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Walmley Pages

Remember to Relax

Funny how after a vibrant and colourful Spring as we approach July all things seem to settle down and become more muted and perhaps understated. The bright greens, yellows and blues calm and soften as the season draws on. Birds that not so long ago were vibrating along every hedgerow are quieter and , after raising their chicks, more tired `cos kids can be very demanding of parents time and energy. Ready for the school holidays are we? This is a good time to dawdle along the valley and across the meadows just looking and listening and just breathing in some fresh air. Remember though to please be in control of your dog and clean up after it. Remember to please consider pedestrians when you are on your bike, all the valley paths are to be shared with care. Remember how lucky we are to have such a resource as the New Hall Valley Country Park and remember that it needs caring for and looking after. It really is a jewel in Walmley`s crown , it is as good an example of Community asset that we could wish for.

We are now nearer to next Christmas than we are to the last so lets get out into our gardens and relax. The glorious scent of the neighbour`s barbeque, the throbbing bass from a passing car, the house alarm that has been going since midday, the mowers, the strimmers……….. Still ,as of yet no sound of gunfire or rumble of tanks, I like to live in a country that people strive to get into rather than out of, don`t you ? ( apart from a Scottish Nationalist of course )

This article appears in Walmley Pages Magazine, a local publication delivered free to homes and businesses in Walmey, Minworth and Sutton Coldfield.


Water, Wood and Wild Wander

Just a week or so after reading this it will be Midsummers Day !

How does a year go by so fast? At least we seem to be having proper seasons this year. Not much snow for snowmen though.

A great show of blossom this spring with the May (hawthorn)

lasting a full month, Apple and Cherry blooms promise a bumper crop later. In the Valley our grasslands are starting to reach a peak of colour as all the wildflowers compete for the attentions of moths, butterflies and bees. Join us for a Wildflower Wander through some of the best meadows in the West Midlands. Meet at the Water Mill 2.00pm Sunday June 8th. Hope for sunshine and we`ll see how many of the over 100 species are on view. Bonus is that the Mill is open and so is the tea room. Also in the Valley we are having a Grand Balsam Bash ! Sunday June 22nd 9.30am and we will try to clear the Plants Brook of this Himalayan invader to give our indigenous water plants and wildlife chance to grow and flourish out of the shade cast by the Balsam. Wellies essential.

How many readers recognise the name of “Jones`s Wood”??

This is the patch of ancient woodland next to the Deanery School and is in need of some urgent TLC. A meeting is to be held at the school on Wednesday June 11th 7.00pm to explore setting up a Friends group and to discuss ongoing issues and future maintenance. Nothing heavy ,just a bit of help for a neglected but much loved patch of Walmley past and present.

If you care about Walmley , the Valley or the Wood, come along to any or all of these events supporting our Community.

 

This article appears in Walmley Pages Magazine, a local publication delivered free to residents in Walmley, Minworth and Sutton Coldfield areas.


LEAVES ON THE LINE

Thank goodness that is over , February I mean. It always feels so tired and grim and long. Let us now look forward to sap rising , burgeoning birdsong and green shoots shooting. March is when we can feel the quickening of the natural world, which is all around us. (well it is until it`s built on!) Birds and bees start to give overt displays of that for which they are known. Of our garden birds the Robins, Blackbirds and Thrushes have probably already sorted out their partners and their nest site territories but most of our feathered friends will delay for the hopefully better weather at the months end. The winter visitors disperse and we await the arrival of the first swallows to herald spring.

Celandines, violets and primroses are all to be found in and around the New Hall Valley blooming low to the ground waiting to be discovered and admired . Towards the end of the month look out for the explosion of white blossom along the blackthorn hedges to be closely followed by the aromatic and unmistakeable hawthorn.

This is always a time of hope as we feel winter is behind us and we can anticipate summer coming even as we enjoy spring. Don`t get too excited though, always remember that April 1st is All Fool`s Day !

Talking of fools, I wonder whether any attack of common sense has broken out , since I wrote this in January, and that folly of vanity has been cancelled. Yes, of course I mean HS2. Just a thought ,but if it was cancelled then the Washwood Heath industrial site will not be required. Logic then suggests that the Peddimore site plan could be moved to that location and we would not need to develop that Green Belt at all. As I said , just a thought.

This article appears in Walmley Pages Magazine, a free publication delivered to homes and businesess in Walmley and Sutton Coldfield.


Drops and Drips

February is the month that most of us just want to see the back of.

It`s short and gloomy and seems to last so much longer than 28 days. “February fill dyke , be it black or be it white “is an old adage that just about sums it up , although there is another that runs

“If February brings no rain it`s neither good for grass nor grain”. So you pays your money and takes your choice but on a brighter note if Candlemas day is cloudy and wet they reckon that winter is over and there is no more hard weather to come. (Candlemas was the 2nd. Did it rain ?)

Hopefully we are seeing some signs of Spring stirring. Snowdrops will peak during this month and be quickly followed by crocuses.

Should be some interesting types popping up around the village centre where many new ones were planted last Autumn. Look out for them. In a couple of places in the New Hall Valley, Sutton Coldfield one of the earliest wildflowers will already be coming into bloom. The understated Dog`s Mercury will throw little sprays of greenish white flowers. Look for it in undisturbed ground along old hedges and in uncultivated woodland. No, I have no idea where the name came from , any ideas?

Hope you have remembered to make your voice heard over the issue of Green Belt development. Speak up , fill in the appropriate form and send it in . Your voice is Our voice so do not leave it to everyone else, whatever your view , state it.

Short and sweet , as I hope this month is . Don`t forget my card on the 14th

This article is written by Sutton Coldfield resident Jeff or Jeff’s Useful Shop, Walmley Road.  Printed in Walmley Pages Magazine which is delivered to homes and businesses in Walmley and Sutton Coldfield.


The rise and rise of the Bitcoin

From being a little known oddity confined to the geeks of Silicon Valley just four years ago, the Bitcoin is heading all the technology news boards and has even got some central banks running scared. So, what is it, how does it work and why does it matter?

 

The Bitcoin was created in 2009 by an unknown programmer called Satoshi Nakamoto, a name that is widely believed to be an alias. Although it is generally considered to be a crypto or virtual currency, it was originally just a means of exchange for online transactions. The way the transactions are processed is in the realm of the serious cyber boffins, I barely understand it myself, but suffice to say there is a definitive log of all transactions and when they occurred. Bitcoins are created by “Miners,” people who use computers or networks of computers to solve increasingly complex algorithms. If you think processing the transactions is complex, don’t even try and think about Bitcoin Mining. There are currently around 12.2 million Bitcoins in existence but there is an absolute cap of 21 million on the number that can be created. Bitcoins are also anonymous, they don’t have serial numbers like banknotes, and the people who own them are anonymous too – rather than a bank account, owners have a wallet which is accessed using a username and password.

 

So far, so geeky, but this is where it starts to get interesting. Although the Bitcoin is not a currency, in many ways it acts like one. Bitcoins can be used to pay for a huge range of online transactions, anything from school fees to casino chips, and increasingly they are accepted by physical retail outlets such as bars, bedding retailers and even burger stalls. Bitcoins can be bought using one currency and then sold in another currency, making them an effective medium for transferring money out of a country that enforces currency restrictions. Because Bitcoin owners are anonymous, there are widespread reports of them being used to fund drug deals, illegal arms trading and international terrorism. There are also claims that Bitcoins have been used for money laundering, though there is little evidence to support this. Most importantly, the value of Bitcoins fluctuates wildly. The first units produced in 2009 had a value of less than 2 cents. In November 2013 the value of 1 Bitcoin hit an all-time high of $1,250. A few days later the value plummeted by more than half in just one day when the People’s Bank of China, the Chinese central bank, banned the conversion of Yuan into Bitcoins.

 

It is worth considering what has driven this heavy demand for Bitcoins and the dramatic increase in value that goes with it. In China, citizens are limited to taking $50,000 of currency out of the country per year. The Bitcoin represents a heaven sent opportunity to get round this restriction. India also has similar limitations in place, coupled with a currency that is prone to serious inflation. It is no surprise that the Indian central bank moved to limit conversion of Rupees into Bitcoins. With such dramatic increases in value, speculators have inevitably jumped on the bandwagon, further fuelling the volatility in price. What is surprising is that, after the dramatic drop in early December, the value of the Bitcoin has already stabilised at about $800.

 

Despite everything that has happened, it looks as if the Bitcoin is here to stay. The US Treasury has made no move to outlaw it or limit transactions and the number of physical outlets that accept Bitcoins is increasing exponentially. Only when all 21 million Bitcoins have been mined will we know a realistic value for it, something that is estimated to happen by around 2017. In the meantime, it is an excellent example of technology being used to create genuine wealth and at the same time respond to a real need.

Graham Iek

IT Consultant     

This article appears in Walmley Pages Magazine, a local magazine delivered free to Walmley, Sutton Coldfield and surrounding areas.


Christmas and New Year is the time for giving – but what are the tax implications?

As this is the ‘Season of Goodwill’ in this month’s tax tips we are focusing on the tax implications of Giving.

Charity Donations

Firstly let’s consider the donations you make to Charities. Many people are aware that if you make a donation to a charity via the gift aid scheme, then the charity will receive an additional payment of basic rate tax from HMRC. But what many people paying higher rates of tax may not realise is that they can also benefit from tax relief on donations.  By declaring their charitable Gift Aid donations, they can claim relief equal to the difference between the higher rate of tax and the basic rate of tax at 20% on the total value of the donation.  So if you donate £100 to a charity, and you are currently paying tax at 40% you can claim additional tax relief which saves £24 tax!

‘Small’ gifts

What about the gifts to family and friends? Well you can make small gifts up to the value of £250 to as many individuals as you like in any one tax year and they will all be exempt from Inheritance Tax when you die.

Annual exemption

You can give away additional gifts worth up to £3,000 in total in each tax year and these gifts will also be exempt from IHT. There is also provision to carry forward the unused part of the £3,000 exemption from last tax year.

Wedding gifts/civil partnership ceremony gifts

If you give cash or gifts or because of a Wedding or civil partnership, then this will be exempt from IHT if it is below the following limits:

Parents –  each up to £5,000

grandparents and great grandparents – each up to £2,500

anyone else – up to £1,000

Regular gifts or payments that are part of your normal expenditure

If you make regular gifts out of your after-tax income, these can also be exempt from Inheritance Tax. These gifts will only qualify if you have enough income left over to maintain your normal lifestyle.

Any other gifts

Gifts in excess of the above exemptions, but which were made more than seven years before the donor dies are free of IHT. However, if you reserve any benefit from a gift – such as continuing to live in a house you have given away- “gift with reservation” rules may apply tax as though your gift had never happened…

 We offer a free 30 minute consultation, so if you would like any additional information regarding the above or any other tax issues concerning you, then please contact us or visit us in our offices in Walmley Village, Sutton Coldfield.

This article appears in Walmley Pages Magazine, a local magazine delivered to homes and businesses in Sutton Coldfield, Walmley, Minworth and surrounding area’s.


Property Has the nation rekindled its love affair with property?

After a five year drought, the television schedules are awash with property programmes once again. Grand Designs is enjoying its annual run of programmes, but these are all brand new projects rather than updates on programmes that were first run a few years ago. Kevin McCloud can also be seen in Man Made Home, a quirky series about building a beach hut from recycled materials. Sarah Beeny, who made her name showing amateurs how to make money out of property development, is now telling them how to achieve their dream house for half the cost of upsizing.

Caroline Quentin has recently finished her latest series of Restoration Home, a programme about people who spend hundreds of thousands of pounds restoring historic properties that should probably have been left to crumble to dust. Meanwhile, a brace of architects are showing self builders how to create a perfect home for a pittance in The House that £100k Built. Recently, I saw the first episode of Location, Location, Location, that wasn’t a rerun from six years ago, in a long time. In case you’ve forgotten the concept, this is a house hunting show fronted by Kirsty Allsopp and Phil Spencer. All this and I haven’t even started on the numerous property shows that litter the daytime television listings.

Sutton Coldfield hasn’t returned to the days of 2006 when this kind of programme was at its height. The money no object, fortunes to be made exuberance of the mid noughties is long gone and may never return. Instead, the focus is more on getting the absolute maximum of bangs for your buck. For instance, the concept of Sarah Beeny’s show is that people who have run out of space can extend and renovate their current property for half the cost of selling up and buying a bigger house. But we can still take heart from this; people are passionate about property again and that can only be good news for the housing market.

Craig Brown

This article appears in Walmley Pages Magazine, a local magazine delivered free to homes in Walmey, Minworth and Sutton Coldield


Puffed up and Puffed out – from Walmley Pages Magazin

Did you remember to change your clocks? Autumn is a time to curl up and let the world pass me by. All I seem to think of is how long it will be until spring! However that feeling soon gives way to appreciating the smells and colours of the great outdoors that surround us here in Walmley. Just a walk in the Valley country park is enough to freshen even the most jaded of psyches. Jaded is how I feel after another round of the talking head hot air that are the annual party conferences. I cannot even get heated about the guff that flows from these self congratulatory and self flagellatory talking shops. What I can do instead, and I urge you to join me, is to laugh at `em. Just as they are being laughed at by the unions, by the BBC, by the illegal immigrants, by the feckless underclass, by the bankers and by the industry that surrounds political correctness and Health and Safety.

Talking of politicians (and indeed I was) I wonder whether the much heralded and derided HS2 railroad has been junked yet ?

I have no wish to pay for the construction of this folly of the future. If it such a good idea and guaranteed success why is  private investment not being sought ? Has not history shown us that these grand government vanity projects don`t work , always overrun on cost and time, whereas private projects with shareholders and profits to worry about ,invariably work or don`t get built.

Last thoughts for November, enjoy a safe Bonfire Night on the 5th.

Try to make it to the War Memorial, Walmley Village on Sunday 10th for the annual Remembrance day service. Always well attended and very moving.

                                                                                                                                                                                              

Jeff Gilbert – Jeff’s Useful Shop, Walmley Road, Sutton Coldfield.

This article appears in Walmley Pages Magazine, distributed free of charge to residents and businesses in the Walmley and Sutton Coldfield area.

 


Cheers and Cheeps – Article from Walmley Pages Magazine

Do we in Walmley realise how lucky we are to have a number of unpaid and unsung heroes who quietly enhance all our lives with no thought of recompense or reward. This attitude goes straight to the real heart of that elusive ideal, “community “. People like the group of pensioners who weekly tidy round the church and church hall, the early morning duo who tidy around the Select n Save area, THANKS to you all.

The magical appearance of our hanging baskets, Christmas tree and lights, they all have silent arrangers behind the scenes as do the annual Remembrance service at the memorial, ditto the carols round the tree each December. THANKS to you all .Too many to mention who help out in our Country Park, those who pick up other folks litter , those who help to cut back overgrowth , those who always answer the call for workdays. THANKS to you all, Chrissy , David, Chris, Jenny, Paul, Bill…….The list is extensive and covers many ages and both genders. All of these hardy souls do not sit back and whine “something must be done”, they get out there and do it !

I know that through August and September your garden birds have been quiet and less in evidence . This is perfectly normal and is as a result of their annual moult when they feel vunerable , so don’t sing and tend to skulk. By now they will be coming back and this is a good time to establish a feeding station in your garden to ensure plenty of winter entertainment from a convenient window.

Provide clean water and a variety of foods in your chosen spot and enjoy.  Remember keep it clean and regular. Small quantities at first to avoid attracting vermin. Just one reason to look forward to winter. Lastly, a date for your diary…

 

Saturday October 12th    Crocus planting in Walmley Village, Sutton Coldfield

All welcome, just bring your trowel, and dig it ! 

 

Jeff Gilbert – Jeff’s Useful Shop, Walmley Road, Sutton Coldfield.

This article appears in Walmley Pages Magazine, a local free magazine delivering to homes in Walmley, Sutton Coldfield and surrounding areas.

 


Property – Are there sunny skies ahead for the property market?

Figures recently released show that the number of residential properties sold rose by 5% in 2012 to 932,000, the highest since 2007. No one should get too over-excited by this; that figure is almost exactly half the number of properties sold in the 2006-07 financial year and is a drop in the ocean compared to the 2.2 million that changed hands in 1988. However, one encouraging sign is that almost all this increase took place in the final quarter of the year as the funding for lending scheme (FLS) began to take effect.

 

More money is being pumped into the FLS and the Council for Mortgage Lenders (CML) is predicting that the number of properties sold in 2013 should rise significantly once again. Both the Halifax and Nationwide are predicting that house prices will remain flat this year, but they could be wrong. Even if they are right, that is not the end of the world; rapidly rising prices can create just as many problems as rapidly falling ones. The important thing is that volumes are increasing and there is growing evidence that the mortgage rationing that has suppressed demand for the last four years is beginning to ease. I would think that increasing demand should feed through into at least modest price rises, particularly when you look at what is happening to rental costs.

 

Although output in construction continues to fall, a lot of that is linked to cuts in government spending. Most large house builders are in rude health and laying out plans for major developments, helped by the relaxation of planning laws.

 

If you feel the time has come to upsize or you are looking to take your first step on the property ladder, 2013 could be the year to do it. Mortgages are cheap and becoming more plentiful and there is an increase in the number of properties coming on the market. Why not give your friendly local estate agent (or better still 3 or 4 of them) a call and ask them for a valuation?

This article recently appeared in Walmley Pages,

a local magazine delivered free to homes in the B76 postcode

including Walmley, Sutton Coldfield and Minworth

Craig Brown


Should you be completing a Tax Return?

Under the self-assessment system, certain taxpayers are liable to complete a Return; if they are a Director of a company, if they are self-employed, have income over £100,000, if their expenses claim exceeds £2,500, or if there is untaxed income in excess of £2,500 or capital gains.  This year there is also a new category of taxpayer required to complete a return – those who are required to pay the High Income Child Benefit charge. This new tax charge is anticipated to affect approximately 1.2 million families where one or both of the couple earns more than £50,000.

If you fall into one of the above criteria, you do need to ensure that you obtain a tax reference and file a tax return for the year ended 5 April 2013 by 31 January 2014.  Failure to file a return on time does create huge penalty issues; a return three months late could result in penalties in excess of £900 even if the person owes no tax!

If you have received a 2012/13 Tax Return, then you have until 31 October 2013 if you want to complete a paper version; after that date you are obliged to file electronically by 31 January 2014.

Common areas where you might need some advice regarding the entries on your Tax Return:-

·         You are self-employed or a director of a limited company.

·         You want to claim for expenditure incurred personally in respect of your employment. This could include your professional subscriptions or for business mileage undertaken in your own car

·         You receive income from property. This could be from a ‘buy-to-let’ property, a holiday home that you let or even a lodger in your own home.

·         You have a variety of investment income sources, such as a managed investment portfolio, and differing rates of tax have been deducted at source.

·         You are a higher rate taxpayer and you regularly make Gift Aid donations or personal pension contributions so wish to claim additional tax relief.

We offer a free 30 minute consultation, so if you would like any additional information regarding the above or any other tax issues concerning you, then please contact us or visit us in our offices in Walmley Village

This article appears in Walmley Pages, a local magazine delivered free to homes in the B76 postcode.


Top 10 keyboard shortcuts everyone should know

CG Computing Tips –   Top 10 keyboard shortcuts everyone should know

1. Ctrl + C or Ctrl + Insert Copy the highlighted text or selected item.

2. Ctrl + V or Shift + Insert Paste the text or object that’s in the clipboard.

3. Ctrl + Z and Ctrl + Y Undo any change. For example, if you cut text, pressing this will undo it. This can also often be pressed multiple times to undo multiple changes. Pressing Ctrl + Y would redo the undo.

4. Ctrl + F Open the Find in any program. This includes your Internet browser to find text on the current page.

5. Alt + Tab or Alt + Esc Quickly switch between open programs moving forward. Tip: Press Ctrl + Tab to switch between tabs in a program. Tip: Windows Vista and 7 users can also press the Windows Key + Tab to switch through open programs in a full screenshot of the Window.

6. Ctrl + Back space and Ctrl + Left or Right arrow Pressing Ctrl + Backspace will delete a full word at a time instead of a single character.

Holding down the Ctrl key while pressing the left or right arrow will move the cursor one word at a time instead of one character at a time. If you wanted to highlight one word at a time you can hold down Ctrl + Shift and then press the left or right arrow key to move one word at a time in that direction while highlighting each word.

7. Ctrl + S While working on a document or other file in almost every program pressing Ctrl + S will save that file. This shortcut key should be used frequently anytime you’re working on anything important.

8. Ctrl + Home or Ctrl + End Move the cursor to the beginning or end of a document.

9. Ctrl + P Print the page being viewed. For example, the document in Microsoft Word or the web page in your Internet browser.

10. Page Up, Space bar, and Page Down Pressing either the page up or page down key will move that page one page at a time in that direction. When browsing the Internet pressing the space bar will also move the page down one page at a time. If you press Shift and the Space bar the page will go up a page at a time.

Article supplied by C G Computing based in Walmley Village, Sutton Coldfield.

This article appears in Walmley Pages Magazine, a local publication delivered free to homes in Sutton Coldfield post code B76

 


Tax Tips Starting a Business – What Do You Need To Do?

Welcome to the Hill Lillis & Company  Tax Tips.

One of the most challenging things you may do is to set up a new business, our primary advice is “Do what you love, love what you do”. Your business is going to be your        livelihood – you should have a good time doing it, but make sure you get the ground work sorted from the outset; it helps to prevent a whole load of future problems!

Firstly you need to decide how you are going to trade; the main choices are as a sole trader; as a partnership, through a LLP or through an incorporated structure. Each has different tax and accounting consequences and needs to be registered in a different way. Once you have set up the business you will need to notify HM Revenue & Customs:

 

  • A limited company needs to be register for Corporation tax
  • A sole trader or partnership needs to register as self-employed and this will also         include registration for class 2 self-employed national insurance.
  • CIS registration is necessary if you intend to work within the construction industry
  • If you have employees then you will need to set up a payroll system and operate PAYE, advising HMRC as you make payments to your staff.
  • VAT registration is also necessary if your turnover exceeds the relevant thresholds. For certain B2B trades you might wish to consider registering for VAT even if you do not expect to reach these thresholds, particularly if there is a flat rate VAT scheme that can be used to simplify your VAT computations.

 

As well as notifying HMRC there are many other factors you will have to consider for your new business:

 

A Business plan is very useful; it enables you to set out your goals and plan how you will achieve them, particularly how your cash flow will cope.

Your business will probably need a business bank account and you may need to obtain additional start-up funding.

You will probably need to arrange business insurance, this could include public     liability, employee liability, trade insurance, professional indemnity, premises or vehicle insurance.

You will need to ensure you are keeping proper business records.

 

We offer a free 30 minute consultation, so if you would like any additional information regarding the above or any other tax issues concerning you, then please contact us or visit us in our offices in Walmley Village, Sutton Coldfield.

This article appears in Walmley Pages Magazine, delivered free to homes in Sutton Coldfield, postcode B76

 


Snowflakes and Sore Losers

Sometimes February seems the longest darkest month of the year, even though we all know that it is the shortest. It is also the hardest for our native fauna to survive. Please remember the wildings outside your window and put out some feed and water for them. If at all possible feed little and often, keep feeding stations clean and provide fresh water. It`s only chicken feed but it`s always going cheep.

 

It seems that our battle to change the Boundary Commission proposals to merge us with Erdington was won. However, it appears that the spoilt kindergarten inmates that we elect to parliament to represent us had a fit of the sulks and will not even get to debate or discuss the proposals. All because the LibDems feel slighted over Lords reform, which WAS debated but rejected. This used to be called democracy. Can someone explain to me why we bothered. What a waste of emotion, mobilisation and demonstration of community in action, all for nothing. Baulked by a party with just 8-10 percent of the vote. They should all be ashamed.( I needed to say that !)

 

Imagine the cold stygian darkness of a January morning replaced by sparkly clear light. Waking to a quiet and cold morning after it snowed even I rose earlier than norm. The grim grey world became a wonderland to be enjoyed by families and friends who seemed not to mind being cold and wet but were rosy cheeked and happy out playing together. Even the publisher of this modest booklet was out with sledge and kids (yes, I saw you , Richard). Whatever the weather, get outside and enjoy our green or white world. eing cold and wet but were rosy cheeked and happy out playing together. Even the publisher of this modest booklet was out with sledge and kids (yes, I saw you , Richard). Whatever the weather, get outside and enjoy our green or white world.

This article appears in the February edition of  Walmley Pages Magazine, delivered free each month to homes in the B76 postcode in Sutton Coldfield.

Article written by Jeff Gilbert or Jeff’s Useful Shop, Walmley, Sutton Coldfield.

 


Fashion – Winter Coats 2012/2013

The most popular length this year is to the middle of the knee and midi. Faux fur is big; from full fur to a furry collar or hood, cropped or long, leopard printed or plain, fading out colour, shaggy….the choice is yours! Leather is popular, mostly seen as large block inserts or for collars, cuffs or hem. The puffer is back but discards its previous sleeping bag image as it appears with a more structured shape, embellished or with graphic print.

 

Oversized coat anyone? Exaggerated proportions with wide set shoulders are popular; ensure they are not ill fitting – sleeves should fall to just below the wrists. Warning – petite figures can look swamped in this style! But they do allow plenty of space to layer on snugly jumpers beneath if you don’t mind looking a little larger than usual.

 

Once again, the military style is king – choose woollen coats with leather trim, double breasted with shoulder straps or a classic trench coat. Fashionistas are loving this look which can be feminine and flattering. Coats without fasteners are also bang on trend; they won’t offer the best protection against the cold but you will look hot! Fasten with your own belt to warm them up or choose a coat with hidden fasteners.

 

This year’s colour palette is either subdued shades or brights; you can merge with the crowd or stand out. The classic black and white shades are always current – this year a black and white combo is also popular. Vividly contrasting colour blocks feature too, or choose a coat that plays on light and dark shades of the same colour. Imitation snakeskin print and animal print are hot and, for knitted coats, pastels are a great choice if you want to look smart and professional.

 

All ready to face the elements? Let it snow!

Sarah Hughes

This article appeared in Walmley Pages Magazine, delivered free to 8,000 homes in the

B76 postcode area, including Walmley, Sutton Coldfield and Minworth.


DIY for Beginners – Chalk Board Walls

Forget stuff pinned to your fridge –use your wall instead!  Use masking tape to define the area you want to paint.  Make sure it’s stuck properly so the paint doesn’t leak.  Using a roller, fill the area with chalk board paint making sure you get good, even coverage.  Two layers should be plenty.  Use a little paintbrush to get the corners perfect and then scribe to your hearts content.

 


Green is the colour

Looking back is traditional at this time of year, especially as we have a bright shiny new one to make a mess of. Such a lot of rain made it a difficult time down in the Valley. Our wildflower meadows missed the correct time for mowing and we have to hope that it has not too much effect on this new year`s display. Certainly the undergrowth burgeoned massively and it meant machete time around the Boardwalk and at various other points where the greenery impeded a walk or ride. Earlier in the year we had a go at the Himalayan Balsam that infests the brook and would hope to do the same this coming spring. There are those that would have us clear out the stream of its silt and and weeds but I think that the fact that fish and crayfish have returned are an indicator of good water quality. The long bright green weed that has white flowers is water crowfoot , again a natural sign of water quality. Also, we will be adding some extra, long awaited , litter and waste bins shortly as a joint effort between the Council and the Steering Group.( We pay for `em ,they get `em emptied!) The muddy gateway at Allendale Rd has at last received our attention and been meshed. Apart from work of course there has been much to enjoy and appreciate. The lush summer gave way to a spectacular autumn and now winter. Whatever the season there is always good reason to get out there and enjoy, `cos it is the users who make it what it is , ours.

Ours, also, is the Green Belt that surrounds us. It is under pressure from an increasing city population. I fear that the case for releasing some of it (400hectares) is too strong to resist. However, with the right response to the current consultation we should be able to mitigate its effect on our locale. If you have not already done so , please comment on the proposals before the end of January. Try to make objections objective and offer alternatives. Don`t be afraid to be a Nimby , because Nimbys care about where they live and how they live. Be heard and least say you tried. Your kids may yet thank you for it .

Jeff Gilbert

 

NIMBY or Nimby (an acronymfor the phrase “not in my back yard“)

 

This article appeared in the January edition of Walmley Pages Magazine,

a local magazine delivered free to over 8000 homes.


Child Benefit – will you be liable for extra tax?

Welcome to the Hill Lillis & Company Monthly Tax Tips.

You may not be totally aware of a tax change which comes into force from January 2013. The new rules, which are expected to affect approximately 1.2 million families, will apply to those in receipt of child benefit where the income of one or both partners exceeds £50,000 per annum.  In these circumstances, the partner with the highest income will be liable for ‘The Higher Income Child Benefit Charge’.  This is a tax charge which is computed on a gradual scale, whereby when the higher-paid partner’s income is above £60,000 the child benefit received by the family will be fully re-charged.

We foresee that difficulties are going to arise when there are changes in the family circumstances during a tax year (e.g. separation or divorce) or where there is uncertainty over who is the highest earner (perhaps because one partner receives occasional bonuses). It is worth stressing that the person who is expected to pay the charge is not necessarily the same person who receives the child benefit.

HM Revenue & Customs are investing a great deal of money and staff resources in pursuing this new ‘Tax’ and families could be liable to penalties and surcharges if they do not take the appropriate action to ensure their circumstances are notified when applicable.  This does mean having to register for Self-Assessment and file annual Tax Returns.

If your income is very close to the thresholds, you may wish to consider how you can reduce it for these purposes, perhaps by making additional pension contributions or Gift Aid donations.

Alternatively you may decide it is simpler to elect not to receive child benefit; however if one partner is a non-working carer, what will be the impact on their National Insurance record for future state benefits?

We offer a free 30 minute consultation, so if you would like any additional information regarding the above or any other tax issues concerning you, then please contact us 0121 351 6777 or visit us in our offices in Walmley Village, Walmley, Sutton Coldfield.

This article appears in Walmley Pages Magazine, delivered to over 8,000 homes and businesses, in Walmley and surrounding areas of Sutton Coldfield


Long Memories and Short Days

Remember, remember that now the days are shorter and colder our feathered friends will appreciate a little help with some extra food and water. Only feed sparingly and keep the area around the feed station clean to reduce the risk of rodent activity. You will be rewarded with a display of our local birds and also many of our winter visitors. Look ,learn and enjoy.

 

Remember , remember the fifth of November goes the childrens rhyme , and so we should. We should celebrate the failure of Guy Fawlkes and his cronies to blow up Parliament all those years ago.  If they had succeeded we would have no one to blame or to laugh at,  although with politicians being on holiday more than in the House he would probably have to pick a different date. Funny how during the long summer recess or over the Christmas season the country seems to run well enough.

 

Remember, remember the eleventh of November is a date that no one should forget.  Remembrance and giving thanks to those who have given up their lives to make our country what it is today. No matter that we may disagree with many of the conflicts in which lives are lost, or feel that those lives are a price that should not be paid for incomprehensible reasons. It still behoves us to add value to their sacrifice by never forgetting that the lives we remember are not those of politicians but of real men and real women that politicians use as their tools. Unfortunately this does not stop for Christmas or summer breaks.

 

Every year on Remembrance Sunday a service is held in Walmley Village around the War Memorial next to the library. A very moving demonstration of our strong community feeling. Join us.

 

 

 

 

Article supplied by Jeff Gilbert of Jeff’s Useful Shop, Walmley Road, Walmley, Sutton Coldfield, B76

Article features in November edition of Walmley Pages Magazine, delivered to 4000 homes in Walmley and Sutton Coldfield every month

 


PAYE Code numbers and PAYE Reconciliations – Tax Tips

Welcome to the Hill Lillis & Company Tax Tips.

Tax and National Insurance deductions are made at source from most taxpayers in the UK through the PAYE scheme.  Each employee (or pensioner) is allocated a tax code which the employer uses to calculate the deductions to be made. If your affairs are straight forward then your code is likely to be 810L which indicates you are entitled to the basic personal allowances of £ 8,105.

However if your tax affairs are more complex, you code may be very different as HMRC seek to collect the tax due on sources of untaxed income or make other adjustments. Some of the most common adjustments are for the benefits you receive from your employment (such as a company car or private medical insurance), whereas pensioners may see a restriction in respect of the State Retirement pension they receive which is never taxed at source.

Often these adjustments are estimated, based on information supplied in previous tax years, and problems can arise where someone has multiple employments or pensions, so it is understandable that on occasions the tax collected is not always correct. Therefore after each tax year HMRC issue many PAYE reconciliations (on form P800) showing how they have computed the under or over deduction of tax.

Our experience shows that there has been a great deal of distress caused by HMRC unexpectedly issuing  PAYE reconciliations covering  several years’  tax arrears, and we note that often there are errors on these calculations. We recommend you check them carefully, and seek advice if you think there is a problem.

We offer a free 30 minute consultation, so if you would like any additional information regarding the above or any other tax issues concerning you, then please contact us 0121 351 6777 or visit us in our offices in Walmley Village, Sutton Coldfield.

This article features in Walmley Pages Magazine, delivered to residents in

Walmey and surrounding areas of Sutton Coldfield.


Boggy Brightness and Boots On

I thought that we would not notice the transition from summer to autumn this year . It has been so wet and dark that we can see and feel no real difference except that it is a little chillier . However, the prevailing damp has allowed that British green of our countryside to maintain its brightness. Never have our open spaces been so waterlogged and lush as they have been this year. The scorched browns of high summer have only been spied over the water in hotter climes than ours. The colours of autumn are yet to start showing but I suspect that by the end of the month we shall see some. Unless the rain stops falling there will only be sodden heaps of fallen foliage to wade through rather than the usual kicking of crisp golden and red leaves. ( yes, we all do it no matter what age we   pretend to be !)

Take advantage of any opportunity to get out and enjoy the local green patches whenever the sun shines, it could be a long winter and soon the clocks change and we are into darker nights and shorter days. No matter your reasons for walking, be it for health or exercising the dog, for nature or for scenery, just a short stroll or jog will stop that seasonal melancholy getting a grip and anyway outdoor exercise means that when you get in you can have that chocolate or cake as your righteous reward.

New Hall Water mill has closed for the 2012 season with the last open day in September but rest assured that our maintenance work will continue throughout the winter months to ensure that we open again for the 2013 summer months. If you did not visit this year , we look forward to welcoming next time. Please note that if you come on your bicycle you can only come through the small side gate, NOT the main gate, as this is only for real V.I.P`s.

Article supplies by Jeff Gilbert of Jeff’s Useful Shop, Walmley Road, Walmley, Sutton Coldfied B76

This article appears in the October edition of Walmley Pages Magazine, delivered to 4000 homes in Walmley and Sutton Coldfield every month


Personal Allowances – Tax Tips for Sutton Coldfield Residents

Welcome to the Hill Lillis & Company Tax Tips. As a local accountancy and tax practice we will be providing a short, monthly article outlining tax problem areas and our suggestions on what you can do to resolve the issues.

Everyone with income below £100,000 is entitled to a full personal income tax allowance of £8,105 for the current tax year. However if you are over the age of 65 and your income from all sources is less than £25,400  you can claim an increased allowance of £10,500, and if you are over 75 years old the allowance is increased to £10,660. Any income above these levels is taxable, and at present the tax rates are 20% up to £34,370; 40% up to £150,000 and 50% above that level.

Each person within a family is individually entitled to personal allowances, so it is worthwhile regularly reviewing your situation, so that you  make best use of everyone’s allowances.

If family assets are owned jointly, then the default position is that the income should be declared by the owners equally. However in some circumstances you can make an election to confirm that both the underlying capital and income is shared in different proportions.

So, where there is an inequality between the level of income and tax rates being paid by spouses, you may wish to consider how you allocate assets, perhaps by transferring the assets generating the highest levels of income to the partner who pays the lowest levels of tax.

We offer a free 30 minute consultation, so if you would like any additional information regarding the above or any other tax issues concerning you, then please contact us 0121 351 6777 or visit us in our offices in Walmley Village, Sutton Coldfield.

This article appeared in Walmley Pages Magazine, delivered each month to over 4000 homes in

Walmley and surrounding areas of Sutton Coldfield.


Europey and Tears dopey

It is only July as I put pen to paper so the Euro footie and Whinebledon have been endured, with the expected results…..

Are the Olympics over yet , how did we fare on track, field, water or bike. Did we do well in some obscure discipline that we are now all experts in (remember Curling last time ? Anyone watched any since? )  Was the   opening show or the closing show a success of world beating proportion? Can we have our twelve billion pounds back now please ? Bet you we could win a World Cup for crying Losers tears or even occasionally Winners wet eyes, what`s that all about ?

Let us now start to give our politicians some real stick over a Referendum about our relationship with Europe. Can we please be consulted as to whether we want to stay as part of the Union or just be a peripheral trading partner or balanced somewhere in between?

If any party is brave enough to give us a straight Yes or No vote on whether to pull out or to stay in, then they get my support. If our rulers were that brave then whatever the result they would have a clear and incredibly strong bargaining chip to take to Brussels for , at the very least, an advantageous renegotiation of our terms of membership. If we did vote to withdraw from the Union are we strong enough to prosper outside ? Of course we are !

And while on that subject , let`s give the Scots and Welsh the same choice about being part of a Great Britain or not. My guess is that our Union will endure and given a fair chance we can build a strong and prosperous future for our children to be proud of. Let`s go for it !

Jeff Gilbert

Jeff’s Useful Shop, Walmley

 

This article featured in Walmley Pages Magazine

 


Clay and Play

Clay and Play is a great place to visit and its not just for children.  Why not discover your creative side, there are a large selection of items for you to paint, vases, mugs, plates, piggy banks to name just a few.  Either decorate an item as a gift for someone or a gift to yourself.  So how does it work?  Firstly A Studio fee of £2.50 per painter is charged this covers the use of paints, glazing and the firing, secondly choose an item from the extensive range of bisque products..  Next, think of a design and get painting. There are a selection of books and stencils to help if you need it or you can ask a member of staff to help. You don’t need to be an artist to achieve great results.  Finally your item will be glazed with a food safe glaze then fired in the kiln and be ready to collect in 5-7 days time.

As well as items to decorate, Clay and Play offer a moulding service for baby hand and foot prints and other keepsake items for example siblings handprints as a gift on Fathers Day as shown in the photo on the left.  Something to keep and treasure forever.  These are ideal gifts for grandparents or a unique gift for , Mothers Day, Birthdays and Christmas.

Clay and Play also specialise in Birthday Party’s.  Packages are available for  up to 20 people.  If you’re bringing your child, you can relax as tea, coffee and homemade cakes are available to purchase whilst your child is busy creating their artwork.  Packages start at £9 per head and include 2 bisque items.  Party food is also available to order.

Why not drop in and take a look for yourself or visit the website – http://www.clayandplay.co.uk

During the Summer there are several workshops available:-

Monday – July 30th – Olympic Pottery workshop

Wednesday – August 1st -Glass painting Workshop

Friday- August 3rd -Fabric painting workshop

Monday- August 6th –Olympic pottery workshop

Wednesday -August 8th –Birdhouse painting

Thursday -August 9th –Name plaque painting

Monday -August 13th –Fabric painting workshop

Wednesday – August 15th- Olympic pottery workshop

Friday – August 17th -Glass painting workshop

Monday – August 20th –Birdhouse painting workshop

Wednesday – August 22nd –Fabric painting workshop

Friday – August 24th –Glass painting workshop

Wednesday – August 29th –Glass painting workshop

Friday – August 31st Fabric painting workshop

Prices   Olympic pottery workshop £12.50 per head (everyone paints upto 2 pieces from our olympic range)

Glass painting Workshop £10 per head (everyone paints some glass ornamental pieces)

Birdhouse painting £10 per head (everyone paints a birdhouse)

Fabric painting workshop £8 per head (you can paint a fabric shopping bag or pencil case)

Name plaque painting workshop £8 per head (everyone paints a wooden name plaque)

Booking in advance needed – Only 12 places per available workshop – Workshops last around 1 and half hours

 

This article appeared in Walmley Pages Magazine