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Busiest property markets of 2020 revealed: Cambridgeshire town tops table as buyers

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The busiest property markets of 2020 revealed: Cambridgeshire town takes top spot as buyers shun cities for quieter areas

  • Small towns saw most property purchases relative to their population in 2020 
  • Huntingdon, Pontefract and Great Yarmouth topped the list compiled by Haysto
  • Buyers moved further from cities and sought green space due to the pandemic
  • Cities such as Birmingham and Brighton saw comparatively fewer purchases

The busiest property markets of 2020 have been revealed, with small towns taking the top spots as buyers flooded out of cities during the pandemic.

Huntingdon, Cambridgeshire, had the highest rate of property purchases in England and Wales, followed by Pontefract, West Yorkshire and Great Yarmouth, Norfolk.

Specialist mortgage platform Haysto analysed Government data to work out the figures, which are based on the number of house purchases per 10,000 people in the area’s population. 

Huntingdon in Cambridgeshire was found to be one of the busiest property markets in 2020

Huntingdon in Cambridgeshire was found to be one of the busiest property markets in 2020

Huntingdon, which has a population of around 26,000 people, saw more than than 400 house purchases per 10,000, while Pontefract saw 328 and Great Yarmouth, 320.

Known for being the birthplace of Oliver Cromwell, Huntingdon is a commuter town with a direct train link to London. It also tends to offers better value than other areas near Cambridge.

According to Rightmove data, house prices are on average £10,000 cheaper than the regional average in Cambridgeshire.

Pontefract might also have benefited from bargain-seeking house buyers. 

Sold prices in the town, which has a population of just over 31,000, were down three per cent year-on-year in 2020 according to Rightmove. 

Hot markets: Huntingdon, Pontefract and Great Yarmouth topped Haysto's list of the locations which saw most property purchases per head of their population last year

Hot markets: Huntingdon, Pontefract and Great Yarmouth topped Haysto’s list of the locations which saw most property purchases per head of their population last year

Cooling off: Cities such as Portsmouth, Birmingham and Brighton saw less demand for homes, recording fewer purchases relative to the number of people who live in them

Cooling off: Cities such as Portsmouth, Birmingham and Brighton saw less demand for homes, recording fewer purchases relative to the number of people who live in them

This was at a time when house prices have risen by an average of £17,000 across the UK.

Preston is the only city in the top ten of the high purchase rate list, and has a relatively small metropolitan population of less than 99,800.

Other than Doncaster, each of the locations in the top ten has less than 100,000 inhabitants.  

Haysto’s research also identified the locations that had the fewest property purchases relative to the size of the population, or the least busy housing markets. 

Norfolk's Great Yarmouth, which was the third-busiest property market according to Haysto

Norfolk’s Great Yarmouth, which was the third-busiest property market according to Haysto

Portsmouth had the fewest with 51 per 10,000 people, as despite having a population of nearly a quarter of a million, there were only 1,267 properties sold over the course of the year.

Wirral (56), Luton (72), Watford (74) and Birmingham (75) completed the bottom five locations with the lowest number of property purchases per 10,000 people in 2020. 

This also reflected the trend towards smaller settlements among buyers. 

All of the 20 towns and cities with the lowest property purchase rates had a population of at least 100,000, while five were home to more than a quarter of a million. 

Buyers have moved further away from cities in the past year, as many worked from home and felt that they would necessarily not return to a daily commute after the pandemic. 

Other attributes such as larger floor plates and gardens, which are harder to find and less affordable in urban areas, also climbed higher up buyers’ wish lists.  

Commenting on the research, Paul Coss, co-founder and specialist mortgage broker at Haysto said: ‘The impact of Covid-19 changed the property market in 2020 nationwide. 

‘I believe when we come out of lockdown and the economy starts to bounce back, this could be a good year to move or get on the property ladder.’

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Orange warning in place for five counties on west coast

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Violent storm force 11 winds are expected off the west coast as Storm Barra approaches on Tuesday morning.

Met Éireann has upgraded its marine weather warning to red, the highest category, on Irish coastal waters from Galway Bay to Bantry Bay from 3am on Tuesday morning to 11pm tomorrow night.

A status orange warning is in place on land for the counties of Galway, Clare, Limerick, Kerry and Cork from 6am on Tuesday morning until the same time on Wednesday morning.

Counties included in orange warning could see damaging gusts of up to 130km/h which will head to high waves, high tides, heavy rain and storm surge.

The rest of the country will be under a status yellow warning for the same period with the possibility of localised flooding.

Met Éireann head of forecasting Evelyn Cusack told Newstalk Breakfast that the storm system is developing rapidly over the Atlantic at present and will hit Ireland’s western seaboard on Tuesday with strong gale force winds which will quickly extend across the country.

There will be heavy rain turning to sleet and snow on higher ground, she warned.

Met Éireann will meet with gardaí, local authorities and emergency services this morning to update the progress of the storm and provide advice on what precautionary measures should be taken.

“It will be a pretty horrid day,” added Ms Cusack who advised against cycling.

The high winds and heavy rain will continue throughout Wednesday but they will have moved on by Thursday.

On RTÉ radio’s Morning Ireland, senior meteorologist Liz Walsh warned that trees could be knocked down during the high winds. She also advised that outdoor street furniture should be taken in or tied down and cautioned that Christmas decorations could be damaged.

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Coronavirus rules for driving tests spark complaints

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Claims of rude testers, of not being allowed to cough and having to drive with windows open due to Covid-19 were among the complaints received from people who failed driving tests recently.

The Road Safety Authority (RSA), which oversees driving tests nationally, released a sample of the 1,505 complaints received since the start of last year under the Freedom of Information Act.

New figures show the driving test centre in Cork had the highest pass rate with 75 per cent of people passing, while the lowest was Charlestown in Dublin with a 42 per cent pass rate.

One person complained he had told his tester he had asthma and might need to cough because he had recently changed inhalers, causing irritation to his throat.

“I was advised that if I coughed at any stage, the test would be over immediately. This was difficult to control while under exam pressure and added a huge amount of unnecessary stress and pressure,” the individual complained.

Another individual complained their tester said if their face mask slipped “a little bit from my nose” while driving, the test would be ended.

“I’m in shock how he treated me that day,” said the complainant.

Another learner driver who failed said their car was hot and “very uncomfortable” because the tester said the hot air de-misters had to be kept on to prevent the windows fogging up because the back windows had to be kept open due to Covid-19.

One complainant said the tester seemed to have prejudged the test when they spotted a small stain on the driver’s seat as the car was supposed to be “spotless”.

‘Anxious’

“The tester was clearly taking it too far. I was complying with all Covid precautions as I had just Hoovered and sanitised the car and it was simply a mark on the seat.”

There were general complaints beyond Covid-19 issues. One person complained about feeling “anxious” because the tester was “sitting there shaking his head”.

Another said their tester repeatedly shook his head and sighed several times, and then made notes on the score sheet, which was “extremely off-putting and really unfair”.

Another driver said the tester was “extremely condescending and patronising” and mocked their answer to a signpost theory question about an “unguarded cliff edge”.

“We don’t drive along cliff edges in this country,” the tester was quoted as saying.

The RSA has been dealing with a backlog of driving tests due to the pandemic.

The centres with the next highest pass rates were Clifden (71 per cent), Killester in Dublin (70 per cent), Birr, Co Offaly (70 per cent) and Cavan (69 per cent).

The test centres with the next lowest pass rates were Dublin’s Churchtown, since closed (44 per cent), Nenagh, Co Tipperary (44 per cent) and Mulhuddart (45 per cent) and Raheny (46 per cent), both in Dublin.


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Former US presidential candidate Bob Dole dies aged 98

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Bob Dole, the long-time Kansas senator who was the Republican nominee for president in 1996, has died from lung cancer. In a statement, the Elizabeth Dole Foundation, founded by Dole’s wife, said: “It is with heavy hearts we announced that Senator Robert Joseph Dole died earlier this morning in his sleep. At his death at age 98 he had served the United States of America faithfully for 79 years.”

In late February, Dole announced that he had advanced lung cancer and would begin treatment. Visiting him, President Joe Biden called Dole his “close friend”.

On Sunday the House speaker, Nancy Pelosi, like Biden a Democrat, ordered flags at the Capitol to be flown at half-staff.

Born in Russell, Kansas in 1923, Dole served in the US infantry in the second world war, suffering serious wounds in Italy and winning a medal for bravery.

His wounds cost him use of his right arm but he entered state politics and soon became a longtime Republican power-broker, representing Kansas in the US House of Representatives from 1961 to 1969 and in the Senate until 1996. He had spells as chairman of the Republican National Committee and as Senate minority and majority leader.

In 1976 he was the Republican nominee for vice-president to Gerald Ford, in an election the sitting president lost to Jimmy Carter. Two decades later, aged 73, Dole won the nod to take on Bill Clinton.

Against the backdrop of a booming economy, the Democrat won a second term with ease, by 379 – 159 in the electoral college and by nine points in the popular vote, the third-party candidate Ross Perot costing Dole support on the right.

Dole received both the Presidential Medal of Freedom and the Congressional Gold Medal, the highest US civilian honours.

In the Trump years and after, Dole came widely to be seen as a figure from another time in Republican politics.

On Sunday, the political consultant Tara Setmeyer, a member of the anti-Trump Lincoln Project, tweeted: “I cast my first ever vote for president for Bob Dole in 1996. A war hero with a sharp sense of humor ? another piece of a once respectable GOP gone.”

However, Dole remained a loyal Republican soldier, telling USA Today this summer that though Donald Trump “lost the election, and I regret that he did, but they did”, and though he himself was “sort of Trumped out”, he still considered himself “a Trumper”.

Dole called Biden “a great, kind, upstanding, decent person”, though he said he leaned too far left.

He also said: “I do believe [America has]lost something. I can’t get my hand on it, but we’re just not quite where we should be, as the greatest democracy in the world. And I don’t know how you correct it, but I keep hoping that there will be a change in my lifetime.”

On Sunday, Jaime Harrison, the chair of the Democratic National Committee, said: “Sending heartfelt condolences and prayers to the family of Senator Bob Dole. We honor his service and dedication to the nation. May he Rest In Peace.”

– Guardian

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