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Southport Reporter®

Edition No. 226

Date:- 07 November 2005

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Government Minister tells retail workers extra holidays will be paid

TRADE and Industry Minister Gerry Sutcliffe has told retail staff that new rights to time off for bank holidays will give the extra time off as paid. The Minister was speaking to delegates at Usdaw's annual Retail Trades Conference and the new rights to paid time off for bank holidays would effectively increase the minimum paid holidays from 20 days per year to 28 days. Usdaw has been at the forefront of the campaign to make sure the extra days holiday were paid and union leaders are delighted that the Government wants to make sure millions of retail workers will be properly rewarded for working days when most others are on leave with their families.

"It is very important to our members and to millions of hard-working staff in retail and the service sector that they receive paid time off for bank holidays," says Usdaw general secretary John Hannett. "This was an issue that Usdaw took up at the historic Warwick policy forum and we were delighted that the Government agreed it. At Warwick, we all understood that workers would be entitled to extra paid time off otherwise most cannot afford to take unpaid time off. But the Labour Party would not make this clear in the manifesto, and the wording in the recent Work and Families Bill does not specify that the time off will be paid, so Gerry's confirmation is very important to us. Many staff in retail have to work on bank holidays so at the very least they deserve to be able to take a days paid holiday to make up for that time. We know from our members that many of them have to work Boxing Day and New Year's Eve which can affect their family's enjoyment of the festive season so this new announcement will at least give something back to hard working staff for their commitment."

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High-Rise Media

ARENA Housing Association residents in Sefton Park, Liverpool, have their very own 'TV channel', keeping them in touch with their association and each other, thanks to a revolutionary online project called 'tenantspin', which is live and interactive and produced by tenants of the high rise flats.

A new community centre recently built by Arena in Sefton Park, includes a custom built, fully equipped studio, to house future broadcasts for the channel, which encourages residents to discuss participation, regeneration and social housing issues. A recent event to celebrate the opening of the community centre also marked the successful completion of another phase of a £30 million project to comprehensively refurbish 6 high rise tower blocks in Sefton Park. The community centre was officially opened by Dame Mavis McDonald, the permanent secretary at the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister.

tenantspin is a unique community project looking at high-rise living, art, new technology, regeneration and resident participation. It allows those involved to prepare and host their own debates, on issues important to them, to share information and provides a link between residents and staff through question and answer sessions. The project was originally set up by the Liverpool Housing Action Trust (LHAT) and is run in partnership with the Foundation for Art & Creative Technology (FACT).

The association is currently exploring broadband options to allow the tenants, which have recently transferred to Arena, to watch shows online. However, once the refurbishment programme has been completed, the residents will be able to watch the channel on their televisions via a satellite link. The community centre also includes an office for the Sefton Park Community Association, which will be responsible for the management of the centre, a therapy/beauty room, and a space for community activities. There is a main hall with dance floor and a kitchen/servery area to cater for around 80 people.

The community centre is just one part of a major refurbishment project taking shape in Sefton Park. Around £30m will be spent on the 6 tower blocks, with LHAT providing grant assistance of over £13m towards the total cost.

Arena Housing Association manages over 13,000 houses and flats in the North West, predominantly in Chester, Halton, Knowsley, Sefton, St Helens, Warrington, Wigan and Wirral, as well as in its head office city of Liverpool. The association also provides services such as supported housing for vulnerable tenants; the Care and Repair initiative to help older, disabled or low-income homeowners; assistance in helping the long-term unemployed get back into work; and shared ownership initiatives, which enable limited income people to enjoy the benefits of home ownership.

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