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Southport Reporter® covering the news on Merseyside.

Date:- 23 January 2006

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FROM the 18 January 2006, energy giant British Gas has withdrawn its 2010 price protection tariff for new customers.

Karen Darby, CEO of price comparison and switching service comments:- "British Gas' decision no longer to sell its 2010 price protection tariff is due to over-subscription, as there is now a huge demand for capped or fixed price energy tariffs."

Since the start of 2004, gas prices have gone up by an average of 32% while electricity prices have gone up by an average of 24% and many households have taken advantage of one of the capped or fixed price deals on offer. Although it has been withdrawn, we would urge British Gas to introduce a similar tariff in the near future.

Despite it being withdrawn, there are a number of capped options available from different suppliers. With wholesale prices likely to remain volatile and further energy price increases inevitable, consumers should ensure they are on the best deal. As we have seen, some tariffs can be limited and anyone wanting to fix their energy prices should switch now to avoid disappointment.

Capped and fixed price tariffs:-

EDF Energy

* Prices are frozen until January 2008 - Prices will not alter up or down

* Available for any customers of London Energy, Seeboard Energy and SWEB Energy

* This offer is available to standard and Economy 7 electricity and dual fuel customers and is open until the end of the year

* No exit penalties if you switch away

* Unit rate is approximately 5% for dual fuel when compared with the standard tariff


* Capped until October 2007 - Prices can decrease if wholesale prices fall

* No end date for sign up. Available across the U.K..

* Dual fuel only

* No exit penalties if you switch away

* Payment methods available:- Monthly direct debit or quarterly cash cheque

* Capped rate will be reviewed if wholesale prices drop

* Unit rate is +12% for dual fuel when compared with the standard tariff

Scottish Power

* Frozen until October 2007 - Prices will neither alter up or down

* Available to dual fuel customers or electricity only - Not available on single gas

* Cash/ Cheque or monthly Direct Debit payment options available.

* No exit penalty

* An extra £2.50 per month is paid on gas & an extra £1.50 on electricity compared to their standard rate.


* Gas prices capped until January 2007

* A limited offer, though no end date for sign up as yet

* Available across the UK

* Available for dual fuel and single gas

* No exit penalties if you switch away

* Payment methods available: Monthly direct debit or quarterly cash cheque


When the shoe doesn't fit!

LIVERPOOL parents of children with clubfoot and odd sized feet are in uproar following a decision from Clarks - the shoe shop and manufacturer - to stop selling odd sized pairs of shoes. Altringham based charity STEPS - which campaigns for children with clubfoot - says the implications for children wearing badly fitted shoes can be serious.   In the past, Clarks has offered parents to buy an odd sized pair of shoes for 25% on top of the normal price.

When steps asked Clarks why they had stopped offering this service they replied in a letter:- "The service satisfied a very specific consumer requirement and has now become uneconomical for us to run."

Clarks then referred to their factory outlets where parents could buy clearance items.  Sue Banton, founder of STEPS said:- "These outlets offer a limited choice of shoes and do not offer the one-to-one service and shoe fitting which children with clubfoot and odd sized feet need".  Sue added:- "If these children do not wear correctly fitted shoes they could suffer from further deformity of the feet and knee problems later in life."

Amanda from Liverpool, mother of 5 year old Eryn, commented:- "My daughter wears one size 11 and one 12.5 and needs new shoes every 4 months. We can't afford to buy 2 pairs every time and now we are forced to get one pair of size 12.5. Because one shoe doesn't fit she trips up and falls over all the time."

Sarah from Swindon, mother of 4 year old Jack who was born with clubfoot, said:- "I am shocked that Clarks has stopped offering odd sized shoes. My son needs new shoes every 4 months - including sandals and wellies - and now I have to buy 2 pairs at full price."

STEPS estimates that around a year 10.000 children in the UK have different sized feet.  STEPS is urging all parents who are unhappy with Clarks decision to contact them on

Clatterbridge gets thumbs up for Foundation Trust status

THE region’s leading cancer hospital, Clatterbridge Centre for Oncology NHS Trust (CCO), has been given the go-ahead to progress to the next stage in its bid to become a Foundation Trust by 1 April 2006 and is now appealing to the public to get involved as Members and Governors.

“This is fantastic news for Clatterbridge Centre for Oncology and for all our patients as it means that we can now commit to a five year plan to develop our services in the most appropriate way for our patients” said chief executive Tony Halsall.  “One of the most important changes that Foundation status brings is the closer involvement of our patients, staff and the public in influencing future developments. We will have more financial independence and with the guidance of the Trust’s Members and the Council of Governors we will be using this independence to make sure that Clatterbridge remains at the forefront of cancer care in the UK.”

Amongst the plans CCO has for the future are:
• To enhance the current outreach services for chemotherapy treatment. This will allow CCO to offer a more localised service to a greater number of patients, giving them more choice.

• Carry out a study which will examine the possibility of CCO developing a satellite radiotherapy service at a site in the Liverpool area

• To develop, in partnership with the University of Liverpool, an integrated cancer research programme to give patients the opportunity to benefit from the very latest developments in the treatment of cancer.

Tony Halsall added:- “We want to provide all our patients from Merseyside, Cheshire, North Wales and the Isle of Man with the very best treatment. This means being as accessible as possible and keeping up to date with the very latest treatment and research. We already have an extremely committed and talented team of clinicians at CCO but achieving Foundation status means that we will continue to attract the very best talent available.”

CCO is now appealing for the public to become Trust Members and also to put themselves forward for election to the Council of Governors. Governor elections will be taking place from 19 January 2006. To find out more about becoming a Member or a Governor visit the website:-

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