Mansfield & District

Useful non U3A information

That Elusive Odd-Job Man!

When we want to find a tradesman (when the ones we have known and used retire or are no longer satisfactory), we ask friends and neighbours to recommend someone. But where do you go if they can’t help? The Yellow Pages are one place, but these do not come with a guarantee of competence or honesty. And who do you get to do those little jobs that the ‘odd-job man’ used to do, but doesn’t now as he has disappeared from our lives?

Mansfield U3A has been asked why it can’t produce a list of recommended trades-people as some other U3As have done. Yes ... well ..., the truth is that this is not something which we would want to do to avoid possible litigation when the tradesman did a bad job! However, there are ways out of this dilemma.

Mansfield District Council runs a scheme called ‘Handyperson’. A Council employee (who has been police checked and is a qualified tradesman) will perform those intensely annoying but vital little jobs such as repairing window locks, hanging doors, fitting security chains, changing bulbs, putting up curtain rails and so on. There is an invoiced charge of £16 per hour and you have to supply the materials (or ask him to buy them). Phone 01623 463076 to access the service and the people at the office will ask a number of questions to ensure that the service is tailored to the needs of the customer.

The ‘Handy Person Adaptation Service’ is run by Nottinghamshire County Council and does much the same thing. There is no charge for jobs concerned with safety such as putting up handrails and grab rails, but other odd-jobs cost and materials are on top. The phone number for that is 0300 500 50 50. Again, questions will be asked before a local tradesman is sent out to do the job.

For larger jobs, Notts County Council use a national scheme called ‘Checkatrade’ which can be found on Firms are approved by Trading Standards, in partnership with Nottinghamshire County Council, so that if things go wrong, you can complain to them (and not to the Mansfield U3A committee!).

The problem here is that, when you enter your post code and bring up the names of the tradespeople, they are often miles away and hardly local. Even when the leaflet that is put through the door gives mainly 01623 phone numbers, this is a slight 'trick' as the firms are not local at all, but just connect to the general number given. In addition, the firms often seem large ones, not necessarily suitable for what we want done. This problem was admitted by the NCC adviser but at least you know that the workers have been checked. NCC no longer uses a scheme called ‘Buy With Confidence’, although this logo still appears on older leaflets.

Leaflets for both council-run schemes can be obtained from the offices on Chesterfield Road and it would be sensible to collect them and keep them ‘handy’.You can get to the service through the website which brings up the homepage, from where you can download the Mansfield Council leaflet. The telephone contact number is 01623 463076.
You never know when a blocked sink or damaged curtain-pole will need attention, and supremely competent though we might think we are, help is always needed!

Through the Assist scheme, you can also access a Lifeline monitoring service leaflet, a most useful service for older people who may be in danger of falling or losing consciousness.

Mike Allen & Terry Whitehead

Free Magazines.

And to save money to pay your handyman, why not use the County Library to read magazines FREE OF CHARGE, not just one or two magazines, but 240 of them, from Astronomy to Zoology ... you name it, the subject is there. So what do you do?

1. Get your library card. If you don't have one, get one from the Library or sign up online.
2. Go to and just follow the simple instructions to create an account via the RBdigital site.
3. Then choose your magazines and start reading!
4. You can also download the RBdigital app onto your tablet or smartphone and use it as your reader.

Our libraries are in danger. Many have shut down; many are staffed purely by volunteers or library assistants and the volume of books borrowed is lessening every year. In fact, sometimes, it seems that the only use many people have for a Library is to use the computers to chat. The move to digital and online reading is one way to keep a vital public service going. It's worth trying.

Mike Allen & Terry Whitehead.

The Notts library site has just issued new (improved) instructions. Contact me (Terry Whitehead) if you would like a copy.

Free Newspapers

If you own a Nottinghamshire Library card you can access daily newspapers at no cost, so why walk all the way to a library which is not always open when you can use your tablet or computer to read your favourite newspaper free?

On your smartphone/tablet/computer open the web browser (Safari on the Apple iPad; Chrome, Firefox, etc. on the Microsoft computer or Android smartphone or tablet).

I had difficulty at first because I use a desktop for choice and it is not very easy to carry round, so I shall give instructions for the Apple iPad.

Open Safari. Find On the top left hand side of the page select sign in
Select Library card sign in (bottom option)
Select Library If you just type ‘Not’ in the search box Nottinghamshire County Council appears. Select this.

Type in your library card number and pin number and select sign in

On the screen you should see Complimentary access for 28 days. Enjoy reading your free daily newspaper.

After 28 days you have to sign out and sign in again and go through this procedure again.

The Pressreader app now works. Download it and follow the instructions. Sign in using your library card as for

The options are sometimes confusing, for example when I tried to read the Times, the paper which came up was the South African edition but conversely you can read The Oldie using pressreader which is not an option on the Notts Magazines page.

Contact me if you experience trouble (or even have success) but downloading your paper every morning saves you more than the U3A subscription.

Terry Whitehead

School places

The application round for school places in the academic year starting September/October 2020 is now open for secondary schools and closes 31 October 2019. For primary schools it opens 4 November and closes 15 January 2020. So if you are a grandparent (or great-grandparent) something to talk about with your family. The main reason I am flagging this is that I have sat on Appeal Panels for nearly 30 years and every year some parent whose offspring has been denied a place at their preferred school will say "He went to the nursery attached to the school and I thought that gave automatic entry when he moved into 'big school' so I didn't bother applying". WRONG and appeal denied.
I also heard something else this week I was not aware of but which needs wider circulation. Someone I know went for a planning application for a builder to develop a site in Sutton. He raised the point with the Inspector that the application made no mention of building another school and that the schools in Sutton were full. The Inspector told him his point was irrelevant as Nottinghamshire has a surplus of school places. So if the site development goes ahead, children there could be travelling to a school in Gedling.
I am willing to talk to families who might be affected, if needed.

%Terry Whitehead%