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Southport Reporter® covering the news on Merseyside.

Date:- 12 February 2007

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BACK LONDON AIR LINK OR LOSE OUT

CITY Council leader Warren Bradley is urging people to support the city’s air link with London amid fears it could be abandoned altogether.  The VLM flight between John Lennon and London City airports has not taken off with the public and the airline is to close its Liverpool office at the beginning of March.

Now Cllr Bradley, Liverpool’s champion for business is warning that Liverpool could miss out in the future if this service is not used.  The Belgian airline which originally ran the service 5 times a day, reduced its operation to 2 flights a day last month. 

Cllr Bradley believes that the air link must be sustained if the city is to prosper:- “Liverpool’s GVA is outstripping every other north west area and we are powering ahead economically.  Therefore, to my mind, it is vital that Liverpool has a direct air link to and from London if we are to attract more jobs and investment. We want to sell our city to the world, a truly international place once again, looking outwards, and a well used link to our own capital city is a must.”  He adds:- “A fast commuter route to the heart of London in under two hours is incredibly valuable and also makes it easy for business people and tourists to travel to and from Liverpool.  I urge business leaders to support VLM instead of alternative train services. We spent a long time campaigning for this link and VLM showed confidence in this city by launching the service. It is essential we repay their faith by making the most of it."

Cllr Bradley further believes that the significance of the Liverpool/London airlink will be found during the next 18 months when the city celebrates its 800th birthday and welcomes Europe to capital of culture events in 2008.  And the chief executive of Business Liverpool, Mike Taylor has added his weight to the increasing importance of the air link.  He said:- “While at this moment the existing VLM service may well be viewed by the airline as uneconomic, we have some major drivers about to come ‘on stream’ in Liverpool, which will add significant ‘real’ demand to the London/Liverpool service.  I believe we should all be working more closely with VLM to ensure that this additional demand is understood, evaluated and anticipated so that a long term, sustainable, high frequency service can be secured.”

The key economic drivers cited by both Cllr Bradley and Mike Taylor include: Liverpool One – 1.6m sq ft of new retail in the City, the new Arena and Convention Centre at King’s Dock, 1m sq ft of new grade ‘A’ office accommodation in the commercial district, a science park with 240,000 sq ft of new floor space, a cruise liner facility opening this Spring as well as more than 2000 additional hotel beds to meet the demand created by Liverpool’s status of capital of culture next year.

PAYMENTCARE.CO.UK SLAMS LENDERS FOR HIGH PRESSURE AND UNFAIR SALES TACTICS

THE Office of Fair Trading’s decision to refer the payment protection insurance (PPI) market to the Competition Commission (CC) for further investigation is a positive initiative, delivering a much-needed wake up call to High Street lenders, according to independent PPI provider Paymentcare.co.uk.

“Banks and lenders have hijacked PPI as a cash cow to generate huge profits by charging consumers over-inflated premiums. The announcement by the OFT underlines the fact that consumers get a poor deal, a situation which is exacerbated by the acknowledged lack of competition.” said Paymentcare.co.uk managing director Shane Craig.

But genuine low-cost insurance is important for millions of people with borrowing commitments.

“It’s essential that consumers are made aware that there is an affordable alternative and that PPI doesn’t have to be bought along with a loan, store or credit card,” he added.  “People no longer believe they have to buy travel insurance along with the holiday for example - they go online and find a great deal – well, PPI is just the same.“

Paymentcare.co.uk has long campaigned for the Office of Fair Trading move, and has been involved in discussions with the watchdog for many months.

“When people realise that they have been paying way over the odds for policies that may have been useless in the event of a claim, I believe we will see a stampede to claim compensation,” said Craig.  “That said, debt levels in the UK are precariously high – shaking consumers’ faith in a product that can provide genuine help in times of need must be avoided at all costs.”

Customers can apply online for instant cover at www.paymentcare.co.uk.

Help raise money for mural for the children's ward

ANYONE who has had to visit the children's ward at Ormskirk & District General Hospital will know that although the corridor to the ward is very clean and bright, it is also very plain. Hopefully it won't be for much longer as the children's charity Mediquip for Kids has donated a substantial amount towards the painting of a mural by local artist Clare Wright. But staff are still having to raise £2,000 towards the cost.

The mural will be based on the Wizard of Oz so children who have to go to the ward will be able to 'follow the yellow brick road' to the ward.

To raise money staff have been holding a raffle on the ward to win pieces of Clare's art and tickets are also now on sale at Rennies Arts in Ormskirk and Dawson Flowers in Moss Delph Lane, Aughton. The prizes for the raffle are two original works of art by Clare and a 30% discount voucher for Clare's work. The draw will take place on 2 March 2007.

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