Blog

Super Rats and Giant Wasps Coming To Chelmsford!


Large wasp discovered in loft in Great Baddow, October 2015.

Large wasp (or hornet) discovered in loft in Great Baddow, October 2015.

The Frightening Side Effects of Climate Change

It sounds like the plot of a Hollywood horror B-movie, but for the residents of Chelmsford it’s a nightmare that has the potential to become a reality. With average temperatures rising, populations of wasps and rats are becoming more of a problem in the UK.

The Common Wasp

Distributed throughout the UK, the common wasp normally becomes active in spring and causes us headaches in summer, stinging humans when threatened. Britain’s increasingly warm winters have meant that wasps are now frequently found to be active all year round.

We’ve all seen wasps hovering around at barbecues and picnics and pub gardens. They are on the hunt for food sources rich in sugar and we unwittingly provide it for them. Usually as autumn arrives and colder weather kicks in most of the older wasps die off due to starvation. However, if enough food can be found they survive for longer and continue to cause us problems.

Foreign Invaders

There have also been more worrying trends in recent years of the much larger European hornets arriving in the UK and even worse, across the channel in France, six deaths caused by the stings of the giant Asian hornet, which experts say could well find its way to Britain in the future.

Getting Rid of Wasps

Tackling a wasp nest is a risky business. Wasps inside the nest will be more likely to sting if they feel threatened so do not try and remove the nest yourself. For safety reasons using a trained professional to treat the nest is the best option. They will have the knowledge and the equipment to safely use insecticides and remove the problem for you.

The Brown Rat

While wasps are often just a nuisance, rats are more of a worry as they frequently cause structural damage and have the potential to spread life-threatening diseases. They generally live for around a year to eighteen months, having up to 7 litters during their lifetime, with 8-10 rats born in each litter. That is a staggering rate of reproduction and a real problem to control!

As well as the risks posed from the spread of disease the damage that rats can inflict structurally is often not fully appreciated. Through their habit of gnawing they can chew through water pipes and electrical cables, running the risk of leaks and starting electrical fires. It is estimated that rodent damage to wiring is the cause of a quarter of all electrical fires in buildings.

Mutants

There has been an alarming rise in recent years of ‘super rats’ which are becoming resistant to conventional poisons, and in many cases the poison has actually been making them grow bigger as they feed on the bait, becoming immune to these over-the-counter rodenticides.

What Can Be Done to Prevent Rats?

Property owners have a legal obligation to keep premises free of rodents, or if causing a potential danger to health, an infestation must be reported to the local authority. Keeping your property tidy and removing any potential nesting sites, such as overgrown gardens or piles of wood and ensuring drainage covers are well maintained is a good first step. Making sure that bins and compost heaps are covered will prevent rats from feeding. If you feed garden birds use a bird feeder where possible rather than scattering feed directly on to the ground.

Getting Rid of Rats

If you find evidence of rats you can buy commercially available poisons and traps, but these are now generally believed to be ineffective and are in many cases making the problem worse. For a reliable and effective solution contact your local pest control company who will be trained to use professional rodenticides which are not available to the public.

Chelmer Viaduct Replacement Takes Shape


Graham Construction Chelmer ViaductBridge taking shape as project approaches one year mark

Work is progressing on a major bridge construction project in Chelmsford which started in January 2015 and is scheduled to complete in the winter of 2016. The concrete supports are now in place and as of October 2015, eight massive steel beams (pictured) weighing 52 tonnes have been put in place to form the new bridge’s deck.

What work is involved?

The £28 million bridge on the A138, designed to replace the present viaduct over the river Chelmer which dates back to the 1930’s, will meet traffic loads far in excess of levels the original structure was designed to cope with.

The new bridge will be of three lane construction as opposed to the existing viaduct’s two, and incorporates comprehensive foot and cycle connections. While the new bridge is being built, the present one continues to carry traffic and will be demolished once the new structure is operational.

Minimising disruption

Back in 2007, when consultations were undertaken regarding the future of the Chelmer viaduct, the decision to replace rather than repair and renovate the present structure was made to reduce the disruption of repairing or reinforcing the old bridge.

If repairing, then huge traffic disruption would likely have resulted for an extended period while work was underway, whereas the replacement option means disruption is minimised. Indeed, there is generally no need for any roadworks, traffic management or diversions as construction is taking place alongside the present viaduct which remains in use.

Major parts of the project take place at night, which is why you may not have seen much happening when you cross the bridge during the day. When the huge steel beams mentioned above were delivered on site, rather than causing traffic disruption during busy daylight hours, they arrived at night when conditions were quieter.

Construction type

The project was awarded to GRAHAM Construction, a construction company headquartered in Northern Ireland and dating back nearly 240 years. They have many major construction projects to their name.

The 400 metre long viaduct structure is being constructed of weathering steel with a concrete deck on elliptical columns. The actual river bridge will also feature weathering steel beams with a concrete arch, and the bridge incorporates a more unusual concrete construction in Essex, which that includes an engraved stone inlay for aesthetic purposes.

GRAHAM Construction pledged at the outset of the project to work with local subcontractors and suppliers. Alan Bill, managing director of GRAHAM Construction, told Highways Magazine: “Throughout the duration of this project we, as we do on all of our contracts, will work with the local supply chain and use subcontractors and suppliers from across the region as well as engaging with the local community to ensure there is minimal disruption during the course of this project.“

Main benefits

Along with attending to the deteriorating condition of the present viaduct, the new structure will alleviate slow moving traffic flows towards the Army and Navy. In short, it meets traffic demands that have grown over the decades.

Environmental considerations

Amongst the heavy engineering of the project, environmental issues form a significant part of the process:

Landscaping and planting

Landscaping and planting will be used to screen the parts of the viaduct. The river bridge will a stone inlay incorporating some type of artwork set against a cream coloured concrete in the interests of aesthetics.

Water management

There is careful handling of excess water using drainage ponds to manage flows and remove pollutants before it enters watercourses, and the general design so as not to impede water flow and risk flooding elsewhere.

Noise and lighting

A low noise material will be used for the new road surface, and low-spill lighting will avoid light pollution in the surrounding area.

Ecological

Several species of wildlife, including protected varieties, have been identified in the area, so careful maintaining and restoration of their habitat will be in force during and after construction.

Find Our More About the New Bridge:

Building A Safer Chelmsford


Moulsham Mill

Moulsham Mill

Zero Harm Training Offer Health And Safety Courses For Business Leaders

Chelmsford City is growing quickly – we are seeing new housing developments get the go-ahead every week, but high demand still means that Chelmsford house prices are set in increase further.

Health and safety is of the utmost importance when it comes to building a happy and effective workplace. More than 200 people are killed every year in accidents at work and more than 1 million injured – a staggeringly high number considering the tools and knowledge available to business owners and managers.

Employees are the driving forces of many a business, particularly in the construction industry, which means that their safety is paramount to the performance of your organisation, as well as being an end in itself. Furthermore, many construction sites are located in busy public areas, meaning that health and safety needs to be of the highest standard. That’s why Zero Harm Training is working to build a safer Chelmsford.

Zero Harm Training offers health and safety training and qualifications for organisations and individuals, providing solutions to ensure the safety of employees and the general public. Considering the many risks that are present on construction sites, when it comes to health and safety, knowledge is power and preparation is key.

Zero Harm’s courses are led by industry specialists to provide business leaders with the necessary knowledge, skills and qualifications to erect a construction site and lead a workforce without putting employees or the general public in danger. Here are just a few of the many courses offered by Zero Harm Training:

CITB Health and Safety Awareness Courses:

Aimed at those who are expected to carry out risk assessments as part of their job, Zero Harm Training’s health and safety awareness courses in Chelmsford are led by experienced health and safety instructors and give customers a detailed understanding of risk control. Attendees are taught how to implement measures to guarantee the safety of both staff and visitors in the workplace.

Institution of Occupational Safety and Health (IOSH) Managing Safely Courses:

Zero Harm’s management safety courses are recognised by the Institution of Occupational Safety and Health, and aimed at those responsible for others’ safety in the work place.

Courses last 4-5 days and teach managers how to recognise and be aware of health and safety hazards, as well as helping them to understand the law on health and safety and their own responsibilities. This course also teaches managers how to effectively pass on their new found health and safety knowledge to employees, to ensure that all staff are able to recognise hazards and take the necessary precautions to avoid accidents – prevention is better than cure, after all.

National Certificate In Construction Health and Safety:

A favourite of large construction organisations, this course focusses specifically on health and safety in the construction industry. Aimed at managers, supervisors and those with a responsibility for the safety of others on a construction site, Zero Harm Training’s instructors give an overview of how to manage and prevent hazards on the construction site, as well as an overview of the UK legal system in relation to construction site health and safety. Upon completion of the course, attendees receive the NEBOSH National Construction Certificate, a recognised construction site health and safety qualification.

Other Courses:

Zero Harm also offers refresher courses in health and safety aimed at employees who fill a supervisory role. Other courses include environmental safety courses, fire safety and risk management courses, first aid courses and asbestos awareness courses, and many more.

Making Chelmsford Safer:

With all manual labour and heavy duty jobs comes risk, particularly on a busy construction site. With the right knowledge and preparation, however, site managers and supervisors can minimise hazards, train employees in health and safety awareness, and reduce the risk of injury to staff, visitors and the general public. With Zero Harm Training’s bespoke health and safety courses and qualifications, site managers can help to make Chelmsford a safer place to live and work.

Photo of Moulsham Mill: © Copyright Andrew Pickess and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence.

Chelmsford Rent Prices Increase by 10%


to let signsRent prices in Chelmsford have risen by 10 in the past year, according to a report from local estate agent, Balgores Property Group. Average monthly rent in Chelmsford was £836 in 2014 – now it is £927.

Although high, prices in Chelmsford have not risen as much as in other parts of Essex. The largest rise has been seen in Hornchurch, where rents were up  17.5% in the first quarter of this year, compared with the same time last year.  It now costs on average £1,291.98 per month to rent a property in the town.

Basildon is also showing an increase in rent prices, up by 16%, followed by Romford at 15%.  Brentwood is the only town that has seen a drop in rental prices – down 3%.

Basildon remains the no 1 spot for the most affordable rental accommodation, with an average monthly rent of £824.93.

Howard Lester, Director of Balgores Property Group comments: “Our latest data shows that overall, rent prices are slowing down a little in some parts of Essex, with smaller price increases than we saw last year.

“The next six months will be interesting to watch as these tend to be the periods of highest demand from tenants.”

Some of the highest rents in Essex are found in Hornchurch, mostly due to its close proximity to London. The commuter belt continues to be in high demand.

South Lodge Hotel To Become Residential Property


South Lodge HotelOne Of Chelmsford’s Oldest Hotels Will Be Knocked Down After Decades Of Service

The South Lodge Hotel will not only close it’s doors for good, but will be demolished to make way for a new care home. This is just the latest development changing the face of Chelmsford.

Out With The Old

Over the last few years Chelmsford has had a number of major developments that has got rid of older buildings to make way for new modernised ones. Older buildings like The South Lodge Hotel require updating so that the hotel can continue to stay open.

The owner of the hotel estimated that it would cost around £1 million to bring it back to a decent standard. So after receiving a generous offer from Carebase Ltd who will be opening the new residential home, it made more sense to sell the building rather than pay out a large sum for refurbishment.

This is similar to the housing development on the site of the St John’s Hospital, where the old Victorian building was demolished to make way for a new apartment building. Again, this is another case where it would take a large amount of money just to refurbish such an old run down building, so it makes more sense to knock it down and build something new from scratch.

Competition

One of the main problems that face The South Lodge Hotel is that a more modern hotel will always come along and make it difficult to get customers. By being such an old building they are at a disadvantage compared to a new fresh looking hotel, especially if it will cost them so much to refurbish their own.

Then you have to consider chains such as Travelodge that offer a more modern style of hotel with competitive prices. People will always consider these companies first because they are well known and a safe bet.

More Housing

Major developments to modernise an area will make it more attractive for people to move there. So an area like Chelmsford will continue to get more popular and be in need of more housing. This is why developments like St John’s Hospital make sense because you are getting rid of an old run down building and replacing it with nice modern homes for people to live in. By building more houses it will bring a lot more people into the area, and with more people comes a lot more money for the area to profit.

Many will be sad to see The South Lodge Hotel demolished and replaced with a residential property, but it’s another example of money being put into the area to replace older run down buildings. So buildings that in a few years would fall down on their own and become an eyesore are now replaced with modernised better-looking buildings.

Chelmsford is continuing to atttract new investment since attaining city status. Mike Low, a local estate agent who has been operating as an estate agent at Balgores Low, with over 20 years experiencei n the region, says that they are experiencing an increase in enqiries for new propertly develipments in the town.

Springfield Hospital Cancer Care Centre


cancer care centreWork has stared on the new £9 million cancer care centre at Springfield Hospital. This will be Chelmsford’s first dedicated cancer unit.

The cancer care centre forms part of a larger £16 million expansion of the hospital and will provide on-site radiotherapy and chemotherapy services. It is hoped that the centre will be ready by the end of the year.

Springfield Hospital is owned by Ramsay Healthcare. They have teamed up with Genesis Care, who provide specialist cancer diagnosis and treatment equipment.

David Hewitt, General Manager of Springfield Hospital said: “We are very excited to be able to combine the expertise of Ramsay, GenesisCare and local cancer specialists to provide Mid Essex with comprehensive cancer care including radiotherapy, an essential and long awaited service for our patients.”

Springfield Hospital is a private hospital that provides care for both insured patients and “pay for yourself” patients.

 

Have You Signed Up To The Essex Outdoor Cinema?


Outdoor CinemaIf you are on Faceook you have probably seen a post about an outdoor cinema that is being held in town – although as yet, full details not announced.

According to Facebook, 11,000 are going in Essex, during an event that is running from 5th June until the 30th September.

This event is still in the planning phase, but hopefully we will have more soon.

Tesco Home Will Close on March 15th 2015


Tesco Home on ChelmsfordTesco Home will close on March 15th.

Tesco’s Homeplus store in Chelmsford on Parkway is closing down. Tesco have said that the store is not profitable.

Tesco Home is a popular shop in town and sells electrical goods, garden equipment, toys, games and clothes.

Tesco chief executive, Dave Lewis said “It is with great sadness that I have to tell you that our Chelmsford Homeplus and our Heybridge Express store are two of the 43 stores we plan to close.”

Will you be sad to see Tesco Home go?

Springfield Walk-in Doctors is Closing in March 2015


NHS walk in Springfield

NHS walk in Springfield, next door to Sainsburys

Chelmsford’s NHS walk-in centre, which is next to Sainsbury’s in Springfield, is closing.

The walk-in service has provided an invaluable service to local residents and families who need to see a doctor urgently, but are not suffering an emergency situation. The walk-in centre sees around 30,000 patients a year.

Appointments were made when patients called a GP surgery out-of-hours; the walk-in centre could see people at weekends and in the evening. Also, patients could arrive without an appointment.

Earlier this year the government announced plans to open GP surgeries at weekends (although GPs were not pleased). Even if GP services are extended to weekends this closure will leave a gap in the service; also, weekend GP opening has not yet been agreed.

There are concerns that the closure of this centre will lead to more people going to A&E at Broomfield, putting accident and emergency staff and resources under more pressure.

The NHS website explains how walk-in centres are “a successful complementary service to traditional GP and A&E services” and provide “convenient access to a range of treatments”.

Donald McGeachy, the medical director of NHS North Essex, explained that this closure is a part of a five year plan to enhance the way health care is delivered in Essex. NHS North Essex will be working with GPs to find news ways to improve their services (possibly longer opening hours) and other ways to expand support and advice, such as with greater use of pharmacies and NHS 111.

Donald McGeachy said that moving the Out of Hours GP service to Broomfield Hospital will give patients a faster service. For example, if a patient needed a blood test, this could be carried out immediately, and likewise, if a patient was in need of emergency treatment, this too could be handled much more effectively.

“If you need urgent care, you can see the right people in the right place, first time” – Donald McGeachy

If all goes according to plan, the new system may take the pressure off Accident and Emergency services, if non-emergency cases can be quickly sent on to the new Out of Hours GP service to Broomfield Hospital.

It does seem a shame to lose such a great service from the town, but hopefully in the long run we will have a better health system.

Parking concerns

A very good point was made below – Sainsburys car park is free whereas Broomfield hospital charge for visits longer than 15 minutes (which is most visits other than drop-offs and pick-ups).

 

Pixie Lott To Open Italia Conti Theatre School at Boswells


Pixie LottPixie Lott has helped launch a new Italia Conti Academy of Theatre Arts at The Boswells School in Chelmsford. The new school will open in January 2015.

The Pixie Lott Italia Conti theatre school teaches signing, dancing and acting to children from the age of three.

Pixie, 23, is setting the Italia Conti associate school up with the help of her sister Charlie-Ann. The school, which will run on Saturdays, has close ties with the London Performing Arts College.

Pixie attributes her own success to her time studying at an Italia Conti school which she started attending when was five years old. Pixie said: of the school: “It gave me the best foundation. I made friends there and it help build my self-confidence and I really loved it and was really passionate about it.”

Pixie’s real name is Victoria Louise Lott but her parents thought that she looked like a pixie when she was born and the nick-name has stuck.

Pixie moved to Brentwood when she was 13 years old. She grew up in Bromley and went to the nearby Italia Conti Associates Saturday school in Chislehurst, South London. When she was 11 she was awarded a place at the Italia Conti Academy of Theatre Arts in the City of London.

She has appeared in the West End productions of Chitty Chitty Bang Bang and played Louisa von Trapp in BBC One’s Celebrate the Sound of Music in 2005. She also performed vocals on Roger Waters’ opera Ça Ira.

Pixie Lott, who is one of the favourites to win this year’s Strict Come Dancing, performed her latest single “Break Up Song” at the special open day at Boswells. Pixie will be returning to meet students when lessons begin next January.

Boswells School is on Burnham Road, Chelmsford, Essex CM1 6LY. For more information about the Italia Conti school visit their website.

Photo by Christopher William Adach. CC BY-SA 2.0.