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Southport Reporter®

Edition No. 94

Date:- 12  April 2003

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WITH the Easter holidays in progress, Network Rail and the British Transport Police (BTP) are working together to tackle railway crime by catching the action live on camera from the sky. Starting next Monday (14 April) a helicopter will be hovering above parts of Greater Manchester, Merseyside, Lancashire and Cumbria that are known to be ‘hotspots’ for railway crime.

These so-called ‘hotspot’ areas have regular incidents of children playing ‘chicken’ across frequently used lines, throwing stones at passing trains and of obstacles being put on the line, potentially causing serious train derailments. Particular problem areas for the rail industry that will be targeted include:-
Greater Manchester – the Atherton line; Bolton; Pendleton; the Styal line; Clayton Vale; the Oldham loop; Cheadle
Merseyside – the Edge Hill area; Huyton; the Bootle branch freight line; Bidston to Hooton; the Southport line; Liverpool to Wigan

Lancashire – Blackpool North and South lines; Blackburn to Colne

Cumbria – between Barrow and Dalton; between Corkickle and Workington

The helicopter will have a BTP officer and Network Rail representative on each trip. They will be in constant contact with ‘on the ground’ BTP and Network Rail resources who can be deployed to various areas as necessary.

The number of incidents that could cause a catastrophic event, such as stone/missile throwing, objects placed on the line or vandalism/tampering with equipment, saw a 16% decrease last year (2002/3) although there was a slight increase in the amount of trespass - up 5%.

Network Rail and the British Transport Police are hoping the Easter helicopter initiative will contribute to a continuing downward trend.

Anyone who wants to report acts of railway crime can contact British Transport Police on 0800 40 50 40 or Crimestoppers on 0800 555111. Information to Crimestoppers can be left anonymously.

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THIS week a newsletter is going out to hundreds of tenants explaining that Liverpool City Council is looking at options for the future of housing in the area. One of these options is transferring 376 houses around Lark Lane, Greenbank and Aigburth Vale to a housing association.

City council executive member for housing Flo Clucas said, “We want to see everyone in Liverpool living in a house which is warm, safe and comfortable – a proper home. To make sure this happens we need to look at ways of ensuring as much money as possible to invest in our council houses, and government rules mean we cannot borrow the money we would need to do this."

“This means we need to look at transferring some of our houses to housing associations, which are not bound by government restriction and can spend the money."

“What we want to do now is set up meetings with residents in the area, as well as open days, exhibitions and roadshows to talk about the plans. But before any transfer could go ahead there would be a secret ballot of tenants, and nothing would happen unless the people who live in the houses want it to.”

Arena Housing Association, which has around 11,000 properties in Merseyside and Cheshire and is based in Liverpool, has been chosen as the preferred partner by a panel including local tenants, Liverpool housing action trust and the city council. If residents continue to support Arena, and a probationary period is satisfactory, then the city council will be asked to formally approve Arena as the partner.

The proposal comes two months after the city council transferred more than 13,000 homes on the eastern fringe of the city to three housing associations.

SOUTHPORT'S pet lovers will be going wild next weekend for the opening of the new Pets at Home superstore on Ocean Plaza, in the town. 

The new store, which will open its doors on Saturday April 19, will be holding an Easter party for pet lovers and their pets to help celebrate.

Pets at Home in Southport will be 146th UK store the retailer has opened in over a decade, manager Vicky Holt, “I am looking forward to the challenge of launching the new store, which is perfect timing for the opening to be Easter weekend when people and their pets are keen to shop! We hope residents will come along on Saturday to have a look at the array of pet goodies the store has to offer, particularly for that special chocolate treat – animal friendly chocolate of course!”

The company has grown from a single store in 1991 and has featured in the Sunday Times 'Profit Track 100' for two years running and the Sunday Times Fast Track 100 in 2002.

Southport Reporter is a registered Trade Mark.   Copyright © Patrick Trollope 2003.