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Sefton approves major economic boost for flagship towns

Sefton Council have acted to further secure and improve the economic future of two flagship towns in the borough.

At a meeting of the local authority’s cabinet today (Thursday, October 1) plans were firmly set in place to help establish future economic success for both Southport and Bootle.

Sefton Council’s Cabinet this morning approved £650,000 of Combined Authority funding for its plans to redevelop the Strand shopping centre and Bootle town centre, while it was agreed that the council will be the accountable body for the Southport Town Deal ahead of its £25 million bid for government funding later this month.

Chaired by Rob Fletcher of Fletcher’s Solicitors, Southport’s Town Deal Board has been meeting monthly since January 2020 with the purpose to develop and agree a Town Investment Plan, which includes extensive conversations and consultation with Southport’s residents, business owners, visitors and young people. Despite the pandemic the process saw more than 2,000 consultation responses and more than 5,000 total engagements.

In addition, recently over 700 children from schools across Southport gave their vital feedback and what they see as challenges and opportunities for the future of the town.

While in Bootle the approval of the £650,000 will be used to clear and make good the land adjacent to the Strand and the adjacent Leeds Liverpool Canal.

This work is the first stage of plans to re-animate the town centre by bringing interim uses to the currently unused areas in and around the Strand, which the Council sees as a cornerstone of Bootle town centre’s regeneration.

A partnering arrangement with the Canals and Rivers Trust would also integrate the site with the canal to enable it to be brought fully back into use and provide a possible ‘waterway link’ to Bramley Moore Dock in advance of the proposed new Everton FC stadium.

Both schemes will play a major role in economic recovery of Sefton from the impacts of COVID-19.

Welcoming the news of funding to support the council’s regeneration of Bootle, Cllr Ian Maher, Leader of Sefton Council, said: “We have already started engaging with local people and businesses in Bootle as well as other stakeholders to shape the details of proposed interim uses.

“This engagement includes the Bootle Festival of Ideas which was launched at the beginning of September.

“This funding is the first stage in making possible the exciting ‘Meanwhile Uses’ we have planned for The Strand and Bootle town centre.

“The interim plans will transform the space in the short term while we continue to develop our ambitious, long-term plans for Bootle, which include attracting new private sector investment to create a town centre that is economically, socially and environmentally sustainable.”

Speaking following the agreement on the Southport Town Deal, Cllr Marion Atkinson, Sefton Council’s Labour Cabinet Member for Regeneration and Skills and Town Deal Board member said: “Agreeing and securing a Town Deal in the coming months offers a real opportunity to boost Southport’s economy following months of COVID-19 induced economic uncertainty.

“It brings with it the benefits of increased jobs, different training opportunities, a strengthened visitor proposition that builds on the pride and passion that our residents have for Southport. Our Town Deal proposal will include exciting projects and opportunities that are not visible in any other town, or any other bid.”

Southport Town Deal Board Chair Rob Fletcher added: “The partnership approach of the Town Deal Board has been wonderful to see.

“I would like to extend a huge thank you to all those people who have taken the time to respond to the online questionnaire or leave a comment on social media. I would in particular like to thank all the teachers and pupils from right across the town, who have taken real care and time to come up with some wonderful and thoughtful suggestions for the future of their home.

“I will be writing back to each school in the coming weeks to share my thanks and feedback on behalf of the board, as this is a conversation that we would like to continue beyond our October submission date.”

For more information about the Southport Town Deal please visit www.sefton.gov.uk/southport2020.