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Southport Reporter®

Edition No. 192

Date:- 20 March 2005

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THE proprietors Ray and Jean Jones are proud to announce that Southport’s picturesque and atmospheric Model Railway Village is to re-open for it’s 9th season on Monday 21 March 2005.

This popular visitor destination, which has attracted much attention from television producers, national newspapers and magazines since its memorable official opening in 1996, is centrally located within Southport’s bustling tourist area. It lies near to the Promenade in King’s Gardens, by the Marine Parade pedestrian bridge. 

A varied landscape, authentic model buildings and famous miniature railway network at the attraction appeal to individuals and families alike who can enjoy peace and tranquillity in beautiful surroundings. The train system is particularly appreciated by young children. 

The scenic venue also includes an attractive Tea Garden and Café which specialises in cream teas and a variety of delicious sandwiches. All in all it makes for a splendid experience which is available from 10am to 5pm every day throughout the summer.

For further details visit:-

Child Poverty

RESPONDING to the budget, End Child Poverty director Jonathan Stearn said:- "Whilst we welcome the recognition given to the need to tackle child poverty, the government should be driving forward faster if it is going to keep to its pledge to halve child poverty by 2010.

End Child Poverty would like to have seen a greater increase in child benefit over and above the preannounced £17.00 for the first child and £11.40 for subsequent children. ECP believes that child benefit should be £20 for each and every child in the family. Child benefit should also be made available to pregnant women."

We would also like to see the minimum wage become a living wage, it would need to be around £6.50 to be on the poverty line, the proposed increase is to £5.05 this year."

The child element of Child Tax Credit has been increased in line with average earnings and End Child Poverty believes indexation should become a permanent feature and extended to all child contingent benefits and tax credits.


THIS WEEK the budget brought good news for first time buyers when Gordon Brown announced that he is doubling the 1% stamp duty threshold from £60,000 to £120,000. While it has been said that this will have little impact on those in the south, the increase is particularly beneficial for those looking to buy property in the north of England, where the average house price is currently around £130,000, compared with just under £172,000 across the whole of the UK.

This is the first time the threshold has been raised since 1993 when the average UK house price was around £64,000. While the average price of northern properties is now more than double this, there is a lot of choice for buyers below the new stamp duty threshold.

Nigel Favas, managing director of Reeds Rains comments:- "his is definitely a step in the right direction and is undoubtedly good news for first time buyers in the North for whom it will help ease the burden of getting onto the property ladder. For some it could make the difference between being able to afford their first property and not quite being able to get the funds together they need. This obviously does not just affect the first time buyers, however. As more people are able to come in on the bottom rung of the ladder, the benefits will filter up through the rest of the chain.

As the range of stamp duty free properties available is extended, we now have over one and a half thousand properties listed on our website, sold through our 130 branches in the north, that fall into the zero per cent stamp duty range under the new budget."

Parent and Toddler Groups to Get Active!

PARENTS and Toddler Groups across the UK will be encouraged to get active in their community at two conferences this spring. Get Activated! is the theme of the 2005 Playtime national conferences organised by charity Care for the Family. The programme will focus on how Parent and Toddler Groups can serve their community by providing a safe environment for parents to meet and for children to play and learn together. 

This year’s Get Activated! Conferences in Liverpool and Bracknell will look at:-

Reaching out to Families,  looking at faith issues 
Play with a Purpose,  exploring child development 
Finding Your Factor X, discovering YOUR skills 
‘Who Let the Dads Out?,’  introducing a new initiative just for dads

With more than 15,000 Parent and Toddler Groups in the UK the potential for thousands of families to benefit from the 2005 conference is tremendous. Care for the Family’s Anne Carlos, speaker at Get Activated! said:- “Parent and Toddler groups achieve a tremendous amount in their communities. We want to encourage and equip leaders to impact their locality with their work. This year’s conferences will have an emphasis on sharing insights and networking as well as the launch of a brand new initiative just for dads.”

Get Activated! will be at:-

LIVERPOOL - Saturday 16 April, Bridge Chapel Centre, Heath Road, Liverpool 

BRACKNELL - Saturday 30 April, Bracknell Family Church, The Kerith Centre, Church Road, Bracknell 

Get Activated! runs from 10.30am to 4.45pm. 
Please bring your own packed lunch. 

Tickets cost £12.50 and are available from:-

Care for the Family, 
PO Box 488, 
CF15 7YY. 

Tel:- (029) 2081 0800

North West Shopkeepers Condemn Budget Increase in Tobacco Tax

RETAILERS across the UK have reacted angrily to the announcement in the Chancellor’s Budget Statement that tobacco tax will be increased.

Solly Khonat, the North West Spokesman for Retailers Against Smuggling and a Blackburn shopkeeper, hit out at the decision and commented:- “This is yet another black day for independent shopkeepers up and down the country who have seen their sales dwindle over the past year as a result of the effects of tobacco smuggling.  When will the Chancellor realise that tobacco smugglers are plaguing the streets of Britain because the high levels of taxation on tobacco in the UK creates a huge difference in price between tobacco here and elsewhere.  It is this price difference which gives smugglers all the reason they need to commit their crime.

This increase will only encourage more criminals to carry out more smuggling.  Now that we are part of an expanded European Union, how can we compete with the smugglers who can buy a packet of 20 cigarettes in Latvia for £0.41 when we will now have to sell them for just under £5? As a result of the Chancellor’s decision, more and more shopkeepers up and down the country will have to cut jobs or go out of business.”

Research by Retailers Against Smuggling found that 26% of retailers are considering closing their business as a result of the effects of tobacco smuggling has had on sales. In addition, 28% have considered reducing the number of staff and 25% have reported actually cutting jobs.

“The Chancellor should realise that smugglers don’t care about who they sell to, including the underage, and this situation will continue until he brings taxation levels more in to line with other EU countries.  Only yesterday, the Treasury Sub-committee called for effective action to be taken ‘as a matter of urgency’ to combat the smuggling of hand rolling tobacco which the report described as ‘out of control’. It’s about time the Government took note.”

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