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Southport Reporter® covering the news on Merseyside.

Date:-   31 July 2006

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Congestion Costs UK Businesses £20billion per Annum

70% of the UK's workforce commutes daily to work via car, as more cars are on the road and the times of work are widely generic, a commuting workforce results in congestion hotspots. A report by CBI suggests that congestion alone costs UK employers at least £20billion per annum, in terms of inefficiency, missed appointments, late arrivals and overrun schedules.

The Government recognises the affect of congestion on commuters and businesses and The Traffic Management Act has been implemented to alleviate
the issues surrounding congestion, which requires local authorities to provide information on traffic congestion to the public.

To comply with the Act, Halton Borough Council in the North West employed Elwers, the UK's leading connectivity integrator, to design a solution that
would allow them to comply with The Traffic Management Act at one of the North West's congestion hotspots - Silver Jubilee Bridge (commonly known as Runcorn-Widnes bridge).

The Silver Jubilee Bridge, based in Halton, is the primary route for commuters to Liverpool, Widnes, Halton and Chester. Approximately 90,000 vehicles cross the bridge everyday, with peak times resulting in congestion.  A problem on or around the bridge can result in traffic jams and tail backs in both directions.

"I use the Bridge to travel to work in Liverpool City Centre; a 40 minute commute in peak traffic. At least one day a month I get caught in horrific traffic, which can often turn my 40 minute commute to 2 hours plus. If I could check the status of the bridge and I could see there was a problem, I could choose an alternative route or delay my journey, but once you get caught up in the traffic, it can be a nightmare and very stressful if you are heading into work", Greg Dudley, EAD Solicitors, Liverpool.

The Council had to comply with The Traffic Management Act requirements by March 2006. It was decided that the preferred solution would be to deliver real time images of the bridge via the council's website to allow commuters to take an informed decision on their journey before they set off.  The bridge itself only had power for lighting within the steel structure and road infrastructure, there was no existing connectivity that could be used, the solution required images to be captured and transmitted in a high resolution format to the traffic monitoring station in Runcorn, the location of the cameras being influenced by the approach roads and existing bridge structures.

Elwers designed a bespoke solution that utilised 2 separate point-to-point 5.8GHZ 28Mbps licence-free radios at each end of the bridge. These both had 2 I/P Mpeg4 cameras focussing in opposite directions. The 2 Axis cameras at each end are connected via 2 separate Alvarion B-Links. By using 2 separate links at opposite ends of the bridge the Council now have resilience as well as cost effective bandwidth for excellent quality moving
images without any disruption.

"The Council now enjoys a very cost effective solution that they own. This network is expandable as the connectivity provided has the potential to transmit images from more cameras if required - with no degradation to the quality", Stewart Bradshaw, Managing Director Elwers.

The Council is now working with Elwers to provide similar connectivity solutions to other areas of congestion in Halton.


THE event is to be held at Duke St Park in Formby on Saturday 12 August 2006 from 12:00 (noon) to 4pm.   On offer will be:-

0-5s Big Toddle
Bouncy Castles
Story Telling
Face Painting

With thanks for the support of:-

Operation Eden
Formby Parish Council
Dow High Ltd
Formby Tool Hire
Formby Windows.


THE health and social care system must be reformed to avoid any further cuts to services, council and NHS leaders said.  The call comes after the most comprehensive study of the impact where NHS trusts are in deficit showed almost 7 out of 10 local authorities have been affected. 

Returns from 55 of the 78 local authorities in those deficit areas reveal trusts have adopted a number of cost-cutting measures that have impacted on councils, including:-

The withdrawal of funding from jointly funded projects.

A sharp increase in the referral of patients that would normally be cared for by the NHS.

Paying no more than one per cent inflation on existing contracts.

Measures local authorities have adopted to cope with the cutbacks have included:-

Withdrawing services from people with low-level care needs .

Increasing waiting times for social care assessments and services.

Outsourcing more services.

Transferring resources from other services - including leisure facilities and transport.

Using budget reserves.

Negotiating with - or taking legal action against - the NHS over the non-payment of bills.

Council leaders stressed the deficits in some trusts were just one of the pressures social care budgets are facing. A difficult financial settlement from the Government, and the increasing needs of an ageing population, have placed many in very difficult situations.

Cllr David Rogers, the Local Government Association's social care spokesperson, said:- "Health and social care are 2 sides of the same coin. It is impossible not to cut services on one side without hurting the other.  This is not a name, blame and shame game. Councils do not want to start a war of words with the NHS, indeed the only way we will overcome these worrying problems is to work more closely together.  Local authorities are leading the way in making efficiency savings and delivering ever better value for money in the public sector. But the increasing numbers of people in need of care, and these latest financial pressures, are forcing many to cut services or increase council tax. In some cases they are having to do both."  Cllr Rogers added:- "Decision making and spending by councils and the NHS must be brought closer together to help some of the most vulnerable in society. Working more closely together will undoubtedly help avert some of the problems we have recently seen, and make all public service leaders accountable to the people they serve."

Dr Gill Morgan, chief executive of the NHS Confederation which represents more than 90% of NHS organisations, said:- "The vast majority of NHS organisations are delivering excellent patient care within budget. The deficits experienced by a small number of trusts are in part the result of short-term pressures on the service, including national targets and workforce reforms, as well as longer-term issues such as major structural problems which have been exposed by changes to accountancy rules.

NHS organisations with financial problems are taking action to re-balance the books and plan for the future. However, it is clear from the LGA survey that NHS deficits have had some effect on other local services, just as local authority financial difficulties in other areas of the country have had an adverse effect on NHS services.

It is tempting when you have financial problems of your own to blame someone else or another organisation. However, the reality is that when organisations are under financial pressure, this is precisely the time when a collective approach is vital.

We need now to look at how local authorities and the NHS can work in joint partnership and support each other through these challenging times. Each NHS organisation and local authority has the same goal after all - to provide the best local public services for its community. It is only through regular communication, an understanding of the pressures that both parties face and genuine joint working that this will be achieved."

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