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Southport Reporter® covering the news on Merseyside.

Date:- 26 February 2007

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Merseylink users can have their say

MERSEYLINK users across Merseyside are being urged to have their say on the vital community service.  The consultation, launched by Merseytravel, is taking place over the next 6 weeks, closing on March 31.  It will be calling for views on elements of the free service, including membership criteria, booking procedures, the telephone contact system and a range of other issues. 

Hundreds of disabled and older people in Merseyside use free dial-a-ride Merseylink bus service every week.  To many, it provides an important link between their homes and range of services when public transport isn’t an option for some, or part of their journeys.

Councillor Mark Dowd, Chair of Merseytravel, said:- “We are looking at a number of ways to improve Merseylink and to make things easier to understand for everyone who uses the service.  For so many people it can be a lifeline to services they may not be able to access by other means.  We hope people come forward and give us their views as part of this consultation.”

Neil Scales, Chief Executive and Director General of Merseytravel, added:- “We are looking to make the best possible use of the Merseylink service and we will be consulting through a variety of channels.  We’re doing a lot of good work towards the creation of a single integrated public transport network which is accessible to everyone. Merseylink is an important part of that.  Things have changed a great deal since Merseylink was launched in 1984; the public transport network has become much more accessible than ever before and Merseylink has an important role to play in filling the “missing links” in the network.”

Merseylink vehicles are designed for easy access and include; wheelchair access, low steps, wide comfortable seats, seatbelts for all passengers and on board communications. It runs from 7am to 11pm every day, including a limited service on Christmas Day.  It can be used for members to travel anywhere in Merseyside.

For details of the consultation please visit Merseytravel’s website  and click oninformation, then “publications” – it is under “corporate documents”.

Alternatively, users can contact Merseytravel’s Community Links team on 0151 330 1200.

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INSURERS ACTION ON UNINSURED DRIVING

A LOOPHOLE allowing vehicles seized by the police from uninsured motorists to be returned to their owners is set to be closed. The police and insurance companies have taken this move as a further step forward in the fight against uninsured driving.

New model policy wordings issued by the ABI (Association of British Insurers) will prevent drivers collecting confiscated vehicles using the Driving other Carsprovision in their motor policy, which normally enables them to drive any other vehicle with the owner’s permission. The new wording specifically excludes collecting impounded vehicles.  Up to 1 in 5 of the 50,000 uninsured vehicles now being seized by the police are thought to be retrieved this way. One man in the Midlands recovered 60 vehicles by abusing this provision!

Justin Jacobs, the ABI’s Head of Motor Insurance, said:- “Since the police highlighted this abuse we have acted quickly to stamp it out. This wording will help the police to make full use of their powers to tackle the menace of these illegal, often dangerous, motorists. And law - abiding drivers will still be able to use this provision for its original use of driving other cars on an occasional basis.”

Meredydd Hughes, Chief Constable, South Yorkshire Police, said:- “The police have been frustrated by individuals abusing this provision to recover seized vehicles, which often end up back on the roads uninsured. I welcome this move by the industry, which should outlaw this practice and help police forces in their crackdown on this serious problem.”

STUDENTS HEAD TO THE BEACH

HUNDREDS of students are banding together to transform a litter-strewn beach into a picturesque paradise.  It may seem a chilly time of year to get down to the beach, but around 200 people from more than 10 universities and high education institutions are expected to head down to Hightown beach in Sefton next Wednesday. They will get rid of all the rubbish that has been either directly dumped on the sands and that which has washed on to the beach because it is a tidal inlet.

Anna Boekweit from the University of Liverpool is a volunteer co-ordinator at the Guild of Students and is helping to organise the mass litter-pick. Anna said:- “We’ve been down to have a look at the levels of rubbish and there is all sorts, like plastics and fly-tipped wood. It really is disgusting what people will leave behind in such a beautiful place, so we hope to bring some of that beauty back by clearing the rubbish away.”

The Liverpool Culture Company is supporting the event by providing equipment such as gloves, bags and litter pickers.

Liverpool City Council Leader, Cllr Warren Bradley, said:- “Liverpool becomes an adopted home to so many students, and we welcome them with open arms. It’s fantastic to see that they are giving something back to the city by making the effort to make Liverpool sparkle.”

Further litter picks are planned for the coming months.  For more information about Liverpool, European Capital of Culture, 2008, please visit www.liverpool08.com.

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