The many reasons I’m objecting to the proposed traffic regulation order for Birkenhead Market Service Road

The many reasons I’m objecting to the proposed traffic regulation order for Birkenhead Market Service Road

The many reasons I’m objecting to the proposed traffic regulation order for Birkenhead Market Service Road


Proposed traffic regulation order public notice (Birkenhead Market Service Road) 9th July 2014
Public notice of proposed traffic regulation order (9th July 2014) Wirral Globe Birkenhead Market Service Road

I’d better point out than along with Leonora we are both objectors to this proposed Traffic Regulation Order (TRO). This is about item three (OBJECTION: PROPOSED WAITING & LOADING RESTRICTIONS – BIRKENHEAD MARKET SERVICE ROAD, BIRKENHEAD). The report and map is already on Wirral Council’s website.

Previous articles on this matter can be read at:

Objection to Traffic Regulation Order (KO) for Birkenhead Market Service Road (25/9/14). (17/9/14)

The shocking tale of Wirral Council trying to scapegoat the disabled and forcing them to pay more £s for parking (8/8/14)

Below is my submission (in the interests of openness and transparency) to the Highways and Traffic Representation Panel that meets on the 21st November 2014 starting at 9.30am.

Cllr Michael Sullivan
Cllr Steve Williams
Cllr Dave Mitchell
Mark Smith
Ken Abraham
Vicky Rainsford

Subject: Agenda item 3 (OBJECTION: PROPOSED WAITING & LOADING RESTRICTIONS – BIRKENHEAD MARKET SERVICE ROAD, BIRKENHEAD) Highways and Traffic Representation Panel Friday 21st November 2014

Dear all,

As one of two objectors to the proposed TRO for Birkenhead Market Service Road, I am announcing my intention to speak at this meeting.

I have received a letter through the post detailing the date and time of the meeting. I’m also (although you may have guessed this) going to film agenda items 1, 2 and 3.

Leonora (the other objector) may wish to speak too. However as I have had time to read the report, published yesterday there were some points I wish to raise in advance of the meeting in order that officers (and councillors) are given appropriate advance notice of the points I will raise.

I refer to the original numbering of the report.

3.4 “objector’s” should read “objectors'” as there are two of us.

3.5 Although access to Birkenhead Market Service Road can travel through Birkenhead Bus Station, as you can see from the map this is one of two ways vehicles can access the Birkenhead Market Service Road. Therefore it’s misleading to imply that people in the Birkenhead Market Service Road must have come through the Birkenhead Bus Station.

It would be useful if officers could clarify which designated bays they are referring to and what specific longer observation periods they are referring to.

3.6 Both The Grange and The Pyramids (except on a Sunday) charge for parking.

Here is the detail of blue badge spaces at the other car parks referred to (total number of spaces in brackets):

Europa Square 14 blue badge (150)
Oliver Street 6 blue badge (16)
Conway Street (on street) ~6 (6)
Burlington Street unknown

Policy SPD4 (which I’m sure councillors who are currently or have been previously on Planning Committee are familiar with) state minimum numbers of spaces for vehicles carrying disabled people as follows:

1 in the first 10 spaces should be allocated for disabled people. Thereafter 1 in every 20 spaces or 6% of the total (whichever is greater).

Applied to the Europa Square car park of 150 spaces using Class A1 – Retail this is:

first ten spaces: one space
other 140 spaces: seven spaces
Total: eight

However 6% is the greater. Depending on how you calculate the 6% (whether 6% of 150 or (6% of 140)+1) it either comes out as either 9 spaces or 9.4 spaces (rounded up to 10).

However the number of blue badges issued to the Wirral population (visitors can also use their blue badges) is higher than 6% putting pressure on existing spaces in Europa Park. On the day of the site visit with officers, there were no free Blue Badge spaces available in the Europa Park car park (out of 14) and this is pretty typical of how it is during the times the shops are open.

I quote:

“Officers consider there are sufficient parking spaces within existing Council and privately owned car parks in close proximity to the Market Hall to accommodate any overspill of blue badge holder parking from Birkenhead Market Service Road.”

In order to know that you’d have to do a traffic survey of how many spaces are free in car parks in close proximity to the Market Hall, how many of those spaces are blue badge spaces and actually know how many park in the Birkenhead Market Service Road currently with a blue badge. As far as I know (although I may be wrong) this is merely based on an opinion of officers without doing a survey. Many of the “sufficient parking spaces” are unsuitable for those with disability as disabled people if they parked in the regular spaces would not have enough room around their vehicle (especially if parked adjacent to a car) to safely get in and out of their vehicle.

3.7 Of course the Birkenhead Market Hall isn’t going to object to a traffic regulation order it’s actually funding half of the cost of. Individual traders were told by officers at the site visit that the proposals wouldn’t affect their customers unloading and loading, just parking. The traders haven’t been individually consulted and unless they read the notice on the lamppost, or found out by other means they just won’t be aware of this proposed TRO. Even if they did object, they might not know how to go about it. Bear in mind the proposals weren’t available to view in the Conway Street One Stop Shop just across the road, but were a considerable distance away at Wallasey Town Hall, Seacombe.

3.8 There are various points in the Birkenhead Market Service Road (as you can see on the plan) that are much narrower than others. Cars (or other vehicles) parked there or near there (unlawfully) can be causing an obstruction to the free flow of traffic. Although Wirral’s CEOs do not have powers to remove vehicles, the police do. Wirral’s CEOs can issue tickets (which hopefully act as a deterrent).

3.9 This is an acknowledgement by officers that the draft TRO (as consulted on) cannot be decided by the Highways and Traffic Representation Panel.

It is unclear from what is put in the report exactly what modifications officers are proposing to the proposed TRO. However what is clear is that only the original TRO has been consulted on (twice) and not the modified TRO.

The requirements in regulation 9 cause a public inquiry held by an inspector to be held if the requirements in regulations 9(3) to 9(5) are met.

To summarise these are (subject to paragraphs 4 and 5) for orders if:

(3) Subject to paragraphs (4) and (5), this paragraph applies to an order if—

(a) its effect is to prohibit the loading or unloading of vehicles or vehicles of any class in a road on any day of the week–

(i) at all times;
(ii) before 07.00 hours;
(iii) between 10.00 and 16.00 hours; or
(iv) after 19.00 hours,

and an objection has been made to the order (other than one which the order making authority is satisfied is frivolous or irrelevant) and not withdrawn; or

(b) its effect is to prohibit or restrict the passage of public service vehicles along a road and an objection has been made to the order in accordance with regulation 8–
(i) in the case of a road outside Greater London, by the operator of a local service the route of which includes that road; or
(ii) in the case of a road in Greater London, by the operator of a London bus service the route of which includes that road or by London Regional Transport.

(4) For the purposes of paragraph 3(a), an order shall not be taken to have the effect of prohibiting loading at any time to the extent that it—
(a) authorises the use of part of a road as a parking place, or designates a parking place on a road, for the use of a disabled person’s vehicle as defined by section 142(1) of the 1984 Act;
(b) relates to a length of the side of a road extending 15 metres in either direction from the point where one road joins the side of another road,

unless the effect of the order taken with prohibitions already imposed is to prohibit loading and unloading by vehicles of any class at the time in question for a total distance of more than 30 metres out of 50 metres on one side of any length of road.

(5) Paragraph (3) does not apply to an order —

(a) if it is an experimental order;
(b) made under section 84 of the 1984 Act (speed limits on roads other than restricted roads); or
(c) to the extent that it relates to a road which forms part of a priority route designated by the Secretary of State pursuant to section 50 of the Road Traffic Act 1991 (designation of priority routes in London).

(6) In this regulation “public service vehicle” has the meaning given by section 1 of the Public Passenger Vehicles Act 1981.

As you can see from the above, even if the loading bays in the proposed TRO are modified to apply to all vehicles and not just goods vehicles, it’s the stretches it restricts of >30m in 50m stretches around the Birkenhead Market Services Road that are the problem. Without these being also taken out of the proposed TRO the requirement for a public inquiry by an inspector still applies.

Neither the TRO consulted on, nor the changed TRO can be decided by the Highways and Traffic Representation Panel because of Regulation 9.

The exceptions referred to in officer comments in relation to vehicles driven other than by the blue badge holder for the purposes of picking up the blue badge holder don’t as far as I can see form part of the consulted on TRO.

Even if in theory a TRO was granted, without enforcement it wouldn’t result in any change. There are plenty of loading bays and plenty of time deliveries will happen and there will be a goods vehicle already in the space they wish to load or unload. Whereas it can be inconvenient for drivers of large lorries to try and drive down the Birkenhead Market Service Road, the vast majority of vehicles there are connected to the market stalls or the Pyramids/Grange. Going one way to the Birkenhead Market Service Road, the Birkenhead Bus Station provides greater challenges to the drivers of goods vehicles than the Birkenhead Market Service Road itself in my opinion.

There are options that have not been considered these are:

A) Consulting on the modified TRO. In fact consultation is a requirement of Regulation 8 (Local Authorities’ Traffic Orders (Procedure) (England and Wales) Regulations 1996). The new proposals would also have to be published in a local newspaper (Regulation 7) and there would have to be a period for objections.

What’s interesting is the modified TRO officers propose hasn’t been consulted on, therefore can’t be decided by the Highways and Traffic Representation Panel.

B) Having a public inquiry chaired by an inspector on the proposed TRO (Regulation 9, 10 & 11). Again this would require a notice in a local newspaper and 21 days notice.

Lastly I would like to request that item 3 (which is this item on the agenda) it taken ahead of item 2 as both Leonora and I planned to attend the meeting of the Liverpool City Region Combined Authority starting at 11.00am.

In order to get to that meeting, we will be able to stay at a meeting of the Highways and Traffic Representation Panel no later than 10.15am. Therefore it is important that the Highways and Traffic Representation Panel starts promptly at 9.30am and that is part of the reason why I am submitting this information in advance so that agenda item 3 can be dealt with quickly.

I realise this may inconvenience the objector to agenda item 2, however I cannot see it as being possible to deal with both agenda items in 45 minutes based on previous experience of Highways and Traffic Representation Panel meetings.

Thank you for reading this,

John Brace

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A professor, 2 solicitors and 3 councillors discuss alcohol sales at Westbourne Hall & filming of public meetings

A professor, 2 solicitors and 3 councillors discuss alcohol sales at Westbourne Hall & filming of public meetings


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The Licensing Act 2003 subcommittee comprising of Cllr Steve Niblock, Cllr Denise Roberts and Cllr Louise Reecejones supposed to start at 10.00am actually started at 10.20am. Cllr Steve Niblock was chair for the meeting. Quite why meetings of the Licensing Act 2003 subcommittee never start on time is a Town Hall mystery to write about another day, but councillors were there to decide on an application for selling alcohol at Westbourne Hall in Westbourne Road, West Kirby which is now run by Westbourne Hall Community Trust.

Attending the meeting were two trustees from the Westbourne Hall Community Trust whose names were David Wade and Ray Davies. Representing them was a solicitor called Barry Holland. There were also various council officers present to take the minutes, give legal advice or answer questions about the detail of the application.

A local resident, described as a professor who lives near Westbourne Hall was objecting to the application was also present, as was myself and my wife. Normally that would be everyone, but unusually (as there were no objections to this application from Merseyside Police) Sergeant Simon Barrigan (Licensing Sergeant for Wirral) and an unknown police officer accompanying him, sat and observed the meeting in silence.

At the start of the meeting Margaret O’Donnell (Licensing Manager, Wirral Council) informed people present that two residents had contacted Wirral Council officers to say that they couldn’t attend the hearing but had emailed in their views. The solicitor representing the Westbourne Hall Community Trust, Barry Holland said that he had had a chat with the objector to straighten out some issues. The Chair, Cllr Steve Niblock read out what he does at every Licensing Act 2003 Subcommittee about what the purpose of the meeting was.

Margaret O’Donnell raised the issue of filming the meeting by saying, “Just to confirm for those who are present as well, that this particular hearing is being filmed and whether or not you wanted to give people an opportunity to comment on that.” I’ll point out here that when Pt 2 of the Openness of Local Government Bodies Regulations 2014 came into effect on August 6th of this year Wirral Council is not allowed to stop filming at its public meetings. The Chair, Cllr Steve Niblock asked people present if they consented to being filmed and asked people present to confirm their consent.

As I sat there, as I’ve sat there through many discussions about filming at the start of public meetings at Wirral Council, I felt like I was in the film Groundhog Day where the same thing keeps getting said in an endless loop about filming in an effort to try my patience.

Heads were nodding around the room about the filming issue and the professor said in reply, “Well I assume I don’t even have a say in the matter, but as it’s a public meeting, usually I object to that in general but I also approve of the general principle of public meetings, so I think I don’t have any choice but to accept.”

Seemingly with a look of disappointment and a big intake of breath Cllr Steve Niblock as nobody was objecting to the filming of the meeting he asked their legal adviser Ken Abraham for “guidance on this issue”. I will point out at this point that in June, Cllr Niblock totally ignored the guidance that Ken Abraham gave him at a previous Licensing Act 2003 subcommittee meeting which led to the stop filming, that means stop now blog post back in June.

Mr Ken Abraham replied very quietly as he can hardly be heard on the video, “Well legislation has recently been passed in respect of meetings held in the past, held by the local authority which is regulations which are in force as well in relation to that. The guidance that was issued, really doesn’t touch upon the issue of individuals who object to the meeting being filmed. So there may be a pragmatic view really, if an individual did object to recording then that part of the hearing with which they were involved, you could ask for the camera to be switched off and we would have to in making that request, rely on the errm credibility and honesty of the individual filming to ensure the fact that the camera is actually put off and there would be no filming of that part.

Really to object to this filming, it would be a shame et cetera. So, councillor as I said before, Members around the table, you could attempt to do that but that is the rule.”

The professor said he didn’t want to cause any problems, followed by the solicitor for the applicant saying they would not to object to filming as it would be “churlish” as the application was being made on behalf of the community.

Margaret O’Donnell said that the purpose of the hearing was to decide on an application for a premises licence made by Westbourne Hall Community Trust and related to Westbourne Hall, in Westbourne Road, West Kirby. She said that they currently had a premises licence, which also allowed for regulated entertainment. Margaret O’Donnell read out the times they had applied for and that there were representations from residents about the application and one resident was here at the hearing.

The Chair, Cllr Steve Niblock asked the solicitor for the applicants to speak in support of their application. He said that it was not an application for a public house, sporting club or any kind of commercial venture. Westbourne Hall had operated as a community trust, originally run by Wirral Council and people from the area. Mr Davies had been associated with it since the joint panel was formed in 1994, but he had been involved before that dating back to 1991.

He went on to make it clear that it would not be a public house, there would be no stock and the application was to enable the premises to offer to people who rent it such as charities, arts groups, martial arts groups, dance groups and that it was a “genuine community venture”. Mr Holland said that the hall was rented out for wedding receptions and that the hall had had a licence since the inception of the 2003 Licensing Act.

However Westbourne Hall used its full quota of twelve temporary event notices and that there was no objection from any of the responsible authorities to this application. He said that due to the restriction the hall had lost out on potential lets and gave the example of an organisation renting the hall for rehearsals but also wanting to have an annual dance and Christmas party there. At the moment these were going to Heswall or Hoylake.

When the trust had taken over they had put a business plan together as to how they intended to run it, but they lost bookings who had gone elsewhere. He referred to the Hoylake Community Trust had done the same and it was to level the playing field. The community trust was not a commercial venture and he went into the detail as to the times.

Birthday parties for people aged 18-25 would not be permitted and he explained that they had had to make notices available about the application on the premises and in the press. If he had changed the wording of these notices to please the neighbours to explain it was not a commercial facility then it could have been argued that the statutory requirements hadn’t been complied with. He had been involved in a previous application where this had happened.

He asked for the artificial restriction of only twelve temporary event notices a year to be lifted and that the hall didn’t aim to change the relationship with its neighbours but he would happily answer any questions.

Two councillors (Cllr Louise Reecejones and Cllr Steve Niblock) asked similar questions about how they would ensure that the licensing objectives were upheld by organisations renting the hall and selling alcohol?

To be continued…

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Wirral Council takes the view that its rights matter more than Wirral citizen’s human rights

Wirral Council takes the view that its rights matter more than Wirral citizen’s human rights

Wirral Council takes the view that its rights matter more than Wirral citizen’s human rights


Following Friday’s blog post Wirral Council councillors ban filming at public meeting to decide on alcohol licence for Michaels of Moreton shop, there have been some reactions to what happened.

Councillor Stuart Kelly writes:

Indeed they have Councillor Kelly. As long ago as February 2011, the Parliamentary Under Secretary of State Bob O’Neill MP wrote to all Council Leaders and Monitoring Officers. He states in his letter “It is essential to a healthy democracy that citizens everywhere are able to feel that their council welcomes them to observe local decision-making and through modern media tools keep others informed as to what their council is doing.” and “the mainstream media also needs to be free to provide stronger local accountability by being able to film and record in meetings without obstruction”. He goes on to write “I want to encourage all councils to take a welcoming approach to those who want to bring local news stories to a wide audience. The public should rightly expect that elected representatives who have put themselves up for public office be prepared for their decisions to be as transparent as possible and welcome a direct line of communication to their electorate.”

In the same letter, the Information Commissioner’s Office stated “In the context of photographing or filming meetings, whilst genuine concerns about being filmed should not be dismissed, the nature of the activity being filmed – elected representatives acting in the public sphere – should weigh heavily against personal objections.” Yet at Wirral Council this advice last Friday was not followed!

Former councillor Ian Lewis states on his new blog “We know most councillors have faces made for radio but their bizarre behaviour at this meeting, over a licensing application in Moreton, sets a new (low) standard”.

So why is Councillor Steve Niblock from the Chair making a unilateral decision about filming on behalf of the three person Licensing Act 2003 subcommittee? Regulation 25 referred to by Ken Abraham states “authority” (which is defined in Regulation 2 as meaning the whole subcommittee) expressing an opinion on disruption, not the Chair unilaterally expressing his opinion and expecting Regulation 25 to apply.

After the public were excluded from the Licensing Act 2003 subcommittee meeting on Friday, I had a talk with the legal adviser to the committee Ken Abraham about my concerns about it and that the public hadn’t been excluded properly from the meeting. This was a conversation in a corridor at the Town Hall in front of my wife, so I don’t think there can be any expectation of privacy!

KEN ABRAHAM (legal adviser to the Licensing Act 2003 subcommittee)
Can I speak to you after?

I’ve had a chance to have a chat to the objector what it was about and he doesn’t have any objections to me filming. Will there be any problems with me filming the decision?

Well it would be useful to find out why you’re filming.


because this is obviously you know, it’s a public Council meeting as in a public Council meeting, this is a what’s known as a public hearing, but there are people who attend who are obviously not aware that they’re going to be filmed so and…

My point about filming, I’ll answer your question about why and then talk a bit about filming. The reason why is because there are people that can’t make it to these meetings, whether they’re at work during the day or

People can have a look at the minutes.

Yes, but the minutes aren’t published immediately.

but then you could edit the filming.

Err, clearly I could but I don’t. Anyway,

The issue is that when you were asked to stop filming the other week, you still continued filming.

No, sorry the other week when I was asked to stop filming I did and then we went out and came back in and it wasn’t clear then as to whether that carried on or not.

The stopping filming?

Yeah, because if you remember the other week, the meeting started, they were asked the question about objecting to filming. One person said yes, then we were all asked to go out, then we all came back in again and it wasn’t clear as you’ve said it’s not clear when we came back in again.

To be honest I did say things there but he [Councillor Steve Niblock] didn’t want me to speak anyway, so it’s hardly a valid reason.

Well it’s not a public meeting, (at this point I link to Regulation 14 (which states it’s to take place in public), link to 100A and 100E of the Local Government Act 1972 which state otherwise to Ken’s assertion that it isn’t a public meeting. In fact earlier in the conversation he stated it was a public meeting.)

and you’re not a representative or the, I I I if you want to talk in more detail I can.

I do want to

but I just need to, we’re still in the hearing,

I just want to speak to you in more detail.

Maybe if we do that after?

The other very brief point I want to make, the first thing is any decision that a public authority makes has, due to the Human Rights Act 1998 to be compatible with the Convention on Human Rights so one of those rights is regarding freedom of expression and regarding the Article 10 right to freedom of expression there has to be a specific power the Council has in law to stop filming and it has to be for one or more of

Yes, I hear you. You’re quoting the law, I know the law. We have rights under the regulations too, which empower them to stop a hearing proceeding if there is an issue about disrupting the meeting and the Chair took the view at that time that because it was clearly indicated that he didn’t want filming that he could have asked you to leave the room but he didn’t. As a filming condition to remain, to put the camera off.

Yes, which I did.

The licensing regulations are very clear and specific on that point.

Unfortunately the licensing regulations don’t say anything about filming as such.

but it talks about, it talks about the, this is why I can’t have a, I can have a discussion but not

The other thing I wanted to say, let me say something. When the public were sent out,


The law regarding public exclusion, I’m talking about the Local Government Act 1972, states there has to be a resolution and under the terms of [Wirral Council’s] constitution a resolution has to be proposed, seconded and voted on. That didn’t happen.

This is a licensing hearing under the hearing regulations,

Yes, but even in the regulations, the licensing regulations, it says they have to consider the public interest in favour of the public [staying] against excluding the public and they didn’t have a discussion about that.

There was, there was representations by the Chair, by the individuals attending the meeting and those representations were taken on board. I’ve got to go off.

but you understand my point about the filming issue and the point about the..

Well people are entitled to object to that,

and I pointed out I wasn’t filming that side

It doesn’t matter, you’re still taking, you’re recording what individuals were saying


and people can object to that if they’re members of the public.

To be honest, I could just write it down


and type it up

exactly, exactly. You could write it up, but at least you know, you know and that’s something that if you’re going to attend regularly, you know, the public needs to be and if it causes disruption at the hearing then we’re quite entitled to say, oh

and can I say there’s also the Openness of Local Government Bodies Regulations which are going through Parliament and come into effect in a few weeks time.

We’re not talking about councillors, we’re talking about members of the public.

but we’re talking about public meetings here, not a public meeting of the full Council. In a few weeks time those regulations will come into effect and they actually prevent the Council from preventing filming at public meetings. They’re in draft form at the moment if you want to look at them.

Yeah, well you don’t have to tell me word for word. The regulations are clear on the issue. It gives the Members the leeway to stop if there is a meeting that’s being filmed and the meeting could be disrupted or the hearing could be disrupted, they are entitled to take a view.

Could you show me a copy of the particular regulation or ..

Regulation 25,

Regulation 25

Licensing [Act 2003] Hearing Regulations [2005], alright and you can actually read the rule, end of story.

OK, but it’s also a public meeting and we have a statutory right to be there.

and you have the statutory right to be excluded.

and the thing is right, if I was excluded and asked to leave, I could leave the camera running and leave.

No, no, they have the right to exclude you, but the issue has if you’re going to attend these hearings, then members of the public must be aware of that, because they are not aware that you’re doing their filming and we don’t know what’s going to be done when it’s put on the website.

And in fact if I’d answered the question about what the purpose of the filming, but the Chair wouldn’t let me answer it. When I explained it to him he said he had no objection.

I said we’d have a discussion, that’s it. We’re not allowing you to have a discussion during

But we’re having one!

We’re not having one. Are you aware of the purpose of this discussion? You’re shouting at me!

I’m not!

The view that I’m going to take with you isn’t going to change. They tried to make a view on the hearing regulations and you know the people are members of the public and are going to object for whatever reason errm, Members are entitled under the regulations to take a view.

Well actually we disagree on that.

Well we’ll agree to disagree then.

Finally I include an email of Surjit Tour sent to me last year.

from: Tour, Surjit
date: 2 April 2013 16:08
subject: RE: filming of public meetings

Dear Mr Brace

I am on annual leave until 15 April. I am somewhat surprised by your email and letter given that I have asked you a number of times to meet me to discuss this issue.

Furthermore, there no ban on filming as you and another have been filming a number of committee meetings.

I would suggest that no proceedings are issued until I have had the opportunity to respond. I therefore request an extension of time to 30 April.

I await your response.

Please can you also include Stephen Gerrard in any further response.

Yours sincerely

Surjit Tour

Sent from my HTC Touch Pro 2 on Vodafone

This email and any files transmitted with it are confidential and
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the system manager.

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So it seems two of Wirral Council’s legal team have different views on the filming issue.

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