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Southport and  Mersey Reporter -  Your free online newspaper service covering the Merseyside region - (Greater Liverpool).
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Issue:- 22 March  2012

Police crackdown on mobile and seat belt offences

MORE than a quarter of all fixed penalty notices handed to motorists in Merseyside are for mobile phone and seat belt offences. Since the start of this year Merseyside Police has issued drivers in Merseyside with 772 fixed penalty notices for mobile phone offences and 992 for seat belt offences. In 2011, 23 people lost their lives in road traffic collisions and more than 500 people sustained serious injuries.

Chief Inspector John Hogan, head of roads policing, said:- "Merseyside Police is committed to reducing the number of people killed or seriously injured on our roads and we are determined to target the minority of motorists who continue to flout the law and recklessly endanger lives. Lack of concentration features heavily in many road traffic collisions and drivers need to be aware that actions such as using their mobile phone, eating or reading pose a significant threat to their safety and the safety of other road users, particularly cyclists and pedestrians. You are four times more likely to be involved in a collision if using your mobile phone while driving. And it is proven that you halve your chance of dying in a collision if you wear a seat belt in either the front or back of the car. Our officers will continue to adopt a zero tolerance approach to the offences that cause the most serious collisions such as using your phone, speeding and not wearing a seat belt."

Did you know that anyone found using a mobile phone while driving or not wearing their seat belt is liable to a £60 fine and three penalty points. If a driver is found to have used a mobile at the time of a collision they could be charged with dangerous driving.  Merseyside Police believe these 2 offences are part of a bigger picture of driver apathy with many motorists believing:- 'it will never happen to me.'  In May 2012 Merseyside Police will be involved in a driver training initiative called:- 'Engage'. Police officers, local authority road safety officers and driving instructors will work together to better educate learner drivers and influence their future attitudes.

Sgt. Paul Mountford, from the Roads Policing Department, said:- "This is an innovative scheme in which the learner driver is presented with a number of different issues and they have to identify the dangers and solutions. There will also be an expectation on parents of young drivers to contribute to their child's driving education by attending a workshop to gain an insight into the structure of the scheme and how they can support it. We would ask parents to ask themselves a question; how important is the safety of my son or daughter?"

Any driving instructors who wish to learn more about the scheme or register their interest in being involved is asked to call Sgt. Mountford on:- 0151 777 5732. Alternatively they send him an email or email the St Helens Road Safety Team.

Beavers and Cubs Learn Responsible Pet Care

PETS at Home Southport are offering local Beaver and Cub Scout groups free workshops to help members gain their animal care badge.  Children in the area who attend the workshops at the Southport store will receive advice from trained in-store advisors on how to care for pets responsibly in order to achieve part of their set badge criteria.

To obtain their Animal Friend Badge, Beaver Scouts will learn how to care for small animals and fish along with the correct type and quantities of food to feed them. They will also find out the right habitats for small animals, where they sleep and how to ensure they get the appropriate level of exercise.

To help gain their Animal Carer Badge, Cub Scouts will find out, in the in-store aquatic centre, about different types of freshwater or tropical fish and what food they eat. Cubs will also learn the correct foods that small animals need to keep healthy and how to recognise common illnesses.

Store Manager David Salisbury at Pets at Home said:- "Our in-store pet advisers are always happy to share their extensive knowledge of animal care. The free workshops will help local Beavers and Cub Scouts find out all the information they need to achieve some of their badge activity tasks, teaching them how to care for pets responsibly and everything that’s involved in looking after pets."

Examples of suitable animals for the badge include dogs, cats, gerbils, guinea pigs, fish, birds and rabbits.

Simon Carter assistant director at The Scout Association said:- "Having a trusted place that our leaders can go to that helps our Cub and Beaver Scouts learn about the correct way to care of animals is of real value to our leaders. This support from Pets at Home really helps make the life of our volunteers that bit easier."

Shops warned over under-age drink sales

SHOPS and off-licences which sell alcohol to under-age customers have been warned that they are putting their licences at risk.  The warning follows a recent 28 day suspension of the licence for Greens Convenience Store, in Lodge Lane, Liverpool, for selling drink to a 16 year old girl in a test purchase. The city council's licensing committee also imposed extra conditions on the shop's licence to say that alcohol should only be sold by the designated premises supervisor or a personal licence holder; staff should have regular training on the proof of age scheme and staff had to be trained in making meaningful ID checks. Subsequent checks have shown that the shop has since complied with the terms of its licence.  Councillor Christine Banks, licensing committee chair, said:- "Selling alcohol to underage customers is something we are determined to crack down on. It causes a lot of concern to residents as well as being potentially very harmful to young people. Shop and off licence owners and managers need to be aware of their responsibilities and ensure that all staff carry them out. Training is available on these issues and there is no excuse for selling drink to the under 18's. Our alcohol and tobacco unit keep a close watch on these issue and we will have no hesitation in suspending or even revoking the licence of those irresponsible premises who make these illegal sales. Any who have had their licence suspended can be sure that it will be revoked if there is a second offence."

Art improves stroke survivors' quality of life

STROKE survivors who like art have a significantly higher quality of life than those who do not, according to new research. Patients who appreciated music, painting and theatre recovered better from their stroke than patients who did not.  The research was presented at the 12th Annual Spring Meeting on Cardiovascular Nursing, 16 March to 17 March 2012, in Copenhagen, Denmark.  

Stroke is the 3rd cause of death in the western world and the first cause of disability in adults. More and more older people are having strokes and undergoing recovery. "We know that every 6 seconds there is a person affected by stroke in the world. Identifying strategies to improve stroke recovery and patients’ quality of life represent a priority for the health care system and art exposure seems to be promising." says lead author Dr Ercole Vellone, assistant professor in nursing science at the School of Nursing, University Tor Vergata, Rome, Italy.

For the research (FPN 38), 192 stroke survivors (average age 70 years) were asked if they liked or did not like art (music, painting, theatre). Quality of life was compared for patients interested in art (105) and patients not interested in art (87).

Patients interested in art had better general health, found it easier to walk, and had more energy. They were also happier, less anxious or depressed, and felt calmer. They had better memory and were superior communicators (speaking with other people, understanding what people said, naming people and objects correctly).

Dr Vellone says:- "Stroke survivors who saw art as an integrated part of their former lifestyle, by expressing appreciation towards music, painting and theatre, showed better recovery skills than those who did not.  In our study the 'art' group of patients showed a comparable clinical picture to the 'no art' group.  This is important because it means that patients belonging to the ‘art’ group had a better quality of life independently from the gravity of stroke. The results suggest that art may make long term changes to the brain which help it recover when things go wrong."

Other researchers have shown that listening to our favourite music directly stimulates a feeling a pleasure by releasing dopamine in the brain. Dopamine is the starting point of the so-called gratification circuit that activates oxytocin (the hormone of love) and finally endorphins (the molecules of pleasurable emotions). "Dopamine improves quality of life each time it is released in the brain.  Further research is needed to see if other art forms stimulate dopamine release.  These results shed light on the importance of lifelong exposure to art for improving the recovery process after a stroke. Introducing art into nursing care after stroke could help improve stroke survivors’ quality of life."

British Summer-time - Don't Forget This Weekend!!!

DON'T forget to reset your clocks and gadgets this week-end. We lose one hour of beauty sleep, or working time, when at 1am on Sunday, 25 March 2012, we change the time to 2am.  If you, like many of us, find it hard to remember which way it goes, the mnemonic – "spring forward, fall back" may help.

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