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RRS Sir David Attenborough is launched at Birkenhead
Photos by L Trollope.

THE construction of the polar research ship is still underway, but the RRS Sir David Attenborough 10,000 tonne hull was officially launched, with quiet efficiency and minimal razz-ma-tazz into the River Mersey from the Cammell Laird slipway, on Birkenhead, on 14 July 2018. The event was witnessed by hundreds of people lining the banks of the Mersey. The boat hit international headlines after a competition run by its owners, the Natural Environment Research Council, was run to name it and the public picked Boaty McBoatface. This name was not, however, picked by the owners and it was given to a autonomous underwater vehicle (AUV) that will be used for scientific research on the new research vessel, once it starts operations. On 19 July 2018, the RRS Sir David Attenborough then had its new 6 deck superstructure lifted into place, in Cammell Laird's "wet basin" with the help of 2 giant cranes. The new superstructure will become the vessel's bridge and the hangar for its helicopters, as well as crew accommodation areas, making the total ship 47m high. All vessels working in polar waters now have to meet very strict environmental standards, so the shell will now be moved into dry dock where it will undergo 11 weeks of outfitting. This includes adding a special coating on it's keel that will reduce drag and is eco-friendly. If all goes to plan, the vessel will be formally named in a champagne ceremony, in November 2018, before it sets sail for the Arctic, with a crew of 30, plus 60 scientists and support staff on board. The last step of its birth will the deep water sea trials, that should see the Attenborough head to the Arctic, for its shake down, within the early part of 2019.

Liverpool maps out ₤500m road investment plan

AN interactive map has been launched to allow people in Liverpool to discover when their road is being upgraded as part of a ₤500 million investment drive in the City's Highways Network.

The new map; which outlines works on a 12 month rolling programme and will be regularly updated can be found on Liverpool City Council's website; that gives residents and businesses data on the nature of the road repairs, how much it will cost and when and how long the upgrade will take.

The landmark investment; bolstered by a new ₤200m package of works approved at the Full Council meeting; aimed at tacking the deteriorating quality of the City's roads and is a response to Central Government cuts of ₤444 million to the Council's budget since 2010.

The new ₤200m package will be invested over the next 5 years across 3 main elements:-

► ₤160 million in road reconstruction.

► ₤25 million in resurfacing and patching work.

► ₤15 million specifically earmarked for addressing potholes.

The bulk of this new investment will come from borrowing ₤185 million over 25 years at low interest rates, supported by savings generated by the Council's transformation plan and 'Invest to Earn' strategy, which generates income streams from commercialising Council assets.

A recent peer review by the Local Government Association found Liverpool City Council had prudent levels of debt for 1 of the major 'core Cities' and robust financial management processes in place.

A previous ₤300m commitment, which began in 2014, has seen over one hundred roads upgraded so far including the recent completion of a ₤1.6m upgrade to Park Lane, as part of creating a continuous cycle route from Toxteth to the Baltic Triangle, connecting to Otterspool, and the ongoing construction of a new dual carriageway to benefit the development of the City's North Docks.

The 1st roads to be repaired under the new ₤200m programme will be:-

► Cranmer St - L5.

► Saville Rd - L13.

► Monterrey Rd - L13.

► Glen Rd - L13.

► Allenby Sq/Rd - L13.

► Beatty Rd - L13.

► Beryl St - L13.

► Coral St - L13.

► Gourley St - L13.

► Springfield Way - L12.

► Berkley Ave - L12.

► Sheldon Road - L12.

► Rockwell Road - L12.

Mayor of Liverpool, Joe Anderson, said:- "Everyone who drives around Liverpool; including me; knows that many of our roads are not fit for purpose and large scale investment is the only solution. We have constantly lobbied Government, but their response to the issue of potholes and poor road surfaces in major Cities; compared to motorways and major routes in mainly rural areas; has been a huge smack in the face to the economic engines of this country. High quality roads are the arteries of any modern, 1st growing City like Liverpool, and I am also concerned about the safety of road users and I don't want to see anyone injured or killed due to weaving around potholes. This new interactive map is a great way for people to see where the works are taking place, when and what exactly is being done."

Councillor James Noakes, Cabinet Member for Highways, added:- "Addressing the state of our Highways Network is a fundamental necessity with the added bonus that it will create jobs as well as generating new apprenticeship opportunities. Clearly, the deteriorating state of our roads is a national problem, but to do nothing in Liverpool will simply see the cost of fixing our roads soar in future years and passporting this responsibility and cost would be a dereliction of duty. Better roads are needed for travelling to work, to education, to leisure opportunities and to see family no matter if you are:- walking, cycling, driving, jumping a taxi or taking the bus. It is vital for the City today and the City's growth. This interactive map will be 1 more useful tool for residents and businesses to see what is happening and to make necessary changes in advance of works to reduce any inconvenience."

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