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Southport Reporter®

Edition No. 227

Date:- 14 November 2005

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Christmas Cracker to set tills ringing

Merseytravel is lining up a ‘cracker’ of a promotion in the run up to Christmas, with a festive flat fare on Merseyrail of just 50p to anywhere in Merseyside.  As well as setting tills ringing in town centres across the region, the 50p ‘Christmas Cracker’ promotion is set to bring Christmas cheer to thousands people expected to use the service again this year.

More than 143,000 people took advantage of last year’s Christmas Cracker, which runs every Thursday evening in the 6-week run up to Christmas (beginning on Thursday 17 November) and every Sunday during December until Christmas.  Merseytravel’s annual Christmas gift to rail customers, now in its 11th year, gives a seasonal boost to the region’s economy and helps reduce traffic congestion in urban centres.

Councillor Mark Dowd, Chair of Merseytravel, said:- “Merseytravel has an important role to play in regenerating our economy and by offering cut price travel during the busy Christmas period we can only help bring more visitors to our major centres. Merseyrail is an invaluable part of our transport network and we want to encourage more people to use rail travel for all of their journeys.”

Returns from previous years have shown that 23% of shoppers using the service to Liverpool alone had made the switch from car to Merseyrail.

Tickets go on sale at Merseyrail stations from 4pm every Thursday (between 17 November and 22 December), except at Liverpool city centre stations where they will go on sale from 6pm, as well as all day on Sundays in December until Christmas.  The offer is valid on Wirral, Northern and City Lines within the Merseyside boundary.

As an extra festive bonus, a £1 return flat fare extends to stations outside Merseyside as far as Chester, Ellesmere Port and Ormskirk. The offer means customers can travel from Southport to Chester and back for £1.

Councillor Dowd added:- “By extending the deal even further, we are giving people more shopping opportunities, in addition to bringing in business from other areas.”

Patrick Verwer, Managing Director of Merseyrail, said:- “We are keen to show the people of Merseyside and beyond that using the train to get to the city centre is an excellent way to avoid traffic jams and parking problems. The Christmas Cracker promotion will hopefully encourage even more people to leave their cars behind and use Merseyrail to get to the shops.”

To help people share in even cleaner, safer shopping centres, 31 Merseyrail stations currently offer free park and ride facilities.

Usdaw says no evidence 'millions of shoppers' want
extra shopping hours on a Sunday

RETAIL union Usdaw says there is no evidence that millions of shoppers want deregulation of Sunday trading hours despite claims by a leading consumer group.
The union says there is no compelling research that the 'millions of shoppers' claimed by the National Consumer Council to want extra hours are actually demanding more time to shop on Sundays.

"Once again we have an organisation claiming to speak for millions of shoppers but providing no real evidence that consumers want more time to shop on a Sunday.  The reality is we already have one of the most deregulated Sunday trading regimes in Europe and Britain's shoppers already have 150 hours a week to spend their money and we think that is quite enough.  The restriction of 6 hours on a Sunday is not 'red tape' as claimed by the NCC but a protection for 2.7 million retail workers who want to spend some quality time with their families on at least 1 day a week.  We have a duty to those hard working retail staff to oppose deregulation and give them the chance that most Britons enjoy to spend time with their families at the weekend as well as achieving that all important work/life balance." says Usdaw general secretary John Hannett.

The NCC also questions whether the 6 hour limit protects workers from being exploited but provides no evidence that deregulation will boost protection for retail staff.

"Our experience on a day to day basis in stores is that the original compromise reached in 1994 has given workers great protection on Sundays by limiting the hours they work. The present arrangements gives every retail worker the legal right to opt out of working on a Sunday and there is a real danger that deregulating Sunday trading would only increase the real pressure on retail workers to work on that day.  The reality is that the existing Sunday trading limits have worked for everyone. The compromise allows consumers to shop on Sundays, businesses to make money and retail staff to have one short day in the week to spend with their families. The present restrictions have worked and the NCC has failed to provide any compelling evidence that the system we have at the moment needs to change."

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