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Southport and  Mersey Reporter -  Your free online newspaper service covering the Merseyside region - (Greater Liverpool).
Covering the news in and around Merseyside


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Issue:- 10 May  2012

A 'World Exclusive' for your attention this weekend!

THE amazing Southport author, Joseph Delaney, who has written the multi-award winning Spook's series, is returning from the filming of his books in the USA to do a very special book signing and talk! This is an international exclusive and will take place in Formby on Saturday, 12 May 2012. He will be reading one of his favourite bits of one of his amazing books. That book will be his 10th book in the series, 'Spook's Blood'. He is keen to see his local fans, and if you are lucky, you might even get to see his latest book, 'Spook's Blood' before any other members of the public see it, anywhere in the world! He will also be signing some copies of this new book and we will have a few for sale on our Mersey Reporter Shop, but we expect them to sell out extremely fast! Joseph will also be bringing us some film news and there will be a few of the collectors' editions of Grimalkin available on the day as well! This 'World Exclusive' is scheduled for to run from 10.30 to 12 noon on Saturday, 12 May 2012, at Formby Books within Derbyshires, in Formby (L37 4DU).

Is it Lights Out for Clinton Cards?

YET another shop on the British high street is put into administration by Barclays Bank and Royal Bank of Scotland. It had sold its £35m loan facilities to American Greetings. Founded in 1968, Clinton Cards is the UK's biggest greetings card retailer and employs more than 8,000 staff. In March 2012, Clinton had reported a loss of £3.7m, from July to January 2012. It also said that its outlook for 2012 was worse than previously thought. With only days to go before its new plan was to be to be released, supplier American Greetings decided to press for the repayment which Clinton Cards could not meet. The company said in a press statement:- "We had not breached any covenants or repayment obligations", but it added that they had been given certain temporary waivers for "technical breaches" by the 2 banks. Clinton Cards then added:- "However, having secured control of the debt, American Greetings immediately informed the board that it intended to enforce the loan against the company." Clinton Cards had asked for its shares to be suspended before the administration announcement.

Clinton Cards in a statement to the press said that:- "On 9 May 2012, Peter Saville, Simon Freakley and Anne O'Keefe of Zolfo Cooper LLP, were appointed as Joint Administrators of the Company. The affairs, business and property of the Company are being managed by the Joint Administrators. The Joint Administrators act as agents of the Company and without personal liability." So will it be lights out for the retailer at its 628 Clinton shops and 139 Birthdays stores? Let's hope this iconic high street name is not yet another retailer in the UK to close. Also, is this a sign of things to come, as many business experts have said that this appears to be an aggressive financial power play by the US card giant, American Greetings? Some industry experts are saying that this is looking like a well know American Business practice that sees a rival firm buy the loans of the other as a way of taking control of the company. If it is this type of move, it is known as "loan to own." This type of action, if it is a power play by the American firm, is rarely seen in the UK and many question if the banks are going to or have opened the flood gates to more retailers finding themselves in the same or similar situations.

Numbers of staff in Clintons on Merseyside are:-

Clintons Birthdays
Southport - 9
Saint Helens - 7
Speke -20
Birkenhead -9
Southport - 12
Saint Helens - 5
Birkenhead -5

What are your views on this situation? Also are you employed by the firm? Let us know by emailing us. 

Did you know that American Greetings was founded in 1906 and is now the world's largest creator, manufacturer and distributor of social expression products to be publicly trading?  Did you know that it is also the 2nd largest greeting cards firm in the world after Hallmark?

Grant brings a warm glow

WE may be heading towards Summer, but planning is already under way to make sure that vulnerable residents will be warm and safe next winter. 

Liverpool City Council and other agencies are reviewing work carried out in this area during the last winter to see what improvements can be made in future years.

"It may have been a comparatively mild winter but we still had to make sure that vulnerable people remained safe and warm. We have worked very closely with our partners to ensure all our efforts were properly coordinated and we have already started looking at what we can do to prevent excessive deaths during next winter. If we can, we will improve the situation even further although this year we provided more support than we had ever done previously."
said Councillor Ann O'Byrne, cabinet member for housing and community safety.

The council's Housing Strategy Team was successful in its bid to the Department of Health's 'Warm Homes Healthy People' and received a grant of £333,000; 1 of the biggest allocations in the country to fund innovative schemes.

The team worked closely with the Healthy Homes Team and partners from Local Solutions, PCT, Fire Support Network, The British Red Cross and Community Foundations for Merseyside.

Among the schemes it funded were:-

► The 'Spread a Little Warmth' campaign, a partnership delivered by the Fire Support Network, which meant that 120 households received emergency heaters and 14 gas isolation switches were installed.

► The City Council installed 28 new central heating systems for free to vulnerable owner occupiers who had no form of heating. Repair works on boiler systems and faulty radiators were also undertaken and the council contacted 22 landlords to have work carried out on heating for tenants in the rented sector.

► The Healthy Homes Team increased the capacity of their advocates team, meaning an extra 63 surveys were carried out, with 99 referrals being made to partner organisations.

► The PCT recruited 2 staff to engage with all 96 Liverpool GP practices to publicise benefits of, and provide access to a co-ordinated system so that vulnerable patients can be referred to Healthy Homes and related partners for assistance on energy and thermal efficiency, advice and guidance on debt assistance, benefits checks and household safety.

► The Red Cross delivered specific cold weather related first aid training to 200 vulnerable residents in Liverpool, helping them be better prepared for cold spells.

► One-off grants were given to a number of community groups who focus on assisting vulnerable residents during cold periods with fuel poverty issues.

Royal couple to visit Liverpool
Photograph by Patrick Trollope

HM The Queen and The Duke of Edinburgh will visit Liverpool on Thursday, 17 May 2012, as part of the Diamond Jubilee tour. They are coming to the city during a tour around the north west to mark 60 years since her accession to the throne. During their visit they will ride on one of the city's most unusual tourist attractions, the Yellow Duckmarine Tour. Former Lord Mayor of Liverpool, Councillor Frank Prendergast, said:- "It is a real honour and pleasure to have Her Majesty The Queen and The Duke of Edinburgh visiting Liverpool in her Diamond Jubilee year. This is a really great opportunity for the people of the city to come out and pay tribute to Her Majesty for six decades of sterling service representing the UK at home and abroad. I really hope that young and old find some time in their day to come out to give them a really warm welcome to our city." Her Majesty and The Duke of Edinburgh will travel along Canada Boulevard and Mann Island at lunchtime. They will then board the Yellow Duck for a tour on the water around the Salthouse and Albert Docks, before returning to the Merseyside Maritime Museum for lunch at the Dining Rooms. Her Majesty last visited Liverpool in December 2011 where she unveiled a plaque to commemorate the opening of the new Museum of Liverpool. Please note that the Merseyside Maritime Museum will be closed for the day due to the Royal visit.

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