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Issue:- 25/26 November 2009

 All aboard for historic anniversary

BUSES from bygone days will take passengers on trips across the city of Liverpool as part of a special day of celebration – for the 40th anniversary of Merseyside’s Passenger Transport Executive (PTE), Merseytravel.  The Merseyside Transport Trust will join Merseytravel on Sunday, 29 November 2009, to celebrate the landmark anniversary of the PTE, which has been instrumental in the development of transport across the region.

A collection of vintage buses will be on display in Liverpool, on the plateau outside St Georges Hall between 11am and 3pm.  Members of the public can travel on some of the Trusts’ other heritage vehicles, with special services around the city departing from William Brown Street every half an hour between 12noon and 2.30pm.

Councillor Mark Dowd, Chair of Merseytravel, will have spent 50 years in the transport industry next year. And he has seen it all.  He said:- “If anyone would have said to me when I first joined Merseytravel that one day I’d be celebrating 40 years of PTEs I’m not sure I would have believed it!  There again, when I first started working in transport as a lad of 17 – if anyone would have said I’d have 50 years in public transport – I don’t think I’d have believed that either!

Merseyside PTE has achieved so much in the last 40 years and we want to continue to do that.  We hope people come along, enjoy the day and take the opportunity to see a range of vehicles that span those years.  I think some of these buses might even be as old as me!  If we go back to the 1968 Transport Act, our Chief Executive, Neil Scales, always mentions that Barbara Castle wanted ‘men of integrity and vision’ for transport , but Merseytravel got stuck with me and him!

Barbara Castle also said that... ‘There are great temptations to play safe…And it can be a very tricky thing indeed. You need timing and you need judgement and you need courage.'  We have that here on Merseyside.  People of integrity and vision are needed in public transport – for the people. It’s as simple as getting people from A to B and providing a good service. That’s what continues to motivate me 50 years on.”

Neil Scales, Chief Executive and Director General of Merseytravel added:- “We have one of the best rail services in the country in Merseyrail, an underground loop line as busy as any in the country, fantastic new rail stations and bus stations, two of Europe’s safest tunnels, and a ferry service that is going from strength to strength. That is something to be very proud of.

We’ve had the courage to go for what we wanted, and we’ll continue to do that. All those years ago, Barbara was right. We need to keep up the momentum to deliver more.”

Parents’ reality gap hides truth about kids exercise levels

PARENTS are stuck in a worrying “reality gap” when it comes to their children’s fitness levels, according to a new survey by the British Heart Foundation (BHF). While 72% of parents the North West think their children are “active enough”, 18% are doing the recommended daily 60 minutes of physical activity.

The heart charity released the findings as it published its new Couch Kids report, highlighting how physical activity is a crucial component in tackling childhood obesity. Whilst the number of obese children has risen since the mid-1990s there have been no major changes in children’s physical activity levels over the last decade. Currently around a 3rd of young people are overweight or obese.

Dr. Mike Knapton, Associate Medical Director at the BHF said:- “Mums and dads need to take off the blinkers about how active kids need to be in order to keep their hearts healthy.  Kids need to get moving more, yet we’ve been standing still for the last decade. Children aren’t really any more active than they were 10 years ago.  Parents have such an important role in helping and encouraging their kids to be more active by building exercise into their every day lives – whether that’s taking part in team sports, playing outside with their friends or walking to school.”

This UK wide report pulls together research from a wealth of sources to provide a clear picture of the level of childhood obesity, how active children are, barriers that stop them, and makes recommendations on tackling the problem.

Mike Knapton said:- “Local authorities need to feature public health more strongly in transport, planning and education policies. One example would be through recognising the importance of safe cycling routes and making sure children have interesting places to play.”

As a result the BHF is calling for urgent action to ensure children can get fit and active easily with:-

► Consistent guidelines on recommended levels of physical activity for all age groups.

► Schools maximising the opportunities for children to take part in physical activity during and around the school day

► Consistent collection of data about physical activity levels across the UK by local authorities, regional bodies and national governments.

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