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Southport and  Mersey Reporter -  Your free online newspaper service covering the Merseyside region - (Greater Liverpool).
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Issue Date:- 27 January 2009

Weekender 44 Sold Out in Just 6 Weeks

WHAT an unbelievable response to Southport Weekender 44. Yep, you read the headline correctly... 44 is completely sold out on site just 5 weeks after going on general sale on 1 December 2008.

"We'd like to say a huge thank you for all your support in these turbulent times and also to the hundreds if not thousands of people who have regretfully missed out. All we can do is say sorry if you did not get a ticket and we do hope that you get in on the Cancellation list if you've applied. There will be cancellations of course, for genuine reasons and of course people messing about or simply changing their minds. However, for the first time ever in running Southport, in over 21 years, we've had to decided to take the unprecedented step of stopping the cancellation list. This is due quite simply to it growing too large and we don't want to give out false hope of Chalets becoming available to people too high up the list. Should you have any other questions about May's Weekender, the please call the office on 0870 990 1987 during office hours or email us via:-"
UpNorth Promotions have told us.

Our advice is if you missed out on this one, then do not delay,,, get on the Southport Weekender website  and get your name down fast before November's sells out! The 2009 November Southport Weekender 2009 takes place from 6 November to 8 November and is expected to be massive, so UpNorth Promotions will be putting the tickets on sale from 1 February 2009. The price remaining the same for the 2nd year running at £140 pp provided its booked by the 30 June 2009, rising to £150 pp after that.


THE Government's decision to upgrade cannabis to 'Class B' status has been branded as ludicrous by a Liberal Democrat MEP.  Chris Davies said the change took no account of evidence, ignored the advice of expert advisors, and risked ruining the lives of thousands of young people.  Possession of cannabis now commands a maximum penalty of 5 years imprisonment, although police officers will be invited to issue on-the-spot fines to first time offenders.  But Davies describes the policy as hopelessly confused and says it will prove ineffective. "Five years ago the Government followed the advice of its advisors that cannabis presented too few dangers to warrant its status and downgraded it to Class B. Since then its use amongst use young people has fallen by more than 20%. Now in the face of this success the criminal penalties are being raised against the advice of the Advisory Council on Drugs Misuse. It makes no sense at all!"

The MEP claims that cannabis presents many less dangers than alcohol, and he warns that the change in law will make criminals of individuals who have done no harm to anybody.  He said:- "Ten years ago more than 40,000 people were people arrested each year for cannabis possession, and a significant number were imprisoned.   Lives were ruined for no good purpose.   Drugs policy in Britain is a farce.  It puts huge sums of money into the hands of real villains, while branding decent people as criminals."

Davies has called for a reappraisal of government strategy, with drugs use being treated as a matter not for the courts, but for public health. Email us your views on this to

Merseyside Fire Crews Hit Out at Irresponsible and Masochistic Cuts

MERSEYSIDE fire crews have branded the latest round of cuts planned for the local fire service as irresponsible and masochistic. It accused senior managers of testing the limits of health and safety and significantly cutting the number of fire fighters.

The Fire Brigades Union says Merseyside fire service has already made more cuts to frontline services than any other fire service in the UK. While only 3% of 'efficiency savings' were demanded by Government, managers on Merseyside forced through cuts of more than 15%.

The figures come from details in an Audit Commission report published before Christmas which said fire services in England had made "efficiency savings" - cuts - of Pounds Sterling 185 million in four years. Four fire authorities, one of them Merseyside, accounted for more than Pounds Sterling 62.5 million of that figure, half the total.

According to the Government's own Audit Commission's official report 'Rising to the Challenge', Merseyside made cuts of at least Pounds Sterling 23.125m over 4 years, well in excess of the Pounds Sterling 3.12 million in savings they were expected to make. It means senior managers, backed by willing councillors, have already made Pounds Sterling 20 million more in cuts than they needed to and more than the Pounds Sterling 5 million Merseyside bosses say they now need to save.

Les Skarratts, Merseyside FBU brigade secretary said:- "Merseyside are top of the cuts league, not something we should be proud of. We're also top of the league for senior managers' pay, while the number they manage has fallen sharply.

The fire authority is now looking at more cuts of Pounds Sterling 5.3 million. They are already testing the frontiers of health and safety and significantly reduced the numbers of fire crews.

This latest round of cuts is masochistic and irresponsible. Councillors appear happy to stand back and see the chief officer make a name for himself as the king of cuts, with yet another wielding of the axe.

There is nothing left to cut. Councillors need to take responsibility rather than shirking it and throw these latest plans in the dustbin."

Key parts of the Audit Commission according to the FBU are:-  "The fire services have achieved Pounds Sterling 185M in annual efficiency savings since 2004'/ '4 fire services account for nearly half of all savings achieved' ('this equates to 9 per cent of total expenditure in 2007/08 and is much higher than the original target of Pounds Sterling 105m annually recurring savings from 2005/06 to 2007/08' para 26)

The Efficiency Challenge - para 32 'while overall efficiency savings targets have been exceeded, just 4 fire services accounting for around a third of expenditure, have contributed nearly half of the savings achieved to date. 5 fire services (GMC, IoW, M'side, Northumberland and Cleveland) have reported efficiency savings equivalent to more than 15 % of their total expenditure in 2003/04."

Para 45 'the met with the highest level of savings was Merseyside.."

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