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Data Protection Commission to contact Department of Health over dossiers on children with autism

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The Data Protection Commission has said it is making contact with the Department of Health in relation to claims it secretly gathered information from private doctor consultations to create dossiers on children with autism involved in legal actions against the State.

The dossiers, which include the sensitive medical and educational information of children involved in long-dormant court cases, were built and maintained over a number of years by the Department of Health, without the knowledge or consent of parents, according to an RTÉ Investigates report, which is to be broadcast on PrimeTime on Thursday night.

The alleged practice has come to light following a disclosure by a whistleblower, Shane Corr, who works as a senior civil servant at the Department of Health. Detailed information is understood to have come directly from confidential consultations that the children and their families had with doctors and other professionals, who the department instructed not to tell parents.

The information was shared and gathered with the goal of aiding the Department of Health with a background legal strategy, such as in determining when it would be a good time to approach parents to settle or withdraw their case.

A spokesman for the Data Protection Commission said on Thursday “we have become aware of the issue through media reporting this morning and are making contact with the Department today in relation to it”.

Charity reaction

Adam Harris, chief executive of AsIAm, an autism charity and advocacy organisation said it was “deeply concerned” by the issues due to be raised in PrimeTime.

“We know from experience that autistic children and their families are all too often denied their constitutional and statutory rights by Government,” he said.

“There is an urgent need for a change in culture and attitude in how the Department of Health, the HSE and the Department of Education interact with parents who are only seeking to vindicate their rights of their children,” he said.

Tanya Ward, chief executive of Children’s Rights Alliance, said the Data Protection Commissioner should conduct an investigation into the matter.

“They need to look at the original reasons why the information is being gathered and whether any safeguards were put in place to maintain it. It seems to have been retained indefinitely on a searchable database, people would be very concerned about that kind of information,” she said.

Inclusion Ireland, the national association for people with an intellectual disability, said the details which have emerged are “a gross breach of trust” and called for the families affected to be notified.

Lorraine Dempsey, interim chief executive of the organisation said it is “highly disturbing to think that sensitive information is being collated in this manner – when families are at a low ebb and seeking help from the State, to be potentially weaponised later during legal disputes”.

Department of Health

In a statement, the Department of Health said it was made aware of the RTÉ investigation last year and initiated an independent review of its practices.

On Thursday evening, the department moved to reassure parents, families and other interested parties that it “never unlawfully held sensitive medical and educational information of children involved in dormant court cases”.

In a statement issued just hours before the programme aired, it said it was conscious of the “impact that these headlines will have on affected families”.

It has undertaken to engage with stakeholders in the coming days to address any concerns.

“It is normal practice for defendants [of] litigation to gather and maintain appropriate information in order to obtain legal advice and/or defend the proceedings. This is necessary to protect the public interest and is a normal practice for the management of litigation,” it said.

After being made aware of the programme last year, the Department said it commissioned an unnamed senior counsel to carry out a review, which was completed in November and which identified no breaches of data protection law.

“The review found that information contained on relevant files managed by the Department is consistent with, and typical of, the sort of information which arises in such litigation. The examination also found no basis to suggest wrongdoing arising from the information contained,” it said.

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Four homes for sale with swimming pools: With price tags from £1.1m to £190k

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Owning a property with a swimming pool might seem like one of life’s luxuries that is reserved for millionaires.

But, as our pick of homes for sale with swimming pools proves, you don’t have to have a multi-million pound property to have one.

That said, you may still need deep pockets for their upkeep, which can be costly, particularly if you want to keep your swimming pool heated to a comfortable temperature.

While water shortages and hosepipe bans are hitting the headlines, a pool that is already filled with water will not draw on resources but may be forbidden from being topped up by hosepipe in the case of a ban.

Our pick of four properties for sale with swimming pools are for various budgets, ranging from £1.1million to £190,000 (scroll down for more information about the house pictured)

Our pick of four properties for sale with swimming pools are for various budgets, ranging from £1.1million to £190,000 (scroll down for more information about the house pictured)

Here, we take a look at four swimming pools at properties for those with a range of different budgets.

At the top end is a six-bedroom house in Ramsgate, Kent. with an acre of land that includes an outdoor swimming pool. It has a price tag of £1.1million.

At the other end is three-bedroom property in Ashington, Northumberland, with an empty indoor swimming pool and an asking price of only £190,000.

Daniel Copley, of Zoopla, said: ‘With Britain currently experiencing a heatwave, it’s no surprise that homes with swimming pools are proving to be increasingly popular.

‘Whether your budget is more in the deep or shallow end, some homes with pools may be more affordable than you think.

‘While the rise in energy bills will have a very real impact on those wanting to heat a pool, at this time of year a refreshing dip may be just what’s needed.’

Four properties with swimming pools… 

1. Six-bed house, Ramsgate, £1.1m

The most expensive house in our list of properties with swimming pools is this £1.1million home in Ramsgate, Kent, which is being sold by Miles & Barr estate agents

The most expensive house in our list of properties with swimming pools is this £1.1million home in Ramsgate, Kent, which is being sold by Miles & Barr estate agents

The property is called Pond Cottage and it boasts a large outdoor swimming pool that has a curved slide at the side

The property is called Pond Cottage and it boasts a large outdoor swimming pool that has a curved slide at the side

Inside the property, the entertainment facilities continue - with a cinema room that has black chairs and a red carpet

Inside the property, the entertainment facilities continue – with a cinema room that has black chairs and a red carpet

The most expensive house in our list of properties with swimming pools is this £1.1million home in Ramsgate, Kent.

It boasts more than an acre of land that includes a large outdoor swimming pool, a patio and a pool area.

The property is called Pond Cottage and it is being sold by Miles & Barr estate agents.

2. Five-bed semi-detached house, Welling, £625k

This semi-detached property in Welling, Kent, may not look like it can house a swimming pool from the front aspect

This semi-detached property in Welling, Kent, may not look like it can house a swimming pool from the front aspect

A slimline swimming pool has been added to the rear of the house and it has been covered to protect it from the elements

A slimline swimming pool has been added to the rear of the house and it has been covered to protect it from the elements

The Kent property is on the market with a price tag of £625,000 and the sale is being handled by estate agents MS Estates

The Kent property is on the market with a price tag of £625,000 and the sale is being handled by estate agents MS Estates

This semi-detached property in Welling, Kent, may not look like it can house a swimming pool from the front.

But a slimline swimming pool has been added to the rear of the house. It is on the market for £625,000 via MS Estates.

3. Five-bed house, Ripon, £450k

This three-bedroom house in Ripon, North Yorkshire, was once a barn and has been converted into a family home with a swimming pool

This three-bedroom house in Ripon, North Yorkshire, was once a barn and has been converted into a family home with a swimming pool

The curved shaped indoor swimming pool sits below wooden beams and has a separate bar area for entertaining

The curved shaped indoor swimming pool sits below wooden beams and has a separate bar area for entertaining

The barn conversion has a colourful interior and is on the market for £450,000 via Solo Property Management estate agents

The barn conversion has a colourful interior and is on the market for £450,000 via Solo Property Management estate agents

This three-bedroom barn conversion in Ripon, North Yorkshire, boasts an indoor swimming pool and bar area.

It is on the market with a price tag of £450,000 and the sale is being handled by Solo Property Management.

4. Three-bed house, Ashington, £190k

This three-bedroom house in Ashington, Northumberland, is the cheapest in our list of properties for sale with swimming pools

This three-bedroom house in Ashington, Northumberland, is the cheapest in our list of properties for sale with swimming pools

The 1930s detached property has an indoor swimming pool that isn¿t currently being used because it has been left empty

The 1930s detached property has an indoor swimming pool that isn’t currently being used because it has been left empty

The three-bedroom property is currently for sale for £190,000 and is being sold via Rook Matthews Sayer estate agents

The three-bedroom property is currently for sale for £190,000 and is being sold via Rook Matthews Sayer estate agents

This three-bedroom house in Ashington, Northumberland, is the cheapest in our list of properties for sale with swimming pools.

It is a 1930s detached property with an indoor swimming pool that isn’t currently being used as it is empty.

The property is for sale for a relatively cheap £190,000 and is being sold via Rook Matthews Sayer estate agents.

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Barwood Homes invests in Woodville resi scheme (GB)

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Harworth Group plc has completed the sale of an eight-acre land parcel at Woodville, Derbyshire to Barwood Homes for the delivery of 73 new houses. This represents Harworth’s first transaction with the Northampton-based housebuilder. The land parcel forms part of a 53-acre regeneration site which is owned by Beepart Ltd, part of Dyson Group, the Sheffield-based former manufacturer of industrial materials. Harworth is promoting the site on its behalf through a Planning Promotion Agreement. In April 2022, South Derbyshire District Council granted outline consent for the creation of up to 300 homes on the site, in addition to a c.30,000ft² local center with convenience retail and leisure amenities and over 150,000ft² of employment space for a range of uses.

 

The wider site has been unlocked by the delivery of Derbyshire County Council’s Woodville to Swadlincote Regeneration Route, which opened to traffic in December 2021, providing better access to Swadlincote and traffic relief in Woodville, as well as improved connectivity across the site. Preparation works will commence shortly for the next phases of residential and employment land sales at the development.

 

Ed Catchpole, Regional Director for Yorkshire & Central at Harworth, commented: “This sale is a fantastic start to the development at Woodville and we are pleased to welcome Barwood Homes to the site, who will deliver high-quality new housing for the local community. Our focus is now on bringing forward the rest of the development, utilising our extensive experience in the remediation of complex sites, including earthworks and infrastructure, to ready the remaining residential and employment land.”

 

Luke Simmons, Managing Director of Barwood Homes, added: “We are delighted to be working alongside Harworth on this exciting development. The team is looking forward to engaging with the local community as we gear up to deliver a scheme of excellent quality in design, build and service.”

 

Gavin Rosson, Managing Director of Dyson Group, added: “This first sale of a residential portion of the site is an important step in unlocking the full development potential of the whole, something we have been trying to achieve for many years. Such development will help regenerate Woodville and the surrounding area, somewhere we have had a presence since 1967 and are delighted to participate in.”

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Mansion near village home to Premier League footballers mocked for looking like a ‘leisure centre’

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‘It looks like a leisure centre from 1994!’: House hunters mock design for new £4.8m mansion near village popular with Premier League footballers

  • The six-bed mansion in Mobberley, Cheshire has been brought to life using CGI photos
  • The property sits across from Knutsford, home to top flight stars Wayne Rooney, John Stones and Kyle Walker
  • Listed for £4.8m, the house will include a swimming pool, spa, gym, cinema room and safe room for security 

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A six-bed mansion listed for £4.8 million in a sought-after location, popular with Premier League footballers, has been compared to ‘a leisure centre from 1994’.

The three-floored house, which has not even been built yet, has been brought to life using CGI photos.

The property is set to boast an underground garage, swimming pool, sunken spa pool and gym.

There will also be a cinema, games room, music room and a safe room for added security.

However, one house hunter joked: ‘If you are searching for a dream house that looks like a medium sized market town leisure centre, from 1994…

The proposed development (not pictured) is situated close to Knutsford (above) which is popular with Premier League footballers including Wayne Rooney, John Stones and Kyle Walker

The proposed development (not pictured) is situated close to Knutsford (above) which is popular with Premier League footballers including Wayne Rooney, John Stones and Kyle Walker

‘£4.8 million and this baby’s yours.’

 Another added, ‘The multiple toilets and changing rooms just add to that feel.’ 

The house, located in Mobberley, Cheshire is just across from the village Knutsford, home to many top flight stars like Wayne Rooney, John Stones and Kyle Walker. 

The six-bed pad will be set in six acres of land amid the countryside and will have a lift linking all the floors for maximum luxury.

The house – which has just been reduced in price – is being sold by Savills and advertised through Rightmove.

The listing reads: ‘A rare opportunity to create a unique and spectacular family home offering over 22,500 sq ft of accommodation set in approx six acres of land.

‘The property when completed will offer incredibly light, airy, spacious accommodation.

‘The accommodation is thoughtfully laid out over three floors with a flexible layout that is ideal for modern family living and entertaining on a grand scale.’

Home hunters have compared the house to a council-run leisure centre due to its appearance from the outside

Home hunters have compared the house to a council-run leisure centre due to its appearance from the outside

One user added: 'The multiple toilets and changing rooms just add to that feel'

One user added: ‘The multiple toilets and changing rooms just add to that feel’

One comment read, 'Confused by this. Does the insane price tag actually include the cost of the build? 'It says it's an "opportunity to create"

One comment read, ‘Confused by this. Does the insane price tag actually include the cost of the build? ‘It says it’s an “opportunity to create” 

One comment read, ‘Confused by this. Does the insane price tag actually include the cost of the build? ‘It says it’s an “opportunity to create”.

‘Are you just getting the land and planning permission? And for that right I’d like a few more of the CGI images since you can’t actually, you know, view it.’

Another user replied: ‘I think that’s just the land.

‘Crazy eh, it’s been reduced a few times too, unsurprisingly.’

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