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Issue:- 24 November  2011

The Queen and The Duke of Edinburgh to visit new museum

HER Majesty The Queen, accompanied by His Royal Highness The Duke of Edinburgh, will visit Liverpool on Thursday, 1 December 2011.  The Royal visit’s first port of call in the city will be the new Museum of Liverpool, where The Queen and The Duke of Edinburgh will take separate tours around the Museum’s galleries, including those due to open the following day on Friday, 2 December 2011.   Before leaving the Museum, they will unveil a plaque commemorating their visit to the latest National Museums Liverpool venue, and sign the visitors’ book to mark this very special occasion; a landmark in the Museum of Liverpool’s own history.

Phil Redmond, Chair of National Museums Liverpool said:- "It really is an honour that the new Museum has been chosen to take part in this visit, which will also see the Royal Party visiting other locations around the city. It will be a major highlight in what’s already been an incredible first five months for the Museum of Liverpool. We look forward to welcoming The Queen and The Duke of Edinburgh to the city’s historic waterfront, and giving them a real sense of Liverpool, its history and its people all under one roof."

In order for the visit to take place, the Museum of Liverpool will be closed to the public all day on Thursday, 1 December 2011, but will reopen on Friday, 2 December 2011, when the newest galleries will also be unveiled to the public. The Queen and The Duke of Edinburgh will in fact be the first to experience the four new galleries, including The Great Port and much anticipated Liverpool Overhead Railway along with a 38 metre time traveller’s timeline, and a gallery dedicated to Liverpool’s King’s Regiment.

David Fleming, Director of National Museums Liverpool said:- "6 year old Finn O’Hare led the People’s Opening of the Museum of Liverpool back in July when we launched the first galleries. Since then, we’ve reached our half a million visitors mark, and the visitors are continuing to come in huge numbers. The Museum of Liverpool is a brilliant success, and it is a world class museum that touches and appeals to everyone. We are extremely proud to be sharing our success with The Queen and The Duke of Edinburgh as they support us in marking the opening of the new galleries."

The Government housing strategy raises false hope

DAVE Prentis, UNISON General Secretary, has warnded that:- "the millions of people on waiting lists, are living in unsuitable homes, or struggling to get on the housing ladder, the Government’s latest bid to tackle the housing crisis, does little more than cruelly raise false hope." Decent, affordable housing is in short supply said the union, but today’s announcement of £400m has to be seen in the context of the 60% (£4billion), cut to the affordable housing budget announced in last year’s spending review. Dave Prentis, went on to said that:- "The level of demand for affordable homes is outstripping supply at a rate of two to one. The government’s dogmatic refusal to spell out the extent to which their measures will address this gap does not give any grounds for optimism. We need serious long-term investment in the housing sector to give people hope and to boost jobs and the economy."

16 arrested in VAT fraud investigation

16 people have been arrested during early morning raids across Lancashire, Merseyside and East Sussex by officers from HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) investigating a suspected VAT fraud in excess of £4.3 million.  Around 85 investigators from HMRC, assisted by officers from a number of police forces, carried out searches of 19 business and residential addresses in Preston, Liverpool, Blackpool, Accrington and Hastings on Thursday, 17 November 2011.  The arrests follow a long-running HMRC investigation, codenamed Operation Grassland, into an alleged VAT fraud and the subsequent laundering of the criminal proceeds, linked mainly to the building trade.

Peter Hollier, HMRC Assistant Director of Criminal Investigation said:- "Operation Grassland is an HMRC-led investigation targeting a suspected organised crime gang involved in VAT repayment fraud and the laundering of the criminal profits. Further details cannot be provided at this early stage, as our investigation is continuing. However, tax fraud and attempts to launder the proceeds of crime are treated extremely seriously by HMRC, and we will relentlessly pursue any individuals or crime gangs believed to be attacking the Public Revenue in this way."

We have been informed that all those arrested have now been bailed pending further investigations.

New galleries at the Museum of Liverpool

FROM December 2011, visitors to the Museum of Liverpool will be able to witness the brilliance of the Liverpool Overhead Railway for themselves, 55 years after it was demolished. Displayed on rails at its original working height above The Great Port gallery, ‘motor coach No. 3’ is the last surviving carriage of its type from what was once the famously known ‘Dockers’ Umbrella’.

Beneath it, The Great Port gallery charts the history of Liverpool’s relationship with the River Mersey, and the people who dedicated their lives to it. At the forefront of the Industrial Revolution, Liverpool led the way with new technological developments including canals, the first timetabled passenger railway, and the world’s first elevated electrified railway line.

The gallery uses exhibits from National Museums Liverpool’s land transport collection to bring the story of Liverpool’s great port to life. Its centrepiece is the steam locomotive Lion (1838), along with a Sentinel 10 to 12 ton Super Steam Tractor (1927) used widely on the dockside, and the only known surviving Liver 3 ½ h.p. Phaeton automobile (1900) manufactured by the William Lea Motor Co Ltd of Birkenhead and Liverpool.

History Detectives will feature a 38 metre time traveller’s timeline packed with objects, which forms the backbone of this gallery. It spreads far back before the granting of Liverpool’s letters patent (charter) in 1207 and pans forward into the future. On a unique interactive map visitors can explore how places have changed and reveal key events that have shaped local history. City Soldiers focuses on the long history of the King’s Regiment created in 1685. Liverpool’s regiment since 1881, it is now amalgamated into the Duke of Lancaster’s Regiment.  The gallery utilises the Regiment’s collection, which includes film, video, memoirs, uniforms, trophies and weaponry to tell its story.

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