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Carmarthen call centre boss banned for 221 million nuisance PPI calls

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A CARMARTHEN director has been banned for eight years after causing two companies to make almost 221 million unsolicited nuisance PPI phone calls.

Richard Jones, age 31, from Carmarthen, Wales, was the director of Miss-Sold Products UK Limited and Your Money Rights Limited, the two companies at the centre of investigations by the ICO and the Insolvency Service.

This latest case takes the total period of director disqualifications achieved through collaboration between the ICO, the Insolvency Service and other enforcement bodies, past the 100 year mark.

Miss-Sold Products UK Limited was a company Richard Jones used as a vehicle to make unsolicited phone calls contrary to the Privacy and Electronic Communications Regulations*.

The company came to the attention of the ICO after the regulator received 146 complaints between November 2015 and March 2016 about automated phone calls from telephone numbers used by Miss-Sold Products UK.

Further investigations by the ICO found that in a five-month period, Miss-Sold Products UK made close to 75 million automated marketing calls, primarily containing a recorded message about PPI refunds.

The ICO attempted to engage with Miss-Sold Products UK from May 2017 onwards but were stonewalled before issuing a £350,000 penalty against the company for making unsolicited marketing calls to people without their specific consent and for failing to include a company name and contact details in the recorded message.

Miss-Sold Products UK failed to pay the debt and the company was wound-up through the courts in June 2018.

Richard Jones also used a second company, Your Money Rights Limited, as an additional vehicle to make unsolicited PPI calls.

In a near identical set of events, the ICO investigated Your Money Rights after the regulator received more than 250 complaints between March and July 2016 about automated calls from telephone numbers used by the company.

This time round, the ICO found that in a five month period Richard Jones’ second company made more than 146 million automated marketing calls to people who had not consented to be called, with a recorded message about PPI refunds.

The ICO attempted to engage with Your Money Rights but similar to proceedings with the first company, Miss-Sold Products UK, the regulator was thwarted in their enquiries.

This resulted in a second £350,000 fine being issued against the company for making unsolicited marketing calls to people who had not consented and for failing to include a company name and contact details in the recorded message.

Your Money Rights failed to discharge the debt and the company was also wound up on the petition of the ICO in March 2018.

Following referrals from the ICO, further investigations were conducted by the Insolvency Service to assess Richard Jones’ activities and how he had contributed to cause the two companies to breach the Privacy and Electronic Communications Regulations.

Investigators concluded that Richard Jones played a central role, which led him to submit a disqualification undertaking to the Secretary of State.

Effective from 1 March 2019, Richard Jones is banned for eight years from directly or indirectly becoming involved, without the permission of the court, in the promotion, formation or management of a company.

David Brooks, Chief Investigator for the Insolvency Service, said:

“There are no justifications Richard Jones could provide that would have excused him from what he had done. Not only did he use two separate companies to make the unsolicited phone calls but we are talking about millions of intrusive calls rather than a small handful.

“Unsolicited phone calls cause misery and harm to unsuspecting people and being banned for eight years will put a significant dent on Richard Jones’ ability to do something similar again.

Andy Curry, ICO Investigations Group Manager, said:

“Richard Jones is one of the worst offenders we have come across in the 15 years since laws around electronic nuisance marketing were introduced. This disqualification which takes him out of action is good news for all those who have been a victim of his cold calling and should be a warning to other operators who use similar marketing techniques.

“The net is tightening and we now have increased powers to make directors and other company officers responsible personally liable for fines of up to £500,000 for nuisance marketing.

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Zef Eisenberg breaks records at Pendine

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ZEF EISENBERG raced into the history books at Pendine Sands last Saturday (May 18) achieving six records on his very first pair of runs in his specially built 1200hp Porsche 911 Turbo.
Eisenberg earned: the fastest sand speed record ever achieved by a wheel-powered vehicle at 210.332mph; fastest flying quarter (one way) wheel powered record at 206.492mph; fastest flying mile (one way) wheel powered record at 196.970mph; fastest flying mile (two way) 187.962mph (same measurement as Sir Malcolm Campbell); became the only person in history to have achieved over 200mph on bike and car at Pendine and the only person in history to have achieved a flying mile record in bike and car in Britain.

Zef Eisenberg is the founder of sports nutrition brand MAXImuscle, and holds more than 44 British, World and Guinness speed records. In September 2016, he survived ‘Britain’s fastest-ever motorcycle crash’ at 230mph, on a 560bhp Rolls-Royce jet turbine-powered motorcycle.

He broke 11 bones, was hospitalised for three months, spent a further three months in a wheelchair and had to learn to walk again. He defied doctors by racing exactly one year after the accident, and later became the first person ever to exceed 200mph at Pendine Sands in May 2018. Eisenberg competes for the Guernsey-based MADMAX Race Team, which prides itself on developing and racing the world’s most extreme machines using the best engineers in the industry.

Eisenberg, better known for his motorbike speed record exploits, set a two-way average of 187.962mph in his MADMAX 1200hp road legal Porsche 911 Turbo specially built and prepared by ES Motors and his MADMAX Race Team. The record supersedes actor Idris Elba’s flying mile speed record (180.361mph) set at Pendine in 2015 and emulates his hero – Sir Malcolm Campbell, who first set the record at Pendine Sands in 1927 (174.8mph) in the iconic Blue Bird – a record that stood for nearly 90 years. The racer successfully secured four new records in total, smashing his own top speed of 201.5mph at Pendine in May 2018 and 182.49mph flying mile record set in April 2019 in his supercharged Hayabusa motorbike, making him the only person in history to hold the flying mile and fastest speed records in both bike and car at Pendine.

A jubilant Eisenberg said: “A huge thank you to ES Motors and my own MADMAX Race Team for working tirelessly on the extensive Porsche preparation, engine build and tune, to ensure we had the engineering and power to achieve this very challenging record. An additional thanks to the event organisers; Straightliners and Speed Record Club for finding and setting a two-mile course with difficult sand conditions.

“The Porsche was originally a standard 2014, 550hp 911 Turbo. The MADMAX Race Team built a bespoke 4.1-litre race engine with new internals, gearbox, clutch and drive shafts, along with an upgraded E85 fuel system and sophisticated charge cooling set-up to stop engine detonation.
“A lot of work was done to ensure that the monstrous power would come in as progressively as possible in order to limit wheelspin on the loose sand surface. To cope with such an extreme output, the PDK transmission had to be upgraded, and the suspension lifted to allow adequate ground clearance for the sand.
“Apart from a full FIA roll cage, competition seats and safety harness, the Porsche’s interior is completely standard, as weight is actually your friend on the sand. It’s about stability – putting enough weight on the tyres to increase traction.
“The Porsche behaves very differently on sand than tarmac. The sand creates a lot of resistance and tyre slip. In the end we could only use 850hp (1000hp at the engine) to avoid too much wheel spin, compared to just 550hp (engine) from a factory car.”

Eisenberg was elated to have secured these records at Pendine Sands, adding: “Pendine has such an illustrious history, racers have been flocking here since the 1900s trying to set speed records. The world land speed record heroes of yesteryear like Malcolm Campbell and J.G. Parry-Thomas in the air have all raced here. It really is the holy grail of land speed.”

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RSPCA appeal after birds trapped above town centre

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RSPCA attended scene: One live bird retrieved

THE RSPCA is asking the owner of the Old Post Office in King Street, Carmarthen, to come forward and remove hazardous netting from the property.

Netting placed over the old Crown Post Office in King Street, Carmarthen, has been responsible for the deaths of pigeons, whose bodies were recovered from the site by representatives of the RSPCA and Mid & West Wales Fire and Rescue Service on Monday (May 13).

The building is owned by EMC Developments Ltd of Bronwydd.

Animal welfare bodies were notified of the birds’ corpses tangled in the netting over last weekend after images posted online caused alarm and distress.

The presence of the birds rotting trapped above a thoroughfare into the town and in view of visitors and shoppers caused a particular outcry.

When Herald photographer Darren Harries arrived at the scene, he found a recovery operation underway with a rescue vehicle and RSPCA Inspector.

Rescue Vehicle: Road blocked during inspection and recovery

The use of netting to prevent birds nesting allows developers to get around the law that prevents the removal and damage of birds’ nests, and avoid delays to development caused by the nesting season.

Bird deterrent netting can be an effective means of keeping birds off structures as it can prevent problems without needing to resort to other measures such as killing birds.

However, it’s vitally important that any netting is properly installed and maintained.

Problems arise when netting is incorrectly installed or when it becomes damaged and is not repaired, leaving gaps where birds are able to enter and become trapped. If the netting is not checked or maintained, there is a risk that birds may suffer and die from injury or starvation.

A spokesperson from the RSPCA told The Herald: “RSPCA Cymru worked with a crew from Mid and West Fire and Rescue Service after three feral pigeons were trapped in netting on the side of the old post office building on King Street in Carmarthen.

“Sadly only one bird was alive, with the other two appearing to have been dead for some time. This pigeon had some feather damage and was hungry and has been taken to a wildlife centre for rehabilitation with the aim of being released back into the wild once fit and ready.

“This property is currently empty but enquiries have been made to contact the owners of the building to ensure this netting is closely monitored and repaired as there is a breach at the top. When bird-deterrent netting is put up incorrectly or becomes damaged, it can leave gaps where birds can enter and become trapped.

“RSPCA Cymru continues to highlight the importance of regularly maintaining bird-deterrent netting to protect birds from getting caught or entangled.

“We would very much like to thank the fire service for their assistance.”

Trapped: A pigeon tangled in the netting

The RSPCA advises that if a bird becomes trapped behind netting, the owner of the building where the netting is situated should be informed (if assistance is needed to free a bird, call the RSPCA’s helpline 0300 1234 999).

The owner should then contact whoever erected the netting (usually a pest control company) as it is their responsibility to ensure that the netting is fit for purpose and appropriate in that location.

The RSPCA recommends that anyone with netting installed on their property sets up a system to check regularly for trapped birds and to ensure any netting is in good repair.

All wild birds, including pigeons and gulls, and their nests are protected under the Wildlife & Countryside Act 1981.

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Work gets underway on historic Guildhall redevelopment

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WORK has started on the £1million redevelopment of Carmarthen’s Guildhall.

A new restaurant and café bar, taking up the ground floor of the historic town centre building, is due to open in September.

It has been taken over by the Loungers group, which has the popular eateries Zinco Lounge in Swansea and Croeso Lounge in Mumbles.

It is set to create around 30 jobs, with a recruitment drive getting underway during the summer.

The Grade I listed building is owned by Carmarthenshire County Council.

James Morse, of Swansea-based developers NextColour Ltd, said work will be carried out sensitively to ensure the building’s history is looked after and can be enjoyed by diners and visitors.

The historic courtroom on the first floor will be un-touched, with public access retained.

Many of the building’s original ground-floor features will be restored, including its distinctive columns and black and white tiled flooring.

“We are excited about restoring this wonderful building and opening it up so that it can be seen and enjoyed by more people,” said Mr Morse.

“We are working closely with CADW to ensure that the refurbishment is sensitive to the history of the building and shows off its best original features.”

Carmarthenshire County Council hopes the redevelopment will act as a catalyst for further investment in the town, creating a key link between the town centre’s different retail areas and supporting the surrounding independent shops.

Leader, Cllr Emlyn Dole, said: “Guildhall is an important and iconic building in the centre of Carmarthen that we did not want to see standing empty.

“I’m delighted that it will have a new lease of life, and that it can now be enjoyed by people other than those who have fallen on the wrong side of the law in the past.

“We welcome the Loungers Group, and congratulate them on bringing their business to Carmarthen and providing jobs for local people.”

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