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Funding boost for ground breaking:- "greener roads" project

A project to radically reduce the environmental impact of Liverpool's roads has been given a multi-million pound boost. Liverpool City Council has been awarded £4m from the Department of Transport's Live Labs 2: Decarbonising Local Roads competition, after successfully pitching an innovative idea to reduce the carbon footprint when designing and resurfacing roads.

The aim of Liverpool's project is to create an:- 'Ecosystem of Things,' which looks at every step, be it the fuel vehicles use, to:- deploying cutting edge materials technology. The aim is to improve the City's recycling infrastructure as well as the legal, contractual and procurement processes to help decarbonise the City's roads.

The funding will be invested across 3 demonstrator projects within the:- North, South and East of the City; to explore how best to green up the City's approach from design to construction.

The City Council will work in partnership with Colas and Liverpool John Moores University to assist in the research and development of material processes. Local highways contractors - Colas, Dowhigh and Huyton Civils - have all signed up to deliver the pilot schemes.

The project, which is seen as a key element in Liverpool's drive to achieve Carbon net-zero status by 2030, Liverpool will also complement a number of other City Council led decarbonisation schemes.

Liverpool City Council has already begun a major programme to install LED street lights and is currently rolling out a new network of cycle lanes. And just last week it announced a programme to treble the number of on-street electric vehicle charging points, which will make it the most electric car friendly City in the North of England. All of these schemes are collectively taking thousands of tonnes of CO2 out of the City's environment.

Live Labs 2 is funded by the Department of Transport (DfT) and organised by The Association of Directors of Environment, Economy, Planning and Transport (ADEPT), which represents 'directors of place' who are responsible for providing day-to-day services, such as local highways, as well as strategic long term delivery.

Councillor Dan Barrington, Liverpool City Council's Cabinet Member for Climate Change and Highways, said:- "I'm delighted that Liverpool has received this Live Labs funding as it will allow the City to deliver a truly ground breaking piece of work on how we can change the nature of road construction and maintenance. This is really exciting news because this:- 'Ecoystem of Things' project has the potential to radically rethink road construction programmes, not just in Liverpool, but across the UK. By working together with our partners, both in Liverpool and with the Live Labs consortium, we have the scope to save the public purse millions and millions of pounds but more importantly it will also enable us all to take a big step in our fight to tackle climate change."

Karen Agbabiaka, Liverpool City Council's Interim Chief Highways Officer, said:- "The funding from Live Labs is a fantastic vote of confidence in our plans to use the latest technology to transform how we reduce the carbon footprint of our roads. The research and development stage is going to be a critical phase and it's brilliant to have Liverpool John Moores University, as well as our local roads maintenance contractors Dowhigh, Colas and Huyton Civil all involved. This project will unite the City's academic and construction prowess and show Liverpool can be truly world-leading on providing solutions on the climate change agenda."

Mark Kemp, President of ADEPT, said:- "Tackling the carbon impact of our highways' infrastructure is critical to our path to net zero, but hard to address, so I am pleased that bidding was so competitive. Live Labs 2 has a huge ambition - to fundamentally change how we embed decarbonisation into our decision making and to share our learning with the wider sector to enable behaviour change. Each project will bring Local Authority led innovation and a collaborative approach to create a long-lasting transformation of business as usual. I'm looking forward to the opportunity to learn from our successful bidders and taking that into my own organisation."

Liverpool is 1 of 7 local authorities to receive funding from the £30m programme, and has joined forces with a consortium of other Councils:- Cornwall County Council, Devon County Council, Hampshire County Council and Somerset County Council; to share intelligence, insights and best practice in their respective Live Labs projects.

Southport Contemporary Arts - Artist of the Month

SELF TAUGHT professional artist, Neil Prior from Ainsdale, who needs no introduction to the Region, is making a welcome return to The ArtHouse, in Southport, as Artist of the Month, from:- 4 February to 4 March 2023.  Although Neil's output is all encompassing he is still probably best known locally for his realistic dog portraiture having now completed over 25 private commissions since arriving in the North West.  Originally from Christchurch in Dorset, Neil recently moved into the area with his wife, Martha and their 2 Bedlington Terriers, Bruce and Herbert, who equally stepped into the limelight by making local news in 2019 due to eating palm oil that had washed up on Ainsdale Beach from the Maltese ship, Kimya, that capsized nearly 30 years ago after storms dislodged its toxic cargo.  Having retired from full service as a Police Officer with the Leicestershire constabulary in 2018, Neil has now finally swapped his truncheon for his paintbrush, and switched his life-long love of oil painting into a professional business as a full-time Dog Portrait artist.  Neil works from photographs either supplied by the dog owner or offers photographic sessions of the dog with a view to obtaining a quality image of the subject for reference purpose.  Unbelievably, Neil only began painting in 2008, after attending a 1 day workshop on how to paint in the Bob Ross Wet on Wet Oil Painting technique facilitated by Jayne Good which he quickly followed up with a further weekend course with professional Fine Artist, Mike Skidmore.

During the next decade, Neil developed his own personal style and techniques with oils, resulting in 2 solo exhibitions in 2017 and 2018 back in Hinckley, Leicestershire. His life like portrait of 'Kinta the Tiger,' which is currently on display at The Barrel House in Birkdale Village, admirably shows his impressive skill in articulating the animal form in oils. "During my 1st solo exhibition in June 2017, I completed the portrait of the Malaysian Tiger and entitled it KINTA, which was an anagram of the exhibition venue (ATKIN'S BUILDING) and just happened to be the name of the river that runs through Malaysia where these beautiful animals are from."

Over the years, Neil's gregarious attitude to art has seen him expand his repertoire across a diverse range of subjects:- "I started using oils in 2012 and offered bespoke commissions over a variety of subjects from landscapes, seascapes, portraiture, still life, wildlife and nature and lately, abstract works. I registered as a self employed business in November 2019 continuing to paint commissions and exhibit in local galleries. Since moving to Southport I have found an increase in the demand for Dog Portraiture and have been concentrating on this in my new home studio."

Neil always enjoys pushing his painting skills to the limit to achieve as realistic an interpretation as possible. He invariably breathes life into his paintings by 1st painting the eyes of each sitter believing that this then aids him building up and completing a more realistic representation:- "I believe painting the eyes early on gives me a better understanding and feeling of the subject, almost an empathy with the animal."

Future plans include:- taking exhibitions of his work further afield across the North West. Always willing to share his talent, as part of this year's Arts Trail in Southport, Neil ran an Open Studio / Exhibition, in addition to facilitating an oil painting class for Art Students, at Southport College. As well as the original oils, Neil's paintings will also be available as ink-jet printed giclée prints in various dimensions, both framed and unframed. More of Neil's work is available to view on Facebook via Neil Prior Artist and he can be contacted for commissions @ neilprior.Com. Certainly not 1 to be missed, this latest showing by Neil will be on display at the ArtHouse, Eastbank Street, Southport from:- 4 February to 4 March 2023.

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