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Sefton residents with Council Tax concerns urged to get in touch now

With the coronavirus pandemic having had an impact on many people’s incomes, Sefton Council is urging anyone concerned about their Council Tax payments to get in touch, on 0345 140 0845, as soon as possible.

A wide range of advice and support is available to people facing difficulties paying Council Tax and other household bills. Council staff can put callers in touch with organisations providing free, independent financial advice such as Citizens Advice Sefton, Sefton Advice Services, Sefton Credit Union, National Debt Line and the Step Change Debt Charity.

There are also a number of ways that people can reduce their Council Tax liability. These include the Local Council Tax Reduction Scheme for people on a low income and the Exceptional Hardship Fund. There are also several discounts and exemptions including for people who are sole occupiers.

A Council spokesperson said: “COVID-19 and the measures taken to prevent its spread have had a direct and indirect impact on many of us and has had a negative effect on many people’s incomes.

“Feeling you can’t pay your bills can be frightening which is why we want people concerned about their Council Tax and other outgoings to start talking to us now, rather than just worrying about it.

“The sooner people get in touch, they sooner we can start helping them with practical solutions and ways to reschedule their payments.”

Anyone who thinks they will struggling to meet their payments, should contact the Council on 0345 140 0845 between 9am and 5pm, Monday to Friday, where an advisor will be able to help.

Find out more about the help available. 

The spokesperson added: “It’s so important that those of who can pay our council tax, continue to do so – now more than ever. Council Tax pays for facilities and services including to some of the most vulnerable in our communities and it is our duty to everyone in the Borough to collect it.

“We have already written to residents with existing Council Tax arrears to remind them about payment and to ask them to get in touch if they anticipate payment problems.

“The Government recently introduced revised legislation allowing Enforcement Agents to re-start visits to collect debts in the coming weeks. However, where Sefton residents are facing genuine and often unforeseen financial challenges as a result of coronavirus, we want to work with them to find solutions and see that kind of recovery action as a last resort.”

Sefton walk-through COVID-19 test centres up and running in Bootle & Southport

People across Sefton Borough can now benefit from two, walk-through Local Testing Sites for coronavirus.

Located opposite Bootle Town Hall and at Southport Town Hall, the two, fully accessible sites are the first in Merseyside.

Open from 8am to 8pm, they provide easy access to COVID-19 tests for people who do not have access to a car and for those who have coronavirus symptoms and should not travel by public transport.

Each test Centre has between four and eight testing bays which can each test up to three people an hour.

Users will be asked to self-swab when attending. They will also need to wear a mask or face covering.

And they are asked to dispose of masks in the bins provided or to take them home, after the test.

Unlike the three-day Mobile Units, which people have already used to take over 7,000 tests at Sefton’s five locations, the Local Testing Sites in Bootle and Southport will be open for several months.

To use the walk-through process, people first need to book a test.

You can do this online at www.nhs.uk/coronavirus  or by calling 119 or Sefton Council’s Contact Centre on 0345 140 0845.

In Bootle, the site is in the parking area opposite the Town Hall. In Southport, access to the Town Hall’s Test Centre is via the Corporation Street entrance.

There is on-street pay-and-display parking nearby for those people travelling to the Local Testing Sites by car.

Find out more with our Guide to the walk-through testing process.

More information on visiting a Local Testing Site is available in this YouTube video

At the launch of the Bootle site, Sefton Council leader, Leader of Sefton Council, Cllr Ian Maher, said: “We have been working very closely with colleagues in the NHS in Cheshire and Merseyside and the Department for Health and Social Care to ensure that we have the most accessible testing facilities for the people of Sefton, when and where they need them.

“I am delighted that we have been able to secure the first ever Local Testing Site facilities in Cheshire and Merseyside and that people will have even greater access to testing should people feel unwell.

“We have a fairly unique borough, which is both long and narrow, so being able to secure a Local Testing Site for both Southport and Bootle is a really good result. We will continue to work closely to ensure that all of the testing availability is used in the best possible way to help keep Sefton safe as we look to support the recovery of our area and the local economy.”

Regional Testing Director for Cheshire and Merseyside, Terry Whalley, said: “This additional capacity is great for Sefton and the whole of Cheshire and Merseyside.

“Having two semi-permanent Local Testing Sites  in Sefton means that we will be able to use other testing facilities more flexibly and be able to deploy them in a more targeted way in the future. This will help the Director of Public Health, and other professionals have a greater say in how testing is used and deployed locally.

“Having this extra capacity, more permanently, means that we can respond and react in a much more targeted way with other testing resources, should we see local outbreaks or other urgent needs. Such decisions can now be made in the knowledge that there are testing sites in both Bootle and Southport to rely on day to day.

“We will carefully study the use of these new sites in Sefton as we look to roll out further testing capability across Cheshire and Merseyside in our bid to continue protecting lives and livelihoods.”

As well as  the Local Testing Sites, Mobile Testing Units are scheduled to be at locations across Sefton on most days in August.

Twilight tickets can provide hefty savings for Sefton’s evening golfers

Sefton Council is reminding golfers about the money-saving prices for late round tickets at its Bootle and Southport Courses.

Twilight green fees kick in from 4pm at both Bootle Golf Course when green fees reduce from up to £16 to just £8.50.

At Southport Golf Links prices drop from as much as £18 to £12 from 4pm and are then reduced even further, to £8, from 6pm.

Cllr Ian Moncur, Sefton Council’s Cabinet Member for Health and Wellbeing, said:  “Our Twilight prices represent great value and mean that golfers can save as much as £7.50 per round at Bootle and £10 at Southport during the long sunny summer evenings.

“Plus, when we re-opened in May, in line with the Government’s coronavirus guidelines, we held our green fees at 2019 prices so golfers playing later on in the day can take advantage of double savings.”

Whatever time they want to play, people wanting to book their tee slot by telephoning Bootle Golf Course on 0151 928 1371 or Southport Links on 01704 535286. Slots are available every 10 minutes from 8am to 7pm.

Cllr Ian Moncur added: “Bootle has recently been described as a ‘a great course with plenty of sand traps, great greens and fairways’ and ‘Very good for the money!’ on the golfing website Golfshake.com. And Southport was described by one TripAdvisor reviewer last year as the best municipal golf course they had played on.

“So, I would recommend anyone wanting to enjoy a value-for-money round of golf goes a long and takes advantage of a Twilight ticket soon.”

Find out more about Sefton Council’s Bootle and Southport Links courses.

Sefton’s young people being asked for masterpieces to brighten up walk-through Covid-19 test centres

Young people across the Sefton are being asked to submit colourful drawings, paintings, and designs to brighten up the Borough’s two walk through COVID-19 test sites in Bootle and Southport.

Both of Sefton’s walk-through Local Testing Sites, which greatly improve access to COVID-19 tests for people who do not have access to a car, are now open. They are located opposite Bootle Town Hall and at Southport Town Hall with access via the Corporation Street entrance.

As has been reported on national radio, Sefton’s two walk-through sites are the first in Merseyside, and will be in place for several months. Each has between four and eight testing bays which can each test up to three people an hour. Users will be asked to self-swab when attending.

There is on-street pay-and-display parking nearby for those people travelling to the Local Testing Sites by car.

Find out more about the walk-through testing process.

To get a test at one of the centres, people first need to book a test online at www.nhs.uk/coronavirus or by calling 119 or Sefton Council’s Contact Centre on 0345 140 0845.

Cllr Ian Moncur, Sefton Council’s Cabinet Member for Health and Wellbeing said: “It’s great that Sefton has these two Local Test Centres to enable more people to access these vital tests that tell them if they are positive for coronavirus and whether they need to isolate.

“But they look a bit dull at the moment and we wanted to make them a bit more welcoming, which is where Sefton’s young people come in.

“Send us your colourful paintings, drawings, designs and masterpieces and we will use them to brighten up the surroundings for people going along for a test and the people working in the centres.”

Completed artwork can be posted to Sefton Council, Bootle Town Hall, Oriel Road, L20 7AE, or sent by email to communications@sefton.gov.uk to be printed out. To make sure we don’t miss them, please title email contributions ‘Test Art’.

There are also Mobile Testing Units at sites in Sefton most days through August. 

Latest mobile coronavirus test sites confirmed for Sefton

Mobile coronavirus testing units are scheduled to be at locations across Sefton nearly very day in August.

Over 7,000 tests to tell people whether they have the Covid-19 virus have already been carried out at drive-through sites in Bootle, Crosby, Litherland, Maghull and Southport.

Confirmation of August dates for the sites, which are supported by Sefton Council, NHS Southport and Formby CCG and NHS South Sefton CCG, follows on from a timetable that saw units deployed across Sefton Borough every day in July.

Tests at mobile centres are available for anyone but they need to have made an appointment first at www.nhs.uk/coronavirus  or by calling 119.

Latest August Mobile Testing Unit sites confirmed so far are:

Monday 10  Crosby
Tuesday 11   Crosby
Weds 12        No mobile testing*
Thursday 13 No mobile testing*
Friday 14      Southport
Saturday 15  Southport
Sunday 16    Southport
Monday 17   Crosby
Tuesday 18   Crosby
Weds 19        Crosby

*One of the Mobile Testing Unit teams is a reserve team,  and is being deployed to other Merseyside locations on these days.

Sefton Council Leader Cllr Ian Maher said: “I am proud that in April Sefton hosted Cheshire and Merseyside’s very first mobile coronavirus testing site, in Southport, and that since then we have established five regular venues where over 7,000 tests have been administered.

“Drive-through tests for people to find out whether they had the COVID-19 virus were available somewhere in Sefton every day in July and are scheduled to take place throughout August as well.

“Coronavirus is still very much with us and to prevent its spread and the need to reintroduce restrictions, it’s important that anyone who has the coronavirus symptoms of a new continuous cough, a high temperature or a loss or change in their normal sense of taste or smell visits www.nhs.uk/coronavirus  or calls 119 to book a test.”

Essential workers can book through www.gov.uk/apply-coronavirus-test-essential-workers and key NHS employees can attend regional testing sites at Liverpool John Lennon Airport as well as Haydock and Manchester Airport without the need for an appointment.

Fiona Taylor, Chief Officer at NHS South Sefton and NHS Southport and Formby CCGs said: “Although coronavirus often has more serious consequences for older people and those with existing health conditions, please remember that people of any age can catch and pass on the virus to friends and loved ones without knowing it. It can take several days for symptoms to appear, so that is why it is so important to wear a face covering, keep washing your hands and maintain social distancing to reduce the risk of spreading this serious illness throughout your community.

“As soon as you have any of the COVID-19 symptoms, you, and anyone you live with should self-isolate, and you should arrange a test as soon as possible. The Government’s NHS Test and Trace service will call you in a day or two with your results and explain what needs to happen next. We also strongly urge anyone who has been contacted through Test and Trace to respond and share information about their recent interactions.”

Cllr Maher added: “Recently, the Government handed councils the powers to impose local restrictions in the event of a spike in coronavirus cases but we see the use of those powers in Sefton very much as a last resort.

“If people of all ages across the Borough act responsibility, follow the guidelines on handwashing, distancing and face coverings and respond quickly if they suspect they have symptoms of the virus or are contacted by the Test and Trace service, there should be no need for restrictions to be reintroduced.”

 

 

People across Sefton can now benefit from the opening of Cheshire and Merseyside’s first dedicated walk-through Covid-19 testing sites, opposite Bootle Town Hall and at Southport Town Hall.

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