About Us


What comes to mind when you hear the word ‘grandparent’? If it’s a little old lady knitting in a rocking chair, then you might want to think again. These days you’re as likely to see an octogenarian tweeting from her iPad as casting off her purl stitch.

Gransnet, the social networking site for the over 50s (don’t let the name fool you – all older people male or female, grandparent, parent or not are welcome to join us!), launched in 2011 and is now the largest social networking site for older people in the country. New members have been joining every day for the past 2 years, to talk about everything from politics to memories, books to relationships, snorkelling to, OK, yes, knitting. In 2013 came the launch of Gransnet Local, a network of sites across the country run by people aged 50-plus, offering listings of activities and events; a directory of services, from health centres to plumbers; forums for discussion of local issues; and the possibility of meeting up.

One of the joys of the internet is that no one has to know what you look like. The great thing about the web is that prejudices – about someone who has a disability, or is over 50 and living alone – don’t have to get in the way of who you are. Gransnetters value this anonymity. Even so, it quickly became apparent that many of them do want to meet offline, particularly once they’ve made friends. Members have taken it upon themselves to organise lunches and visit each other, including in hospital; some have even holidayed together.

Gransnet Local Colchester is the local site covering the whole CO postcode area and is thriving with new groups, businesses and events being added each day. Discussions have started on the local forums and a monthly newsletter is being sent out. Gransnet Local Colchester also has Facebook and Twitter pages for those wishing to take social networking for the over 50s one step further.

It is free to join and free to add to the local website listings, whether it’s to tell everyone about your fantastic hairdresser or inviting us all to your jumble sale. There is also the opportunity for local businesses to advertise to their target market or to offer promotions or competitions.

We want to hear from you if you have something to add to our local Gransnet community.


School’s out for summer

birkettYou’re browsing through a holiday brochure, deciding where to go for that hard-earned break. The kids will have finished their exams for the year, and it would be good to spend some time together. Where could you take them for that treat? The Lake District perhaps, or Centre Parks, or how about Spain? You then look at the prices and your heart sinks. How can the cost of a holiday double at the end of July, just at the only time you and your family are free?

This is a familiar situation in which many readers will have found themselves. ‘Out of school’ holiday costs make it easy to understand why so many parents and grandparents are tempted to take holidays during term time. However, it is not as easy as that!

Schools used to be able to allow pupils up to ten days‘ term-time absence during the course of an academic year, but this is no longer the case and the change has caught out many parents and grandparents.

The new regulations mean that there are now very limited reasons as to why a pupil can be absent from school and parents must seek the school’s authorisation in advance before taking children out of school. The school can authorise absences where there are “exceptional circumstances” but holidays, visiting relatives, birthdays and routine appointments are not regarded as “exceptional circumstances”. This can make matters difficult for parents and grandparents who want to minimise holiday costs, but the law now ties the hands of schools in this respect.

Given that the school leaving age has gone up and will be going up again, those in further education will be caught by the new rules as well.

If, on investigation, the reason for any absence has not been provided to the school or the reason that has been given is not sufficient and does not fall within the new regulations, the pupil’s absence will be marked as unauthorised in the register and the school may have to inform the Education Welfare Officer. This can lead to fines and other penalties for the parent, so what you thought was going to be a cheap holiday can turn out to be a very expensive one after all!

Not only does this create financial pressure on parents and grandparents, but it can also put strain on working arrangements. It may be difficult to take your holidays at the same time as others who have children, especially if you work in a small business or a team with other parents. Although in some sectors workloads may lessen over the school holidays, this is certainly not the case for all. As much as employers might like to be able to allow their staff to take holidays when they wish, this is simply not possible; many employees do not realise that their employers have the right to decide when they can and cannot take their holidays. Such matters should be treated carefully by businesses, but informal arrangements between staff can help greatly, such as taking turns to book time off over school holidays, and employees should be encouraged to discuss holidays between them before booking.

Some have advocated a case for staggered school holidays to help to ease this situation. But given that children are often at different schools to their siblings and that the majority of parents need to work, I can think of many more day to day problems that might arise from such a change.

Emily Brown


T – 01206 217317

E – emily.brown@birkettlong.co.uk

Travel to the Clacton Air Show by Train.




Abellio Greater Anglia are providing many additional seats for customers travelling to the Clacton Air Show on the 21 & 22 August.
They are running additional train services; and adding more carriages to some services on these days.

On both days of the Air Show the additional train services include:

  • 09.36 Colchester to Clacton-on-Sea
  • 09.56 Colchester to Clacton-on-Sea
  • 10.45 London Liverpool Street to Clacton-on-Sea
  • 10.56 Colchester to Clacton-on-Sea
  • 11.56 Colchester to Clacton-on-Sea
  • 12.26  Colchester to Clacton-on-Sea
  • 14.56 Colchester to Clacton-on-Sea
  • 15.56  Colchester to Clacton-on-Sea
  • 11.09 Clacton-on-Sea to Colchester
  • 12.09 Clacton-on-Sea to Colchester
  • 13.09  Clacton-on-Sea to Colchester
  • 16.09 Clacton-on-Sea to Colchester
  • 16.33 Clacton-on-Sea to London Liverpool Street
  • 17.09  Clacton-on-Sea to Colchester
  • 17.33 Clacton-on-Sea to London Liverpool Street
  • 18.32 Clacton-on-Sea to Colchester
  • A special train service will also run between Walton-on-Naze and Clacton-on-Sea on both days.  

For friends and family travelling together off-peak, they would recommend  Groupsave:
When three to nine people travel together off-peak, they all get 1/3 off.  (That’s like every third person travelling free)
For more information please see:http://www.abelliogreateranglia.co.uk/tickets-fares/discounts/groupsave-tickets

Special Guardianship Orders

birkettIf you look after a child who is related to you or you wish to obtain parental responsibility for a child in your care, it may be appropriate to apply to the court for a Special Guardianship Order.

A Special Guardianship Order is a court order which appoints one or more individuals to be a child’s ‘special guardian(s)’. The effect of a Special Guardianship Order is that while it is in force, a special guardian has parental responsibility for the child. This parental responsibility can be exercised by the special guardian to override everyone else who has parental responsibility.

Special Guardianship Orders are usually used where a child is to retain a relationship with
other family members, such as parents, but where the child is to be brought up by a relative or friend other than a parent, for example a grandparent, aunt or uncle. There are a number of categories of individuals who can automatically apply to the court for this type of order. Otherwise an application for permission to make an application to the court is necessary before you can give your Local Authority notice of your intention to make an application. You must give your Local Authority three months’ notice of your intention to make an application to a court. This can be done by writing a simple letter to Social Services. Social Services will then prepare a report for the court looking at your suitability to become a special guardian for the child. Once the assessment has been concluded you will be able to make the application for a Special Guardianship Order to the court. The matter will then be determined by the court, who will decide at a subsequent hearing what order to make in accordance with the best interests of the child.

Liz Jones


T – 01206 217364

E – childcarelaw@birkettlong.co.uk

Grandparents’ gifts

birkettIt is not uncommon for grandparents to set money aside for their grandchildren and we are often asked: ‘What is the best way to do this?’

There are many ways and you should take advice to see what suits you best, but one way is to use a Junior ISA. A sum of £3,840 (current tax year) can be paid into a Junior ISA and there are neither capital gains tax nor further tax on any income. Interest on cash held in a Junior ISA is paid gross and no withdrawals are permitted until the child reaches 18, when their Junior ISA is automatically converted into an adult ISA. It is then they are entitled to have full access to their investments and savings, which can help with the cost of university or perhaps provide a deposit for a house.

Any payments to a Junior ISA will be a gift and will usually be counted as part of your estate, and therefore potentially subject to inheritance tax, should you die within seven years of giving the gift.

There are exceptions to this rule; the first exception is the annual exemption allowance, which allows a person to give away up to £3,000 in any one tax year and this amount will not be subject to inheritance tax. If you don’t use this allowance in a year, you can carry it forward for one tax year only.

If you have already made a gift of your annual exemption, then the second exception may
be of use: the small gift exemption allows you to make a gift of £250 without inheritance tax implications. However, it cannot be given to the same person that received the annual exemption.

Finally, if you have income which you do not spend on an annual basis you may be able to make gifts from this surplus income. This exemption is called ‘gifts from normal expenditure out of income’ (a bit of a mouthful!) and provided that the gift formed part of your normal expenditure, was made out of your income, and leaves you with enough income to maintain your normal standard of living, there will be no inheritance tax implications and the seven year survival rule does not apply. In addition, you can still make the annual exemption gift.

For example, if you have net income of £40,000 per year and your usual annual expenditure each year is £30,000, there is a surplus of £10,000 each year. You can give some or all of this entire surplus away on an annual basis to your children or grandchildren without inheritance tax implications. This is a very useful exemption, but one on which the Government is clamping down, and so it is really important that you take advice in order to get it right.

The above is just a summary and other conditions and restrictions may apply, so please give us a call and we can guide you through the investment and legal process from start to finish.

Claire Read specialises in inheritance tax mitigation work, trusts, wills and probate. She is a member of the Society of Trust and Estate Practitioners.

Birkett Long

T – 01245 453835

E – claire.read@birkettlong.co.uk

Calling All Budding Journalists

Originally posted on Write Wai:

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WRITE WAI PR & COPYWRITING SERVICES have joined forces with Tutor Doctor Colchester North to launch a Writing Competition that is being sponsored by The Gazette, Colchester.

Do you like writing? For you want to show off your talents? Would you like your news article published in The Gazette, Colchester?

If you are 11 to 16 years Why not have a go at winning an Amazon Kindle Fire HD for yourself and £100 Amazon Voucher for your School by entering our competition. We have £50 of Amazon vouchers for the second prize winner and £25 of Amazon vouchers for the third prize winner. The competition is being sponsored by the Gazette. Winning students will be given a tour of the Gazette’s Newsroom, they will also have the amazing opportunity to join a Newsroom Conference where the editorial decisions are made and all three winning articles will be published in the…

View original 349 more words

How to make shopping fun for the whole family this summer.

Finally, it seems as if summer has arrived. With long sunny evenings, the kids breaking up RWP_0101from school and the ice pops chilling in the freezer it is time to relax and enjoy the some quality family time. Clacton Factory Outlet prides themselves on being an ideal shopping destination for the whole family, so let’s look at why.

Easy to find
We’ve all been there, ‘debating’ whether its left or right, you drive down a long road and you know you should’ve seen it by now but you don’t want to turn around, just in case, and you end up in the middle of some housing estate that you’ll take hours to find your way back out of. Kids getting impatient “Are we nearly there?” We’ve all been there!

Free parking for up to 1000 cars
A day out shopping can be enough without having to worry about how much it’s going to cost you to park. Don’t worry about it and park free.

Separate baby changing and feeding areas
Baby changing is always appreciated but often over looked. Although being able to change your baby one handed in a sink while balancing an overflowing bag of nappies and wet wipes is a life skill that will be needed from time to time . . . not here.

Free wheelchair loan
Available for those who can get tired quickly or have literally, shopped until they dropped. Take advantage of the free wheelchairs, but no racing!

Full disabled access to all stores
What would be the point of lending wheelchairs if you couldn’t go anywhere in them?
The Clacton Factory Outlet is fully pedestrianised and designed to be easy to get around for wheelchair users with full store access.

Free kids play area
Could be used to tire the kids out early on or as a bribe for good behaviour. No matter what you decide, it’s free, so let the kids go wild while you sip on your well-earned latte from one of their marvellous eating and drinking options.

Throughout August, Clacton Factory Outlet has planned a Summer of Fun to keep kids of all ages entertained, so here’s a sneaky peek:

Circus Skills WorksAdventure Play Area 2hop and Face painter – 3rd August!
Carnival Craft Workshop – 8th August!
The Mad Hatter – 16th August!
The Lighthouse and Workshop – 17th August!
Summer Fun with the Dream 100 Roadrunners on various days!

This is just a small taster of the fun that’s planned during the summer of fun at Clacton Factory Outlet. As well as these activities, there are plenty of dining options and of course, fantastic savings available in the outlet stores. For full details and more information, please look at the website clactonfactoryoutlet.co.uk.