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Record crowds flock to Southport Food & Drink festival

A record 36,000 visitors enjoying all of the delights of the 12th Annual Southport Food & Drink festival last weekend.

Food such as Persian lamb dishes, award winning oriental food, wild boar burgers, vegan food, waffles and chicken to name a few, were on offer from over 80 street traders.

Local producers were joined by businesses from over the North West and sold food such as cheese, pies, scones, brownies and fudge with many selling out each day and leaving with smiles on their faces.

As a family event the little ones enjoyed the children’s entertainment where there were regular magic shows, grass sports, face painting, slime making and crafts. Inflatables and water walking also provided plenty of entertainment.

Families and groups of friends attended the event and thoroughly enjoyed their visit with many setting up a picnic area on the grass and enjoying the entire day and beautiful surroundings of Victoria Park.

Cllr Marion Atkinson, Sefton Council’s Labour Cabinet Member for Regeneration and Skills, said: “Record numbers of both visitors and traders enjoyed this year’s Southport Food and Drink Festival, which continues to be bigger and better each year.

“We had really good weather this, combined with an array of delicious food and mouthwatering drinks, led to a fantastic three days at Victoria Park.

“This is just the start of an exciting events programme organised by Sefton Council, with the Air Show taking place in July followed by the British Musical Fireworks Championship at the end of September – there really is going to be something for everyone.

“The excellent events programme coupled with other tourism activity demonstrates Sefton’s commitment to the visitor economy, with the determination to facilitate its growth across the borough.”

Sefton welcomes over 8.7 million visitors a year contributing over £518 million to the local economy.

Bliss to revitalise Southport Theatre in major investment project

Sefton Council has successfully engaged Bliss, a leading Hotel and Leisure company, to revitalise the Southport Theatre and Convention Centre (STCC) as part of a major investment in the town.

Bliss is already well established in Southport, owning and operating the Waterfront complex, which includes the Ramada Hotel, winner of the Hotel of the Year 2017.

The Council owned STCC, which adjoins the Bliss complex, is a crucial part of Sefton’s visitor economy as the primary conference venue. It is also the biggest theatre in the borough with a seated capacity of over 1,600.

The new plans for the STCC put it at the heart of the Bliss strategy to develop the Waterfront as one of the best and most vibrant coastal destinations in the UK attracting new investment, new visitors and providing a significant boost to the local economy.

This will include new facades and landscaping to create improved flow and visibility around the Waterfront and encourage 360’ usage of the complex and promenades.

Cllr Ian Moncur, Sefton Council’s Cabinet Member for Health and Wellbeing, said: “We are totally committed to ensuring that the STCC has an ambitious future and are delighted that Bliss are confirmed as the new operator.

“Bliss are as ambitious as the Council for the waterfront area and we look forward to seeing great improvements in the overall quality of productions and increased conference numbers at the important STCC as well as wider enhancement to the whole waterfront.

“We strongly believe the STCC is a great asset for Sefton and a building that benefits visitors and residents in a key location in Southport.”

Robert Agsteribbe, Co-founder of Bliss Hotels and Bliss Investment Partners, said: “Together with Sefton Council, we will create a lively, world renowned Waterfront by stimulating growth and economic activity with everyone enjoying the next generation of elevated theatre entertainment with amazing new performance experiences.

“It is our shared ambition that this partnership will lead to Southport being a new leader in Leisure and Entertainment.”

Avoid driving penalty heartache this World Cup campaign!

As the World Cup approaches, Liverpool Football Club’s Academy has teamed up with the Merseyside Road Safety Partnership to highlight the dangers of driving the morning after drinking alcohol.

The campaign was launched with players from the Reds U18 side who took part in an interactive session aimed at highlighting the effect that alcohol can have on people’s reactions.

Many people will enjoy a few drinks as they watch the football and most wouldn’t even consider getting into their car and driving afterwards.

However, there is a real risk that people who would never deliberately drink and drive may still be over the limit, or unfit to drive, the ‘morning after’.

This is because it takes a lot longer than most people think for alcohol to pass through the body. On average it takes around one hour per unit of alcohol, though this can vary depending on a number of factors.

Merseyside Road Safety Partnership features local authority members, including Sefton Council, as well as additional partners including Merseyside Police, Merseyside Fire and Rescue Service, Merseytravel and Highways England.

Station Manager Steve Pang, Spokesperson for Merseyside Road Safety Partnership, said: “The decision to get behind the wheel of a vehicle the morning after drinking can have very serious consequences, not only for the driver but also potentially for other road users around them.

“We would encourage people to enjoy watching the tournament but to remember that your safety and the safety of others is vital. If you have been drinking the previous evening and are thinking about driving the next morning don’t take that risk.”

Paul Mountford, Merseyside Police Lead for drink and drug driving, said: “Merseyside Police will be conducting numerous roadside operations and breath and drug testing hundreds of drivers across Merseyside throughout this campaign to ensure that drivers understand the principles of this campaign – that the only safe drink drive limit is zero.

“Many drivers are unaware that even a small amount of alcohol may affect their driving ability, placing themselves at an increased risk of a crash and arrest. They may be arrested for ‘drink driving’ even if they pass a breathalyser if the officer considers them to be unfit. This is particularly relevant the following day when many will not consider their driving fitness after a night’s sleep.

“We are also reminding drivers that we will not tolerate those who take illegal drugs and drive. Similar to alcohol, driving while under the influence of illegal drugs can place the driver and other road users at risk. Our roadside tests aim to not only detect these drivers but also deter them from getting behind the wheel.”

Phil Roscoe, Head of Education and Welfare from Liverpool FC said: “The session with the Road Safety team was really interesting and helped to raise awareness of the effects that alcohol can have on your body, even the morning after having a drink.

“The message from the campaign is relevant at any time of the year, but it is particular important to in the run up to the World Cup to help people enjoy watching the tournament safely.”

The main message from the campaign is not ‘don’t drink’, but ‘don’t drink anything if you are driving’ and ‘don’t drink heavily if you have to drive the following morning’.

Delights aplenty at Southport Food & Drink festival!

Thousands of culinary explorers are expected to attend the free, three day, annual Southport Food and Drink festival this weekend.

The superb setting of Victoria Park, Southport will host the Sefton Council run festival of fabulous fare and delicious drinks between Friday and Sunday (June 1-3).

Street food stalls serving a variety of international flavours and healthy treats will be tantalising tastebuds throughout the three days.

Foods on offer include crepes, gourmet burgers, hot wings, churros, spiral potatoes, paella and curry, to name just a few of the culinary delights visitors can enjoy.

Cllr Marion Atkinson, Sefton Council’s Labour Cabinet Member for Regeneration and Skills, said: “Southport Food & Drink Festival is a fabulous event for all the family, with plenty of entertainment taking place alongside a vast international array of food and drink.

“The festival gets bigger and better every year and we look forward to welcoming people of all ages to this superb free event.

“This is just the start of an extensive events programme taking place across our beautiful borough throughout the year which we are very proud of.”

A huge variety of food and drink producers from the region will also set up shop in Victoria Park, showcasing the very best creations imaginable; from Posh Pots to Retro Shots, herbs and spices, to pies and puddings.

The atmosphere is brought alive with live music throughout the day, including a children’s festival where circus workshops, food themed activities and more to keep little ones will be entertained all day long.

Southport Food and Drink Festival runs from 10am-6pm between Friday June 1 and Sunday June 3.

For further information and to plan your day visit www.VisitSouthport.com

Sefton Council’s Southport Heritage project wins National Lottery support

Sefton Council has received initial National Lottery support for the Southport Townscape Heritage Project.

The Council managed to beat off fierce competition from 23 other submitted bids nationally to be one of only 5 areas within the UK awarded the grant.

The grant (which is made possible by National Lottery players), will fund a project which aims to:

• enhance the quality and strength of the linkages between the town centre and the Seafront so that the two become better integrated: and
• increase the levels of economic activity within the target area to reduce the number of vacant and underused properties.

The project will focus on historic properties between Lord Street and the Promenade in order to complement the previously awarded Heritage Lottery Funded restoration of Kings Gardens and the recent £2m award from the Coastal Community funds for the pier.

Development funding of £70,100 has been awarded by the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) to help Sefton in partnership with Southport BID progress their plans to apply for a full National Lottery grant of £1.6m at a later date, which it is hoped will contribute to a combined funding pot of around £2.4m.

The project aims to carry out essential conservation work, involving structural and external repair of historic buildings; the reinstatement of authentic architectural features (e.g. traditional shopfronts, windows) and works to bring vacant floor space in historic buildings back into use.

The project will also bring community and educational benefits to the town and in conjunction with partners such as Southport Civic Society and education and training providers, will include a programme for promoting the heritage of the town including education, training and skills development for the repair and looking after historic buildings. It is hoped that this will bring about significant volunteer opportunities.

The target area for the project is located within Lord Street and the Promenade Conservation Areas which includes a rich and nationally significant collection of historic buildings, layout and landscaping. This heritage is important to residents, businesses and visitors alike, contributes to the economy of the town as well as giving a strong sense of identity, local pride and community value.

Cllr Daren Veidman, Sefton Council’s Cabinet Member Planning and Building Control, said: “Considering we were competing against other local authorities for this funding and how massively oversubscribed it is, the fact we are successful is a testament to the strength of our bid.

“This was a real team effort and involved a lot of hard work with our planning and conservation officers along with partners.

“The project will focus on the areas between Lord Street and the Promenade linking up the town centre with the seafront to build on the recent Heritage Lottery Funded restoration of King’s Gardens and the Coastal Communities Fund of £2m for Southport Pier.

“We strongly believe the money will enhance these links so that the two areas become more integrated while increasing economic activity with the aim of reducing the number of vacant, underused and poorly maintained properties.”

Rob Uffendell, Chair of Southport Business Improvement District, said: “This is a great example of an effective and strong public and private sector partnership working together to attract external funding to Southport.

“BIDs aren’t just about delivering events and organising marketing and promotional campaigns. There is increasing evidence that investors and funding bodies are becoming more attracted to areas where BIDs operate and that has to be good news for the future development of our town”.

Southport Townscape Heritage Project has initially been granted round one development funding of £70,100 by the Heritage Lottery Fund, allowing it to progress with its plans. Detailed proposals are then considered by HLF at second round, where a final decision is made on the full funding award of £1,625,000.

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