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Tree cutters in £350k 1-day scheme to stop power cuts

Trees falling on power lines have disrupted supplies in West Sussex nine times in the past year

A team of 150 workers is to carry out Southern Electric's biggest ever tree cutting programme - in a bid to reduce the number of power cuts in West Sussex.

Fallen trees hitting power lines or interfering with the network have caused nine power outages in the past year alone. The firm is spending £350,000 on the one-day operation which will see tree cutters, engineers and contractors working in Milland, Redford and Linch. Power will be turned off between 8am - 6pm in the areas with electricity being provided through temporary power generators where possible.

"We are not just minimising the risk of a power cut during high winds, but we are also reducing the number of planned outages that are needed to carry out installation of new equipment and routine tree cutting work. By doing the work in one day, and on this scale, means we don't have to keep switching off the network in the area."

– Chris Anderson, SEPD's Tree Cutting Field Manager
Tree cutters will cut back trees over an area of 200,000 square metres

The entire project will cover an area of 200,000 sq. metres. The firm has reassured the public that only vegetation and dead trees will be removed if they pose a significant threat to the network and are within falling distance of an overhead line.

The company is setting up a mobile welfare and information point to provide free hot food and drinks, as well as charging facilities for customers' mobile phones and tablets.

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Help at hand with Silver Line

It's a growing problem that's often under-estimated - loneliness among elderly people. Many don't speak to another person for days - or even weeks on end. But help is at hand.

A helpline set up by veteran campaigning broadcaster Esther Rantzen has received half a million calls in the last 18 months. It's called Silver Line and arranges for volunteers to phone elderly people for a much appreciated friendly chat. David Wood has more.

New builds suffer catalogue of problems

Families who've bought new houses on a Reading development are being forced to temporarily leave their homes because they say they've been badly built.

Several houses at Loddon park in Woodley - where prices can be more than half a million pounds - have faults including missing insulation, wrongly installed air bricks, problems with landscaping and drainage, and wobbly walls.

Some families have been offered alternative accommodation during emergency repairs and the local MP is taking up their case. Cary Johnston reports

Funding secured for Turner's Oxford

Turner's famous depiction of Oxford High Street Credit: Ashmolean Museum

The Ashmolean Museum says it has raised enough money to acquire Turner's famous vision of Oxford High Street.

The museum says it has 'received an extraordinary response' following the launch in June of a public appeal - sending over £60,000 to help reach the fundraising target of £860,000 in just four weeks.

The painting, which has been on loan to the Museum from a private collection since 1997, has been offered to the nation in lieu of inheritance tax. The High Street, Oxford would settle £3.5 million of inheritance tax – which is more than the tax liable on the estate.

In addition to the £60,000, the Ashmolean received a grant of £550,000 from the Heritage Lottery Fund, £220,000 from the Art Fund, and a further £30,000 from the Friends and Patrons of the Ashmolean.

Dr Alexander Sturgis, Director of the Ashmolean, says: ‘The Museum has been overwhelmed by public support. With well over 800 people contributing to the appeal, it is clear that the local community, as well as visitors to the Museum from across the world, feel that this picture, the greatest painting of the city ever made, must remain on show in a public museum in Oxford.'

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  1. David Johns (@davidjohns_itv)

South-east wine & strawberries for Wimbledon!

Whether you're a sporting fan or not, you can't have failed to notice Wimbledon fortnight has just begun. And once again suppliers in the south east are making hay while the sun shines by sending their wares to the world-famous tournament.

But for the first time in Wimbledon's history, there'll be an English wine on the menu - and it's from Bolney in Sussex.

David Johns reports, speaking to wine maker Sam Linter and strawberry grower Marion Regan.

  1. David Johns (@davidjohns_itv)

Celebrate the potato!

You can boil them; you can bake them; you can roast them; and for many people that's about it. But for one woman in Kent, it's not enough. Hilary Steel wants to make us all appreciate the potato a lot more!

Inspired by a book that her mother wrote 30 years ago, she's now bringing it - and the potato - into the 21st century, as David Johns reports.

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