Social Media and HolidayMakers – A Home Security Checklist

Loving this great infographic from Spy Alarms.

As everyone starts talking about skiing, snowboarding or lying in the sun somewhere exotic, the countdowns to departure appear on Facebook.

Then, once they’re on foreign soil, the photographic updates keep us all informed about the jolly time that is being had.

Sadly, it’s not only their friends who are being alerted to the fact that their home is empty.

A survey by one of the big insurance companies a couple of years ago showed that for the average Facebook user, 66 strangers were actually viewing their status updates because they had agreed to become friends with all sorts of people that they didn’t actually know at all.

Make your Facebook profiles private, people, and then see this infographic for ways to look out for your home security whilst you’re away. Continue reading Social Media and HolidayMakers – A Home Security Checklist

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Show you care, please park elsewhere

show you care park elsewhere

Lots of issues with parents parking on the zig zags and double yellow lines outside school.

Being late is not an excuse to put other people’s children in danger.

Neither is ‘It’s raining…’

Victoria Drive is a small turning opposite the entrance to school in Pall Mall, Leigh on Sea.

The reason for my angst is that if you get one or two cars parked on both sides of the road, it is very hard for other cars to access or egress Victoria Drive. This causes a backlog onto Pall Mall affecting my crossing.

Sometimes it is impossible to cross on my zebra because there is a vehicle stopped on the black and white markings stuck in a queue of traffic.

The illegally stopped vehicles in Victoria Drive also cause issues with visibility for people trying to cross Victoria Drive who are already having to contend with fast moving traffic turning in from Pall Mall.

Many of these pedestrians are 9, 10 and 11 year old children who are taking the first steps towards independence by walking to school without an adult.

The actions of the parents who park on the double yellow lines at the top of Victoria Drive put those children in danger… just because THEY don’t want to be late for work.

This time last year there were three incidents involving dropped off children realising they had forgotten something and legging it back across my crossing and Victoria Drive trying to attract the attention of the parent in the car.

They had no thought for the traffic just for their forgotten lunchbox or homework.  One child was in the road trying to clamber onto the car of his parent as it drove away.

It was very frightening!

New initiative from Southend Road Safety

In addition to regular patrols from our lovely traffic wardens – curiously, those parents don’t park on the zigzags or double yellow lines when they are visiting us – there is a new initiative from Southend Road Safety.

They can come and help to educate those parents who might not know about why the yellow zigzag markings are not your own personal parking space.

Why parking on the yellow zig zags puts children at risk

They look so enticing because they look like the ideal parking space.  However, that big gap is there to keep me and the people on the crossing safe.

If you park there, oncoming traffic is trying to work out whether you are going to pull out or allow your child to fling open the door and step out into the road in front of them.  Yes, that happens a lot.

The drivers are distracted and are not looking to see if I have stepped onto the crossing to stop them.

Click on the link below to view the leaflet and then let me know your thoughts on Facebook.

Show you care parking leaflet

Show you care, please park elsewhere!

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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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