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The tragic story of the ‘dream home’ next to Hollingworth Lake that’s never been lived in

The devastating story of 15 Lake Side

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@ADixonFiction / Twitter & R Lee / Geograph

Number 15, Lake Side, Littleborough, is arguably the ‘dream home’ – but it has never been lived in. 

The peculiar bungalow, which is situated on the western shore of Hollingworth Lake, Rochdale, was built in 1998 by pensioners Dr. Stephen Watkins and his wife Elizabeth, who wanted somewhere to relax after stressful working lives.

The couple never disclosed how much they spent on the building, but it included a bespoke library, so it can be assumed to be quite a substantial sum of money.

However, the house was never completed, and the dismal reason why has since been cited at Westminster as an example of what can go wrong for people who build their own homes.

To put it simply, the Watkins were unsatisfied with the quality of their home – a structural engineer would find weaknesses in the roof – and so left the house in its unfinished state as ‘evidence’.

The Watkins went on to spend two decades in vicious legal disputes – first with the firm that built the property, and then a lengthy battle with the National House Building Council (NHBC), with whom they had taken out a ‘Buildmark’ warranty and insurance policy.

The claim began in 2001, after three years of disagreements with the builders, and took over fifteen years to settle.

Finally, the claim, involving surveyors and the financial ombudsman, was settled and the sum paid out by the NHBC was enough to finish the property.

However, this wasn’t the end of the Watkins’ woes.

In December 2018, the couple found out that Rochdale council wanted to CPO (compulsory purchase order) the bungalow, which they say ‘detracts from its surroundings and spoils the outlook.’

And now, two years later, the CPO has been successful.

A planning application has been submitted to knock down the bungalow to build two new four to five bedroom detached houses on the site.

A planning statement read: “In 2019, the owners submitted a Pre-App to Rochdale Council – this pre-app was for the demolition of the existing bungalow and the construction of five town houses and one sheltered earth dwelling.

“The pre-app response stated that the proposals were not in keeping with the existing character of the area and represented an over-development of the site.”

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Supermarkets and petrol companies issue update on current fuel situation

They have urged motorists to stop panic buying fuel

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@snb19692 / Twitter & @Razzo / Twitter

As frantic motorists across the region continue to panic buy and stockpile fuel, supermarkets and petrol companies have issued an update on the so-called ‘fuel shortage crisis’.

Now, this fiasco has never been about a shortage of petrol – it is about a shortage of HGV drivers, the very thing that has been causing minor food shortages in supermarkets and restaurants. Three of the UK’s biggest petrol suppliers did initially report some fuel shortages as a result of the driver crisis; however, only a small fraction of their petrol stations were actually impacted.

But this hasn’t stopped thousands of drivers descending into a panic and rushing to their local petrol station to stock up on fuel, causing lengthy queues and, ironically, the actual shortage of petrol in a number of stations across not only Manchester, but the rest of the country.

Well, amid the frenzy and the chaos, supermarkets and petrol companies have now given an update on the ‘crisis’ and have urged people to stop panic buying.

Firstly, a Tesco spokesperson acknowledged that while the supermarket chain is experiencing ‘temporary outages in a small number of areas’, there is no need to panic buy and stockpile fuel, saying: “We have good availability of fuel, and we’re working really hard to ensure regular deliveries to our petrol filling stations across the UK every day.”

A Morrisons spokesperson also said: “It is a rapidly moving situation and we are working hard with our suppliers to ensure we can continue to keep our pumps open and serve our customers.”

Similarly, a BP spokesman said: “We are experiencing fuel supply issues at some of our retail sites. This is being caused by a shortage of qualified drivers. The majority of the 1200 sites we supply remain supplied and open.

“However, at the moment we estimate that 10 to 15 per cent of sites in this network currently may not have one grade of fuel or another.”

A spokesperson for Shell added: “We are working hard to ensure supplies for customers. Since Friday we have been seeing a higher-than-normal demand across our network which is resulting in some sites running low on some grades.”

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps also weighed into the equation during a TV appearance this morning, saying: “The good news is there is plenty of fuel, the bad news is if everyone carries on buying it when they don’t need it then we will continue to have queues.”

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Woman sparks outrage after advertising cans of petrol for sale on Stockport Facebook group

As people queue for miles for fuel, one woman decided to cash in on the crisis

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@snb19692 / Twitter & Facebook

A woman sparked was met with a wave of backlash this morning after she advertised two cans of petrol for sale in a local Facebook group.

The controversial advert was posted in the Marple, Romiley & Bredbury Community Facebook group this morning, where two cans of petrol were being flogged for £50 or the nearest offer.

The ad read: “10L e10 petrol. Collection from Romiley. £50 Ono. Cans not included but can fill up on collection.”

The post, which has since been deleted, instantly racked up a number of angry reactions, with one social media user asking, “Is this a wind up?”

Facebook

The woman’s attempt at cashing in on the ongoing ‘fuel shortage’ crisis comes shortly after the government urged people to not stock up on fuel, explaining that there is no shortage.

Chairman Brian Madderson said the shortages were actually down to ‘panic buying, pure and simple’ as he slammed whoever leaked BP’s original supply concerns to the media following a meeting with Government earlier this month.

Madderson added: “Whoever leaked it to a main broadcaster must have known the chaos that would ensue as soon as it hit newspapers, and that’s what we’ve had.”

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North West residents urged to cut back on water as reservoirs run low

United Utilities has suggested a number of ways in which residents can cut back on their water usage

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Andres Siimon / Unsplash & Pixabay

United Utilities has issued a water usage warning for North West residents as reservoir levels plummet. 

While reporting that the region’s supply of tap water is ‘less than half what it should be’ at this time of the year, the water supplier has offered an array of suggestions as to how residents can lower their water usage.

In an email to customers, United Utilities said: “To keep precious water in the reservoirs until they have a chance to recover and help protect local wildlife, save water and only use what you need.

Jorge Franganillo / Flickr

“We can do this with very little impact on our usual routine and every drop is precious, so swap a bath for a four minute shower, use the washing machine once less each week and re-use water where you can.”

The water supply across the North West comes from Haweswater and Thirlmere reservoirs in the Lake District, which are both only 36% full – usual levels in September would be around 70%, according to ITV News.

The shortage comes as a result of an unusually dry summer; although there were plenty of wetter days in North West cities and towns and even flooding in some areas, it has been the driest June to September in over 130 years in the Lake District.

Harry Grout / Unsplash

There has also been extra demand on water being used as a result of more people staying at home and taking holidays in the north west during the pandemic.

Over on their website, the supplier also suggests a number of methods to lower water usage, such as turning off the tap while brushing your teeth, using a washing up bowl when washing the dishes, and refraining from overfilling the kettle by only boiling what you need.

For those with a garden, United Utilities also suggests investing in a butt, a device which collects rainwater to be used in the house, and to fully ditch the hosepipe while watering plants and washing cars, noting that using a watering can for your plants and a bucket and sponge for your car will not only save water, but will do wonders for the environment.

See their full list of tips here. 

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