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Warning over Chinese lantern dangers

People are being warned about the dangers of Chinese lanterns, ahead of the Christmas and New Year celebrations.

Chinese lanterns, also known as wish or flying lanterns, have become increasingly popular worldwide as a means of celebrating special occasions - however, they carry a significant risk of fire or injury if not used wisely.

The lanterns are generally made from paper, supported by a wire frame that incorporates a holder at the base for a solid fuel heat source.

There have been house fires in the county in recent years caused by Chinese lanterns landing on roofs.

Wiltshire Fire and Rescue Home safety manager Neil Chamberlain said: "With Chinese lanterns, you're basically throwing a naked flame into the sky with no control over the direction it will take or where it will land - in addition, there is no guarantee that the fuel source will be fully extinguished and cooled when the lantern eventually descends, and that presents a real fire hazard."

He added: "Chinese lanterns are very attractive when they're in the sky, and we fully understand why people use them.

"We would just urge anyone who's thinking of buying some to celebrate Christmas or New Year to think very carefully about where they will be released."

Locations that should be considered unsuitable for flying lanterns include areas with standing crops, anywhere near buildings with thatched roofs, areas of dense woodland and areas of heath or bracken, especially in dry conditions.

Consideration should also be given to the proximity to major roads or airfields.

Further advice on the use of Chinese lanterns can be found at


Swimmers brave the cold on Christmas Day

Swimmers set to brave the cold on Christmas Credit: Macmillan

Swimmers are set to the brave the cold today for a traditional Christmas Day dip.

One event has been organised to raise funds for the Macmillan Unit at Christchurch Hospital in Dorset.

It is a Specialist Palliative Care Unit for cancer patients in the local community.

The event takes place 9.45am at Boscombe beach this morning.

Fire safety tips for the Christmas holidays

Wiltshire Fire & Rescue Service has released 12 top tips for ho-ho-home safety over the festive period

· Check your Christmas lights are in good working order and conform to the British Safety Standard. Never overload electrical sockets, and make sure outdoor lights are fitted with a residual current device.

· Always switch off Christmas lights before going to bed or leaving the property.

· Never place candles near your Christmas tree, decorations or furnishings – and never leave a burning candle unattended.

· Decorations can burn easily – so don’t hang them near lights or heaters.

· Keep matches, lighters and candles out of the reach of children.

· If you’re having a few festive drinks, take extra care in the kitchen. Never leave your Christmas dinner cooking unattended and make sure you switch off the oven and hob when the meal is done.

· Make sure any guests know what to do in the event of an emergency – do they know where door/window keys are kept and have you shown them the escape route?

· Many fires start when people fall asleep while smoking, so make sure you extinguish cigarettes properly – and never smoke in bed.

· If you’re planning on celebrating with fireworks, make sure you follow the instructions.

· Never remove the batteries from your smoke alarm to power a new Christmas toy.

· Make sure you test your smoke alarm every week – and why not spread a little festive goodwill by checking on any elderly relatives, friends or neighbours as well.

· If you don’t already have one, get a carbon monoxide alarm and test it regularly – this is essential in homes with gas appliances, real fires and/or woodburners.

Home safety manager Neil Chamberlain said: “Sadly, over the years, we have seen too many fires both locally and nationally during the Christmas period. We want everyone to have a happy, enjoyable and safe Christmas, so we hope these top tips will be a handy reminder.”

Some households will qualify for a free home fire safety check from Wiltshire Fire & Rescue Service. To find out more, call 0800 389 7849 or visit


Developer responds to residents' broadband complaints

In response to complaints from residents at the Kingsmere Estate in Bicester in Oxfordshire, about the lack of superfast broadband at their homes, a spokesperson for the developer Countryside Properties (Bicester) Ltd. issued a statement:

“We have completed the installation of all of the BT/Openreach ducting through the Kingsmere site based on a design agreed with them in 2010. It is then BT/Openreach’s decision as to whether they would run copper or fibre through the ducting.

We are aware that the Kingsmere Residents’ Association has been in direct discussion with BT/Openreach about how the provision of superfast broadband can be achieved at Kingsmere.

Unfortunately unlike with other utility suppliers we are only able to provide the ducting for BT/Openreach. It is then up to them what service they provide. We are however working with BT/Openreach and the developers and residents of Kingsmere to ensure that the situation is resolved as soon as possible to all parties satisfaction.”

– Countryside Properties (Bicester) Ltd.

Residents angry over unreliable broadband

Residents campaign for faster broadband at the Kingsmere Estate in Bicester

A group of people living on a new housing estate in Bicester in Oxfordshire say it is unacceptable that they do not have access to reliable broadband.

The campaigners say faster internet speeds were promised to them two years ago - but they are still waiting for improvements. The Kingsmere Residents' Association said members have made it clear they are very disappointed that Superfast Broadband is not available for most residents, through their representation at public forums.

The developers, meanwhile, say they area working with BT and the residents to ensure the situation is resolved as soon as possible. However, the homeowners are still unhappy, as resident Marcus Gilbert explains.

Spending Christmas on their own - how can we help?

Age UK believe around 400,000 older people are worried about being left alone over the holidays and - while charities work to bring them festive cheer - some still face a Christmas of isolation. Andy Dickenson reports.

You can find more information about the charity, The Silver Line, and how you can help here. For more information about the contact Age Concern.

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