Liverpool honours sporting stars
DOUBLE Olympic gold medallist Mario Kindelan will help Liverpool to celebrate the cream of the city's sporting talent this week. The boxing world champion will be just one of the famous names at the city's 11th Sporting Honours Award Ceremony last Thursday night (April 7).
More than 70 individual and team gongs will be handed out to the sportsmen and women who have represented the city with great distinction over the last 12 months. Highlights of the last year include Olympic appearances from gymnast Beth Tweddle and bronze medallist swimmer Stephen Parry.
The Olympians will be at Liverpool Town Hall along with former Liverpool captain Phil Thompson and ex-Everton defender Derek Mountfield who will be presenting various awards, including The Stan Owen trophy for lifetime achievement in sport.
The spotlight will also be on the first 6 scholars in Liverpool City Council's pioneering Elite Sporting Scholarships scheme, which allows the city's top sportsmen and women to build their schedules around a full-time job within the council.
Liverpool City Council's executive member for leisure, Councillor Warren Bradley, said:- "It has been another remarkable year for the city's outstanding sportsmen and women. Few other cities could host an evening like this to celebrate the outstanding sporting achievements we have enjoyed in the last twelve months. These successes are a tribute to the dedication of our athletes and sports clubs and testament to the city's commitment to developing sport in Liverpool."
Liverpool City Council's Head of Sports Development, Richard Johnson, said:- "We say it every year, but the sporting achievements in the city really do get better and better. This awards evening underlines the incredible breadth and depth of sporting talent we have in Liverpool."
Lord Sebastian Coe, chairman of the London 2012 Olympic bid, said:- "I visited Liverpool recently for the World Amateur Boxing Conference and it is great to hear of the city's sporting success. "I congratulate you all on your marvellous achievements."
NATIONAL GRID TRANSCO TO ACCELERATE MAINS RENEWAL WORK
NATIONAL Grid Transco (NGT), the UK's largest utility,
announced plans to speed up work on renewing gas mains in the North West. The company, which owns, operates and maintains the national gas pipeline network is planning to replace 480km of gas mains in the region over the next 12 months. This means the NGT will be replacing metallic mains with modern plastic pipe at a rate of over a 1.5km every working day. This work is essential to ensure that the 2.7 million gas users in the region can continue to enjoy a safe and reliable gas supply.
The bulk of this gas mains renewal work will be carried out in the Greater Manchester area. A new alliance partnership has been formed between NGT and Balfour Beatty to oversee the replacement of 385km of gas mains in this area in 2005/6 and the eplacement of a further 3,200km during the 8-year duration of the alliance partnership.
In the other areas of the NW, contractors Willow Construction Services and TJ Brent Ltd will carry out 75km of mains renewal work and NGT's own direct labour teams will carry out a further 20km in 2005/6.
On unveiling the long term programme, Rowan Sharples, Director of Construction said:- "We renewed 416km of metal gas mains in the North West in 2004/5 and we need to keep stepping up a gear as the programme continues to expand at over 10% per
NGT's work to renew gas mains is part of a national project agreed with the Health and Safety Executive for replacing metallic gas mains across the Britain. The nationwide programme of works will see 15,000km of gas pipe replaced over the next 8 years.
NGT and its contractor partners have now established joint teams to plan the workload a year in advance in order to better co-ordinate street works with the highways authorities and other utilities in accordance with the new Traffic Management Act.
Rowan added:- "Our accelerated programme of work will inevitably cause some disruption but we are committed to working closely with the highway authorities and local communities to keep this to a minimum.
We have adopted 'no dig' techniques to keep excavations to a minimum and we will be generally working with larger teams in order to sweep through areas quickly and have holes open for the minimum time necessary.
We would urge people to have patience with us whilst we carry out these essential works - there will be short term disruption, but it will produce a long term safe and reliable gas supply. "
CITY TO STAGE POWER BOAT GRAND PRIX
THE UK's premier powerboat racing championship, the Honda Formula 4-Stroke race series, is to race at Liverpool for the first time in its 7 year history. The Honda fleet will arrive in August in time to celebrate Liverpool's 20/08 day which marks the city's status as European Capital of Culture 2008. Thousands of people are expected to throng the banks of the Mersey for the event, which will be televised nationwide.
Martin Sanders, General Manager of Power Equipment, Honda (UK) said:-
"The Formula 4-Stroke Association has chosen Liverpool not only for the aesthetics of the location but also because of its strong maritime heritage. We are pleased to help celebrate the city's standing as European Capital of Culture 2008. It's our 7th season and is shaping up to be its most successful yet. There is an air of heightened anticipation amongst organisers and competitors as more boats and more classes are set to race for the chequered flag."
The 2005 Honda Formula 4-Stroke 150hp, 225hp and Enduro championships each feature 10 rounds at 5 grand prix venues around the UK. The season kicks off with the Scottish Grand Prix at Largs on 28/29 May.
The Liverpool Culture Company's Jason Harborow said:- "We're delighted to host the world's largest offshore powerboat championships. To see these boats on the Mersey will be a stunning sight. It's a major coup for the city's celebrations for Sea Liverpool 2005 and should draw a huge crowd to the waterfront. Hosting the Honda series is a great opener for the exciting programme of maritime events taking place in the city, from the Mersey River Festival's silver jubilee in June to the start of the Clipper Round the World Yacht Race in September."
Councillor Warren Bradley, Executive Member for Leisure and Culture, said:- "The Mersey is a fabulous asset for Liverpool and we intend to exploit its amazing potential right up to 2008 and beyond."
Honda Formula 4-Stroke Grand Prix calendar 2005:-
Leg 1& 2 Grand Prix of Largs, May 28/29
Leg 3 & 4 Grand Prix of The Isle of Man, June 25/26
Leg 5 & 6 Grand Prix of Plymouth, July 16/17
Leg 7 & 8 Grand Prix of Liverpool, August 20/21
Leg 9 & 10 Grand Prix of Guernsey, September 10/11
NORTH WEST HELPS BT TO ECLIPSE BRITAIN
BT last week revealed that 524,000 homes and businesses in the North West region had connected up to its broadband services. News came as BT announced it would achieve 5 million wholesale broadband connections during this week - eclipsing a target set 3 years ago by chief executive Ben Verwaayen by more than a year.
Broadband is now one of the fastest growing consumer products of all time, with a higher take-up rate than TV, CD players, video-recorders and mobile phones. The latest million connections came in just 4 months and BT is connecting a customer every 10 seconds, around the clock.
The 524,000 North West customers include:-
1. 97,000 broadband users in Cheshire - 20.6% take-up
2. 121,000 broadband users in Lancashire - 17.9% take-up
3. 39,000 broadband users in Cumbria - 17% take up
4. 183,000 broadband users in Greater Manchester - 15.3% take-up
84,000 broadband users in Merseyside - 13.8% take-up
(Take-up is the percentage of homes and businesses that have access to broadband services and are using them.)
Brian Crouch, BT regional director for the North West, said:- "This region is now in the fast lane towards a high-speed digital future. Already we have 99.7% broadband coverage, and the percentage of people using the technology has more or less doubled in the last year. But the journey's not over. There are challenges still ahead. We've put the framework in place for North West businesses to take the competitive advantage by using broadband and the massive variety of applications it has to offer, but we still need to convince them - especially the SMEs - of its value. In addition, we've also got to tackle the small number of people and businesses who can't yet access broadband communications."
BT believes that if the Government and the whole industry keep working together, by 2007:-
1. The UK economy could be boosted by up to £7.5 billion through productivity gains attributed to broadband
2. Up to 16 billion fewer miles could be driven as broadband enables more people to work from home and shop online
3. Every schoolchild in Britain could be learning via broadband
4. More than 18 million people in the UK will be shopping online
5. Millions of hospital outpatient appointments will be booked over broadband.
Brian Crouch praised the Northwest Development Agency and the many local councils and business organisations that had raised public awareness about the benefits of ICT and broadband.
He also paid tribute to the hundreds of people in scores of local campaigns whose enthusiasm had speeded the arrival of broadband to their communities. He said:- "They all had the vision to join broadband partnerships - such as the Greater Merseyside Broadband Partnership, Greater Manchester Broadband Partnership, and BroadbandCONNECT, Cheshire and Warrington - to stimulate awareness of the benefits of ICT and broadband, generate interest and encourage more individuals and businesses to get on and reap the benefits of broadband-driven applications. For its part, BT has invested in upgrading exchanges across the region to meet the demand for broadband services."
The 5 million customers are served by more than 200 companies that provide broadband to end users in the UK, and include customers of BT's own retail broadband services. BT's £1.5 billion national investment programme has now equipped 360 out of the North West region's 397 exchanges with broadband. They serve 3,217,000 or 99.7% of the region's premises.
32 more exchanges are to be upgraded by the end of July this year, bringing broadband potential to almost 3,234,000 customers or 99.9% of premises.
Brian Crouch added:- "And we will not stop there. We are committed to working with our many partners in the region to look for more innovative ways of demonstrating the benefits of ICT and broadband applications and will continue working with public and private sector organisations to look for ways of bringing broadband to every home and every business, no matter how small or remote they may be. We will be having discussions with potential partners, especially those in government at all levels, to ensure that Broadband Britain is truly inclusive of all communities, even those in the most rural areas."
OLDER PEOPLE TO BE OFFERED JAB AGAINST PNEUMOCOCCAL INFECTION
EVERBODY aged 65 and over will be offered a routine jab to help protect them against pneumococcal infection which can cause serious diseases such as pneumonia, meningitis and septicaemia announced the Chief Medical Officer, Sir Liam Donaldson last week.
Older people are at a higher risk from pneumoccocal pneumonia with around 1 in every 500 adults aged over 65 admitted to hospital each year. Immunisation with pneumoccocal vaccine helps protect against the disease and has been used successfully in the U.K for more than 10 years.
Chief Medical Officer, Sir Liam Donaldson said:- "Pneumoccocal infection can cause serious diseases such as pneumonia, septicaemia and meningitis. Everybody is at risk but the older you are the greater the risk of contracting this sort of illness. We already successfully vaccinate at-risk groups such as those with heart conditions, chronic lung disease and chronic liver disease. We now need to make sure that older people are also protected and that's why we are offering the jab to everybody aged 65 and over.
Patients can be vaccinated at any time during the year and doctors will be inviting patients in for their jab from April
Most people will only need to have the vaccine once although a second dose may be needed for those patients with certain medical conditions such as a damaged spleen or no spleen and kidney problems.