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Southport & Mersey Reporter® covering the news on Merseyside.

Date:- 19 November 2007

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BIG banks and other creditors are blocking attempts by debt-saddled consumers wanting to get back on their feet by raising the minimum IVA (Individual Voluntary Arrangement) repayment terms.  According to IVA comparison website, giant creditors such as HSBC became disgruntled with the industry standard amount of 25% of the debt and demanded 40% - or no deal.  As a result, overstretched borrowers are giving up the halfway house of an IVA and caving in to the last resort of bankruptcy, reckons says director Terry Balfour. 

“We have seen the likes of HSBC - a major creditor in the UK – demand debt riddled borrowers to settle an often unmanageable 40 per cent of their debt before green lighting them for an IVA solution,” says Balfour.  “Our concern is that many other creditors will now follow suit, forcing more and more people into the stigma of bankruptcy,” he adds  “The number of firms offering IVAs has soared over the past two years to match demand from debt-laden borrowers, but as with any financial product, consumers shouldn’t sign up for the first deal they find.  Our unique rating system based on the real experiences of IVA customers shows which companies are the ones that really know what they are doing and can successfully negotiate between consumers and creditors.”

The site receives over 50 reviews a month and has now passed the significant milestone of 500 reviews. These range quite considerably with some firms getting a real bashing.

“If someone is mulling over the idea of entering into an IVA, they should check the reviews for the firm they have in mind before proceeding,” advises Balfour.  “Working up the courage to apply for an IVA is a big step,” he says. “It provides a huge relief for people who desperately want to start again without the stigma of bankruptcy – not to mention the massive blow of losing their house and the pasting their credit rating will take.  Communication, sensitivity and thorough understanding of the IVA market are crucial to the success of the arrangement. It’s imperative to find the right IVA provider who will be able to help – and with the comparison tool that offers, looking for the best practice should be fairly straightforward.”

There are nearly 1,000 IVA providers listed on’s database covering the whole of the UK. The service allows clients to find an IP who is close enough for them to meet face to face and ensures they don’t leap from the frying pan into the fire by putting their financial security in the hands of a firm that cannot deliver.

What is more worrying though is HSBC's policies of helping people who are in problems, as a result of the banks actions.  They have often been slow at responding to requests for help and charge even more to set the mistakes made by them  right, making the  financial security of it's client worse still!   Yet no legislation has been passed stopping them from doing this as action is being taken against them.  Often this results in the insistent party having to look at IVA's as a short term fix and then having to sort the mess out after that.

Mersey:- The River that changed the world

THE Albert Dock continues to showcase home-grown creative talent within its stunning World Heritage waterfront site with the launch of Mersey: The River that changed the world. Commissioned by the Mersey Basin Campaign, with support from United Utilities and the Mersey Waterfront, this collection of photographs by Colin McPherson has been a long term project to photograph sites along the entire length of the river from source to the sea, producing a series of portraits of people who work on, live beside and enjoy the River Mersey.

The Exhibition launches on December 6 in the Grand Hall, Albert Dock, in attendance on the launch evening will be all the people photographed for the book/exhibition, key sponsors, the editor and writers.

Joe Edge, Director of the Albert Dock Company said:- “The Albert Dock Company is delighted to be working with the Mersey Basin Campaign on such an important exhibition, charting the people and places that have been touched by the River Mersey. The World Heritage Waterfront in Liverpool is at the heart of the city and Albert Dock is a meeting point for people who enjoy the River."

Walter Menzies, Chief Executive of the Mersey Basin Campaign said:- “The River Mersey changed the world, and it remains one of the most famous rivers in the world. Our book is a magnificent celebration of its past, present and future. Colin McPherson’s stunning photographs capture a unique time as Liverpool celebrates its 800th anniversary and enters its year as European Capital of Culture 2008.”

Photographer Colin McPherson said:- "This project gave me the opportunity to photograph the changing environment of the Mersey and its surrounding areas. The river plays an important role in the lives of the people who live along the Mersey and through my photography I wanted to make a record of the changes which are taking place all around us at this time. The last 20 years has seen many dramatic developments in the natural and built environment surrounding the Mersey. And while much of what went before, in terms of work and industry has disappeared, the legacy of the past remains in its ever-changing landscapes. It has been my intention to capture the spirit of this evolving landscape and through the images, allow people to see the river in a new way."

Mersey: The River that changed the world, the book featuring the photographs commissioned by the Mersey Basin Project, is published by Bluecoat Press and available from this month priced at Ł17.99. Contributors to the book project include Anthony Wilson (BBC Radio, Granada TV, Factory Records), Deborah Mulhearn (The Guardian), David Ward (The Guardian) and Edwin Collier (The New Scientist).  The Mersey Basin Campaign works to improve water quality, encourage sustainable waterside regeneration and engage the community with the waterways of England’s Northwest.

For Information and a selection of excerpts from the book and exhibition go to website.
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