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Metro Mayor Sets Out Declaration of Intent on Race Equality

Metro Mayor Steve Rotheram today set out a Declaration of Intent on Race Equality, detailing how the Liverpool City Region Combined Authority will tackle institutional and systemic racism.

The Combined Authority will be asked to adopt the Declaration of Intent at its next meeting on 19 March.

The Declaration of Intent sets out how the Combined Authority will encourage and support organisations to prioritise race equality, while tackling under-representation within its own workforce.

Developed in collaboration with partner organisations, including all the constituent Local Authorities, the declaration will demonstrate the Combined Authority’s ‘undimmed ambition’ to address inequalities faced by Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic people in the city region.

Tackling racial injustice has been given a new level of urgency following the murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis, the disproportionate impact of the pandemic on Black Asian And Minority Ethnic communities, and the rise of the Black Lives Matter Movement.

Under the wide-ranging declaration, the Combined Authority will conduct rigorous diversity monitoring of all its policies, projects and programmes while seeking to use its ‘soft powers’ to influence other organisations to prioritise race equality.

It will also seek increased engagement with Black, Asian And Minority Ethnic communities to co-create ways of improving accessibility to employment, skills and business support.

Steve Rotheram, Metro Mayor of the Liverpool City Region, said:

 “The events of the last year have shone a light on institutional racism which still exists in our society. It is essential that we lead from the front on tackling it and set an example for others to follow.

“We are launching this declaration, which sets challenging targets for ensuring that our workforce reflects the communities we serve currently and to ensure that our funding programmes are more accessible in order to deliver more inclusive positive impacts for our communities.

“We are working with representatives of Black, Asian And Minority Ethnic communities and institutions to develop our approach and we will continue to do so to ensure we get it right.  This is just the start of our journey, but I am committed to doing all we can to tackle racism, discrimination and inequality and better reflect the diversity of our region.”

A report to the Combined Authority’s March 19 meeting says: “Not all of the programmes and interventions we deliver are equally accessible to Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic residents.

“The first round of the Future Innovation Fund is just one example of this, which received only 3 applications from Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic-led businesses.”

By 2025, the Combined Authority would aim to help an additional 2,500 Black Asian And Minority Ethnic businesses and to support an extra 5,000 Black Asian And Minority Ethnic residents through employment and skills programmes.

The Combined Authority will also more than double its own Black Asian And Minority Ethnic workforce by 2025.

The authority employs more than 950 staff – but less than 3% are from Black, Asian And Minority Ethnic groups and there is no representation at director level.

Black, Asian And Minority Ethnic staff make up 3.4% of the Combined Authority’s senior management while comprising 6% of the Liverpool City Region’s population.

Under the declaration, a minimum of 6% of the authority’s workforce, which includes Merseytravel staff, would be from a Black, Asian And Minority Ethnic background by 2025.

At least 6% of senior positions would also be held by Black, Asian And Minority Ethnic employees by 2025 and the authority would be required to increase representation each year.

The report continues: “Racism is a structural problem which exists in nearly all major institutions and organisations.

“Liverpool City Region Combined Authority recognises institutional and systemic racism as a legitimate issue, one that has no quick fix, but can no longer go unaddressed.

“The City Region’s population is increasingly diverse and multicultural, yet institutional racism is affecting the outcomes for Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic residents.

“Among other indicators, Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic residents in the City Region face higher employment gaps, are more likely to be economically inactive, are paid less on average than white residents, are more likely to live in poverty, and less likely to own their own home

“The Combined Authority accepts that it has an important role to play in tackling this injustice and inequality and driving forward positive change.”

The report goes on: “As a major employer, we must look internally at our own organisation, which is failing to be representative of the population it serves, especially at a senior level.

“As a funder, we have a responsibility to ensure our programmes are accessible to all of our residents, with a relentless focus on narrowing gaps, and finally as a key institution in the City Region, we must use our convening and soft powers to set best practice for other organisations and stakeholders to follow.

“Put simply, we must do the right thing for our Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic employees and residents and influence the partners we work with to do the same.

“The Combined Authority is committed to emerge from the current crisis with a fairer, more socially just economy. Our recovery plan is underpinned by principles to Build Back Better, we must deliver on them.”

The move comes three months after Metro Mayor Steve Rotheram announced the first tranche of ÂŁ214,000 for racial equality projects.

Reaction to the Declaration of Intent on Race Equality

Asif Hamid MBE, Chair of the Liverpool City Region Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP), said:

 “I believe it is our responsibility to fully and comprehensively ensure that we are part of the solution for racial justice in our city region and not part of the problem, and I welcome the Declaration of Intent on Race Equality set out by Metro Mayor Steve Rotheram today.

“As a LEP we are working with our board members, our sector sub boards, the Combined Authority, our local businesses and business facing organisations to ensure we are getting to the heart of the challenges and barriers faced. We can then work together to develop meaningful actions and plans that we can all undertake to make sure businesses are doing everything they can to eradicate racial injustice within the workplace.”

Aaron Fontenot, Founder at Culture Deck, Business Lead at Matchstick Creative, Member of the Liverpool City Council Race Equality Task Force, Tiber Enterprise Board Member, and Young People’s BLM Forum Board Member, said:

“Race equality has always been a challenge in the Liverpool City Region, particularly around employment. As a black founder and an active member of the community, I would like to see the significant change in the ways young black people are supported in business and employment; and I believe the objectives and ambitions laid out in this declaration are a great first step.”

Ngunan Adamu, Broadcaster and CEO of iWoman Academy CIC, said:

“Recent global events have seen the Liverpool City Region do what it does best and that’s to stand to attention.

“With Liverpool City Region’s history, race equality has to be at the forefront of every decision that it makes and we stand with the Liverpool City Region Combined Authority to make sure that the Race Equality Declaration of Intent is fit for purpose and serves the communities that have on occasion felt unheard.”

Tracey Gore, Chair of Liverpool Race Equality Task Force, said:

“It is welcome that the Combined Authority have published their declaration of intent.  The declaration enables the wider community to hold them to account not just over the next five years but for their on-going commitment to not only employ Black and Racial Minority people at all levels but to ensure retention and progression over the long term.”

Chantelle Lunt, on behalf of Merseyside BLM Alliance and Merseyside Alliance for Racial Equality, said:

“Merseyside BLM Alliance and Merseyside Alliance for Racial Equality welcome the declaration of intent by Liverpool City Region, aiming not only to increase diversity within their own organisation but encourage other organisations to do the same.

“We are pleased to hear that the LCR are keen to collaborate with, and support, black led organisations and community groups in the region too. We hope that this work will be conducted openly, honestly and transparently.

“This is a positive step, as we need real change in our community. We look forward to working closely with the Liverpool City Region going forward.”

Ben Osu, Strategy Lead, Anthony Walker Foundation, said:

“In 2020 the Anthony Walker Foundation experienced a 126% increase in service demand to support those who had experienced racism within the region. The Foundation is committed to tackling racism in all of its forms and working to make the Liverpool City Region a safer place for all – regardless of skin colour- to live, work and thrive. The support and ambitions set out by the Metro Mayor and Combined Authority are welcomed and we are happy to help realise ambitions and create a region where racial injustice is a thing of the past.”

Transforming Bootle: ‘Area Action Plan’ sets out vision for town’s long-term future

Transforming Bootle: ‘Area Action Plan’ sets out vision for town’s long-term future

 

Sefton Council is inviting the community to help shape ambitious plans that will ensure Bootle is a great place to work, live, shop and socialise.

 

To achieve this, the Council is planning to produce an ‘Area Action Plan’ which will set out a clear vision for the town. It will identify the locations in the town where investment is needed. It will also help to secure the homes that people need and want, good quality open spaces and facilities, as well as job opportunities.

 

The Area Action Plan will be rooted in the people, businesses and organisations of the town. It will be a plan for the future of Bootle created by its residents and other stakeholders. The aim of the plan is to stimulate further investment in the town, creating more opportunities for local people and businesses. Once adopted, it will form part of the Development Plan for Sefton alongside the Local Plan.

 

Everybody will have an opportunity to get involved in shaping the Area Action Plan and over the coming months Sefton Council will set out how they intend to engage with local people and when.

 

To help kick-start the wider regeneration of the town, Sefton Council has purchased the Strand Shopping Centre and recently secured some of the neighbouring sites. Last year the Council shared ambitious plans to bring the Strand back to life and in December 2020 work started on site to clear the land adjacent to the Strand and the Leeds Liverpool Canal. This work will open up a disused area around the Strand for new and imaginative interim uses, the first step in repurposing the Strand and opening it up its canal frontage. Further information will be shared on these new and exciting uses in the coming weeks. The future of the Strand will be integral to these conversations with local communities.

 

Councillor Ian Maher, Leader of Sefton Council, said:

“We want to use the redevelopment and improvement of the Strand to help transform the town into a better, healthier place for residents and visitors.

 

“We are proudly and passionately committed to Bootle and are looking forward to engaging with local people and stakeholders in a conversation about the future of their town.

 

“We want to ensure that everybody has the chance to get involved in this exciting opportunity and we will be sharing more details soon.”

 

Further information about the Area Action Plan and details of how you can get involved will be shared in the coming months. To register your early interest to be part of this exciting opportunity please email BootleAAP@sefton.gov.uk

 

ENDS

Transforming Bootle: ‘Area Action Plan’ sets out vision for town’s long-term future

 

An artist’s impression of how the Bootle Strand area could look

Sefton Council is inviting the community to help shape ambitious plans that will ensure Bootle is a great place to work, live, shop and socialise.

To achieve this, the Council is planning to produce an ‘Area Action Plan’ which will set out a clear vision for the town. It will identify the locations in the town where investment is needed. It will also help to secure the homes that people need and want, good quality open spaces and facilities, as well as job opportunities.

The Area Action Plan will be rooted in the people, businesses and organisations of the town. It will be a plan for the future of Bootle created by its residents and other stakeholders. The aim of the plan is to stimulate further investment in the town, creating more opportunities for local people and businesses. Once adopted, it will form part of the Development Plan for Sefton alongside the Local Plan.

Everybody will have an opportunity to get involved in shaping the Area Action Plan and over the coming months Sefton Council will set out how they intend to engage with local people and when.

To help kick-start the wider regeneration of the town, Sefton Council has purchased the Strand Shopping Centre and recently secured some of the neighbouring sites. Last year the Council shared ambitious plans to bring the Strand back to life and in December 2020 work started on site to clear the land adjacent to the Strand and the Leeds Liverpool Canal. This work will open up a disused area around the Strand for new and imaginative interim uses, the first step in repurposing the Strand and opening it up its canal frontage. Further information will be shared on these new and exciting uses in the coming weeks. The future of the Strand will be integral to these conversations with local communities.

Councillor Ian Maher, Leader of Sefton Council, said:

“We want to use the redevelopment and improvement of the Strand to help transform the town into a better, healthier place for residents and visitors.

“We are proudly and passionately committed to Bootle and are looking forward to engaging with local people and stakeholders in a conversation about the future of their town.

“We want to ensure that everybody has the chance to get involved in this exciting opportunity and we will be sharing more details soon.”

Further information about the Area Action Plan and details of how you can get involved will be shared in the coming months. To register your early interest to be part of this exciting opportunity please email BootleAAP@sefton.gov.uk

Residents encouraged to consider Postal Voting this coming election

Thousands of residents across Sefton are set to receive letters in the coming days encouraging them to register for postal voting ahead of local elections in May.

With plans still in place for a nationwide election process to be held this summer, Sefton Council’s Elections Teams are currently encouraging all residents over the age of 76 to take up the option of submitting a postal vote.

To download an application form click here.

16,000 residents aged 76 or over who have previously never used the postal voting system, will receive letters in the mail to explain how the safe and secure process works.

On May 6, 2021, a local election will be held in Sefton with 22 seats on the local authority being contested. By-elections will also take place for Blundellsands and Derby wards.

Residents will be voting for the seats which were set to be contested in the 2020 local elections process but were postponed as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Dwayne Johnson, Chief Executive of Sefton Council, said: “Absent voting is a key element of every election and it is not uncommon for thousands of postal and proxy votes to be submitted.

“However this years elections, should they proceed as planned, demonstrates an even greater need for residents to be able to cast their votes safely, securely and remotely.

“We are well aware by now of those vulnerable members of our community who must continue to take extra precautions over the the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, which is why we are encouraging residents to sign up for postal and proxy voting.

“It is important to ensure clear and transparent processes are put in place to maintain the integrity of the election and our teams are doing all they can to make certain every voice is heard.

“Your vote matters.”

Residents who wish to vote in the May 6 elections will be able to via the usual means of in-person voting, postal voting or voting by proxy.

For residents who wish to vote in person at a polling station a social distancing and COVID secure system will be in place to ensure both staff and voters are kept safe.

This may mean the process of submitting your vote may take slightly longer than usual.

The deadline for receipt of all postal vote applications is April 20, 2021 with those registered to vote remotely expected to receive their voting packs around April 24.

The 2021 elections run alongside voting processes for the Merseyside Police Area, Police & Crime Commissioner and the Liverpool City Region Combined Authority Mayor.

/Ends

Sefton’s Budget 2021: An Open Letter

The leader of Sefton Council, Cllr Ian Maher, has published an open letter to all residents and businesses, following the approval of the 2021/22 budget at yesterday’s Full Council meeting (4th March).

In the letter, Cllr Maher thanks the Sefton community for pulling together over the past 12 months and recognises the hard work and dedication by the Council’s workforce to continue to deliver essential services in the midst of a global pandemic.

To view and download the 2021/22 Sefton Council Budget Documents please click the below links.

Budget 2021/22
Budget 2021/22 – Accessible Version

*****

Dear all,

Last night (Thursday, March 4) Sefton Council set its budget for 2021/22. As a result of Covid, this is the most technical budget the council has set. We’ve always managed our budget to the highest standard despite having to make over £233m of savings over the last 10 years so that we’re able to continue delivering services that are most needed within our communities, and pre-pandemic the Council was in a robust financial position and had delivered a balanced budget.

We have an excellent track record of effectively managing our finances and delivering financial sustainability.

But of course, the impact of Covid cannot be ignored.

At the beginning of this crisis, local authorities were told by Government to do “whatever it takes” to support communities. That’s what we have done, and the response has been nothing short of incredible.

But this response comes at a cost – and the figures involved are just startling. This is expenditure that we haven’t made by choice, but by necessity. This year Sefton Council has put food on the table for families who would otherwise go hungry, housed the homeless, co-ordinated a massive volunteer response, supported those who are out of work due to the crisis, supplied PPE to our frontline workers and care homes, and we’ll keep doing everything we can to help local businesses stay afloat.

Our schools in Sefton have been fantastic, and we have worked hard to support them in delivering home schooling, supporting families of key workers and ensuring the most vulnerable children continue to attend school wherever possible.

Teams at Sefton Council have worked so hard to support local businesses however they can. From providing advice and information, to administering over 10,000 business grant applications totalling nearly ÂŁ70 million, plus ÂŁ41 million in Retail Discount (Business Rates Holiday) has been awarded to 1700 businesses.

The impact of the pandemic is hitting now and will be felt for years to come. Local authorities need continual funding. 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. 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. This is incredibly unfair, and only transfers the burden on to every single local resident and council tax payer. But we have no choice. The Government are simply not providing local authorities, such as Sefton Council, with the funding they need to deliver essential services.

Therefore, the Council will need to continually monitor and evaluate the impact of the pandemic and make any required decisions as they arise throughout the year. Our biggest risks still come from Children’s Social Care and income from council tax and business rates; and for a Council of our size and complexity, our level of reserves remains low and needs increasing.

Which is why we’re left with no choice but to increase Council Tax once again this year to help fund the unprecedented demand on Children’s Social Care and to be able to continue to provide the everyday services residents rely on. That means that for the provision of council services, it will cost the majority of householders an extra £1.39 or less per week (figures based on a Band C property).

Nevertheless, we will strive to ensure that essential services that safeguard the most vulnerable residents across the whole borough are protected and prioritised in addition to ensuring that financial sustainability is maintained.

This is no easy feat and when I look around the borough, I’m still amazed and impressed with the quantity and quality of services that we still continue to offer.

I am immensely proud of the way in which the Council has responded to the Covid-19 pandemic, working in very demanding and challenging times. We’ve faced a rollercoaster of tightening and relaxing of restrictions and ever-changing guidance over the last few months, but essential council services continued throughout the pandemic and I just want to go on record, once again, and thank all Council staff for the tremendous work, commitment and dedication over these last few months.

Throughout this difficult and uncertain time, I am proud that the people of Sefton have come together to support their friends and neighbours, and I have been heartened by the number of people coming forward to volunteer their time and energy to help their communities.

But community spirit is not enough, and we will also continue to press the Government to keep the promise made by Ministers to provide us with the funding to support our communities.

There are still many positives within the budget. Projects and programmes which started in 2020/21 will continue and come to fruition during this year. Unashamedly ambitious schemes which will bring with them continued and sustained economic growth, such as the ÂŁ37.5 million Southport Town Deal, the redevelopment of Crosby Lakeside Adventure Centre, a brand-new Southport Market, and of course, our exciting plans for the future of Bootle Strand and Bootle Town Centre regeneration. All of this activity demonstrates our commitment to delivering our 2030 Vision for Sefton.

Take Care & Best wishes

Cllr Ian Maher

Further government grants available for businesses remaining closed as restrictions continue

Following the Prime Ministers announcement on Monday 22nd February 2021 of a continuation of National Lockdown restrictions, the government has confirmed that further grant support is available to businesses that have been instructed to remain closed.

Payments will be made in the form of a Local Restrictions Support Grant for a 44 day period from 16th February 2021 to 31st March 2021.

  • ÂŁ2,096 for businesses with a property rateable value of ÂŁ15,000 or less.
  • ÂŁ3,143 for businesses with a property rateable value of between ÂŁ15,001 and ÂŁ51,999
  • ÂŁ4,174 for businesses with a rateable value of ÂŁ51,000 or more

Business ratepayers who have already applied for, or been paid a grant for the national restrictions imposed on 4th January 2021 will not need to re-apply and businesses will be contacted directly with details of their grant payments. The Council will, however, be required to complete some pre-payment checks to confirm that businesses remain eligible for the further payment. If we require further information, businesses will be contacted directly.

Unfortunately, Sefton Council will also be required to close its payment system down for a few days to commence the calculation and production of  140,000 Business Rates and Council Tax Bills and this will hinder payments from being issued as quickly as might be hoped. However, the Council is working on a timeline of issuing payments to all eligible businesses between 12th and 19th March 2021.

Full details of eligibility is available on the Sefton Council website here under the section ‘Local Restrictions Support Grant (For Businesses Instructed to Close)’. 

The team dealing with and processing business grants will not be able to respond to individual calls or enquiries asking for updates on payments, so the continued patience from businesses is greatly appreciated.

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