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Southport Reporter®

Edition No. 147

Date:- 10 April 2004

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Lifetime Dream Tees Off

A GOLF trip of a lifetime awaits amateur Joe Mountain and his West Lancashire PGA professional Gary Edge if they can come through the next stage of Europe's biggest pro-am competition, the Lombard Trophy, which this year will pass the one million rounds of competition golf played since the event was launched in 1995.

Mountain took his first big step towards a luxury five-day trip to one of Europe's leading courses, San Lorenzo in Portugal, when he won the club qualifying competition on 3 April with a nett score of 67.

He and Edge now advance to the regional final on May 17 at Hesketh Golf Club, where they'll play one round of better-ball medal play. The winners of 16 regional finals throughout Great Britain and Ireland will enjoy a fully paid luxury trip to compete at San Lorenzo.

The winning professional in the regional final receives £475, and there are valuable prizes for the top amateurs. 

This year's tournament is expected to receive entries from more than 100,000 club golfers from all over Great Britain and Ireland. Last year's winners were the Dorset club, Parkstone, represented by their professional, Martyn Thompson, and five-handicapper Andy Boyd. 

Tribute to Dutch Merchant Navy unveiled

A PLAQUE in honour of Dutch Merchant Navy seamen was unveiled at a special service this week in a remembrance ceremony giving tribute to thousands of Dutch seamen who sailed alongside the British Navy during World War Two.

Over 40 veterans arrived from the Netherlands to attend the service held at Riverside Walk, Pier Head, accompanied by the Lord Mayor of Liverpool, Councillor Ron Gould, who unveiled the accolade along with Rudolf Visser, an officer of the Netherlands Merchant Navy Personnel.

Councillor Gould said:- “A plaque should have been unveiled in Liverpool decades ago. Now, I'm pleased that the important role the Dutch seaman played during the Second World War has finally been acknowledged.

Many Dutch sailors considered Liverpool their home port during the war. This commemorative plaque is a tribute to them.”

Businesses optimistic, but held back by red tape

SURVEY results released this week show that 73% of small and medium sized enterprises are optimistic about their economic prospects for 2004.

Commissioned by leading Manchester invoice and asset-based financier, Venture Finance PLC, the survey results support market predictions of an economic upturn, with the Bank of England predicting a 3.4% growth in GDP this year, compared to the 2.1% growth last year. 

However, the survey also reveals that the biggest barrier to growth is red tape, with 43% of respondents highlighting this as the greatest challenge to their business development. Figures recently released by the British Chambers of Commerce reveal that the cost to businesses of regulations introduced since 1997 has rocketed to £30bn, a rise of 46%.

Commenting on the research, Debbie Bell, Regional Director at Venture said:- “Red tape has been a key concern of the SME sector for a number of years, but hasn't been adequately addressed by the government. I would like to see this government move quickly to reduce the number of restrictive business regulations." 

In addition to regulatory concerns, lack of finance was also a major fear highlighted by the survey, with almost one quarter of senior decision makers citing this as a problem.

Debbie added:- "There should be greater transparency of the funding options and schemes available from the government, like the Small Firms Loan Guarantee Scheme, which can help SMEs avoid debt. High street banks are not always willing to take a chance on a project or business and can be reluctant to provide funding, so I would also like to see the government actively promoting alternative sources of funding,"

The survey was conducted amongst 25,000 senior decision makers of rapid growth organisations, employing between 21 and 500 people.

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