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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

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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 £70 million, plus £41 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 £37.5 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

Liverpool City Region Culture and Creativity Awards crowns the Atkinson in its 2020 awards

The winners of the 2020 Liverpool City Region Culture and Creativity Awards have been revealed in a unique online ceremony to celebrate the outstanding contributions to the industry in what has been a challenging year due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Hosted by Coronation Street and Emmerdale actress, Huyton-born Eithne Browne, the ceremony was broadcast live into over 300 homes where the finalists were standing by waiting for the winners to be announced.

Guest presenters from across the city region including the Principal Dancer of the Royal Ballet Matthew Ball, music artist and international DJ Yousef, actress Leanne Best and chef Paul Askew helped distribute the accolades by video link in the 15 categories.

The People’s Choice award which saw 2,300 of votes cast from across the Liverpool City Region, was awarded to The Atkinson Sefton while the Lifetime Achievement award, recognising an individual’s lifelong creative contribution to the Liverpool City Region, was bestowed on photographer, independent filmmaker and visual artist Sandi Hughes.

Metro Mayor of the Liverpool City Region Steve Rotheram said:

“I always like to say that the Liverpool City Region is the country’s cultural capital; that creativity is in our DNA and we’ve really seen that on full display during this past year. Despite the challenges of the pandemic, our region has continually responded with imagination, creativity and generosity to keep us all connected and our spirits high.

“I’d like to congratulate everybody who has been nominated for an award and give a special congratulations to our award winners. I know that all of these fantastic organisations and people will play an integral role in the region’s recovery after this pandemic – I can’t wait to see what they will produce.”

A panel of judges including Co-Chairs of the Culture Partnership Phil Redmond and Maggie O’ Carroll, chose the finalists from more than 700 nominations this year.

Maggie O’ Carroll said:

“Despite the region’s museums, art galleries, theatres and music venues having to close their doors for the best part of the last year, it was heartening to see how many nominations we still had for this year’s awards and the quality of work we received which made the judging all the more difficult!”

The cultural and creative sector has been responsive and has shown to be a lifeline for many communities. It has proved invaluable in supporting people in their own health and well-being during these extraordinary times.”

Phil Redmond said:

“Congratulations to all the winners tonight at what was a dynamic digital ceremony. I’m delighted we could still get together using the power of technology to celebrate this year’s achievements in what has been a crippling year for many cultural organisations. It just shows the resilience of the people of the Liverpool City Region who even now are making a significant impact to culture and creativity.”

During the ceremony, the Borough of Culture title was handed from Sefton to Halton, the next of the city region’s six boroughs to hold the title.

Sefton Councillor and Cabinet member for Communities and Housing Trish Hardy said:

“I’m incredibly proud of how everyone took up the challenge to think differently about how we could present this year’s Borough of Culture in Sefton. Covid-19 has had a massive impact in all areas and I am grateful for all the hard work that went into what has been a difficult year for the cultural and creative sector.”

Councillor Eddie Jones, Portfolio Lead for Visitor Economy, Heritage and Events, and Lead Member for Borough of Culture at Halton Council said:

“As we move forward into 2021 and into Halton’s Borough of Culture year, hopefully with the ongoing vaccine roll out there will be the opportunity to enjoy some of the culture and creativity the borough has to offer in more normal circumstances. We are looking forward to celebrating Halton’s Borough of Culture year and to further build on the fantastic work we have seen in previous years.”

Liverpool Designer Mary Lamb, Head of Liverpool based costume and fashion production space fabricationstudios, also announced the winner of the Dress it Up competition which was awarded to Velma Von Bonbon in the amateur category and Emma Russell in the professional category.

They have both taken away a prize of bed and breakfast at the soon to open INNSiDE by Melia Liverpool Hotel, cocktails in the Sky Lounge at the INNSiDE by Melia Liverpool Hotel, dinner for 2 at Luban Restaurant with a bottle of Drappier Champagne, and 2 x tickets to a Liverpool City Region located theatre show and the chance to exhibit the winning creation at the INNSiDE hotel.

The Culture and Creativity awards were created as part of the Metro Mayor’s Percent for Culture initiative, to recognise the value and power for change that the arts, cultural and creative sector can bring in reinforcing the city region as one of the most vibrant and exciting places to live, work, study, visit or do business. The 2020 awards are delivered in partnership with Sefton Borough of Culture 2020 and sponsors including LuBan Restaurant, LuBan Kitchen, INNSiDE by Melia Liverpool, Davies Partnership and Accountable Recruitment.

This year’s awards covered arts and cultural events, innovation and creative activity that took place within the Liverpool City Region during the period 1st April 2019 to 12th November 2020.

Surge Testing in Norwood Ward is now complete

The surge testing operation to understand the spread of a South African variant of Covid-19 in Norwood Ward, Southport has now been completed.

Testing continues in Dukes and Cambridge wards.

Door to door delivery of home testing kits has stopped, and the Mobile Test Unit at the former Kew Park and Ride will close at 6.30pm on Wednesday, February 17.

Initial numbers from the operation, which is aimed at understanding any community spread of a variant of COVID-19 known as SARS-CoV-2 (or VOC-202012/02) which originated in South Africa, show around 90% of the tests delivered have been completed and collected.

Any residents whose kits may have been missed for collection are asked to phone Sefton Council on 0345 140 0845, leaving their name and address, and the Council will arrange for the test kits to be collected.

Sefton’s Director of Public Health, Margaret Jones, said “Our teams have visited just shy of 7,000 addresses in the last 2 weeks; which has been no mean feat.

“The residents in the areas tested rightly deserve a huge thank you for being so willing to support us in this important task and help Government scientists learn more about this disease.

“All positive COVID-19 tests from our targeted testing in Norwood Ward will be sent for genomic sequencing.

“This will help us to understand the spread of COVID-19 variants locally.”

“The community have been magnificent with people being so supportive on the doorstep and wanting to do whatever they can to help our efforts.

“Over the last few days in wind, rain and snow a dedicated group of Council staff, other agencies and volunteers have pulled out all the stops to make this operation a reality and I cannot thank each and every one of them enough.”

Although the targeted testing in Norwood is complete, residents can still have a Covid-19 test done at Splashworld (if no symptoms) or can book a test at Southport Town Hall if they do have symptoms. Alternatively, they can call 119 and request for a home testing kit to be delivered.

Residents in Cambridge and Dukes wards who are aged 16 or over, should still go and have a test done at the Southport Theatre and Convention Centre mobile test unit on the Promenade, or can wait for our team to visit them with a home testing kit.

To help stop the spread of the virus and its variants, aside from getting a test, residents should be staying at home as much as possible and only be going out for essential purposes; such as shopping for essential supplies, going to work if we can’t do so from home, providing care and daily exercise.

Margaret Jones continued: “Everyone in all of our communities should continue to follow the national lockdown restrictions in order to protect our most vulnerable.

“There are no additional restrictions in place for those areas where surge testing is still being carried out, but we do encourage residents of those areas take extra care and try to limit their time away from home.

“People who live and work in these surge areas can use the Southport Theatre and Convention Centre mobile test unit on the Promenade, as long as they don’t have coronavirus symptoms of a high temperature, persistent new cough or a loss of taste or smell.

“It doesn’t take long to get a test and some people may want to call in for theirs while they are out taking their daily exercise.”

Testing runs from 8am-6.30pm however it is recommended to arrive by 6pm to ensure you are tested, there is no need to book in advance

Surge testing areas of Southport urged to follow national restrictions

Residents in areas of Sefton which are subject to surge testing are being urged to continue to adhere to national lockdown restrictions.

While there are no extra restrictions in place for those communities where the South African variant of COVID-19 has been discovered, residents are being encouraged to continue to follow national lockdown guidelines and limit their time away from home.

Surge testing, both at Mobile Testing Units (MTUs) and doorstep testing, is currently taking place in the Cambridge, Dukes and Norwood wards of Southport.

Residents aged 16 or over in these wards who are not showing any symptoms of COVID-19 are being encouraged to safely play their part and get tested to help stop the spread of the virus and its variants.

Aside from getting a test, residents should be staying at home as much as possible and only be going out for essential purposes; such as shopping for essential supplies, going to work if we can’t do so from home, providing care and daily exercise.

Margaret Jones, Sefton Council’s Director of Public Health, said: “Everyone in all of our communities should continue to follow the national lockdown restrictions in order to protect our most vulnerable.

“There are no additional restrictions in place for those areas where surge testing is being carried out but we do encourage residents of those areas take extra care and try to limit their time away from home.

“People who live and work in these surge areas can use either of two dedicated MTUs, as long as they don’t have coronavirus symptoms of a high temperature, persistent new cough or a loss of taste or smell.

“It doesn’t take long to get a test and some people may want to call in for theirs while they are out taking their daily exercise.”

Residents and those who work in the areas of Cambridge, Dukes and Norwood wards can visit either the Kew Park & Ride MTU on Foul Lane or the Southport Theatre and Convention Centre MTU on the Promenade.

Both units accept vehicle and walk-in arrivals, while there is no need to book in advance.

Testing runs from 8am-6.30pm at both sites however it is recommended to arrive by 6pm to ensure you are tested

Southport wards reminded of testing opportunities for COVID-19 variant

Residents in the Cambridge, Dukes and Norwood wards of Southport are being reminded of surge testing taking place to help combat the South African variant of COVID-19.

Testing for the South African variant of the COVID-19 virus is being carried out, both at Mobile Testing Units and door-to-door visits, in all three wards after Sefton Council was notified of two, apparently unrelated historic cases in the area.

The local authority is urging everyone aged 16 or over within the target areas who do not have any symptoms to get a test. Residents of these wards can access a Mobile Testing Unit (MTU) at the Southport Theatre and Convention Centre car park or at the MTU sited the former Kew Park and Ride site on Foul Lane.

Open every day from 8am to 6.30pm, both Units are specifically for identifying cases of the variant and are accessible either via car or walk-in. Residents are advised to arrive before 6pm to ensure they get tested.

Testing is quick and simple, allowing residents to play their part while going about their daily exercise or travelling to and from work.

Volunteers from the local authority and its partners are complimenting both MTU centres with door-to-door testing visits to ensure those who cannot leave their homes are also offered a test.

Any residents who are displaying symptoms or signs of COVID-19 should not attend these sites and instead book a test online, by calling 119 or by using the NHS COVID-19 app.

Sefton are reminding all residents across the borough to continue to follow the national lockdown regulations to protect themselves and others.

Residents should be staying at home and only be going out for essential purposes such as shopping for essential supplies, going to work if we can’t do so from home, providing care and their daily exercise.

When outside in our communities, it is important people ensure they the keep to 2-metres’ distancing, wear masks or face coverings and wash their hands thoroughly and frequently.

For more information about the ongoing response to the COVID-19 pandemic in Sefton, visit www.https://www.sefton.gov.uk/covid-19-in-sefton.

 

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