?25,000 reward offered
for security van robbers
by David Skentelbery
A ?25,000 reward has been offered for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the raiders who stole up to ?600,000 from a security van at Woolston, Warrington.
The reward has been put up by the van’s owners, Securitas in the hope it will encourage people to come forward with information.
Police have also appealed for the drivers of two vehicles seen in the area to come forward – and have issued CCTV pictures of the vehicles.
The robbery took place just before 8.15pm on Wednesday, March 8 at Rufford Court on the Grange Industrial Estate at Woolston.
Police have issued pictures of a dark coloured MPV style vehicle next to a lorry. Police need to trace the driver of this vehicle as they may have witnessed the incident and have vital information .
Similarly police would also like to trace the driver or occupants of a light coloured estate car.
A picture of the stolen farm tractor used in the robbery taken shortly before the robbery has also been released.
It is now also known that a Volvo flatbed truck used in the raid, was parked overnight, with the tractor on the back, on Tuesday March 7 going in to Wednesday March 8, on Chesford Grange, Woolston.
Detectives want speak to anybody who may have seen these vehicles parked or who may anybody in and around the area of Chesford Grange.
Anyone who can help is asked to call 01244 614893 or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555111.
Mail workers worry over
post office closure…
by David Skentelbery
LYMM Post Office is to close in three months time – causing worry for 18 postal workers employed on the site.
Staff have been told the premises in Bridgewater Street has been sold and will be converted for another use.
The sale will also mean the closure of the sorting office at the rear of the premises where 18 Royal Mail staff are employed.
Bridgewater Carpets, the long-established business run from the same premises by sub-postmistress Jackie Flack, will also close.
A Post Office spokeswoman said: “Lymm Post Office is a sub-post office and as such is owned by the sub-postmistress, not by the Post Office.
“We will be looking for someone else to run a post office in Lymm Village Centre.
“As far as the sorting office is concerned, we have been looking for alternative premises for some time as the one in Bridgewater Street is not really big enough.
“There should be no affect on postal services in Lymm and no affect on the jobs of postal staff.”
Mike Flack, Jackie’s husband, said: “We have sold the building because we want to retire. We have been trying to sell it as a post office for at least five years, without success.
“We even offered to help set up another post office in the village, at our own expense and manage it for 12 months until someone else could take over. But the Post Office would not accept this.
“They have been telling us for years they would be moving the sorting office somewhere else – sometimes Altrincham, sometimes Warrington – and without the sorting office the post office would not be viable.”
Members of Lymm Parish Council have expressed concern over the closure.
Coun Sheila Woodyatt said: “We do not want to lose our village centre post office and I am pleased Royal Mail will be looking for someone else to take it over.
“But we want to keep the sorting office as well. Lymm has a wonderful postal service and it is because it is based locally and involves local people. I think Royal Mail are thinking of moving the sorting office to Altrincham and that would not be acceptable.”
Mr and Mrs Flack say they won planning consent for a change of use to allow the building to be used as a restaurant some years ago, after going to appeal after the borough council refused planning consent.
But they would not reveal what the new owner planned to do with the building.
…but Birchwood post
office to stay open
Meanwhile, Forbuoys newsagents at the Birchwood Shopping Centre, Warrington, which includes a Post Office, is to stay in the centre.
The news comes as a relief to local people and to Birchwood Town Council following weeks of rumour that the shop – and the Post Office – were to close.
Birchwood Shopping Centre manager Gary Jones said: “I am happy to confirm that Forbuoys and the Post Office will be remaining at the centre.
“We have agreed that in order to maintain continuation of trade and minimise disruption, Forbuoys can remain in its current unit until the new unit has been fitted out.
“The new store is scheduled to open on May 3 and we are confident there will be no disruption to centre users.
“We hope today’s announcement will reassure those who were concerned about the future of the Post Office at the centre. We have worked hard to retain Forbuoys and the Post Office at Birchwood.”
Robbers foiled by
by staff reporter
THREE robbers – one armed with a screwdriver or length of piping – were foiled by a member of the public when they attempted to rob a security guard at Warrington.
They fled empty handed, leaving a cash box lying on the ground.
The incident took place on the petrol station forecourt at Asda, Westbrook yesterday (Wednesday) at around 12.45pm.
A security guard was walking towards his vehicle carrying the cash box when the gang struck. One thug, carrying a screwdriver or length of piping, barged into the guard causing him to drop the cash box.
One of the robbers picked it up but a member of the public intervened and there was a struggle during which the box was again dropped. The raiders then fled, getting into a gold coloured Vauxhall Vectra which may have had a spoiler on the boot, and driving off at speed.
Neither the guard nor the member of the public were serious harmed.
Police say one of the raiders was in his early 20s, about 5ft 8-10 inches tall of slim to medium build and was wearing a grey tracksuit and balaclava.
Another was possible of mixed race, aged 20-22 of medium build and about 5ft 10 inches tall.
Anyone who witnessed the incident or has any information is asked to call DC Steve Lodge on 01244 613735.
Guide dog owners – and their
dogs – were guests at Crufts
by John Hendon
WARRINGTON guide dog owners Susan and Geraint Jones were special guests at Crufts – the world’s biggest dog show – for a VIP reception to mark the 75th anniversary of the first guide dogs in the UK.
They were with their special companions, Vaughn and Weaver, to help the Guide Dogs for the Blind Association celebrate a journey of faith which began in Wallasey, in 1931.
It was then that four blind pioneers, Allen Caldwell, G W Lamb, Musgrave Frankland and Thomas Ap Rhys, took the first tentative steps into a new world of independence with four very special German Shepherd dogs, Flash, Meta, Judy and Folly – the first guide dogs to walk the streets of the UK.
At the reception the couple posed with their guide dogs for pictures with photographers from all over the world and chatted to journalists about the ways in which their guide dogs had transformed their lives by providing them with independence, confidence and freedom of mobility.
Susan and Geraint spoke to guests from the canine world, including representatives from the Kennel Club and other Assistance Dogs UK charities such as Dogs for the Disabled and Hearing Dogs for Deaf People.
To mark the occasion, Guide Dogs performed two memorable displays in a packed-out Special Events Ring, as hundreds of visitors gathered to join in the 75th anniversary celebrations.
Using an imaginative street scene course, actors and costume, the charity captured the imagination of the audience by recreating the day that the first four guide dogs qualified in Wallasey in October 1931 – a time when there were few cars or pavement obstacles
Guide dog trainers and their dogs in training then continued on a journey around the course reaching the present day, where the street scene was transformed into a typical 2006 high street. Trainers and dogs encountered a dramatic difference in their working environment as they navigated around a street of clutter with dangerous obstacles lurking around every corner.
This is the environment many guide dogs and their owners face in 2006, with cars parked on pavements, horrendously busy roads, wheelie bins left out, pavement works, A-boards and chairs positioned on the pavement outside cafes and restaurants. Guide Dogs’ Safer Streets campaign seeks to highlight these dangers and encourage councils, businesses and members of the public to ensure that the streets of the UK are safe for guide dogs and their owners.
The displays ended with a parade of guide dog owners, puppy walkers and other volunteers around the ring in recognition of all the extraordinary partnerships that come together to enable Guide Dogs to continue its life-transforming work for visually-impaired people.
“The Merry Widow” is
society’s next show
by staff reporter
WARRINGTON Light Opera is to stage “The Merry Widow” in-the-round at the Barrow Hall Theatre, Great Sankey from Tuesday April 25 to Saturday April 29.
Accompanied by The Manchester Opera Orchestra, the audience will enjoy a full production with lavish costumes, waltzing and memorable songs such as “The Merry Widow Waltz”, “Vilia” and “Women, women, women”.
Warrington Light Opera, whose previous productions include “The Pirates of Penzance”, “Die Fledermaus” and “The Mikado”, has acquired a big following in the town and tickets for this show are going fast.
Tickets and more information from ticket secretary Simon Miles on 01925 757298.
WLO are staying in Warrington for the immediate future. Having had to find a new performance venue two years ago when the Derek Newton Theatre at Padgate, closed, they found The Barrow Hall Theatre in Great Sankey suitable because their productions are always done in the round.
This years production, in three acts, has to be created and cleared away before and after every performance so the society is looking for additional stage crew to assist with this work.
Anyone interested contact Glynis Jealous on 01925 211200
Town Council opposes
phone mast proposal
by David Skentelbery
A PLAN for a 60ft high mobile phone mast in Dewhurst Road, Birchwood, Warrington is being opposed by town councillors.
Birchwood Town Council says the proposed mast would be only a few yards from an existing mast and wants to know why the two phone companies cannot share the same mast.
But applicants T-Mobile UK say the existing monopole mast is not suitable for sharing.
Planning officers agree. They say it would require a much higher and more prominent structure to accommodate further antennae.
“This is not considered a better solution than the proposal,” they say.
The Town Council also questions the health implications for the occupants of nearby offices, Birchwood High School and nearby shops.
They also point out that associated equipment cabinets will become a target for graffiti – as the existing installation already has – encouraging anti-social behaviour.
But planning officers say phone masts cannot be held responsible for anti-social behaviour – and also refute claims that the mast may have a damaging affect on wildlife.
Residents to be quizzed
on health and lifestyles
by staff reporter
MORE than 7,380 Warrington residents are being asked about their health and lifestyles in a borough-wide survey.
The aim of the “Health and Community” survey is to help the Primary Care Trust (PCT) and Warrington Borough Council match services to the needs of residents.
It is five years since a similar survey was carried out, so health bosses will also be able to determine whether people in the town are becoming more or less healthy.
The survey asks a range of questions including:
how physical and mental well-being affects day-to-day life?
how well people feel compared to friends and relatives?
how often people need to see a doctor; and?
lifestyle issues such as smoking, drinking, exercise and diet?
Warrington PCT’s director of public health Dr Rita Robertson said: “The information will help us plan the services we need to prevent conditions like cancer, heart disease and stroke.
“To understand the true picture of health in Warrington we need to hear from as many people as possible. Even if you are well and have little contact with the health service, your answers are still important.
“So if you receive a questionnaire, please fill it in and return it. Your responses – which will be dealt with in confidence – will help to shape the future of services in Warrington.” The survey is being carried out by The Institute for Public Health Research at the University of Salford. It will be sent to people’s homes across the town selected at random at the end of this week. It should only take about 15 minutes to complete and a freepost envelope will be provided with each questionnaire.
Councillors in campaign
for litter-free town
by Lesley Wilkinson
COUNCILLORS took to the streets in Warrington town centre to get people to sign an anti-litter petition.
Liberal Democrat environment spokesman Coun Brian Axcell said, “Our petition calls on the council and local residents to do more to keep the town free of rubbish and litter.
“The town centre itself is kept pretty clean but there are hundreds of places round the borough where there are problems.”
He said that people in the town must help keep the it clean and should be encouraged to use bins, rather than dropping litter.
Coun Ian Marks said he wanted to see the town “cleaner and greener” to make it more attractive to local people and visitors. He said a good environment helps attract businesses and jobs.
“This was a topic that many people had strong views about. In our alternative budget for the town that we put forward a few weeks ago, we said we would spend more on keeping the town tidy. We would also give encouragement to the various voluntary groups around Warrington that do valuable work by picking up litter.”
Parishes to decide if
more CSOs needed
by Lesley Wilkinson
PARISH councils in South Warrington are to meet to decide whether they want more Police Community Support Officers – or to save money.
Stockton Heath Parish Council has already voted to have more CSOs.
But the final decision will depend on a joint meeting with other parishes – Appleton, Grappenhall and Thelwall, Lymm and Stretton.
The meeting will be on Wednesday, March 22.
Under new rules the Home Office is increasing its funding of CSOs, so the five parish councils, which together employ five officers, will have the opportunity to increase the number or to reduce the cost.
Coun Peter Walker said: “My view is to get extra CSOs for the same amount of money, but we will have to persuade the other parishes.”