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Issue:- 02/03 June 2010


SMALL Business owners in the North West say their retirement prospects are improving in line with the economic outlook – but still believe a full recovery is at least a year away.

The latest independent quarterly survey of small business owners in the region, commissioned by Clifton Asset Management, reveals 67% believe retirement is further away now than it was a year ago.  That number is broadly in line with the national average of 68% and compares favourably with the 72% in the last survey three months ago.

However, when asked what was the single main reason for their retirement prospects moving closer the highest number (41%) of respondents in the North West said frustration with ongoing financial difficulties meant they just wanted to “call it a day”.  And, when asked how long before the UK saw a full return to economic growth the majority (65%) said a year or more.

Elsewhere in the survey 35% of respondents in the North West admitted they do not know or monitor what their pension income will be and 71% in the region believe government plans to force all company bosses to provide an employees’ pension scheme by 2012 will actually discourage businesses from recruiting.  And, when asked what should be the new coalition government’s top priority for the small business sector 41% called for a cut in corporation tax on profits.

Commenting on the findings Neil Greenaway, Managing Director at Clifton Asset Management, which provides specialist funding and business advice to the small to medium sized enterprise sector, said:- “How people view their retirement prospects is a crucial part of the survey, so a fall in the number of business owners who see retirement moving further away has to be good news.   However the uncertain political situation coupled with the fact we are entering a period of unprecedented financial austerity means there is no room for complacency, and this is borne out by our figures which show most business owners in the North West believe we are at least a year away from full economic recovery.  It is also worrying that more than a third of our respondents in this region have no idea what their pension income might be, and there is also clear evidence that the planned introduction of strict rules forcing employers to offer staff a pension scheme with funded contributions in 2012 is going to have serious negative implications for employment in this part of the UK. While the situation in Westminster dictates that the politicians have to be flexible when it comes to making policy decisions, our survey sends a strong message that lower taxes and reduced legislation are the best way to help the small business sector which, above all, will drive the economic recovery.”


MERSEYSIDE Police in south Liverpool are appealing for information after a man tried to abduct a young girl as she walked along a street in Wavertree with her mum.  The incident happened at around midday on Friday as the 3 year old girl was crossing Picton Road, opposite Southdale Road, with her mum, towards the Wellington pub.  As the mum let go of her daughter's hand to get a pushchair containing her baby onto the pavement, a man walked passed them both and took the child's hand before continuing along Picton Road.  Within seconds, the girl's mum realised what had happened and shouted at the man before grabbing her daughter and going to a nearby nursery school to raise the alarm.   The man is believed to have continued along Picton Road towards Picton Clock. The victim was not injured in any way but her mother, who is 23, was left extremely shaken.   The offender is described as white, aged in his late 50s or early 60s, around 5ft 5ins - 5ft 8ins tall, of medium build, with distinctive snow white hair which partially covered his ears. He was clean shaven and was wearing a short-sleeved dark checked polo shirt with a white collar and beige-coloured tracksuits bottoms.  He swayed as he walked and may have been drunk.  Police officers carried out a full search of the area, including all the local pubs, but the offender could not be found.   Detective Inspector Paul Roche from Admiral Street CID, said:- "This is a very disturbing incident that has caused a great of distressed to the mother of this little girl. Thankfully, incidents like this are very rare however we are concerned about this man's behaviour and we need to trace him as soon as possible. Picton Road would have been very busy at that time of day with alot of potential witnesses. Also, the description given to use is very detailed so I am confident someone out there has seen him or knows who he is. I would appeal to anyone who lives in the area and thinks they know who this man is, or was in Picton Road at around midday last Friday and saw something, to get in touch."  Call Liverpool South CID on:- 0151 777 5394 or Crimestoppers on:- 0800 555 111.

St John Bosco is top of the class

A SECONDARY school in one of the most deprived and challenging parts of the country has been judged ‘Outstanding” by education watchdogs.  Pupils and staff at St John Bosco in Croxteth are celebrating after receiving the thumbs-up from OFSTED.  Inspectors praised “the high quality care, guidance and support provided for students; the quality of teaching; the curriculum; the arrangements for safeguarding students and the effectiveness with which the school promotes community awareness.”

Results at the specialist arts college have improved rapidly in recent years under the leadership of headteacher Anne Pontifex. When Anne became headteacher 6 years ago, just 33% of pupils were getting 5 or more A* to C grades in their GCSEs. Last year this stood at 84% and this year the school expects it to rise to an amazing 93%.

Anne described the Ofsted judgement as tremendous news for the school and said every member of the school community has played a part in the success story.  “The leadership team, staff, governors, pupils and parents all work very hard to make our school a place where students can learn in a safe, inspiring and creative environment.  We want our students to excel and exceed their potential – to feel that the sky’s the limit. To be judged outstanding by Ofsted shows that all our hard work is being recognised and is achieving the right results.   We are now looking to the future with our transformation under Building Schools for the Future, giving us the opportunity to continue improving the curriculum, driving up attainment and delivering the best education for every one of our students.”

The Ofsted report says:- “Outstanding leadership at all levels ensure that students are provided with the very best education. Leaders are never complacent. They are supported by the members of an outstanding governing body.”

The school was also praised for the community work it carries out in Croxteth, including its “significant role in the project against guns, gang and knife crime in the wider community.  The school is an oasis for all that is good in life”. One student told the Ofsted team,

Ofsted inspectors also circulated a questionnaire to parents and carers which revealed over 93% of parents/carers agreed or strongly agreed that their child enjoys school; 98% agreed that the teaching is good; and again 98% said they were happy with their child’s experience at this school.

The pupil intake at St John Bosco includes a higher than average number of pupils with special educational needs and in receipt of free school meals, and lower than average attainment when pupils begin at the school.  St John Bosco is 1 of the 2 ‘sample’ schools along with Archbishop Beck, selected to lead the way in the next phase of Liverpool City Council’s £500 million Building Schools for the Future programme. The school has been promised a £20 million redevelopment and at the heart of that is the transformation of the curriculum to deliver a 21st century education.

Leader of Liverpool City Council, Councillor Joe Anderson, said:- “I would like to congratulate everyone at St John Bosco for their hard work and dedication which has produced this excellent Ofsted report.  In Liverpool, schools have been consistently raising standards and offering better opportunities for our young people – and Building Schools for the Future will drive these improvements even further - securing brighter futures for our schools, our young people and our city.”


MERSEYSIDE Police are investigating after the body of a man was found hanging from a tree in woods in the Netherton area of Sefton on the evening of Monday, 31 May 2010.   Officers were called to Bridle Road shortly after 6pm after members of the public discovered the body as they walked their dog past the Santander offices on Senate Business Park.  Paramedics were called but the man was pronounced dead at the scene.  The area was cordoned off to allow a full investigation to begin. At this stage the victim is believed to be a white man, aged in his late teens or early twenties, around 5ft 9ins tall, of medium build, who was wearing a blue-grey zip-up Adidas tracksuit top, a green Adidas hoody, black Nike tracksuit bottoms, and black Reebok trainers.  A yellow Daewoo Synergie mountain believed to belong to the victim was found nearby.  At this stage the identity of the victim is unknown and enquiries are continuing to try and establish who he is.  The death is not being treated as suspicious and the coroner has been informed.  Detectives are appealing for anyone with information to call Copy Lane CID on:- 0151 777 3165 or Crimestoppers on:- 0800 555 111.t

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