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A New Year might mean a new kitchen or bathroom - but how do you overcome the same old limescale?

The start of a New Year marks a time for change, with many homeowners looking to revamp their property for the better.

In 2018, kitchens and bathrooms proved the most popular rooms to renovate, with the average new kitchen in the UK costing around £11,000, and the average price of a new bathroom coming in at £5,000*.

But when it comes to designing kitchens and bathrooms, one thing that often gets overlooked is the issue of hard water and the damage it can cause.

“Almost 13 million households in the UK live in hard water areas - that’s almost half the households in the country. And with hard water comes limescale,” said Stuart Gizzi, director of leading bathroom, plumbing and heating equipment manufacturer Inta.

Stuart Gizzi

Stuart Gizzi

“Having a beautiful new kitchen or bathroom is all well and good until taps, shower heads, kettles, appliances and pipes have a nasty build-up of limescale, which can lead to multiple problems - from heating inefficiency hiking up energy bills and costly system failure, to an increase in the consumption of cleaning products and a shorter lifespan for electrical appliances.”

A simple, cost-effective way of improving water quality in hard water areas is to install a water conditioner, such as the Inta ActivFlo Lite.

The ActivFlo Lite is a compact device that is fitted to one water pipe in a property, and can be retro fitted. It works by treating the water directly, using a unique alloy that changes the chemical structure of limescale-forming calcium carbonate in water, converting calcite, a form of calcium carbonate that causes hard water, into aragonite.

Suitable for domestic applications, the WRAS-approved ActivFlo Lite is available with 15mm, 22mm and 28mm connections. It comes with a five-year warranty and is priced from just £53.22.

“The ActivFlo Lite has a clean ‘in-line’ design which makes for quick and easy installation in both new-build and retrofit applications,” added Stuart. “Its patented fitting system incorporates a collar at either end of the device, which can be removed without any modification to the existing pipework.

“When you consider the tens of thousands of pounds people spend on a kitchen or bathroom makeover, installing an ActivFlo Lite for an extra £53 is worth every penny if hard water issues can be resolved - it works out to less than 1% of the cost of a new kitchen!”

For more information about the ActivFlo Lite, visit www.activ-tec.com

PR by Reeves PR agency in Birmingham

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Dunlop continues to innovate in BTCC

  • New wet tyre introduced after extensive testing

  • Changes to colour coding to help spectators.

Dunlop has announced significant changes to the tyre specifications for the 2019 Kwik Fit British Touring Car Championship.

The 2019 season marks Dunlop’s 17th consecutive season as the sole tyre supplier to Britain’s leading motor racing championship. The brand has used BTCC to test and develop new tyre technologies since the very first season in 1958 and was awarded the sole tyre supply contract in 2003.

Wet performance boost

The most significant change for 2019 is the introduction of an all-new wet tyre. The latest Dunlop Sport BluResponse Wet features a new method of compound manufacturing, derived from Dunlop’s test-winning range of high-performance road tyres. This moulded groove technique allows for more consistent compound stability throughout the race duration - meaning there is very little drop off in lap time from the race start to finish.  In testing at Rockingham in October, teams saw a one second a lap improvement on a soaking wet circuit. Most of this performance was driven by an impressive 30% gain in lateral grip, allowing drivers to lean on the tyre harder in long, fast corners. Mickey Butler, Dunlop’s UK and One Brand Motorsport Event Manager said: “The feedback on the new Sport BluResponse was universally positive. The one lap performance figures are important, but not as crucial as the gains over a race distance. The stability of the tyre construction, as a result of the new production method, meant that lap times remained stable. Dunlop are delivering ‘stronger for longer’ performance throughout a race distance”

New colour coding for Dunlop Sport Maxx Option Soft tyre

Dunlop’s colour coding system, designed to help spectators and commentators identify tyre choice has been updated for 2019. Last year, the Dunlop Sport Maxx Prime had a bright yellow sidewall and both option tyres (whether softer or harder, depending on the option tyre chosen by Dunlop for that circuit) used a reflective silver sidewall logo.  This year, at Snetterton, drivers will have to use each of the three options on a triple-header race day for the first time and at Knockhill the Option Soft tyre becomes the main choice. This means Dunlop had to differentiate between the two option tyres, so the Sport Maxx Option Soft will now have a green sidewall.

The Sport Maxx Prime (Yellow) , Sport Maxx Option Hard (Silver) and Sport BluResponse Wet (Blue) colour coding remains unchanged.

Sport Maxx ‘Option’ compounds

Green Option Soft: Brands Hatch Indy, Oulton Park, Silverstone and Brands Hatch GP

Yellow Prime: Knockhill, with the Option Soft compound being the ‘Standard’ tyre

Silver Option Hard: Donington Park and Croft


The Hard compound tyre will continue to be the sole dry tyre to be used at Thruxton.

The new colour coding system will be shown for the first time at the Autosport International Show at Birmingham’s National Exhibition Centre from January 10th to 13th.

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All-terrain 4x4 IVECO Dailys help charity reach remote African villages

Three 4x4 IVECO Dailys from Sherwood Truck and Van are being shipped to Africa to help reach people in need, in the remote mountainous villages of Eritrea.

Made-to-order for a global charity, the 5.5-tonne chassis cab of each vehicle has been fitted with a bespoke medical clinic designed by specialist bodybuilder Neat Vehicles. It is mounted on a steel subframe and incorporates a generator compartment housing a 5KVA Diesel Generator on one side, and a stepwell on the other.

“With its impressive ground clearance and powerful four-wheel-drive, the IVECO Daily has been purposefully engineered to conquer even the most difficult terrain,” explained Peter Bale, Key Accounts Manager for Sherwood in South Normanton.

“The charity requires vehicles that can easily navigate through typically hard-to-reach areas up in the mountains and these vans are perfect for the job.”

Neat Vehicles has built three ‘off-road clinics’ for the IVECO Dailys, each featuring a medical fridge, wall-mounted equipment, an LED examination lamp on a lockable arm, plus an adjustable electric examination couch, medical stool and chairs.

They also have a ducted air conditioning unit, water heater, water pump, clean and waste water tanks, a sharps bin and waste sack holder, while externally there is an extendable wind-out awning with support legs.

“These are the first self-contained medical clinics we have built that are designed to withstand journeys over mountainous terrain,” said Nigel Townsend, Managing Director for Neat Vehicles.

“Straight away we knew the IVECO Daily was the ideal van for the job. There are very few competitors on the market that allow you to build your own body yet still go off-road safely and comfortably.

“We undertook a series of off-road trials with the vehicles and they each performed remarkably well.”

Based in Nottinghamshire, Neat Vehicles boasts over 30 years of combined experience in special vehicle and trailer design and manufacturing.

Sherwood Truck and Van is part of the Guest Motors Group - the UK’s largest IVECO commercial dealer group and one of the largest Fiat Professional dealers, which has 14 sites across the UK.

PR by Reeves PR agency in Birmingham

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Multigenerational bathrooms: Why the industry needs to cater for all

With an ageing population and an increasing number of adult children returning to their parental homes after moving out, multigenerational living in the UK is on the rise.

Research by insurance company Aviva* shows that multi-family households in the UK grew by 50% between 2005 and 2015. Assuming the same rate of growth in the next 10 years, there will be almost half a million multi-family households by 2025.

Having two - or even three - generations living under one roof means families are required to adapt their home to meet everyone’s needs and one room where this can prove difficult, is the bathroom.

Older generations or those with limited mobility may need living aids, shower seats and grab rails, while younger people often want to create a relaxing bathroom with stylish products and accessories.

So is the industry catering for this so-called multigenerational bathroom and does a happy medium for every member of the family really exist?

“When we design bathrooms we should be thinking about longevity, rather than just looking at short-term fixes,” said Stuart Gizzi, Director of bathroom manufacturer Inta.

“Multigenerational bathrooms are not impacting the bathroom market as much as they should be and the industry needs to do more to embrace this growing trend. At the moment it is still a niche market but when you consider the rate at which multi-family living is increasing, the industry is not up to speed.

“As manufacturers we should all be striving to design products that are practical and safe for older generations, yet contemporary and sleek enough for younger people to want to install them. It’s really simple - we need to move away from thinking that bathroom products for older generations are ugly.”

Inta, which has been developing and manufacturing high-quality bathroom products for over 15 years, has designed a series of independent living products for its Ever range that put safety first but do not compromise on aesthetics - including on-trend polished copper and chrome grab rails and a slip-resistant shower seat in black and chrome.

Thanks to copper’s antimicrobial properties, the rail eliminates bacteria quickly, preventing the spread of germs. The polished finish will keep its lustre, while concealed fixings with resin fixing plates mean that it looks neat.

Meanwhile, the strong and sturdy shower seat with contemporary styled slip-resistant black seat and chrome fittings has a maximum load of 125kg, as do the slip-resistant polished chrome grab rails, manufactured from full brass construction with concealed fixings.

“Grab rails, low-level shower trays and shower seats do not have to look like they belong in a hospital,” continued Stuart. “The industry needs to promote future-proofing bathrooms to avoid families having to rip out and replace items further down the line.”

As well as designing contemporary fixtures and fittings, developing the latest shower technology is also crucial to the advancement of multigenerational bathrooms, according to Stuart.

“I think digital showers will actually lead the way for multigenerational bathrooms,” he said. “The benefit of digital showers is that they can be preset to optimum temperature and pressure. Some can even be switched on using a smartphone - so they are ideal for families who want the added reassurance of being able to control these aspects to ensure the safety and wellbeing of their younger and older relatives.”

And while aesthetically-pleasing products and digital innovation are key for the future of multigenerational bathrooms, safety still remains the number one priority at Inta.

“Multigenerational bathroom or not, I can’t reiterate enough how important the installation of a TMV-approved fitting is,” Stuart said. “A basic TMV2-compliant valve costs no more than £40 - it is not expensive when you’re talking about the difference between life and death.”

TMV2 certified valves offer the highest level of accreditation of anti-scald thermostatic mixing valves. Correctly installing and maintaining approved thermostatic mixing valves could help prevent hundreds of thousands of tragic scalding accidents.

Stuart concluded: “Ultimately, multigenerational bathrooms should embrace independence and inclusivity for everybody. To do this, manufacturers need to develop products that are accessible and safe for all ages.”

PR by Reeves PR agency in Birmingham

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Standing Construct KTM MXGP team switches to Dunlop tyres

Front running FIM MXGP World Championship team Standing Construct KTM has announced it is switching to Dunlop Geomax tyres for the 2019 season.

The team’s trio of KTM 450SX-F bikes will be supplied with the latest specifications from the extensive Dunlop Geomax range as part of the team’s ambitious drive to achieve regular success in the highest level of motocross sport.

The team has already announced an exciting rider line-up with Brit Max Anstie, Dutchman Glenn Coldenhoff and Italian Ivo Monticelli lining up on the Dunlop equipped bikes, which receive KTM Factory technical support.

Standing Construct KTM’s Tim Mathys said: “We are excited to announce a switch to Dunlop tyres for our MXGP World Championship programme. After extensive back to back testing our riders were absolutely convinced about the potential of the Dunlop Geomax range. This performance persuaded us to commit to a long term technical partnership.”

Wim Van Achter, Motorsport Manager at Dunlop Motorcycle Europe added: “Standing Construct KTM is the second team to choose to switch to Dunlop Geomax for 2019 after conducting back to back tests between different tyre manufacturers. Their decision proves the success of our intensive product development programme of recent years which has seen Dunlop completely refresh its MXGP range”.

PR by Pitbox91 and Reeves PR agency in Birmingham

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Married for 60 years and worked together 37 - is this one of the most enduring working couples in Britain?

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When Neville and Brenda Brown first met in the 1950s, they were both students in Staffordshire - he was reading English and philosophy at Keele University and she was at teacher-training college.

More than 60 years on, the couple, both aged 83, are still going strong as they continue to run Maple Hayes Dyslexia School in Lichfield, which Dr Neville Brown founded in 1981.

One of the foremost experts in dyslexia, Dr Brown wanted to set up an educational institution that would enable dyslexic children to learn in a way that is beneficial to them.

Using a bank loan, he launched Maple Hayes and it was one of the first schools to become approved by the then Department for Education and Science under Mary Warnock’s 1981 Education Act. And working alongside him since then is his wife Brenda.

The school caters for pupils aged seven to 17 with dyslexia and specific learning difficulties and they all learn using a unique learning system devised by Dr Brown, which is an alternative to the mainstream phonics system that many dyslexics find difficult to understand. His system, known as the ‘Morphological approach’, breaks words down into segments of meaning which are then assigned pictorial icons. These help pupils to understand, read and spell the words.

More than 1,000 students have gone through their doors since it began - many of whom have gone on to attain university degrees and even doctorates - and even though the school is now headed by their son, Dr Daryl Brown, Neville still works seven days a week.

His working day often starts at 6am and he can often be found writing assessments and preparing reports on behalf of youngsters who want to attend the school. Utilising joinery skills learned from his father, he still designs and makes desks and furniture for the classrooms that suit the school’s style of learning.

And Brenda, who trained as a home economics teacher and reached head of department, also continues to play an active role in the school. Since the beginning, she has worked hard to ensure the school thrived, even helping to build the extension at the school which has become the main teaching block, tending to the 20 acres of grounds and decorating. She has also worked as a cook in the school kitchen and still works as bursar.

They’ve both fixed the roof, done their own decorating and tiling and even before they opened the school, the pair oversaw the building of their first home together. It’s not surprising that they ascribe their active minds and bodies to their longevity in the work environment.

“We still have our mental faculties,” says Neville. “In part this is down to still being involved with the children, working on the academic side and the practical side. Hopefully we won’t lose them for a bit yet. We’re both 83, but we don’t think about it at all.”

“We work together and have have done from from the very beginning,” says Brenda. “We just do what we can see needs doing. We have to accept the fact that neither of us will be here forever, but we have to set it up so that it [Maple Hayes School] goes on. We’ve recently taken on a new school manager to help with the administration, for example.”

Key to the success of Maple Hayes School is that Dr and Mrs Brown have never sought to profit from the fee-paying school. They have always been committed to reinvesting in the school and its infrastructure for the good of the students, most of whom have their fees paid for by the local authority.

It’s not been an easy ride for the couple - when they first moved in in the winter of 1981, the place flooded after the old pipes burst. In those early years, they spent £15,000 a year on heating bills alone - ensuring the radiators were switched off as soon as each child left to save money. But the couple has, in recent years, invested in greener alternatives and it now benefits from ground-source heating and solar roof panels to bring the bills down.

“We’ve never taken a huge income,” says Brenda. “The more we put into the business, the more children can be helped.”

It’s a philosophy that has worked for them and the youngsters who attend the school. This year (2018), 100% of pupils secured eight or more GCSEs, with 44% of them achieving at least a grade 4 (a standard pass that is equivalent to a C) in English - the subject that has proven to be one of the biggest stumbling blocks throughout their academic career.

50% of Year 11 pupils conquered maths with grade 4 or higher, while two pupils at the school achieved the highest possible grade - grade 9 (equivalent to an A*) - for their art and design GCSE.

For more information about Maple Hayes Dyslexia School visit: dyslexia.school.

PR by Reeves PR agency in Birmingham

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Hotel solves night out nightmares with last minute SOS service

Park Regis Birmingham is coming to the rescue of guests who have forgotten items they need for a night out - and for the morning after the night before.

The four-star hotel in Broad Street now has in stock a selection of items that guests can buy, if they have left their own at home.

It means that if anyone has forgotten their cufflinks, bow tie/tie, gloves, belt, socks, braces, tights, hair grips or gel shoe cushions - Park Regis will come to the rescue!

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The hotel also has a pick-me-up pack for the morning after, for those guests feeling a little under the weather - essential for the Christmas period. The hangover kit includes mints, energy sachets, plasters and coffee.

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Mark Payne, General Manager at Park Regis Birmingham, said: “We’ve introduced this service to meet the demand from our guests. We’ve looked at what the most commonly requested items are and brought them in so that they are available if someone happens to have forgotten an essential item.

“The last thing a guest wants to do, just before going out for a special evening, is dash to the shops to buy cufflinks, so we’re hoping that this new service will help our guests to enjoy their night out without any unnecessary stress.

“And if they have enjoyed themselves just a little too much, then they can always take advantage of our hangover kit the following day. We have plenty of these to see us through the festive season!”

Kits and forgotten items are available for guests to purchase at the hotel reception.

For more details about Park Regis Birmingham, visit www.parkregisbirmingham.co.uk

PR by Reeves agency in Birmingham

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Why additional maintenance can keep fleets safe this winter

With the nation braced for the coldest winter in a decade, according to weather forecasters, leading IVECO and Fiat Professional dealer Guest Truck and Van is urging fleet managers to consider additional vehicle inspections.

Ongoing maintenance is key to ensuring fleets remain safe and effective all year round, but when temperatures drop, it is even more important to make sure that all vehicles are prepared for the inclement weather and road conditions.

Guest Truck and Van recommends that, as routine, vehicles undergo a brake test when in for a PMI (periodic maintenance inspection) - depending on the inspection frequency, this can be between every four to six weeks. Adding a protective wax to help guard engine and driveline components against corrosion is also a good idea. However, winter tyres are a must for fleets to cope with poor road conditions.

Shaun Taylor, Municipal, Specialist Vehicle & Emergency Services Sales Manager for Guest Truck and Van, said: “Winter tyres are not just for sub-zero temperatures - fleet managers should have them fitted once the temperature drops to 7°C. The composite rubber and silica compound keeps winter tyres flexible, which results in superior road grip. Of course, also ensuring sufficient tyre tread depth and adequate inflation is vital in icy conditions.”

Shaun said that while all fleet managers should schedule vehicles to undergo additional winter testing, it is crucial for salt-spreaders and gritter trucks to have regular servicing throughout the season.

“Because of the environment that these vehicles operate within, there has to be a more rigorous maintenance regime,” he said. “Salt is exceptionally corrosive, which means that if these vehicles are not maintained to the highest standard it can be very problematic, especially for the local authority.

“When the roads are icy, these are highly visible vehicles doing an important job and they need to be in the best condition to perform properly.”

Another key consideration is the GPS and telemetry systems on gritter trucks, because it records everything the vehicle does, says Shaun.

“The GPS records where the snow plough is up, where it is down, the outside temperatures, the road temperatures, how wide the salt was spread and what time,” he explains. “Should an incident occur, the local authority has to retrieve the data, so it is essential that the GPS is in full working order.

“We also recommend swapping bulbs for LED lights to eliminate the risk of a blow out. After all, if a bulb blows in the early hours of the morning it means drivers can’t get out to grit the roads and that just isn’t an option.

“Whether managers have gritter trucks in their fleets or not, it is essential that they are on top of their maintenance schedules and add in further checks over the winter period to ensure they are fit for the roads”

For more information about Guest Truck and Van visit www.guesttruckandvan.co.uk.

PR by Reeves PR agency in Birmingham

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DUNLOP EXPANDS TYRE RANGE TO CATER FOR THE GROWTH IN HISTORIC RACING

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  • Dunlop highlights the importance of authenticity in historic racing

  • Range expands by over 50% in two years


Dunlop is at the cutting edge of tyre design, with wins in the 2018 FIA World Endurance Championship and Le Mans 24 hours, but the tyre company also recognises the importance of its motorsport heritage.

Dunlop’s first Le Mans win was in 1924 and its tyres have been used to win major races in every decade since then. Far from being consigned to museums and private collections, an increasing number of these historically significant cars are returning to the racetracks.

To cater for this growth in historic racing, Dunlop has underlined its commitment to the sector by increasing the scope of its period range by over 50% since 2017. Dunlop now lists 55 different tyres in its historic catalogue, broadly covering racing cars from the 1920s to early 1970s, but also adding some specifications for  more recent cars.

Mathias Kipp, Car Motorsport Manager, said: “Historic racing is a major growth area and it is exciting to see the surge in interest. Fans love nostalgia and drivers are enjoying the rewards of owning and racing a historic car.


“Very few tyre manufacturers have the rich history of Dunlop, and even fewer have such a commitment to maintaining production of historic tyres. We’ve listened to car owners and chosen to expand our range significantly. This means that drivers at events such as the Goodwood Revival, Le Mans Classic, Monte Carlo Historique and the hundreds of other retro events around the world can race on the original specification of tyre.”  

Dunlop’s range expansion includes tyres for many historically important cars. For example, the 700-19 is designed for the famous Bentley, ERA and Alfa Romeo racers of the 1920s and 1930s. 

One of the fans’ favourite Le Mans generations was the period in the late 1960s to  early 1970s when the aerodynamically advanced Ferrari 512 and Porsche 917 went head to head, a clash immortalised in the Steve McQueen ‘Le Mans’ film. Dunlop has reintroduced the wide diameter tyres to fit the 15 inch wheels of these racers.   The same era saw the emergence of lightweight prototypes battling the manufacturers at Le Mans. Dunlop’s range expansion includes three 13 inch sizes to suit cars such as the Matra, Lola 212 and Chevron B16 that featured in these ‘David versus Goliath’ battles.   

The authenticity of tyre performance and specification is important to the FIA, the governing body of the sport. ‘Its Appendix K’ regulations stipulate the use of components, including tyres, that reflect the specification of the period. The Dunlop historic range complies with these regulations and is even specified as Original Equipment fitment for newly built 'continuation' models such as the Aston Martin DB4 GT (featured in the video above).

In addition to these cross-ply construction tyres, Dunlop has also added more recent radial specifications to its historic range. To capitalise on the interest in modern classics, racing promoters have created championships for Le Mans Prototypes (LMP1 and LMP2 specifications), recent GT2 and Super Touring cars. Dunlop has also added tyre specifications for these recent racers to its historic range.

“In 2018, Dunlop celebrated its 130th year since inventing the pneumatic tyre. We now have a historic tyre range that covers most of the sport’s greatest periods, right up to recent Le Mans and Touring car generations,” concluded Mathias.

PR by Pitbox91 with Reeves PR agency in Birmingham

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