Chester City Council


P3 Experts poised to uncover new amphitheatre secrets P4 Improved disabled access at Blacon Nature Park P5/8 Best Value Performance Plan summary P9/11 Chester TOGETHER – tackling anti-social behaviour P12 Riverside walkway breathes new life into Old Port P13 House of Fraser joins Northgate quarter P14 Chester website clicks with internet judges P15 Booklet spells out Chester’s 20 year vision P16 Charity women’s race set to return to city P17 VIP guest joins Chester Food & Drink Festival P18 Cabinet responsibility – who does what? P19 What’s On in Chester – your daily guide p20 Direct line to your service

House of Fraser to anchor £280m Northgate scheme
– see page 13

All Human Life – The Kaleidoscope of Victorian Painting, showing at the Grosvenor Museum on May 24 (see What’s On guide, page 19)

Star chef set to make Food & Drink Festival a sizzling success – see p17

Chester News 3

RCHAEOLOGISTS are gearing up for a second season of excavations following last year’s successful dig at the amphitheatre. The site has been covered during the winter months to protect it from the weather, but archaeologists have been working hard behind the scenes on the wealth of artefacts and information unearthed. This has led to a number of exciting insights into the amphitheatre’s past, both during and after the Roman occupation. there to watch the entertainment. Fast food Roman style! Tantalising clues about the use of the amphitheatre in the period after the Romans. For example, one of the main entrances was certainly walled up – perhaps to maintain the amphitheatre as a fortress? The discovery of medieval artefacts, including a bone hair comb, a complete pottery jug and a parchment clip. Over 40 musket balls unearthed. These probably date from the siege of Chester in 1645, when the English Civil War was at its height. There were many other fascinating finds, including the Roman sword handle featured in last autumn’s edition of Chester News. Why not check out Chester Visitor Centre, located opposite the site, to learn more about the exciting discoveries being made? The building now includes an interpretation centre with special information kiosks, displays and exhibitions that bring the project to life and provide details of all the findings to date. A computer-generated movie can also be viewed on a large screen, providing a vivid picture of how the amphitheatre developed. The specially constructed gangway over the site will also let members of the

We found evidence of fast food – Roman style
Findings include: Evidence that there were actually two amphitheatres built on the site. The first was impressive, but it was dwarfed by the later building, which had a massive 2.7m wide sandstone foundation. Evidence of external stairways otherwise known only at Pompeii. This makes Chester a very important site for the study of the architectural development of amphitheatres throughout the Roman Empire. A large proportion of chicken bones and beef ribs, implying that snacks were sold to spectators who were

public get a close-up view when the new dig begins in May. This year’s excavations will hopefully help shed new light on the early post-Roman period of Chester’s history. If you can’t get down to the amphitheatre,

try logging onto the website www.chesteramphithe The website is packed with information and is linked up to a web camera so you can watch the dig over the internet.

The amphitheatre is the focus of a three year project involving the city council and English Heritage. The findings will be used to draw up a plan for the future conservation of the site.

4 Chester News

IMPROVEMENTS that will give disabled people greater access to a popular park have been welcomed. The city council has resurfaced the pathways in Blacon Nature Park to allow better wheelchair access. To mark the improvements, the Lord Mayor of Chester, Councillor Terry Ralph, recently took part in a tree planting ceremony along with local schoolchildren, councillors and residents. The park was first opened in 1989 and is run by the city council with help from the Friends of Blacon Nature Park group. The site includes wild flower meadows, a pond and woodlands. The £14,000 improvement scheme, which involved resurfacing the pathways with bitumen, has been funded by the landfill tax credits of local

landfill operator Waste Recycling Group Ltd, administered by environmental body WREN (Waste, Recycling and Environmental Network). The Lord Mayor said: "The park has always proved very popular with the local community and the Friends of Blacon Nature Park do some terrific work to help preserve, maintain and run the site. "These resurfaced pathways will help ensure that everyone can enjoy what the park has to offer." Richard Smith, WREN area project manager said: "We are delighted to have been involved in the access improvements at Blacon Nature Park. This valuable community resource can now be used by all and we hope it continues to be well used for years to come."

Lord Mayor Cllr Terry Ralph escorts resident Sandy Lyth around Blacon Nature Park

Chester News 5

Auditors give us top marks
GOVERNMENT inspectors have praised Chester City Council for the way it handles its finances. In its annual letter to the council, the Audit Commission says the authority is continuing to deliver quality services while setting an example for other councils in areas like financial management. The letter says the council has built on the ‘excellent’ Comprehensive Performance Assessment (CPA) rating it achieved last year, and is a "source of good practice for other authorities." The council is also praised for the way it proactively plans for and manages financial issues like Single Status. Councillor Paul Roberts, Chester City Council’s cabinet member for resources, said: "The letter from the Audit Commission shows that we are continuing to build on our excellent CPA score, and that our approach to financial planning is a particular strength.”

How we’ll take on the big issues
Council Leader Cllr David Evans

Deputy leader Cllr John Price

Safer Communities
Issues of crime and community safety come out as the top priority in almost every resident’s survey we do, despite relatively low crime levels in the Chester District. In fact, people see low crime as the most important factor in making somewhere a good place to live – whether it’s in the city centre, the suburbs or the countryside. The main offences residents want to see tackled are burglary, youth nuisance and dangerous driving. What we are already doing to help: extending the network of CCTV cameras across the city centre and district, supported by a 24 hour CCTV command centre with direct links to the police Improving activities for children and young people providing burglary prevention training controlling the consumption of alcohol in the street What we plan to do: extend CCTV coverage across the city centre and key outlying centres such as Kingsway Parade in Newton invest in mobile CCTV which can be quickly moved between hotspots across Chester District and used in rural areas where permanent cameras would stand out build youth shelters, so that young people have somewhere where they can hang out together Last year we said we would: undertake a comprehensive audit of crime and disorder to inform a new Community Safety Partnership strategy and a three year action plan - we completed these projects

"WELCOME to our spring 2005 Best Value Performance Plan Summary where we set out some of the work we have been doing and outline the projects and tasks ahead in the coming months. This special edition looks ahead to some of the big issues we’ll be dealing with, while the results of our recent performance as your council are also laid out for you to examine. Like local councils all over the country we face many challenges and city councillors, officers and our partners in the community have been working hard to find the right solutions. Our research shows that safer, cleaner communities are a top priority for many people. We have decided to introduce community wardens patrolling streets and parks to help tackle anti-social behaviour such as littering, dog-fouling or noise nuisance. Improved public spaces, regeneration and better transport facilities are also key to a better quality of life. We’ve already secured £280m of investment for new shops, homes, a library, theatre, bus station and modern market as part of the Northgate Development.

We’re also redeveloping the Gorse Stacks and Delamere Street and will improve transport amenities such as a new coach reception facility and toilets at the Little Roodee car park. We are working with partners to improve Chester Railway Station and its links to the city centre. Your council already provides concessionary travel discounts above the minimum set out by central government, but this year we will consider how we can make these discounts more generous and ensure public transport is more accessible to older people. In 2003, the government judged Chester City Council an excellent local authority – the only excellent district council in the North West. In 2004 the Audit Commission said that Chester: "….has built on its excellent Comprehensive Performance Assessment rating, becoming a source of good practice for other authorities." However, we know that there is always much more to do. We are determined to learn from the best practice of other councils and we’ll continue working to improve and to provide top quality services for the people of Chester.”

We listen closely to your views to ensure that the priorities we set accurately reflect your concerns. We do this through regular consultation and events such ‘Ask the Audience’ where 100 local people spent a day with councillors and senior officers discussing the issues facing Chester District. These are the six areas that residents told us were important you: safer communities affordable housing the environment travelling around Chester a strong economy children and young people

6 Chester News

Best Value Performance Plan summary

So what exactly do we do..?
What does the council do?
Sometimes it’s the things that are all around you that you are least likely to notice. You might just be surprised at the range of services that Chester City Council offers. Some you might use everyday, some once in a lifetime, others you may benefit from but have never stopped and wondered who provided them.

Chester by numbers
Every day around 370 people visit the council offices the CCTV control centre maintains 24 hour surveillance of the city centre more than 200 people visit the Northgate leisure centre

Every week
we empty bins from 53,800 homes

almost 21,000 park and ride journeys are made into the town centre benefits are paid to 840 Chester residents or landlords. we process an average of 44 planning applications ranging from loft conversions to multimillion pound schemes such as the Northgate Development We cut 341,000 square metres of grass in the summer more than 600 residents have the opportunity to tend their council allotment we empty more than 200 dog bins around 430 people use the dial-a-ride, rural ring-a-ride or women’s safe transport services

County Council, the Police and Fire Service we collect business rates from 4,200 businesses we conduct 275 land searches for house buyers

Every year
we receive almost half a million phone calls more than 1.25million people contact our tourism information service we maintain 60,000 square metres of shrub beds and rockeries we provide 50 affordable homes our licensing team processes more than 100 hackney cab licences and over 500 private hire taxi drivers licences your council secures hundreds of thousands of pounds of external funding from organisations such as the National Lottery or European Union your local area holds four Area Committee meetings to inform and consult you about what is happening where you live 2,700 local people are surveyed to help us set priorities and find out what residents think of the services we provide last year a survey on housing needs went to a further 15,000 households

Every month
over 440 tonnes of household waste is recycled – the equivalent weight of nearly sixty doubledecker buses our food hygiene team inspects 50 food premises nearly 7,000 people visit the museum all 40 city council play areas and skate parks are inspected Chester Crematorium caters for 18 burials and 170 cremations 48 people get married in Chester Town Hall. we collect council tax from 53,800 households on behalf of Chester City Council, Cheshire

Chester News 7

Best Value Performance Plan summary

Affordable Housing
Affordable housing means bringing homes within the reach of people who can’t afford to either rent or buy on the open market. In the past year house prices in Chester District have risen by over 20%, with the average terraced house now costing £140,000. To successfully apply for a mortgage for that amount you would need a household income of almost £47,000 per year.

What we are already doing to help:
street cleaning maintaining public spaces and parkland using planning rules to protect historic Chester and public spaces improving the standard of the public toilets that we provide providing kerbside collections of recyclable waste we have piloted doorstep collection of glass and batteries for recycling managing our environment for the protection of our residents

What we are already doing to help:

The countryside and built environment play a huge role in making the District a pleasant place to live and we are committed to maintaining them.

working with local housing associations like Chester and District Housing Trust which provides more than 6500 local affordable rented homes securing extra funding to build houses As a council we demand that 25% of all new homes built in our area are affordable. In other words, to be allowed to build and sell 40 new luxury flats, developers must build 10 affordable homes. This currently brings around 50 new affordable homes a year for Chester, but new restrictions on house building in the North West will mean fewer new houses, so we need to look elsewhere for next year’s affordable homes.

What we plan to do:
improve the quality of street cleansing through: – more frequent street washing – removing chewing gum litter increase recycling opportunities review the way we provide grounds maintenance services

Last year we said we would:
introduce a pilot recycling collection scheme for glass and batteries – we did increase the frequency of rural street cleaning – we did

What we are planning to do:
increase investment in affordable housing provide more affordable homes to rent look across the District to find sites where new affordable houses can be built work with the owners of empty properties to bring them back into use provide grants and support to homeowners in need who want to improve or adapt their homes rather than move

Travelling around Chester
In a recent survey residents set out ‘….being able to travel around Chester easily’ as a priority for improvement and as one of the five most important things that makes somewhere a good place to live.

The Environment
The countryside and built environment play a huge role in making the District a pleasant place to live and we are committed to maintaining them. In a recent survey of residents, cleaner streets were identified as a top five priority for improvement.

What we are already doing to help:
our older residents are entitled to a 50% discount on bus journeys starting or finishing in Cheshire offering ‘door to door’ accessible transport through dial-a-ride providing shop mobility services and Blue Badge parking more than one million people a year use the Park & Ride service, reducing the numbers of cars driving into the city centre as a part of the Northgate Development we are building a new bus station and a new coach terminal at the Roodee we are working with partners to improve Chester railway station

What we plan to do:
this year we will examine how we can extend our Concessionary Travel Scheme, making it even more generous and ensuring that our older residents are able to travel around the county consider how we can offer extra ‘accessible transport’ options for rural areas.

8 Chester News

Best Value Performance Plan summary

A strong economy
Chester has a healthy economy with below average levels of unemployment, although there are pockets of higher unemployment. The priorities of local residents as set out in the Community Plan include more job opportunities and employment for all. What we are already doing to help: Employment attracting new investment working with expanding businesses supporting self-employment providing a grant scheme for rural businesses Regeneration working with partners to improve the area around Chester Railway Station Shopping redeveloping and improving the Northgate area organising and publicising events and festivals offering shopping discounts through the Charisma Card

promoting Chester as a tourist destination

What we plan to do:
Employment buy land and build workshops to rent target new business sectors offer help to those looking for work provide young people with training in new and traditional skills offer a grant scheme for the whole of the District help people start businesses develop more IT Resource Centres work with neighbouring councils to spread employment opportunities Shopping promote distinctive shopping market Chester more effectively as a tourist and shopping destination refurbish and bring empty shops back into use develop a city centre street warden service

giving grants to organisations that work with young people What we plan to do: create more sports and leisure facilities reduce costs to increase participation Last year we said we would: spend £90,000 on improving play areas - we did spend £5,000 on providing disabled children with access to play areas – we did ask children and young people what issues they want to see dealt with – we did What do you think? If you have any comments or questions or would like more information on any of the projects set out in this summary please contact: Morgan Jones, Performance Officer, Chester City Council, The Forum, Chester, CH1 2HS Tel: 01244 402 123

Children and Young People
Chester District is home to almost 22,000 people under 16 years old, who make up 18.5% of our residents. In a recent survey you identified improving activities for teenagers as your fourth highest priority for the District. What we are already doing to help: providing safe, cheap places to hang out, including youth shelters which provide a purpose built place where young people can meet at a time that suits them and at no cost supporting for Blacon and Lache adventure playgrounds which offer safe play environments for children talking to young people to find out what they want supporting schools in delivering the national curriculum

The full Best Value Performance Plan will be published in July and contains more detailed information on the council’s performance. It will be available in local libraries, at or from Morgan Jones at the above address.


Chester News 9

Chester Community Safety Partnership brings together Chester City Council, Cheshire Constabulary, Cheshire Fire Service, Cheshire County Council, Cheshire West Primary Care Trust, Connexions, Cheshire Youth Offending Team, National Probation Service and a range of community and voluntary organisations to tackle crime, anti-social behaviour and the fear of crime.

“The Government has chosen Chester among only 50 other towns and cities in England as an Action Area for combating crime and anti-social behaviour. Action Area status recognises how Chester Community Safety Partnership under the "TOGETHER" campaign, is dealing with antisocial behaviour in the District. The Action Area status also recognises how the partnership is leading the way in targeting repeat offenders. The Home Office has awarded significant funding to Chester Community Safety Partnership to assist future initiatives and to support Chester’s Action Area status under the "TOGETHER" campaign.” Cllr John Price Chairman of Community Safety Partnership

Community needs are our priority...
OUTLINE OF THE PROJECTS "TOGETHER" is a national campaign that will take a stand against anti-social behaviour, putting the local community’s needs first. Chester TOGETHER will deliver a co-ordinated and targeted approach towards addressing anti-social behaviour in Chester District. The project will: Engage with local communities to ensure that people who live or work in Chester are fully involved with the project. Recruit a case worker to co-ordinate all the work relating to the development and enforcement of the Anti Social Behaviour Action Area status. Establish an Anti-social Behaviour Hotline as a single point of contact for people in Chester who are experiencing anti-social behaviour. Develop a marketing strategy to ensure that all who live or work in Chester are aware of the actions being taken to address anti-social behaviour across the District. Identify, implement and monitor a range of actions designed to address anti-social behaviour in Chester. AIMS OF THE PROJECT ARE TO: Increase public confidence in the capability of local partners, working with communities to tackle and reduce anti-social behaviour in Chester. Raise awareness of the actions taken by partners and local communities, to tackle and reduce the incidences of anti-social behaviour.

Chester TOGETHER will deliver a co-ordinated and targeted approach towards addressing antisocial behaviour in Chester District.

Page 10 Chester News

Chester News Page 11

Wardens on patrol
A NEW team of community safety wardens will soon be patrolling local communities throughout Chester helping to tackle antisocial behaviour, monitoring the local environment and being a re-assuring "friend on the street" in neighbourhoods across the District. The city council run service will work closely with the council’s own environmental protection and CCTV teams as well as the police, fire service and other key partners to help combat the range of ‘crime & grime’ problems which blight people’s everyday lives. The wardens will be a uniformed, highly trained professional service working in the local community and will be given special powers to deal with low level nuisance and environmental crime such as graffiti, vandalism, abandoned vehicles, dog fouling and litter. Cheshire Police are also working with the city council to develop a Community Safety Accreditation Scheme which would give the wardens additional powers to address antisocial behaviour and holder for Community Safety, Councillor Bob Rudd (pictured) welcomed the introduction of the district wide service which is scheduled to be rolled out around Chester starting in April. He said: "Anti-social behaviour and environmental crime is always a difficult nut to crack and is overwhelmingly the public’s number one priority for us to tackle. This is an exciting new service for Chester which will expand the whole ‘policing family’ and help us all deal more effectively with these problems. "The introduction of the Community Safety Wardens will help reduce crime and the fear of crime and improve the quality of life for everyone in Chester. This initial service is just the start of bigger and better things with more investment planned for future years and a continued drive to re-engineer existing budgets where it is sensible to do so. "Working closely with Superintendent Ian Hopkins of Chester police, the scheme will be expanded over the next three years"

Action Lines The Chester "TOGETHER" campaign is about taking action. By working together, we can deliver change in our community.

Delivering change
1. To reduce the number of reported incidents of anti-social behaviour. HOW ?: greater public involvement reduction in alcohol related anti-social behaviour reduction in noise nuisance access to single contact reporting system increased support for targeted young people through a range of diversion projects 2. Reduce the FEAR of crime. HOW ?: control on street drinking closure of properties dealing with drugs reduction in aggressive begging increase in number of successful Anti-Social Behaviour Orders increase support to young people through Acceptable Behaviour Contracts (ABCs) 4.Increase the level of public satisfaction with Chester District public spaces such as parks, city centre, canal areas etc. HOW? : Ensure quick and effective collection of drug paraphernalia from public spaces reduction in dog fouling reduction in graffiti and fly posting reduction in fly tipping reduction in litter and gum improvements to the care and maintenance of our open spaces

For environmental anti-social behaviour such as abandoned vehicles, noise nuisance, littering, fly-tipping, graffiti and dog fouling, contact:

Chester City Council

01244 402477
If a crime is being committed, contact:

Chester Police

reduce the fear of crime. By making targeted powers available to those working to improve community safety, the police accreditation scheme will allow wardens to deal directly with low level nuisance problems and save valuable police officer time. An important role for the new wardens team will be to work with the more vulnerable sections of our community, especially children, young people and the elderly, and provide increased re-assurance and protection in our communities and public spaces. The initial team of twelve staff will focus on existing ‘hotspot’ and known priority areas and be deployed through consultation with Area Committees, Parish Councils, the Police and Fire Services. Cabinet portfolio-

01244 350222
Email: PublicContact@cheshire.
It’s your call! We need you to play your part, so pick up the phone and let us know what’s going on in your neighbourhood. "TOGETHER" we can tackle anti-social behaviour and make our communities cleaner, greener and safer.

HOW ?: increase awareness around anti-social behaviour issues and what is being achieved increased coverage with CCTV implement a new Community Safety Warden Service linked to Police and Community Support Officers 3.increase feelings of personal safety in specific and named parts of the District.

12 Chester News

Dee-lightful walkway begins to take shape
WORK on a new riverside walkway is well underway as the regeneration of Chester’s Old Port continues apace. The pedestrian and cycle route has been under construction since midSeptember and is due to be finished by contractors Harry Fairclough Construction Ltd by the summer. It will act as a link between the existing walkway built as part of the Watkin Jones development, and a further section that may be constructed if the proposed residential element of the development of the Old Port by David McLean Homes is given the goahead. The aim is to create a continuous route along the entire length of the River Dee in the Old Port, and to improve existing flood defences. Councillor Jim Latham, cabinet member for development, said: "The particular section of walkway under construction at the moment will run along the riverbank fronting Crane Warf, the TS Deva building and the electricity compound. "Some sections of the wooden boardwalk are suspended over the historic river wall using a cantilever structure, while others are actually suspended over the water itself, helping to create a pier-effect. There are also

viewing platforms that will allow people to take-in the beautiful scenery along this stretch of the river, which will be accessible to the general public for the first time in over 200 years." The project is being driven by the city council, with additional funding from WREN (the landfill tax credits body), West Chester Regeneration Board and the Northwest Regional Development Agency (NWDA), which has contributed £840,000 to the project. Chris Koral, NWDA area manager for Cheshire, said: "The NWDA is pleased to support the regeneration of Chester’s Old Port, culminating in a riverside promenade. "Comprehensive access to the River Dee will enhance the historic value of the area and boost Chester’s tourism offer. Increased flood protection will also unlock derelict and underused land for further regeneration." The promenade in the Old Port will eventually link to two similar walkways along neighbouring stretches of the

Dee, creating an uninterrupted route from the Groves in Chester to Queensferry in Flintshire. Plans for a walkway stretching from the Groves were given the green light by the city’s planning board in December. The scheme is being partfunded with European money under the Water in Historic City Centres programme – a partnership project involving cities in Belgium, the Netherlands and Ireland. At the same time, the other end of the Old Port section will link to a riverside route being planned in partnership with Flintshire County Council, stretching from Queensferry to the Welsh-English border at the edge of the city. This will eventually create one of the longest and most impressive riverside promenades in the country, helping people get greater access to and enjoyment from the Dee by providing a practical, green journey route for pedestrians and cyclists.

Chester News 13

Licensed to get rid of drink louts
PUBLIC safety, anti-social behaviour and general nuisance will be major considerations as Chester City Council begins considering licensing applications this spring. In February we took up our new responsibilities under the Licensing Act 2003, which used to be dealt with by magistrates, with full responsibility from November this year. The activities covered by this new Licensing Act are the sale of alcohol, public entertainments and late night refreshments. These will now be covered by a range of new "premises" and "personal" licences. The Act also allows applicants to apply for longer hours to sell alcohol. We will consider all licences and applications against the four main aims of the Act:The prevention of crime and disorder Public safety The prevention of public nuisance The protection of children from harm We will also consider them against our own Licensing Policy Statement. Cabinet portfolio holder for health and wellbeing, councillor Mia Jones said: "We have had an excellent response from the licensing trade and other interested parties to our consultation carried out towards the end of last year. "This new law imposes important obligations on the city council and we are determined to exercise our responsibilities correctly. "Pubs, clubs and restaurants are vital to Chester’s social life and public image, but we won’t be afraid to use the powers to tackle any antisocial and public safety issues surrounding the sale and consumption of alcohol." The council’s Licensing Policy Statement is available in full on the council website or a copy or additional information is available from the licensing team on 01244 402138 or e-mail at

Retail giant boosts shops development
LEADING retailers, House of Fraser, will form the lynchpin of the redevelopment of the Northgate quarter of the city when it sets up shop as part of the £280m scheme.
House of Fraser has taken a 35 year lease on the 160,000 sq ft anchor unit located to the northwest of the site which comprises a further 60 units, including three major stores. The overall development of Northgate will provide 440,000 sq ft of shop space, a new performing arts centre, library, market hall, bus station, council offices, several civic squares, as well as 112 new residential apartments. The scheme, undertaken by Northgate Limited Partnership, part of ING Real Estate Development UK, will replace the Forum shopping centre and Gateway theatre and relocate the central library and market hall. Chester City Council leader, Councillor David Evans and deputy leader, Councillor John Price said: "This is great news. The House of Fraser name and the new retail provision will complement and enhance the existing shops in the city, making the city centre much more attractive for shoppers across the region." Steve Hibbert, operations director of House of Fraser said :"We are pleased to have secured such a significant unit in one of the most exciting retail led mixed use schemes planned for the UK. Northgate will provide the flexible shop area we need and which was not previously available in

House of Fraser to form hub of Northgate plan
Chester’s historic shopping area. " Siep Hoeksma, joint managing director of ING Real Estate Development UK said: "We are delighted to have attracted one of the top retail names to the city for the first time. "This important step forward sends a message to local people that we are committed to making Northgate a reality." The plans for the substantial redevelopment of an under-utilised area of Chester city centre comprises a site fronting onto Northgate Street and behind Watergate Street and encompasses much of the northwest quarter of the city inside the Roman walls. The historic town hall will remain untouched at the heart of the development, along with all other buildings of architectural and historical importance. An open style streetscape will be reintroduced based on the historic street pattern lost more than 30 years ago. The new quarter will integrate with the city’s historic townscape, with modern buildings providing two level ‘rows’ of shops. Work should be completed in 2008.

14 Chester News

All aboard for the sight-seers’ Safari tours
A NEW series of sight-seeing excursions takes to the road in March thanks to Rural Safari Bus Tours. The tours will take residents and visitors on exciting trips into the Cheshire, Shropshire and North Wales countryside. Departing from Chester Visitor Centre by the Roman Amphitheatre (and by Chester Cathedral on Sundays), the tours will explore the secret delights and hidden treasures of the surrounding area. A full tour programme is currently being developed including Land of the Red Dragon, Chomping around Cheshire, Secret Gardens, Haunted Cheshire, Border Battles and River of No Return. Other trips in development are excursions to off-beat events like Bawming of the Thorn, Erddig Apple Festival, Carriage Driving Contests and World Worm Brook next August and Pontcysyllte 200 – the bicentenary of Britain’s biggest sail-inthe-sky aqueduct in November! Full details of the tours are to be featured in What’s On in Chester and the new web-site where people can book on-line. Tickets will be on sale at the Town Hall Tourist Information Centre and Chester Visitor Centre. The new £205,000 project is being funded by Cheshire Rural Recovery Programme and Leader+ England and Wales and co-ordinated by Chester City Council Tourism. It runs until September 2007. Contact: Gerald Tattum, Tourism Development Officer Tel: 01244 402150 e-mail:

Charming Championships and Sing with a Welsh Choir. Mainstream events will also be covered including crowd-pullers like Holly Holy Day Civil War Battle, the Motorbike Mania of Thundersprint 2005, the massive Inland Waterways Festival sailing into Preston

Site nets top praise
A NEW Chester website re-launched at the end of 2004 has been rated as one of the best in its field in the entire country.
At the time of going to press Chester City Council’s new website was ranked 13th out of 460 council websites by Site Morse, one of Britain’s leading automated website testing organisations. Trafford Metropolitan Borough Council was first while Doncaster MBC was at the bottom of the table. Rankings are based on how the website functions, how accessible it is, how it performs and on technical points of design. The city council’s site scored highly thanks to a "content management system," which allows staff throughout the council to update and manage the content. Many of the improved features were driven by public comments. The website now includes: a completely new search engine, structure and A-Z system, making it even easier to find information text-only and print versions, which are easier to read a design for use with screen reader technology, which helps visually impaired users more information and advice for dealing with emergencies, health and education matters and a ‘news and views’ section a webcam covering the summer Chester Amphitheatre excavations and two more planned - one of them focusing on the Town Hall City council portfolio holder for e-government and deputy leader councillor John Price said: "People can get a great deal from the new improved site. From telling us about graffiti that needs removing to viewing stray dogs in need of a new home. Residents can use it to pay council tax while tourists can book hotels online. Anyone can read our press releases or the latest issue of our magazine Chester News. "The website is there to help people contact us, find out about council services and get general advice. It has been ranked in the top 10 district council websites in two out of the last three years, so to be 13th in comparison with all councils in the UK - district, county, unitary and metropolitan, is a marvellous achievement by our dedicated web team and shows the council’s commitment to egovernment " To check out the new website log on to

Chester News 15

Cash aid to improve play zones
WE have recently invested in improvements to three children’s play areas across the District bringing them up to standards laid down by the Disability Discrimination Act. Chester City Council set aside £25,000 for playground improvements split between sites run by the council, parish councils and local management groups. Up to £14,000 was ploughed into works at Grosvenor Park, Sandy Lane and Alexandra Park which were completed in the New Year. Grosvenor Park A flush level roundabout so children or carers can get on to the roundabout without having to step up to the platform. This makes it easier for children with mobility problems to play together with other children. Two new spring mobiles with upper body supports for children who need them to help them play. Sandy Lane A dish roundabout that provides access for children whatever their abilities. A 'talking bob' - an interactive stand alone play item that 'talks' to the user through a wind up mechanism. Alexandra Park Music pipes and small seating area. A 'talking bob'.

Children from Dorin Park School help the Lord Mayor open the new play area at Grosvenor Park

Booklet spells out 20 years of development plans

Big Picture...
SCORES of development schemes that will literally shape Chester District’s future for the next 20 years have been outlined in one easy to read booklet for the first time.
Project Chester is a 57 page illustrated guide to a series of exciting programmes in and around the city, piecing together the jigsaw of development, regeneration and improvement schemes earmarked or already underway. The book outlines the city council’s "big picture" which covers culture, tourism, the economy, sport and leisure, enterprise, wildlife conservation and Chester at night. It also highlights how we and our partners are successfully tackling "crime and grime issues." Following extensive consultation in 2001 the city council and leading partners launched a community plan known as Chester’s Way Ahead, a long-term blueprint for action on social and economic issues facing the District. Project Chester is an attempt to put our contribution to that plan into one comprehensive document to stimulate discussion between the partners. In a joint statement city council leader, Councillor David Evans, deputy leader, Councillor John Price and leader of the opposition, Councillor Margaret Parker said: "With our partners Chester City Council is delivering a challenging agenda and Project Chester now illustrates this big picture that is unfolding all around us, in the city and rural areas. "Chester is being transformed, but this transformation is based upon the people of Chester, its culture and its distinctive character. We aim to make Chester a city of world stature and we are asking residents, businesses and all organisations here to join us in our endeavours" Project Chester is available in hard copy or on disc from Elaine Penlington on 01244 402218 or online


Don’t lose your voice – make democracy work
CHESTER City Council’s electoral team make it possible for you to have your say in all elections- Parliamentary, European, Chester City Council, Cheshire County Council and Parish Council. The busy team: books up to 98 premises for polling stations employs more than 300 staff to work at the various locations on polling day produces and processes 54,000 registration forms so people can be registered to vote organises the counting of the votes and declaring the results If you are not registered to vote you cannot vote in any election. There are no Chester City Council elections in 2005. There are Cheshire County Council elections and possibly a General Election. Make democracy work - use your vote.

16 Chester News

Ladies first as ‘Race for Life’ returns to city
THIS summer Cancer Research UK's Race for Life, supported by Chester City Council and Tesco, will be returning to Chester for the eighth time. The popular 5km, women-only fundraiser will take place on June 8 at Chester Zoo.
In 2004, more than 2,500 women in the area raised £136,000. This year, Cancer Research UK is hoping to top that figure with a fundraising target of £150,000 for women taking part in the Chester race. In total, Race for Life is aiming to raise £23million. The money raised provides much needed funds for Cancer Research UK’s continuing work to cure cancer. The latest figures show that more than 31,000 people in the North West are diagnosed with cancer every year. More than one in three people in Britain will develop cancer at some point in their life and one in four will die from the disease. Former Blue Peter presenter Sarah Greene is patron of Race for Life and has participated every year since it began. She said: ‘I have taken part in around 50 Race for Life events now, and while each has been different, the atmosphere at every one has been unforgettable. "I encourage anyone who hasn’t taken part in Race for Life before to try it this year. Not only is it a hugely enjoyable experience, it also contributes to a cause that touches most of our lives in some way. Those that have taken part before will, I am sure, need no encouragement to do so again.’ James Dunphy, Race Organiser, said: ‘Every single woman who takes part in and raises funds through Race for Life makes an invaluable contribution in the fight against cancer. Huge advances have been made in cancer research since Race for Life began in 1994, due in part to the £70 million that the past events have raised.’ Cancer Research UK's Race for Life is a series of 162 fundraising walks or runs open to all women across the UK. For more information and to sign up for this event and other similar events taking place in Chester please visit or phone 08705 134 314 As always, spaces in Race for Life are strictly limited, so if you want to raise money for Cancer Research UK, why not sign up today? Last year’s race was extremely popular with all places filling up nearly six weeks before the closing date! The event is open to women of all fitness levels.

Car crime campaign steps up a gear...
MEMBERS of the public are being urged to help mark the cards of car criminals in Chester and Ellesmere Port. The campaign to encourage the public to provide information about people who commit car crime enters its second phase this month as part of a joint initiative involving the local councils, police and fire service. Posters, leaflets, signs in car parks and news stories are just some of the tactics being employed to get the message across that providing information about car criminals can help catch offenders and reduce the amount of car theft, car break-ins and vandalism. The publicity follows on from last year’s campaign to encourage people to be more security conscious when leaving their cars parked, for example by making sure they lock their car properly, park in a welllit spot if possible and avoid leaving anything on display. Project Autocrime is an ongoing initiative supported by Chester Community Safety Partnership. In addition to the awareness campaigns, the initiative also involves special policing operations targeting the few persistent criminals that commit the majority of vehicle crimes in Chester and Ellesmere Port. If you have any information about car crime, or any other crime, call Crimestoppers on 0800 555111.

‘Every single woman who takes part makes an invaluable contribution in the fight against cancer.’

Chester News 17

Grant scheme to give new firms a lift...
A NEW grant scheme to help local businesses in Chester has been given the go ahead. Grants of up to £3000 could be available after Chester City Council approved a scheme that would see the rent income from one of its own properties ploughed back into the community to help new and existing businesses and social enterprises across the District set up or develop a project. To qualify applicants must be based in the Chester District, employ fewer than 50 people, have an annual turnover of less than £2.5m and have a viable project. They must also be up to date on council tax or business rates and have the necessary planning consents.

SAY CHEESE: competitors enjoy the traditional cheese rolling contest in Eastgate Street

Celebrity chef aims to cook up a spring treat

Sizzling success
CELEBRITY chef Gary Rhodes will be among those showing off their culinary skills at the Chester Food and Drink Festival this spring.
Chester will host its fourth Food and Drink Festival from Saturday March 26 to Sunday April 3 to coincide with the school Easter holidays so families can enjoy the food, drink and special events in and around the city. The 2005 festival, with a substantially increased programme of events, celebrities and celebrations will be centred on a massive marquee in the Crown Court car park next to Chester Castle. Marquee events include a large producers’ market from Bank Holiday Monday March 28 to Wednesday March 30, which will act as a showcase for the district’s impressive variety of top quality produce, from cheeses, meat products, fruit, vegetables, ice cream, shrimps, salmon and cider to homemade chocolates and preserves. The marquee will also hold celebrity chef demonstrations throughout the festival, and the Gala dinner on Thursday, March 31.So far, celebrity chefs Gary Rhodes, Simon Rimmer and Andrew Nutter have signed up to the event. There will be special offer meal deals and events at top venues across the region with a new focus on regional and local retailers and producers. The festival is run by a committee of representatives from the local food and drink sector chaired by Stephen Wundke who has extensive experience and is involved with city restaurants Pastarazzi, The Globe and the historic Boat Inn at Erbistock in north Wales. He said: "Our region has an amazing wealth of fine foods and produce, as well as many fantastic eating and drinking venues. The aim of this festival is to encourage all the different sectors to work together to produce an event befitting this historic and exciting city, its residents and visitors. "The marquee will be a venue for a host of different events such as wine tasting, cookery demonstrations and a cocktail competition. It will add to the special offers at eating and drinking venues around Chester and Cheshire that proved to be so popular in 2004 and the key events like the cheese rolling competition on Wednesday, March 23, the ale assize and the medieval banquet on Saturday, April 2. "It all adds up to an extra special reason for residents and visitors to be out and about Chester during Easter Week." For more information check out:

The city council, which will administer the scheme, hopes the new initiative will enable smaller businesses to grow while at the same time meeting its own aims of raising employment, environmental improvements and quality standards. Applicants will be encouraged to take a work placement, agree to a free environmental audit and demonstrate a commitment to social or community contracts. Any grant would not exceed 75% of the cost of the project with the applicant meeting at least 25% of the cost themselves. Cabinet portfolio holder of the economy, Councillor Reggie Jones said the scheme demonstrated the council’s willingness to back the local economy with significant resources. He said: "This grant regime will harness the knowledge and experience of those involved in the city centre, the rural areas and those developing the neighbourhood renewal strategy for Chester District. "It provides support for existing businesses and offers an incentive for the development of social enterprises essential to stimulate economic activity. This in turn will foster business growth and create job opportunities."

18 Chester News

Maintaining our
YOUR council has a committee that looks at the standards of public life and public service we provide.
The committee aims to promote high ethical standards in the organisation so residents and others dealing with us can continue to rely on the good name of Chester City Council and its councillors and have trust in the democratic process. The Ethics and Standards Committee

has seven councillors and three noncouncillor members selected following a public advertisement and an interview. There is also a parish council representative. The committee’s first annual report declared that it was satisfied that the council has been acting ethically. You can view the annual report on our web site at Nationally, the Standards Board for England seeks to promote high standards in public life and will


investigate any conduct that appears not to reach nationally set standards. You can contact the board on or Tel: 0845 078 8181. Councils must appoint a ‘Monitoring Officer’. At Chester, this is Charles Kerry, solicitor to the council, who can help answer any queries. He can be contacted on 01244 402118 or via e-mail on

How the Cabinet works
FULL Council appoints the cabinet, which is made up of the Council Leader, Deputy Leader and Portfolio Holders. The cabinet meets once a month and must make decisions within the council’s policy framework and budget.
●Cllr Paul Roberts, resources ●Cllr Bob Rudd, community safety ●Cllr Mia Jones, health and well-being

●Cllr David Evans, Council Leader and community leadership

●Cllr John Price, Deputy Leader and e government & technology

●Cllr Ann Farrell, culture

●Cllr Jim Latham, development

●Cllr Ruth Davidson, people, performance and improvement

●Cllr Rob Jordan, environment

●Cllr Reggie Jones, economy