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Issue:- 28 October 2009


MERSEYSIDE Police are investigating an allegation of rape following an incident at the Albany Apartments in Old Hall Street, Liverpool.

Officers were called to the apartments at 11.45am on Monday, 26 October 2009, by a member of the public reporting that a woman had been found unconscious in a room inside the building.

An ambulance was called and the victim - a woman from the Merseyside area aged in her 20s - was taken to hospital with injuries consistent with having been raped.

She has since been discharged from hospital and officers from the Force's specialist rape support unit are waiting to interview her.

The apartments have been sealed off while a number of rooms in the building are forensically examined by crime scene investigators.

Detectives have contacted the owners of the Albany Apartments to establish who was staying there at the time the alleged offence was commited and CCTV footage is being viewed to identify who entered and left the building.

Detective Sergeant Nigel Pimblett from St Anne Street CID, said:- "This was a very serious sexual assault on a young woman and we are determined to bring those responsible to justice. I would appeal to anyone who was there or knows who was responsible to come forward and contact us, before we come to them. The victim is understandably extremely traumatised after her ordeal and specially trained officers are waiting to speak to her in more detail about what happened when she feels able to. In the meantime, enquiries are being carried out to establish who was in the building at around the time the offence was commited."

Anyone with information should call St Anne Street CID on:- 0151 777 4065 or Crimestoppers anonymously on:- 0800 555 111.


AS the nights draw in and autumn/winter festivities get under way the temptation to drink and drive begins to rear its ugly head.  An ongoing issue across the region, Lancashire alone has seen over 276 serious or fatal accidents over the last 6 years as a direct result of drink driving, with young drivers highlighted as a particularly vulnerable group.  Ongoing engagement from the road safety partnerships across the North West has revealed that young drivers (17-35 year olds) often consider their worst nightmare to be killing a friend or partner through drink driving, so with this in mind Road Safety for North West (RSFNW) has launched an innovative campaign, ‘MY WORST NIGHTMARE’, to tackle the issue.   In partnership with Odeon, RSFNW will be hosting 3 events across Halloween weekend. Each region (Greater Manchester, Merseyside and Lancashire) will show exclusive screenings of classic horror films including; Carrie, Night of the Living Dead and Poltergeist 2 at Manchester Trafford Centre, Preston and Liverpool One cinemas respectively.  The events will also show a never before seen, ‘banned in the UK’ road safety trailer, guaranteed to shock even the most devout horror fan.  Tickets for the event will cost only £2 with all proceeds going towards the North West Air Ambulance, a charity on the front line of traffic collisions across the region.  Linda Sanderson communications manager at Lancashire Partnership for Road Safety said:- “The partnerships works tirelessly throughout the year to combat drink driving, however the national drink driving campaigns mainly focus around the summer and Christmas periods.  We want to highlight that drink driving is an all year round issue, compounded by the dark nights. Hosting events such as these will allow us to engage with this audience in a way that not only appeals to them but also encourages them to have an open dialogue with us.”  One of the key messages of the campaign is the severity of the punishments associated with drink driving.  Linda Sanderson continued:- “Offenders caught drink driving face at least a year driving ban, a fine of up to £5000, a criminal record and up to 6 months in prison, not to mention the potential loss of a job and difficulty getting car insurance in the future. None of this, however, compares to the irreparable damage felt by the families and victims involved in a drink driving collision.”  To spread the word as far as possible, RSFNW has developed an event microsite to allow attendees to purchase tickets online, as well as discover the facts about the consequences of drink driving. A specially designed Twitter feed, Facebook page and YouTube channel has been also set-up to engage directly with the target audience.  RSFNW is also giving budding actors the chance to win a private registration plate, courtesy of the DVLA, through the event microsite. Competition goers simply film themselves saying the iconic line from ‘The Shining’, “Here’s Johnny”, and email it.  The best five in each region will then be shown on the big screen for the audience to decide the winner.

Ministers call for evidence on the default retirement age

MINISTERS are calling for businesses and individuals to submit evidence on the default retirement age to feed into the review taking place next year.

The Government is asking for evidence including:-

- The operation of the default retirement age in practice;

- The reasons that businesses use mandatory retirement ages;

- The impacts on businesses, individuals and the economy of raising or removing the default retirement age;

- The experience of businesses operating without a default retirement age;

- How could any costs of raising or removing the DRA be mitigated and benefits realised.

Pat McFadden and Angela Eagle today issued a joint statement calling for evidence on retirement ages to be submitted by 1st February 2010.

Minister for Pensions and the Ageing Society Angela Eagle MP said:- “As people live and work for longer, it is sensible that we have the debate on what works for business and individuals. The laws around employment and retirement need to reflect changes in economic and social circumstances. That is why earlier this year we announced we were bringing the review of the default retirement age forward to 2010. Today we are asking for evidence to be submitted by 1st February to allow that to happen.”

Business Minister Pat McFadden MP said:- “The default retirement age is a subject that employees, the business community, trade unions and charities all have a strong interest in. We want to receive information from all of these parties as it is important that our review is based on robust, detailed and wide-ranging evidence.”

Submissions are requested by 1 February 2010 and should be emailed to and/or posted to DRA Evidence, Department for Business, Innovation and Skills, V497, 1 Victoria Street, London, SW1H 0ET.

Homotopia NOT Homophobia
Sunday, 1 November to Monday, 30 November 2009

THIS year the Homotopia festival programmes a month of the very highest quality LGBT culture including; 2 international art openings, a theatrical world premiere, a gala literature weekend, and exclusive documentary screenings. Artistic Director, Gary Everett describing this year’s festival said:- “Homotopia has developed a strong social justice strand this year and we have taken the fight against homophobia abroad with our youth exchange to Poland. We are proud to be presenting new work and this year is a celebration of our community’s talents that everyone can appreciate and enjoy.”

Starting as it means to go on the festival opens with an international art launch of American artist Laurie Lipton’s latest work ‘Extraordinary Drawings’. (Contemporary Urban Centre until 29 Nov). Lipton, originally from New York, has been based in London since 1986. Her provocative, topical images are intensely detailed and rendered in layers of charcoal and graphite echoing the work of Bosch, Memling and Goya. This year Lipton has exhibited at the Basel and Pulse (New York) contemporary art fairs as well as the Saatchi Gallery London and galleries in California, Ohio and Dusseldorf.

Also creating festival headlines is the appearance of Booker shortlisted author Sarah Waters in conversation (FACT Fri 6 Nov 7.30pm). With television adaptations of her novels Tipping The Velvet, Fingersmith and Affinity, Waters work has introduced lesbian characters to a huge audience. For Homotopia she will discuss her work with publisher and author Helen Sandler against a backdrop of clips from the adaptations.

Homotopia celebrates another festival first in its co-commission and world premiere of Jiggery Pokery a funny and moving new play about the life and lonely death of Charles Hawtrey (Unity Theatre Weds 11 – Sat 14 Nov 8pm). English comedy legend and known to millions through his Carry On appearances, Hawtrey was a popular female impersonator in variety and music halls before his film career. But his overt sexuality proved controversial in a conservative age and in this innovative production actress Mandy Lawrence will portray Hawtrey in all his dark and drunken glory.

Social justice has become a theme of Homotopia’s work and there will be a screening of a documentary showing this year’s ground-breaking work through Project Triangle (Unity Theatre Weds 4 Nov 6.45pm). This Homotopia project brought partners together across the city including Merseyside Police to empower young LGBT people and challenge homophobia. This innovative film shows some of those young people visiting Auschwitz, learning about the holocaust and meeting gay youths in Warsaw all with representatives of Merseyside Police.

Caretakers a gripping and powerful new play by Billy Cowan also tackles prejudice as it looks at the sensitive issues around anti gay bullying in schools (Unity Theatre Thurs 5 & Fri 6 Nov 8pm).

Alongside Laurie Lipton’s work at CUC Homotopia will also be showcasing the work of digital French artist Chris Von Steiner (4 – 29 November). His work combines the pop icons of his youth with bold colours, elements from movies, music, books and television. He draws on dreams and desires to create digital nightmares. He has participated in group shows alongside artists such as Banksy, Tracey Emin, Blek le Rat and Sam Taylor Wood.

To complement Sarah Waters the festival is working with Liverpool Libraries to bring popular award winning authors Charlotte Mendelson and Joanna Briscoe to meet their readers. Following appearances at reading groups at community libraries the authors of ‘When We Were Bad’ and ‘Sleep With Me’ will be at FACT on Saturday 7 November 4.30pm.

No Homotopia would be complete without lesbians proving they can laugh at themselves so Clare Summerskill returns to Liverpool in her new show ‘In No Particular Order!’ (Unity Theatre Sat 7 Nov 8pm). Clare always sells out and this year will be no exception.

So for anyone missing the first funny woman Lavender Girls will more than make up for it. (Unity Theatre Weds 11 Nov 9.45pm) Rosie Wilby, once described as “an amiable, Kylie-sized, pocket Venus who packs a punch” brings her hilarious brand of weirdness back, alongside locals Jane Townend (Nivea Funny Women finalist) and Emma Bowley who delighted audiences last year.

Further exclusive screenings all shot by Re:Dock will include; Memories of Yankel (Unity Theatre Weds 4 Nov 6pm) – a short film made in 2007 when Liverpool artist Yankel Feather was interviewed for the Our Story history project. Sadly Yankel died in April this year but this extraordinary artist and brave, outspoken man is not forgotten. The Invisible Death of Michael – a short film looking at the under reporting of the death of Michael Causer and what this says about societal attitudes to homophobic hate crimes. Includes interviews with Peter Tatchell and Paul Burston.

The Grand Vogue Ball – The Movie (Unity Theatre Fri 13 Nov 9.45pm) – a film of the night everyone still talks about. An opportunity to relive the costumes, the make-up, the glamour.

Also there’s the Striptease! Spanish dancer and performance artist Pere Faura performs a video/lecture for the audience gaze and the sexual gaze exploring striptease as performance (The Bluecoat Sat 14 Nov 8pm).

Finally Homotopia TV is back with over 15 new features created especially for the festival. The web based TV station has attracted over 175,000 viewers from around the globe. 2010 will also see an expansion of the popular digital project with dedicated new channels.


Capital of ‘Gay’ Comedy @ The Slaughterhouse – Fri 20 – Sat 21 November. Leading MC Jonathan Mayor described as ‘a Christmas tree exploding over the campest Bollywood star you know’ introduces headline Phoenix Nights star Janice Connolly as Mrs Barbara Nice, goth, lesbian and post-op transsexual Bethany Black and I.F Comedy best newcomer nominee Zoe Lyons.

Is A Fire Brigade Strike On The Cards For Merseyside?

THE Fire Brigade Union on 29 October 2009 has set a deadline of 7 days before it will ballot for industrial action unless the fire authority meets its demands. The fire authority is planning to axe about 68 posts to save £5m because of reduced government funding, but the FBU wants a sacked union official re-instated and a cuts package withdrawn. A Merseyside Fire and Rescue Service spokesman said he was "disappointed" that the FBU has registered another dispute. 

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