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Sefton’s COVID-19 test sites to close over coming week

Sefton’s COVID-19 test sites will be closing next week in line with the Government ending funding for local testing from the start of April.

Walk-through

This means the walk-through PCR test sites for people with COVID symptoms, at Bootle Town Hall, Crosby Library Car Park, Haigh Road, Netherton Activity Centre and Southport Town Hall will all close from Friday 1st April.

Until then they will be open from 8am to 6pm.

People can book a PCR test by visiting www.nhs.uk/coronavirus or calling 119.

Also, the rapid test sites for people without symptoms, at Sefton’s Bootle Town Hall, Bootle Strand Shopping Centre and Southport Splash World, will be closing.

Photo of Home Testing Kit components
Home Testing Kit components

Free test kits

Until they do people can still visit them to collect free, rapid LFD home test kits while stocks last.

The Southport Dunes site will close from 3pm on Sunday 27th March.

The Strand site will close from 3pm on Monday 28th March.

The Bootle Town Hall site’s final day is Thursday 31st March when it will close at 3pm.

People who require support with testing can collect LFD test kits as well as get a test and advice, at one of the walk-through rapid test sites until they close.

Drive-through

Drive-through mobile test unit visits to Sefton will also end from Friday 1st April but are scheduled for:

  • Friday 25 Maghull at Town Hall
  • Saturday 26 at Southport Esplanade Park and Ride
  • Sunday 27 at Southport Esplanade Park and Ride
  • Monday 28 at Litherland Sports Park
  • Tuesday 29 at Litherland Sports Park
  • Thursday 31 at Maghull Town Hall

Mobile Units are open from 10am to 3pm.

Concern

Recently Sefton Council’s Cabinet Member for Health and Wellbeing, Cllr Ian Moncur, expressed concern that the Government is ending free LFD COVID testing at a time when COVID case numbers in the UK are rising.

Cllr Moncur said: “This could lead to a rise in infection levels across Sefton’s communities and increased pressure on our medical services again.”

Cllr Moncur also said he was worried that the charges for tests could mean households on the lowest incomes will have to decide whether they can afford a COVID test before visiting someone who is potentially vulnerable.

He said: “Those least able to pay are being put at the most risk with a greater chance they might unknowingly passing on COVID to those vulnerable relatives, friends and colleagues.”

Work to transform Thornton park with much-needed improvements beginning this spring

Runnells Lane Park in Thornton is going to be being transformed with much needed improvements to its play and recreation facilities, as well as its paths and landscaping.

Contractors will be carrying out work to enhance the park for two and four-legged users on behalf of Sefton Council’s Green Sefton service.

Play area

A new children’s play area will be created, the existing multi-use games area will be refurbished, and new paths will be created around the edge of the site. New bins and benches will be installed, and trees are to be planted around the boundary of the park to improve the local environment and wildlife.

Cllr Ian Moncur, Cabinet Member for Health and Wellbeing said: “This is the only public park in Thornton, and it provides an important community space. It’s fantastic to see improvements that will benefit people of all ages in the area in the pipeline.”

Funding has been secured by Manor Ward funding, the Council’s Green Sefton service in partnership with the Neighbourhoods Team though the Veolia Environmental Trust, who support community projects across the whole of England. A contribution of Section 106 Planning monies has also been allocated to the park improvements.

Views

A drop-in session at the park was held last year to provide residents and park users with the opportunity to see the improvement plans and share their views with the Council.

A final design that takes the views of the local community on board, has been agreed and after an extensive procurement process, Horticon is the successful company that has been chosen to deliver the project.

Sefton Council is seeking members of the community to help establish a Friends of Runnells Lane Park group who would undertake volunteer duties and support events and activities. Those interested can contact Green Sefton by email greensefton@sefton.gov.uk.

The work is scheduled to be completed and open to the public by the end of summer.

Find out more about Sefton’s parks and greenspaces.

 

Sefton Council announces ground-breaking ‘street food’ regeneration pilot project for Bootle Canalside & Strand

Concept design illustrating what the future re-purposed Strand could look and feel like.Sefton Council is announcing an exciting and ground-breaking ‘Street Food’ regeneration pilot project.

Initially, the initiative will focus on the area around the Canalside and Bootle Strand to complement existing regeneration and investment plans, but it will also have the potential to expand.

As well as meaning new street food traders in the area, the project will provide an education, training, skills development and employment pathway and new business start-up mentoring and support within the hospitality and leisure sector for the local community.

It will also help to revitalise the Canalside and The Strand Shopping Centre further by providing new catering facilities, alongside a complementary events programme designed to encourage more people into Bootle town centre.

The scheme will be delivered in partnership with the Government’s Department for Business Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS), the Nationwide Caterers Association, Hugh Baird College and Everton in the Community, and based initially in Bootle.

Cllr Ian Maher, Labour Leader of Sefton Council, said “This is a unique opportunity for our residents to get trained in making and selling street food, and a potential route to a career in the hospitality and leisure sector. We are working with partners to develop a curriculum which provides both catering and business start-up training and opportunities to hone these skills in a real life setting within the Strand and on the Canalside. We look forward to providing more details in due course and inviting applications to our first cohort”

Mark Laurie from Nationwide Caterers Association said: “We hope this is the beginning of new and exciting food culture across Sefton enabling local people to enjoy great affordable food in a new space, set up and run their own businesses or find employment. The Canalside venue and strand street food space are the perfect locations and additions to the area to support Sefton council’s ambition to develop a unique destination, that can be enjoyed by all and adds value to the community; a hub for local people and visitors to meet, eat and have fun. Sefton Council have shown great ambition and dedication in pushing to take on this pilot project for Bootle and we look forward to working with the community and all stakeholders on this making this initiative a huge success”

John Billington, Director of Facilities and Technical Services at Hugh Baird College, said: “This street food project offers an exciting opportunity for our catering students to expand their skill set and gain further experience of operating in a commercial setting, enriching the curriculum and whilst also supporting town centre regeneration. We are very grateful for the strong relationship with the council, enabling partnership working on education and skills development of this nature, to the betterment of Bootle’s community and economy”.

Further details will be announced soon, including how existing catering students and the wider community can access this opportunity, and when the project will be launched.

Strand shopping centre to be re-imagined as the beating heart of Bootle in new vision set out by Council.

Concept design illustrating what the future re-purposed Strand could look and feel like.Sefton Council has reaffirmed its commitment to the Strand shopping centre, a cornerstone of the local community, which remains at the heart of plans to regenerate the hard hit town.

Bold

Working in partnership with the Liverpool City Region Combined Authority, which has invested £500,000 from its Mayoral Towns Fund and £1.8m strategic investment funding into the Bootle Canalside project, leading real estate company Avison Young and place shaping consultants K2 Architects, the Council has developed a bold vision for the future of Bootle with additional green public spaces, and an exciting and more diverse offer from the Strand and the adjoining Canalside.

This would include diversification of the centre to include new food and drink offers; leisure and entertainment; culture and education; as well as new integrated health and social care facilities. Bringing all of this together in one place would improve access for the whole community and make the town more resilient and confident as well futureproofing the Strand for a rapidly changing high street.

Renewed confidence

The investment in the Strand would support the development of a thriving night-time economy in the town centre and help to promote Bootle as an ideal place for businesses to locate, creating jobs and renewed confidence in the town.

The strategy is to retain the best of the existing Strand shopping centre and unlock its original potential by opening elements of the centre to create more public spaces and to work with the original buildings and structures, rather than large scale demolition and redevelopment.  This  will have a fraction of the environmental impact.

This vision of a diverse and resilient town centre, repurposed for the community, is a bold and ambitious one, but one that local leaders are confident can be delivered alongside partners including Hugh Baird College, local health providers, the Canals and Rivers Trust, local businesses and the community and voluntary sector.

New bid

The Council intends to submit a new bid to the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities (DLUHC) this summer for support with its plans for the Strand and Bootle town centre.  The town is one of the areas hardest hit in recent times and has not yet had support from the Government for regeneration and development. The Council’s vision for a thriving town centre that works for all people is the archetypal Levelling Up project, focused on community, resilience and sustainability and should be supported in the next round of funding.

Sefton Council will be launching a market testing exercise in Spring/Summer 2022, after which more detailed proposals will be developed, in consultation with local people, and progressed through the planning process.

The Council has already started engaging with the local community as part of the wider Bootle Area Action Plan process with further opportunities to contribute to that planned for later this year.

The Council intends to work collaboratively with local leaders and the community on the Strand programme and will commence dedicated engagement soon.

Proudly committed

Cllr Ian Maher, Leader of Sefton Council said: “We are proudly and passionately committed to the regeneration of Bootle which has been hit hard by the pandemic and has too often been overlooked.

“The Strand shopping centre is the beating heart of Bootle and the loyalty of the community to this cornerstone of the high street is immense.

“Our plans to offer a diverse range of services within the Strand and transform the surrounding areas would not be possible without Council ownership of the shopping centre and the loyalty of the people who go there.

“Our vision for Bootle aims to create a thriving town centre that works for all people, brings investment and interest to an area filled with opportunities and builds a happier, healthier, more resilient population.”

Ambitious

Mayor of the Liverpool City Region, Steve Rotheram, said: “This ambitious vision for the future of the Strand is proper levelling-up in action – and will make a real difference to people’s lives.

“The Strand has served as Bootle’s retail hub for decades – but it has seen better days. However, it is an area with so much more potential to unlock. The Combined Authority is working with Sefton Council to help make sure that Bootle’s future is as vibrant and exciting as possible.

“Reimagining what the town centre is for and expanding its offering will be the first step towards achieving this. The work we are doing will act as a catalyst for further regeneration and good growth – that strengthens the local economy, attracts more investment into the town, and improves the health, wellbeing and life chances of local residents.”

Chancellor’s Budget Statement “Doesn’t do enough for struggling Sefton families,” says Council’s leader Cllr Ian Maher

Cllr Ian Maher
Council Leader Cllr Ian Maher

“Not good enough,’ is how Sefton Council Leader Cllr Ian Maher has responded to today’s Budget Statement by Rishi Sunak, complaining the Chancellor does not understand the difficulties faced by local people.

Crisis

Cllr Maher said: “On the day that has seen inflation in the UK reach its highest rate for 30 years, we needed to see more from the Chancellor’s statement in terms of measures to help hard-pressed Sefton households facing the cost-of-living crisis.

“We are ready to send out the Government’s one-off £150 energy rebate payment to Council Tax-payers in bands A to D but with domestic energy bills set to increase by 54% in April and by an average of £1,300 per year in October, this is still not enough for hard-pressed families, choosing whether to heat or eat. Domestic electricity customers will also get £200 off their energy bills from October, but they will have to replay this in future bills so it’s just a loan.

“Additionally, Mr Sunak is pressing ahead with introduction of higher National Insurance contributions and while he announced an increase in the payment threshold, this is a saving that increases for people earning higher wages.

Inflation

“It does not help households on low incomes, many of whom have to rely on benefits which, incidentally, have not risen by anything like the amount required to keep pace with inflation.  And there was nothing for disabled people who are often forced to use equipment or require additional heating that pushes up fuel bills.

“We welcome the increase in the Household Support Fund but with numbers of people making applications to Sefton’s Local Welfare Support Scheme for help with everyday costs soaring, it is not a moment too soon.

“Mr Sunak made much of reducing the price of petrol at the pumps in his statement, but Sefton’s level of car ownership is lower than three-quarters of local authority areas in England and Wales, so this will benefit fewer people directly.

Fails

“Today’s Budget Statement is yet another example of a Government that likes to talk about levelling up but when it comes to helping struggling households in Sefton, many of which are working families, it fails to take the actions needed.

“And expecting people to be pleased by promises of tax cuts in 2024 when they are struggling to make every-day ends meet right now illustrates just how out of touch the Chancellor and his party are.”

Information about the £150 Council Tax Energy Rebate, help with fuel bills, Housing Benefit and Council Tax Reduction and the Sefton Exceptional Hardship Fund can be found here.

 

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