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Issue:- 21 April 2010


UNISON is calling on the Government to give disadvantaged students a fair chance at a degree. As universities across the country announce their fees, the union is warning that many young people will be priced out of education, with the going rate for a degree standing at £9,000.

UNISON’s Head of Higher Education, Jon Richards, said:- “Young people from disadvantaged backgrounds deserve a fair shot at getting into any university in the UK. With the going rate for a degree now at £9,000, the danger is that many will be put off.  Even universities who have set lower fees are still pricing them way above the Government’s recommendations.  Higher Education cannot be done on the cheap, universities need funds to deliver high quality services. But huge fee increases and Government cuts are leading to job losses and a lack of resources that is leaving the service struggling.  The Government must think again about the new fees, which will plunge thousands of young people into serious debt. We know there is an alternative to fee hikes and service cuts.”

Any university or college that wants to charge tuition fees for full-time home/EU undergraduates above the basic level must have an access agreement approved by the Director of Fair Access. This sets out its fee limits, its plans for bursaries and other financial support and, in many cases, outreach work for under-represented groups.

City remembers Liverpool Blitz

THE CITY is set to remember one of the darkest times in its history as a series of events mark the 70th anniversary of the Liverpool Blitz. Starting this month (April) events will be taking place across the city which reflect on the experiences of Merseysiders during the bombings and the community spirit which shone during the horrors of May 1941. A thought-proving photographic exhibition will go on display at the Watson Building (next to Lewis’s) from 30 April to 11 June and reveals the devastating damage caused by the attacks on the city. Funded by the city council and part of the Shops Up Front initiative, Tom Fairclough’s photographs portray scenes of destruction and shots of rubble dumped on a beach in Sefton. One of the most vivid reminders of the war is ‘bombed out’ St. Luke’s Church. Urban Strawberry Lunch is set to host a series of activities around this location, including heritage visits, a sound archive of people’s memories of the blitz and a special Son et Lumiere experience from the 5 May to 7 May 2011 which will light up the prominent city centre landmark. Liverpool Cathedral will recreate the air raid siren and the ‘all clear’ followed by a bell toll on the 3 May 2011. They will also host a special Commemoration Service on 18 May 2011, which will recall life in Liverpool during the Blitz, remembering those lives lost and the damage done to the city. There will be three themes to the service – remembrance, reconciliation and rebuilding and all are welcome to attend. Unity Theatre will host Red Skies, a moving production which retells stories from the Blitz, as a group share their stories of love, tragedy and loss when huddled in an air shelter. A war-time sing-a-long will also take place in the beautiful surroundings of St. George’s Hall on 4 May where a 1940s band will recreate the sounds of the era and everyone is encouraged to dress the part. Tickets are just £4 on the door, including refreshments, and doors open at 12.30pm. National Museums Liverpool, Merseytravel, Mersey Ferries and The Bluecoat will also be holding events to mark the anniversary.

Director of Culture Liverpool, Claire McColgan, said:- “It’s wonderful that organisations across Merseyside are working together to produce an inspirational, thought-provoking series of events. Thousands of people will be involved in the activities, and importantly schoolchildren will be taking part in workshops and projects which will bring home to them what life was like during World War II. The anniversary will be a time of reflection and also one of contemplation as the city remembers the strength of character of those who overcame unimaginable horrors and shaped the city we know and love today.”

A leaflet highlighting some of the key events is available from the 08 Place and the tourist information centre on the Albert Dock. It will also be available from supporter’s venues including National Museums Liverpool, Liverpool Anglican Cathedral, The Bluecoat, Merseytravel, Mersey Ferries and the Unity Theatre.


5 men from Merseyside have been jailed for a total of 47 years at Liverpool Crown Court on Wednesday, 20 April 2011, after pleading guilty to armed bank robberies.

Officers from the North West Regional Organised Crime Unit (Titan) led the investigation into the organised crime group, who were responsible for armed robberies at HSBC banks in Peterborough and Leicester as well as a burglary at a HSBC in Wolverhampton, between November 2008 and October 2009.

David Metcalfe, aged 28, of Railbrook Hey in Old Swan, John McTigue, aged 29, of Gentwood Road in Huyton, Terence Shields, aged 26, of Warwick Street in Toxteth and Elias Morgan, aged 21, of Highgate Street in Edge Hill all pleaded guilty to conspiracy to rob at the start of their trial on 20 February 2011.

Edward Metcalfe, aged 30, of Harlow Street in Toxteth pleaded guilty to conspiracy to rob at the earliest opportunity.

Detective Chief Superintendent Simon Leach, head of the North West Regional Organised Crime Unit (Titan), said:- "Titan tackles the most serious criminals, whose activity has a significant impact on the quality of lives of residents across the North West and beyond. By working with forces across borders, targetting criminals who travel out of their area to commit crime, we are increasing the capability to detect, disrupt, prevent and ultimately put a halt to serious and organised crime."

The senior investigating officer in the case, Detective Inspector Andy Black, from the North West Regional Serious and Organised Crime Task Force (Titan), said:- "These bank robberies were not victimless crimes and were very upsetting experiences for the HSBC staff involved. The five offenders were armed with weapons and threatened violence to the workers, who although unhurt were left badly shaken. Today's sentence is a warning to all criminals involved in serious and organised crime that we will find you and we will put you before the courts. I would also like to take the opportunity to thank everyone involved in taking these offenders off the streets and making our communities safer as a result."

Officers from Leicestershire, Cambridgeshire and West Midlands police forces also worked alongside Titan officers to bring these five men to justice.

Chief Superintendent Paul Telford, of Leicestershire Constabulary’s delivering justice directorate, said:- "This is an excellent result which demonstrates the commitment of officers from the different force areas who were involved in the investigations. It’s a real testament to the hard work and professionalism of those officers who have played a major part in bringing these offenders to justice. This was a harrowing and traumatic experience for the HSBC bank staff who witnessed the incident. Hopefully this result will go some way to help the staff come to terms with what happened."

Detective Inspector Neil Sloan, from Cambridgeshire police force, added:- "The robbery at the branch of HSBC in Lincoln Road, Peterborough, in November 2008, was carried out by organised criminals who had travelled to the county to commit crime. Cambridgeshire Police officers responded quickly and professionally to identify links to organised criminality and have worked closely with Titan officers throughout the investigation. The robbery was a terrifying experience for members of staff at the branch and we are pleased those responsible have now been brought to justice."

Detective Chief Inspector Darren Crutchley, from West Midlands police force, added:- "The individuals within this Organised Crime Group were prepared to travel the country and use violence to achieve their objectives. However, in the incident on 12th June 2009 at HSBC, Birches Barn Road, Wolverhampton the quick thinking and courageous actions of the staff ensured they failed to obtain any cash on this occasion. These actions caused the now identified offenders to hastily leave the scene, leaving behind vital forensic evidence. It is clear that these offenders have been brought to justice following a serious and complex investigation spanning several Force areas, for which the officers involved should be commended for their professional and dedicated efforts."

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