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4 Years of Celebrations

THE SME National Business Awards are moving into their 4th year, celebrating the best SME's (Small Medium Enterprises) from throughout the UK. In these difficult times, businesses are being encouraged to shout about their successes and what better way than to win an award. The awards final will take place at the iconic Wembley Stadium, on Friday, 4 December 2020, with over 800 people expected to attend. There is an extensive list of 18 categories to choose from and businesses can enter up to three. Categories including:- Dell Technologies Business Innovation, Clydesdale Bank Employer of the Year and Aston Lark Service Excellence.

Awards Director, Damian Cummins said:-
"Last year we saw over 600 in attendance from the best businesses across the UK, this year we are looking forward to seeing many more of the UKs top companies enter and make it through to the grand final, at Wembley Stadium."

Speaking on behalf of the 2019 Overall Gold Winners, Advance Grass Solutions, CEO Jamie Bennett said:- "We are absolutely thrilled to be crowned the Overall Gold Winners at this amazing prestigious event. Having already won the Best New Business Award earlier on in the evening this really was the icing on the cake. We have a great team at AGS and recognition at this national level at Wembley Stadium really is a dream come true."

For more information go to:- SMENationals.Co.UK or call:- 01908 542720.

Unity Theatre announce new podcast 'A Kick up the Arts'

UNITY Theatre, Liverpool release a new podcast for the arts and culture sector:- 'A Kick Up The Arts.' Hosted by playwright, producer and musician Saphena Aziz, this new podcast aims to unpack some of the big talking points setting the arts alight, with special guests discussing the topics nobody on Twitter is afraid to debate.

Episode 1, released for World Theatre Day ,on Friday 27 March 2020, explores the word:- 'regional' and asks if it doing more harm than good? Using regional categories at award ceremonies and articles discussing:- 'regional survival' as a jumping off point, the inaugural episode features Liverpool based playwright Luke Barnes (The Jumper Factory, Young Vic; All We Ever Wanted Was Everything, The Bush Theatre and Middle Child) and freelancer journalist Catherine Jones (The Stage, Former Arts Editor Liverpool Echo) who openly debate the idea that:- 'you have to make it in London to make it.'

Created as part of their 40th Year Celebrations, Unity hope this podcast acts as an honest and open forum for debate within the sector, led from a City and venue renowned for such forms of creative conversation. The podcast will be available to stream monthly on Spotify, Anchor and the Unity Theatre website. The podcasts will also be available as transcripts and large-print editions on the theatre's website for those unable to access audio.

To listen to or read episode 1...  This was recorded prior to the developments of COVID-19, please see by clicking on here now.

Future episodes scheduled for release include:-

Episode 2:- Sport on Stage...  Following a recent article on the BBC claiming:- 'football chat' in the workplace should be curtailed, this episode explores a rising trend that sees theatre facing sport chat head on, as two seemingly opposite forms of culture collide.

Episode 3:- Dirty Money...  With the National Theatre and RSC ending their partnerships with Shell and BP respectively, this week's episode looks at the ethics of fundraising in the arts at a time where funding from other places is more important than ever.

Episode 4:- The Class Ceiling...  From representation of working class performers on stage to the CEO's that run venues, from access to training to the importance of accent representation in mainstream media, episode 4 looks at all things class and asks how we build a genuinely working class audience for theatre without relying on stereotypical show content.

Metro Mayor and Leader of Halton announcement on Mersey Tunnel and Mersey Gateway tolls

LIVERPOOL City Region Metro Mayor Steve Rotheram has today announced that Mersey Tunnel Tolls have been suspended to help essential frontline key workers battling the Coronavirus across the region to get around and do their jobs more easily. The decision will come into effect, from 8pm,Thursday, 26 March 2020, and is designed to support people who have to travel for essential reasons and to help prevent the spread of the Coronavirus. Collecting the toll during this period is not considered an essential role to facilitate travel. The safety of our customers and staff must be our priority at this time. In line with national advice only key workers should be travelling at this time, and therefore using the Mersey Tunnels, and the Metro Mayor is telling people to stay at home.

Metro Mayor Steve Rotheram said:- "Extraordinary times call for extraordinary measures; and that is why, following discussions with our six Council leaders, I am today suspending all tolling on the Mersey Tunnels. This is absolutely the right thing to do for our key workers who have to travel and are working tirelessly in our communities day in and day out to provide crucial services to keep us all safe. In light of national advice there should only be key workers using our tunnels and by suspending the tolls we can actively support them in what are extremely challenging circumstances. Please stay at home and only leave the house if absolutely necessary. We must all do this if we are going to help prevent the spread of the Coronavirus and ease the pressure on our NHS and other vital services. Our public services are doing their jobs, you need to do yours. Stay home, stay safe and save lives."

The suspension of tolls will remain in place for as long as the current UK restrictions remain in place, which is expected to be 3 weeks, but may be extended in line with any further Government announcements. Halton Council is also taking steps to remove tolls on Mersey Gateway, but to do so requires Government approval.

Cllr Rob Polhill, Leader of Halton Council, said:-
"We have put a proposal into Government asking them to agree to remove tolls from Mersey Gateway, as we need Government consent to do this. We are currently waiting for their response. If Government agree our request Halton Council, in conjunction with the Department for Transport (DfT), will be suspending the requirement to pay road user charges (referred to as tolls) on Mersey Gateway with immediate effect and will also be kept under review in line with Government announcements. The Council would encourage those not engaged in key worker roles to comply with Government Guidance to stay at home, work remotely where ever possible and only make journeys that are necessary. For those in key worker roles, such as NHS workers, care workers and others (whether employed or volunteers) engaged in supporting vulnerable people and those most at risk from COVID 19, we want to make it easier and remove the added burden of worrying if they have paid their toll on time, so they can concentrate on helping us keep people safe."

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