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News Report Page 12 of 17
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Have you been to the Luminate Winter Light Trail in Southport?

DESPITE the weather, locals and visitors to Southport's Victoria Park can now visit a brand new Luminate Winter Light Trail. This new attraction, that runs every day until 23 December 2021 (just 2 days before Christmas Days) from 4.30pm, has an incredible 25,000 lights, that are stretched across nearly a mile. The Winter Light Trail is at Victoria Park, home of the Southport Flower Show is a huge investment by Luminate with a team of 30 expert staff taking 300 hours to set up everything. Luminate already operates eye catching illuminated events at venues around the UK, in:- Wales, Coventry, Norfolk and Cheshire. This is the 1st time they have brought their showcase to Southport and they are appreciating the feedback from the visitors who have already enjoyed the trail.

Winter Light Trail organiser Daniel Maycock said:- "There are 14 'wow points' as people make their way around the attraction. From the ringing bells, to the 'Make A Wish' bandstand, to the tunnel of lights or the fairy glen, there are so many things for families to see. The 'Winter Light Trail' is good value for a great family night out. It is something really different, a winter interactive light trail. It is a really good event for all the family. It is great for people of all ages; children love it, so do their parents, and so do grandparents. We have seen groups of people booking in, they have been really enjoying getting together with family and friends. There is lots of free parking near to the park, or there is a Council car park at Southport Eco Centre where people can pay to park. We have some food outlets near the entrance too, so people can buy something to eat or a warming drink of tea, coffee or mulled wine to walk around with. Because it's a new event people have not really been sure what exactly to expect. Come and have a look at our Luminate website, we have lots of information on there."

Daniel has been enjoying the response since the new attraction opened in Southport. He said:- "We have seen some really nice comments from people. People who have been have been really impressed. Kids really love the interactive element of the trail. People have been able to see the searchlight beams for miles around, they have been asking on social media where the lights are from! We have 15 minute slots set aside for when people can start the trail just to space everyone out. Once inside you can take as long as you want on the trail, you can go around twice if you want. Southport is a bit different to our other sites. I like being at Victoria Park. This is our 1st time here in Southport. We picked it after we spoke with Southport Flower Show General manager Alan Adams and his team, they were great. We spoke about coming to the area and thought it would work really well here."

The Winter Light Trail Tickets are booked on a starting time slot basis, but you can take as long as you like walking the magical trail. Visitors will be welcomed into a Christmas Hub area where mulled wine and festive street food stalls will be cooking up tasty treats. Once on the light trail visitors can expect 3D projections, light tunnels, a wishing tree, interactive shadow play and laser light maze and much more.

Alan Adams, General Manager of Southport Flower Show and Victoria Park Events, said:- "We are really excited to be hosting this event; helping bring a fantastic new attraction to the Town, establishing Southport as an all year round resort."

The trail is approximately 1.2km long and (depending on how quickly you walk through) will take around an hour to 90 minutes to complete.

You can buy tickets here:- Luminate.Live/Southport.

Drivers are experiencing:- "unacceptable delays" at DVLA, says Bill Esterson MP

BILL Esterson MP has described:- "unacceptable delays" and a:- "lack of communication" at the DVLA after helping several constituents with driving licence applications and renewals over the course of the year. Sefton Central MP Mr Esterson said he had been contacted by a significant number of constituents who had not only suffered long delays, but were hitting a brick wall when trying to get information from the agency. Problems ranged from the issuing of provisional driving licences to investigations regarding fitness to drive. But when Mr Esterson questioned Ministers about the driving licence renewals, he was told there were no delays.

Mr Esterson said:- "When you think that only a fraction of people will reach out to their MP when having these sorts of issues, the likelihood is that delays in DVLA are widespread and the service is currently well below the level expected by Taxpayers. Of course Covid has impacted on the service. There was also strike action from staff because of what they considered to be an unsafe working environment during Covid. This might explain the delay in processing paper applications, but many online ones should have been straightforward, and I was assured that applications were being processed immediately. Not only were there delays, but some of the delays were inexplicable and there was no communication or explanation as to why they were occurring or what people could do to speed them up. People were left unable to drive, forking out for insurance and MOTs for cars sitting on their paths unused, and sometimes with family members who needed them to drive them to medical appointments. 1 constituent needed his licence to go and support his family abroad when his granddaughter had cancer. Another wanted to return to HGV driving; at a time when the industry was in crisis due to staff shortages; but was told getting his licence back after his training update could take 10 weeks. 1 driver in the early stages of dementia had been advised to inform DVLA of his diagnosis, but they took months to get back to him to OK him to keep driving, during which time he was very distressed and paying for insurance and MOT. Some of the delays have really impacted on people's lives."

Mr Esterson said 1 constituent had reported his stroke to the DVLA in June and was told that from November he would be barred from driving for 6 months, despite having been clearer by his medical team to keep driving. After intervention from Mr Esterson, the ban was lifted. Other issues involve young drivers being unable to start driving lessons due to provisionals not being issued, and 1 renewal taking 5months to come through. Constituents report that it was:- "impossible" to get through on the phone to ask for updates.

Another constituent waited 9months for the DVLA to approve her new licence after they had received medical evidence of her fitness to drive. Another simply wanted a change of address on his licence. His wife received her new licence in 3 days, but he was still waiting 4weeks later. He said when he tried to use the Web chat facility to check on its progress it didn't work. 1 constituent tried to renew her licence online and was refused with no explanation as to why, and then was unable to get through on the phone and kept getting cut off the web chat. 

In June 2021, Mr Esterson tabled Parliamentary Questions asking about delays in driving licence renewals and was told:- "successful applications are processed immediately, and customers should receive their driving licence within a few days." 

Mr Esterson stressed that he knew staff were doing their best and that Covid had put them under pressure. The failure of managers and ministers to look after staff during the Pandemic had only made matters worse. Mr Esterson said:- "I think we can all accept that the Covid Pandemic has put a strain on services and has changed the way we work. But it creates huge difficulties for people, especially the elderly, when they are stopped from driving. It can make it difficult to shop, got to medical appointments and see friends and family. It really shouldn't need the local MP to get involved in order to make progress and get answers. Ministers need to sort out the problems and make sure that staff have the support they need and have safe working conditions. The delays which my constituents have experienced can only be the result of poor management and decision making by Government. Ministers must make sure that staff can deliver a good service. My constituents deserve no less." 

PIC:- Bill Esterson MP said many people had been stopped from driving due to delays at DVLA


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