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A landmark moment as decision is made for Sefton Council to re-enter into social housing

Sefton Cabinet members have given the go ahead for the Council’s re-entry into the social housing market for the first time in nearly 15 years.

The Council’s first new rented housing since its stock transfer in 2006 will begin with nine apartments on the Sefton Grange development at Buckley Hill Lane. These homes will be acquired from Sandway Homes, the housing development company launched by the Council in January 2019.

Sandway Homes is also building 30 new homes at Hey Farm Gardens in Crossens and 47 more at Sandy Brook in Ainsdale. Due to be completed in 2021, these two schemes will add to the supply of housing in the north of the Borough.

Next steps are for the Council to register with the Regulator of Social Housing as a social housing provider. It will also need to become an ‘Investment Partner’ with Homes England, the public Government body that funds new, affordable housing in England.

This exciting new project will also see the formation of a delivery team and the development of a business plan.

Cllr Trish Hardy, Sefton Council’s Cabinet Member for Housing and Communities said: “This is an historic moment for Sefton, and I am extremely proud that after 15 years we will be able to provide our most vulnerable residents with a range of good quality, affordable housing.

“This is just the beginning, but this move shows how the Council is committed to supporting those residents to get the homes they need and deserve.”

Leader of Sefton Council Ian Maher said: “I am delighted that this decision has been made as I know that there are residents across the borough who are trying to find housing which is more suitable for them, but the housing stock is currently low.  Having the ability to acquire these properties means we can support our communities by giving them more housing options.”

Stuart Barnes, Head of Economic Growth & Housing said: “It is an exciting time for Sefton to be re-entering the social housing market. We will ensure that we have the support from Homes England and the right team and infrastructure in place to enable the Council to best serve its new tenants, but also to enable this tenure and initiative to grow.”

Christian Rogers Managing Director of Sandway Homes, said: “ We are delighted to be working closely with the Council as delivery partner, excited to be currently delivering our two developments in the north of the borough, and eager to secure planning permission for the development in the south and to facilitate the provision of additional social housing in the borough.”

Work on new Community Learning Hub for Seaforth underway

People in hard hats and PPE touring the Cambridge Road refurbishment site
People in hard hats and PPE touring the Cambridge Road refurbishment site

Work on an important new £1.3 million Community Learning Hub in Seaforth is underway.

Funded by Sefton Council and the Liverpool City Region Combined Authority through the Skills Capital Fund, the refurbished community learning hub will provide enhanced access to skills training for residents who are currently unemployed.

Investment in the Grade II Listed building will include a complete refurbishment of the ground floor facilities, a new reception area and café. The work will also include repairing and enhancing the building’s original features, with external improvements to the roof, windows, brick and stonework.

Learning Hub users will also benefit from investment in new IT infrastructure, the school hall will be reconfigured as a new, flexible teaching area and the building will be fully Wi-Fi enabled.

Following a competitive tendering exercise, Liverpool-based contractor Cunard Construction has been appointed to carry out the work. The company has extensive experience in the refurbishment of important listed buildings, while also providing social value to the users of the centre and the immediate community.

Cllr Ian Maher, Sefton Council Leader said: “Sefton Community Learning Hub provides a fantastic community resource for adult learners to access skills and bridge the gap to employment.

“These refurbishment works will breathe new life into Cambridge Road, securing its future for the long term and helping us to attract more learners in an inviting, stimulating and connected environment.

“This will be particularly important in the light of the coronavirus pandemic’s impact, which will see more local residents relying on community learning services.

“As well as improving learning opportunities at the Cambridge Road centre, the refurbishment will also reduce its day-to-day running costs and create the potential to generate income.”

Until the redevelopment is complete services will continue to be provided by the Council’s Community Learning Service at alternative nearby venues.

People in hard hats and PPE looking at the Cambridge Road site
Guests in Hard hats and PPE looking at the Cambridge Road site

Cllr Maher added: “This investment unlocks the potential of Cambridge Road and safeguards the future of an iconic building. Sefton Community Learning Hub is a well-used asset but can play an even greater role in the community.

“This is an important milestone in enabling more learners and service users to access Cambridge Road.”

Steve Rotheram, Metro Mayor of the Liverpool City Region, said: “Even as we deal with the immediate impacts of the Coronavirus pandemic, we must continue to invest and plan for our future so that our economic recovery begins as quickly as possible.  Education and training will be at the heart of our recovery as we ensure that the people of the Liverpool City Region have the skills and learning they need to thrive.  By investing in infrastructure schemes such as this Learning Hub in Cambridge Road we are investing in the future of our city region.”

Minister for Regional Growth and Local Government, Luke Hall MP said: “The Sefton Community Learning Hub already provides stellar education and training services.

“The refurbishment of the Hub, backed by a £1.15m Local Growth Fund investment, will safeguard this important service, as well as improving the facilities for staff and learners alike.

“Now more than ever, it is crucial that we equip people with the skills they need to succeed.”

James Flannery, Construction Director at Cunard Construction, said: “We are delighted to be chosen as the preferred bidder for the Cambridge Road Project. We as a business have a track record of refurbishing historic, listed and locally important buildings across the Liverpool City Region and the North West.

“We will work in partnership with Sefton MBC, and the immediate community, to create a stimulating Community Learning Hub in Seaforth.

“It’s imperative we work with clients to maximise the best possible social value as part of the construction process. Sefton and the Combined Authority have a track record of including Quality elements of the tender process which demands that construction contractors deliver a range of benefits for the community were projects are delivered.

“We will work the Council to deliver a full suite of Social Value elements for the project aimed at creating opportunities for the residents of Sefton, whilst supporting the Hubs social enterprise business who do fantastic work in Sefton.”

The Community Learning Hub in Seaforth is being funded by the Skills Capital Fund element of Local Growth Funding, which is awarded to the Liverpool City Region Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) and invested through the Liverpool City Region Combined Authority’s Strategic Investment Fund.

Tier 2 COVID restrictions now apply for Sefton and Liverpool City Region

The national lockdown has ended and Sefton and the rest of the Liverpool City Region are now in Tier 2 ‘High Alert’ of the Government’s alert system.

What does Tier 2 mean?

Residents and businesses within Tier 2 must stick to the following restrictions:-

  • No household mixing in any indoor setting.
  • Rule of six applies outdoors – any social gatherings of more than six people are against the law.
  • Pubs and restaurants must close by 11pm – last orders will be called at 10pm.
  • Alcohol can only be served as part of a substantial meal.
  • Spectators are allowed at sports events and live performances (capacity will be limited and social distancing must be stuck to).
  • Personal care, including hairdressers and barbers, is allowed.

The Government is reviewing the Tiers every two weeks, meaning if our figures start to increase, we could be placed in a higher category with tighter restrictions so it’s really important that everyone keeps up their efforts.

Liverpool City Region went into the national lockdown on 5 November in Tier 3 ‘Very High Alert’. This means the actions taken and sacrifices made by residents and businesses over the last month have had a positive impact on our infection rates, resulting in the area now being placed in the lower Tier 2 category.

Why are these restrictions necessary?

 We know that COVID-19 is easily transmitted from person to person and while our infection rates have been reducing, they are still too high.

Action needs to be taken to stop the spread of the virus within our communities and limiting interactions with other people as much as possible will help to contain the virus.

The restrictions are in place to protect not only yourself, but those around you.

The sooner we can contain the virus within our communities, the sooner we can get back to some sort of normality.

Remember if you, or anyone in your household, starts to experience symptoms, it is important that you isolate and book a test. The main COVID-19 symptoms are a high temperature, a new continuous cough and a loss or change to your sense of smell or taste.

You can book a test online https://www.gov.uk/get-coronavirus-test or by calling 119.

The full list of Tier 2 restrictions is available on the Government’s website.

Tier 2 guidance and the five-day Christmas arrangements for People who are Clinically Extremely Vulnerable from COVID-19.

Sefton Council Leader Cllr Ian Maher said:

“Everyone across the Liverpool City Region is playing their part to get our infection rates down and that effort is clearly having an impact as we have come out of lockdown in a better position and in the Tier 2 alert level.

By following the rules, we have seen a significant decrease in our infection rates across the Liverpool City Region and the mass testing programme in Liverpool is helping us to better understand the virus and, importantly, identify people who don’t have symptoms but have tested positive so that they can self-isolate and prevent the further spread of the virus.

Whilst our figures are reducing, they are still too high but we have demonstrated that by following the rules, we can improve our infection rates here across the Liverpool City Region. This is a great achievement and one that we will continue to build on over the coming weeks and months.

Stop. Think. Do the right thing by continuing to follow the rules so that we can start to do and enjoy the things we once did and get back to some sort of normality sooner.”

Joint statement from Metro Mayor, City Mayor and Leaders of the six Liverpool City Region Local Authorities on being in Tier 2 restrictions

Find out more about he Government’s arrangements for Christmas.

Sefton Council keen to ensure environmental & social factors fully considered in Port of Liverpool growth

Sefton Council has undertaken a review of alternative technologies and potential freight logistics solutions, and is committed to ensuring that environmental and social factors are fully considered alongside the economic factors, in the growth of the Port of Liverpool. This process has been undertaken with Arup, one of the world’s leading engineering and design consultancies.

Forecasts by the Department for Transport and by the port operator show an expected growth in traffic through the Port of Liverpool, and so Sefton Council remains severely concerned about the impacts on local communities.

We are committed to exploring alternative solutions to dealing with this growth, which is reflected in Sefton’s strong opposition to the proposals for the Port of Liverpool being designated a Freeport (as was reflected in the council’s response to the governmental conversation earlier this year) unless these environmental and social impacts are mitigated, and the local economic benefits truly harnessed.

We believe there are alternative technologies and solutions that are economically-viable and environmentally-friendly, which should be considered by stakeholders.

With support from Arup, Sefton Council has led on a study to better understand the technical and economic feasibility of a range of alternative solutions. This work identifies technological solutions that are in place elsewhere in the world that could apply to Sefton, and the Liverpool City Region, that deliver significant environmental benefits compared to road traffic, and that may be economically viable.

Leader of Sefton Council, Ian Maher, said “We believe that these opportunities not only align with the government’s objectives on innovation, technology and growth, but that they have the potential to support the connectivity and competitiveness of the Port of Liverpool, while also considering the impact of the port on local communities.

“We believe that these should be fully considered as part of the port access road project development process, and would welcome the opportunity to explore these project concepts further with the port operator, Department for Transport, and other key local stakeholders.

“Whilst we understand that the growth of the Port of Liverpool could bring potential economic benefits for local communities, if developed in the right way, we remain committed to ensuring that the social and environmental impacts of this growth are given at least equal weight by all parties.”

Peter Dowd, MP for Bootle, said “I welcome the report from Arup which adds a constructive dimension to the Port Access issue. Longer term multimodal freight options, as well as a major review of how government funds major infrastructure projects is needed if we are to break into the short term, reactive solution cycle that has bedevilled access to the Port for decades.”

Download the The Inland Port and Connectivity Concept report.

Hospitality, leisure and retail businesses urged to apply for latest grants

Sefton Council is urging businesses to apply for the latest round of financial support through the Hospitality, Leisure and Retail Grants (Expanded Scheme) which opens today (Monday 30th November).

National lockdown and local restrictions have had a significant impact on many businesses in Sefton and the Liverpool City Region. Some have benefitted from national support schemes.

Other businesses such as non-essential retail, the self-employed, sole traders, licensed market traders and limited companies based at home who predominantly supply the hospitality and leisure sectors haven’t met the criteria and have not received any financial support.

The Hospitality, Leisure and Retail Grants (Expanded Scheme) will be open for applications that meet the eligibility criteria from 11am on Monday 30th November and close at 5pm on Friday 11th December 2020.

The first round of funding has already seen over £1 million of grant assistance paid to 152 Sefton businesses.

Councillor Ian Maher, Leader of Sefton Council, said: “We have seen the impact of the pandemic on our local economy with businesses forced to close at various stages over the past nine months. This latest round of funding aims to help those businesses who have been unable to access other national support schemes by providing financial support to enable them to continue trading.”

Business must be based in Sefton, or one of the other Liverpool City Region local authority areas. The grants are simple to apply for and businesses will not have to repay them.

To find out more about the eligibility criteria and how to apply, businesses should visit the Sefton Council website: https://www.sefton.gov.uk/covid19business

Cllr Maher added: “We recognise the key contribution these businesses make to the Sefton economy and we urge all that fall into these categories to follow the simple processes that are in place so that they can receive these grants as quickly as possible.”

Ongoing business support and advice for all businesses across Sefton is available via InvestSefton, which leads on the Council’s business support. It has dedicated information available on all of the latest Covid-19 updates and support available to businesses in Sefton.  To access this information visit: www.investsefton.com.

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