Save Our Lollipop Patrols in Essex

It made front page news on the Echo back on March 18th. Plans by Essex County Council to start cutting back on lollipop people.

Rodney Bass, the highways boss said that, whilst no decisions had yet been made, the authority should no longer have to pay for a lollipop person where there was already a ‘perfectly satisfactoryt crossing’. According to the Echo report, Mr Bass suggested that volunteers, such as teachers, could run the patrols and parents could pay for them.

I’m on my crossing every day. After several years of playing chicken with the traffic, I now have a zebra crossing to help to keep both me and the children safe.

But it’s not just about helping children to cross the road.

It’s about shepherding and marshalling the stray three to six year olds who find their way out of the playground without their grown up.

It’s keeping an eye on who is going home with whom.

It’s watching out for bullying or children who are not their normal cheerful selves – which might signify a problem at home.

And it’s about looking out for strange people who are hanging around the crossing.

My job is to give children an adult that they can trust who is immediately available and not judgemental right outside the school gates.

I’m lucky – Southend Borough Council have not said they will be cutting back as yet. But my heart goes out to all the other lollipop people whose jobs are at risk.

If you would like to sign the petition against the cuts, you can go to

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4 Things To Remember When Submitting a Tax Return Online For A Pensioner

For the last three years, I have helped my 80 year old Dad to submit a tax return online.

Each year I am amazed at how difficult they make the process – even for people like me who are familiar with online forms.

Some of the questions are almost incomprehensible if you are not an accountant.  And some of the fields require a 0 whilst others need to be left blank.  It is very inconsistent!

This year I thought I would make a note of the things which came up this year – some of which have caused issues in previous years.

1.  All figures should be net

You  no longer have to add in a gross figure, a net figure and the tax you have paid – as you used to do on a paper tax return.  You just add in the net figure and the submission software will work out the gross figure for you.

2. If you draw a state pension, you will have 13 payments

The state pension is paid 4 weekly not monthly so you will have 13 payments to add in.  Some people receive a notification telling them the total.  But if you don’t get this, you will need to look at your bank statement and add the 13 payments together yourself.

3. Do not fill out the state pension lump sum box if you only get the 13 payments

There are two different sections where they talk about the state pension.  The first page is where you add in your total from the 13 payments.  Do NOT add it in again on the next page where they talk about a state pension lump sum payment.  If you do, you will get a nasty shock in the calculation section at the end.  My Dad ended up owing the tax man over £3k!  When we queried this with them, they told us that we had effectively added in his pension twice.


4. Tax, NIC (Class 4) Contributions and Student Loans Result on the final page

When we got to the final calculation, it said in bold that For Tax, NIC (Class 4) Contributions and Student Loans my Dad owed them about £40.

As he said ‘But I don’t have a Student Loan!’  This is a cover all composite statement.  You don’t need to go back through your tax return to check that you have not filled out the section on Student Loans or NIC contributions by mistake – like we did!

My question?  If all his figures are net how does he owe them any tax at all.  Surely it is being taken off at source?

Paying HMRC

Then, of course, there was the problem of working out how to pay them.  We did eventually find a ‘How to pay‘ link but to complete this, you need  your SA reference
(10 digits plus letter ‘K’) also known as the UTR.

Eventually we found this in the account reference on the paying in form at the bottom of the letter from HMRC reminding him that he needed to submit his return.

Good Luck!  And remember, it has to be in by 31 January or you get a £100 fine.

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Leigh North Street Junior School

After a couple of weeks of turmoil following a lacklustre Ofsted report that saw them placed on Special Measures, I am really pleased to share the excitement of North Street Junior School at winning the Southend Schools Swimming Gala this year.

Sometimes, a good education is not just about letters and numbers.

The children at the school are very well mannered, always saying thank you for being seen across the road. They are confident, but not in a bumptious way.

Most importantly, they all clearly love going to school.

I think that’s a really positive endorsement.

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Awareness and Self Defence Course in Southend on Sea

Recently it has been reported recently that thefts of mobile phones are up by 17%.

Lack of Awareness in Children and Young People

Police Community Support Officers in Southend and Leigh-on-Sea have noticed that many young children are wandering around with their noses buried in their mobile phones with no thought for what’s going on around them. These children are not accompanied by an adult and could easily become the victims of a crime.  Especially as their mobile phones are often the more expensive models.

The PCSOs alert children to how vulnerable they are making themselves. However it’s something that parents and mentors should also be aware of.

Adults –  including Business Owners – also Lack Awareness

You would think that adults would have more self- awareness – but no! Even business owners are updating their social media statuses as they walk along.  People constantly checking their texts for the latest gossip or where they are due to meet their friends.

With new technology, tourists and visitors to a town can check Google Maps on their phones to get their bearings and to find the locations of restaurants and attractions.  They too are vulnerable to a surprise attack by muggers.

For both adults and children, the problem is that they walk along with the phone glued to their ear. They are so intent upon their conversation that they are virtually oblivious to what is going on around them.

Whilst a law abiding Citizen will see a mobile phone, a thief sees a wad of cash attached to their ear. S/he can quickly snatch that hone and be off before the victim knows what has happened. But it’s not just phones, music players with earphones are equally as problematic.

These crimes don’t just happen at night. They can happen during the daytime as well.

MUGGERS TRICKS – Distraction

Continue reading Awareness and Self Defence Course in Southend on Sea

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