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Issue:- 18/19  November 2009

Welcome for rail cash boost

MERSEYTRAVEL has welcomed Government plans to invest in £50million in ten major UK stations, of which Liverpool Central is one of them.

This year alone Transport Ministers including Lord Andrew Adonis, Paul Clark and Chris Mole, have been shown the challenges facing Merseytravel and its partners as Liverpool Central station tries to cope with soaring passenger numbers.

Transport Minister Lord Andrew Adonis will see it again when he officially unveils the new travel centre MtoGo shop on Liverpool Central’s concourse.

Councillor Mark Dowd, Chair of Merseytravel, said:- “This is tremendous news, something for which I have campaigned and lobbied long and hard. We have brought a succession of Ministers to Central Station to see the situation for themselves and our persistence has been rewarded. I would also like to thank Louise Ellman MP for her assistance in lobbying Government on our behalf. Central Station is the busiest station on our network, with up to 60,000 passengers a day, and Merseytravel will contribute to the funding package to ensure it becomes a showcase on one of the country’s best performing rail networks.”

Councillor Chris Blakeley, Chair of Merseytravel’s Rail Services Committee, said:- “Over £130 million has been invested in Merseyrail Electrics during the past 15 years. Earlier this year we became the first fully secure stations network in the UK and we will strive to ensure it continues to be a network of which we can be justifiably proud.”

EU Crackdown on Rogue Ringtones

CONSUMER Champion, Arlene McCarthy MEP has hailed a Europe-wide crackdown on rogue ringtone websites that have been breaking the law and ripping off consumers.  Arlene said:- “Young people and children are being conned by these website into downloading ringtones they believe are free, but then they find a nasty surprise in their phone bill. These types of practices are not just unfair; they are banned by law in the EU, in particular when they are targeted at vulnerable people such as children. It is shocking that the investigation into the ringtone market revealed that over half the companies (54%) were breaking the law. Europe is leading a crackdown on these rogue websites and is getting results. 70% of the websites with identified problems have been dealt with - 52% corrected their material and 17% were closed down. This sends a strong message to the mobile ringtone industry - we are determined to protect consumers; break the law and you will face the consequences.”

Some of the rouge practices include:-

· unclear price information

· misleading terms and conditions

· luring consumers into entering a contract without realising it

Arlene added:- “Consumers should be on their guard when downloading mobile ringtones. Always check there's no catches hidden in the small print and beware of texting a premium rate number or giving out payment details.”

Woman in court on child sex charges

ON 19 November 2009 a woman is due to appear in court South Sefton Magistrates' Court in Bootle charged with child sex offences following the investigation into paedophiles Vanessa George and Colin Blanchard.  Police said the unnamed aged 43 year old from Southport, Merseyside, has been charged as a result of an alleged link to former IT salesman Blanchard, 38, who case has sparked massive public outrage.  Last month Blanchard alongside nursery worker George and Angela Allen, both 39, dmitted a string of child abuse offences at Bristol Crown Court.  A spokesman for Merseyside Police said:- "A 43 year old woman from Southport has been charged with a number of offences relating to possessing and making indecent images of a child and sexual activity with a child."  Police added the charges are not linked to the Little Ted's Nursery in Plymouth, Devon, where George had worked.

Rogue publishing company shut down

A publishing company which made misleading claims about its circulation figures, and demanded payment for advertisements never placed, has been wound up in the High Court following an investigation by the Insolvency Service.

Rose Garland Limited, based in Heywood, Lancashire, claimed to publish ‘awareness’ booklets covering subjects such as road safety, fire prevention and drug awareness. The company sold advertising space in the booklets to small businesses and organisations throughout the UK between October 2006 and November 2009, and had more than 5000 customers.

The enquiry by the Insolvency Service’s Companies Investigation Branch (CIB) found that Rose Garland had been cold-calling potential advertisers, offering them advertising space based on highly exaggerated claims about circulation figures. The investigation revealed that:-

* One customer was told that 250,000 copies of the booklet containing his advertisement would be handed out to the police, fire brigade and ambulance staff and copies placed in casualty wards. The enquiry showed that only 6,500 copies of the booklets had ever been printed and the low distribution and poor quality made them of little or no commercial benefit to the advertisers.

* The company aggressively pursued businesses for payment even though no order for advertising had been placed, and sent out a “legal letter” threatening legal proceedings which it had obtained on the internet, despite never intending to take legal action.

* Despite an absence of complete trading records the investigation found that Rose Garland had taken more than £1 million during the course of its trading, from more than 5,000 customers.

CIB Investigations Supervisor Alex Deane said:- “This case should act as a reminder to businesses to remain wary of anyone who cold calls, asking potential customers to place advertisements in walls planners, diaries, children’s fund books and other similar publications.”

For more information about rogue publishing companies and other scams visit the Companies Investigations Branch section of
the Insolvency Service website at:-

Background notes:-

1. The registered office of Rose Garland Limited is at 15 New York Street, Heywood, Lancashire, OL10 3EU and the company was incorporated on 9 October 2006.

2. The petitions were presented under s124A of the Insolvency Act 1986 on 29 September 2009 and the Winding-up Order was made on 13 November 2009.

3. The Insolvency Service carries out confidential enquiries on behalf of the of the Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills through Companies Investigation Branch.

4. The Insolvency Service administers the insolvency regime investigating all compulsory liquidations and individual insolvencies (bankruptcies) through the Official Receiver to establish why they became insolvent. The Service also authorises and regulates the insolvency profession; deals with disqualification of directors in corporate failures; assesses and pays statutory entitlement to redundancy payments when an employer cannot or will not pay employees; provides banking and investment services for bankruptcy and liquidation estate funds; and advises ministers and other government departments on insolvency law and practice.

5. All public enquiries concerning the affairs of the companies should be made to:- The Official Receiver, Public Interest Unit, 2nd Floor, 3 Piccadilly Place, London Road, Manchester, M1 3BN. Tel:- 0161 234 8531.

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