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Single father is overcome with emotion after home is transformed on Filthy House SOS

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A single father whose rare lymphatic illness left him with a severe hoarding problem was overcome with emotion after a ‘life-changing’ home transformation. 

Bob, from Newport, was a lorry driver before he developed serious medical conditions as a result of lymphoedema in his legs, and 10 years ago he became housebound due to breathing difficulties and significant disabilities. 

He lives with 29-year-old son Tom and admitted that he developed a compulsive shopping habit to cope with his underlying depression, filling entire rooms of their home with years full of junk.  

On the latest episode of 5Star’s Filthy House SOS, which aired at 9pm last night, master cleaners Brennan and Richard were called in to meet with Bob and Tom to overhaul their house.  

Master cleaners Brennan and Richard travelled to Newport to meet with Bob on 5Star's Filthy House SOS, which aired at 9pm last night. Pictured: Bob's bedroom before the clean

Master cleaners Brennan and Richard travelled to Newport to meet with Bob on 5Star’s Filthy House SOS, which aired at 9pm last night. Pictured: Bob’s bedroom before the clean

Bob lives with 29-year-old son Tom and admitted that he developed a compulsive shopping habit. Pictured, Bob's kitchen before the clean

Bob lives with 29-year-old son Tom and admitted that he developed a compulsive shopping habit. Pictured, Bob’s kitchen before the clean

Introducing himself at the beginning of the show, Bob said: ‘I live with my son Thomas, he has some additional needs and I care for him and he cares for me and we get on great. We bond together and get on together.

‘I’ve been housebound now for 10 years because I have lymphedema in both legs. It’s very difficult for me to do any exercise, so I’ve put on weight which has brought on diabetes, which has brought on sleep apnoea. 

‘My legs used to weep and even though I’d have two or three towels under my legs they would still soak through and the carpet is black and brown and horrible and stained and absolutely ruined.’ 

Bob’s home spiralled out of control when he and his ex-wife split up, and he has been unable to clean due to his medical conditions. As well as the lack of cleaning, Bob has spent years accumulating clutter. 

Bob, from Newport, (pictured) was a lorry driver before he developed serious medical conditions as a result of lymphedema in his legs

Bob, from Newport, (pictured) was a lorry driver before he developed serious medical conditions as a result of lymphedema in his legs

Tom said: ‘I’ve spoken to my dad quite a lot of times saying, “You need to stop buying stuff now, you’re buying too much”. I’d like my house to be like a home again.’

Bob added: ‘I’ve outgrown my house with the amount of stuff I’ve been purchasing and collecting, and that’s why I’m asking for help and I appreciate any help I can get now.’ 

The father had been sleeping in his living room for over a decade, with experts Richard and Brennan fearing dog Ace could be the source of the fleas within the home. 

The bedroom which was once so packed full of clutter Richard and Brennan could barely see the bed is pictured looking clean and tidy following the transformation

The bedroom which was once so packed full of clutter Richard and Brennan could barely see the bed is pictured looking clean and tidy following the transformation

In the kitchen junk including electric scooters, car parts and garden equipment littered every inch of the room while heaps of flammable material sat on the cooker. Pictured, the kitchen after the transformation

In the kitchen junk including electric scooters, car parts and garden equipment littered every inch of the room while heaps of flammable material sat on the cooker. Pictured, the kitchen after the transformation 

In the kitchen, junk including electric scooters, car parts and garden equipment littered every inch of the room while heaps of flammable material sat on the cooker. 

The cleaners discovered curry sauce that was nine years out of date and unopened spices purchased 20 years ago.  

What is lymphoedema? 

Primary lymphoedema is caused by alterations (mutations) in genes responsible for the development of the lymphatic system.

The faulty genes cause the parts of the lymphatic system responsible for draining fluid to not develop properly or not work as they should.

Primary lymphoedema often runs in families, although not every child born to someone with the condition will develop it themselves.

It’s a rare condition affecting an estimated one in 6,000 people. 

Secondary lymphoedema, which is more common, develops in people who previously had a normal lymphatic system that then becomes damaged.

‘This has got hoarder written all over this kitchen, every conceivable surface is full of a mismatch of all sorts of stuff,’ Richard observed. 

In the upstairs bathroom, walls and the ceiling were thick with dirt and mould, with a swab test measuring bacteria levels of 20,000; any reading over 60 is considered unhealthy. 

The bedroom was also packed full of clutter, so much so that Richard and Brennan could barely see the bed. The room also had to be fumigated when the cleaners discovered fleas.    

Revealing the source of his buying and hoarding, Bob told: ‘I comfort buy and that’s how things have kept me sane.

‘I put it down to sort of fighting a bit of depression, not going out, being stuck in all the time, I’m bit sad.’ 

Tearing up, he went on: ‘As a way of beating my depression, rather than saving my money, I’d rather spend it on things that, for me, I thought were practical at the time and it’s just got out of control. It’s time for change.’  

Bob was left traumatised after an incident which left him afraid to leave his home – when he was mocked while waiting at his local doctor’s surgery because of his weeping legs. 

Asked by Richard how often he leaves his home, Bob replied: ‘Very rarely, once you’re scarred psychologically and I have been, it’s hard to un-see that moment. 

‘About eight years ago my legs were really weeping even through I was having the dressings changed every day. 

‘I had to go to my doctors surgery to have them dressed and there were people nudging each other saying, “Look at the state of him, he looks like he’s wet himself with that puddle on the floor”.

‘So I got up and cried and went home and thought, I’m never going to go outside again, because of that one moment.’ 

Bob's home spiralled out of control when he and his ex-wife split up, and he has been unable to clean up his home due to his medical conditions. Pictured, clutter removed from Bob's home

Bob’s home spiralled out of control when he and his ex-wife split up, and he has been unable to clean up his home due to his medical conditions. Pictured, clutter removed from Bob’s home 

In the upstairs bathroom, walls and the ceiling were thick with dirt and mould, with a swab test measuring bacteria levels showing a result of 20,000

In the upstairs bathroom, walls and the ceiling were thick with dirt and mould, with a swab test measuring bacteria levels showing a result of 20,000

Bob's legs used to weep through his dressings, leaving a black and brown stain on the carpet near his bed

Bob’s legs used to weep through his dressings, leaving a black and brown stain on the carpet near his bed 

But the kindness and positivity of the cleaning team inspired Bob to change his life for good: ‘In the last few days I’ve been surrounded by so many positive people with positive thoughts,’ he said.

‘It’s given me the motivation to change my whole life, to start a new life and start a new me.’

At the end of the three-day deep clean, Bob was keen to see what his new home looked like, and was overcome with emotion at the ‘life-changing’ transformation. 

‘It looks amazing, this is a room I’ve been longing for for so long. I’m not embarrassed anymore,’ he said. ‘It’s everything and more than I could ever possibly have asked for.  

‘I’m floating at the moment, so much weight has been lifted off my shoulders, it really is amazing. I feel so much safer here, my whole house was a health hazard. 

‘I thought for a long time that was my life and I was going to die in a pile of boxes, this is life changing stuff.’ 

Filthy House SOS continues on Wednesdays at 9pm on 5Star.

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UK property prices are 30% higher than they were in 2007, Zoopla says

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Average property prices across Britain are now 30 per cent higher than they were at the peak of the market in 2007, before the global financial crash.

Buyers are paying an average of £230,700 for a home, which is the highest on record, according to property portal Zoopla’s latest house price index.

House prices grew by 5.4 per cent in the year to June, but experts at Zoopla said they could start falling as the year draws to an end and the stamp duty holiday and furlough scheme are scrapped.

Price shifts: Average property prices across Britain are now 30% higher than they were at the peak of the market in 2007, according to data from Zoopla

Price shifts: Average property prices across Britain are now 30% higher than they were at the peak of the market in 2007, according to data from Zoopla

While the stamp duty holiday and cheap mortgage deals have given the property market a boost, a severe shortage in stock has also been pushing up prices. 

The number of properties up for sale was around a quarter lower in the first six months of this year than it was at the same point a year ago, Zoopla said.

The stock shortage problem has been exacerbated by a rise in the number of first-time buyers coming to the market, who, of course, have no property to sell.  

Getting more space remains a big draw for many prospective buyers, with demand for houses twice as high as the 2017-19 average, while the popularity of flats has waned. 

Northern Ireland and Wales saw the biggest spike in property prices in the past year, with rises of 8.6 per cent and 8.4 per cent respectively. 

For Wales, this represents the highest rate of annual growth for 16 years, with many areas becoming increasingly popular with relocators and second home owners.

Demand for houses has pushed their price tags up, especially in Wales which proved popular with relocators and second home owners

Demand for houses has pushed their price tags up, especially in Wales which proved popular with relocators and second home owners 

Stock matters: The number of homes being put up for sale has failed to keep up with demand

Stock matters: The number of homes being put up for sale has failed to keep up with demand

This was despite the fact that the Welsh land transaction tax holiday, its equivalent of the stamp duty break, did not apply to second home or buy-to-let purchases.

In Wales and England, buyers could save up to £15,000 in tax on house purchases until 30 June. In England, they can still save up to £2,500 until 30 September. 

At a regional level, house price growth was at its highest in the North West (+7.3 per cent) and Yorkshire & the Humber (+6.8 per cent), while London trailed behind with annual house price growth of +2.3 per cent.  

Demand in London is polarised between inner and outer, with demand in outer London running 86 per cent ahead of the 2017-19 average. 

‘This is explained in part by the available housing stock – with larger volumes of houses and properties with outside space’, Zoopla said.

In contrast, demand in inner London is running just 2 per cent above the ‘normal’ market average. 

This is also reflected in the pricing of properties, with London flats, predominantly clustered towards the centre, dipping by 0.5 per cent in the year to June. In contrast, houses have registered growth of 5.6 per cent in the past year. 

Looking at other major cities, Liverpool has performed well as house prices grew by 8.9 per cent in the past year. 

Rochdale, Bolton and Hastings all saw property prices increase over 9 per cent during the period, while Belfast, Manchester and Sheffield saw prices rise more than 7 per cent. 

Sales levels up and down the country are running about 22 per cent higher than they were last year, but buyer demand slipped 9 per cent in the first half of July after the initial phase of the stamp duty holiday ended. 

However, transaction volumes are still around 80 per cent higher than they would normally be at this time of year. 

Your area: A map showing how house prices have been changing up and down Britain

Your area: A map showing how house prices have been changing up and down Britain

Grainne Gilmore, head of research at Zoopla, said: ‘Demand is moderating from record high levels earlier this year, but remains significantly up from typical levels, signalling that above average activity levels will continue in the coming months.

‘Demand for houses is still outstripping demand for flats. To a certain extent this trend will have been augmented by the stamp duty holiday, with bigger savings on offer for larger properties – typically houses. 

‘But underneath this, there is a continued drumbeat of demand for more space among buyers, both inside and outside, funnelling demand towards houses, resulting in stronger price growth for these properties.’

She added: ‘Overall buyer demand coupled with constrained supply signal that price growth will continue to rise in the coming months, peaking at around 6 per cent, before falling back to between 4 per cent to 5 per cent by the end of 2021.’ 

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EU pauses legal action against UK over Northern Ireland protocol

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The European Commission has paused legal proceedings against the United Kingdom over the implementation of the Northern Ireland protocol in the hope that solutions can be found.

It comes after the UK government called for a “standstill period” in which the EU would not further legal action and the UK would also refrain from unilateral moves.

A European Commission spokesman said in a statement that “in order to provide the necessary space to reflect on these issues and find durable solutions to the implementation of the protocol, we have decided, at this stage, not to move to the next stage of the infringement procedure, started in March”.

Last week the UK’s Brexit minister, David Frost, told the House of Commons there should be a “significant change” in the protocol and that “we cannot go on as we are”.

The commission said the pause in the legal action would be used to consider the UK’s proposals.

“We confirm our readiness to continue to engage with the United Kingdom, also on the suggestions made in the Command Paper, and to consider any proposals that respect the principles of the protocol,” the statement from the commission added.

The Irish Government has also said it will carefully consider the British proposals, which include suggestions that were raised and discussed during the negotiation process.

“We have received a constructive reply from the Commission in response to our request for a standstill on existing arrangements,” a British government spokeswoman said. “We look forward to engaging in talks with the EU in the weeks ahead to progress the proposals in our command paper.

“As we set out in the Command Paper last week, significant changes are needed to ensure the Pprotocol is sustainable for future”

Last week, Mr Frost suggested a tiered system in which goods produced for consumption in Northern Ireland only would not need to be inspected at Irish Sea crossing points, and that goods that were made to standards that equalled those of the EU should be able to circulate freely.

‘Impossible’ steps

Other proposals included abolishing export certification, state aid rules and the oversight of the European Court of Justice, encompassing several steps that are seen as impossible for EU capitals to agree to.

Both Brussels and Dublin are seen to be keen to cool the heat on the issue of Northern Ireland and encourage negotiations to find solutions for any problems through the pathways laid out by the withdrawal agreement and trade deal wherever possible.

The commission warned that it would not renegotiate the protocol, which was negotiated and agreed by both sides as a way to allow Britain to leave the single market and customs union while avoiding the need for checks across the island of Ireland.

UK prime minister Boris Johnson originally praised the deal as a “reasonable, fair outcome” and a “very good deal” for both sides, but his government has since said it has been implemented in a stricter manner than foreseen.

“The EU has sought flexible, practical solutions to overcome the difficulties citizens in Northern Ireland are experiencing regarding the implementation of the protocol – as demonstrated in the package of measures announced by the commission on June 30th,” a commission spokeswoman said.

“While the EU will not renegotiate the protocol, we stand ready to address all the issues arising in the practical implementation of the protocol in a spirit of good faith and co-operation.”

It added that if was essential that “constructive discussions” continue in the coming weeks.

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Cladding repair bill is same as £230k price of this Hertfordshire flat

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When homeowner Sophie Bichener, 29, bought her flat in Stevenage, Hertfordshire, in 2017 for £230,000, she had no idea about the potentially crippling costs that lay ahead.

She moved into the flat just before the fire at Grenfell Tower, in West London, which caused 72 deaths.

Like so many other purchasers, Sophie bought moved into her flat believing that it was safe because it complied with building regulations. 

However, her flat has since deemed to be unsafe in the wake of the Grenfell fire.

Since the Grenfell Tower fire in 2017, concerns about cladding have become a national issue

Since the Grenfell Tower fire in 2017, concerns about cladding have become a national issue

Like so many other flat owners affected by fire safety issues, she has been left unable to sell her property, as mortgage lenders will no longer offer loans without fresh proof of safety. 

Her block of flats has been deemed unsafe and fire safety repairs need to be carried out. 

But the bill for the repairs are eye-watering, almost matching what she originally paid for the flat. 

This summer she was quoted £202,077 to fix just her flat, which is not far from the £230,000 that she originally paid for her home.

She understands that some of the £14million-plus costs to fix her block will be met from the Building Safety Fund, but it is not yet known how much financial assistance – if any – she will get.

This leaves her facing the unknown, a situation many flat owners find themselves in through no fault of their own.  

She says it is likely that she will have to relocate during the works for at least a month.

Sophie Bichener, 29, bought her flat in Stevenage, Hertfordshire in 2017 for £230,000, but has since been quoted £202,077 to fix her flat, which has deemed to be unsafe

Sophie Bichener, 29, bought her flat in Stevenage, Hertfordshire in 2017 for £230,000, but has since been quoted £202,077 to fix her flat, which has deemed to be unsafe

Her block is home to 73 flats spread across 14 storeys. It is above 18 metres and had problems with combustible cladding and missing fire breaks.

It is unknown when the fire safety work is expected to begin as the Government has yet to confirm whether it will provide funding for her block.

But once the work does start, it is suggested that it could take 52 weeks, meaning Sophie would be effectively living on what would look like a building site for a year.

The block has already paid for six months of a waking watch at a cost of £600 a month per flat. Those payments stopped following the installation of new fire alarms.

Sophie told MailOnline Property: ‘We have a supportive network of leaseholders and so you can take time out from dealing with it. However, being in lockdown and in the flat twenty-four seven means I’ve spent a lot of time trying to figure this out.

‘Knowing that when you go to work that money has already been spent has been disheartening.

‘We just have to do what we can. It is easier for me to talk about it now, but there are people I know who are suicidal. While the Government is playing ‘who is to pay’, leaseholders are struggling to survive.’

‘We have had to put our life on hold. I can’t spend any money as I know I shall have a bill at the end of all of this, although I don’t know how much that will be.

‘I’d like to get married and have children, but simply cannot afford to contemplate that at the moment.’

Campaigners have called ministers of ignoring cladding victims’ screams for help.

Stephen McPartland, MP for Stevenage, said: ‘Ministers have betrayed leaseholders like Sophie. Ignoring their screams for help, dismissing their dreams and refusing to listen.

‘Leaseholders need practical support, not more weasel words and I will continue to fight for people like Sophie.

‘Leaseholders are not to blame, but they are facing devastating mental health and financial costs as they are left to pay more in remediating their flats, than they are now worth. It is a tragic market failure and we must step in as a government to support them.’

It follows an announcement by Robert Jenrick that neither leaseholders nor taxpayers should pay for dangerous cladding to be removed. 

He said that the law will be changed retrospectively to give homeowners 15 years to take action against their developers for shoddy workmanship.  

A MHCLG spokesman responded, saying: “Building owners should make buildings safe without passing on costs to leaseholders – and we will introduce a new legal requirement for owners of high-rise buildings to prove they have tried all routes to cover the cost of fixing their buildings.

“We are processing applications to the Building Safety Fund as quickly as possible – and we have been clear that we will fund the removal of dangerous cladding from high rise building where remediation is necessary.

“Our approach strikes the right balance in our continuing commitment to protecting leaseholders and being fair to taxpayers – while reassuring lenders that where cladding remediation is needed, costs will not be a barrier or mean that mortgage payments become unmanageable.”

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