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Southport Reporter®

Edition No. 96

Date:- 26  April 2003

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CROWDS FLOCK TO 'NEW LOOK' SOUTHPORT

SOUTHPORT enjoyed a bumper Easter bank holiday weekend with day-trippers flocking to the resort.

The weekend got off to a blistering start when the sun brought out the crowds by the thousands on Good Friday. 

Southport beach was packed and visitors enjoyed the many new attractions including the 'new look' pier, new rides at Pleasureland and Ocean Plaza leisure complex.

Lord Fearn, Sefton's Cabinet Member for Economic Development and Tourism said:- "The weather on Good Friday was absolutely fantastic. People were queuing to get into the town, all the car parks were full and there was a wonderful holiday atmosphere."

"We expected at least another 50,000 extra visitors over the weekend and I'm sure that number was exceeded. The weather, although cooler after Friday, didn't deter visitors who were still queuing to get into the resort on Monday afternoon. There's no doubt that Southport is now firmly established as one of the country's leading short break and day trip destinations."


Pleasureland also reported a record-breaking Easter. Steve Christian, marketing manager, said:- "It's been absolutely fantastic. The weather in the first week was more like June and even Saturday and Sunday were still bright. On Monday it was a little quieter because of the rain but we can live with one bad day and, as the forecast for the coming week also looks good, we are definitely looking at a record-breaking Easter fortnight."

The new £250,000 attraction, 'Abdullah's Dilemma', which opened for Easter at Pleasureland, also proved extremely popular with visitors. 

During the four days 14,000 people also took a stroll along Southport's recently restored pier bringing the total since it opened in May last year to more than 370,000.

The town's retailers also reported a profitable few days. Jim Breen, manager of Southport Business Village, said that the run-up to Easter had seen "excellent trading conditions."

Tragic Accident 
ON April the 23 Winifred Lee, who lived in sheltered accommodation in Southport and in her 80s, died after being hit by a "Cherry Picker" out side the Southport Arts Centre. 
It is unclear whether Miss Lee was knocked over or fell before the vehicle hit her. The driver, who was taken to Southport Hospital suffering from shock, did not know at the time that he had hit some one. He only realized what happened when people down below shouted up to him to "stop". A town hall worker told us "The driver was absolutely devastated. He was shaking, crying and in shock."

Our sympathies go out to both driver and the relatives of the victim and driver.

Any one who witnessed the incident and needs support should take it. We suggest you contact the Samaritans on 08457 90 90 90 or 08457 90 91 92

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SEEDS SOWN FOR THE GROWING SOCIAL ECONOMY IN EAST MANCHESTER
By Caroline Searling (NDA)

THE Northwest Development Agency is providing £100,000 to expand an environmental business centre in East Manchester. The centre accommodates environmentally friendly businesses and other community enterprises providing IT facilities, and meeting and exhibition space.

The centre is already home to nine small 'green' businesses, but the Agency's funding will go a long way towards the cost of providing 12 new business units.

The project co-coordinated by the Manchester Environmental Resource Centre Initiative (MERCI) who established the centre at Bridge-5 Mill 2 years ago. An Intermediate Labour Market Scheme offering construction related employment and training opportunities for local people will carry out the expansion. The new business will generate 16 new jobs. 

Helen France, NWDA Area Manager for Manchester, said:- "The NWDA is very pleased to be working with MERCI to make Manchester a more sustainable and economically diverse city. This pioneering project will increase employment opportunities through the development of environmental businesses and technology, and provides an innovative way to address social cohesion and promote the sustainable economy in England's Northwest." 

BRITAIN LAUNCHES LARGEST TRIAL OF ELECTRONIC VOTING IN EUROPE

THE country's largest ever trial of e-voting gets underway this week as new research reveals millions of electors would be more likely to cast their votes if they could do so electronically.

In English local elections on May 1st over 1.5 million people in 18 local council areas will be able to take part in voting trials by text message, internet, electronic kiosk and, for the first time ever, via digital TV. In some areas voting begins this week in advance of election day.

New research for The Electoral Commission shows there is significant demand for electronic voting and that it may help stem the declining turnout at elections. In a survey out today, more than half (55%) of English adults said that being offered e voting in some form would encourage them to vote at the next local election. With the youngest group - 18-24 year olds - were most keen to try the new methods with three-quarters saying that e voting would encourage them to participate.

Voting via the internet was seen as most likely to encourage participation (41%) followed by text messaging (33%), electronic kiosks (30%) and digital TV (26%). According to The Electoral Commission these new voting techniques are likely to become increasingly important as they cater to modern lifestyles.

Nicole Smith, director of policy at the Electoral Commission, said:- "People still care about education, taxes, policing and healthcare as much as before, but turnout at elections has been falling. That is at least in part due to a lack of convenience for voters. When life is very hectic a trip to the polling station can be hard to fit in. So it is important we look at all kinds of ways in which we can make it easy for people to use their vote."

Turnout at last year's local government elections was just 32% and the most recent general election saw only 59% per cent of the electorate visit the ballot box. According to MORI/Commission surveys in 2001one fifth of non-voters (21%) said they didn't vote in the last general election because the polling station was inconvenient for them. 

Not all pilots are offering the same technologies at these local elections. In some areas text messaging is available, in others kiosks and smart cards are being trailed. Digital TV is being tried for the first time in three areas but voting via the Internet and touch-tone phones are most commonly being offered to voters.

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