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Issue:- 8 November  2012

Make it 'Jazz' on the rocks!

ON Sunday, 25 November 2012, from 1pm to 4pm, the historic Fort Perch Rock, New Brighton (Wirral), will be serving up a cocktail of musical delights.

Raphael Callaghan and Christine Purnell's much-loved 'Sunday Afternoon Blues Club', was held before at Fort Perch Rock, is to be revived for 1 day only! Blues On The Rock returns on Sunday, 25 November 2012, for the official launch of Blue Cee's new CD, 'Long Tall Sally EP plus...'  The duo will be performing songs from the 6-track CD EP, plus material from their long-awaited full-length follow-up to Swimming Against The Tide, now due on 2013. Their move to North Wales has inspired Raphael to write a raft of new songs for a projected solo album, also due in 2013, and he will be singing a selection of those too.

A gospel project is also on the cards and, if there's time, the duo should be able to dip into that as well. There will also be a harmonica feature in tribute to the club's staunch supporter Joe Barrow. All this and the club's famous raffle with super prizes. Admission £5, which includes entry to the fascinating fort museum and artefacts, and refreshments are available; a great day out all round!

This is a rare appearance on Merseyside for Blue Cee, and Raphael and Christine would love to see old friends and former supporters of Blues On The Rock. Don't delay, book your  tickets now by calling:- 07966 672078.

NSPCC asks 'Could you be Santa's Little Helper?'

THE NSPCC's annual Letter from Santa fundraising campaign is back! The children's charity is calling on local people and businesses in Merseyside to become 'Santa's Little Helpers' by helping to promote the festive fundraising initiative.   Last year, Letter from Santa raised £1.7million and 25,287 letters were requested in the North West region. This year, the charity hopes to raise even more and is appealing to local people and business owners to help by distributing a few leaflets in their local communities, or even better, requesting a Letter from Santa themselves!

Money raised by Letter from Santa will support the NSPCC's services for children and young people in Merseyside and across the UK. These include ChildLine, the confidential and free 24 hour helpline for children and young people.  There are 5 magical styles of NSPCC Letter from Santa for children of all ages, making them the ideal gift for families with more than 1 child as each child can receive a truly unique letter. Santa can even write a special letter to celebrate Baby's First Christmas; a keepsake to treasure for years to come.

Janette Drew, NSPCC community fundraising manager said:- "We're looking for local people to sign up to become Santa's Little Helpers and help us spread the word about Letter from Santa. Business owners could help us by displaying leaflets on their premises, whilst individual helpers could hand them out to friends, relatives and work colleagues. You could even distribute them to local businesses, like garden centres and coffee shops, anywhere you'd be likely to find people who would love to send a Letter from Santa and support the NSPCC."

The reindeer mailroom is open now until 17 December 2012, and all those who request a Letter from Santa this year will be entered into a free prize draw to win a once-in-a-lifetime trip to Lapland for a family of 4.   Request your letter for a suggested donation of £5 from:-  

To find out more about Letter from Santa and how you can become 1 of Santa's Little Helpers, please contact the North West fundraising team on:- 0844 892 0253.


MERSEYSIDE Police has arrested a 51 year old man who has since been sectioned under the Mental Health Act.  Thursday, 1 November 2012 Police recovered a handgun following the execution of a warrant on Liverpool Road, Southport. During that search, a 51 year old male, from Birkdale, was arrested on suspicion of possession of a firearm and possession of a controlled drug.  Also found on the raid at the property where 2 handmade taser-like devices, along with a crossbow, several flares and a small amount of chemical substances. The chemical substances will be taken to a laboratory for testing.  The Army's OED and the Fire Service also attended as a precaution and to provide advice and guidance to the Police search teams.  Detective Inspector Rob Hill said:- "The action is the result of an extensive investigation by detectives and is an example of the Force's commitment to tackling serious criminality. The use of firearms blights our communities and puts law abiding people at risk. Merseyside Police is fully committed to pursuing those involved in serious organized crime and will act on all information provided. I would also like to take this opportunity to thank residents for their patience and co-operation during this operation."  Anyone who has information about organised crime or gun crime in Merseyside is asked to call Matrix on:- 0151 777 5699 or Crimestoppers, anonymously on:- 0800 555 111.

The Financial Skills Partnership has backed calls for much needed reform of apprenticeships

A report into apprenticeships from the Business, Innovation and Skills Committee concluded that apprenticeships should take a more prominent role in the learning landscape in the UK. It calls for apprenticeships to be seen as equal to study at university as the country looks to grow its economy through a wider range of industry related skills.

Liz Field, CEO of the Financial Skills Partnership, said:- "The focus for apprenticeships shouldn't just be placed on how many we can implement without looking at the effect the apprenticeships are having on businesses. Apprenticeships are no longer stopgaps for those not sufficiently academically gifted, or privileged, to get into higher education. They are now available in many more formats that cater to a greater number of job roles in industry sectors. Getting apprentices job ready and tooled up with relevant skills that will boost their respective workforces should be the priority. They shouldn't just be there to make up the numbers. The brightest and most ambitious are now considering quality vocational training as an excellent alternative point of entry to a rewarding career. Their appetite should be matched by an established infrastructure whereby they can gain access to their chosen professions through apprenticeships that reflect the needs of the industry."

The Financial Skills Partnership, whose role is to support employers in the sector in meeting their skills needs, has helped develop 6 apprenticeship frameworks currently being used, with over 7,000 apprenticeships starting in 2011/2012 across the sector, spanning all disciplines from accounting, payroll, book keeping and professional services to providing financial services, financial advice and mortgage advice.

Last year, FSP also received an award from the Higher Apprenticeship Fund to help develop employer-led higher apprenticeship frameworks in partnership with large employers. It has helped develop a number of major programmes which have already commenced offering a variety of apprenticeships up to Level 4, and one to Level 7, on par with academic study.

Liz concluded:- "We welcome the BIS report because it echoes our own lobbying voice that has called for a closer and more productive relationship between schools and the National Apprenticeship Service, and ultimately the businesses themselves. Apprenticeships must shift from being a fringe subject on the careers advice curriculum and given adequate weighting in terms of how the benefits of vocational learning are taught. A school's success should be judged on its ability to reflect the changes that are happening outside of the school walls and help provide the next generation of workers with what they need to hit the ground running in the real word of business."

Private foresters best detectors in fight against tree disease, says CLA

THE CLA has said the private forestry sector is best placed to provide early detection of tree pests and diseases such as Chalara fraxinea (ash dieback), which has now been confirmed in 115 sites across the country including Yorkshire and Northumberland. Attending a Tree Health Summit, on 7 November 2012, CLA President Harry Cotterell said private foresters would have been able to help support government action more effectively if they were engaged earlier in the fight. Mr Cotterell said:- "The CLA has welcomed the Secretary of State's commitment to change priorities within Defra to help control the spread of ash tree disease. We are now asking for a culture change within Defra and the Forestry Commission so foresters are recognised as the best early detectors of tree pests and diseases." CLA North Policy and Public Affairs Director Douglas Chalmers added:- "Hands-on foresters in the private sector have a great deal of expertise - they know exactly where to find specific types of trees and they know what they should look like in a healthy state. However, they must be engaged earlier to help control the spread of diseases. Foresters and landowners throughout the North are now in a race against time to check trees that have already dropped most of their leaves, making disease identification much harder." Also adding to this was Liberal Democrat MEP Chris Davies, a member of the European Parliament's Environment and Public Health Committee, has insisted that EU rules clearly provide for governments to take 'emergency measures' in such cases. He said:- "European Commission officials are annoyed that ministers are using them as an excuse for inaction when the opportunity for the UK to introduce a ban was always available. This is not one of those occasions when Brussels can be blamed by civil servants and ministers keen to pass the buck to anyone, but themselves."  The latest update from Defra on the situation is available on the DEFRA website.

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