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Council leader responds to cycle lane comments

Sefton Council’s leader, Cllr Ian Maher, has responded to a number of comments regarding the installation of central government required cycle lanes in the borough.

Earlier this year the Government announced its Emergency Active Travel Fund, and called for Councils to reallocate road space urgently to produce cycling and walking facilities.

Explaining the background to the schemes, Sefton Council Leader said: “Working with the Liverpool City Region Combined Authority, Sefton Council submitted a bid to the Government fund and was successful in securing funding for two schemes, in Bootle and Southport Town Centre, which met the Government’s criteria for the fund.”

These two schemes are based on key routes previously identified in the Liverpool City Region Local Cycling and Walking Infrastructure Plan and make it easier and safer for people to visit town centre shops, workplaces and other facilities in Bootle and Southport by bike or on foot.

Cllr Ian Maher, continued: “In May during what was and still remains an incredibly difficult time for councils across the country, the Conservative Government, through their Emergency Active Travel Fund, placed significant pressure on Sefton Council to urgently reallocate road space to produce cycling and walking facilities.

“To further compound these pressures, the Government then stipulated that these schemes had to be started within four weeks and completed within eight weeks of funding being approved.

“This, unfortunately, meant it was not possible to carry out a consultation in the way we normally would with our valued communities, due to the incredibly restrictive nature of Mr Moore’s Conservative Government’s timescale and requirements.

“We are wholly aware of the continued need to make savings and recoup income to help cope with ongoing and ever increasing Government cuts in funding and Mr Moore is correct in saying this Central Government scheme will indeed further cause Sefton Council to lose out on much needed revenue.

“The Council will be monitoring these routes closely and will keep them under review over the coming months, so that we understand how we can both improve them for people who walk and cycle as well as further support our local economy at this crucial time.”

Exciting future ahead for Bootle’s landmark shopping centre

Sefton Council’s vision for the long-term future of Bootle New Strand Shopping centre continues to progress with the acquisition of adjacent sites and progression of soft market testing regarding options and opportunities for the future of the centre.

This is the first step in realising the Council’s long-term aspirations to redevelop and repurpose The Strand.

In 2017, Sefton Council bought The Strand and earlier this year it secured some of the neighbouring sites. This means the Council can now steer the regeneration of a wider area of The Strand and Bootle town centre.

With Bootle proving to be one of the towns in the UK hardest-hit by COVID-19, the council is reviewing a range of short-term, cost effective “meanwhile” uses for the site while the long-term plans are being considered.

Following the adjacent site acquisitions, demolition works will commence this year, as part of work towards making better use of the canal-side location.  There will be an emphasis on a distinct food and beverage offer next to the canal, and images have been released to show how the area could look like in the future. These interim, “meanwhile” uses will transform the area in the short term while longer term planning and public consultation and engagement with residents, businesses and customers takes place.

Introducing these “meanwhile” measures will mean decommissioning certain areas of the centre. This may contribute to a reduction in rental income, but the Council will work through the financial impact, alongside these exciting new developments.

Pleasingly, in the most recent financial year (2019/20), The Strand made an operating surplus despite the COVID-19 pandemic affecting all sectors of society, including retail.  This surplus has been added to previous balances generated and has made possible the investment of £1 million to help fund other Sefton Council services since the Centre came back into council ownership.

This proves that the decision to take the centre back into council control and away from the private sector was the right one for the regeneration of Bootle and the Borough.  If this hadn’t taken place, The Strand would be unsupported and would be in decline with a wide-ranging impact on the local community and wider borough.

There is no retail unit or shopping centre in the UK that has not been affected by the pandemic, as the economy has seen a significant decline leading to the country now being in recession, and The Strand, together with all shopping centres in the Borough, will be no different in experiencing financial challenges over the coming months and years.  Now more than ever, exciting plans such as these to transform a much loved and valued local asset have never been more important.

As part of the long-term vision for The Strand and Bootle Town Centre, Sefton Council plans to carry out widespread consultation with local residents and partners, including a “Festival of Ideas” in September 2020. The input and perspectives of the public will be key to the success of the centre in the future.

Cllr Ian Maher, Leader of Sefton Council, said: “Sefton Council has big ambitions for the future of The Strand and Bootle Town Centre. They remain central to the area’s regeneration and this is an opportunity to explore other uses for them.

“We want to transform the space so that it is be more open and integrated with the surrounding community. It will be a beautiful public space hosting a wide range of uses and facilities, including retail but also food and drink and leisure opportunities.  We will also evaluate a number of other potential uses to ensure long-term economic, social and environmental sustainability of the centre.

“In particular, we have an ambition to link The Strand to the canal, which can provide not only an attractive environment and space for leisure, but also ‘a green transport corridor’, for walking, cycling and travel by water. This would link The Strand with other parts of the borough and beyond, including the proposed new Everton football stadium at Bramley Moore Dock.”

The illustrations released today are artist’s impressions of how the area could look.

A popular historic building in Crosby is set to be brought back into community use.

Sefton Council recognises the importance of the Grade II listed Carnegie Library building and late last year advertised it to try and identify the right opportunity that benefits the community and local residents.

The competitive process looking at bids for the future of this important asset has been completed and options around next steps are now being considered.

A report highlighting the potential use of the College Road building as a sustainable business hub with an emphasis on social value has been approved by Cllr Paulette Lappin, Sefton Council’s Cabinet Member Regulatory, Compliance and Corporate Services.

Cunard Construction Limited will facilitate the repair and refurbishment of the Library in line with its status as a Grade II listed building.

 Cllr Paulette Lappin, Sefton Council’s Cabinet Member Regulatory, Compliance and Corporate Services, said:

“Carnegie Library is a valued asset for both the Council and the local community and its heritage status is widely recognised.

“The successful business plan submitted for the premises reports on the development and operation of a create a flexible business hub for start-up and smaller businesses, a community café in the centre of the building within the heart of Crosby.

“This is exciting news for Crosby and the wider borough as we bring a much-loved building back into use serving our valued communities. Further details will be released in due course.”

James Flannery, Construction Director at Cunard Construction, said;

“We are delighted to be chosen as the preferred bidder for the iconic and much-loved Carnegie Library in Crosby. We as a business have a track record of refurbishing historic buildings across the Liverpool City Region and the North West.

“We aim to work in partnership with Sefton Council, and the immediate community in Crosby, to create a stimulating business hub, focusing on start-up and smaller businesses who want to work more locally to where they live rather than the more costly city centre office environments. We also have plans to work with other partners, including the Combined Authority, on this and other exciting schemes in the future.

“We as a business will be operating from the new space as we want to demonstrate the transition from start-up, to a more established business operations and the building will be designed to allow this growth.

“We feel the integration of a central bistro / café to compliment the flexible office working environment will enhance a new way of working post Covid-19. Furthermore, we will aim to extending the welcome to this unique building to the local community with internal and external seating space”.

Plans to boost Sefton’s golfing offer approved by Sefton Council

Sefton is to enhance its golf offer with the addition of two new driving ranges.

New driving range facilities will be constructed at Sefton’s two municipal sites at Bootle Golf Course and Southport Golf Links, broadening the accessibility and affordability of the game in the region.

Work will start on a new driving range at Bootle Golf Course in the spring of this year, with the facility expected to be completed during summer 2020. This follows a consultation in Autumn 2019 with local residents and golf players who highlighted the importance of new practice facilities and investment in course infrastructure.

Phase 2 of the project will see a new facility at Southport Golf Links. This has been approved in principle, subject to a consultation in the coming months.

The ranges will both include a dedicated coaching bay, with the floodlit facilities enabling participants to play into the evening on a ‘pay as you play’ basis.

Sefton Council’s Cabinet formally approved plans to invest £536,360 in the new facilities.

The driving ranges are forecast to generate a surplus of over £1m over a 10-year period.

Round and membership prices at both courses have been held at last year’s fees for 2020, with a wider selection of food and drinks available at the on-site golf shops. All existing facilities will remain open to members and non-members during any works.

Plans are also in development to upgrade the buildings at both golf courses to offer improved changing facilities, shop, hospitality and food and drink offerings.

Sefton Council is hoping to attract more young golfers to the two courses and will be offering free-play to under 16s for a period later in 2020.

Cllr Ian Moncur, Sefton Council’s Cabinet Member for Health and Wellbeing, said: “Driving ranges are a great facility for people to learn, practise and play golf. The new driving ranges will enhance Sefton’s municipal courses, which provide affordable, good quality facilities for people to enjoy the sport. The project supports Sefton Council’s 2030 Vision and will encourage new people young and old to participate in golf. The surplus the driving ranges are forecast to generate will enable the Council to invest further in front-line services.”

Marine Way Bridge to close for routine maintenance works

Routine maintenance works are set to take place on Marine Way Bridge, Southport next month.

The extensive works are scheduled to begin on the bridge, which is now fifteen years old, from Monday, September 9 and take up to three weeks to complete.

In order to carry out the works safely and to allow for access for large equipment, Marine Way Bridge will be closed to all traffic, including pedestrians during weekdays.

However to compensate for increased traffic on weekends, the bridge will be reopened temporarily for both weekends commencing September 14 and September 21.

Diversions will be in place throughout the closure to ensure disruption is kept to a minimum.

Cllr John Fairclough, Sefton Council’s Cabinet Member for Locality Services, said: “The dates for the work have been chosen to take account of school holidays, the Air Show, the Musical Fireworks Championship and the 24 hour Yacht Race.

“The Marine Way Bridge is a vital asset both to our highways network and is the gateway to some of the most beautiful coastline in the North West.

“We have been working closely with our Tourism team and partners to make sure the works take place during a brief quiet period in Southport’s packed events calendar.

“The works will start following the end of the Southport Air Show and we are confident they will be completed before the British Musical Fireworks Championships on September 27-29.

“However if bad weather delays any works, the bridge will be opened during that weekend to accommodate visiting traffic.”

A diversion route will be in place to direct traffic across Marine Lake and advanced signs on Marine Drive at the North and South will allow motorists to choose their preferred route to the East or West of Marine Lake.

For more information about road closures across the borough please visit www.roadworks.org

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