Creating a mapped Preston for everyone

The Preston map is beginning to take shape

The Preston map is beginning to take shape

Ever heard of an Open Street Map? No, it’s not that thing Google is doing where they drive past when you’re getting changed or snap your dog having a wee up against the lampost. Open Street Map is where people can help to map their local areas properly and it’s happening in Preston.

Preston has a small but dedicated street mapping community. Luke Bosman, 36, from Brockholes Wood, Preston, is one of them.

“I got into mapping when I was off work for a time and bought a GPS system,” he says, “from there I was out cycling and I found that the maps needed some work. I went online and I started to find out I could do mapping myself and help other cyclists.”

Open Street Map allows users to download maps to their own systems, make edits and upload them back onto the web for others to see. Think of it as Wikipedia for maps.

The Open Street Map community in Preston have been beavering away over the last 18 months and now the Eastern area of Preston is well covered, according to Luke.

He said: “We’re hoping that people will use the Open Street Map version, as it’s a better quality map. We take the maps out and go on routes and then add the changes that happen. You’d be surprised how inaccurate Google Maps and even the official Ordnance Survey maps can be.

“It’s one of those nerdy things that really pays off. We want people to be able to plan walking and cycle routes and be confident in knowing that those routes are correct.

“The best thing is that if you’re on your walk and something doesn’t match up to the map, you can log on and make that change yourself.”

Luke recommends getting a good GPS system if you want to get into your mapping. The Open Street Map site has details of which systems are compatible, but it’s possible your mobile phone could be.

Luke now has plans to organise a mapping meet-up, where a group of people meet and then map set routes, most likely with a few beers afterwards, and his long-term aim is to deliver something for the Preston Guild in 2012.

“Wouldn’t it be great if we could deliver a detailed map of Preston for the Guild?”, enthuses Luke, “to be able to hand over a living and breathing map, created by the people of Preston, that is second to none in terms of accuracy.”

If you’re interested in Open Street Map and would like to get involved then you can get in touch with Luke Bosman via Twitter.


Views of people at the Penwortham Leisure Centre public meeting

Over 500 people packed into the hall at Penwortham Girls School to hear the debate

Over 500 people packed into the hall at Penwortham Girls School to hear the debate

Below are an assortment of views that the people of Penwortham, and the surrounding area, expressed at the public meeting about the potential closure of Penwortham Leisure Centre.

A man who worked for the company that look after the leisure centre said:

The security of the general public at the centre is taken very seriously. I look upon the site more as a leisure centre and community centre than as part of the school.

A male resident with a child at Priory College said:

The council has a child safety officer, has the child safety officer seen any evidence that the leisure centre poses a risk to children? I also believe the school encourages pupils to make use of the facilities when members of the public are known to be in there, isn’t this contradictory? Why haven’t the council and school agreed to do something more than three years ago if the agreement dates from 1993? As a parent, I have not received any communication about this from the college until now, why?

A female resident, who spoke on behalf of her whole family that use the leisure centre, said:

I’m upset and apalled that you think we all need CRB checks for any of us to use the leisure centre while children are there.

A male representative from the local branch of the English Squash and Racquet Club said:

This decision doesn’t make sense. Look at the growth we’re starting to see in people taking up sport and exercise and we’ve got £1 million of funding to do it. We need to utilise facilities in these leisure centres more rather than have them closed during the day.

A female resident said:

I am very concerned even if the centre closes during the day. I take my child to the swimming group during the day, what provision will there be for mums and toddlers swimming lessons if the centre does close its doors to the public? The closure would be a severe disavantage to the local community and also could alienate the school from the local community.

William Hague, a resident from Longton who has been using the centre for 15 years, said:

What sort of figure is the school expecting the local authority to find to fund the proposed work needed? I’ve heard a figure of around £2 million. Also, Fulwood High School has a leisure centre attached and yet their agreement seems to work well, why can this not happen at Penwortham?

The headteacher replied that the school was only looking for an investment of around £250,00 – a figure quoted by the County Council – for investment in a multi-use sports area such as astroturf pitches.

David Burrows, the MP for South Ribble, said:

I have been involved in this issue for some time and I chaired a meeting in February 2008 to try and get a resolution. All we want to see if our children safe and the facilities available to the public during the day. If this dispute is about child protection what physical issues are there that need to be solved to set the child protection issues right? I met Ed Balls, education minister, earlier today and he said that if we needed a senior officer with expertise in dual use agreements, then we could have one visit us and try and help us seek an agreement. The three parties have got to sort this out for the sake of the people of Penwortham.

A local resident said:

I find it very interested what the headteacher had to say. I think there is an underlying agenda here, does the school want sole use of the leisure centre so that it can let it out and derive income? Also, as I recall, £80,000 was collected, of public money, to build that leisure centre in the first place so it is the people’s leisure centre.

A local resident, who is also a mother, said:

We’ve talked a lot about safeguarding children, and it is about prevention. It is not about ‘ifs’ and ‘buts’, it’s about making sure the right prevention methods are in place to protect our children. I know how manipulative councillors can be, but the safety of children must be put first.

Ruth Sharpe, a local resident and who works at the University of Central Lancashire, said:

Clearly the needs of the community need to be met. Just look around this room, we have an ageing population and a facility like this is needed to take the strain off the NHS. All of you across the board need to sort this out.

A female local resident, said:

If you do get an agreement by August, will it be a permanent agreement or will we just be back here again having this debate further down the line?

A female resident presented 690 letters of objection from local residents, a lot of them young people, about the proposed closure. There was also mention of the Facebook group that local residents had set up to save the leisure centre. She said:

I hope I can give these to you and you read them. A lot of people have taken the time to write these and I hope it shows you how people feel.

Stuart Cohen, a pupil at Priory College, said:

While there hasn’t been an issue yet at the college, anyone can still wander around and as pupils who knows what could happen. Our safety is surely the most important thing.

This is just a selection of the views that were aired throughout the meeting, that lasted nearly 2 hours.

Why isn’t Preston’s MP on Twitter?

Mark Hendrick is Preston's MP

Mark Hendrick is Preston's MP

I was browsing the web and came across this excellent site that lists which MPs are on Twitter and gives you an insight into the corridors of power. It’s called Tweetminster. It got me thinking, is Preston’s MP Mark Hendrick on Twitter?

I checked out the list of MPs on the Tweetminster site and couldn’t find him. I tried his own website, no mention of Twitter there. I tried searching Twitter, but no luck – was not registered.

I think it’s great if MPs are on Twitter, it’s a top way of being transparent and also connecting with your electorate and the people who you are supposed to serve once elected into office. A great example of an MP using Twitter is Labour MP tom_watson (there’s also Tories and Lib Dems using it well, I just picked the best example I could find before someone shouts at me for being bias).

So, I found the contact page on Mark Hendrick’s website and wrote him an email with the subject: Twitter – why aren’t you on it?

Dear Mr Hendrick,

I’d like to inform you about a great web service called Twitter (you may have seen it being talked about in the media). There is a website tracking which MPs are using the service, to keep in touch with their constituents and improve the transparency of the democratic process, called Tweetminister ( I took a look through the list of MPs using the service and couldn’t find your name.

Preston has an ever increasing Twitter community (

) and it would be a great move if a public figure such as yourself were to join in the conversation.

At Preston Blog ( we’ve been using Twitter to connect with people in the Preston area and we’d be happy to show you the ropes. We’ve even used Twitter to organise Preston’s first ‘Tweetup’ ( where local people will be coming together to discuss ‘How the web can be used for Preston Guild 2012’ and using twitter and other web 2.0 tools to capture and bottle that discussion.

I hope you’ll look into using Twitter, as other MPs such as Tom Watson ( have, and you’ll see that is still available. Get on there and register it quick!

We look forward to tweeting at you.

Preston Blog

It’ll be interesting to see what he has to say in response. Maybe he’ll even make an appearance at Preston Tweetup? I’d like to think that he’ll get on Twitter and respond by tweeting at us – that’d be impressive. Twitter is a great tool for sharing ‘what are you doing?’, and for an MP to be able to tell us what they are doing – we elected them in after all – I’d take interest in that. I know he’s probably a very busy man, but I’d like to be able to follow what the very busy elected official is.
If you’d like to drop Mark Hendrick an email and tell him about Twitter, feel free. His contact details are on his website. I’m sure if lots of us tell him about it, it’ll seem like even more of a good idea.

Preston Blog takes on music, film and entertainments correspondent

Kirsty Higginson will be Preston Blog's music, film and entertainments correspondent

Kirsty Higginson will be Preston Blog's music, film and entertainments correspondent

Preston Blog is branching out a little bit and as the site has been growing in popularity over the last few weeks I’ve decided to hire an eager journalism student from UCLan as the Preston Blog music, film and entertainments correspondent. Kirsty Higginson will be starting as of Friday and covering the beat.

She’s keen, wants to write about the local music, film and entertainments scene. So if you’re in a local band, a local director, actor, producer or work in the entertainments industry get in touch with and we’ll hook you up.

Kirsty already has her own blog – The Blunt Side of the World – and she’s on twitter @Kirstyhigginson – so feel free to go and follow her, she won’t mind.

Her first project is going to be to create a directory (a bit like the Twitter one we’ve got going on) of bands in Preston and the local area.

Interview with Preston actor Mark Strange

Mark Strange is from Leyland but has now appeared in various Hollywood movies

Mark Strange is from Leyland but has now appeared in various Hollywood movies

Preston Blog managed to snatch a few quick words with Preston based action-adventure actor Mark Strange:

Preston Blog: Hi Mark. Hope you’re well, how are you doing today?

Mark Strange: I’m great thanks, I’ve been very busy, it’s a little hectic.

PB: What have you been upto?

MS: I’ve been focused on developing my career as an actor. I’ve just finished working on my 3rd feature film as an actor and producer – Bodyguard: A New Beginning.

PB: How is 2009 looking for Mark Strange?

MS: Super busy!!! I’ve got a lot of projects in development for work as an actor and a producer. I am also looking forward to taking up new challenges as both an actor and producer.

PB: Have you been back to Preston recently?

MS: I was home for Christmas to visit family and friends. I like to spend time in the North West of England, it’s a cool place.

PB: Do you have fond memories of Preston?

MS: Yes. I grew up in Leyland, which is next door to Preston, so I have all of my childhood memories. I’ve also had some great nights out in Preston with my friends.

PB: Where’s your favourite place to hang out in Preston?

MS: I haven’t been there for a while but my favourite place to hang out is Browns/Truth – it’s a popular bar/nightspot in Preston.

PB: What’s been your favourite role as an actor?

MS: That’s a really hard question as I’ve enjoyed playing most of my characters, but to date, I think it has to be Mark the homeless guy from my 2nd feature film – Underground. I have also got a few more characters in development which I am really looking forward to playing.

PB: Which actor do you admire the most?

MS: Sylvester Stallone. He was a big influence on my career from seeing his films when I was young. He was big in the 80s and he’s still making films now.

PB: Is it difficult being filmed while doing martial arts? Is it different?

MS: A fight sequence is mentally and physically demanding. It’s all about the timing and being able to sell it to the audience that it is real. As an actor you want to give it 100% because once you’re captured on film, you’re on film forever. It is difficult and demanding having to do it over and over again exactly right for the camera, but it’s all good fun.

Watch Mark Strange in action from the film Underground

Mark Strange – Underground Car Fight from Mark Strange on Vimeo.

PB: You are also a producer, if you could have directed one film, what would it have been?

MS: Wow, that’s another hard question as I like so many films across the board. If it was an older film from the 70s or 80s then I would maybe like to direct Rocky, but if it’s a more recent film, then it would have to be something as big as Lord of the Rings.

PB: What would your ultimate action flick be and who would star in it?

MS: For an action film I would like Sylvester Stallone (Rocky), Olga Kurylenko (Quantum of Solace) and Ian McKellen (Lord of the Rings). I’m not too sure how the story would pan out, but I would like Olga to be the love interest and Ian to be the bad guy. If I had an unlimited budget then I would include a lot more of my favourite actors.

PB: Would you ever set a film in Preston? Does it have any places that are worthy back drops?

MS: My 1st feature film – Displaced, was mostly shot in Leyland and Preston and I also shot some scenes from my 2nd film – Underground, in Preston as well. I would definitely use some of the interior locations in Preston again on any of my future films.

PB: We see you are on twitter and also have a good website, how important is the web becoming for actors and the movie industry in general?

MS: The web is fast becoming the greatest marketing tool available to the movie industry. It is most important to have a good website on a global scale because so many people will see it.

You can follow Mark Strange on Twitter through @markstrange