Monthly Archives: November 2013

Drug and alcohol charity creates new furniture line

Drug and alcohol charity creates new furniture line

A Cornish Social Enterprise who are part of the National Drug and Alcohol Charity: Addaction, are introducing a new range of eclectic and unique furniture under the banner of RE:SOURCE Vintage.

RE:SOURCE, working together with Addaction, aim to help people who have hit one of life’s stumbling blocks, to gain confidence, self-worth, work experience, new skills and a unique chance to rebuild or progress their lives. They do this through offering work placements in a busy reuse centre which helps to prevent tonnes of furniture, appliances and bikes from ending up in landfill.

The new RE:SOURCE Vintage range currently includes original furniture pieces from the 1950’s, 60’s and 70’s, in ‘Funky Retro’, ‘Timeless Classics’ and ‘Vintage Chic’ styles. Taking inspiration from key trends the social enterprise has put together an impressive collection of furniture that, although sourced from days gone by, has been brought up to date by their talented team of volunteers.

The RE:SOURCE Vintage range has enabled volunteers and trainees at the social enterprise to take part in a creative process from start to finish. Each item of furniture has been cherry-picked for its individuality or a particularly charming focal point. The volunteers and trainees, with guidance from experienced employees, decide what styling and colours to use to enhance the furniture and then get to learn about more involved techniques such as sanding, waxing, french polishing, oiling, painting and stencilling.

The volunteers and trainees at RE:SOURCE Vintage then spend much time and effort getting it right, showing a lot of vision, patience and dedication towards completing the final spruced up piece, ready to go on sale, to homes across the country.

Grant, the RE:SOURCE operations manager, says: “We work with a real mix of people including offenders, people with mental health problems, those struggling with addictions, people who are unemployed or have been made redundant and young adults who have struggled with school and traditional education options.

“The work that they can do on the RE:SOURCE Vintage range presents a real challenge and something for new volunteers to aspire towards. It is very satisfying to see the enjoyment and personal pride each of our volunteers and trainees takes in the final finished item and to know that we have broadened their horizons when looking towards future training or qualifications and employment.”

Customers purchasing a RE:SOURCE Vintage product get an original piece of furniture with lots of history, added to by the unique circumstances of the person that has worked on the piece. Plus RE:SOURCE Vintage customers directly support the volunteers and trainees that RE:SOURCE work with, as all the money made is reinvested to assist with their training, allowing the provision of a safe environment of work placements in carpentry, electrical, administration, logistics, retail, sales, and customer service focussed roles.

Keith, an Addaction Service User who first volunteered and then worked in the wood workshop, says: “One of the most important things I am getting from the supported placement is a sense of structure to my life again. Being at work really helps take my mind off drinking. It’s also great learning new skills. I was a qualified welder/fabricator before but learning about carpentry has been really worthwhile. Learning something new can be a huge boost to your confidence.”

The full RE:SOURCE Vintage range of gorgeous, original furniture pieces can be delivered across the UK and can be seen online.They will soon be available on the high street within a new store in St Austell, Cornwall.

Furniture News is a leading publication for the interiors sector featuring coverage of the latest contemporary furniture trends and the furnishings trade in the UK and overseas.

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Copyright Gearing Media Group © 2012. All Rights Reserved

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Sol Campbell: fancy my house for the Olympics?

Former Arsenal and England footballer Sol Campbell and his wife, interior designer Fiona Barratt, are hoping to strike it rich by renting out their home through Knight Frank during the Olympics.

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Brooks was ‘demanding editor’, phone-hacking trial told

LONDON Mon Nov 18, 2013 2:13pm GMT

Former News International chief executive Rebekah Brooks arrives at the Old Bailey courthouse in London November 18, 2013. REUTERS/Neil Hall

Former News International chief executive Rebekah Brooks arrives at the Old Bailey courthouse in London November 18, 2013.

Credit: Reuters/Neil Hall

LONDON (Reuters) – Rebekah Brooks, the former chief of Rupert Murdoch’s British newspaper business, was a “demanding boss” who would not simply accept legal advice on stories without explanation, her trial for alleged phone-hacking offences heard on Monday.

Justin Walford, a senior lawyer at the British paper arm of Murdoch’s News Corp., also told the Old Bailey he had been assured phone-hacking was limited to the News of the World newspaper which Murdoch closed down in 2011 following revelations about the illegal practice.

Brooks, who was the former editor of Murdoch’s Sun and News of the World titles, denies conspiracy to hack phones and authorise illegal payments as well as charges of hindering the police investigation.

Seven others, including Andy Coulson who also edited the News of the World, are also on trial.

Walford, whose main responsibility after joining Murdoch’s News International was the Sun, said he asked in 2006 whether there had been any phone-hacking at the paper following the arrest of the News of the World’s royal reporter Clive Goodman.

“I was given assurance it had not happened at the Sun. Obviously I accepted those assurances,” he said.

He told the jury Brooks, who was the Sun editor before moving on to become News International chief executive, had a strong personality and wanted high standards from her staff.

“She was a very demanding editor. She expected hard work and everyone pulling in the same direction to get stories into the newspaper,” he told the jury.

He said a lawyer could not point out legal issues on proof copies of the paper’s pages and expect a story to be forgotten.

“She wanted an explanation why those marks had been made,” Walford said.

He told the court that News International’s former legal chief Tom Crone had had responsibility for matters to do with News of the World.

He said he was not sure if the training Crone organised before the arrest of Goodman included matters relating to phone-hacking, but did say that the lawyers had little involvement in the sources of stories and focused instead in whether the end product was legally sound.

(Reporting by Michael Holden editing by Stephen Addison)

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Meet the inn crowd

Alex and Nina Covell and their children Charlie and Pandora, outside the Fox Inn in Tangley, Hampshire Photo: Jay Williams

Alex Covell would like to buy a house which is extremely close to The Fox Inn at Tangley in Hampshire. It is the archetypal English pub – open fires, scrubbed wooden tables, little rooms to drink in, serving draft and boutique beers. It would be no exaggeration to say that it has become the centre of Alex’s life. He meets up with his racing syndicate here. His children Charlie, 12, and Pandora, 11, like it for its Thai food.

Here is the crunch. Alex and his wife, Nina, currently rent a house 15 miles away near Newbury in Berkshire and Alex wants to shorten the distance. “I eat at The Fox three days a week,” he says. “Being close to the pub is practically top of the list of things I want from our next home.” He runs a telecoms company and is a horse-racing enthusiast. At the pub he can meet trainers and discuss the sport of kings to his heart’s content.

Four years ago The Fox was a forgotten watering hole. Then Rupert Fowler, who had owned a string of pubs in London, bought it to restore and realised there was a shortage of chic gastropubs for former Londoners who had turned commuters. “It was a punt but it has proved very successful,” he says. “The idea was to do London-in-the-country. People did think I was a bit bonkers to do Thai food, but I wanted people to have a reason to come. A lot of women come in for lunches during the week, so it isn’t just men who need somewhere to go.” Now he has opened a second, The Hawk Inn at Amport, which does traditional British grub.

It has always been said that a pub is the heart and stomach of a village, and for homebuyers these days it is becoming a key requirement.

Fin Hughes of Smiths Gore (01264 774900) in Hampshire says the gastropub has a significant effect on value. “It is vital for the old urbanites to feel they can go out as they did in London. This helps the transition from urban to rural life.” He is currently selling a little three-bedroom cottage just behind The Fox at £415,000. Alternatively, just a short drive away at Penton Mewsey, he has a charming thatched three-bedroom cottage for sale at £635,000.

Buying agents have noticed the trend. “It is amazing how often our clients put ‘having a good pub nearby’ in their search criteria,” says Jonathan Harington of Haringtons. “This doesn’t mean just a gastropub but one that also has a good local trade, one that you can go to before lunch on Sunday for a couple of pints. I have had a client who turned down a village house because the pub had been closed. I think people from London see the pub as not only a source of fun and food when they can’t face cooking themselves, but also the hub of the community.”

A good pub that gets talked about, and inspires people to come from far and wide, can put a village on the map. The Mole Inn at Toot Baldon in Oxfordshire has become a gastronomic delight for people in the village. It is an inspectors’ favourite in the Michelin pub guide (28-day-aged Scotch rump and crustaceans from the Really Interesting Crab Company are on the menu). This sleepy village, says the guide, has had “a serious wake-up call with the renaissance of this attractive stalwart as a real top-notch dining pub heavyweight”.

Anthony and Susan James are selling their four-bedroom modernised house called Queen’s Cottage in Toot Baldon for £645,000 through John D Wood (01865 311522). When they moved in 23 years ago, they saw nothing but horses and cows all day, and the pub was a place to drink rather than eat in.

“People know where we are now, and we have had viewings from people who come to The Mole to eat. It is really handy for Sundays if people come over and you don’t want to cook. And you don’t have to worry about having a drink as you can walk home.”

Nowhere feels the heat of the London market more than the Cotswolds, where good pubs and wealthy arrivistes have come hand-in-hand. “Chipping Campden is an area where home owners are spoilt for choice,” says Richard Righton of Hamptons International (01386 852205). “Those prepared to work up an appetite can walk across the fields to The Ebrington Arms, a true local favourite. The fantastic food and local beers are a real draw for potential purchasers. Nine times out of 10 our buyers from London will ask where the best local pub is.” He is currently selling a good town house in the village, called The Barley Mow, at £1.2?million.

The Ebrington Arms, run by Claire and Jim Alexander since 2007, has won North Cotswold Pub of the Year three times, and features in estate agents’ brochures. They do posh nosh but are keen to nurture their locals.

Part of their website is dedicated to them, with pictures of Reg the Hedge’s tractor parked outside. “You could live in a village in the most beautiful part of the world, but if you don’t have a pub you might never actually meet anybody,” says Claire.

Fashions have certainly changed. “A few years ago, ‘down a track without neighbours’ was the most popular location request,” says Damian Gray of Knight Frank. “Now buyers are more likely to ask for nothing too isolated, with a decent local pub.

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UK banks see increasing risks from housing-BoE survey

LONDON Mon Nov 18, 2013 12:23pm GMT

LONDON Nov 18 (Reuters) – A correction in British housing prices was the fastest-growing risk cited by banks in a survey published by the Bank of England on Monday.

The central bank’s latest twice-yearly survey of economic threats seen by banks, building societies, insurers and asset managers said the impact of low interest rates on house prices had risen sharply as an area of concern since the May survey.

“Perceived risk around property prices … rose, being mentioned by 36 percent of respondents, up 11 percentage points since the previous survey,” the Bank of England said.

“Concerns were concentrated almost exclusively on the residential market, where responses focused on the risk of a house price correction.”

The BoE feeds the survey into its financial stability work and so far has said it sees no general housing price bubble in the making.

Property website Rightmove said on Monday that fears that Britain’s housing stimulus schemes are inflating a property bubble look overblown.

The Bank of England survey also found the top two concerns among banks and other financial sector players remained government debt levels in Europe and the United States, and the threat of an economic downturn.

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Britain to summon Spanish ambassador over Gibraltar ‘incursion’

LONDON Tue Nov 19, 2013 4:54pm GMT

One of the European Commission officials (3rd R) walks with Gibraltar representatives as they check the border of the British territory of Gibraltar with Spain, in Gibraltar September 25, 2013. REUTERS/Jon Nazca

One of the European Commission officials (3rd R) walks with Gibraltar representatives as they check the border of the British territory of Gibraltar with Spain, in Gibraltar September 25, 2013.

Credit: Reuters/Jon Nazca

LONDON (Reuters) – Britain is to summon Spain’s ambassador following what it said was a serious incursion into Gibraltar’s territorial waters by a Spanish research vessel.

The Foreign Office said on Tuesday that Spanish vessel the RV Ramon Margalef carried out surveying activity in British Gibraltar’s territorial waters on November 18-19 for over 20 hours.

Tuesday’s dispute is the third time that Britain has summoned the Spanish ambassador in relation to Gibraltar since Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy’s government took office in December 2011.

“I strongly condemn this provocative incursion and urge the Spanish government to ensure that it is not repeated,” Europe Minister David Lidington said in a statement.

“We stand ready to do whatever is required to protect Gibraltar’s sovereignty, economy and security.”

No immediate comment was available from the Spanish Foreign Ministry in Madrid.

In September, Britain complained to the European Commission that Spain was applying “politically motivated” controls at its border with Gibraltar, causing long lines for those entering and leaving the rocky outcrop near the tip of southern Spain.

Although the commission found that there was no evidence that Spain had violated EU law in a ruling last week, the incident further strained ties between London and Madrid.

Spain, which ceded Gibraltar to Britain in a treaty three centuries ago, wants to reclaim the territory, which is currently under the jurisdiction of the UK government.

(Reporting by Guy Faulconbridge and Alexander Winning; editing by Stephen Addison)

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Libyan parliament bans ex-Gaddafi officials from office

By Ghaith Shennib and Jessica Donati

TRIPOLI Sun May 5, 2013 8:16pm BST

People protest at ''Freedom Square'' near the courthouse in Benghazi, to demand the government remove all former officers from Muammar Gaddafi's regime from their current positions January 18, 2013. REUTERS/Esam Al-Fetori

People protest at ”Freedom Square” near the courthouse in Benghazi, to demand the government remove all former officers from Muammar Gaddafi’s regime from their current positions January 18, 2013.

Credit: Reuters/Esam Al-Fetori

TRIPOLI (Reuters) – Libya’s parliament voted on Sunday to ban anyone who held a senior position during Muammar Gaddafi’s 42-year rule from government, a move which could unseat the prime minister and other top officials regardless of their part in toppling the dictator.

Politicians debated the draft law for months, but the issue came to a head this week when heavily armed groups took control of two ministries and stormed other institutions including the state broadcaster.

The decision to hold the vote under duress could embolden the armed groups to use force again to assert their will over parliament.

Prime Minister Ali Zeidan, a diplomat under Gaddafi who defected to the exiled opposition in 1980, could be among those barred from office, although this remained unclear and a parliament spokesman said it would be decided by a committee charged with implementing the law.

“Being unjust to a few is better than defeating the whole objective of the law,” said one of the hundreds who filled Tripoli’s main square to celebrating the passage of the law, many of them shooting guns into the air.

Nearly two years after Gaddafi was overthrown, the gunmen who fought to end his 42-year dictatorship are refusing to lay down their arms and go back to civilian life – militiamen are more visible than Libyan state forces in the capital.

The cabinet and Libya’s official armed forces are so weak that swathes of the oil-producing desert country remain outside central government control.

A spokesman for parliament admitted it was unclear whether the vote would be enough to dislodge the gunmen from their positions outside the government buildings.

“We hope the siege of the ministries will stop now, but it is not in our hands,” General National Congress (GNC) spokesman Omar Hmaiden told a news conference after the vote.

More than a dozen vehicles mounted with anti-aircraft weapons and machine guns remained parked outside the Justice Ministry and the Foreign Ministry has been similarly encircled for a week.

One of the men stationed by a machine gun in front of the Justice Ministry, said the group came from different areas close to the capital Tripoli and ahead of the vote vowed they would stay until the prime minister had been forced from office.

“We have been asking them to deal with Gaddafi’s friends for a year,” he said.

Although the law passed with an overwhelming majority of 164 votes in favour and just four against, many congress members were upset.

“It’s a very unfair and extreme law, but we need to put national interests first in order to solve the crisis,” said Tawfiq Breik, spokesman for the liberal National Forces Alliance (NFA) bloc, Libya’s largest parliamentary coalition.

Diplomats in Tripoli complained that holding the vote under duress had undermined its legitimacy, while a human rights group called on parliament to reject the draft.

“The GNC should not allow itself to be railroaded into making very bad laws because groups of armed men are demanding it,” said Sarah Leah Whitson, a Human Rights Watch director in the region, in a statement.

“Libya’s long-term prospects for peace and security will be seriously diminished if the congress agrees to nod through this law.”

Much will depend on how high up in Gaddafi’s administration an official has to have been in order to be excluded from politics, one analyst said.

“If the bar is too low, the law could result in most government administrations being gutted, without having sufficient staff or institutional memory to ensure their proper functioning,” said Geoff Porter of North Africa Risk Consulting.

“However, if the bar is too high then we are likely to see repeats of the blockades in front of government ministries that we saw this week.”

Congress members say the law could be applied to around 40 others in the 200-member parliament, including the president of the assembly Mohammed Magarief who became an exiled leader of Libya’s oldest opposition movement in the 1980s after serving as an ambassador under Gaddafi.

The law does not make provisions for those, like him, who spent decades in exile and were instrumental in toppling Gaddafi.

The law prohibits former officials from holding any position in government or even belonging to a political party. It will also ban them from leadership roles in the country’s state firms, like the National Oil Corporation, its universities and judicial bodies.

(Reporting by Jessica Donati and Ghaith Shennib; Editing by Jon Hemming)

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US expansion for Furniture Clinic

US expansion for Furniture Clinic

North-east England business Furniture Clinic, which is run by 26-year old Ben Staerck, has opened a new 3000 sq ft premises in New York to allow it to offer its products to customers and suppliers across America.

Specialising in leather cleaning and repair products, Furniture Clinic provides its specialist care kits to consumers and retailers across the world.

Since its launch in 2005, Furniture Clinic has experienced significant growth and, more recently, a surge in international sales through its website.

With a large amount of stock being distributed to the United States, Furniture Clinic took the decision to open the New York office to provide a better service to US-based customers and allow it to further increase its reach in the country.

Speaking of his decision to open the office, Mr Staerck said: “We had been considering Furniture Clinic’s expansion for a while and as the business continued to grow we felt like it was the right time to go ahead with our plans. Many customers in the US can be put off by a company that does not have a base in the country and we felt that the opening of this office would really help us to expand as a business and firmly establish our brand internationally.”

All products will continue to be manufactured in the UK and will be exported to America for distribution.

In addition to leather cleaning and repair kits, which can be bought online, Furniture Clinic also offers repair and restoration services to businesses and consumers.

With 11 branches across the UK, customers are able to send their items to a Furniture Clinic workshop where a trained technician will repair, re-colour or restore their items using its specialist product range.

It has also launched a new colour match service that needs only a swatch of fabric, wall covering or any other material to produce a perfect leather colour match.

Mr Staerck continues: “It has been a fantastic few years for Furniture Clinic and we are looking ahead to the future with real excitement and optimism. Our future plans include the opening of further offices in the United States and hopefully other areas of the world.”

Furniture News is a leading publication for the interiors sector featuring coverage of the latest contemporary furniture trends and the furnishings trade in the UK and overseas.

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REUTERS SUMMIT-France may be ‘major pothole’ in ’14, says hedge fund star Hintze

By Laurence Fletcher

LONDON Mon Nov 18, 2013 9:30am GMT

LONDON Nov 18 (Reuters) – CQS founder Michael Hintze, one of Europe’s most influential hedge fund managers, has warned that France’s struggling economy could present a “major pothole” for investors in 2014.

Hintze, whose firm manages around $12 billion and who was one of the world’s top-performing hedge fund managers last year, painted a picture of a “pretty benign world” for investors and a recovery in Europe’s peripheral economies next year, but picked out France as a concern.

Speaking at the Reuters Global Investment Outlook Summit in London, Hintze pointed to social tensions, government debt, an exodus of workers and the possibility that France may drop out of the euro project.

“The real issue will not be the periphery. The real problem would go back to France,” said Hintze, whose CQS Directional Opportunities fund rose 36 percent last year and is up 12 percent this year.

“Core Europe is in sensible shape, especially Germany, but what does worry me a little bit is what happens in France, because I think that’s one that could be a major pothole in 2014.”

Hintze said he has bought credit default swaps (CDS) – insurance against default – against French corporates, and he picked out banks as the most interesting opportunity. The European Union has prohibited the purchase of CDS on sovereign bonds without owning the underlying bond.

“When we’ve done our stress tests around them (the French banks) they’re fine. (But) they’re interesting enough for me to play the macro theme,” he said.

Hintze isn’t the first hedge fund manager to take a negative view on France. A number have bet, often unsuccessfully, against its government bonds, whose 10-year yields have remained stubbornly low, not rising above 2.7 percent since last summer.

The front cover of the Economist magazine last year depicted France as “The time bomb at the heart of Europe.”

But Hintze’s comments are timely after data on Thursday showed that the French economy shrank 0.1 percent in the third quarter, below expectations of 0.1 percent growth. It has now shrunk in three of the last four quarters. Earlier this month S&P downgraded France a second time.

And a report on Thursday on French competitiveness, commissioned by President Francois Hollande from the Paris-based Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development, warned it is falling behind southern European countries that have cut labour costs and become leaner and meaner.


Hintze also drew a contrast between Germany, which – despite being a major contributor to bailouts of the likes of Greece and Ireland – is largely in favour of the euro zone, and France.

“There’s no question, Marine Le Pen (leader of the far-right National Front party) seems to be gaining popularity,” he said.

“Let’s not forget, France voted against Maastricht. If you contrast that with the Germans … there is a consensus view … Germany is very much for the euro, a consolidated Europe and the European project. We’ll see if France is,” he said.

The French approved the Maastricht treaty in a 1992 referendum with only 51 percent voting in favour, while voters rejected a proposed European constitution in 2005.

Australian Hintze, who recently turned 60 and whose fortune is estimated at 900 million pounds ($1.45 billion) by this year’s Sunday Times Rich List, also said that he is short the Australian dollar – citing the “very, very clear” wish of central bank governor Glenn Stevens for the dollar to weaken – and the yen.

He said there were “massive opportunities” in commodities and is long platinum via so-called risk reversals, which involves buying call options – the right to buy at a pre-set price – and selling puts – the right to sell.

He has also bought copper directly, and has bought shares of some Japanese companies developing robotics. (For other news from Reuters Global Investment Outlook Summit, click here) Follow Reuters Summits on Twitter@Reuters_Summits ($1 = 0.6215 British pounds) (Reporting by Laurence Fletcher; Editing by Peter Graff)

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Sarah Beeny on how to avoid property market dirty tricks

The housing market is picking up again, which means the familiar cast of property nasties – greedy vendors, gazumping buyers and the oily agents in between – are rising like ghouls back from the dead. And they are bringing with them the old array of dirty tricks that can turn the homebuying process from being merely difficult into pure hell.

Here, Sarah Beeny gives her top tips for avoiding them.

When a property market is busy, there is a lot of pressure on the buyer to move quickly or commit more money than they initially planned.

In this situation, it is crucial for buyers to do their homework.

“I truly believe that people shouldn’t panic buy. You should buy when the time is right for you, not in reaction to what the market is doing,” said property expert Sarah Beeny. “You are buying for 25 years and in that time the market will go up and down, so don’t rush into it.

“Make a considered decision and don’t stretch beyond your budget.”

Before you start looking for a property, you should have a mortgage agreed in principle, Ms Beeny said. “Find out how much you can borrow based on your income and then look around for the best mortgage available,” she said.

Ms Beeny also recommended lining up a solicitor in advance. “You can establish a good relationship and have everything in place when you want to put in an offer – it means the process is less painful and you lessen the risk of losing the property because of delays.”

When you start looking at properties, the most important thing is to look at prices in the surrounding area. “If a new build flat is being valued at £100,000 more than the surrounding properties, for example, there is something out of place,” said Ms Beeny.

Information on sold prices nearby is available online and you can ask neighbours for further details.

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Read how Frank and Bozena Malin got caught up in today’s property market dirty tricks

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