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Issue Date:- 23 December 2008

Public fear blackouts this Christmas

WELL the doom and gloom of 2008 had to get worse for Christmas, as if the Credit Crunch was not affecting us, the Institution of Civil Engineers have said that we have more to worry about.

Yep, according to a survey released on 23 December 2008, by the Institution of Civil Engineers (ICE), 63% of the UK population fear they could face electricity blackouts over the winter months. They said that older people are particularly anxious with 76% of the over 65s expressing their concerns.

The survey asked over 1000 people how concerned they are about the possibility of electricity blackouts due to insufficient generating capacity, particularly during the cold winter months.

ICE’s Director General, Tom Foulkes said:- “This results of this survey show just how worried the UK public is about our energy supplies and they are right to be. Our energy policy has not kept up with changes in the sector, and with nuclear power stations reaching the end of their lives, emissions targets looming, and insufficient progress being made with low-carbon technologies, the future looks grim. Report after report has highlighted the grave danger that the UK may not be able to meet demands and government can still do more to encourage investment by energy companies or support research into further clean energy solutions. We need to stop dragging our heels or we could find Christmas in the future becomes rather less merry and a lot less bright!”

ICE believes that current arrangements don’t create the right incentives for companies to invest in new infrastructure. It is calling on the government to create the market conditions that will encourage the creation of additional capacity rather than pushing existing stock to the limit.

Investment needs to be encouraged in the storage and supply connections with mainland Europe and the energy grid upgraded to cope with more microgeneration and wind power. A concerted drive on energy efficiency is also needed, with a priority being encouraging the retrofit of existing homes, offices, and factories.

Mr Foulkes continued in a press release sent to us by the ICE:- “The government needs to do more if we are to both meet our environmental commitments and ensure security of supply. As well as encouraging investment in the full range of low carbon generation options, the country needs far greater capability to store energy for the long-term to see us through any future crisis. We need to bring forward the relevant National Policy Statements as set out in the new Planning Act and speedily appoint the proposed chief construction officer. We must make good the commitment to the construction of a new generation of nuclear power stations and invest more in research for carbon capture and storage and alternative energy sources. In short, we must act now or find ourselves suffering the consequences much sooner than many seem to think.”

The ICE is due to release energy reports on grid and transmission issues and the potential for combined heat and power (CHP) projects in early 2009.

Do you agree with these finding?  Do let us know by emailing us to and also let us know if you are worried about electricity blackouts this winter!

Background notes:-

► The survey was carried out by ComRes and polled 1,012 respondents from all over the UK.

► The Institution of Civil Engineers (ICE) was founded in 1818 to ensure professionalism in civil engineering. It represents 80,000 qualified and student civil engineers in the UK and across the globe. The ICE has long worked with the government of the day to help it to achieve its objectives, and has worked with industry to ensure that construction and civil engineering remain major contributors to the UK economy and UK exports.

Southport Weekender 44
8 May 09 to 10 May 2009

THE 2009 Southport Weekender Office will be officially closed until Monday 5 January 2009 for phone calls, however bookings can be taken anytime online via:-

The Southport Weekender's one an only Alex & Dave told us that:- "Don’t forget that the price goes up by £10pp at Midnight GMT on 31 December 2008.  If anyone wants to book, then book NOW... 

With less than 3 weeks after tickets going on sale, incredibly we've got less than 1400 places left.  Whilst we're on the subject of bookings the only chalets available are 4 & 6 Berths.  Yes, we've got less out and it was not want we expected!   That's it for now, let's all have a excellent Xmas and New Year."

Green-fingered Jessica earns zoo visit

YOUNGSTERS at Alder Hey Children’s Hospital’s Rocking Horse Nursery are looking forward to a fantastic day out at Chester Zoo, thanks to a green-fingered classmate.

Three-year-old Jessica Poustie, from Wallasey, has become the toast of the nursery after winning a visit to the zoo for her entire class.

Jessica claimed the prize after growing the winning pumpkin for the hugely popular Arley Hall & Garden’s Pumpkin Games.

The Pumpkin Games, which was one of the highlights of Cheshire’s Year of Gardens 08 celebrations, saw youngsters from across the country compete in a Heaviest Pumpkin Competition – growing their own pumpkins from scratch with specially donated seeds.

Jessica, whose mum Vanessa helped her grow the 6.5kg pumpkin,paid a visit to the zoo to collect the prize on behalf of the nursery, which looks after 60 children whose parents work at the hospital.

Vanessa, from Lymington Road, said:- “Jessica and all the children at the nursery are delighted with the prize. The pumpkin competition was a great initiative and a fantastic way to help get children excited about horticulture. We planted the seeds in April and Jessica was able to watch the pumpkin grow throughout the year. We had a great day out at Arley Hall for the Games, and are already looking forward to next year.”

Louise Garforth, Cheshire’s Year of Gardens 08 Project Manager, added:- “The Pumpkin Games proved an unprecedented success and was an undoubted highlight of Cheshire’s Year of Garden 08.

The Games were a fantastic example of what can be achieved through hard work and partnership and I’m looking forward to it becoming a regular feature on Cheshire’s calendar of events.”

For more information on Arley Hall & Gardens visit or call 01565 777 353.

Creamfields’ £7.2 Million Bonus For Cheshire

THE now annual Creamfields music festival in the Cheshire countryside generated a massive £7.2 million bonus for the area’s visitor economy, it was announced this week.  Total visitor spend was £7.2 million; much of this spend remained within Cheshire and 100% was retained within the Northwest region.

Approximately 65,000 tickets were sold for the Creamfields event at Daresbury, Halton, during the August Bank Holiday weekend, 86% of them coming from outside Cheshire. This year was the first year the event was held as a 2-day event, and this appears to have strengthened the economic impact in the local area.

This year’s total spend, including the cost of tickets, represents a 7% increase on the income generated from the 2006 Creamfields. However, analysis shows that spend on accommodation had more than trebled to £700k and event attendees spent £780k on retail in Cheshire and the Northwest.

The figures were revealed this week by England’s Northwest Research Service, which was commissioned by Cream to conduct a detailed study into the event’s economic impact on the area.

The report showed that visitors, who came from across the UK and Europe, spent an average of £151 per visitor. Almost a third of those at the event (29%) were staying in the local area before or after the event; a total of 2,900 nights in Halton, 3,200 nights in Cheshire and Warrington and 6,300 nights in Merseyside.

Visitor satisfaction ratings for the event were high with an average score of 4.5 out of five; 62% were likely come to future festivals. Reinforcing the success of the event as a 2-day festival, an overwhelming 69% believed future Creamfields events should be 2 days.

Visit Chester & Cheshire Chief Executive Chris Brown said:- "Creamfields is now in its third year in Cheshire and it is fantastic to see this event has managed to gather such momentum over the years. I am delighted the visitor economy has benefited enormously in Cheshire and the North West region. We look forward to hosting the festival in 2009."

Creamfields CEO James Barton said:- "This report once again demonstrates the positive impact that Creamfields brings to the Halton and Warrington area’s of Cheshire. We are delighted that overall numbers have increased and the local economy has benefited from the two day concept that we introduced in 2008.  Creamfields at a glance…

* 97% was the average hotel occupancy in the area on Saturday night.

* 29% of visitors stayed in the area beyond the event itself; on average for 2.0 nights, with 44% using serviced

* 96% of visitors were aged 18 to 30

* 52% were male; 48% female

* 59% were on a repeat visit to Creamfields, compared to just 42% in 2006.

* 60% were in full time employment and 25% were students.

* 95% rated their overall enjoyment of the event as ‘good’ or ‘very good’

* 76% rated the event organisation and staff as ‘good’ or ‘very good’

* 72% rated it ‘very good’ or ‘good’ value for money

Creamfields will return as a 2 day festival in 2009, Early Bird tickets are already on sale at 2008 prices, and can be paid for in 2 installments, further information can be found on:- Tel:- 0844 888 4401H

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