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Issue:- 24 November  2011

All aboard for new venture

A new Liverpool business is ‘launching’ a city first for events. The Floating Grace is a 70ft long, 13.5ft wide canal boat, that is to set sail on her maiden voyage on Thursday, 24 November 2011 and is a new venue for conferences, meetings, outings and parties. The barge, which can hold up to 50 passengers, will play host to a networking event for business women, giving them the opportunity to link up businesses and discuss issues facing their organisation. It will set off from Mann Island Basin and passengers will enjoy a leisurely 3 hour journey through the new Liverpool Canal Link past the Three Graces and taking in the other historic city sites on the way. In order to establish the Floating Grace, the Vauxhall Neighbourhood Council (VNC), one of the city’s leading social enterprises, received a £20,000 grant from Stepclever which helps start up businesses and existing organisations in North Liverpool and South Sefton grow and develop. The VNC used the money to equip the vessel to provide a high quality sound system, install broadband and ensure the Canal Boat has disabled access. The support also helped towards start up costs.

Nigel Mellor Project Manager for the Restaurant Canal Boat initiative said:- "It has taken three years of really hard work to get to this launch stage. We are very grateful for all the help we have had along the way- particularly from Stepclever; since this has meant we can offer excellent facilities to meet customers’ different requirements. And, we’re delighted to welcome the Women’s Organisation on board for our maiden voyage!"

Not only are these voyages a first for events in the city, but the canal boat itself isn’t a traditional boat as it is driven from the front and inside the cabin; rather than being controlled from the back, on the outside.

Liverpool City Council’s cabinet member for employment, enterprise and skills, Councillor Nick Small, said:- "The Floating Grace is really filling a gap in the market, but not only is it providing a unique venue for events, but it also gives passengers the opportunity to enjoy the city’s fantastic architecture from an entirely new perspective. One of Stepclever’s goals is to help entrepreneurs achieve their business dream and give them as much help and advice to make their business viable in these current, difficult economic times. The Stepclever team work hard with local businesses to make sure they grow and flourish and I hope that the Floating Grace is a successful venture and people take the opportunity to make the most of this venue with a difference."

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HMRC launches new offshore unit

A new specialist unit targeting offshore tax cheats has been launched by HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC). The Offshore Co-
Ordination Unit (OCU) brings together a team of highly-skilled offshore analysts, technical tax experts and experienced investigators, who will oversee and co-ordinate HMRC’s compliance work to identify and pursue those who hide income and capital in offshore accounts to avoid UK tax and duties. The unit will look to fully exploit the increasing amount of offshore information at HMRC’s disposal, including bank account data. They will then use this intelligence to develop innovative new ways of tackling offshore tax evasion. The OCU will continue to build on the success of HMRC’s Liechtenstein Disclosure Facility (LDF) and co-ordinate the recently announced activity in relation to HSBC Geneva account holders. It will also implement the operational aspects of the recently signed tax agreement between Switzerland and the UK, which is expected to raise billions of pounds for the UK. Exchequer Secretary to the Treasury, David Gauke, said:- "The days when untaxed income or capital could be safely salted away offshore, beyond the reaches of the taxman, are long gone. The launch of this specialist unit, together with the other valuable work the department is driving forward in an effort to tackle offshore evasion, underlines the fact that offshore tax cheats are fast running out of places to hide."

A century of lending celebrated

ONE of Liverpool’s oldest libraries on Wednesday, 23 November 2011, has celebrated a very special birthday.  Walton library opened on 23 November 1911 and will mark its 100th birthday on Wednesday with members of staff dressing up in costumes from the period, a talk on the Transport Strike in 1911, a musical performance by youngsters from Northcote Primary School and a poetry reading session by local writer Paul Birtill. The library was originally opened by Richard Caton who was Deputy Chair of Liverpool’s Library, Museum and Arts Committee and the building was paid for by funds from philanthropist Andrew Carnegie at a cost of around £8,000.  On Wednesday an exhibition of photographs was held showing Walton through the ages as well as documentation dating back to when the library opened. One of these records shows the ‘Classification of Borrowers’, which details the occupation of each of the members of the library in 1911. The most popular borrowers were ‘females of no occupation’ (1,404 were recorded) closely followed by ‘juveniles’ (614 of them) and bookkeepers/clerks (482). Those professions who used Walton Library least were boot and shoe makers, ironmongers, coachbuilders and landlords of public houses.  Members of Walton’s local history group where also be on hand to talk to visitors about the area’s past.

Just before the event Liverpool City Council’s cabinet member for culture and leisure, Councillor Wendy Simon, said:- "Walton Library has been a popular part of the community for the past century. Local people have very fond memories of the library and I’m delighted there are so many activities taking place throughout the day to celebrate this special anniversary. I encourage as many people as possible to come along during the day, learn more about the history of the area, take part in the activities and join staff in marking this birthday."

Liverpool’s Lord Mayor, Councillor Frank Prendergast, will officially open the celebration day and will present a gift to a couple who are regular library users. He will also hand out a picture book to the library’s youngest lenders.  As well as being the community library, the location is also home to a One Stop Shop and the Liverpool Community College Drop-in Study Centre. The Walton One Stop Shop is operated by Liverpool Direct Limited which this year celebrates its tenth anniversary. The shop provides a full range of services to residents and has become a valuable asset to the community since it opened in 2007.

Get Safe Online

TRADING Standards officers in Sefton are supporting an online tool which gives consumers and small businesses advice on internet safety. The 'Rough Guide to Online Safety' is a handbook outlining the main security issues and recommended protective measures internet users can make.  It is available through the Get Safe Online website and has been published in partnership with the Association of Chief Trading Standards Officers and the Association of Chief Police Officers.  It is estimated that 40% of computer users have experienced virus attacks and more than a thousand new computer viruses emerge every month, according to Get Safe Online.  To help combat this, the Guide provides a snapshot on digital security and smart surfing for every scenario, from social networks to small business security to mobile phone usage.  It is free and supported by Sefton Council Trading Standards, especially in the run up to Christmas where last year some residents were caught out after purchasing cheap counterfeit goods like Ugg boots and GHD hair straighteners.

Sefton Council Trading Standards manager, Andrew Naisbitt, said:- "The Rough Guide to Online Safety" is an incredibly useful resource and I urge people to download it before they start their online Christmas shopping. "It provides an updated, easy to reference resource for users that will help them navigate online security challenges effectively and is completely free. The Guide also includes focus areas on social networking and online shopping, online schemes and scams, mobile issues, security resources, physical security, and what to do when security fails."

Tony Neate, managing director of added:- "Typically, online criminals are in search of financial details or personal information, and usually they access this information unbeknownst to the user. However, just because there are security concerns when you go online doesn't mean you need to shut off and limit your computer usage: there are a few key ways; like installing security software and creating complex passwords - that can keep you protected online."  To view the guide visit:-

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