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Southport Reporter®

Edition No. 178

Date:- 04 December 2004

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Merseyside's Economy motors with million pound boost

IT HAS been confirmed that £1.255million of Objective One funding has been awarded to support small businesses in Merseyside's Automotive and related Manufacturing sector.

The money will be used to support the second phase of a project aimed at improving competitiveness, by providing hands-on support for companies between now and 2008.

Phase one of the programme has been running for four years, and has directly helped to create 53 jobs and safeguard a further 270, contributing £37million to the local economy.

Commenting on the announcement Sector Director for the Automotive and Manufacturing Sector, Professor Neil Barlow said:- "This is fantastic news for small businesses, because it means we can continue to support and mentor them for the future. Bootle company Liverpool Fabrications was this week named as Small Business of the Year at the Merseyside Automotive Group's annual awards ceremony, and it's firms like that we want to champion."

“This investment will help sharpen the competitive edge of companies by laying the foundations for them to develop," said Thomas O'Brien, Chief Executive of the Mersey Partnership. "Getting a framework in place for businesses to enhance their skills and manufacturing capability is vital for the economic development of the City Region."

European Programme Director for Objective One, John Flamson, said:- "Automotive and manufacturing firms employ thousands of people across the Liverpool City Region and make a major contribution to the area's economy. I'm confident that this European investment will enable the sector to become even more competitive and help drive many of its businesses forward".


AN agreement has been reached with the GMB union which could end the social workers dispute in Liverpool. 

Although two-thirds of social workers in the Children's Services department are working normally, around 100 staff who are members of UNISON have been on strike since August.

The city council has been consulting with staff and unions on a Workload Management document drawn up as part of talks to end the dispute, held under the auspices of ACAS.

The city council has now agreed the following wording with one of the unions - the GMB - regarding how staff are allocated tasks:- "When managers allocate work due consideration will be given to statutory obligations and staff's ability and capacity to carry out such work. Recognition will be given for experience and appropriate time for the induction of new staff and build up to full workloads."  It is hoped the wording will now also be acceptable to UNISON, and signal a return to work. 

Liverpool City Council Chief Executive Sir David Henshaw said:- "I am delighted that we have reached agreement with one of the city council's biggest unions on the Workload Management document.

I would urge UNISON to join their colleagues in the GMB and agree the wording of this document so we can warmly welcome staff back to work. I personally can assure staff that we will not tolerate victimisation of any member of staff, and social workers have nothing to fear from returning to work. 

We had already made progress on many of the other issues raised by the unions, including embarking on a recruitment campaign for social workers following concerns about vacancy rates and the workload of existing staff."

Tony Hunter, Executive Director for Supported Living, added:- "Social workers will continue to be valued members of staff under the modernisation plans we have for social services. 

In moving forward to support more families through crises rather than taking children into care, we are delivering what government inspectors wish. Let's remember the Commission for Social Care concluded we had prospects for improvement during their most recent inspection."

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