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Southport Reporter®

Edition No. 215

Date:- 22 August 2005

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Free swimming causes a splash

A FREE Swimming initiative has caused a splash in Warrington with more than 12,000 children and young people attending in the first 2 weeks. 4 Golden Gates Leisure Centres are taking part in 'Free Swim for Kids', which runs until 4th September and in the first three weeks 12,153 children and young people have attended compared with 10,500 for the full 6 week summer holiday last year.

Every child under the age of 16 and students in full time education up to the age of 18 are being urged to take advantage of the free swimming event, following a major £40,000 funding boost from the Council as part of its commitment to improving the health and well being of youngsters in every corner of the borough. The removal of the price barrier gives children the chance to swim as often as they want during the 6 weeks of the summer holidays. To access the free session, turn up and admission will be on a first come first served basis. The open sessions may be extremely busy and access will be limited depending on the number of swimmers in all pools.

This offer applies to all children under the age of 16 or young people in full time education up to the age of 18. An adult must accompany children under the age of eight in the pool at all times.

The centres involve include: -
Broomfields Leisure Centre 01925 268768
Fordton Leisure Centre 01925 572504
Great Sankey Leisure Centre 01925 724411
Woolston Leisure 01925 813939

Cllr Maureen Banner, Executive Board Member for Well Being, said:- "This is fantastic news and I am very pleased that this initiative has taken off and so many of our children and young people are enjoying their swimming. I hope this continues throughout the full 6 week holiday."

A 3rd of North West Independent Retailers Aware of Fake Cigarettes in Their Area

A new survey has found that 32% of independent retailers in the North West are aware of counterfeit tobacco products in their area. The survey by the Tobacco Alliance, which represents 17,000 independent retailers across the UK through its "Retailers Against Smuggling" campaign, also found that nationally 20% of retailers have seen fake tobacco products sold in pubs, clubs and car boot sales while 8% were aware of counterfeit product being available in shops.

Blackburn retailer, Solly Khonat, the North West Spokesperson of the Tobacco Alliance, commented:- "These findings are extremely disturbing and demonstrate how much the comparatively new problem of fake tobacco products is affecting our society. The livelihoods of independent shopkeepers like me all over the UK are already under threat because of the effects of tobacco smuggling on our sales. The ready availability of counterfeit will only add to these problems."

The survey found that 22% of independent retailers in the North West are considering closing their business as a result of the effects of tobacco smuggling on their sales. Furthermore, 28% of those surveyed said that they have to consider reducing staff.

Blackburn retailer, Solly Khonat, the North West Spokesperson of the Tobacco Alliance, commented:- "According to the survey, 74% of retailers nationally believe the way to tackle the problem of tobacco smuggling is for the Government to reduce or freeze the tax on tobacco. This would bring tax levels more in line with the EU, eradicating the huge price difference between tobacco here and that in mainland Europe, and so remove the incentive for smugglers to carry out their crime in the UK. I only hope the Government takes note."

Mark Francois, MP, Shadow Economic Secretary to the Treasury, commented:- "This survey raises an extremely important issue. Not only is the sale of smuggled tobacco having a damaging effect on independent businesses but it is also apparent that counterfeit tobacco seems to be particularly rife. The Government needs to act now to tackle smuggling before the situation gets any worse."

Liverpool retailer, Richard Marsh, commented:- "I am not surprised the survey found that 90% of independent retailers didn't think the Government was doing enough to combat tobacco smuggling. It is about time levels of tobacco tax are addressed in order to protect independent businesses like mine."

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