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Southport Reporter®

Edition No. 199

Date:- 01 May 2005

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LIVERPOOL APPOINTS Kings waterfront chief

LIVERPOOL has appointed a top man to lead its £150m Kings Dock Waterfront Arena and Conference Centre. Bob Prattey, who helped transform Birmingham into one of Europe's major cities for hosting events and was instrumental in the city hosting the G8 summit, will take up his post as Chief Executive on Tuesday, 3 May. And Bob, 50, says Liverpool is well placed to replicate Birmingham's success. 

He said:- "The city is on fertile ground. Liverpool has a huge musical heritage we can exploit and the fact we are opening in 2008 is a major advantage. No venue has ever opened to that kind of backdrop. I want to make sure we fully capitalise on the city's status as European Capital of Culture and that we play a major role in the celebrations. There is no one out of the range to us. Elton John, Madonna, U2. We will be the new kid on the block and that always has a significant attraction for artists. They want to perform in new facilities and in front of a new audience."

Council Leader Mike Storey said:- "Bob is one of, if not the best at what he does. His experience and contacts within the industry and his reputation to deliver major events is second to none. Bob's move from Birmingham speaks volumes for the confidence he has in Liverpool and demonstrates that the Kings Waterfront Arena and Conference Centre has the potential to be one of the best venues in the country. His expertise will be a real asset to the city and his appointment ensures that the future of the arena and conference centre is in the best possible hands. I'm confident Bob and his team will play a major role in ensuring that the arena will propel the city's renaissance after 2008 and cement our position as one of Europe's premier visitor destinations."

Mr Prattey vowed the venues would have a huge impact on Liverpool's economy. He added:- "You cannot promote a venue in isolation to the destination. We are selling the whole package and Liverpool has a lot to offer. Its nightlife, restaurants, hotels and burgeoning shopping offer as well as its reputation for world-class sport and festivals will all be of tremendous help in selling the venue. In turn they will all benefit immensely as the facilities grow in reputation."

Work is expected to begin on the 9,400-seater arena and the conference centre within the next four weeks. Once completed, the complex will also feature a 7,600 sq m exhibition hall.

Bob, who is now looking to buy property close to Kings Dock, said he was excited about his new position and hailed the designs by architects Wilkinson Eyre. The father of 2 said:- "The designs are such that in 2008 Liverpool will have an indoor arena and conference centre of premier league standard. The way the facilities are connected make them unique in Britain. And the waterfront location is a fantastic asset in promoting the venue. I'm hugely excited. The complex will be accessible to the public, which is fundamental. This is their arena and it's crucial that everyone in the city takes pride in it. There are 430,000 potential sales people in Liverpool. I want these facilities to be engrained into the DNA of Liverpool. If we get this right, I expect the arena to be one of the busiest in the UK." 

Mr Prattey is recognised as one of the most experienced operators in the conference and arena industry. As Managing Director of the NEC group venues, he led the strategic business units for The International Conference Centre (ICC), The Symphony Hall, The NEC Arena and National Indoor Arena (NIA). After starting out as an assistant event manager Bob rose through the ranks overseeing the development of new venues such as the ICC and NIA, which as part of the NEC group now annually generates £800m for the Birmingham economy. In his 21 years with NEC he helped attract major international events such as the G8 Summit, The Eurovision Song Contest, The World Indoor Athletics Championships as well as hit TV shows such as The Gladiators and The Clothes Show. 
He also enticed Crufts to move out of London in its centenary year and handled some of the biggest conferences staged in the UK such as the World Lions Convention of 20,000 delegates.

Bob added:- "It's a wrench to leave Birmingham but I can see some real parallels with Liverpool. We have an opportunity here to repeat that success and I'm looking forward to using all my experience to see if we can surpass it. You just have to look around the city centre in Birmingham to see the galvanising effect the convention centre has had and that can happen in Liverpool. These are very exciting times for the city."


CONCERN over the welfare of their pets causes thousands of British dog owners to take weeks off work. New research from Direct Line Pet Insurance reveals that dog owners have collectively taken at least 2.7 million working days off to care for their sick pets over the last 2 years. 10% of dog owners missed 5 days of work with half of these putting their careers on hold for 2 weeks to administer TLC to their favourite pet. 

This level of compassion doesn't extend to sick partners though. More than half of dog owners, 55%, pay more attention to their sick pet than their ill partner with 49% confessing they worry more when their pooch is sick than when their other half is under the weather. 

Determined to raise the spirits of their poorly pets, 53% of owners buy presents to cheer up their dogs if they are under the weather. 12% splash out on a new bed, while 8% simply treat them to full run of the house.

However the Direct Line findings reveal that puppy love comes at a high price as 14% of those who are uninsured, shell out between £1,000 to £1,500 per year on the well-being of their furry friend. This is unsurprising considering a hound's health is more fragile than a human's. While 17% take their sick pets to the vet 7 times a year, they only visit the doctor for themselves 5 times a year at the most. Despite this, 9% have health insurance for themselves but not for their dog, with 67% admitting they don't have health insurance cover for either themselves or their pet.

Chris Price, Business Manager at Direct Line Pet Insurance, said:- ''Dogs are viewed as part of the family so protecting their health and well being is very important. Unfortunately they can't vocalise what's wrong with them in the same way human's can, so it's very worrying when they get ill. As a result if they are unwell, it's vital to get them checked out by an expert and have a vet advise them on the best form of treatment. At present only 16% of owners have insurance in place so many people are forced to pay steep vet's bills. We would certainly advise all owners to consider pet insurance to prevent this unavoidable expense."

Sun, Sea and 24 Hour Drinking

SUNNY days, well hopefully!, light nights and the school holidays are fast approaching again and the following questions will be on the minds of millions of parents. 

Should my children be allowed out to play on their own? 

What's the 'right' age? 

What can I do to keep them safe when they are out and about? 

Julie Bentley, spokesperson for the UK's leading authority on personal safety, The Suzy Lamplugh Trust, advises:- "It's never easy deciding when to start letting children go out on their own. The important thing is that they are not wrapped in cotton wool one minute and sent off into the world or even the local play park, with no preparation the next." 

Parents can prepare their children, without scaring them, by discussing personal safety with them and talking through how they would stay safe in different situations. It's helpful to discuss where they could go for help if they were lost or felt threatened when they were on their own, places such as a shop, garage or library.

They should also learn from a very young age about the type of person they can approach for help in the street if they are ever scared, threatened or lost. These could include the police; mother with young children; lollipop person. It should be emphasised that these are the ONLY strangers they should approach.

On the subject of strangers, it's important that children are not simply given the message that they should avoid 'strangers', 'never get in a car with strangers' etc. as this gives them the impression that everyone else, no matter how vaguely they know them, is safe. They should be taught they should never go anywhere with, or accept a lift from anyone, even if they know them, if it has not previously been discussed with their parent or guardian. A good idea is to have a family password which parents can give to someone picking a child up in an emergency situation. The child would then know that in this case it was okay to go with them, even though it hadn't been previously discussed.

Children should be encouraged to tell you if anyone they know makes them feel strange or uncomfortable for whatever reason.

Parents should think hard about giving their children mobile phones. On the one hand they can make it easy to keep track of your child, but only when the phone is with the child and they can be easily separated. On the other hand, mobile phone theft is one of the fastest growing crimes and carrying one may cause your child to become a victim. It's more important that they learn at the earliest age possible, their address, telephone number and how to make an emergency call. 

As children grow they will need to develop 'safe independence'. The most important point you can teach them at this stage is to plan ahead. Planning ahead simply means that before you go anywhere, you should ask yourself the following:- 

1. Where am I going? 

2. How am I getting there? 

3. How am I getting back? 

4. Am I prepared for any changes of plan (eg. Do I have the number of a reputable taxi company just in case? Have I previously arranged with my parent/guardian that they will pay for the cab when I get home if necessary?) Have I let people know where I am going and when I will be back?

If young people learn to plan ahead and follow their instincts in avoiding danger, then they will be able to go out with more confidence, and this in turn makes them less likely to become a victim.

There is no doubt that it can be a dangerous world but the dangers must be kept in proportion. Nobody wants children to be so molly-coddled that they cannot live their lives to the full. Life is for living and one of the best gifts you can give a child is the knowledge and confidence to do so as safely as possible.

For further information on personal safety visit:-


THE UK's leading centre for Conductive Education can now offer free places to children with cerebral palsy thanks to a generous donation from a Northwest donor. The National Institute for Conductive Education (NICE) in Birmingham has been awarded funds from an anonymous donor to allow Northwest children and their families to attend sessions in their Parent and Child and Nursery programmes. 

The Parent and Child Programme for under 3s aims to help children with cp and other movement disabilities achieve the milestones such as sitting, standing, walking and feeding and provides support and practical advice to parents to help them encourage their child. The Ofsted-approved Early Intervention Group, for children age three to five years, helps children develop the confidence and problem-solving skills they need to take greater control of their bodies, as well as preparing for Key Stage One. 

Conductive Education is an innovative teaching method designed specifically to help people with motor disorders become more independent. It works by breaking down each movement into small achievable steps and encouraging the child to make that movement for him or herself by using song or other verbal techniques until eventually the movement becomes automatic. 

Parent and Child course leader, Andrea Nemes, said:- "For a family of a child with cp, it can be the very small things which make all the difference, such as learning to control their head and eye movements so they can bond with their mum, or being able to reach out so they can touch a toy and begin to explore the world for themselves. In this group the parents really get involved and learn alongside their child. Our aim is to give them help and guidance so they can build it into their daily routine at home. We realise it is a long way for people to travel - but at the moment we have children here from Brazil - so we know what we offer is worth travelling for."

Money may be available to cover accommodation costs. 

The National Institute for Conductive Education was opened in 1995 by Diana, Princess of Wales and helps around five hundred adults and children a year with motor disorders such as Parkinson's, multiple sclerosis, stroke, head injury and dyspraxia. The centre also acts as a training centre and runs the BA Hons in Conductive Education in conjunction with the University of Wolverhampton.

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