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Southport Reporter® covering the news on Merseyside.

Date:- 02 April 2007

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UK shoppers call for more support for local shops and businesses but in reality just 32% admit to regularly using high street stores.  In light of support from the Conservatives and Liberal Democrats for the Sustainable Communities Bill, which seeks to give new powers to councils to save local shops and amenities; new research from Hyder Consulting reveals that 80% of UK adults believe it is important to support the local high street.

However, findings from the leading planning and environmental consultancy show that 32% of people actually shop on the high street today while 45% say they do their main grocery shopping in out of town retail sites.  A further 6% of UK adults say they use online stores for their main grocery shopping and just 5% of those questioned said they use village shops.  However despite this, 72% of Britons say they would like to see Government and local councils doing more to incentivise businesses to locate to their local area.

“While many people believe it is important to support local shops and businesses, our study demonstrates that in reality the lure of the out of town retail site is more attractive when it comes to actually selecting where to go for the weekly grocery shop.  While the concept of more Government and council incentives to encourage businesses to locate to local areas and high streets received widespread support, this is only one side of the story, it is as crucial to ensure that transport links, parking and other facilities are in place to make the shopping experience as simple and pain-free as possible.  However, the harsh fact is that if people do not use local shops and businesses then they will cease to exist, particularly given the pressures that many of these are already facing from national retailers.” states Stewart Scott, Director, Hyder Consulting. 

Letters To The Editor:- "Bright ideas to improve mental health"

"MENTAL health problems - such as depression, stress and dementia - affect 1 in 4 people in the UK.

There’s lots of good work going on to tackle the problem – but more needs to be done in both treatment and prevention.

That’s why we’ve launched a new £1/2 million fund to capture new ideas on addressing the big issues – whether it be improving local mental health services or tackling workplace stress.

If you have direct experience of mental distress, or are a health professional in the field and have had a good idea for a new or improved service or way of managing care, we’d really like to hear from you.

We’re aiming to find and develop local ideas that have the potential to grow into successful national projects that could really make a difference.

Visit our website for more information and details on how to apply." 
Ravi Kapur,  Head of Challenge team, NESTA


ALMOST 10,270 children in the North West are in care, many of whom are waiting to be adopted according to new Government figures highlighted by leading children’s charity NCH. The charity is calling on potential parents to consider adopting one of the thousands of children in care waiting for a permanent home.

Donal Mullally, Project Manager at Adoption NCH Yorkshire, says:- “Children in care don’t always get a fair chance at life. We desperately need people to come forward to give these children suitable for adoption a safe, permanent and loving home.  We would urge anyone considering adopting to contact us to find out more about adoption and what a rewarding experience it can be. There are thousands of children out there just waiting for their call.”

Children in care have dramatically different life chances than other children. They are three times more likely to be cautioned or convicted of an offence, 4 times more likely to have a mental health disorder and 1 in 5 homeless people are care leavers.

NCH is calling on people from all backgrounds, older, unemployed, single, disabled, Black, Asian, lesbian and gay, to come forward and find out more about adopting. New legislation came into force in 2005 giving unmarried couples and lesbian and gay couples the same rights when adopting as heterosexual married couples. Many adoption agencies don’t set age limits for adoption but rather look at what can be offered to the child. Similarly, being single, disabled or unemployed would not prevent people from adopting – all are considered on a case by case basis.

Anyone interested in adopting can call NCH’s adoption line on 0845 355 5533 to find out more about the adoption process and the support and advice adopters receive from NCH.

 NHS Central Register in Southport; a future in the National Health and Social Care Services

AT its meeting on 22 March 2007, the Board of the Information Centre for health and social care (The IC) agreed to welcome and support the potential transfer of the NHS Central Register (NHSCR) from the Office of National Statistics to The IC as part of the Governmental review on statistical independence.

Denise Lievesley, Chief Executive of The IC says:- “The IC feels strongly that there is an excellent fit between The IC and the NHSCR’s business, both in relation to the current roles and future developments. The IC aims to be a global centre of excellence supporting policy development, research and decision making across health and social care. I am confident that with the addition of the expertise and commitment of staff from the NHSCR, this vision can be realised. “

Professor Lievesley continues:- “We understand that the past few months have been a period of uncertainty for staff at NHSCR however we believe that bringing the two organisations together would mean staff will benefit from becoming part of a larger organisation which shares similar values and priorities. The IC has some functions that operate in a similar manner to the Central Register and being able to integrate and share best practice across these systems will make the collection and dissemination of information easier, and ultimately improve care for patients.”

Adrian Read, Head of NHSCR says:- "The NHSCR team in Southport has enjoyed being a part of the Office for National Statistics and its predecessors since 1939 but appreciates that its work is becoming increasingly aligned with that of the IC. NHSCR has a key roll to play in assuring the quality of patient data as new IT systems are introduced throughout the NHS and I am delighted that the knowledge, skills and experience of its staff in Smedley Hydro are being recognised. We very much look forward to building an excellent working relationship with our colleagues at the IC."


19 residents from across the North West have just been recognised for their efforts in tackling anti-social behaviour and working to create safer communities at a special awards ceremony in London.  The winning residents each received a Respect Award For Taking A Stand (RAFTAS) for their commitment, energy and courage in standing up to vandals, thugs and nuisance neighbours. Local individuals and groups were nominated by the people who helped them to transform their communities; the police, local authority, anti-social behaviour team, members of the community and other agencies.  They were presented with their awards by the Home Secretary John Reid and the Government’s Co-ordinator for Respect, Louise Casey.

The Home Secretary, John Reid said:- “Tackling anti-social behaviour, creating a more respectful society and re-building safer communities is a priority for this Government.  And I am heartened that everyday more and more members of the public are working with the police and local councils right across the country to take action against anti-social behaviour and stand up for the rights of the law-abiding majority.

The Respect Awards for Taking a Stand celebrate their bravery, courage and determination.  The initiative shown is inspiring; these dedicated individuals have: collected and given evidence in court; cleaned up their streets and parks ; organised youth activities and set up residents and neighbourhood watch schemes. These awards are a fitting way to recognise these extraordinary people.”

Louise Casey, the Government's Co-ordinator for Respect, said:- “Our RAFTAS award winners are truly ambassadors for the Respect drive. It is not easy to stand up to those doing wrong; the winners of these awards have been deservedly recognised for working with the police and local authorities to challenge the minority of people who think it is acceptable to intimidate, harass and blight our communities.

They have cleaned up graffiti, set up residents groups, given evidence in court and organised activities for young people. They have proved, yet again, that determined members of the public are the most effective weapon in tackling, not tolerating, anti-social behaviour. They have shown commitment, drive and courage and are an inspiration to us all.

We all have the right to live our lives free from harassment, yet with those rights come responsibilities. I urge people not to suffer in silence but to work alongside the police and local authorities to create a more respectful society.”

Over 740 nominations were received from individuals and community groups across England and Wales and 271 winners were chosen, each receiving £1,000 to be spent on improving their local area.

Winners in the North West include:-


PRESTON, LANCASHIRE: Bill McGrath, Ingol Community Association

ST HELENS, Peasley Cross Tenants and Residents Association


HALLIWELL, BOLTON, Lillian Wignall & Sandra Wyatt



WIDNES, CHESHIRE, Joanne O’Connor, Clayton Community Association


STOCKPORT, Belmont Area Action Group


TAMESIDE, Sharon McCabe

BLACKPOOL, Harrison Street Residents

LANCASTER, Hala Community Group

BOOTLE, Mark Owens

CREWE, CHESHIRE, Karen Lockett

Mark Owens – Bootle, Merseyside

MARK Owens has lived in the Peel Knowsley neighbourhood all his life and felt that it was becoming characterised by issues of deprivation and anti-social behaviour problems. The issues faced by those living in the neighbourhood included drug and substance misuse and youth intimidation. The local parks were often vandalised and there were many break-ins and graffiti to local churches and schools.

Mark recognised that there was very little for young people to do in the community and felt that this was one of the reasons for the anti-social behaviour and crime. Mark therefore decided to take the lead and gained support from the local resident’s group and parish priest to set up a youth club in the church. Mark gradually developed a network of partners and after two years as a volunteer became employed as Youth Co-ordinator in charge of a range of activities. The reputation of the club attracted funding and relationships were built with the police and local landlords. Mark also helped to develop a local outreach project in partnership with three local schools to target children and young people at risk of becoming involved with anti-social behaviour and crime. This was successful in reintegrating children in school who were otherwise in danger of being excluded.

The Peel Knowsley community now has a Youth Centre that has become a focal point for children and young people in the area, many of whom access the centre and its services 3 nights a week.  The effect on the local community has been great. There are now fewer incidents of anti-social behaviour and more people are now willing to come forward to give evidence and share information. People also now feel safer using the shops and confidence in local agencies has been restored. Incidences of anti-social behaviour have dropped by up to 40%.

Winning the award will help provide additional resources to the youth club. Mark has plans to develop the range of services on offer, particularly on Saturday’s and at weekends with local environment projects involving young people.

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