- GYMNASTIC GREATS TO DAZZLE CITY
THE hottest stars in world Gymnastics are set to dazzle crowds in Liverpool this weekend in an event to select the UK team for the 2004 World Championships.
The city is set to host a prestigious women's international between Great Britain and Russia - the first visit of a full Russian Women's Team in the country since 1998 (Glasgow) - which is packed with World and Olympic champions.
The highlight of the meeting is expected to be a dual on the A-bars from Liverpool's own current Commonwealth champion Beth Tweddle and twice Olympic Champion and current World and European All-around Champion Svetlana Khorkina.
Over the last year, Beth, the 2002 European Bronze medallist, has rubbed shoulders with Khorkina on the rostrum on three occasions, latterly at the 2002 World Championships in Debrecen.
The Liverpool event, organised by Liverpool city council, will help choose the final places for the British and Russian teams at the 2003 World Championships and 2004 Olympic Qualifications, in Anaheim, USA, in August.
GB National Coach Zoltan Jordanov said:- "It's a great opportunity for the team to test their performances against the best and help us gauge what we can expect in Anaheim.''
The City of Liverpool team - current national senior champions - will also be fielding a further five members - British Floor Champion Nicola Willis, A. Bars specialist Rebecca Mason and Amy Dodsley, Vanessa Hobbs and Cherrelle Fennell. A sell out crowd will cheer them on at Liverpool's high performance centre for gymnastics at Park Road Centre on Saturday and Sunday, June 28-29.
Amanda Kirby, Liverpool's coach, said:- ''This is arguably the best Russian team to have ever visited Britain. The fact that Liverpool is fielding six members of the GB team is a big boost for us and shows how strong the city is in Gymnastics. To be competing against the best on your home turf is a dream come true for us and will only serve to improve our performance standards. It is a perfect spring board for the World and Olympic qualifiers.''
TOP MINISTERS TO TACKLE LIVERPOOL HOUSING BLIGHT
TOP government ministers are discussing plans to tackle the growing housing blight and to regenerate previously disbanded residential areas of the city.
Lord Rooker, Minister of State for Housing, toured Smithdown Road and Dingle areas of the city earlier this week before announcing more cash for 'Pathfinder' councils to combat the problem of empty homes in inner cities.
Councilor Mike Storey, Leader of the city council, said:-
"Liverpool, like many other cities, has areas of pre -1919 terraced houses where many homes are standing empty and others are near derelict. There is little demand for these houses and property values have fallen through the floor. These areas quickly become blighted and face even bigger problems.
Liverpool is leading the country in confronting the problems of low demand, low value homes that stand derelict and empty. We are working with local communities to resolve these deep-seated and difficult issues in an innovative way."
Lord Rooker also visited the Include Neighbourhood Regeneration Project where the council has joined forces with the CDS Housing Association and other organisations to work together to improve a wide range of services to the Toxteth area of the city.
Councillor Flo Clucas, the city council's executive member for housing, said:-
"There are many attractive and popular areas in Liverpool where people want to live and the housing market is strong. There are lots of success stories too - such as the waterfront developments bringing back people to live in the city centre.
Thousands of council homes are earmarked for substantial improvements too. Many communities in the inner city are already benefiting from regeneration schemes - bringing in tens of millions of pounds of new investment.
But there are some big problems we need to tackle now. We will not only be dealing with poor housing conditions, but also creating new jobs, better public services and tackling crime.
"We will not be repeating the mistake of the 1960's and 1970's where whole communities were destroyed and families moved out of the city. The solutions will be worked out with local people living in the inner city. They will be their solutions. We will only succeed with the active participation and support of local residents. It is their community and they will have a major say in how their community looks in the future."
In May last year, the government appointed nine Pathfinder Councils, including Liverpool, to pave the way forward in dealing with the massive housing problems facing inner cities - and to boost investment, cut crime and improve the quality of inner city life. The conference - 'What Market Renewal Means to Local Authorities' - will decide how to best handle the biggest replacement of old and unpopular housing in England seen in the last 40 years.
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