Sefton Council still feeling effects of COVID explains authority Leader
Since the country first went into lockdown 15 months ago, Sefton Council employees have been providing vital services such as bin collections, social services, care work and the protection of our unique environmental assets. And, throughout that period, teachers and other staff have been in the Borough’s schools for those pupils who were unable to stay at home.
In some cases, staff who have been unable to carry out their regular jobs due to closures, such as our Leisure Centre teams, have been temporarily transferred. They have gone to work in other areas to ensure the continuation of key services such as burials and cremations.
Council staff have also worked with partner organisations such as Sefton’s Voluntary Services to support those most vulnerable to coronavirus, including those people who have had to shield. Practical support provided has included the delivery of food and medicines as well as help with online shopping slots and calls to help combat potential loneliness.
The Council has very much appreciated the high levels of praise and support received from local residents in appreciation of the work that has continued despite the difficult circumstances.
While lockdown restrictions have been eased, Sefton has seen two periods of surge testing due to COVID variants and, like the many other areas, case numbers are rising with the now-prevalent Delta variant. And the Council’s employees are being affected like everyone else, either off with coronavirus or because they are self-isolating.
While some of them are able to continue working from home, front-line employees cannot. And this means some services are being affected.
Sefton Council Leader Cllr Ian Maher said:
“My Cabinet colleagues and I are only too aware that at the moment, we are not managing to maintain the high standards of service that people have come to expect, in all areas.
“We have not been able to empty litter bins as frequently as we would have liked. We have not been able to maintain some outdoor areas, including the grounds of Southport Crematorium, to the level we aim for.
“And it has, perhaps, taken longer than usual to clear the litter left on our beaches by visitors, despite our pleas and the extra measure we have put in place.
“But I can assure everyone who lives, works or is visiting our Borough, this is not through a lack of will, effort or pride in it by us or by the Council’s employees who I am sure all my fellow Sefton councillors would like to thank personally and pay tribute to.”
Sefton Council has been unveiling some of its plans to bounce back after the pandemic. These include bids totalling almost £34 million to the Government’s Levelling Up Fund for innovative developments in Bootle and Crosby, the exciting Town Deal plans for Southport and a new Business Plan for Bootle Strand.
He said that every Council has seen a rise in demand for services, but also a loss of income from fees and charges and reductions in Council Tax and Business Rates.
Cllr Maher wrote:
‘We’ve been calling on Government for months to deliver the resources the Council needs to support residents.
‘So how has the Government responded to our calls for increased and continual funding?
‘With announcements that are nothing more than smoke and mirrors!
‘The Government will have you believe that they are making £1 billion of funding available for local authorities for social care. What they won’t tell you is that £700 million of that comes from allowing councils to increase council tax.’
Cllr Maher added:
“We have all been through difficult times and I would like to thank Sefton residents, communities and businesses for the sacrifices they have made to keep each other safe.
“As a Council, we have manged the distribution of more than £95 million of financial support to Sefton businesses since the start of the pandemic.
“Now we need to start building back and to do that we need Boris Johnson and his ministers to work with us and provide the support, funding and resources where they are needed most due to a decade or more of government austerity cuts.
“In the meantime, I hope that the people of Sefton will bear with us as we emerge from what has been a dark period and will be assured that we and Sefton Council’s dedicated workforce are doing our best for them.”