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Definitely upbeat in uncertain times

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					                                 in tune         Longhurst Group Business Briefing
                                                                                                                        issue 5 Spring 2010



Definitely upbeat in                                                                                 Content Highlights
                                                                                                         Cash for conversions p2



      uncertain times
                                                                                                         L&H launches new care service p3
                                                                                                         Linking business and education in
                                                                                                         Lincoln p3
                                                                                                         Promises progressing in Rutland p4
                                                 phenomenal; we more than doubled the                    A Call to Armes p5
                                                 value of grant funding in the programme
                                                                                                         On target for first-class
                                                 and delivered about one per cent of the total
                                                 national house building programme for                   development p6
                                                 2009. Together with the private finance we              Points make prizes with new Spire
                                                 borrowed as a group and through our                     scheme p8
                                                 development partners, we estimate that
                                                 around £140 million worth of investment
                                                                                                    services; peer input to services; and
                                                 was ploughed into homes, communities and
                                                                                                    communications skills from running
                                                 jobs across the midlands and eastern regions
                                                                                                    organisations where there is both
                                                 – no mean achievement. By working
                                                                                                    collaboration and genuine autonomy. So
With the election results imminent as we go      together we all get something extra – more
                                                                                                    we’re always open to approaches from
to print, many housing professionals are         money, more jobs and more opportunities.
                                                                                                    partners who feel our skill set will be of
contemplating the future of the sector. As
                                                 Our group member companies also                    benefit in supporting their objectives.
housing was not at the centre of political
                                                 considerably exceeded their targets for new
debates, it’s unlikely that any new                                                                 Clear purpose
                                                 homes, so in the coming year there will be
government will have major spending plans                                                           Of course, some things are consistent in this
in place for some time.                          lots more housing opportunities for our
                                                 customers. Plus of course, many extra jobs in      world. At Longhurst Group, we never lose
But at Longhurst Group, we’re still upbeat       the communities where we work – so we’re           sight of the services we’re delivering –
about the future; because we believe that        doing our bit to stave off the recession. And      whether in financial inclusion, repairs and
our valued long-term partnerships with           working hard to deliver added value across         maintenance or support to our members.
company members, development specialists         our business means that we can provide             And we set excellence standards that our
and local authorities represent solid            additional services, of an even higher quality.    team can aspire to and deliver.
foundations for sustainable growth.
                                                                                                    We’re currently working towards Investors in
                                                 Strong skill set
Thank goodness the sector has moved on                                                              Excellence accreditation, and are confident
                                                 Our chief executive’s office is already starting   of reaching this mark. To make the grade,
from the day when partnerships were seen
                                                 to generate more time and space for                we’ll need to prove the effectiveness of some
as predatory or threatening; these days,
                                                 business opportunities. That almost sounds
hopefully everyone we work with agrees that                                                         key fundamentals, including our approach to
                                                 like a Doctor Who reference; whilst there
collaboration achieves positive, inspirational                                                      risk management, high-quality HR services
                                                 are no sonic screwdrivers involved, the team
results. That's certainly our intent.                                                               and a finance system that delivers prompt,
                                                 is highly-qualified in many things so I guess
                                                                                                    accurate reporting. In short, strong systems
                                                 there are parallels!
Phenomenal results                                                                                  are fundamental to our success and it’s no
Even in these uncertain times, there are         In particular, we have a lot more to offer         accident that we’ve been working towards
some things that we know will happen as a        prospective organisations in terms of              this for some time.
result of our business strategy and hard work    experience and available talent. Things like
last year. For example, the development          management of cultural change; funding for
programme for both the Blue Skies                development; the ability to lead                   Bob Walder
Consortium and Longhurst Group was               organisations; provision of back office            Chief Executive


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‘ello, ‘ello to
     reduced crime
Fear of crime on what was                                                                                               The knock-on effect has
Worksop’s most burgled                                                                                                  been substantial, according
street has been slashed,                                                                                                to Lisa Birch who led the
thanks to a pioneering                                                                                                  project for L&H Homes.
project between                                                                                                         She said: “Our survey with
Nottinghamshire Police and                                                                                              residents shows that they
Longhurst and Havelok                                                                                                   are very satisfied with the
(L&H) Homes.                                                                                                            work completed, and
                                                                                                                        we’ve had many comments
Six months ago L&H Homes                                                                                                showing a powerful
residents in Yeoman Close                                                                                               appreciation of the project.
were identified as suffering                                                                                            By working together we’ve
the most burglary incidents                                                                                             helped reduce crime levels,
per population in their                                                                                                 and through working with
town. To address the                                                                                                    residents and showing we
problem, the crime                                                                                                      listen, we’ve also tackled
reduction manager and                                                                                                   some long-standing issues
L&H team agreed to start a                                                                                              around waste management
project to boost security.                                                                                              on the estate.

Thanks to the partnership,                                                                                              “With welcome packs now
all 53 homes and flats benefited from extra security measures on              on hand for new households on the street the project continues to
their front and back doors, new alarms and letterbox cages. The               generate results. We’re now set to launch it in another
materials were funded by the police, with L&H Homes providing the             neighbourhood, working with the council, police and other social
labour and managing liaison with residents.                                   landlords.”

Additional measures have also helped to improve the look and feel of          The success of the project has seen it entered for a national award,
the estate. These include installing signage, adding new steel fencing,       and the partnership approach is set to be replicated across the county
contacting Eon to clear graffiti and gaining funding to improve the           by Nottinghamshire Police.
previously ‘open access’ drying area.




Cash for conversions
Friendship Care and Housing has secured funding          larger new homes and bring empty homes back
to convert flats and bedsits in Birmingham into          into use.
much-needed homes for larger families.
                                                         “Previously we had to sell a property to fund a
Through its partnership with Birmingham City             couple of conversions. We’d only do this with stock
Council, the association has attracted more than         that’s not worth investing in long-term, but it’s still
£500 thousand in Working Neighbourhoods Fund             a drain on social housing resources.
cash. This money will help to convert houses in
multiple occupation (HIMOs) into family homes.           “So this funding is a real boost; it means we can
                                                         afford to bring another 10 large properties back
Jonathan Driffill, the association’s managing            into use for families. And from experience, we
director, said: “One of the city council’s key           know that once the properties are let, turnover is
housing partnership objectives is to increase larger     minimal; so we’re also helping to create more
family housing, with four or more bedrooms. We’re        stable communities.”
helping to make this happen, both by building



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L&H launches
   new care service
At a time when the topic of care for older                                                                customers a personalised service. So
people is high on the national agenda,                                                                    extending our care provision to a wider
Longhurst & Havelok (L&H) Homes has                                                                       audience was a natural progression.”
launched a new domiciliary care service                                                                   “It’s all about establishing trust and stable
across north-east Lincolnshire.                                                                           working relationships, which is really
                                                                                                          important; after all, people are receiving
The new arrangements, aimed at the over-                                                                  highly personal support – such as being
65’s and people will physical disabilities,                                                               helped to wash, dress and eat meals as
will provide flexible help to customers. For                                                              well as going shopping and paying bills.
example, someone needing a period of                                                                      Having the same carer over a period of
respite support in an L&H care home could                                                                 time makes it easier for people to feel
then go home and be helped by the same                                                                    comfortable; and staff will also spot any
carer, rather than having to adjust to a                                                                  changes in a customer’s wellbeing much
new person. And customers don’t need to                                                                   more quickly.”
live in an L&H property to receive the services; any older or vulnerable
resident in north-east Lincolnshire can apply, regardless of who owns          Nationally there is a clear shift away from large-scale contracting with
their home.                                                                    providers, and towards individuals having much more control over
                                                                               designing and paying for the services they receive. So it’s the perfect
Robin Barr, director of care, support and community services at L&H,           time to launch this service. As Robin concluded: “We’re developing
said: “We already have a strong track record for our care home                 bespoke, responsive services that we know are in line with our
provision – with our schemes achieving three-star ratings under the            customers’ needs and aspirations. And increasingly that will be a very
Care Quality Commission, and 100 per cent user satisfaction.                   important factor in our line of work.”

“We wanted to bring the quality and ethos of these services into a             The new service has been through all the relevant registration
community setting, focusing on continuity of care and offering our             processes with regulators, and is set to launch at the end of April.




Linking business and
         education in Lincoln
                                       The memory of an admired colleague has seen Longhurst Group forge a new partnership with the
                                       University of Lincoln.

                                       Former ICT director Brian Cooke’s passion for training and offering opportunities was a key stimulus in
                                       establishing strong links and project work with the university and its students (pictured).

                                       As a result, Longhurst Group is sponsoring an award for the most improved ICT final year student, as well
                                       as looking to offer in the future year-long placements for an under graduate.

                                       “We’d wanted to build links with the university for some time, and by marking
                                       Brian’s achievements through a student award, we’ve been able to build a short
                                       and long term partnership which will hopefully enable us to meet our
                                       sustainability strategy and our commitment to leading and inspiring growth”,
                                       explained John Fletcher, HR Director.
Brian Cooke, Former ICT director




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   Friendship care
    contracts coup
  Friendship Care and Housing has secured an impressive £2.5m                 Alongside this
  contract from Birmingham City Council, to provide care and                  success, the
  support services under the Supporting People framework.                     association has
                                                                              almost doubled
  The contract win includes servicing a new short-term independent            the size of its existing housing and floating support services to
  living contract for people with learning disabilities. The council          clients with mental health problems and learning disabilities.
  identified a range of service users who need support, including:
  teenagers in transition to adulthood who need to move into their            Mark Askey, director of care and resources, said: “This is great
  own homes; people living with ageing parents who need support;              news, not only for our existing support services, but for the
  and customers moving out of residential care and nursing homes              business as a whole.
  who could live in the community with extra help.
                                                                              “Our whole ethos is around providing high-quality care and
  Friendship has been contracted to provide 50,000 hours of care to           support to vulnerable people in communities, especially people
  these client groups. The first stage will involve providing short-          with learning difficulties and mental health problems. These wins
  term focused services that give users ‘taster sessions’ of different        prove the strength of our services, and we’re delighted the
  living options available. Then over the next 12 months, the                 commissioners recognised this when awarding the contracts; it will
  association will work alongside commissioners, service users and            secure our future in care and support for some time to come.”
  their families to develop the new service.



Promises progressing in Rutland
If a week is a long time in politics, five months   making immediate visual impact. The               makeover. As different schemes have
seems like an eternity. For Spire Homes, the        association has also started to install new       different needs, Spire is working with
same period of time has represented an              fencing, commence a major kitchen and             residents to plan and deliver what’s most
opportunity to make a big impact.                   bathroom refurbishment programme and              important to them.
                                                    replace central heating systems.
Since homes transferred from Rutland                                                                  Service improvements
Council in November, the association has            Resident input has influenced the quality of      Apart from home improvements, Spire
ploughed ahead. Director of business services       fittings (such as soft-closing doors and 38mm     Homes is also working hard to deliver other
Lynn Stubbs points out: “From day one               worktops). Choice is also key; people can         pre-transfer commitments, and its
people were on the ground delivering the            create their own unique look, right down to       achievements to date include:
improvement programme.”                             items like handles and surfaces. With
                                                    bathrooms, tenants can choose colour              • Introducing a dedicated tenancy support
                                                    schemes. Older residents can opt for a bath         service to help young or vulnerable people
                                                    with shower over, level-access shower or a        • Launching a new text service so people can
                                                    shower cubicle with low-level lip.                  contact the association and give feedback
                                                                                                      • Offering new rent payment methods
                                                    Lynn explains: “Supporting tenants through          through the national Allpay scheme.
                                                    improvement work is really important,
                                                    because there are many elderly and                New initiatives planned for later this year
                                                    vulnerable residents needing assistance. So       include developing a handyperson service,
                                                    our dedicated liaison officer is making sure      reviewing grounds maintenance provision
                                                    that people are helped before, during and         and spending £500,000 on environmental
Home improvements                                   after work on their home.”                        improvements. Lynn sums up: “Over the next
The association is already making an impact                                                           five years, we’ll spend around £21 million on
with its external improvement works.                Upgrading sheltered housing is another            Rutland homes and neighbourhoods. We’ve
Replacing items like fascias and soffits and        priority. This includes installing new communal   made some big commitments, but we’re 100
painting external elements means Spire              heating systems, fitting energy-efficient         per cent sure that we’ll deliver everything we
Homes can reduce other costs, as well as            boilers and giving communal areas a               promised.”


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A call to Armes
Last issue, we mentioned the appointment of David Armes
as the new Longhurst Group chairman. Now it’s time to
meet him in person, and find out about his ambitions and                                            Surveying
future aspirations.

What have you achieved so far?
                                                                                                      Blue Skies
We’ve already changed the emphasis at                                                               Four years and 4,000 homes on, Blue
board meetings, dividing business into                                                              Skies Consortium has achieved great
strategic and operational agendas. Initial                                                          things in a very short space of time. And a
feedback suggests this is working well,                                                             recent survey proves it.
although we’ll formally review progress later.
                                                                                                    Last year, Blue Skies commissioned a
I’m also building relationships to understand
                                                                                                    stakeholder survey to gauge
where my input can add value and support
to other members, helping to drive change.                                                          perceptions of consortium effectiveness,
                                                                                                    and explore opportunities for improvement
What’s on the horizon?                                                                              and growth.

Self-regulation is a key Board priority and                                                         The results showed that:
we’re working positively with the Tenant
Services Authority (TSA) to meet what is                                                            • Consortium members value the ability
required of us in the new standards                                                                   to access development funding
framework. We regularly meet with senior
                                                                                                    • Both members and stakeholders admire
TSA contacts, and invite them to board
                                                                                                      Blue Skies’ strong track record and
meetings. I’ve also attended several               Hopefully my professional sales, marketing
                                                                                                      range of knowledge and expertise
workshops as part of our ongoing                   and relationship management experience
                                                                                                    • The group culture is welcoming and
commitment to develop Board skills.                will support these objectives. These days,
                                                                                                      inclusive
                                                   commercial experience is definitely an asset
A key part of my role involves support and                                                          • Partners want more information about
                                                   at Board level.
leadership, which should prove interesting in                                                         consortium priorities and the work of
the weeks ahead. I sincerely hope that             I have to relish something to be a part of it      development consultancy, POD.
affordable housing continues to play a             and my new role is incredibly rewarding; just
prominent part in national policy; obviously       seeing the excellence being achieved in          Following the survey, a new brochure,
there are political sensitivities and challenges   some parts of our group is uplifting. But this   website and brand guidelines were
involved and we need to respond quickly            is just the start, and I’m raring to meet the    developed to further raise the consortium’s
and effectively to change.                         challenges ahead.                                profile and complement existing
                                                                                                    partnership work. Details are provided at
How about your ambitions?
                                                                                                    www.blueskiesconsortium.org.uk
My long-cherished ambition to grow the
group still stands. We’re already a key player
                                                     Up close                                       Consortium lead and Longhurst Group
in the midlands, but there’s scope for further
development if the strategy, relationships
                                                          and personal                              partnerships director Alan Whyte said: “As
                                                                                                    well as being a ‘top 10’ developer
and ethos are right.                                 •   Chaired Longhurst Homes for 12             nationally, these results show how much
                                                         years                                      we’ve grown. The feedback will help us to
We manage around 17,000 homes now and                •   Former commercial manager for              anticipate and tackle future challenges –
I’d like us to grow by at least 25 per cent              East Midlands Electricity
                                                                                                    such as delivering housing with limited or
over the next five years. I’d also like us to be     •   Member of the Rotary Club of
                                                         Grantham                                   no grant; achieving procurement
generally recognised as a major registered
                                                     •   Advisory Council member for the            efficiencies for framework agreements;
provider nationally.
                                                         University of Evansville                   and achieving environmental benefits.”



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On target for
     first-class development
                                                 Ian Jackson, group director of development,       find land opportunities, and they often bring
                                                 explains: “It’s the best we could have hoped      schemes to us.
                                                 for; everything has completed or started-on-
                                                 site and we’ve achieved all the targets we        “We work with a range of key trusted
                                                 set out to – and more. It’s one of those years    partners and put a lot of effort into our
                                                 where everything went according to plan.”         relationships; long-term partnerships help
                                                                                                   the group to achieve great results. So we try
                                                 The group has actually benefited from the         to be a good partner by being decisive,
                                                 difficult market conditions. For example, the     doing what we say we’ll do and working
                                                 Homes and Communities Agency’s KickStart          with developers to make schemes work
                                                 programme allowed developers to bid for           better for everybody.”
                                                 money for private housing sites and weave
                                                 affordable housing into them. As a result,
                                                 around 130 extra units were achieved for             The year in figures
                                                 L&H Homes that the group’s developer
                                                 partners had bid for.                                • £25.6 million programme (original
With a building programme that almost                                                                   target £10 million)
trebled its original financial targets and       This reinforces the fact that strong                 • 494 homes started-on-site in the
delivered 380 homes instead of 92,               partnerships are key to the programme’s                group (originally 121)
Longhurst Group’s development team               success. Ian continues: “Both house-builders         • 505 homes completed in the group
achieved incredible results during 2009/10.      and general developers have the ability to             (was 362)




Positive progress
             in Peterborough
                                         Longhurst Group’s commitment to working           development will achieve 42 new properties, and
                                         in Peterborough is evident, with positive         bring seven street properties back into use. Built in
                                         progress being made on two major                  partnership with Larkfleet Homes, this scheme
                                         housing schemes.                                  required Longhurst Group to assemble some of the
                                                                                           site – buying various packages of land, and even
                                         The Hampton scheme with Persimmon                 some back gardens to make the development work.
                                         Homes was recently completed, achieving
                                         more than 100 homes in the city. The              Longhurst Group is also proud to be part of local
                                         development includes 30 intermediate              partnerships that are starting to mature.
                                         homes, a mix of shared ownership and rent         Representatives regularly attend the Peterborough
                                         to Homebuy; nearly all of these units were        Construction Network, and also sponsored one of
                                         sold ‘off plan’, which is a great achievement     the recent events. Later this year, the group is also
                                         given market conditions.                          set to sponsor the
                                                                                           Peterborough Business
                                         A new scheme has also recently started at         Awards, which promises
                                         Southview Road, in a regeneration area to         to be a lively and
                                         the north of the city. Once completed, the        interesting occasion.



   Worboys wins promotion
   Nick Worboys has been promoted to assistant director of development at Longhurst Group. This reflects
   her role in helping to grow the development function and instrumental role in developing relationships
   with partners.




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SureStart first for Sparkbrook
By leading a SureStart partnership in              involved in the government-led SureStart         families needing support. This work is set to
Sparkbrook, Birmingham, Friendship Care            initiative, which aims to give young people      continue. Whilst SureStart projects are
and Housing is both transforming families’         the best possible start in life.                 subject to the vagaries of government
lives and pioneering a new approach for the                                                         funding, there’s no doubt the Sparkbrook
housing sector.                                    SureStart provides childcare training, trains    example has been very successful.
                                                   people in parenting and makes sure that
In the 1990s, ‘housing plus’ was high on the       families have support structures in place. In    As Jonathan Driffill, managing director at
agenda – housing associations were urged           Sparkbrook, it was also important to make        Friendship Care and Housing points out:
to contribute to wider communities, rather         sure that the project reflected the diverse      “The Sparkbrook SureStart work has engaged
than just the bricks and mortar they               needs of a multi-cultural community.             parents and helped them to gain employment
developed and managed.                                                                              and training. It also provides good-quality
                                                   Foundations for future growth                    childcare in an area where there wasn’t any
At that time, there was much concern in the                                                         before. So we’re proud to be doing our bit
Sparkbrook area around the lack of                 Ten years on, Friendship Care and Housing is     to help the project move forward.”
childcare provision. This was a real barrier to    believed to be the only housing specialist
women accessing employment and training            named as lead organisation for a
opportunities; it often meant they couldn’t        SureStart partnership. This role
be economically active after having a baby.        involves employing outreach staff,
                                                   overseeing pay and benefits and even
Friendship Care and Housing was                    providing premises on a ‘peppercorn’
determined to change that. So the                  rent for 25 years.
association applied for European funding,
ran child-minder training and organised 200        Practical assistance available to families
extra childcare places – allowing women to         includes a health drop-in centre, baby
get the formal skills to become child-             and toddler nurseries, crèche,
minders. In around five years, the                 playgroup, school support clubs,
association showed it was possible to              library group, garden playground and
remove barriers to employment and training.        local community facility. All of these
This work was the catalyst to getting              services make a big difference to



From outsourcing
        to in-house
                         Longhurst Group’s in-house construction services team has proved its
                         value over the past year - generating income far exceeding expectations.

                         Construction services manager Jenny Davies said: “Our job is to provide
                         services that used to be outsourced – including employer’s agent and
                         clerk of works and in addition to this providing defects liaison and
                         ongoing development co-ordination.

“We support all of the Longhurst Group member companies, although a good proportion of
consultancy services work is still outsourced to partners. Different organisations have different
needs, so we keep things flexible.”

The team also has someone who monitors when schemes finish and the end of defects period
comes into play; by keeping track of progress on every scheme, any loose ends get tied up.

The team is relatively new to the group, but expanding steadily. As Jenny explains: “With such a
hectic development programme, our team was kept busy at year end!

“We hope to appoint a couple of new surveyors over the next few months. But most
importantly, we’re enjoying learning and growing alongside our member company clients.”




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Points make prizes with
     new Spire scheme
                         A ground-breaking          shape services – after all, they’re giving up   remind tenants how many points they’ve
                         Spire Homes                their time.                                     attracted for their contribution.
                         initiative is set to
                         reward residents           “Residents who join this club will opt-in to    Spire Homes also intends to use the system
for providing feedback about housing plans          a contact database and agree to take part       to target customers who traditionally are
and services.                                       in surveys, focus groups and text               under-represented in consultation (such as
                                                    consultations. We’ve asked customers            young people, working
The MyViewpoint club, which launches in             what topics interest them, so we’ll only        tenants and
June 2010, echoes many successful                   contact them on items that we know they’ll      residents
supermarket loyalty schemes. It’s an                find genuinely interesting.”                    with specific
extension of Spire’s ongoing resident                                                               needs).
involvement strategy - combining customer           Each time someone contributes views and
insight, marketing and financial incentives to      ideas, Spire Homes will add points to
boost engagement.                                   their MyViewpoint card. The idea is
                                                    to build up points that can
Samantha Horne, head of customer services,          then be swapped for a range of
explains. “We conducted a resident                  prizes - such as cinema tickets,
involvement survey last year and                    shopping vouchers and
MyViewpoint is a logical follow-up. We              music downloads.
believe that people should be rewarded for          Six-monthly
their contribution when they help us to             statements will




Exceptional exceptions
             development                                                                              In tune or
“It’s a dream come true”. That’s how
resident Laurie Blockley describes her new
shared ownership home in North
                                                    meant she could apply for the new Spire
                                                    Homes scheme being built nearby.                     off-beat?
Luffenham, Rutland.                                 The scheme’s shared ownership units work
                                                    on a ‘staircasing’ arrangement – where            We hope you have enjoyed this edition
Laurie’s home is just one of the eight              purchasers can buy a share of up to 80 per        of the Longhurst Group business
properties provided as part of a new                cent of their home. Applicants have also          briefing, InTune. We aim to highlight
exceptions site development in the parish.          been assisted with numerous incentives to         some of our achievements and show
The scheme – built just outside the village         help them settle in quickly, including free       how the teams make a real difference
boundary – is close to local facilities, but also   carpeting, cooker and cooker hood.                to the quality of people’s lives.
enjoys breathtaking views of the
countryside.                                        Katy Sagoe, director of housing services at       We’d welcome your feedback on any of
                                                    Spire Homes, said: “Shared ownership is a         the articles featured, and would also
Originally from North Luffenham, Laurie had         really important way to make homes                love to hear from you about
lived away from the area for some years, but        affordable for people in places like Rutland,     opportunities we could explore
needed to move back to be closer to her             where house prices far outstrip average           together. Please email our marketing
family. Unfortunately the price of housing in       salaries. We’re really proud of these new         director, Janet Matthews at
Oakham meant that buying her own home               properties, and plan to build more new            janet.matthews@longhurst-
was out of reach, so she and her daughter           homes locally to help people stay in this         group.org.uk with your views.
had to stay with relatives. But then she            beautiful area.”
found out that having a local connection


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