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Southport Reporter® covering the news on Merseyside.

Date:- 16 April 2007

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Is your grass perfectly groomed?

IS YOUR lawn lusciously green? Is Britain's best lawn in the North West? If so, Briggs & Stratton is keen to hear from you as it searches for a winner in its annual Britain's Best Lawn competition.  Launched during Love Your Lawn Week (23 - 29 April), organisers of Britain's Best Lawn competition wants to hear from lawn owners who have cultivated a carpet of perfect grass. 

The competition has been designed to promote renewed interest in the lawn as a main feature of the garden and highlight its importance for wildlife and the wider environment.  Ian Small, national sales manager for Briggs & Stratton, explains:- "With 20 million domestic lawns in the UK all helping contribute to reducing CO2 in the environment, the lawn is becoming an increasingly precious commodity. We should be celebrating its importance by encouraging people to not only have a lawn, but to keep it at its best."

Last years winner John Smith from Chester agrees;- "My experience is that in the growing season it probably takes a maximum of two hours a week and costs less than £2 a week for fertiliser, sand and petrol for the mower. I think that's a good investment in time and money for a very enjoyable end product."

Here are John's tips:-

1. I make sure that the mowers are serviced early (usually January). I use an old 24" Atco cylinder mower and a 16" Hayter with a Briggs and Stratton engine. These mowers have given me years of loyal service and have the winter and summer cutter settings clearly marked so there's no guessing.

2. In early spring, following a cut, I aerate and top dress with sharp sand from the local builder' s yard the areas which have not come through the winter too well (ie moss and / or wetness). The sand is then just hand brushed over the areas and into the aeration holes to improve drainage. This winter has been very wet and the moss problem a bit worse than normal.

3. I follow this up with an application of lawn sand.

4. I tend to scarify every 3 years. It's a very old lawn and seems to take time to recover even with a good top dressing.

5. I apply fertiliser using a hand push applicator usually late April when the grass is in good growth. Before applying I cut both long ways and across and use the stripes to guide me through the application. I apply by setting the distributor to half the recommended rate and spread both long ways and crossways. I always use the same fertiliser so that the spread should be consistent. This assures me a good, even distribution with no missed bits.

6. I try to cut 3 times a week at the height of the season. I alternate the cut from up / down to across to diagonal left or right because it looks good and takes no more effort.

7. I follow the weather forecasts so the grass never gets ahead of me and so becomes hard work and a chore. I can have the main lawn cut in half an hour with the Atco.

8. We are always experiencing grass damage from rabbits, squirrels and moles and I keep spare seed, which I know is a good match for repair jobs, which are frequent. I dig out the damaged area and fill with a topsoil and seed mix.

9. I have learnt not to be overly concerned about droughts. The area is too big to water and grass is very robust and tends to recover without too many problems.

10. I get couch grass regularly and about once a month I take the strimmer to it in the growing season to keep it under control. It looks unsightly for a few days but soon recovers.

11. I finish the season by raising the cutter height to maximum over a matter of weeks and applying an autumn feed. This gives a lush growth and I find suppresses moss in the winter. I will cut the grass any time over winter if growth and weather conditions allow.

Competition entries will be judged on 3 different criteria:-

The features that have been created to bring focus to the lawn, the use of the lawn by birds and wildlife and the general quality of the lawn. 

A team of experts, including respected garden writer and broadcaster Martin Fish, will carry out the judging and the winner will receive £1,000 worth of vouchers plus the horticultural services of Martin Fish for a day.

Two runners up will each receive £500 worth vouchers and all entries will go into a prize draw to win a year's subscription to Garden News.

The closing date for entries is 29 June 2007 and judging will take place in July.

Entry forms are available from the 100-strong Briggs & Stratton main dealer network, details of which are on, or by calling Gemma Sharpe on 01332 372196.

Capital of Culture unveil its 800th Birthday Coat of Arms

ON St George’s Day, 23 April 2007, HRH The Prince of Wales will officially re-open St George’s Hall, Liverpool, one of the city’s most iconic buildings. The re-opening will also be the occasion of the unveiling of a watercolour depicting a reinterpretation of Liverpool’s coat of arms to celebrate the city’s 800th Anniversary, which will then be on permanent display.

The work has been specially commissioned from the internationally renowned artists, The Singh Twins, who will present a copy of the painting to HRH The Prince of Wales. The new work offers a reinterpretation of the traditional coat of arms of Liverpool, reflecting the changes in the city’s identity, from the maritime image of its past to the modern projection of itself as a city of art and culture.  Employing the techniques used in Indian miniature paintings, the watercolour celebrates the many achievements to come out of Liverpool in the past 800 years and features some of the key figures including King John, Queen Elizabeth I, William Roscoe and even an appearance by King Kong. The coat of arms is very much a personal interpretation of events by the Merseyside-based twins who can be seen at either side of the painting overseeing the events.  Drawing on both British and Indian traditions and packed with humour and symbolism, the new coat of arms depicts a cityscape which lies between The Statue of Liberty and a Chinese pagoda. A series of structures from the past and present are featured, including The Three Graces, The Tower of Liverpool, St Nicholas’ Church and Liverpool Castle. Interwoven are hundreds of references to events, people, places and inventions associated with the city from its seafaring reputation to its thriving arts and music scene.

To produce the new coat of arms, The Singh Twins have been involved in months of detailed research delving into the city’s past. Although the new coat of arms is a major reinterpretation of the city’s history, The Twins were keen to retain the Liverbird motif from the original coat of arms, “We feel that the Liverbird is a symbol which is recognised by all Liverpudlians as a symbol of their city. The only slight change is that the seaweed in the original bird’s beak has been replaced with a pen and a paintbrush to signify Liverpool’s move away from the maritime association of its past to one of arts and culture.”

Graham Boxer, Head of Heritage Development for The Liverpool Company said:- “This commission from The Singh Twins takes a fresh look the city’s history from its origins to the present day, in a highly original way. The new coat of arms will be displayed at the new Heritage Visitor Centre in St Georges Hall, leaving a permanent reminder of the city’s 800th birthday year celebrations.”


ATTEMPTS to force people to marry against their will should be made illegal, says a Southport MEP.  Chris Davies is calling for support to be given to an attempt to change the law being made by a Liberal Democrat peer, Lord Lester of Herne Hill.

Over 300 cases of forced marriages are reported in Britain each year with most involving Asian families, but hundreds more are thought to go unreported. Some campaigners have described the practice as a form of slavery involving legalised rape.

At present no law exists specifically to prevent attempts to force someone into a marriage against their will. In the few cases where prosecutions follow they are usually based on charges of kidnapping, false imprisonment or physical abuse.

The Bill introduced into the House of Lords would strengthen the rights of victims. Recognising that those involved are usually members of the same family it proposes to make forced marriage a civil rather than a criminal offence. Offenders would not go to jail but victims could sue for damages.

"Forced marriages amount to a complete denial of individual freedom, usually involving the coercion of vulnerable women by fathers or brothers," said Chris Davies.

But the Liberal Democrat MEP insisted that no comparison could be made between the violence of a forced marriage and the partnership of an arranged marriage, in which the individuals concerned were free to make the final decision for themselves.

Fridges stolen - Sankey Valley Industrial Estate

MERSEYSIDE Police are appealing for information following the theft of a lorry filled with fridges at the Sankey Industrial Estate, Newton-le-Willows,

At around 11.00pm on Sunday, 8 April 2007, three men went into a transport yard on Sankey Valley Industrial Estate. They stole a tractor unit and trailer, which contained a quantity of LEC commercial fridges.

Detectives are appealing to anyone who may have been offered the goods for sale to come forward. The LEC fridges carry the model numbers WR502, ISR55, BC9004K, 24L339045, 24L323037, 240365HHI. A mortuary fridge was among the items taken.

The empty tractor unit and trailer was later found on North Florida Road, Haydock. Officers are also keen to speak to anyone who may have seen the lorry. The lorry was maroon/dark red in colour with the name 'Whittaker & Sons' on the tractor unit and on the rear doors of the trailer, in gold writing.

The three are described as white, dressed in dark clothing with dark balaclava-type head coverings.

Any witnesses and anyone with information in relation to the incident are asked to call Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.

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