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Council responds to circulation of misleading documents on Orrell Mount Park consultation

Sefton Council has responded to reports that misleading documents are being circulated about its consultation on a new masterplan for Orrell Mount Park.

Doctored

After doctored versions of Council leaflets and other items emerged, a Sefton Council spokesperson said: “It is disappointing that rather than allowing people to express their views on the masterplan for redeveloping the whole of Orrell Mount Park, some people opposed to it are doctoring documents in order to influence and mislead those who may wish to take part.

“Having listened to local people, the Council has drawn up the masterplan and engaged leading specialist management consultancy FMG Consulting to carry out the consultation so that everyone, including those who disagree with the proposals, to put forward their views.

Misleading

“It seems, however, from doctored leaflets and other documents being circulated that whoever is producing them is seeking to influence the outcome of the consultation by misleading people and, perhaps, trying to discourage them from having their say. This includes telling them how to answer the consultation questions rather than enabling them to express their own views, and including answers they suggest people copy and paste for certain questions.

“The final masterplan will be dependent on the outcome of the consultation and what people tell us they want, which is exactly why, in line with how the Council has redeveloped other parks in the past. The Council have purposefully highlighted that funding is not confirmed for some elements. However, as has happened previously, once we have seen the outcome of the consultation, we will then seek funding to deliver what people have told us they want.

Authentic

“We would encourage everyone who has a view on the future of Orrell Mount Park to visit www.sefton.gov.uk/orrellmount where they can find authentic information and provide their feedback.

“Three drop-in sessions about the proposals were held on Thursday 9th June and three more are planned for Monday 11th July.”

You can find out more here.

Council has now made almost 80 per cent of energy rebate payments to eligible Sefton households

Sefton Council has now issued £150 Council Tax Energy Rebate payments to 78% of the Borough’s eligible households.

Over £12.5 million

Over £12.5 million has now been paid to 83,500 Council Tax Band A to D households in Sefton. Two batches of payments were made, in late April and mid-May, to those who pay their Council Tax by Direct Debit.

This week a further batch of payments have been made to more than 17,700 households that responded to letters from Sefton Council asking for them register their bank details securely. These payments are expected to appear in people’s bank accounts on Monday 6th June.

Thanks

Cllr Paulette Lappin, Sefton Council’s Cabinet Member for Regulatory Compliance and Corporate Services said today: “I am pleased that we have now made payment to almost 80% of eligible households in Sefton and would like to thank all those who signed up to pay by Direct Debit as we encouraged or who have responded to our letters and registered so we have been able to organise their payment.”

Security codes on the first batch of letters asking people to register have now expired but Seton Council will be sending reminder letters with a new valid code that enables people to register safely. Any registrations that have been rejected will also be revisited.

Secure

Cllr Lappin added: “I would also like to thank our team who have devised the way to make these payments to over 80,000 households securely, to avoid large sums of public money falling into the wrong hands due to fraud.

“And, I would like to say again to those people who still need to register for payment, the only way we will be contacting you is by the new letters, each of which will contain a unique 14-character security key so that you can register safely.

“We will never contact you by phone or call at your door about this scheme.”

Quickest

Cllr Lappin also said that people who do not have internet access or someone to help them register online can the Council’s Contact Centre on 0345 140 0845. However, she said that the online route was the quickest, and helped make sure Contact Centre staff can focus their time make that service for those who really need assistance.

Having made the overwhelming majority of payments, the Council will also now be finalising our approach to making discretionary payments. These could be for households in higher Council Tax bands, outside those specified by the Government, which are most in need.

You can find out more about the Council Tax energy Rebate scheme in Sefton here.

Family Valued partnership for Sefton Council’s Children’s Social Care team launched

Sefton staff at the launch of the Family Valued partnershipSefton Council’s Children’s Services have welcomed colleagues from Leeds City Council to launch the two-year, Family Valued partnership.

Secured through a successful, £3 million Council bid to the Department for Education, the partnership will see the two authorities working together to improve outcomes for local children and families.

Importance of family

Family Valued is an approach that focuses on the strengths and importance of family and is centred on productive working relationships between practitioners and families. Its impact in Leeds has included a reduction in the rate and number of cared for children, as well as fewer child protection plans. As a result of children spending less time ‘in the social work system,’ it has also meant a saving of £755 per family compared to ‘business as usual’ social work.

Almost 200 of Sefton Children’s Social Care team were able to attend the recent two-day, introductory sessions, which included an introduction from Sefton’s new Director of Education and Children’s Services, Martin Birch.

Conditions for success

Sefton st5aff at one of the Family Valued launch events

In a presentation, Steve Walker, Leeds City Council’s Director of Strengthening Families, Protecting Children said that the Family Valued approach is not “rocket science”. He said it is about getting the basics right and “creating the conditions for success” which means the right culture and ethos, leadership and partnership and workforce and practice.

Each of the sessions included group and the opportunity to put forward ideas for a name for Sefton’s own version of Leeds Family Valued. The suggestion will be shared with Sefton’s Making a Difference group, a group of care experienced young people, and Sefton’s Young Ambassadors group.

The next step will be for Children’s Services teams to take part in restorative practice training sessions that focus on strengthening relationships between people and the social connections with members of the local community.

Positive feedback

After the launch events, Martin Birch said: “I am delighted we have got this new Family Valued partnership with Leeds underway as it will build upon the improvement work already started as we respond to the recent Ofsted recommendations by learning and delivering better results for children, young people and their families in Sefton.

“Feedback to the introductory sessions was very positive and included comments such as ‘it was just what we needed to focus and motivate us all on our way up’ and ‘I came out excited for the months/years ahead,’.

“Our staff are ready to take on the challenges we face and determined to achieve success for all of our children, young people and families.”

Impressed

Steve Walker, Leeds City Council’s Director of Strengthening Families, Protecting Children said: “We are delighted to be working with colleagues in Sefton to implement Family Valued.

“I have been impressed by the commitment that I have seen from elected members, partners and staff across Children’s Services to work together relationally to ensure that children and young people in Sefton have the opportunities they need and deserve to reach their potential.”

Unprecedented

Cllr Mhairi Doyle MBE, Cabinet Member for Children’s Social Care, said: “Adopting the Family Valued approach, combined with the significant extra resources we have allocated to Children’s Services in Sefton, will play a significant role in helping us to deal with the unprecedented demand we have seen since the pandemic.

“While we do, of course acknowledge our Ofsted rating and the need to improve it, our focus must be on ensuring Sefton’s children and young people benefit from the best services possible.

“We are committed to making sure they are safe, protected and inspired to reach their full potential and this week’s events are an important step on that path.”

Anyone interested in joining Sefton’s Children’s Social Care services can find the latest vacancies here along with details of our ‘Golden Hello’ payments and additional financial rewards.

 

Business Case for 13 new council properties approved by Sefton Council Cabinet today

Sefton Council’s Cabinet members have approved the Business Case for the first new properties to be used as council housing for since 2006 at their meeting today.

Thirteen properties will be acquired by the Council from its housing development company Sandway Homes’ Buckley Hill Lane development for use as Council housing.

Apartments for rent

Nine apartments will be for rent, six of them having one-bedroom and three of them with two-bedrooms. All ground floor apartments being accessible and adapted with a level-access shower. Four of the two-bedroom houses on the site will be available on a shared ownership basis, offering an affordable route to home ownership.

Cllr Trish Hardy, Sefton Council’s Cabinet Member for Communities and Housing said: “Thanks to our innovative and far-sighted decision to establish Sandway Homes, the Council now has opportunities to start making these much-needed, new affordable homes available in Sefton alongside the development of high-quality housing at locations across the Borough.

“This is just the first opportunity to develop new council housing through Sandway and looking ahead, we are now developing a new Business Plan to set out proposals for a whole new Council Housing Programme in Sefton.”

Commitment

Sefton Council established Sandway Homes in 2019 to enable it to meet its commitment to providing local people with new high-quality housing, in line with its 2030 Vision. The plans to include council apartments as part of the Buckley Hill Lane development have been approved by the Council’s Planning Committee.

Sandway Homes’ 63-property, Buckley Hill Lane development is located on the edge of Netherton. It consists of two, three and four-bed homes and one and two-bed apartments, most of which will be for sale. The scheme is on land previously occupied by tower blocks, known locally as the Z Blocks. Existing service diversion works have now commenced, and the main construction phase is due on site in November 2022.

Affordable homes

Louise Davies, Sandway Homes Managing Director said: “The inclusion of affordable homes has been a pre-requisite of each of the Sandway schemes across the Borough.

“This ensures that we are providing access to home ownership and high-quality rented accommodation to a wide range of customers as part of our developments, as well as properties to buy on the open market.

“Buckley Hill Lane will go on site later this year, with the sales launch planned for Spring 2023. We have a range of spacious homes with a high standard of specification which we are certain will be well-received in this area of Sefton.”

More information and details of the high-quality, contemporary homes Sandway available to buy and under construction in Sefton can be found at www.sandwayhomes.co.uk.

You can read the report to the Sefton Council Cabinet meeting here. 

Sefton Council Housing Licensing Schemes consultation goes door to door

As part of Sefton Council’s consultation on its plans to extend its housing licensing schemes, teams from research company independent market research company M.E.L. Research, will be calling at properties in the Bootle area from tomorrow (Wednesday 25th May).

Face-to-face surveys

Earlier this month, the Council launched a 12-week consultation on extending its Selective and Additional (HMO) Licensing schemes for private rented homes and multi-occupancy properties, online. Keen to ensure it gets as wide a range of views as possible, the Council has commissioned M.E.L. Research to carry out the face-to-face surveys too.

Researchers from M.E.L. calling at properties in Sefton will be able to show residents an authorisation letter to prove they are working on behalf of the Council. Anyone concerned whether callers are genuine can also contact the Council’s Contact Centre on 0345 140 0845 to make sure.

Hazards

Since Licensing was introduced by Sefton Council in March 2018, serious health and safety hazards have been removed from over 300 licensed properties. These included fire safety, electrical hazards, damp & mould and excess cold.

Over 80 Landlords have received Civil Penalty Fines for failing to licence their properties and while 60% of the properties inspected under Licensing did not initially meet the required housing standards, 98% of these were subsequently improved.

With the current Licensing schemes due to end on 28th February 2023, Sefton Council is now carrying out a 12-week consultation on its proposal to extend them until February 2028.

People can find out more and take part online here.

When the consultation was launched Cllr Trish Hardy, Sefton Council’s Cabinet Member for Communities and Housing, said: “Introducing the current licencing schemes has enabled Sefton Council to work with private landlords in the areas covered to improve their standards of management.

“This, in turn, has resulted in improved living conditions for their tenants as well as improvements for the wider areas, such as reduced anti-social behaviour.

“By extending the scheme for a further five years, we want to build on this success and bring about further benefits for landlords, tenants and those communities.”

After piloting the door-to-door surveys in the Bootle area, M.E.L. will then move on to other areas of Sefton.

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