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Issue:- 17/18 March 2010


RUSH was last week named the winner in the UK’s Best Contribution by a Community Group Award at a prestigious reception at the House of Commons in London.  Rush joined leading politicians and sporting celebrities including Olympic Gold Medalist Linford Christie on the Terrace at the House of Commons for the third annual Kids Count Inspiration Awards.

The Kids Count Inspiration Awards recognises those individuals, young and old, and organisations that have been responsible for inspiring young people in their communities. A record number of nominations were received this year for individuals and groups who are addressing issues that affect the lives of children by creating initiatives that are grounded in practicality and realism, make a positive difference, and afford greater freedom to young people to determine their own futures.

at the Seized Gallery at National Museums Liverpool has been developed over 15 years responding to concerns from teachers and youth leaders about the growing impact of drugs misuse on young Merseyside people and their families. Young people observe a commissioned theatre piece presenting an account of a girl who faces choices relating to experimenting with ecstasy and are then given the opportunity to question characters in the play which opens up discussions around the topic of drug use and its consequences.

Rush use a simulated drugs box to raise awareness of what different drugs looks like and their likely effects. Booze goggles illustrate the effect of alcohol on perception and decision making. Rush works with key stage 3 school groups within Merseyside and organisations working with hard to reach young people such as Progress Sports and Shaw Trust.  Up to 30,000 young people have accessed this programme benefiting socially and culturally from their first visit to a museum and developing an increased sense of self worth and confidence in their ability to challenge behaviours and take responsibility for their own health and well being.

Linford Christie said:- “It’s an honour to be part of such a great initiative. All of the winners this evening are champions in their own right and Rush is an inspiration to others, both young and old.”

Kids Count Chairman, Richard Stephenson, said:- “The judges were all incredibly impressed with the nomination we received for Rush. We know how important it is for young people to be educated about drugs and the dangers they pose. Working with young people from across Merseyside, Rush has helped thousands to understand more about drugs and given them the confidence to make their own choices and to avoid peer pressure and bad decisions when it comes to drug use. We are delighted to name them the winners of the Best Contribution by a Community Group category.  The courage, conviction and confidence that is displayed by young people and those who work with them, across the United Kingdom is often truly extraordinary but frequently overlooked. I am very proud to be part of an organisation that not only brings young people to the heart of decision making in Westminster, but that also aims to recognise their contribution to society through these Inspiration Awards.”

For more information about the Awards please visit the Kids Count website or contact the Director, Linda Lawrence via email or  07863200751


UNISON is turning up the heat in the fight against fuel poverty by signing up to a hard-hitting poverty charter.  The UK’s largest public sector union is joining a major coalition of campaigning groups, organised by Consumer Focus, to call on the Government to put fuel poverty at the top of their agenda.  The charter includes calls for a fully-costed fuel poverty plan, with a national energy efficiency scheme, a clamp down on unfair payment type differences and discounts for those in desperate need.  UNISON’s General Secretary, Dave Prentis, said:- “We are demanding a joined-up approach to tackling fuel poverty.  The energy companies and the government always talk a good game on fuel poverty.  But for people on low pay or benefits, it’s always a case of 1 step forward 2 steps back, as the various schemes to help the least well off are outstripped by higher bills.  And even when bills drop, it’s never by as much as previous increases.  As the death toll in cold weather continues to rise, we need a clamp down on unfair pricing to protect the most vulnerable as well as greater energy efficiency in homes.  Tougher regulation and a national energy efficiency programme, co-ordinated by local authorities, is needed to kick start a better future for those living in poverty.”  UNISON will be launching a new energy prospectus on 24 March 2010, as part of its Million Voices for Public Services campaign.  The prospectus says that the current system is not working in the national interest and will call for a national debate about the future of the energy sector.

MPA - holding the police purse strings on your behalf

MERSEYSIDE Police Authority spends more money putting ‘bobbies on the beat’ than most other police authorities, information published on Thursday, 18 March 2010 reveals. HMIC (Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabularies) has released the figures so people can see what police forces are spending their money on.

The investment Merseyside Police Authority has made in recent years in officers -increasing numbers on the beat by around 480 in 5 years - is backed up by an investment in staff and PCSOs. This is the direct result of public demands to see more police as well as improvements in the way Merseyside Police deals with issues such anti-social behaviour and calls from members of the public.

The result of this investment speaks for itself: crime on Merseyside continues to fall. There has been a total of 57,000 fewer victims of crime in the last 3 years representing the largest reduction in the country. This equates to a 33% reduction in overall crime – violent crime down by 44%, burglary down by 24%, robbery down by 33%, vehicle crime down by 46% and criminal damage down by 40%. Confidence in Merseyside Police is 56%, one of the best results in the country.

Merseyside Police Authority achieves this despite having a relatively low tax base, meaning there’s a large percentage of houses in the Band A category and therefore less potential income per average household. However only around 16% of Merseyside Police Authority’s budget comes from council tax payments; policing is primarily funded through a central government grant which reflects the region’s population, deprivation levels and policing challenges, both in terms of crime and as a major port city. In this respect, to a large extent the government decides how expensive police forces are. The HMIC ‘value for money profiles’ published on Thursday, 18 March also reveal that Merseyside spends ‘less than expected’ on ‘non-staff costs.’ This is due to efforts over the past 3 years to make efficiency savings of nearly £27M and invest this in police officer numbers. Merseyside Police operations are lean and efficient but not at the expense of quality of service nor of response. Merseyside Police Authority Chairman, Cllr Bill Weightman, said:- “On Merseyside, we invest well in police officers and staff. This is the direct result of public consultation and a shared strategy between Merseyside Police Authority and the Chief Constable of Merseyside Police. The investment in people has been achieved through the hard work of the Authority and Force in achieving cost savings in other areas of expenditure or in the back office. Our investment in people is reflected in the performance of the Force, both in terms of reported crime, detection rates and in the confidence felt by the communities of Merseyside.”

Atlantic Gateway Strategy launched

AN historic agreement has been made to unlock the global growth potential of the Northwest and create an economic zone of international significance.

The Atlantic Gateway is a vision for a sustainable economic zone including Merseyside through to north Cheshire, Chester, Halton and Warrington into Greater Manchester which will establish an area of economic growth second only to London within the UK.  Hosted by the Northwest Regional Development Agency (NWDA) at Daresbury Science and Innovation Centre, representatives from Liverpool City Region, Manchester City Region and participating councils, on 16 March 2010, agreed to work together with partners including the NWDA to turn the strategy into a reality.

The primary objective is to enhance the city region growth, to support city region strategies and to make it easier for businesses to grow and invest in the region.  The Gateway as a whole could deliver the area’s ambitions of 250,000 new jobs and 400,000 new homes by 2030.

Steven Broomhead, Chief Executive of the NWDA, said:- “Atlantic Gateway is a bold and innovative collaboration across and between city regions to create a growth area which will rank among Europe’s strongest urban economies. Through the framework agreed today the Atlantic Gateway partners can make it simpler and more enticing for businesses to invest in the area as a whole, by enhancing the offer of the cities in partnership with other key places.  We all know the public purse is going to be constrained - it will be private investment which will characterise the next decade. Businesses need the right conditions for growth – this means an environment which is not constrained by infrastructure, connectivity and municipal competition. Our desire is simply to improve the environment for all businesses to invest in order to create stronger city regions and Northwest as a whole.”

The Framework recognises that future growth within the Atlantic Gateway will be less characterised by how the public sector is going to invest, and more influenced by private sector decisions.  Our consultation shows the private sector’s key concerns include the need for a stable and reliable source of energy, a good pool of available skills, help in meeting the forthcoming carbon targets and above all – a consistent administrative approach within which they can make decisions with a common objective for growth.

Atlantic Gateway is not about redistributing funding around the region. By ensuring better coordination and shared objectives in the Atlantic Gateway zone, the Northwest can benefit from a powerful case for higher levels of private sector investment and increased Government focus.

To achieve such a high scale of growth, the area will need to overcome significant challenges and four areas have been identified where partners can work better in collaboration.  These are:-

1. Innovation in Key Sectors. Existing sectors such as Logistics will benefit from an Atlantic Gateway approach, and new areas such as energy generation will become increasingly important.

2. A Global Gateway. Firms need the right infrastructure to move freight in a sustainable way and they need the right technology.

3. Environmental Infrastructure. Sustainable ways need to be found to deal with both waste and energy.

4. Attracting and retaining talent. Growth depends on making sure we have the right people with the right skills to drive our industry. High-quality jobs, exciting places to work and excellent connectivity are essential.

Cllr John Merry, leader of Salford City Council, said:- "This framework of collaborative working between the city regions offers us a unique opportunity and reflects the changing role of the public sector. The Atlantic Gateway framework has the potential for finding more innovative solutions by working outside the traditional administrative boundaries of the individual local authorities."

The Government’s active support is crucial to fostering collaboration across the Gateway and Atlantic Gateway has two specific requests of Government.  These are for a lead department to work with the Government Office Northwest, NWDA and stakeholders to develop an Atlantic Gateway Engagement Group across Whitehall.  And for the Government to second a small group of civil service experts to work for a Sustainable Infrastructure Commission to be set up by the Atlantic Gateway group. The commission will develop new solutions to the single most challenging issues facing the economy.

Together, Liverpool, Manchester and the interconnected network of smaller cities and towns which make up Atlantic Gateway, offer the greatest potential for a sustainable economic growth zone outside of the South East.  Both cities and the Cheshire and Warrington sub region already have well developed and robust plans which are vital for the area. Atlantic Gateway will support these plans and Manchester and Liverpool’s City Region strategies in the areas in which the levers lie outside the administrative boundaries, such as attracting and retaining talent.

Part of the Greater South East’s advantage over the North of England is due to the success in developing connections between economic centres and surrounding towns and cities.

Walter Menzies, Chief Executive of the Mersey Basin Campaign, said:- “Linked by the world famous River Mersey and the Ship Canal, the two great cities of Liverpool and Manchester span an area with a £50 billion economy and a population of six million people. They are linked, too, with a landscape damaged by industrialisation but with huge potential. Our work on 'Adapting the Landscape' shows how it could become an outstanding asset for the 21st century - a better environment for business, living, recreation and local food production. Some of the very big challenges ahead - climate change, flooding and the security of renewable energy can only be tackled on this scale.”

The Framework outlines how partners will work together to resolve common barriers and challenges to growth faced across the Gateway area.  Leaders have agreed to take action together to:-

► Make the case nationally for increased investment in the area.

► Collaborate and coordinate activity around vital infrastructure.

► Identify new policy and a focus within RS2010 that will help optimize growth.

► Support and prioritise projects within the area that will both enable and contribute to the growth of the city regions.

► Develop new actions and priorities as it becomes clearer where collaboration can make the most impact.

Councillor Flo Clucas, Deputy Leader of Liverpool City Council, said:- “The Atlantic Gateway shows the way forward for the Liverpool and Manchester City regions. Rather than being seen as rivals this framework brings together these city regions with the potential for unrivalled and sustainable economic growth. Together we can become not only one of Europe’s leading economic regions but a global force.”

Leader of Halton Borough Council, Cllr Tony McDermott, said:- "This is an exciting project which involves commitment by the area’s leaders to collaborate to secure economic growth and prosperity for our two city regions and the shared hinterland, which includes Halton."

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