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Southport Reporter® covering the news on Merseyside.

Date:- 08 July 2007

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Tourist attraction to surface at Woodside

MERSEYTRAVEL has rescued a World War II German U Boat which never saw combat and will re-site it at Mersey Ferries’ Woodside Ferry Terminal as a major tourist attraction.  Plans submitted to Wirral Council include the provision of a visitor exhibition centre, which will include artefacts from the submarine along with its history.  The future of U543 has been in doubt since the Historic Warship Museum at Birkenhead, where it was housed, closed last year.

Neil Scales, Chief Executive and Director General of Merseytravel, which owns and operates the Mersey Ferries, said:- ”The Mersey Ferries are already the most popular paid-for attraction in our region and this development will reaffirm that position.  We have Spaceport located at the Seacombe Ferry Terminal which has proved tremendously popular and we also have plans for attracting tourists to the new £10 million ferry terminal at Pier Head.  We’ll make a trip on the Mersey Ferries an even more memorable experience for the ever increasing number of visitors to Merseyside.

Our scheme will also complement the wider regeneration of the Woodside development which is the subject of a master plan.  The Mersey Ferries fleet has undergone a £10.5 million refurbishment programme and we spent £9 million on Spaceport as part of our plans to reposition the Ferries as a tourist attract and secure their long term future.”


The plan is paying dividends. Of the 700,000-plus annual passenger journeys leisure ventures accounts for around 70% of the business.

U534 was never involved in active combat but used for meteorological purposes.  For technical reasons the boat will be cut into 3 sections for transportation to its new site by water using a floating crane.  At Woodside huge high quality glazed panels installed over the end of each section will allow visitors to see inside the submarine from specially built viewing platforms.

Mr Scales added:- “We are still in negotiations with specialists about moving U534 but work can start as soon as we receive planning permission which we anticipate, will be in September.  The U Boat exhibition will also complement both the Resurgum, the world’s first submarine, a full scale model of which is located on the north side of the ferry terminal, as well the historic connection between the Mersey Ferries and U Boats through the 1918 Zeebrugge raid.”

U534 was launched in February 1942 and for the first year and a half of its life never appears in the records of the combat flotillas. It is thought that during this period it was used as a school boat, kept in the Baltic to train new crews and test new systems.

In May 1944, U534 was released for operational duty but it was not sent on offensive patrols. It was assigned the duty of weather reporting and required to avoid contact with the enemy to ensure regular reports.

On May 5, 1945 U-534 was sailing in the Kattegat, North-West of Helsingor and although Admiral Dönitz had ordered all his U-boats to surrender as from 08:00 May 5, U534 refused to do so.  She was heading North towards Norway, without flying a flag of surrender, when she was attacked by a Liberator aircraft from RAF 547 Squadron which dropped depth charges.  U534 took heavy damage and began to sink by the stern. 49 of the 52 crew members survived including 5 who escaped via a torpedo hatch as she lay on the sea bed.

BRITS CONFUSED ABOUT HOW TO DETECT AND DEAL WITH ID THEFT

NEW research from Capital One reveals that over 42 million adults in the UK don’t know how to discover if they have been a victim of ID theft, while only 1 in 10 knows exactly what do if they suspect their ID has been stolen. Encouragingly, almost everyone surveyed (99%) was aware of the problem of ID theft. Nearly 25 million (41%) were worried it would happen to them.

Identity theft is on the increase in the UK. By obtaining somebody’s personal details a fraudster can apply for credit cards, loans and other financial products in their name. They can also obtain mobile phone contracts, driving licences or even passports. The unpaid debts subsequently accrued are then lodged in the innocent person’s name. Ultimately, this can lead to encounters with debt collectors, court actions and problems getting a mortgage or even a job.

The research, carried out by YouGov on behalf of Capital One, also revealed that despite such high awareness, and levels of concern, many Brits are still not taking action to ensure the security of confidential information:-

* 16 million people take no preventative action at all against the crime

* 2.5 million throw documents such as bank statements away intact

* 5 million leave important personal information lying around on the kitchen table

* 4.5 million regularly carry sensitive documents in their wallets and bags when outside the home

* 32.5 million store personal information in their homes but insecurely

* 14 million do not shred confidential personal documents

Professor Martin Gill, Criminologist from Perpetuity, a research consultancy associated with the University of Leicester, says:- “Although these figures encouragingly show an almost universal awareness about ID theft, and a high level of concern, it is worrying that people are still being blasé about storage and disposal of confidential personal documents.  Young people particularly seem to be showing high levels of careless behaviour with 55% of 18-24 year olds taking no action to protect themselves against the risk of ID theft. Despite the high awareness of identity theft the research also highlights a real need for increased knowledge about how to identify and resolve the problems that result from fraudulent use of someone’s identity.”

Sanjiv Yajnik, Principal Managing Director, Capital One says:- “It is concerning how many people we asked had no idea how to tell if their ID had been stolen, or what to do about it if they had unfortunately become a victim. The tell-tale signs of ID theft often include unexplained items appearing on bank and credit card statements, receipt of bills and receipts of goods or services you haven’t asked for, being told you are already claiming state benefits you weren’t aware of, or being refused a financial service despite having a good credit history.  The best advice for preventing ID theft is to take steps to protect your personal information by redirecting your mail when you move house, keeping important documents in a safe place, and safeguarding your PIN and password details at all times. Additionally, regularly getting a copy of your personal credit file from a credit reference agency will allow you to spot applications or accounts that have been set up without your knowledge.”

Over 80% of those researched said they would value advice and assistance if they had their ID stolen. Capital One can help its customers to protect themselves against the perils of ID theft, and to pick up the pieces if they fall victim. Its newly updated free ID theft service will provide a named adviser to provide to help at every stage of the resolution process if a cardholder discovers they have been a victim of ID Theft.

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