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Southport Reporter® covering the news on Merseyside.

Date:-  29 May 2006

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Meeting with PM, "Useful"

USDAW General Secretary John Hannett this week met Tony Blair to ensure that the views and experience of shopworkers and their families are taken into account when the government makes a decision whether or not to extend Sunday opening hours.

The Prime Minister pledged to meet John Hannett to hear the union's case against extending the 6 hour limit on large stores opening on Sundays in a speech to delegates at Usdaw's annual conference in Blackpool.  This meeting allowed John Hannett to outline the key arguments in the union's Save Our Sundays campaign. Usdaw has surveyed the views and experience of over 4,000 retail staff and the responses give overwhelming evidence of shopworkers forced to work on Sundays against their will and to the detriment of their family lives.

"I was pleased Tony Blair had agreed to meet me to discuss this vital issue that affects most of our 340,000 members," John Hannett said. "It was a very useful meeting where I outlined our evidence and the Prime Minster listened to our well researched case against extending Sunday shopping hours.  I wanted to make sure the Prime Minister was aware that 94% of our members are strongly opposed to any extension of Sunday trading hours. 64% of Britain's shoppers, in an independent poll we commissioned, are also opposed.  But most of all I wanted to put forward a compelling case for our members who have family and caring commitments who are already under incredible pressure to work on Sundays when they don't want to. If Sunday hours are extended they're telling us they would struggle to find decent provision for the relatives they care for, and for working parents it would have a devastating impact on their family lives.  It was extremely useful to put our case directly to the Prime Minister and I'm confident that the voice of Britain's 3.1 million retail workers will be fully taken into account before the final decision is made."

Canal Link Moves Forward

THE £16m planned extension of the Leeds - Liverpool canal into the Albert Dock is set to take a major step forward.  The city council's Executive Board is being asked to grant British Waterways a long-term lease for land in front of the Three Graces at the Pier Head so work on the canal, which will attract thousands more tourists into the city, can go ahead,

The Board is also being asked to approve the advertising of the proposed loss of open space. A report to the Board points out that there will be little public space lost as the majority of the canal will be in a culvert with only two open spaces opposite the Liver Building and Port of Liverpool Building.

Negotiations between British Waterways and the Mersey Docks and Harbour Company and the National Museums Liverpool are being held about other stretches of land required to extend the canal.

"This is a very exciting development which will bring life and animation back to the Pier Head, " said Councillor Keith Turner, Executive Member for Resources. "As well as leasing the land for the canal we are also going to improve the look and condition for the Pier Head with work planned for the public areas in time for Capital of Culture year.  During the construction of the canal, the public will still be able to get access to the waterfront and the ferries.  We want the Pier Head to be full of life and a real asset to the city. The waterfront is one of the most famous in the world and the canal extension will focus even more attention on it."

It is intended that construction work will start in Summer of this year and be completed by the end of 2007.   

The report will be considered by the Board on 2 June.

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