News Archives

31 May 2003 09:00

Violent crime falls as sex attacks soar

VIOLENT crime was almost halved in Inverclyde last year - but sexual offences are on the rise. Figures released by the Scottish Executive show that murders and assaults dropped from 720 in 2001 to just 397 in 2002. But indecency offences, including rape, attempted rape, indecent assault and lewd behaviour, shot up from 74 to 106. Superintendent Iain Gordon, of Greenock police, said that he was pleased their efforts to reduce violent crime were paying off. And he promised that officers will continue to do everything they can to keep all types of offences down. He said: 'Violent crime is a concern in any area and Inverclyde is no different. 'We are targeting our resources towards reducing the unacceptable levels of violence we have witnessed in the past. 'We are determined in our resolve to try to make Inverclyde a safer place for people living and working in the area.' He added it was important to get the message out that people can help in the fight against crime. 'Everyone has a part to play, and I would urge parents in particular to make sure they know what their children are doing when they go out at night and do everything they can to discourage the culture of knife and weapon carrying.' Overall, the crime rate in Inverclyde remained stable with the total number of crimes recorded dropping slightly from 7,684 to 7,670. Just under 50 per cent of crimes in Inverclyde were cleared up by police.

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31 May 2003 09:00

Campaigner slams talks

A SAVE the Rankin campaigner has slammed the current consultation process on maternity services in Inverclyde as a waste of time. Liz Roders, secretary of the campaign against the closure of the maternity unit, hit out after attending a meeting held in Greenock by the Argyll and Clyde NHS Acute Trust Board on Wednesday. A panel from the Trust met the public to find out what they want for the future of maternity services in the district. Ms Roders said: 'In my opinion these meetings are a complete waste of money. I believe they have made their minds up as to what is happening - and it looks as though we are going to lose the consultant-led unit too. 'They were going on about big communities needing consultant-led maternity units, but as Paisley is a much bigger community than Inverclyde it looks likely that we will not get a unit.' According to Ms Roders, panel members tried to reassure those present that mothers would be continually assessed and risk assessments carried out regularly. She said: 'I asked if any of the mothers on the panel had had an emergency section. If an anaesthetist had not been in the Rankin when my first son Ryan was born, I believe he would have died.' A spokesman for the Acute Trust said: 'We are sorry people feel like this when every effort has gone into widespread and meaningful engagement with the public on this important issue. 'We can only reinforce that no decisions have been taken and none will be taken until the board has meetings to consider the outcome of the consultation and the option appraisal.'

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31 May 2003 09:00

Key donation boosts service

HUNDREDS of disabled people will be helped by a vital service"s new bus. Inverclyde Voluntary Council of Social Service now have 21 mini-buses which transport 400 people a day to training centres, nurseries, lunch clubs and leisure facilities. The service has spent £25,000 on a new bus for its fleet. Transport and running costs are being paid by Greenock"s Tontine and Lindores hotels, owned by Veronica and Joe Nellis. They have given £600 to Joe Barlas, honorary president of the Voluntary Council, which started in 1977 and has running costs of £10,000 a month. Mrs Nellis said: 'Joe and his 45 volunteer drivers and escorts do an amazing job. They are so dedicated.' Joe said: 'We are very grateful to Veronica and Joe for this valuable donation. It"s help like this that enables us to run what is the biggest organisation of its kind in Europe.' The service is provided free of charge every day of the week, with many of the trips being done in the evenings and weekends. Mr Barlas said: 'We need volunteer drivers willing to give a minimum of three hours a week. 'There is no financial reward, but a great deal of satisfaction knowing that you have helped so many people. 'We also need more escorts and we would be delighted to hear from anyone over 25 who phones us on 791939.' One of the groups which uses the buses is Inverclyde Enable. It runs clubs for about 100 adults with learning disabilities, many of whom also have a physical disability. Group secretary Leila Tarbet said: 'We meet twice a week in the evenings and rely very heavily on the voluntary council"s transport.'

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31 May 2003 09:00

The boy who cheated death

YOUNG Bradley Campbell is getting ready to go back to school - just two weeks after he cheated death in a nightmare accident outside his home. Six-year-old Bradley, who suffered a fractured skull when he was struck by a car, has staged a "miracle" recovery and is looking forward to seeing his friends. The only lasting effect of the accident will be a few weeks of missed karate lessons - and a new story to tell when he goes back to school on Wednesday. Bradley"s mum Margaret said: 'Looking at him now you would you would not know that anything had happened to him. 'He"s limping a bit and has a sore left leg from where the car hit him, but there"s no permanent damage. He"s getting bored now and just wants to see all his friends at school.' Bradley had just ran outside to play with his friends, but as he stepped off the pavement he was in collison with a car outside his home in Aberfoyle Road, Greenock. He was thrown into the air and landed on a concrete pavement. Margaret said: 'I was upstairs and I heard a thud and my husband Derrick shouting "It"s Bradley".' 'He had frozen when the car left the road and it hit him full-on. When we got to him he was crying and said that he had a very sore tummy.' Bradley suffered severe bruising down one side and it was feared he had internal injuries. Medics rushed him to Yorkhill Sick Children"s Hospital in Glasgow within hours of the accident. 'Margaret added: 'It was awful going up to Glasgow in the ambulance and terrible things were racing through my mind. 'I wouldn"t wish that feeling on my worst enemy.' Scans showed that the youngster, who goes to Oakfield primary, had no internal injuries to his body, only cuts and bruises. His skull had a slight fracture which will heal quickly because of his young age. And he"s had a great incentive to get better quickly - he gets to play with all the new toys he"s been sent by friends and relatives who have been wishing him a speedy recovery. Margaret said: 'We"ve been overwhelmed with all the cards and gifts we"ve been sent. 'The support and love we"ve been sent from all our friends and family has been brilliant. 'It"s at times like this that you realise how much they mean to you'.

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31 May 2003 09:00

Music to their ears

HITTING the right note for Inverclyde"s education convener Councillor Jim Mitchell are local members of a prestigious schools orchestra. Nine Inverclyde pupils, from Greenock Academy, Greenock High School and Gourock High School play in the West of Scotland Schools Symphony Orchestra which is holding a concert in Greenock next month. The musicians have been presented with the education department"s outstanding achievement badge by Provost Ciano Rebecchi. Inverclyde has the third-highest number of members out of the 12 council areas represented. Greenock Academy sixth-year student Caryl McCloy, back, third from right, is leader of the orchestra. She said: 'I have been in it for three years now and it is a really good experience.' Education director Bernard McLeary said: 'In the past, the number of children we had in the orchestra was quite low but there has been an improvement in the musical talent identified locally.' Other members are Fiona Clark, John Roy Garrod, Anne MacGregor, Gillian Martin, Alison McNeill, Elizabeth Todd, Stephen Armour and Amy McDougall. • The orchestra plays at Greenock Town Hall on Saturday 14 June at 7.30pm. Tickets will be available at the door.

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30 May 2003 09:00

Rekindling memories of old pubs

TOM Johnstone has launched a new exhibition on the subject of 'Old Greenock Pubs.' The exhibition by the artist and Telegraph cartoonist is being mounted in W H Smith"s window in Hamilton Gate, the Oak Mall, and it features paintings, historical photographs and printed ephemera. An example of the material is Tom"s accompanying painting of Graham"s Horseshoe bar around the 1950s. Tom said this establishment dated from the late 19th century, and was a popular howff with workers and management of Hasties and Mitchell"s engineering and plumbing works in the vicinity, two businesses now gone. The pub was demolished and the present Horseshoe Bar, Kilblain Street, stands in approximately the same location. Greenock has always had more than its fair share of places of liquid refreshment. In the year 1875 the town boasted 128 or so public houses! The majority disappeared during various clearances over the years after 1941 and into the late sixties, by which time the number was down to around 60. A good number of pubs were called by names other than those painted above the premises. Some names in the past were 'Bella"s' (Anchorage Bar, Cross Shore Street), 'The Deid Man"s Pub' in St Andrews Street, and 'The Boney Man"s Pub' in Baker Street. Others were known by the owner"s name or that of a previous proprietor, examples being Joe Reid"s, Shearer"s and Murphy"s (Snug). Tom Johnstone"s exhibition will run until July.

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30 May 2003 09:00

Anger as five schools face axe

THE Liberal Democrats have unveiled plans to close five primary schools in Inverclyde. But education convener Jim Mitchell"s proposals were given a rough ride by Labour. The plans were branded 'a shambles', a 'hotch potch' and 'insulting' by opposition politicians smarting from their party"s defeat to the Lib-Dems in the council elections a month ago. The five primaries the Lib-Dems want to close by June 2004 are: • Holy Family Primary in Port Glasgow, with pupils transferring to St Francis"s or St Michael"s • Boglestone in Port Glasgow, with pupils transferring to Slaemuir, Highholm or Clune Park • Springfield Primary in Greenock, with pupils transferring to Larkfield Primary • St Joseph"s in Greenock with pupils transferring to Holy Cross or Sacred Heart • St Mungo"s or St Kenneth"s or St Laurence"s in Greenock The Lib Dems have ditched a plan put forward by the last council to build a new school in Grieve Road, Greenock. Councillor Allan Robertson was first to respond after Councillor Jim Mitchell outlined his plans, which also included sacking external consultants and investigating other sources of funding, apart from PPP or not-for-profit trusts. He told the Lib Dems: 'It sounds like a shambles to me. There is no coherent strategy. 'There is the closure of a number of schools, but you have not once mentioned what you think is best for the education of the young people of Inverclyde.' His colleague, Labour leader, Councillor Stephen McCabe added: 'Shambles is being generous.' Next to enter the fray was Councillor Iain McKenzie said: 'It"s about cramming children in. It"s an insult to the people of Inverclyde.' But Councillor Mitchell dismissed his critics arguments as 'claptrap'. And he hit back saying that had the £2m which had been spent funding surplus places over eight years been spent on education policy then education in the area would be considerably better than it was. The director of education Bernard McLeary will now draw up a report, formalising the Lib Dem"s proposals which will be put out to public consultation.

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30 May 2003 09:00

Campaigners hit out at PO bosses

IRATE campaigners who failed to save Cardwell Bay post office claim a public consultation exercise was a sham. They say post office bosses: • Ignored a petition. • Failed to reply to a community council submission. • Used a visit to the area 'as a platform to preach the case for closure'. • Put out misleading information about the accessibility of alternative post offices in a leaflet advising of the closure. Now Cardwell Bay community council - which holds its next meeting on 11 June, just a week before the post office finally closes - wants some answers. 'The question is why did we lose our entitlement to a post office in Cardwell Bay and do we need to have it back,' said community council chairman Tom Livingstone. A spokesperson for Post Office Limited said a letter had gone out to the community council notifying them of the decision, but had been sent to a previous chairman"s address. She added that a new letter would be sent out. 'We remain confident the other local post offices at Kempock Street and Midton will be able to cope with the extra business,' she said. 'Ninety-five per cent of customers will still be within the target distance of a mile from a post office.' The closure, sparked by the retirement of the present postmaster, is part of a Network Reinvention Programme to close 3,000 post offices throughout the UK by 2005. More than 600 people signed a petition objecting to the closure and some 80 residents packed a public protest meeting organised by Cardwell Bay community councils.

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30 May 2003 09:00

Stitch in time

MEMBERS of the Hearts "n" Stitches Cross-Stitch Club, Port Glasgow, celebrate another successful exhibition of their work. Around 60 pieces were displayed in Port Glasgow Library for a week and around 100 people took the chance to vote for their favourites. Helen Loughray took first and second places with her "Spring Maiden" and cottage works. Sandra McCorkell came third with a motorbike cross-stitch. The club meets at Princes Street Gospel Mission. Holding the winning creations are, from left, Sadie Hughes, Ann Faulds, Mattie McCloy, Mima Dunbar and Sandra. Helen was not able to attend.

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30 May 2003 09:00

Patients hope for cash flow

A CAMPAIGN has been launched to raise £25,000 to upgrade the hydrotherapy pool at Inverclyde Royal Hospital. Around 60 patients use it every week to ease problems, including weak muscles and bone injuries. As the pool celebrated its 10th anniversary, physiotherapy manager, Paul Adams, said: 'The pool was built with the hospital in 1979, but it wasn"t opened until 10 years ago because there was no money to fund it.' However, he added that some of the plant work was now suffering from age and leaking pipes, which meant appointments had to be cancelled from time to time. It is hoped £25,000 can be raised, which will be added to NHS funds to upgrade the pool. Two-year-old Caitlin Walker from Wemyss Bay, who has cerebral palsy, attends the pool for treatment once a week to encourage her to use her right hand. Mum Alison donated a cheque for £100 to the pool fund on behalf of Hillend Children"s Centre. She said: 'I don"t know what we would have done without this pool. Caitlin is using her hand more often. Before, she used to have a clenched fist.' Helen Mulgrew from Port Glasgow added that her 10-year-old daughter Emma, who also has cerebral palsy, had been using the pool for the past eight years. David McFadden (42) attends the pool as a member of the Greenock branch of the National Association of Ankylosing Spondylitis, which is an arthritic condition. He said: 'If I did not have the pool it would be a struggle.' Staff at the hospital are hoping companies and members of the public will donate cash to the campaign. They are also planning activities such as an abseil, race night, sponsored swim, auction, raffle and quiz night.

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30 May 2003 09:00

Rekindling memories of old pubs

TOM Johnstone has launched a new exhibition on the subject of 'Old Greenock Pubs.' The exhibition by the artist and Telegraph cartoonist is being mounted in W H Smith"s window in Hamilton Gate, the Oak Mall, and it features paintings, historical photographs and printed ephemera. An example of the material is Tom"s accompanying painting of Graham"s Horseshoe bar around the 1950s. Tom said this establishment dated from the late 19th century, and was a popular howff with workers and management of Hasties and Mitchell"s engineering and plumbing works in the vicinity, two businesses now gone. The pub was demolished and the present Horseshoe Bar, Kilblain Street, stands in approximately the same location. Greenock has always had more than its fair share of places of liquid refreshment. In the year 1875 the town boasted 128 or so public houses! The majority disappeared during various clearances over the years after 1941 and into the late sixties, by which time the number was down to around 60. A good number of pubs were called by names other than those painted above the premises. Some names in the past were 'Bella"s' (Anchorage Bar, Cross Shore Street), 'The Deid Man"s Pub' in St Andrews Street, and 'The Boney Man"s Pub' in Baker Street. Others were known by the owner"s name or that of a previous proprietor, examples being Joe Reid"s, Shearer"s and Murphy"s (Snug). Tom Johnstone"s exhibition will run until July.

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30 May 2003 09:00

Telegraph Memories

10 years ago Luv a duck, it"s the Princess! PRINCESS Margaret went racing in Inverclyde yesterday. But it was more like Aylesbury than Epsom, for the "runners" in the 3.30 at Ardgowan Estates, Inverkip were . . . DUCKS. The Princess made a surprise appearance at a charity event run by Gourock Rotary Club. The "course" was a 200-yard sprint over a stretch of the River Kip which runs through the estate. The Princess has been spending the weekend with estate owner, Sir Houston Shaw Stewart and Lady Lucinda, with whom she has long been friendly, after her visit to Bagatelle and the Ardgowan Hospice on Friday. (24 May) Green light for waterside centre A £12.5 million leisure complex is set to open at Greenock waterfront within three years. District councillors last night gave the green light for a long-awaited swim and ice centre - and are likely to sell Greenock town centre to pay for it. The ambitious plan was warmly welcomed. Building the leisure centre on waterfront land behind the bullring car park will encourage the private sector to look seriously at providing an adjacent cinema and bowling alley. (25 May) Pool opens INVERCLYDE Royal Hospital has opened a special pool for physiotherapy patients - 14 years late! It was built into the hospital when it opened in 1979, but was never opened because of staff and money shortages. Now both have been found to get the pool in business so patients will no longer have to travel to Paisley or Glasgow. (26 May) Containers GOUROCK Horticultural Society are planning to show the public how to prepare floral containers for the Telegraph"s Floralfest container competition at an open night demonstration. Some of the society"s top amateurs will be giving the public helpful tips on the selection of plants and how to arrange them for what could be a prize-winning display. (28 May) Crackdown THE police and Inverclyde District Council are teaming up to crack down on drug dealers. Dealers could be evicted from their council houses if they use them to conduct their illegal business. A confidential report on the subject is to be debated on Tuesday night by the housing committee behind closed doors. (29 May) 25 years ago Job crisis PRIMARY teachers leaving college this summer stand little chance of getting posts in Inverclyde. For, as school rolls continue to fall, new teachers are not required. Even some existing teachers face being moved elsewhere. Inverclyde"s falling birth-rate is just part of the general trend in Strathclyde, and each year fewer and fewer infants enrol. But next season will see an all-time low in some schools. Although final numbers will not be known until the first day of next session, most head teachers already have a good idea of the 1978-79 infant class sizes. (26 May) New award MORTON fans will be delighted to hear of the latest presentation to team chairman Hal Stewart. It was no cup he was receiving, but a gallon bottle of whisky awarded to him as a runner-up in a Football Personality of the Month contest held by a distillery. Hal was chosen by a panel of Scottish football journalists as a deserved winner for steering Morton into the Premier League. The winner was Rangers captain John Greig who also received a gallon of whisky plus £100. (25 May) New buses TWENTY-FIVE new double-deck buses are to be introduced to Western SMT"s Inchgreen depot over the next six months at a cost of £800,000. They will help to modernise the Greenock fleet and should also increase the number of one-man buses. The new buses are designed for comfort with soft seats and wide aisles bringing a touch of comfort to passengers. The tidy cab design is also intended to make life easier for drivers. (24 May)

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29 May 2003 09:00

Safety probe at Nat-Semi

OFFICERS from the Health and Safety Executive are inspecting National Semiconductor today after fears of a chemical leak sparked a full-scale alert at the Greenock plant. Production halted yesterday morning, after a call for an ambulance to take three workers to hospital resulted in a chemical response team being sent to the factory. Now managing director Gerry Edwards is demanding a meeting with health chiefs, claiming the ambulance service over-reacted to their request for help after a woman fainted and another woman and man felt ill. He claims the ambulance service quizzed a first aider, asking if the employees had been contaminated or if they worked with chemicals. He confirmed that they said they did work with chemicals, but he wasn"t aware that there had been a chemical leakage. Mr Edwards said: 'This was an over-reaction.' A spokesman for the company later added that Mr Edwards was taken by surprise by the way the incident had escalated and was not critical of the emergency services, but wanted to review how incidents are reported to get appropriate medical help. An ambulance service spokesperson said: 'We deployed the appropriate resources in response to the symptoms being described over the phone and the possibility of a chemical spillage.' Gerry Doherty, assistant divisional officer with Strathclyde Fire Brigade said: 'No hazardous materials in respect of a leak or spillage were found in the factory.' A Nat-Semi spokeswoman said today: 'After a thorough investigation today by National Semiconductor"s response team and the emergency services, no faults were found in the factory. Production restarted at 9.30 last night.'

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29 May 2003 09:00

Drama unfolds at plant

NATIONAL Semiconductor"s Greenock plant was at the centre of a full-scale alert yesterday amid fears that three workers had been contaminated in a chemical spill. Fire crews, ambulances, police and a specialist paramedic decontamination unit rushed to the factory after a woman working in the 'wet deck' area fainted and two other members of staff - a man and a woman - complained of feeling unwell. The emergency services, called by the ambulance crews when it was revealed the workers had been near potentially dangerous materials, sent three fire engines and a unit of officers trained to deal with chemical alerts. Wearing rubber suits that protect them from hazardous materials, the firemen checked the area where the woman had been working. Police cordoned off a large area of the plant"s grounds for most of the morning. The decontamination unit was set up outside by specialist ambulance crews to treat the three workers. It was made up of two tents which housed portable water sprays and powerful detergent to clean the workers. While Strathclyde Fire Brigade"s Technical Support Unit checked the plant for any possible chemical or radioactive contamination, the three people were taken to a medical area where they were checked by first aid personnel. They were then strapped to trolleys and wheeled to the decontamination tents. Inside, they were stripped by paramedics wearing full environmental protection suits and scrubbed with warm water and detergent. Their clothes, which could also have been contaminated with lethal substances, were separated into plastic bags outside. After the decontamination process was complete they were escorted into ambulances, attached to the unit by a long tarpaulin, and rushed to hospital. Two of those taken to hospital were allowed home yesterday.

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29 May 2003 09:00

Mane attraction

PUPILS got in the saddle at Ardgowan Riding Centre in Inverkip as part of a sports project to encourage youngsters to become more active. First-year children from Greenock High have been attending the centre as part of the school sports co-ordinator scheme to give them the chance to try out new activities. Eight children have been learning how to ride and look after the horses in the six-week pilot project. Kerry Blance, who is a languages teacher at the school and a sports co-ordinator, said: 'It gives children a taster of a sport they might not have thought of trying before. 'We hope it will also forge links with the centre and might encourage pupils to take up horse riding in their own time.' She added that the sports project, which has been running for the past three years with money from the lottery and sportscotland, had been very successful and bids were already in place to secure funding permanently. Kevin McAllister, who wants to be a vet, said: 'It"s really enjoyable. It means you can learn about what the different parts of the horse are called.' Instructor Emma Wright said: 'They are all doing very well and are enjoying their time here.' Greenock Academy pupils have also been attending the centre as part of their activities week.

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29 May 2003 09:00

Wind farm backers reject noise claims

THE developers of a proposed wind farm behind Greenock today denied that they have done a u-turn over noise levels. Protest group "Keep Corlic Wild" say Airtricity originally promised that the speed of the turbine blades would be the same in all winds to keep down noise. But now the group say the speed will be 'variable'. Airtricity want to build 23 turbines on Corlic Hill, each of them 312-feet high. The apparent difference of opinion was highlighted today by Corlic group member Bill Riddell, who said: 'Airtricity produced a leaflet at their information day in the Strone in March. It said that the aerodynamic noise created by the blades cutting the air cannot be completely eliminated, but is greatly reduced by the control of the blade speed. 'The leaflet said: "This is one of the reasons the turbine blade speed is constant in all wind speeds".' But he pointed out that information now produced by Airtricity in their environmental impact assessment is different. It states: 'Rotational speed is from 9 to 17 rotations per minute. The blades are carefully designed to minimise noise.' Airtricity development engineer, Shane King, said: 'The speed builds up to a constant level of about 17. It takes about 30 seconds to reach that speed.' Mr Riddell also said a report from the Dutch university of Groningen casts serious doubts on Airtricity"s assurances that turbine sound levels will not create a nuisance to residents living within 800 to 1,200 metres. Mr Riddell said: 'The nearest house to Corlic will be 800 metres away, but ScottishPower specify a minimum distance of 1,000 metres between houses and their own turbines.' Mr King replied: 'Different turbines have different outputs. We are working to the strictest government guidelines.'

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28 May 2003 09:00

Attempts to trace family and friends

ALLISON CLINE from Canada is trying to track down her family"s Greenock connection. She has 'run into a brick wall' and hopes readers may be able to assist. Allison tells me: 'My great grandmother Elizabeth Gillespie was born to Joseph Gillespie and Jean McDougall sometime in the 1850s but can find no record of her birth, no record of a christening and no record of her parents" marriage although the census records state that all three of them were born in Greenock. 'Joseph Gillespie was a blacksmith and I have located him in the 1851 census as living in Greenock, single and 40 years of age. 'Elizabeth married William Brown and lived in Greenock where my great grandfather worked as a railway fireman and then returned to being a sailor. He died at sea in 1886. 'They had two sons, Robert and George Brown, who were evetuanlly sent to Canada through Quarriers.' Allison will be coming to Scotland for the first time in September and would be delighted to meeting a member of her family or even see a gravestone relating to her great-great grandparents. She can be contacted as 2356 Grenoble, Unit 8, Pepertree Village, Sudbury, Ontario, Canada P3A 4M5. Alternatively, her e-mail address is:allison.cline@city.greatersudbury.on.ca Meanwhile, Frances Sheker, nee Willey, a Greenockian now living in the States, is trying to contact old friends. She is hoping to hear from a former Greenock couple who moved to Bedford and then bought a house in Inverkip. The couple are Jean, nee Mountain, and Hugh. Please give me a call if you can help.

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28 May 2003 09:00

Full-scale alert hits Nat-Semi

HUNDREDS of National Semiconductor wor- kers were evacuated this morning and several taken to hospital after an emergency alert. Fire engines - including a decontamination unit - and ambulances raced to the Greenock computer chip plant after a worker fainted in a cleaning and processing area and others complained about feeling unwell. A company spokesman said he was unable to comment on reports of a leak at the Larkfield Industrial Estate factory. He said: 'Our emergency response team went into action immediately. We are still at the early stage of trying to find out what happened. We are trying to understand the implications. Our concerns are with the individuals involved.' He added: 'All appropriate precautions were implemented and some people have been taken to hospital.' A worker said: 'Someone fainted in the clean-up area and others complained they were feeling unwell. Production was stopped by management at 9am.' Around 550 workers were evacuated from the "wet deck" area and moved into the plant"s canteen. Transco said they had no reports of a gas leak.

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28 May 2003 09:00

Axe hangs over primary school

SPRINGFIELD Primary School in Greenock will close in June next year under initial new education proposals to be discussed today. Under the plan, put forward by the new education convener Councillor Jim Mitchell, Springfield pupils will transfer to Larkfield Primary School at the start of the following school year. There are currently 122 pupils on the roll at Springfield and 116 at Larkfield, though Larkfield has 256 places. If the closure goes ahead, Springfield Primary will be the first school to shut in a shake-up of education in Inverclyde - which is going ahead despite the jettisoning by the Liberal Democrats of the previous Labour council"s public private partnership scheme. But how the new plans - which include initial proposals for new primary schools in Robert Street, Port Glasgow, and Gilmour Street, Greenock - are to be financed is not yet known. A report to today"s education meeting said that while no further time would be spent processing PPP for education, neither would there be any consideration given to a 'not for profit trust' for education - the route followed by other councils who have rejected PPP. It added that officials be instructed to investigate all other ways of raising funds. And in a move to cut costs, the report recommended that the services of outside consultants for legal and financial services should be dispensed with.

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28 May 2003 09:00

"Drivers are doing 70mph in 30 limit"

RESIDENTS have branded Greenock"s Lyle Road 'a race track' and say it is only a matter of time before someone is killed by speeding motorists. Now they are calling for speed traps in a bid to solve the problem. New dad Iain Miller, who has lived in the street for the last three years, said the problem seems to be getting worse. He is planning to build a driveway to enable him to park his car off the road. He said several neighbours have suffered from the effects of out of control cars which have caused damage to gardens and several parked cars over the past few years. Thirty-one year old Iain, who works as a buyer for an electronics company, said: 'If, from time to time, the police would set up speed traps, people might have second thoughts about coming over the hill at speed.' He added his concerns about safety had been heightened since the birth of baby Ella seven weeks ago. He said: 'I am concerned about my car being parked in the street but, more importantly, my wife Fiona is now walking up the hill with the pram regularly.' He claimed motorists were often driving at 70 miles per hour and above in the 30mph zone and added: 'I think someone is going to be killed before long. 'You never see the police up there. If you are doing 35mph along East Hamilton Street you will get done but, if drivers do 70mph over Lyle Hill, there is no one there and this is a residential area. 'We have seen a lot more speeding motorists throughout the night recently because we have been up feeding the baby. It is like a race track.' Neighbour William Gamble said he had lived in the road for 30 years. 'It has been getting worse over the past couple of years. As soon as they come over the hill they just put their foot down.' Another neighbour, Scott Lindsay (28), who works as a clerical assistant, said something had to be done and suggested road bumps could be the answer. Inspector John Malcolm of the traffic department at Greenock police station said: 'There have been complaints and we have carried out surveys in the past. There is not a constant speeding issue. From time to time excessive speeds have been recorded and we will give the area extra attention.'

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