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Issue:- 07 October 2010

Prepare for wintry weather now through business continuity plans, small firms urged

A business support organisation is urging small firms to ensure they prepare for weather-related disruptions this winter by drawing up continuity plans.

Following the coldest winter for three decades last year, which caused widespread disruption to businesses, forecasters are predicting another harsh, snow-filled winter in the coming months.

Positive Weather Solutions this week said that the winter of 2010/11 was likely to see similarly icy temperatures to last year and more of the ‘disruptive snowfall’ which hampered deliveries, triggered heating and power failures and left many employees unable to get into work.

According to a YouGov poll, 58% of senior decision-makers at small businesses said their companies suffered as a result of the snow last winter, despite 78% believing their firms were sufficiently prepared.

And nationally, three quarters (74%) of employees were affected by the snow, with more than a quarter (26%) failing to get in to work at all. Crucially, 21% of those surveyed found key suppliers and contacts were unavailable and 26% had to postpone or cancel meetings.

As a result, the Forum of Private Business is urging smaller companies to prepare for any potential adverse weather now by putting in place business continuity plans.

Spokesman Phil McCabe said:- “I think it’s fair to say that last winter’s extreme weather conditions caught out many small business owners.  A lot of small firms struggled to continue trading as employees failed to make it into work, deliveries were cancelled and freezing temperatures caused heating equipment to fail, leaving their premises unusable.  We estimated that last winter’s snowfalls were costing smaller businesses across the UK around £230 million each day at one point. Obviously, in the current climate, small firms can ill afford a similar expenditure this year so we’re urging business owners to think about their contingency plans now to ensure they aren’t put out of action by another icy winter.”

The Forum is also arguing that smaller firms should consider investing in expert support services to ensure they can continue trading when their premises are hit by extreme weather conditions.

The Forum, which is a not-for-profit organisation, has launched a new business continuity service for its members in an effort to protect them against business ‘disasters’ such as snow-related problems or floods, burglaries, fires and power cuts.

While small businesses will usually get an insurance payout to cover damage to their property after such an event, they are highly vulnerable to the steep drop in turnover which often follows as customer records are lost, phone calls and emails go unanswered and clients take their custom elsewhere.

However, the Forum’s new service will ensure its members can continue trading through such potentially crippling problems. The AssistPoint service, which is designed especially for small and medium-sized companies, starts at just £240 (+VAT) per year.

In the event of a disaster, AssistPoint would give a smaller business:-

► The ability to answer phones and make calls, providing reassurance to customers and suppliers;

►  A ready-made workplace with computers, print, email and fax facilities;

► Systems and processes in place in order to continue to trade uninterrupted;

► Access to 5GB of data backed up on a PC.

AssistPoint is being provided through a deal between the Forum and partner organisation Smartways Technology – a leading IT managed services provider. Thanks to preferential rates, Forum members can access discounts of up to £450 on Smartways’ services.

In the event of a major problem, all AssistPoint services are guaranteed to be delivered within one working day and can be activated with a single phone call.

Mr McCabe added:- “While lots of conflicting statistics on the issue are banded about, it’s fair to say that a high percentage of businesses affected by a major incident like a fire or flood either never re-open or go bust soon after the event. This is often not due to the immediate loss of goods and premises, which is usually covered by insurance payouts. It’s because the company’s inability to resume trading within a short space of time means clients and customers go elsewhere, leading to unsustainable losses and potentially undoing years of hard work spent building the business up. Our new service is designed to protect against this risk and make sure that our members can continue trading through virtually anything that’s thrown at them.”

A Populus poll recently commissioned by the British Insurance Brokers’ Association found around half of SMEs believed it would take less than a day for a serious disruption or disaster to have a significant impact on their business.

According to Environment Agency figures, around 185,000 commercial properties are at risk of flooding in England and Wales. The average loss to a business from a flood is thought to be around £25,000, compared to £1,000 for a burglary. The floods in the summer of 2007 affected more than 9,000 businesses, with the costs to each business ranging from around £75,000 to £112,000.

Hardware issues also put countless smaller businesses out of action each year, along with fires, communications failures, power cuts, computer viruses and denial of access to buildings.

AssistPoint is one of a number of new services being provided through the Forum’s ‘Purchasing Director’ solution – a collection of specially-discounted products and services designed to save small businesses money across all purchasing decisions.

Southport Girl Get's Gold At 2010 Commonwealth Games

ENGLAND'S first gold medal gold at Commonwealth Games in Delhi was won by Southport's Fran Halsall. The 20 year old gave a stunning performance in the women’s 50m butterfly final at the Dr SP Mukherjee Aquatics Complex. It was in the very last 15 metres that she managed to get ahead of the world champion Marieke Guehrer, touching the wall with just 26.24secs between them. It is her yet another medal to her collection after many other wins at world and European level, including the Commonwealth Games in Melbourne four years ago where she won two relay silver medals. Well done Fran!

A Healthy Service

LIVERPOOL’S Civic Service is set to be bigger than ever. Not only will there be a record number of people attending the event, but five 20ft tall puppets will be taking centre stage to celebrate the city’s Year of Health and Wellbeing.

Each puppet represents the five themes of the year – Connect, Be Active, Take Notice, Keep Learning and Give.

More than 1,000 people of all ages are expected to take part in the annual Civic Service held at the Anglican Cathedral on Thursday, 7 October 2010.

The event will feature actors, dancers and musicians in a range of performances including a moving rendition of ‘You Raise Me up’ sung by young people from across the city.

Liverpool’s Lord Mayor Councillor Hazel Williams will lead a civic delegation which includes council leader Joe Anderson and representatives of Liverpool’s different faith communities. Hundreds of schoolchildren will also attend.

Councillor Williams said:- “I’m delighted the theme of this year’s service is Health and Wellbeing – it’s such an important issue and we want to do as much as we can to improve the health of every single resident in this city. It’s a year in which everyone can easily get involved, either by connecting with their community, being active, learning something new or even donating some money to one of my very worthy charities. This service is one of many highlights of my mayoral year and I’m particularly looking forward to seeing the performances by the city’s young people who I know have been practising hard for several weeks.”

Youngsters from Notre Dame Catholic College for the Arts will perform throughout the ceremony – from drumming and singing right through to showcasing their work with 127 primary school children who have created their very own brass band.

The service begins at 12.45pm when all the children who are taking part in the ceremony will be welcomed by the Lord Mayor and faith representatives.

Leader of Liverpool City Council, Councillor Joe Anderson, said:- “This is a wonderful event which welcomes people of all faiths and ages to celebrate the city. It is set to be bigger and better than ever before and it’s a great opportunity to spread the health and wellbeing message and do everything we can to stamp out health inequalities across the city.”

Young People Build Bridges at Community Film Premiere

YOUNG people from Aigburth are the stars of a film premiere as they celebrated their achievements at Woolton Picture House on Tuesday, 5 October 2010.

The group, who live on the Kelton Park/Hillview estate decided to take action against the negative perceptions of young people which they felt were affecting their relationship with other members of the community.

With the assistance of Mossley Hill Detached Project in partnership with Contour Housing, the group began to create a film documenting their experiences.

The young people arranged to meet with older residents from their estate, where they filmed interviews and discussions with the intention of challenging their own perceptions as well as those of the older residents. Through the discussions, barriers were broken down, common ground was found and both generations came to a better understanding of each other.

Mossley Hill Detached Project, part of Liverpool Integrated Youth & Play Service, is just one of several detached projects which engage with young people wherever they meet to provide them with opportunities, advice and support.

The film premiere, being held today at Woolton Picture House, provided the group with an opportunity to showcase their achievement to members of the community.

 Councillor Ann O’Byrne, cabinet member for the youth service, said:- “This is a great project and it is extremely rewarding to see young people taking the initiative to connect with their communities.  Through providing positive projects like this young people are given the opportunity to learn more about building relationships and their potential to have an impact in their community.”

For more information about opportunities and activities for young people across the city visit:-


MERSEYSIDE Police Detectives are appealing for information after burglars broke into the home of a foster carer in South Liverpool and stole children's toys and the family car.

Officers were called to the house in Colebrooke Road in the St Michaels area of Aigburth on Monday, 27 September 2010, following the burglary in the early hours.  It is believed that an offender or offenders forced open the front door of the house sometime overnight and searched the ground floor of the house while the occupants slept upstairs.  They stole the female homeowner's car keys and drove off in her black 08-reg Vauxhall Astra, which contained specialist car seats for her disabled twins, and also toys and electrical goods from the address.

Detective Constable Colin Blackmore from Admiral Street CID, said:- "This was a despicable burglary committed against a woman whose life revolves around caring for her foster children, two of whom are 1 year old twins who are disabled. Not only has the offender or offenders stolen many of the family's treasured possessions, but also the car that the homeowner uses to take the children to Alder Hey Children's Hospital and other specialist care. It is bad enough to be burgled in this way let alone have your means of transport taken away from you when so many young people in your care depend on it.  The police are doing all we can to catch those responsible for this shameful act and I would urge anyone in the community who is offered any items to contact the police if the seller is doing so in suspicious or unusual circumstances. I would also call on anyone who remembers seeing a black Astra being driven out of Colebrooke Road in the early hours of Monday morning to also come forward.
Information from the public is often crucial in officers tracking down criminals and we will always act on information we receive. Residents can also make life tough for burglars by always ensuring they keep their doors and windows locked, activate their burglar alarm at night or when they go out, and keep all valuables, including car keys, out of sight and out of reach of anyone who may peer through your letter box or window."

Call Admiral Street CID on:- 0151 777 5364 or Crimestoppers anonymously on:- 0800 555 111.

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