Father’s anger over “totally
plan for canal death lane
by David Skentelbery
A PLAN to improve road safety where two teenagers died when their car plunged off a country lane into a canal at Warrington has been condemned as “totally inadequate” – by the grieving father of one of the youngsters.
Mike Biggin, father of tragic 17-year-old Gemma Biggin, says he is to report Warrington Borough Council to the Local Government Ombudsman over its consultation document on proposals to improve safety on Stockton Lane, Grappenhall.
The document has been sent to Grappenhall and Thelwall Parish Council, where Mr Biggin is a member, giving them just a week to respond.
Mr Biggin said: “It is totally unrealistic to expect the parish council to respond to this document in a week. It is also very insensitive not to have sent me a personal copy. If I had not been a member of the parish council I would not know about it even now.
“I am writing to my MP, reporting the council to the ombudsman alleging maladministration and also informing the Cheshire coroner who, at the inquest, asked to be kept informed.” Stockton Lane has been temporarily closed to traffic for 16 months after a car carrying four teenagers plunged into the Bridgewater Canal at a sharp bend on November 28, 2004.
The driver, Stephen Abbott, 17 and front seat passenger Gemma, both drowned but two other boys, Jake Edwards and Anthony Bond, managed to escape.
At the inquest last year, coroner Nicholas Rheinberg called for action on what he called a “gross and obvious danger” on the lane.
Last month the borough council said it was working on a scheme to enable the road to be re-opened and promised consultation with interested parties. Now it has sent its proposals to the parish council.
Mr Biggin said: “It amounts to a partial one-way system on the lane. Traffic will be able to travel only in a westerly direction, towards Grappenhall, for most of the lane. There will also be reflective marker posts to provide what they call a ‘visual barrier’ and define the edge of the carriageway.
“This is totally inadequate and fails to address the real dangers this road poses. Numerous cars have gone into the canal over the years and the only solution is crash barriers at vulnerable places. The whole length of the lane needs to be reviewed.
“I am very angry. I feel I have been treated dreadfully. But more importantly, these proposals will not remove the danger.
The borough council was unable to comment. But in their consultation letter they say a crash barrier is not viable because of technical difficulties and also the nature of the bend radius.
Cancer survivor honoured
with “life celebration” bench
by Terry Johnson
A CANCER survivor from Warrington is being honoured with a ?life celebration? bench in her favourite park.
Grandmother Doreen Blanchard has been given a dedicated bench at the spot where she likes to feed the ducks.
The 60-year-old former Civil Servant owes her life to speedy action after a mammogram detected cancerous breast tissue the size of a human hair.
She underwent a mastectomy and is now clear of disease.
Cancer Research UK, whose vision is to conquer cancer through world-class research, has dedicated a bench in Woolston District Park, off Manchester Road, to Doreen, who lives close by.
It is engraved: “Doreen Blanchard loved sitting here….and still does, thanks to research into cancer”.
It is one of a series of benches being placed around the country as part of a major ‘Being Here’ campaign, highlighting research and aimed to raise ?6.5m over the next five years.
Said Doreen: “I feel very lucky. So many friends died from cancer because the illness was not detected sooner.
“I am thrilled that Cancer Research UK has dedicated a bench to me. My granddaughter, aged three, is excited about visiting the park to see the bench”.
Prof. Alex Markham, charity chief executive, said: “Survival rates have improved for nearly all cancers. The number of people free from cancer after treatment is higher than ever.
“Like Doreen, most successfully treated patients go on to enjoy long periods of good health and in many cases will be cured”.
Kate’s mountain trek
for mental health charity
by Lesley Wilkinson
WARRINGTON woman Kate Fletcher is planning to trek across the Peruvian Andes in September to raise funds for the Mental Health Foundation.
The charity, which helps people to recover from mental health problems and helps prevent them occurring, is organising the walk and Kate needs to raise ?2,650 to take part.
Kate, from Latchford, will be trekking through Peru with a group of other fund-raising walkers.
She said: “I’m really looking forward to the trip – physical exercise is a great way to improve your mood, but I think my feet are going to ache for days afterwards.
“One in four people experience a mental health problem at some point in their lives. Unfortunately many people are afraid to admit that they’ve got a mental health problem and don’t ask for help because of the stigma attached to mental ill health. Hopefully, the time will come soon when that will change,” she added.
Johnson?s hairdressing salon, Sankey Street, Warrington, is hosting a fundraising evening on Monday April 10 for Kate’s trip. The salon is offering hair care tips and colour consultations, a raffle, wine and nibbles, from 6.30pm on the evening. Tickets cost ?10 and are available from the salon or by calling 07968 652141.
Volunteers get gardening
GREEN-fingered staff from a Warrington agency rolled up their sleeves to tend the gardens at St Rocco’s Hospice to promote the national Year of the Volunteer.
The staff from the Warrington-based regional office for the Commission for Patient and Public Involvement in Health (CPPIH), which serves about 800 volunteers in the North West, turned the tables when they decided to volunteer.
Staff at the CPPIH chose the hospice because of its links to healthcare and the need for volunteers to maintain the pleasant environment the hospice has created for the patients.
Despite a few showers, the group managed to complete a full day’s gardening including weeding, pruning and edging the colourful gardens and courtyards of the hospice.
Regional manager Sarah Pask said: “This was a really wonderful opportunity for the team from the CPPIH to roll their sleeves and really make a difference. There was a great sense of achievement not only in volunteering our time, but also in benefiting the people of St Rocco’s who really appreciate the view from their windows.”
IT firm in ?350,000
upgrade for university
by business staff
WARRINGTON company Esteem Systems has successfully completed a ?350,000 IT upgrade for Leeds University, designed to improve the university’s research capabilities.
In a project funded by the Science Research Investment Fund, Esteem has upgraded the university’s existing system by installing a third High Performance Computing (HPC) environment based on the latest Sun Microsystems grid technology.
A High Performance Computing node is a unit used to build complex data structures and allows users to solve complicated modelling and simulation problems making it a vital tool for academic research.
Following the successful implementation of the original solution by Esteem Systems, the university has been able to produce a range of high quality research papers, boosting its research rating and playing an instrumental part in attracting several high value research grants.
The upgraded system has been used to support modelling and simulation across a wide range of disciplines throughout the university and provides a fundamental infrastructure for research activities in areas such as engineering, particle physics, astrophysics and mathematics.
The Sun based solution has also been integrated
into the White Rose Grid (WRG) as part of the White Rose Grid Consortium which was formed to enable the universities of Leeds, York and Sheffield to undertake larger scale research projects, share information and commercially exploit research carried out by the universities.
Steve Chidlow, Information Systems Services Manager at Leeds University, commented: “We are delighted with the success of the project. Our work alongside Esteem Systems has had an extremely positive impact on the university’s research capabilities. In addition to this we have also experienced the wider benefits of the attraction of new faculties to the WRG community.”
?1.4 million hand-out to
deal with problem youths
by Lesley Wilkinson
MORE than ?1.4 million is to be provided to deal with troublesome and excluded young people in Warrington, Halton and the rest of Cheshire.
The hand-out, revealed in Chancellor Gordon Brown?s budget will be targeted at the “RESPECT” programme, which aims to engage with young people, and to reduce the numbers of children permanently excluded from schools in these areas.
A partnership made up of Youth and Education Services from Cheshire County Council, Halton and Warrington Borough Councils, Connexions, The Youth Federation and Cheshire Fire and Rescue Service will administer the funding.
The partnership made a bid for funds under the Invest To Save scheme in 2005, which encourages partners to develop unique programmes to tackle serious and current issues.
RESPECT (Reducing Exclusion Starting Positive Engagement with Children Together) bid is based upon the partnership experience and Cheshire Fire and Rescue Service’s work with young people over many years.
Projects already carried out include firefighters and fire and rescue service personnel working on schemes with young people, including counselling those who play with fire, and The Prince’s Trust Scheme, a twelve week development course which had benefited well over 1500 young people in local communities.
The bid to the Treasury was based on developing a scheme called Kooldown, specifically aimed at young people either in danger of or, totally excluded from schools.
Research will run alongside the programme to track the progress of young people and possibly refer them to more specialist schemes where required.
Steve Hoy, chief executive of Connexions Cheshire and Warrington, said: “This success is good news for Cheshire, Halton and Warrington.
“The potential of the partnership will help to develop an existing and highly effective scheme, Kooldown, into something which can be more focussed and targeted at dealing with the difficult issue of providing support and motivation for troublesome and excluded young people,” he added.