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Issue Date:- 26 May 2008

Consumer Chair slams member states inaction over City Guide fraud

LOCAL Labour Euro MP and Labour’s Chair of the Internal Market and Consumer Protection Committee, Arlene McCarthy MEP, will demand that Member States take urgent action to crack down on EU wide dodgy directory scams that are robbing business of thousands of pounds.

Arlene McCarthy MEP said:- “Since the year 2000 I have received complaints about the activities of the City Guide organisation.  Indeed my own office has in the past received this mailing.”

This scam operates by sending business a form asking for information and claims to be cost free.  But in the small print if the business returns the so called free information form they are slapped with costs of 3000 euros a year.  Businesses are then bullied and harassed until they pay up.

“This fraud has gone on now for 8 years and it is high time that the member state governments take urgent action and drive this cowboy operation out of business once and for all.  It is unacceptable that business complaints have fallen on deaf ears and for example the sole trader behind the City Guide has been allowed to continue to peddle his fraudulent practice without facing the full force of the law.

Even where he has been put out of business he has moved location to another member state.  It seems the long arm of the law does not extend across our European borders.  Small businesses are the backbone of our economies and should be protected from such fraudulent malpractice. 

I am calling on the member states to urgently take action and recognise the serious and damaging consequences of allowing this fraudster to continue to rip off business.  I want the member states to commit to taking action during our debate.”

Ben Butters - a spokesperson for the Association of European Chambers of Commerce and Industry said:- “Chambers across the EU are hearing from more and more businesses deceived by fraudulent ‘City Guide’ type practices.  Since such cases rarely reach the courts, the solution should clearly focus on prevention, rather than cure.  MEPs and the Commission can play an important role in ensuring that national officials work together far more effectively in resolving this invariably cross-border problem.”

Nikolaus Futter, President of the EADP, the representative of legitimate directory publishing organisations, said:- "EADP has been fighting against these scams for forty years, and has promoted its Code of Practice as a label for lawful directory publishing activities. 

Every directory and database publisher who is a member of EADP must comply with the Code of Professional Practice. 

EADP will continue its works on this matter and welcomes the initiative of Mrs McCarthy’s oral question to the Council to clarify how Member States are struggling against these practices."

Arlene McCarthy MEP added:- “My advice to anyone who receives a mailing from the European City Guide is to throw it away!

The European City Guide concentrates on small businesses and individuals, and once it has obtained a signature by deception it pursues a strategy of intimidation and bullying to try and extract payment.

The company has previously been pursued vigorously by Trading Standards and the Office of Fair Trading.  It was eventually traced to the Catalan region of Spain. 

In 2003, a Spanish court fined the company heavily and shut it down for a year.  But then it simply switches bases and opens up somewhere else using the same unscrupulous methods.”


THE Beacon Fellowship Charitable Trust has put out the call for nominations for the 2008 Beacon Prize.  Together with the Government’s cabinet Office, UBS Wealth Management and The Vodafone UK Foundation, the Charity is urging people throughout the UK to nominate individuals who have made significant charitable contribution in giving time, money or skills to a specific cause.

With awards in 5 categories and additional regional prizes for England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales, the winners will be invited to attend a gala evening in London where the overall prize winner will receive £30,000 to donate to the charity of their choice.

Beacon’s former Chair and Broadcaster, Martyn Lewis CBE notes:- “The Beacon Prize, described by the Prime Minister, Gordon Brown MP, as ‘the Nobel Prize of the charity world’, aims to encourage a culture of giving in the UK by uncovering and recognising extraordinary achievements in the world of charity.  Beacon had a remarkable response to last year’s Prize nomination scheme, revealing stories of extraordinary individuals who have worked to make a difference, be it locally or on a global scale.  Each in turn represents the beacon belief in the strength of individual philanthropy and we are confident this year’s nominations will highlight the work of many more unnamed heroes who have given so much in the name of charity.”

Nominations close on 1 July 2008.  Nomination forms can be downloaded from the Beacon website

Do you know someone who deserves a Beacon Prize?

· Perhaps a young person who gives their time and talent to help others

· Perhaps a person with energy and originality, who transformed things in their community?

· Or someone who has used their skills to help transform a charity?

· Has someone you know created an idea that has changed people’s lives?

Whatever your story Beacon wants to hear about it.  Categories for nomination include Leadership, Community Builder, Creative Giving, New Initiatives and Young Philanthropist.

If you’d like to nominate someone for the Beacon Prize 2008 please email or telephone 020 7203 8290 for a nomination form.

Letters to the editor:- "Dyslexia in girls"

"THE term dyslexia comes from the Greek for 'difficulty with words'.  In my view, dyslexic girls may not be getting "a fair crack of the whip" when it comes to diagnosing their condition. 

It is likely that there are many girls whose learning difficulties and dyslexia is not adequately recognised.  The fact that many boys are referred because of reading/literacy difficulties, is likely to be because of the way that they express their frustration in an outwardly directed fashion.

This contrasts with girls who tend to internalise their feelings to themselves in class. 

I've therefore produced a factsheet about dyslexia in girls.  It is aimed at parents, pupils, teachers and governors - all of whom are likely to read your newspaper. 

The Fact Sheet is free and is available from: "Dyslexia in Girls Fact Sheet", Further information is on the Appleford School  website."
 Dr. Peter Gardner, Chartered Psychologist

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