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Southport Reporter®

Edition No. 215

Date:- 22 August 2005

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Dream ride is all hot air

A man from Mossley Hill will have a birds eye view of the 2008 European Capital of Culture as part of the city's 20/08 celebrations. Keith Steen will fulfil a lifetime ambition when he lifts off from Sefton Park in a hot air balloon on Saturday evening for an hour-long overhead tour of Liverpool.

The competition has been run by Alliance & Leicester Commercial Bank as their contribution to the Liverpool Culture Company's annual 20/08 festivities. Each year on 20 August - 20/08 - organisations across the city put on a variety of special events and offers to celebrate Liverpool's Capital of Culture success. This year, 157 separate offers have been made for the day, ranging from free dance lessons to a chance to win a picnic on a narrow boat.

To be in with a chance of winning the hot air balloon competition, people were asked to nominate the person they think most deserved to have a birds-eye view of the city. Keith, 35, was nominated by his mum, Sandra. Keith's help with his severely disabled brother, Paul, has enabled the family to stay together. This is even more of an achievement given the fact that Keith himself has Down's Syndrome.

Councillor Warren Bradley, the city council's executive member for culture, said:- "I'm delighted that Keith has won the balloon ride competition, especially as he has been such a great help to his family. What better way to see our fantastic city that from up in the air - enjoy your flight Keith!"

Bill Sutton, managing director of Alliance & Leicester Commercial Bank said:- "The Liverpool Culture Company's 20/08 celebrations are a great way to engage the community, and Alliance & Leicester Commercial Bank was happy to get involved by donating a trip in our balloon. We had so many worthy nominations for the competition, but Keith's dedication to his brother made him a clear winner."

The Alliance & Leicester Commercial Bank hot air balloon will be tethered at Sefton Park between 11am and 4pm on 20/08.

People are welcome to come along to meet the pilot and crew and take a float in the balloon.

Nurseries are Number One!

NEW figures revealed by OFSTED comparing local authorities around the country reveal that early learning in 96% of day nurseries in Liverpool is either 'good' or 'very good', while playgroups have received an impressive 100% record!
All childcare provision was judged to be at least satisfactory, with the number of out of school clubs, playgroups and crèche receiving good grades higher than the national average.
Councillor Jan Clein, assistant executive member for Children's Services, said:- "Liverpool is leading the way in giving parents and carers as much help and assistance as possible with childcare.  It is vital that Liverpool's childcare provision is of the highest possible quality and I am delighted that the OFSTED figures show national recognition of how well we are doing.  Helping children mix and learn together helps tremendously with their personal development and gives them a head start at school."

The number of childcare and out of school places has increased by 2,363 (13%) over the last year, with more than twice the national average and there are now almost 11,130 places across the city.  The number of actions recommended following inspections is also lower than the national average.  Liverpool's Children's Services provides training, advice and support on developing high quality services for children and families to child minders, day nurseries, out of school clubs, playgroups, parent and toddler groups and play schemes.

It also supports people wishing to open their own childcare business, or who wish to take up a career working with children.

The city has seven Children's Centres, with plans for nine more by April 2006 and a total of 24 by 2008. They offer childcare, early education, health and family support services for parents and children from birth up to five years. Parents are also able to find out information about employment and training opportunities, and the range of childcare facilities in the area including those for older children.

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