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.”
Shocking comparison between England Lionesses’ wages and their male counterparts
It is hoped that the success of the Women’s Euros will close the gender pay gap
Following the Lionesses Women’s Euro 2022 victory last weekend, the shocking comparison between their wages and that of their male counterparts has started coming to light.
The Lionesses’ bonus for finally bringing football home after fifty-six years of hurt was £55,000 per player, a seemingly handsome sum.
However, it is just a small fraction of the bonus the men’s team took home after coming in second during the Euro 2020 tournament last year.
The men were each awarded a bonus of £300,000, and could’ve have taken an even higher sum of £460,000 home if they had beaten Italy to the title.
A BBC study claims Women’s Super League (WSL) players earn £47,000 a year on average, while the average wage of a Premier League player is £60,000 – a week.
The only aspect of equality in the game is payment to each player for an England appearance, with both the men and women’s team being paid £2,000 for each appearance.
The significant gender pay gap can be put down to the amount of money individual clubs bring in – for example, Manchester City’s mens team reported £571m in turnover for the 2020-21 season.
According to Deloitte, the club spent 62% of that revenue on players’ wages, which works out at £354m.
Manchester City’s Women’s Super League team, however, reported a significantly lower turnover of £2.9m for 2020-21, with its wage bill reported at £3.3m.
Though it isn’t all doom and gloom for women’s football, with wages slowly on the increase.
England Captain Leah Williamson reportedly earns £200,000 a year, while right-back Lucy Bronze is also said to have been in a similar wage bracket when she was at Manchester City before her transfer to Barcelona this summer.
And things are looking up for the Lionesses as they consider brand deals, sponsorships and off-field collaborations with big names such as Pepsi, Gucci and Nike, all of which will increase the club’s revenue.
Pay could also increase as a result of the tournament’s success, which saw a record attendance for any Euro game at Wembley for the final.
Bury swimmer James Guy wins SIX medals at the Commonwealth Games
James also brought home gold at last year’s Olympic Games
A swimmer from Bury will be bringing home an astonishing six medals from the Commonwealth Games.
After winning three silvers and two bronze at the Birmingham games, James Guy concluded his week with gold as part of the England team 4 x 100 metres medley relay after beating their Australian rivals.
These medals join his Olympics 2021 success in Team GB’s 4 x 200m freestyle relay team, where he brought home gold.
Although winning gold is the dream, James says the medal he is most proud of this week is the silver he won for the 100 metres butterfly event.
He told ITV News: “I just haven’t got that race right this year just generally and tactically but this meet I wanted to swim it right and swim it how I usually do it.
“I trusted myself, believed what I was doing and believed in myself.”
He added: “It’s been a really good year this year. I think to get six medals at our home games is fantastic. I never really look at the results, I just try and see what I can do in my individual races and my team races.
“Six medals is a nice accomplishment… I didn’t realise how many I’d won until I finished racing, but to finally get a gold on the last event and to beat the Australians… Yeah, a really really good week, and a nice start for the English team in Birmingham.”
James, who was awarded an MBE for his services to swimming earlier this year, was born in Bury and grew up in Altrincham, where he took up swimming lessons when he was four.
However, swimming wasn’t his only passion, with his childhood being full of different sports and activities. He said: “When I was younger I was obsessed with Bruce Lee. I used to do kung fu twice a week, gymnastics, football and even lacrosse.
“I was just a normal kid trying everything. Eventually swimming took over and it went from there.”
James swam at the Trafford Metros swimming club and went on to win a swimming scholarship at Millfield public school in Somerset, where he now lives.
Campaign group urges Brits to stop paying their energy bills in protest of soaring costs
‘It can only work if we show the powers that be that we would not stand for being treated as cash cows’
Brits should boycott their energy bills this October in protest of the soaring costs, a campaign group has proposed this week.
As the cost of living crisis continues to take its toll, Don’t Pay UK is on a mission to get one million people to pledge to cancel their bills in a bid to force energy companies to reduce monthly costs.
The group says that if even a fraction of the million that they want on board agree to stop paying their energy bills, they will be able to bring companies to the negotiating table.
This comes after Ofgem announced the energy price cap will be updated every three months rather than every six months, as it warned that customers face a ‘very challenging winter ahead’.
Analysts at Cornwall Insight also predicted that the price cap is on track to rise to an astonishing £3,615 a year from January, adding further pressure on households.
In response to this, Don’t Pay UK has devised a three-step plan:
The group is currently setting up email lists and is on TikTok, Instagram, Reddit and Twitter to spread its message. Zoom calls are also being organised, as are as in-person meet-ups. They are also printing flyers and stickers in a bid to bring people together.
A statement on the group’s website reads: “We’ll need people, organisations and community groups to do all of this too, building this up street by street, estate by estate and city by city.
“The first step is to get thousands of people like you to say you support the strike.”
Gather a million pledges.
Don’t Pay UK has stressed that the only way they can get their message across is by turning out in serious numbers to show energy companies that they have some power.
A statement reads: “One million sounds like a lot, but millions more will already be thinking about whether they’ll be able to pay come winter and afford the other things they need to survive for them and their families.
“Even more of us will be angry about paying more than double what we used to pay for the same amount we use. Let alone food, petrol and mortgages.”
Cancel direct debits if price increases go ahead.
If the government and energy companies have not reduced bills by October 1st, the group say they will take action by cancelling their direct debits. They hope that by everybody doing this on the same day, they will be able to send a strong message to energy companies.
Their website reads: “It can only work if we believe in each other and show the powers that be that we would not stand for being treated as cash cows.”
To read more about the Don’t Pay UK movement, visit the official website here.