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Monday 8th August 2005

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Thousands can help shape
town’s health service

by staff reporter

THOUSANDS of people across Warrington are to be asked their views to help shape the future of local health services.
In one of the largest health surveys ever conducted in the town, Warrington Primary Care Trust (PCT) has asked market research experts MORI to carry out a poll to collect public opinion.
The results will help make sure the PCT commissions services which meet the needs of people across the town.
PCT chief executive Allison Cooke said: “This is a very exciting project. We are really keen to understand how the people of Warrington wish to receive their healthcare services and this survey will help us do that.
“We want to make sure that local people can access the information they need to keep well, and the services they need when they are unwell. We want to ensure that people are treated in the most appropriate setting for them, by the most appropriate healthcare professional. We are also keen to increase the choices available to patients and their families. We have an awful lot of work to do to modernise the town’s primary health services for the 21st century and would welcome the help of the people we serve to do this.”
MORI will be conducting 2,000 20-minute telephone interviews for three weeks from Monday (August 8). To ensure the survey is truly representative, people will be selected at random.
The survey will focus on choices in health care, as well as the provision of primary healthcare services.
Mrs Cooke said: “I would like to appeal to people across Warrington to help us by taking part in the survey if they are contacted. I know a 20 minute survey might seem like a long time, but it is your chance to have a say about your health services.”
The survey will also form the foundation of a consultation the PCT will be carrying out in the autumn with people living in west Warrington regarding the development of a new healthcare centre in Chapelford.
For more information, people can contact the PCT’s patient advice and liaison service co-ordinator Val Harper on freephone 0800 389 6973, or log onto the PCT’s website: www.warrington-pct.nhs.uk

Woman claimed ?30,000
benefits, court told

by court reporter

A WOMAN who claimed ?30,000 benefits as a single parent, when she was living with her partner, was given a 12-month suspended prison sentence at Warrington Crown Court.
Lindsey Cunliffe, 35, of Whitecross Road, Warrington, falsely claimed the money in benefits from Warrington Borough Council and the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP).
She pleaded guilty to one count of benefit fraud.
The court was told that between August 1999 and November 2003, Cunliffe defrauded the council of ?1,066.05 Council Tax Benefit, ?8,108.45 Housing Benefit and defrauded the DWP of ?21,210.30 Income Support, a total of ?30,384.80.
After the hearing, Adrian Webster, the council’s benefits manager, said: “Benefit cheats are not just defrauding the government, but their own tax paying neighbours and communities. With the new methods of data matching we are using, the obvious message to benefit cheats is – you will be caught.”
DWP fraud operations manager Roy Paul said: “The public is fed up with cheats who steal money from the taxpayer when it should go to those in genuine need of help.”

Schools improve
pupils’ well-being

by Lesley Wilkinson

SCHOOLS working to improve the well being of pupils were invited to a celebration at the Town Hall to mark reaching Warrington Healthy School Standard.
A total of 17 schools received the award, given jointly by Warrington Borough Council and Warrington Primary Care Trust. To achieve it pupils and teachers had to show they were taking steps towards healthy education, healthy eating and tackling inequalities.
The schools have all formed a Healthy Schools Task Group and strengthened school councils to give pupils a greater voice. Several have formed buddy schemes in the playground to help combat bullying.
All schools have introduced water drinking to improve pupils’ concentration. Some have provided new playground equipment to encourage activity. And teachers are working to improve pupils’ social and emotional health.
The initiative gained national accreditation in 2002 and so far 30 schools have achieved the standard.
Coun Maureen Banner, the borough council’s executive member for well being, said: “The Warrington Healthy Schools scheme has been designed to give as much practical support as possible to schools to create an enjoyable, safe, productive learning environment. It lays the foundation for a healthier life.
“The scheme is an important part of school life in Warrington – it makes pupils feel even more valued and gives them a greater opportunity to have their opinions taken into consideration in matters that directly affect them in school. It is very pleasing that a further seventeen schools have reached this challenging standard,” she added.
Ian Chambers, interim assistant director for school improvement for Warrington, said: “The presentations made by the pupils at the ceremony showed that they have been actively involved in promoting healthy lifestyles in their school and that this work is now a feature across the whole life of the schools which gained accreditation.”

How to sniff out
a furniture scam

by David Skentelbery

HOUSEHOLDERS looking for a furniture bargain are to be told how to use their noses to avoid being ripped off.
They are to be given the chance to learn the difference between the smell of fake leather and the genuine article at a special display at Warrington Market.
Trading Standards chiefs in the town have been inundated with complaints from people who have been approached by conmen targeting the town with offers of cheap three-piece suites described as leather.
They hope their display – which will include one of the fake suites seized by Trading Standards officers – will show people how to sniff out trouble before they have parted with any money.
Members of the public will be able to see, feel, sit on and smell the dodgy furniture at the Market this Friday and Saturday, August 5 and 6.
Edwina Greenwood, principal Trading Standards officer with the borough council, said: “We are giving people the opportunity to see, feel and smell for themselves exactly how bad these fake leather sofas are. Hopefully, by raising awareness of these fakes, we can prevent more people falling victim to one of these rogues.”
A number of people have only discovered they have been duped with a thinly-padded plastic suite after they have handed over ?350.
Police Community Support Officer Mike Lee said: “People are being duped into paying hundreds of pounds for these fake leather sofas and we are determined to clamp down on the rogue traders responsible.
“If shoppers take a couple of minutes to see what a fake leather sofa looks like, it could prevent them from making an expensive mistake by handing over their hard earned money to a crook. I would also urge people to come and speak to us if they have any doubts about a purchase they may have already made.”
One woman from Padgate, Warrington ordered a suite through a mobile phone number and received delivery from a man in a white van.
She said: “It’s good to hear that Warrington Trading Standards and Cheshire Police are going out to raise awareness of this problem so that they can prevent others from being duped.
“I am disabled and the man would have been well aware of this. I can’t believe how horrible the people doing this are.”

Poetry and stories
to inspire readers

by Lesley Wilkinson

A NEW range of 23 magazines featuring poetry, short stories and essays, will inspire readers visiting Warrington Centra

l Library, Museum Street.
The Arts Council England North West is supporting the new initiative to be launched by Literature Northwest and the library network, Time to Read. It aims to provide readers and writers looking for ideas with inspiration.
Magazines held will also feature criticism, essays and interviews. They will include The Reader, an internationally acclaimed poetry magazine, and innovative new fiction publications such as MultiStorey.
Writers find that literary magazines are essential to their work as they offer details of publishing opportunities and tips on new writing and writing trends. The magazines also offer a range of contemporary work for readers and help them discover new writers.
The library is now open until 4pm on Saturdays, and until 7.00pm on Mondays and Thursdays.

Escalators closed
at bus station

by staff reporter

PEOPLE with mobility problems or using pushchairs are being asked to use the Horsemarket Street entrance to Golden Square and the town centre while work takes place the new bus station.
The escalators from Golden Square Shopping Centre to the temporary bus station have been closed for a time to allow foundation work on the new state-of-the-art Warrington Interchange to start. The escalators will re-open on October 1, together with new lifts.
Chris Kelsall, Warrington Borough Council’s town centre project manager, said: “We apologise that the temporary closure of these escalators has caused some problems for those with mobility problems and people with pushchairs.
“We are doing everything we can to keep disruption to a minimum for the least possible time,” added Chris.

Swimming pool
plan approved

by David Skentelbery

PLANS for an enclosed swimming pool in the grounds of a house off Lyons Lane, Appleton have been given the go-ahead despite objections from parish councillors and nearby residents.
The pool can now be built at The Woodlands, subject to conditions to safeguard protected trees in the area.
Appleton Parish Council had argued that the 280 sq metre building, with an eight metre high roof, would be out of character in an area of ancient woodland and could involve the loss of protected trees. They also considered the proposal unneighbourly because of its size and lighting requirements.
Two residents of nearby Staines Close expressed concern about loss of outlook, impact on trees, light pollution, potential flooding and the possibility the building could at a later stage be converted into an independent dwelling.
They were also worried about storage of hazardous on the site.
But planning officers said the scheme would not harm any protected trees nor any surrounding properties. They pointed out that the applicant could build a similar structure without the need for planning consent if it were under four metres in height, which could be sited closer to neighbouring dwellings.
A condition was imposed that the building should not be converted to living accommodation with the approval of the planning authority.

Shafilea murder:
eight bailed again

by staff reporter

EIGHT people who have been questioned by police in connection with the Shafilea Ahmed murder inquiry have again had their bail renewed.
The eight, all believed to be members of Shafilea’s family, have now been bailed to report back to police on October 13.
They have been questioned on suspicion of being involved in a conspiracy to pervert the course of justice.
Shafilea, 17, from Great Sankey (pictured), disappeared from her home on September 11, 2003. Her body was found months later at the side of a river in Cumbria.
Police are certain she was murdered and a major investigation into her death is still going on.
Sometime before her disappearance, she had been on a holiday to Pakistan where, it is understood, she was introduced to a “suitor” with a view to an arranged marriage.
Subsequently she suffered severe throat injuries in Pakistan after apparently swallowing bleach – possibly as a protest at the marriage plan.
At the time of her disappearance she was still being treated for the injuries at Warrington Hospital.

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About Author

Experienced journalist for more than 35 years. Managing Director of magazine publishing group with six in-house titles and on-line daily newspaper for Warrington. Experienced writer, photographer, PR consultant and media expert having written for local, regional and national newspapers. Specialties: PR, media, social networking, photographer, networking, advertising, sales, media crisis management. Patron Tim Parry Johnathan Ball Foundation for Peace. Trustee Warrington Disability Partnership. Former Chairman of Warrington Town FC.

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