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Drink Driver Could Not Remember Driving From Birmingham to Lymm

Posted by Neil on Wednesday, 14 January 2015 at 15:17:53

Filed under: Crime

Andrew Smith, aged 40, was seen by witnesses trying to get into the wrong house on Huntsfield Close, after trying to visit a friend's property.

Halton Magistrates Court heard on Friday how Smith was seen 'swerving all over the motorway' on the M6, between Knutsford and Warrington, at 3.55pm on November 22, last year.

Beverley Dobson, prosecuting, said a later call notified police of an abandoned vehicle on Huntsfield Close. Empty wine bottles were found in the passenger seat of Smith's BMW 320.

After being arrested, the court heard the defendant told officers at Cheshire Police he was driving from Somerset when he stopped at services near Birmingham.

"He said he couldn't remember anything after that because of the level of intoxication," said Ms Dobson. He can't remember anything until completing the breath test while in custody. He didn't give any reason as to why he had been drinking so much."

When Smith, of Gatekeeper Fold, Waterloo, Ashton-under-Lyne, took the breath test, it gave a reading of 167 microgrammes of alcohol in 100ml of breath. The legal limit is 35 microgrammes of alcohol in 100ml of breath.

The father-of-two, who has no previous convictions, pleaded guilty to driving with excess alcohol on December 11, last year. Smith, who has held an experienced managerial position for 16 years, admitted to having a drink problem.

The court heard the defendant has started an alcohol treatment programme, and that he is 'mortified', but could not explain driving at least 80 miles when drunk.

And Smith could not say how much he had to drink, or when he drank it. Magistrates said it was 'rare' to see a drink driving case where the alcohol limit was so high, and that it was 'fortunate' no harm was caused.

Smith was sentenced to eight weeks in prison, suspended for 12 months, and 250 hours unpaid work. The defendant was also banned from driving for three years.

Tags: limit

18 Month Trial for Double Yellow Lines

Posted by Neil on Tuesday, 12 August 2014 at 08:16:30

Filed under: Announcements, Lymm, Political, Village centre

New parking restrictions have been brought into the centre of Lymm as part of an 18-month trial. Temporary double yellow lines were put down overnight recently on Brookfield Road. And the plan is they will stay there for the next 18 months before a decision is made over whether to make them permanent.

They have been brought in following long-term complaints from residents over double parking on the road. However traders fear the move will further discourage shoppers from entering the village, after free parking was reduced to just an hour.

Clr Sheila Woodyatt, a former Mayor of Warrington, is Conservative councillor for Lymm. She said: “It is a trial for 18 months to see if it resolves the terrible traffic problems round there. It is ridiculous at times – people park on both sides of the roads and we have had complaints that it can be impossible to get past. It has taken years for the council to do something about it and at long last they have taken action."

“I understand the traders are not happy about it but realistically, short of digging the village up and starting again, we don’t have much choice. There is a 19th century road scheme for the 21st century.”

And she said keeping a two hour free parking limit in the official car parks would be a better way of resolving the ongoing problems. She added: “I personally think the best way would have been to have people pay as they leave. Then there would be time for people to have lunch and do their shopping.”

Tags: parking, politics

Finance Investigation at Lymm High

Posted by Neil on Thursday, 24 July 2014 at 09:07:44

Filed under: Announcements, Political, School

Finance Investigation at School Flagged Expenditure on Alcohol, Flowers and Hospitality

An investigation into the financial affairs at Lymm High School following the suspension of the principal and her deputy highlighted various concerns including cash and credit card expenditure on alcohol, flowers and hospitality.

The audit, which has been welcomed by the school governors, identified various weaknesses and issues in relation to financial management and governance, including missing personnel files - including those of the two senior members of staff who had been suspended.

The audit was carried out by the Government body - the Education Funding Agency’s (EFA) External Assurance Team, who visited Lymm High School Academy Trust (the Trust) in September 2013. The team performed sample testing of financial transactions, reviewed supporting documentation and held discussions with Trust officials.

A number of control weaknesses and issues in relation to financial management and governance were identified. These included internal controls within the Trust’s finance function, such as segregation of duties in purchasing and procurement, which had been weakened following the suspension of the principal finance officer, due to resource limitations.

The Trust reported the individual employed in the principal finance role may not have been appropriately qualified nor have the relevant experience required of the post. They were not able to substantiate this as the individual’s personnel file could not be located.

Personnel files for a number of senior staff could not be located during the visit. The apparent loss of these files was of concern particularly as they included the records for the two staff suspended and under investigation.

The loss of these files left the Trust exposed to the risk that personal data could be mis-used and data protection legislation may have been breached, with possible financial implications. There were inadequate quotation/tendering records available at the time of the visit to fully support and explain the award of contracts or high value purchases.

A declaration of interest was not available for all members of the Governing Body and Finance Committee and some minor items of expenditure were identified that may not be considered proper use of public funds and could leave governors and employees of the Trust open to criticism. Examples included cash and credit card expenditure on alcohol, flowers and hospitality.

The External Assurance visit was carried out against a backdrop of concerns about the Trust’s performance and leadership, two senior staff suspensions and suggestions of financial irregularity. The Trust had commissioned high level reviews of finance arrangements by its external auditors, who until early September fulfilled the Responsible Officer (RO) and Internal Audit functions.

The EFA were called in during the early summer of of last year when concerns were raised about the Trust’s performance and leadership. The principal had been suspended in June 2013 and an investigation had been commissioned by Governors. In July 2013 the Trust’s principal finance officer was also suspended pending a separate disciplinary investigation.

Separate communications were received by the Department for Education and the EFA, including at least one direct to the Secretary of State, raising concerns including the suggestion of financial impropriety. These resulted in a two-day planned visit to the Trust by representatives of the EFA’s External Assurance (EA) team in September last year.

The purpose of the visit was to review the financial management and governance arrangements at the Trust in order to provide assurance to the EFA Accounting Officer over the use of public funds. This was a review of the Trust’s arrangements at the time of the visit, although it was apparent that steps were being taken, following the appointment of the interim Executive Principal, to strengthen those arrangements.

During the course of the visit, a number of high risk issues came to their attention, including high value income streams involving cash transactions, deleted electronic data and missing personnel records. As these presented an increased risk of financial irregularity or fraud, these areas were added to the scope of the EFA's work.

The audit also revealed six contracts had inadequate evidence of quotations/tendering and with two exceptions, available tender documents failed to adequately demonstrate the rationale for selection of a preferred supplier.

Four out of eight contracts did not have a signed copy of the contract available and the Trust was unable to provide an up to date and detailed register of all contracts / leases it has entered into. During the period September 2012 to July 2013 there were three credit cards held by senior members of Trust staff. A review of credit card records during that period highlighted four key issues: The Trust did not have a formal credit card policy for staff to follow and each of the three cardholders had signed “debit” card agreement forms.

Four purchases of alcohol were identified - this expenditure could be deemed to be improper use of public funds, or expose the Trust to criticism. Chair of Governors Kieran Walshe said: "Lymm High School welcomes the Education Funding Agency’s publication of its audit report on the school, which relates to circumstances a year ago.

"The school invited the visit from the team from the Education Funding Agency in September 2013, and the report found a number of issues that had already been identified and acted upon by the school’s auditors.

Mr Walshe added: “We hope this report will help people to understand some of the issues that the governing body dealt with robustly in 2013, and provide useful learning for other schools in Warrington. The two senior staff who had responsibility for school finances and audit at this time are no longer employed by the school. Robust arrangements for audit and financial oversight by governors are now in place.”

Former principal Angela Walsh (pictured right) and vice-principal Jamie Shiels resigned earlier this year after being suspended last year.

A full copy of the report which is now in the public domain can be downloaded here.

Article courtesy of Warrington Worldwide.

Tags: lymm high, finance, investigation

MBE Honour for Lymm Campaigner

Posted by Neil on Monday, 06 January 2014 at 11:21:26

Filed under: Announcements, Awards

MBE Honour for Lymm Road Safety Campaigner

A Road safety campaigner from Lymm swapped 20mph roads for the red carpet as he was handed with his MBE from the Queen.

Rod King went to Buckingham Palace for his investiture last week after picking up an MBE for his services to road safety. He has been working as campaign director of 20s Plenty, a group who have been working to encourage authorities across the country to bring in 20mph road speed limits on residential roads.

As well as Warrington signing up to the idea of lower limits other major cities including Liverpool, Manchester and Birmingham have signed up. Rod set the group in 2007 as a voluntary organisation to support communities wanting lower road speed limits.

He said: "To be honoured with an MBE for services to road safety is significant not only as recognition of my personal efforts but also of the enormous progress which has been made in establishing lower speeds as the norm on community roads. We are moving from a past tradition of accepting that motor vehicles could dominate where people lived, worked and shopped into one where we share the streets more equitably and enable people to choose to walk or cycle without fear of fast traffic. It acknowledges the aspiration and efforts of individuals, communities, Councillors and council officers around the country who simply want to make their places better places to be."

The group now has 216 local campaigns across the country and has recently launched a Time for 20 campaign which calls for the Department for Transport to change regulations so that repeater signs are not needed on 20mph streets, but only on remaining 30mph roads.

"It really is 'Time for 20' and this honour is very gratefully received. Perhaps most of all it signifies that 20’s Plenty for Us is much more than a campaign for change, but is a movement towards a more civilised way of sharing our streets," he added.

Article courtesy of This is Cheshire.

Tags: MBE, road safety

Support Against HS2 Plan Gathers

Posted by Neil on Wednesday, 31 July 2013 at 16:19:39

Filed under: Announcements, Political

Village Hall Was Venue for Residents Opposition

More than 100 people packed into a village hall to show their opposition to plans for High Speed Two.

An awareness meeting was held in Little Bollington earlier last month to give residents from Agden, Broomedge and Lymm East the chance to hear more about the project. It would see the route of the new train line pass through these areas.

Organised by action group ABLE (Agden, Broomedge, Lymm East) Roger Waller, treasurer of STOP HS2, and Jenny Waller, from the Chilterns, spoke about HS2 on a national level.

While there was also a presentation by ABLE group members demonstrating the impact this major infrastructure would have on the area.

Louise Grantham, chairman of ABLE, said: “To see so many people support the campaign against HS2 was terrific. Consultations on this phase of HS2 started last week and finish on January 31. It is imperative that everyone now looks at how Lymm, and the surrounding areas, will be affected and make their feelings known by responding." Two officers attended from Warrington Borough Council’s transport department.

The council has now received and published the reply from its letter addressed to HS2 Limited expressing disappointment with the route.

Information packs were compiled showing maps, press cuttings and the contact details for MPs.

Tags: HS2, railway

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