study is published in the journal Science. Professor Anna Meredith, of the University of Edinburgh's Royal (Dick) School of Veterinary Studies, said: "The discovery of leprosy in red squirrels is worrying from a conservation perspective but shouldn't raise concerns for people in the UK. We need to understand how and why the disease is acquired and transmitted among red squirrels so that we can better manage the disease in this iconic species." Ongoing research on Brownsea Island is supported by its owners - National Trust and Dorset Wildlife Trust - which manage a large nature reserve on the island. Brownsea will remain open as usual during the four-year project. Angela Cott, National Trust General Manager for Brownsea Island, said: "Brownsea's wild red squirrel population has been living with leprosy for at least four decades. But by working with the University of Edinburgh and Dorset Wildlife Trust, we hope to understand how best to look after Brownsea's wild red squirrels. Brownsea Island remains a spectacular place for people to see wildlife."
News Article | February 2, 2017
I help run a small museum in a historic building, and it’s hard for anyone with mobility issues to access an upper floor. To comply with accreditation requirements, we want some way to show what we have on display upstairs, using photos of exhibits and a short video. On a recent visiting to a National Trust property, I saw a tablet in use for this purpose. If we do this, which device would suit our needs? Our budget is £200 to £250. If we could use the device for other tasks, such as word processing, that would be helpful. Is a Windows PC out of the question on this budget? How much more would we need to spend? John You can use almost any type of computer for this purpose, from a small tablet to a large all-in-one PC. You can also use almost any operating system, including Android, Apple’s iOS, Windows and Linux. The best choice will depend on your programming abilities and factors such as the amount of physical space available, and whether the device is supervised at all times. There is, in fact, a huge industry supplying products for this kind of use, and their names or blurbs often include “kiosk” or “digital signage”. Kiosk systems include cash machines, ticket sales machines, restaurant menus, surgery and hotel reception systems, library computers, and public information points (maps, directions etc). Many museums and art galleries now have large touch-screen displays that show exhibits and floor plans. If you put a computer in a public area, people will be tempted to use it for their own needs. They might look up train times or phone numbers, but some might find it amusing to get up to no good. Public access devices are therefore put into a “kiosk mode” that stops people from doing bad things. This usually means that kiosks only run one specific program. It can be a web browser, but often it’s custom-written software. In your case, it could be a video or slideshow. If you or your friends see any good kiosk systems, such as the one mentioned in the National Trust property, perhaps contact the management to ask for details. Ideally, you want to know the hardware specification, the operating system, and which kiosk software they used, if any. The major institutions probably have many different systems supplied by outside specialist companies, so smaller organisations could be most helpful here. Also, almost every group has some informal way of communicating with people who share their interests. It might be a small magazine, a mailing list, a website, bulletin board or Facebook group, a conference or whatever. Does your museum? There are probably people out there who had the same problem and did a lot of work to solve it. You just need to find them. In your case, the simplest and cheapest option is a digital photo frame that endlessly cycles through a set of photos. Many photo frames can also play videos. Some have motion sensors so they only turn on if someone is nearby. The Nix Advance X08E (£69.99) is one example, but there are dozens to choose from for far less than your budget. The digital photo frame’s main drawback is also its main benefit: it doesn’t do anything else. You don’t need kiosk software to lock it down. After that, there’s a trade-off. Android tablets and Apple iPads can do more than photo frames but not as much as PCs, so they may be less vulnerable to abuse. If your main requirement was to do word processing, email, spreadsheets etc, then your best option would be to buy a cheap desktop PC and run a cable to a second screen. However, with a Windows 10 2-in-1, you could use the touch-screen tablet part to show photos and videos, then attach the keyboard for work. You could even do that within your budget. Shop around for an HP Pavilion x2 detachable laptop, a Lenovo Miix 3 or 310, Toshiba Satellite Click 10, Acer Switch or similar model at a discount price. There are cheaper models – under £150 on Amazon – from smaller brands such as Linx, iRulu and Vortex. The Linx 1010B must be worth a look at £146.95. Two warnings. First, check to see if you are getting a current model. It seems to me that detachables have lost the market to convertibles with 360-degree hinged screens. Second, all the cheapies have 32GB of storage. If you want lots of photos and a couple of videos, you may have to put them on an SD card, or copy them off when you need space for Windows 10 updates. I wrote about the associated problems of 32gb storage here. There are also lots of 10-inch Android tablets that are more expensive than digital photo-frames but cheaper than Windows 10 convertibles. Some even come with keyboards for simple word processing, email and web browsing. This time you will need at least 16GB of storage and preferably an SD card slot as well. Unfortunately, I don’t know much about cheap Android tablets. I only see the bigger brands such as Samsung and Asus, plus Amazon Fire variants, and I almost never use them. Nowadays, I have a 6in Android phone and a 10in Windows 10 2-in-1, so Android tablets are of no practical use. Not surprisingly, the whole tablet market is in decline. Apple iPad sales fell by 22% in the latest quarter, and are half what they were at their peak. Ask around and someone may give your museum a tablet they no longer need. Windows has long been the most popular operating system for kiosk and signage applications. If you have Windows Pro or Window 10 Mobile, you could use its built-in Assigned Access feature to restrict Windows to running a single program. Unfortunately, it only works with Universal applications from the Windows Store. (The more flexible AppLocker is only included in the Enterprise and Education versions.) There are, of course, plenty of third-party kiosk programs, but most of them are aimed at commercial applications. It can be hard to find one that does what you want, and even harder to find out how much it costs. However, most companies offer free trial versions, so you can explore the market without spending any money, just a lot of time. You could look at the FrontFace Lockdown Tool (free) and Antamedia Kiosk Software for Windows (from $55/£43), and Video Kiosk for Android ($14.99). Netkiosk runs on both Windows and Android. Yooba Kiosk runs on both Windows and iOS. Perhaps readers can suggest some good alternatives. Alternatively, you could use the free and open source Porteus Kiosk to provide access to photos and videos on your own website. Porteus is an ultra-lightweight version of Linux that boots from a CD or thumb-drive before opening Firefox or Chrome at your designated home page. The original operating system remains unchanged, underneath. Have you got another question for Jack? Email it to Ask.Jack@theguardian.com
News Article | November 14, 2016
BASINGSTOKE, England, Nov. 14, 2016 /PRNewswire/ -- 91% of guests at resorts and theme parks in China want to pre-book their entire trip before they arrive, a survey by Omnico has found. The first Omnico Theme Park Barometer explores the interactions of more than 2,000 theme park guests in the US, UK and China. The research reveals that guests want to have all their accommodation, tickets, meals, merchandise and more organised in advance, cutting out any hassle. 91% of Chinese respondents also want to make cashless payments for everything in a theme park, using their smartphones or other devices, while 87% want to be able to order a restaurant table in advance and be welcomed upon arrival. "Visitors overwhelmingly want connected experience where their enjoyment is priority and all difficulties and complications are removed," said Mel Taylor, CEO, Omnico Group. "Guests now expect operators to use technology to grant that experience." Meanwhile, 83% of guests rate highly the need for click-and-collect, while 84% want to use an app to select and pay for merchandise while they are queueing, with delivery either immediately or to their room. "The results of our Theme Park Barometer show that operators must ensure they are meeting customers' expectations for convenience and forward-planning," added Taylor. "Visitors want operators to use technology to give them a stress-free experience that is memorable for the right reasons. Enabling these guest experiences does not require major investment in new solutions, but intelligent integration that fits each piece of the jigsaw together perfectly, from Point-of-Sale systems to CRM and loyalty personalisation. "We believe our Theme Park Barometer will be an indispensable tool that will help indicate where effort should be focused and investment needs to be made." Omnico is an established, innovative and agile omni-channel software and services company that works with leading retail, entertainment and destination brands. With a rich heritage spanning 25 years, we create compelling personalised and consistent shopper and guest experiences uniting transactions and engagement across all touch-points. Our software, known as Omnico Commerce, unifies the customer journeys across all channels. Our customers include well-known brands such as Jaeger, HMV, Merlin Entertainment, Price Smart, National Trust, Coop Denmark, Dune and Pret a Manger.
News Article | October 30, 2016
-- British monitoring and management technology business the IMC Group has been awarded accreditation from 'Alcumus SafeContractor' for its commitment to achieving excellence in health and safety.The Group specialises in electronic and mechanical instrumentation for use in all types of measurement and control and its top-quality products are sold globally.Alcumus SafeContractor is a third party accreditation scheme which recognises very high standards in health and safety management amongst UK contractors.IMC Group managing director Ian Robinson said: "Many organisations now require independent proof that their suppliers have sound health and safety policies in place, and under the Alcumus SafeContractor scheme we have passed a strict vetting process which examined all aspects of our health and safety procedures and our track record for safe practice.Headquartered in Letchworth, Hertfordshire, the IMC Group has customers around the world, including USA, Germany, Italy, South Africa, China, India and Australia, providing British-made engineering and wireless monitoring solutions to sectors from Heritage to Heavy Industry via Food, Hospitals and Pharmaceuticals.IMC's famous clients include the Louvre, the Vatican, the National Trust and the Royal Family, and the IMC Group operates anJohn Kinge, technical director of Alcumus SafeContractor said: "More companies need to understand the importance of adopting good risk management in the way that The IMC Group has done. The firm's high standard has set an example which hopefully will be followed by other companies."- Ends –SafeContractor is a third party accreditation scheme that assesses health and safety arrangements and the SafeContractor certificate is accepted as confirmation of competency.The IMC Group's wireless monitoring and control range is well-established around the world, offering accurate and reliable environmental monitoring and control solutions. Clients include The Mary Rose, The Louvre, the Vatican, the National Trust and The Royal Family.IMC has more than 100 data loggers, radio and GPRS transmitters to cover a multitude of critical parameters including relative humidity, light, UV, dust, insect pest control, air flow and wood damage. Synergy-powered utility monitoring enables the data to be seamlessly integrated into existing BMS systems for comprehensive environmental control.All designs utilise IMC's unrivalled expertise in radio telemetry to provide flexible systems that not only meet the discreet monitoring needs of today, but may be adapted and expanded cost-effectively in the future. For more see www.the-imcgroup.com
News Article | December 28, 2016
Bumblebees and butterflies have seen their numbers plummet after another year of unsettled weather, according to a National Trust study. The 10th annual wildlife report from the trust said mild winters and bad weather in summer created bad conditions for small plants. Conservationists and farmers must work together, the trust said. Warmer winter months and bad summers have become the norm, according to the report, which said the UK has not had a good summer since 2006. Nature and wildlife specialist for the Trust, Matthew Oates, said: "2016 comes on top of an unsettled decade, with many species struggling in the face of climate change and more intensive farming practices. "When you do get good weather during the brighter months of the year, it's almost inevitably short-lived and finished with something nasty. "During the brightest months, we do seem to be getting more extreme weather events, most of which aren't nice." Specific sites have now seen a big change in their wildlife, especially due to the surge in grass growth. Observations at Lytes Cary, in Somerset, showed the number of bumblebees had fallen by 85% on the previous year as wildflowers that attract the bees in field margins were outgrown by grass. At Purbeck, in Dorset, meadow butterflies also saw a drop in numbers, with volunteers recording a fall in sightings of marbled white numbers by 73% and 23% fewer common blue butterflies. But the grass growth meant good hay and silage harvests for tenant farmers on Trust sites and improvements on other sites. Among birds, in Cornwall and Devon rare cirl buntings saw a rise in numbers by 800% since 1989. And the grazing conditions for rare-breed Longhorn cattle in the Lake District's Ennerdale Valley led to the right wet grassland habitat for marsh fritillary butterflies, with larvae numbers up 560% in 10 years. Mr Oates said the effect of grazing on rare species signalled the need for conservationists and farmers to work together when it comes to managing the land. Other areas saw mixed results for their wildlife. At Blakeney Point, on the north Norfolk coast, the grey seal population went from 100 pups being born in 2004, to 2,342 born by January this year. The Farne Islands also saw 1,879 pups born in 2016, which was up on last year. There was also a larger apple crop, especially in the south west, because of the warm autumn and rain late in the season. The extended growing season also saw better conditions for damsons, acorns and hazelnuts. However, there were falls in the number of field voles, which could lead to problems for barn owls and kestrels who feed on them. And whilst slugs have benefited from the mild and wet weather, gardeners have had to suffer the effects on their plants.
News Article | February 14, 2017
Dozens of people who bought tickets for gigs by artists including Ed Sheeran through Viagogo claim the website is withholding thousands of pounds in refunds, after a “glitch” saw them overcharged. Angry fans said Viagogo is ignoring complaints, leaving them out of pocket for weeks and fearing they will be unable to make ends meet this month. Helen Meakins bought Ed Sheeran tickets as a treat for her children and husband after a difficult year including an illness that left her baby on a life-support machine. She thought she was paying £170, a sum she had saved over several months, but was charged £917.12. In a letter to Viagogo she wrote: “If I pay that off then I have no idea how we’re meant to survive. I really don’t think Viagogo appreciate just what this is putting me, my family and others through.” Some customers were told they are not entitled to a refund, while others were advised by the company to recoup their money by putting the tickets back on Viagogo for resale. The company, founded by American entrepreneur Eric Baker, will take a commission on any further resales. The company admitted to what it called a “hiccup” earlier this month, telling consumer website MoneySavingExpert that customers would get their money back. Viagogo did not respond to the Guardian’s questions about the glitch and the refunds. However, a Facebook campaign group set up to support those affected says it knows of at least £20,000 still owed. The Facebook group, “Victim of Viagogo”, has gathered more than 50 members, while more have applied to join. Its founder, Claire Turnham, said she was quickly offered her money back after starting the group and complaining via social media, but said others are still waiting. Customers said that as well as Ed Sheeran concerts they believed other events were affected, including Anthony Joshua’s heavyweight boxing bout with Wladimir Klitschko and concerts by U2, Craig David and Alejandro Sanz. A spokesperson for Ed Sheeran said: “We are vehemently opposed to the unethical practices that occur in the secondary market. “We are aware and deeply concerned about the websites in question and have urged all fans not to engage with them in order to avoid being ripped off with higher prices or, potentially, counterfeit tickets. “Once again, we urge all fans to only purchase tickets through official vendors.” Vickie Sheriff, director of campaigns at consumer group Which?, said: “It’s outrageous that some people have been overcharged and not refunded for their tickets. “Customers should not have to pay the price for a ‘website glitch’. Viagogo now has a duty to refund affected customers immediately.” Jill Hutchison, a consultancy manager with the National Trust, bought tickets for her daughters’ birthdays two weeks ago. She was expecting to pay £180 but was told in a confirmation email that she had been charged £857.93. “My husband and I are trying to be calm as we don’t want to upset the girls, but it is hard knowing that in two weeks the amount will arrive on my credit card bill and we have no money to pay.” Other customers told the Guardian they have received no response from Viagogo. The website has emerged as the most controversial firm in the hotly disputed secondary ticketing market, which campaigners say helps touts rip off fans. The site was accused of “callous profiteering” last year after racking up huge profits on a charity concert staged by comedian Peter Kay to raise funds for cancer research.
News Article | February 25, 2017
Grasmere Island is given to the National Trust