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Southport Reporter® covering the news on Merseyside.

Date:-  1 May 2006

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BANK HOLIDAY 'HATES AND GREATS'

A NEW Bank Holiday activity survey, conducted by pain relief cream Voltarol Emulgel P, reveals that people from the North West don't want the traditional pre-occupation with house-related chores and DIY to hold them back as they look forward to a flurry of activity over the forthcoming two Bank Holiday weekends.

The 'Bank Holiday Hates and Greats' survey found that, despite more than a third of locals preferring to just chill out at home, a majority of 64% favour an action-packed break with ample socialising, trips out and mini breaks. However, those in the North West certainly know how to unwind in the comfort of their own homes as they are more prepared than any other region to stay indoors over the holiday (35% compared to a national average of 28%).

- Some 14% favour trips to the seaside, countryside or theme park, followed by 10% opting for a weekend of socialising either at the pub or eating out and 8% voting for a mini break in the UK or abroad.

- Another 33% said they most enjoy such activities as throwing parties, visiting people, shopping, embarking on home improvements or participating in healthy outdoor activities. Interestingly, along with Scotland, those in the North West are the least likely (2%) to say they enjoy visiting friends and relatives.

- Looking at what they positively dislike about Bank Holidays, catching up on household chores got the top vote (18%) for getting in the way of all the fun. This was followed by 14% who said they most dislike shopping trips for DIY materials or large household items and 13% who find shopping for essentials a Bank Holiday bore - the highest in the country.

ROBBERY ON CROSS BARN LANE

MERSEYSIDE Police are appealing for witnesses after a robbery at the Ince Bennet Monastery, Cross Barn Lane, Ince Blundell.

At around 9.30pm on Wednesday 12 April, 2 men approached the victim inside the monastery, one carrying what is believed to be a knife. The men demanded cash and left with a small amount.

The offenders are described as white and were both wearing dark clothing with their faces obscured with handkerchiefs. One was around 5ft 6in, and the second about 6ft tall. The victim was left shaken but unhurt.

Anyone with any information is urged to contact Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.

La Boheme and Rigoletto

LIVERPOOL is being teated again to Ellen Kent who returns to the Empire with two magnificent operas in May, La Boheme and Rigoletto...

La Boheme to Wednesday 3 May 2006 @ 7.30pm

Rigoletto to Thursday 4 May 2006 @ 7.30pm

To book tickets call the Box Office on:- 0870 606 3536 or visit www.getlive.co.uk/liverpool

SMART WORKERS URGED TO STAY AWAY THE FIRST FRIDAY IN MAY

FRIDAY May 5 has been designated NATIONAL WORK FROM HOME DAY by Work Wise UK, the national three-year campaign promoting the wider adoption of smarter working practices, such as flexible working, mobile working, remote working and working from home.  Organisations and employees across the UK are being encouraged to try out home working on National Work From Home Day as part of Work Wise Week (3 May to 9 May 2006) which will highlight the benefits of smarter working practices generally.

Working from home, even for part of the working week, would greatly enhance people’s work-life balance. The reduction in travel alone could save several hours per day, freeing up time to spend at home with the family or on leisure activities. British workers spend by far the longest time travelling in Europe, as much as 47 working days per year (Samsung research 2004), with commuters in the South East facing an average of 8 hours per week, a whole extra working day!

The savings will not only be in time but also in cash: apart from the transport costs there is the cappuccino and Danish on the way to the office, lunch in the pub and, for some, congestion charges and parking.  Subsequent reductions in traffic volumes and passenger numbers on public transport will result in less congestion and overcrowding, making travel a more bearable chore for people who have no choice but to travel. Less travel also means less pollution and CO2 emissions.

Phil Flaxton, chief executive of the IT Forum Foundation, a not-for-profit organisation which is behind the campaign, said:- “For many, home working is a far more productive and pleasant environment than the workplace.  National Work from Home Day is not intended as a holiday, or an extension of the weekend. Its aim is to let staff, and employers, see just how it could work – how productive we all can be.”

The concept of smarter working has been around for many years, but it is the recent advances in technology which will have had a huge part to play in enabling its wider adoption. The continuing widespread growth of faster broadband across the UK, and the great steps made in mobile technology, are opening the door for a large cross-section of the UK population to benefit from smarter working.

BT is the first strategic partner to join Work Wise UK and this is fitting as the company represents the UK’s largest exponent of flexible working practices. BT currently employs 64,000 flexible workers and 11,500 contracted full time home workers.

Caroline Waters, director, people and policy, BT, said:- ”The benefits of flexible working are enormous and the impact on productivity and employee satisfaction due to an improved work/ life balance has been underlined by trusted organisations such as the DTI, CBI and TUC.  As the leading practitioner of flexible working in the UK, we are delighted to be supporting this initiative and look forward to taking part in Work Wise week. However, without training and guidance the UK’s workforce will not be able to fully embrace a smarter way or working or experience all the potential benefits. It is vital that an organisation like Work Wise UK is on hand to provide helpful advice and support for both employers and employees as they strive to change deep seated cultural associations with work and working practices for the benefit of the country as a whole.”

Further information about Work Wise UK, and how organisations can participate in Work Wise Week, can be found on the website (www.workwiseuk.org).

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