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Issue:- 03/04 March 2010


PUPILS at a school for children with severe learning difficulties in the town are set to get their hands dirty when they receive a fun but rather unusual corporate donation in the next couple of weeks. And it’s all thanks to the latest environmental push being undertaken by one of the North West’s most enthusiastic green champions; Premex Services based in Bolton and Liverpool.

Premex is donating 600 trees though a national ‘Trees For Schools’ initiative, to a variety of educational establishments throughout the region, with the Merefield School in Ainsdale, scheduled to receive 60 specimens comprising 10 Silver Birch, 10 Ash, 10 Goat Willow, 10 Cherry, 10 Common Alder and 10 Small Leaved Lime trees.

Having previously indicated a desire to house some sponsored trees to Tree Appeal; the environmental initiative established to promote biodiversity and help replace woodlands lost to deforestation, storm damage and disease, the school’s management was delighted to hear that it had been chosen this time round.

The school plans to become a ‘Forest School’, adopting an innovative educational approach to play and learning where individuals of any age can be encouraged and inspired through positive outdoor experiences. So, not only will the trees make an aesthetic improvement to the landscape but they’ll also provide a valuable addition to the already excellent teaching resources at Merefield.

With delivery expected on 4 March 2010, teachers and pupils will be busy getting their new arrivals into the ground before the end of the traditional planting season, creating an opportunity for staff to deliver more engaging science, geography and art lessons.  As well as bringing environmental studies and weather watching to life, the trees will provide new homes for bugs, birds and animals. Children will be able to watch them grow, observe how wildlife is encouraged and chart the impact of the changing seasons upon this newly created and visually more stimulating habitat.

Tree Appeal, patronised by Professor David Bellamy, has now supplied tens of thousands of trees to over 400 UK schools at absolutely no cost – something made possible by the donations of corporate partners, like Premex, determined to make a positive impact on the environment. This latest batch of saplings takes Premex’s contribution to 1,000 trees in just over 12 months.

Automatically, Merefield will become a ‘School on the Wildside’; a member of an extensive Tree Appeal-managed educational community which helps schools learn more about biodiversity, enabling staff and students to share news, observations and measurements with fellow recipients of ‘trees for schools’ via their own dedicated web page.

Schools also have the opportunity to participate in events like Tree Measuring Week and the Wild at School Awards which recognise the achievements of individual establishments, pupils and teachers, and the classroom projects and studies making outstanding contributions to the environment.

Donald Fowler, managing director of Premex Services, explains the reasons for his company’s involvement with the initiative:- “As the UK’s leading provider of independent medical reports, investigations, diagnostic and rehabilitation services, we use nearly eight million pieces of paper every year and realise that it’s important for us to mitigate our impact on the environment. Over the last 12 months or so, through recycling and the introduction of market leading electronic systems, we have generated an annual environmental saving equivalent to over 900 trees.  But, we are also committed to creating a more sustainable, ecologically diverse future for the communities that surround us. These local communities provide us with the vast majority of our workforce and I believe that companies have a duty to improve the lives of those they touch; employees and their families as well as local neighbours and society at large. By sponsoring the donation of trees through the Trees For Schools scheme, we are making a positive contribution to the environment and the region’s education. Donations like this make our staff proud and they are a tangible way for us as a business to give something back.”

Everybody involved in this round of plantings can also take heart from the knowledge that their actions are having a knock-on effect internationally. For every 100 trees donated by Premex, Tree Appeal will be despatching a brand new computer to a primary school in one of the poorer parts of Africa, giving hundreds of young children over there a grounding in computer skills that they might not otherwise be able to acquire.

 Council plans to improve democracy

LIVERPOOL City Council is set to cut out jargon and pilot the webcasting of meetings as part of a wide-ranging plan to improve democracy.  The city council’s Executive Board will consider a report on how to take forward recommendations made by the Liverpool Democracy Commission. 

The Commission was established in 2008 to look at ways of getting more people involved in decision making and was chaired by Professor Michael Brown, Vice Chancellor and Chief Executive of Liverpool John Moores University.  It made a series of suggestions, and now the council’s Constitutional Issues Committee has brought forward a series of proposals to put them into action. These include:-

► Getting staff who write letters and reports to use plain English rather than terminology, jargon and acronyms

► Piloting webcasting a future council meeting to gauge interest from local residents and the media

► Training elected members in how to use social networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter to improve communication with constituents

Councillor Paula Keaveney, executive member for ethical governance, who sat on the Liverpool Democracy Commission, said:- “We spend a large amount of taxpayers money so it is absolutely crucial that we give as many people as possible the chance to get involved in the decisions we make.  We need to tear down some of the barriers that make it more difficult than it should be for people to understand the work of the council and how the decisions we make impact on their lives.  Too many local residents see the council as remote and not relevant to them and for the sake of local democracy we have to tackle it.  I am particularly passionate about using technology such as the internet to improve the way councillors communicate with the public.  I also want to cut out the bamboozling and impenetrable jargon which has infected local government because local residents simply don’t understand it and it is a huge turn off.”

There is also a proposal to develop a mentoring scheme aimed at groups of people who are under-represented on the council such as those with sight and hearing impairment, and users of British Sign Language.  And to get young people more involved in politics, a representative from the schools parliament will be elected to some council committees, while lessons about local democracy will be introduced into the curriculum. Plans are also afoot to work more closely with higher education students in the city.

Consideration will also be given to making crèche facilities available for elected members and changing the start times of meetings to make the council more family-friendly.

A recognition scheme will also be developed for employers who support and encourage their staff to become a councillor.

Following consideration by the Executive Board, the report will go before a full meeting of the city council for final approval.


A UK meningitis charity, the Meningitis Trust, is appealing for all budding athletes in North West who are looking to take part in a local run to choose to run in aid of the charity.    The Trust is the only charity to offer a range of free professional services and community based support for people affected by meningitis and relies solely on voluntary donations to continue its work.  Each runner’s efforts will go towards helping the thousands of people struggling to cope with the impact of meningitis in the UK right now.  Chris Hughes, Community Development Officer at the Meningitis Trust, says:- “Taking part in a running event is a great way to get fit and raise funds at the same time. Without support from people taking part in events for us, we wouldn’t be able to continue providing professional support services and raising vital awareness of this devastating disease”.  You will be required to sign up on the official run’s websites. Once signed up, please contact Chris Hughes at the Meningitis Trust on:- 0845 120 4764 or email.  Runners will receive a Meningitis Trust fundraising pack, which includes a T-shirt, fundraising ideas, sponsorship forms, and training tips to prepare them for the big day.  The Meningitis Trust helps around 20,000 people each year, supporting anyone affected by this life-changing disease through its free professional aftercare and support services. These include:- a freephone 24 hour helpline on:- 0800 028 18 28.  It is staffed by nurses, counselling, financial support grants, home visits, one to one contacts and now art therapy.

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