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Issue:- 11 August 2011


OVER 40,000 people turned out to enjoy Liverpool’s second official Gay Pride festival this Saturday, which was held at the city’s iconic waterfront.

The number of attendees was almost double that of Liverpool’s first Pride Festival, which attracted 21,000 to the city in 2010, with 35,000 attending the main Pier Head festival site and a further 5,000 revellers visiting the Stanley Street fringe events.

Thousands of people lined the streets as the as the Liverpool Pride march passed through the city centre. The march, lead by members of murdered teenager Michael Causer’s family, saw 2,500 of the LGBT community in addition to their friends and family flow through the city in a blaze of sound and colour. Numerous organisations including Homes for Everyone, Merseytravel, Merseyside Fire and Rescue, UNISON North West and numerous clubs and bars including Superstar Boudoir, The Lisbon, Masquerade and Garlands also took part.

At the Pier Head, Pride goers were treated to 2 stages, over 50 stalls, Zumba sessions, caged football matches and a whole host of street entertainment. On the main stage, acts including soul divas Rowetta and Kym Mazelle, accompanied by the Liverpool Pride Dance team from AJ Dance, blew the crowds away with stunning performances, the main stage line up also included House of Suarez, Nikki Belle, Cubstars, Bears Aloud and Diva Bliss, whilst up and coming local artists including Oh My, Alan Cross and Cocabelle entertained the masses on the second ‘Summer of Love’ stage. The day ended at the Pier head with a dramatic balloon release, with hundreds of colourful balloons floating over the River Mersey. The Pride fringe events held in the city’s gay quarter also attracted a large number of revellers, with several bars being packed to capacity well into the early hours of Sunday morning.

A further 2,500 people took part in Chill Out Sunday events, which were held at arts and cultural venues and restaurants across the city. The Big Gay Brunch event, which took place at Franklins @ FACT, The Bluecoat, TATE Liverpool and The Egg Cafe was well attended by pride goers enthusiastic to recover and catch up on the main day’s events. The Gay Gardens at The Bluecoat attracted a large crowd of budding LGBT gardeners and the Costume Drama talk at Sudley House had visitors gasping in both amusement and wonder at the fashions of times past. The afternoon was capped off with a northwest premiere screening of LGBT film, The Cost of Love. The weekend ended on a massive high at the glittering closing party at Homomodo.

Tommy McIlravey, Chair of Liverpool Pride said:- "It was an absolutely brilliant day, everything went to plan and we were even blessed with good weather. We didn’t think anything could top last year’s event but this surpassed our wildest dreams. We smashed last year’s attendance of 21,000 with 35,000 coming along to enjoy Pride this year, which was incredible, at one point, 20,000 people were on the festival site. The whole of Merseyside was represented, which is what the event is all about, people brought along their children and their grandparents, there was such a great mix of people. Having the festival at the Pier Head in front of the Liver Building proved a huge success and we’ve had fantastic feedback about the festival site and our wonderful programme of events. Rowetta and Kym Mazelle, who was drawn to the event because of the site, really got the crowd going and everyone who came along really enjoyed themselves.’"

Pride goer Carol Foley from Liverpool said:- "Pride being held at the pier head was a great idea as it meant people could be around longer as there was lots of seating there, which means we could relax and listen to some of the fab talent, they had on the stage’s and there was definitely more of a buzz about the day than last year, a moment i loved was when Pete Price had us all singing, Ferry across the Mersey, to hear it in such voice was heart –warming."

Pride goer Lara Sproson said:- "I had a fabulous day - even the walk between Pier Head and Stanley Street was fun as the crowds flowed backwards and forwards across Liverpool. Will be back next year, bigger and brighter than ever!"

Collections on the day raised over £1000 to go towards the cost of Liverpool Pride 2012 and more fundraising events where held, see:- for more information. 

Before 2010, Liverpool was the largest city in the country that hasn’t had its own official pride festival. At the launch of the LGB&T Network the public voted for a pride festival to engage, empower and involve the LGB&T communities within the city and this was fully endorsed by Liverpool City Council in January 2009 and Liverpool Pride kick stated into action, following the inaugural event in 2010, Liverpool Pride 2011 celebrated the diverse community of one of Europe’s leading cultural cities in spectacular style, cementing the city’s reputation as THE city to be in for great arts, music and culture.  "HERE’S TO NEXT YEAR! LIVERPOOL PRIDE 2012 HERE WE COME!"

Small businesses think going green can boost their bottom line

SMALL businesses believe going green can boost their bottom line – but see tax and red tape as major barriers to becoming more environmentally friendly, according to Forum of Private Business research.

Just 10% of business owners responding to the Forum’s latest environmental panel survey have done nothing to reduce steep utilities costs while 41% have streamlined business processes, 28% have reduced energy usage and the same number have embraced more energy efficient equipment.  While 77% of respondents disagree that being green is impossible in the present economic climate 52% argue that green taxes inhibit their ability to invest in reducing energy use and 75% believe that environmental legislation focuses on the needs of larger businesses rather than small firms.  In all, 52% of the small businesses surveyed believe they cannot become more environmentally friendly until they are able to be more profitable.

The Forum’s Chief Executive Phil Orford said:- “Small businesses see the benefits of green practices and technologies to the environment and, given rising energy costs, to their bottom lines. They are clearly taking steps towards introducing them but the lack of adequate support from the Government and utilities providers is frustrating. We need better information about the choice of support and equipment that is available, and incentives to help business owners embrace environmental processes and trade more sustainably locally, regionally and internationally, rather than ever more taxation. Small businesses should be at the forefront of thinking about the green agenda.”

The impact of industry practices and environmental policies are that just 8% of respondents believe regulators have been effective in protecting them from the ‘bad practice’ of utilities providers, while a significant 87% believe there should be one single government department responsible for utilities regulation and funding schemes.

Further, 38% of panel members have used or recommended to their staff national or local environmental initiatives introduced by the Government, such as the Cycle to Work scheme, while 48% have not – with 63% reporting they have not sought support from government agencies or organisations such as Business Link.  While 33% of respondents believe ‘green’ energy providers are markedly more expensive than traditional suppliers and are therefore not worth considering, 38% disagree with this.

In all, 78% think that using local suppliers is environmentally responsible. However, 76% believe that to effectively manage resources it is necessary to be able to measure energy usage.  While 65% of the small businesses surveyed believe that the cost of energy is more important than maintaining a continuous supply, 43% disagree. In addition, 66% report that introducing measures to guard against extreme weather conditions such as flooding and fire is less important than securing the best returns for their businesses at present, with 31% disagreeing with this.

A total of 38% of respondents have taken proactive cost control steps by switching utilities suppliers, but few businesses are using environmental consultants with over half of respondents (54%) indicating they do not believe they are appropriate for their businesses.  Other methods of cost reduction being explored by Forum members include tightening up administrative (31%) and travel (35%) processes as well as reducing purchasing procurement costs (45%) – with some businesses benefiting from the Forum’s Buying Support Agency.

While 53% said they receive no support in reducing bills from their energy suppliers, 29% said this depends on the provider concerned. A total of 15% reported that they do receive support.  A total of 73% of respondents focus on ‘common sense solutions’ to reducing waste but 31% only begin to assess how to reduce energy costs when they receive a bill or contract renewal form, while 16% use meters to identify poorly functioning equipment or inefficient processes.

While half of all respondents believe there are no barriers to using meters, 64% of those with metering issues identified cost as a major concern.  Others cited poor information and a lack of government leadership as responsible for a lack of confidence in meter suppliers – few firms trust that suppliers or utilities regulators will prevent unit prices from rising following the introduction of smart meters.

Some 20% of respondents believe smart metering is not appropriate for smaller firms, either due to the lack of an economy of scale, difficulties in installation because their property is terraced, listed or rented, or because the type of electricity supply they use renders metering inappropriate.  The inconvenience of changing to meters and even of them inhibiting core business functions were also mentioned as reasons why some respondents are hesitant about installing them.

While 24% of panel members would consider installing energy generating equipment, such as wind turbines or solar panels if there were more loans or grants to help them to do so, 20% said they do not believe it is their decision to make because they rent their premises, the property is listed or they are trying to sell it.  However, some businesses renting properties would be interested in receiving information about how tenants and owners can benefit from such improvements – 11% would like to know more about green technology so that they can maximise their use of it. Just as important for many respondents is accurate information about the costs and pay back terms involved.

In all, poor information (20%) and cost (15%) are seen as the biggest barriers to greater investment in environmental services and technologies.

The Forum is calling on the Government to:-

Think small first when producing environmental policies affecting businesses, including ensuring policies and regulations are simple, proportional and clear to give business owners the greatest opportunity to understand and, where appropriate, implement government policy.

Incentivise the green agenda, rather than simply introducing taxes to persuade business owners that the green agenda is more than a revenue raising exercise with little in return, such as by providing environmental support structures that are more readily accessible to small businesses.

Clarify the business case for energy efficient technology and provide better information on the choices available, while small firms see the importance of metering and measuring energy use, there are practical difficulties relating to the installation and operation of meters and green technologies.

Support businesses that adopt green measures early, including rewards for large-scale property improvements such as tax relief and soft loans – giving these businesses the confidence to make further investments in low carbon infrastructures. The Green Investment Bank should be able to support micro-generation schemes to improve the nation’s energy security.

Support a local agenda: with better support for and promotion of local schemes, closer links between small firms and the communities in which they operate including allowing retailers to use Energy Performance Certification to show off their green credentials and creating a local green agenda to ensure that regenerating high streets is done in a sustainable manner, reducing the barriers put in the way of businesses by planning departments.

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