26th March 2012 — Loan Sharks and Unwanted door salesmen

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Minutes of General Meeting

Held on 26th March 2012 at 2:30pm

At Wherry Way Communal Room, Caister Road, Great Yarmouth

The Chairman, David Wilkinson, welcomed everyone to the meeting, and introduced the guest speakers, Matthew Thubron and Caroline

Apologies were received from Maureen Ransome, Charlie Johnson and Penny Parker (NCOPD).

Those present introduced themselves, and were reminded that if they wished to speak or ask questions during the meeting they should
wait for Paul to bring the microphone, and announce their name.

Chairman?s Update

David reported that he had received an email from Graham Plant (Norfolk County Council ) saying that with effect from April 2011,
all red and white scaffolding tape used in Norfolk would be replaced by yellow and black, and asked the Group to let him know of any
contravention of this new rule. David asked members to let him have details, and he would take photographs to send to Graham Plant
as evidence. Ian Hardy said it would also be helpful to obtain details (name and telephone number) of the relevant scaffold firm or

David reported that he had lost 12 of his target 14lbs in his sponsored slim, and thanked those who had promised sponsorship money.
In light of the fact that he had been invited to represent the Group at the Queen?s Garden Party at Sandringham in June, he had
decided to try to lose a further 14lbs, and invited the Group to extend their sponsorship to reflect this.

The new free 24hr bus passes for blind people would be available from 1st April 2012.

David welcomed the guest speakers, Matthew, to talk about loan sharks, and Caroline who would be talking about Trading Standards and
pressure sales.

Matthew said that he was part of a National project to target illegal loan sharks, who committed criminal offences by operating
without a licence from the Office of Fair Trading and charging extortionate interest rates ? in one case £138,000%. Great Yarmouth
was one of three high risk areas in the east of England, and those commonly exploited were vulnerable people, including those with
young families, disabled people and often clients of the mental health services. He cited the example of a 17 year old who had
borrowed £250 to borrow a car. Seventeen years later, at the age of 33, the man had repaid a total of £90,000; his house had been
repossessed and his children had been taken out of school. With the help of the project, the money lender had been prosecuted and
the man had been moved to a new area for his own safety.

Matthew?s advice was never to be drawn into the trap of borrowing money because it was offered quickly and conveniently or because a
money lender was exerting pressure to do so. Licensed lenders always enter into a signed agreement with customers, and the rights
of the customer are protected. With unlicensed lenders there is no such protection and they often intimidate customers, and
illegally take securities such as bank cards and PIN numbers.

Anyone who had experience of loan sharks in operation, should report them immediately to the hot line 0300 555 2222.

Credit Unions are a safer alternative way of borrowing money at competitive rates, and local schemes are usually well-run and
properly controlled.

Matthew said that he was able to organize training sessions for anyone interested in becoming a Community Advocate offering advice
and information about legislation, loan sharks etc. Sessions normally took around one and a half hours. David agreed to publicize
this in the newsletter and would pass on details of anyone expressing interesting in attending a training session to Matthew.

Caroline Carter then introduced her talk about Pressure Sales. She is a Trading Standards Officer working for Norfolk County
Council, and also has a background of work in the police force. Her work entailed protecting consumers? interests in such areas as
weights and measures (petrol, milk etc); animal health (commercial farming practices) and consumer safety (fraud, safety issues with
toys, mobile aids etc) and rogue traders visiting people at home.

Pressure salesmen were notorious in offering cut-price gardening, roofing and driveway resurfacing which invariably turned out to
involve poor workmanship and extra cost. She had been dealing with a current case of four men knocking on doors offering large
quantities of fish from the back of a van. They had been charging extortionate prices for fish which was unfit for consumption.

Caroline?s advice was

? never buy from door-to-door salesmen. Norfolk County Council endorsed the Norfolk Trusted Trader scheme, a list of traders
checked by Trading Standards and recommended by customers (telephone 0344 800 8020 or visit www.norfolk,gov.uk/trustedtrader).

? don?t answer the door to unexpected callers ? use a door chain or speak to them from a window

? call 999 if bothered by persistent salesmen. Don?t feel pressurised.

Shaun suggested that Members with an intercom should use this to ask callers for details before going to the door.

Caroline cited a case where some rogue traders had caused nearly £9,000 worth of damage to a lady?s property. They were caught and
prosecuted. Their vehicles were seized and the profit from the sale of the vehicles was given to the victim.

? consider setting up a No Cold Calling Zone in the neighbourhood for the protection of residents

? make use of No Cold Calling stickers on the front door and don?t be afraid to challenge callers or ask for identity.

Caroline had brought various guidance leaflets which she would leave for members, and would supply further copies in large print.
More information was available from Consumer Direct (telephone 0845 404 0506 or visit www.consumerdirect.gov.uk).

Wendy said that rogue traders were operating in the Bradwell area, offering to remove moss from roofs of private properties.
Caroline said that this, and preying on residents of caravan parks was common practice, but there was little that could be done
unless the offenders were caught in the act. The Council worked closely with police CID on Operation Radar.

David asked if there was any protection for consumers who were charged inflated prices by legitimate tradesmen, and if anything
could be done about telephone selling.

On the subject of pressure selling, Caroline referred to the 2008 ?Cancellation of Contract Made in the Home or Place of Work etc?
Act which gives consumers the right to cancel agreements if a letter is written to the company within seven days of the contract
being signed. Consumer Direct, working in partnership with Norfolk County Council would give advice and supply a template for an
appropriate letter (telephone 0845 404 0506 or visit www.consumerdirect.gov.uk). David added that NNAB and DIAL were also available
to help with completion of paperwork.

With regard to telephone sales, Caroline recommended opting into the telephone preference system to stop calls from salesmen
(telephone number 0845 070 0707).

The general advice was that ?if it seems too good to be true, then it probably is?; never give bank details or send money up front;
don?t be taken in by people who sound kind, friendly and persuasive, and to shred papers containing personal details.

Liz asked for advice about a problem she had been helping a client to deal with, and Matthew agreed to take details and provide

The Group thanked Matthew and Caroline for their interesting and informative talks and all the helpful advice.

Other Business

Wendy shared information she had received about the implications of the introduction of Personal Independence Plans which would
replace DLA in April 2013 for people between the ages of 16-64, designed to enable people with disabilities to spend money in a way
which best to enabled them to live as independently as possible. Those who had been awarded DLA ?indefinitely? would still be

Everyone would be assessed by an independent assessor who would report to the Department of Works and Pensions to determine an
individual?s level of need. The PIP would have two components, Daily Living and Mobility, either at the Standard level or Advanced

The RNIB had been campaigning to make sure that the criteria are as fair as possible and that the unique needs of blind and visually
impaired people were taken into consideration. David said he thought that blind and visually impaired people would not meet the
same criteria.

The consultation period had been extended until the end of April and it was felt that the Group should seek a meeting with the MP to
ensure that their views were heard. Seven members of the Group said that they would like to join in a meeting with the MP. It was
suggested that the Library would be a good meeting place.

Liz said that Gay Clarke was well informed about the kind of questions being asked on the new PIP application form. Her contact
details are

gayeclarke@the pensionservice.gsi.gov.uk.

Shaun said that his understanding was that the government now recognises that if you have to spend money on specialised equipment
because of a disability, this counts towards the points system for allocating awards, so it was important for Group members to keep
receipts for any special equipment they purchased

Judy Manning had obtained a list of the criteria for meeting the requirements for PIPs, with 8 points for the standard level and 12
for the enhanced level of award, but it was very complicated. Judy M on behalf of the Committee asked if she could have a copy of
this information to distribute to members.

In answer to her question about whether the Group was doing enough to support the RNIB in their campaign for fair treatment of blind
and visually impaired people, David reminded Pat that members had attended the consultation meeting held at Christchurch last year,
they had met the local MP, Linda and penny had travelled to London to attend a rally and lobby the MP and that the proposed meeting
with the MP before the closing date for the consultation would bring him fully up to date with the strength of members? feelings
about the changes.

Any Other Business

Tim had experienced a problem with a new resident on one of his regular walks, who was refusing to leave enough space on the pathway
for Tim and his guide dog to pass safely. Ian said this was a difficult problem, because technically a 600mm gap was deemed
passable for pedestrians, though obviously for mobility scooters and people with guide dogs this was insufficient space. Ian
offered to look at the problem with Tim and if necessary visit the neighbour and discuss it with him.

The problem previously minuted about cars parked on pavements in Gorleston had been resolved, as had the problem with Pat?s rats.
The problem of noise and obstruction from lorries parked outside Linda?s house had not resolved and all possibilities for finding a
resolution seemed to have been exhausted.

The opening of the St George?s redevelopment would be mid-summer, and it was expected that the barriers at the junction of King
Street would then be removed, making it a dangerous place again.

Tim?s number had been given to the Caister Community Group with a view to him representing the VIPs on their Road Safety Committee.

David reported that Barclays and Lloyds banks had responded favourably to the RNIB campaign to have a speaking facility at their
cashpoint machines by the end of the year. RBS, HSBC, Santander and the Co-op bans had not. Shaun suggested that it might also be
helpful at chip and pin machines in shops, but it was felt that this would be inappropriate. Tim suggested that Barclays bank
customers should use their own headphones at facility currently operational there.

There were no suggestions for speakers at future meetings. Judy?s suggestion of a taster session with hand-bell ringing was not
taken up.

As John Child, the Director of NNAB for the last 20 years, was retiring at the end of May, it was suggested that he might be invited
to attend the next meeting so that the Group could thank him personally for his help and support. Liz would speak to him, and David
would send an email. His successor, Max Marriner, would be at the NNAB office on Friday, 18th May.

Darren?s mum reported that there were some dropped kerbs where the kerb seemed to be higher than expected, causing Darren to trip.
Ian said that this could be that they were old ones put in before the optimum 10mm height was introduced. It was agreed that if
Mrs Hendry let him have a list at the next meeting of where they were located, he would carry out an investigation.

Shaun said that Grapevine had moved into temporary accommodation because the old venue behind Northgate Hospital was being
redeveloped. He asked members if they knew of a suitable permanent venue for the studio and to let him know.

There was to be a tea dance at the Bradbury Centre on 26th April.

Liz reported that the NNAB Bowls Club at Gorleston would begin its new season on Friday 1st June, 10-12, cost £2.50, and that the
drop-in and craft group continued to meet at NNAB. There would be ten-pin bowling on 3rd April, and a walk along Gorleston seafront
on 24th March.

The next meeting would be the AGM at 2pm on Monday, 28th May 2012.

There being no further business, the Group sang Happy Birthday to John, David and Tim?s dog, and the meeting closed at 4.10 pm.


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