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Dunlop gain performance in VLN Endurance Test

Dunlop has concluded a tyre test programme that will result in new tyres being introduced into the German VLN Endurance Championship, with the goal of making another step forward in performance.

Aiming to build on a successful season in the Nürburgring Nordschleife based series, where Dunlop-equipped cars took several overall and class wins in 2018, the tyre company headed to Portugal’s Autodromo Internacional Algarve to test new ideas and concepts for the 2019 season.

The coastal circuit was chosen for several reasons. Firstly, in Winter it has a similar climate to the Nürburgring in the Spring. Secondly, the circuit features a range of contours, inclines, crests and cambers that allow tyre engineers to replicate the forces that will be experienced at the notoriously challenging German circuit.

Three days of intensive testing

Over three days, 11 different cars took part in the test. For GT3 cars, which compete in the top SP9 category of VLN, Dunlop tested new specifications on the latest Audi R8 LMS, BMW M6 and Mercedes-AMG GT. In 2018, Dunlop tyres were used to win two races, both with Porsche 911 GT3 R, and one of the goals was to replicate this high level of performance across a range of different car models.

The VLN regulations allow a limited number of front and rear tyre specifications per car type each season, giving tyre manufacturers ample scope to innovate and introduce new technologies. It is this technical freedom that drives Dunlop to develop, according to Alexander Kühn, Product Manager, Motorsport Europe; “We have made a step forward during this test and validated new specifications that we expect to use in the early part of the season.

“Our objective has been to widen the operating window of the tyre range. The Nürburgring has notoriously fickle weather and having a range that can cater for single figure temperatures to a searingly hot track is important. In that respect, I’m confident that we have made a step forward.”

GT4 becomes a Dunlop focus area

The GT4 category features cars that are closer to production specification. A varied range of models are eligible, including cars as diverse as the BMW M4, Porsche Cayman and Aston Martin Vantage. After two years of running the class as a control tyre formula, the VLN organiser has opened the class to all tyre manufacturers.

Kühn is excited about the tyre manufacturer battle in this category; “Dunlop has a lot of experience in GT4 and Touring Car racing and we are adapting proven technology from other categories to our VLN tyre range. Last year, in the production SP8 class, the Dunlop equipped Racing One Ferrari 458 dominated, winning every race. Our experience of this programme has been applied to our GT4 range.”

Dunlop has been chosen to equip the VLN’s closely fought 'TCR' Touring Car classes with its latest generation of race tyres and the Algarve test was used to assess specifications for this category. In TCR, a standard 265/660R18 specification will be used on a wide range of cars, including the Audi RS3 LMS, Hyundai i30 N, Opel Astra, Seat Cupra and Volkswagen Golf GTI. Dunlop’s goal in this class is to ensure the tyre specification offers equal performance for every entrant.

Also present at the test was the Revolution Sports Prototype, which completed over 1,000 kilometres of testing, ahead of its debut in the one-marque UK Revolution Trophy this year. Dunlop has been appointed as sole tyre supplier and finalised the tyre specification for the 440bhp/tonne lightweight racer at the test.

Dunlop will return to the Autodromo Algarve in late March to test latest tyre specifications for the European Le Mans Series.

PR by Reeves PR agency and Pitbox91 in Birmingham

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Colmore Tang launches social housing division

Colmore Tang Construction (CTC), one of the UK’s fastest-growing construction firms, has launched a specialist arm to provide a bespoke service to housing associations and providers of social housing.

Colmore Tang Living, which aims to source land in the east, west and south Midlands to deliver up to 100 high-quality houses per site, will be a one-stop shop for sourcing land, achieving planning and delivering properties.

It promises to be a valuable asset to housing associations that have begun ambitious acquisition programmes to satisfy the need for land to deliver 250,000 new homes over the next five years, said Andy Robinson, CEO of Colmore Tang Group.

“In the past five years since we launched CTC, we’ve delivered more than 2,000 homes for private sale and rent, so the move into social housing is the obvious next step for us,” he said. “Social housing is an increasingly important area and the need to build hundreds of thousands of homes has never been more urgent.

“Our expertise in identifying suitable sites and bringing them through the planning process, as well as delivering maximum value and providing the skills to deliver and construct quality homes, means we are in the ideal position to work alongside social housing providers. It’s also heartening to be able to deliver our quality homes with a social purpose.”

The launch of Colmore Tang Living will also enable the organisation to enter into the off-site manufacturing market, building the houses using modern methods of construction.

CTC’s interest in off-site manufacturing grew last year, following the launch of its technology accelerator programme, ConstrucTech; a £10m innovation fund for start-up companies to demonstrate an  innovation or technology to improve the sector’s productivity, sustainability and skills issues.  

“We’ve long championed forward-thinking practices that bring significant benefits to the construction industry, and off-site manufacturing is a fast, lean and efficient method that we are keen to be involved with,” added Andy.

Colmore Tang Living aims to be on its first site in Q2 2019 and is already in advanced discussions with housing associations about sourcing appropriate plots for development.

According to Government statistics, almost four million households in England live in the social housing sector and the number of households is projected to rise by 220,000 every year. More than one million households are on local authority waiting lists, with more than 50,000 classed as priority due to homelessness. Last year, the Government allocated £2 billion for social housing over 10 years (2020-2030).

For more information about Colmore Tang Living visit www.colmoretang.com/living.

PR by Reeves PR agency in Birmingham

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Birmingham hotel appoints new revenue manager

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Park Regis Birmingham, the deluxe four star hotel in the city centre, has appointed a new revenue manager as the business enters its third year of trade.

Alistair Graham joins the hotel from the De Vere Tortworth Court, Wotton-under-Edge, where he had worked as a revenue manager for more than six years.

The 34-year-old business and events management graduate, who has worked in the hotel industry since the age of 17, will be part of the senior management team, taking responsibility for the hotel budget, overseeing all events and ensuring the smooth running of the administrative side of the business.

“I’m excited to have the opportunity to have a senior role at an independently owned, standalone hotel, where I’ll have the freedom to come up with creative ideas that will appeal to our existing customers and can attract new clients,” he said.

“There’s the additional challenge of working in a city centre hotel, which is different from a country house property. I’m really looking forward to playing my part in the success of Park Regis Birmingham.

“In the three years that it has been open in Birmingham, Park Regis has helped to transform the hotel offering in the city, providing superb conferencing and events facilities, as well as first-class dining, city spa and deluxe rooms.”

Mark Payne, general manager at Park Regis Birmingham, said: “I’m very pleased to have brought Alistair in to the senior management team. His pedigree in the hotel sector is second to none and his expertise is the ideal complement to our experienced senior team.”

PR by Reeves PR agency in Birmingham

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Website launched to help businesses prepare for Birmingham Clean Air Zone

A website has been launched to help businesses get to grips with the Clean Air Zone (CAZ), which will be launched in Birmingham city centre in 12 months’ time.

Business Breathes is the one-stop, go-to site for fleet managers and self-employed drivers that need to prepare for January 2020, which is when the CAZ is introduced.

It is packed with information on low-emission vehicles that will comply with the CAZ requirements, grants and incentives that will be available if businesses need to upgrade their vehicles to avoid the charges, as well as recharging and refuelling points.

It also includes handy features, such as a postcode checker to see if a business or location is within the CAZ zone and a ready reckoner to demonstrate how much money a low-emission option - such as an electric, gas or hydrogen vehicle - could save a business compared to a petrol or diesel model that does not comply with CAZ requirements.

The comprehensive Business Breathes website, which has been launched as part of Brum Breathes, Birmingham City Council’s air quality campaign to reduce emissions of harmful pollutants such as nitrogen dioxide (NO₂) and particulate matter that cause poor air quality and associated health problems, aims to encourage businesses to move over to cleaner vehicles.

Councillor Waseem Zaffar, Cabinet Member for Transport and Environment at Birmingham City Council, said: “The Clean Air Zone will represent a significant change in terms of the way people travel around the city, so it is important that those who rely on the use of vehicles for their business are able to make the necessary preparations and access the relevant support ahead of its implementation in January 2020.

“The Business Breathes website provides a valuable one-stop shop for fleet managers and self-employed drivers to access the information they need to make the switch to greener, cleaner transport options, ensuring Birmingham stays open for business while also helping the city achieve cleaner air for those who live and work here.”  

This CAZ will not only help to improve the city’s overall air quality, it will also reduce emissions of greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide. The new website has been designed to provide people who need to access the city centre, with information to ensure that their mode of transport is compliant and to help them plan for any changes they might need to make.

For more details, visit: businessbreathes.co.uk

PR by Reeves PR agency in Birmingham

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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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