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Southport Reporter®

Edition No. 143

Date:- 13 March 2004

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FOUR men from Liverpool and a man from Widnes were sentenced today at Liverpool Crown Court to a total of eight and a half years in jail after Customs broke up a major cigarette smuggling ring. 

The gang is believed to be responsible for importing or trying to import over 120 million cigarettes into the country - the excise duty evaded would have amounted to nearly £16 Million in defrauding the exchequer of an already overwhelming amount lost to smuggling each year.

John Anthony Burton, 34 of Leagate Road, Fazakerley, was sentenced to three and a half years imprisonment. His accomplice Robert Butler from Kirkby was jailed for twenty one months, and Terence McHugh also from Liverpool was sentenced to twenty seven months imprisonment for smuggling offences.

The arrests were made as part of an on going investigation by Customs and Excise officers during an operation by the gang in the year of 2000, after several attempts to thwart the smuggling operation via the use of furniture imports with the cigarettes contained inside sofas from countries including Germany and France.

Customs Head of Investigation in Manchester Chris Harrison said:- "This is a very satisfactory culmination of nearly four years work by Customs investigators. This was a significant organised gang operating in at least three European countries.

"This is a fine example of the co-operation needed between law enforcement agencies within Europe to catch these sorts of criminals."

Sefton Advanced Motorists

THE Sefton Group of the Institute of advanced Motorists will hold their March meeting on Monday 15th March at 8pm at the Royal Clifton Hotel Southport. The speaker will be Mike Bentley the I.A.M Examiner for the Southport I.A.M. group.

Did you make a new year's resolution to improve your driving and live up to the Institute of Advanced Motorists motto of 'Skill with responsibility'. If you were unable to join the first course of 2004 in January, ring Ray on 01704 538595 (daytime phone or fax) to place your name on the May list.

We run three courses a year starting in January, May and September. They all start with a meeting in the Royal Clifton hotel in Southport at 8pm, thereafter individual car runs, at times and on days to suit you and your observer.

Find out how safe your driving is and if you have good observational skills. 'Only a fool breaks the two second rule,' do you know what it means? Come along and find out how this and other rules can assist you.

The way you drive matters if you want to achieve Safet, whatever class of vehicle you drive. Having passed the advanced test, statistics show that your chances of having an accident are cut by two thirds. You can take the test on a motorbike, in a car or a van or a lorry as an individual or with the company vehicle through I.A.M. Fleet Training.

Motorcyclists meet weekly at the Richmond Hotel, Scarisbrick New Road, Southport. If you have a bike and fancy joining them, give Alan a ring. Trips vary in length and Scotland and the Isle of Man are visited annually. Motorcycle information can be obtained from Alan Filson on  01704 579874 or via email at  You can also contact us

Fish removed from overstocked lake

SOME of the fish stocks from Newsham Park Boating Lake are to be removed after a survey found it was overstocked. 

The survey, carried out by the Environment Agency in the winter of 2002/3 also discovered that cat fish -which is not an indigenous species - had been introduced into the lake illegally. 

The council has reported, as it is legally obliged to, the presence of the cat fish to the Department of Environment, Fisheries and Regional Affairs, who have ordered that they be removed from the lake.

Councillor Richard Oglethorpe, Executive Member for the Environment, said:- "The overstocking contributes towards persistent spring algae bloom and occasional fish mortality. We are committed toward the proper management of our park lakes and we have a programme with our partners in the Environment Agency to improve and maintain the quality of the lakes."

Over fifty percent of the fish removed from the boating lake will be used to stock Stanley Park Lake.


A WALTON mechanic has beaten hundreds of budding mechanical masterminds from across the UK to reach the final of the Champion Spark Plug Technician of the Year competition 2004, set to take place this weekend on the Wirral.

Anthony Gannon, 38, who runs Langham Street Auto's in Walton, Liverpool has already proven he is among the cream of the country's top talented technicians after getting through two gruelling theoretical rounds involving a series of challenging technical questions.

Bright Spark 2004 is being run by Champion Spark Plugs and industry magazine Professional Motor Mechanic, and the showdown is set for March 13th at Champion's 14m European Technical Centre on the Wirral in Cheshire.

Anthony will be treated to a night in a swanky hotel in Chester plus a pre-final dinner before going into battle with nine other hopefuls from around the country. He will then be subjected to a full day of mind-bending theoretical and practical tests set by experts from some of the industry's leading independent bodies including the Retail Motor Industry Federation and the Institute of the Motor Industry.

As he prepares for his big day, Anthony commented:- "I followed the award throughout last year and it attracted a lot of attention, so this year I thought I would give it a go. This is the first award I have entered and I was amazed to make it through to the final. I'm expecting the competition to be fierce but I'm not going to let the title go without a fight."

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