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Chancellor’s Budget plans must be long-term, sustainable and not at council taxpayers’ expense, says Sefton Council leader

Cllr Ian Maher
Council Leader Cllr Ian Maher

Sefton Council Leader, Cllr Ian Maher has given a cautious welcome to news that Chancellor Rishi Sunak plans to invest in skills and education, families, business, transport and culture in his budget statement this week.

New money

Cllr Maher said: “After years of Government austerity and the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, these are all areas that desperately need more investment.

“But what we need to see this week is guaranteed new money and long-term commitments that mean people in Sefton will really see a levelling-up, rather than headline-grabbing announcements.

“As a result of the pandemic, Councils such as Sefton have seen huge increases in demand, particularly in the areas of adult and children’s social care services. And, at the same time we have taken a huge hit in terms of lost income due to lost revenue from closed facilities and lower Council Tax and Business Rate income.

“At the same time, large numbers of families across the Borough are facing increased financial pressures from the Government’s recent, £20-per-week cut in Universal Credit, higher household fuel costs and rising prices in shops.

Damage done

“To make sure we can build back better from the damage done by austerity and the pandemic, Sefton and other councils need sustainable, three-year financial settlements that enable us to plan strategically as well as greater Government support for frontline services.

“And the cost of this should not be passed on to local people through us being required to increase Council Tax to pay for vital services.

“If we do not see these measures from the Chancellor on Wednesday, no matter what Mr Sunak and his colleagues claim, what this budget statement will really represent is cuts that will hit the most vulnerable.”

Startling

In an open letter in May when the Council set its budget, Cllr Maher wrote to Sefton Council Tax-payers explaining that the authority had had been forced to make £233 million of savings over the past ten years. And, he described the cost to the Council of dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic as ‘startling’.

He said that at the beginning of the crisis, the Government told local councils to do “whatever it takes,” but described ministers’ responses to calls for increased and continual funding as ‘nothing more than smoke and mirrors’.

Ambitious

Today, Cllr Maher said: “This week is an opportunity for this Government to show that it has the interests of everyone at heart, by announcing budget plans that enable us to support local communities to recover, and to develop our ambitious plans for sustained economic growth across the Borough.”

 You can read Cllr Maher’s open letter here.

Mobile Testing in Sefton – November 2021

Throughout November , drive-through Mobile Testing Units will be available across the Borough.
These sites are for people with symptoms – a new persistent cough, a high temperature or a loss of sense of taste or smell – and can be booked by calling 119 or visiting www.nhs.uk/coronavirus.
Planned dates and sites may be subject to change if testing is required in other locations:

Dates and locations for November 2021

  • Monday 1 Litherland Sports Park
  • Tuesday 2 Litherland Sports Park
  • Wednesday 3 Litherland Sports Park
  • Thursday 4 Maghull Town Hall
  • Friday 5 Maghull Town Hall
  • Saturday 6 Southport, Esplanade Park and Ride
  • Sunday 7 Southport, Esplanade Park and Ride
  • Monday 8 NO MOBILE TESTING
  • Tuesday 9 Litherland Sports Park
  • Wednesday 10 Litherland Sports Park
  • Thursday 11 Maghull Town Hall
  • Friday 12 Maghull Town Hall
  • Saturday 13 Southport, Esplanade Park and Ride
  • Sunday 14 Southport, Esplanade Park and Ride
  • Monday 15 Litherland Sports Park
  • Tuesday 16 Litherland Sports Park
  • Wednesday 17 NO MOBILE TESTING
  • Thursday 18 Maghull Town Hall
  • Friday 19 Maghull Town Hall
  • Saturday 20 Southport, Esplanade Park and Ride
  • Sunday 21 Southport, Esplanade Park and Ride
  • Monday 22 Litherland Sports Park
  • Tuesday 23 Litherland Sports Park
  • Wednesday 24 Litherland Sports Park
  • Thursday 25 Maghull Town Hall
  • Friday 26 Maghull Town Hall
  • Saturday 27 Southport, Esplanade Park and Ride
  • Sunday 28 Southport, Esplanade Park and Ride
  • Monday 29 Southport, Esplanade Park and Ride
  • Tuesday 30 NO MOBILE TESTING

Remaining October dates

  • Monday 25 Maghull Town Hall
  • Tuesday 26 NO MOBILE TESTING
  • Wednesday 27 Litherland Sports Park
  • Thursday 28 Litherland Sports Park
  • Friday 29 Litherland Sports Park
  • Saturday 30 Southport, Esplanade Park and Ride
  • Sunday 31 Southport, Esplanade Park and Ride

Our mobile Swab Squads are out this week.

Walk-through test centres

In addition, local walk-through test centres are open every day from 8am to 8pm, providing easy access to COVID-19 tests for people who do not have access to a car and for those who have symptoms and should not travel by public transport.

The four local test centres are located at:

  • Bootle Town Hall, L20 7AA
  • Crosby Library Car Park, Haigh Road, L22 OLQ
  • Netherton Activity Centre, Glovers Lane, L30 3TL
  • Southport Town Hall, PR8 1DA

Those with symptoms wanting tests, need to book ahead of going to either the walk-through or drive-through sites. It’s quick and easy to book by calling 119 or going online at www.nhs.uk/coronavirus.

Find out more about COVID in Sefton, including testing and vaccinations.

Huge improvements announced for Kings Gardens

King’s Gardens in Southport is set to undergo a series of improvement works designed to restore and regenerate a number of the park’s key features.

The large scale maintenance programme, made possible via Sefton Council’s own King’s Garden’s contingency fund, will see the popular site undergo a series of restorative works, costing nearly £90,000.

Transformation

King’s Gardens underwent a major £5.5 million transformation in 2012 and was formally reopened in 2016, having welcomed millions of visitors to its stunning Victorian inspired landscape in the years that followed.

Now Sefton Council’s Tourism & Green Sefton teams are working together to begin a six month series of works to restore the Gardens after nearly five years of continuous use and enjoyment.

Works will include:

  • Repainting and repairs to the Venetian Bridge, shelters & benches
  • Improvements to the landscape areas including trees and shrub beds
  • Repairs and repainting to bins and benches
  • Lighting column repairs
  • Play Area maintenance
  • Tea Rooms and Arts & Craft building repairs

Gem

Cllr Ian Moncur, Sefton Council’s Cabinet Member for Health & Wellbeing said: “King’s Gardens is a beautiful gem in the crown of our Sefton Coastline and is visited all year round by hundreds of thousands of families and tourists.

“There are few finer places to be on a sunny day than Kings Gardens and playing host to so many people over the years has an unavoidable impact with wear and tear on the overall appearance of the park and this winter presents an opportune time to carry out a large scale maintenance programme.

“After 18 months that have seen our parks and green spaces play a vital role for people through lockdowns as a place to relax, exercise and meet friends and family safely.

“King’s Gardens continues to be a hugely popular visitor attraction and its continued influx of tourists is testament to the hard work and dedication of the team that make the green space a great place that everyone can enjoy.

“I can’t wait to see King’s Gardens in all its glory for the 2022 summer season.

Victorian roots

“While still maintaining its beautiful Victorian roots, the Kings Garden’s of the 21st century was revamped, becoming the largest single investment in parks by the Heritage Lottery Fund in the North West.

“The gardens were restored to their former glory, with Victorian shelters and the Venetian Bridge transformed and extensive landscaping along with a large children’s play area created but the time has come for a wide scale ‘top-up’ refurbishment.”

Find out more about Seton Council’s parks and greenspaces. 

 

 

Aeration fountains ordered for Botanic Gardens lake improvements thanks to community fundraising efforts

Two aeration fountains have been ordered as part of the first phase of lakeside improvements at Southport’s popular Botanic Gardens.

Fundraising efforts

The installation of the new aeration systems will be overseen by Sefton Council and will cost £8,500. These costs will be covered by recent fundraising efforts from the Make a Change for Ben group who have donated their funds raised to date to the Botanic Gardens Community Association, a long-standing voluntary group overseeing maintenance and activities at the park.

At the end of August, Sefton Council met with members of the two groups and outlined ideas for up to £30,000 in improvements for the lake and lakeside area.

At the meeting, the groups agreed to prioritise the aerating fountains as the first phase, with the equipment now on order and works expected to be completed this autumn.

Cllr Ian Moncur, Cabinet Member for Health and Wellbeing, said:

“I’m really pleased to be able to say that we are moving forward with the initial improvements to the lake area at the Botanic Gardens and I do want to pass on a huge thank you to everyone in the community who has contributed to the local fundraising efforts to date.

“I know that fundraising activities continue and the generosity of our communities that know and love this park is unwavering.

“Our Green Sefton officers have a long-standing partnership with the Botanic Gardens Community Association and will continue to work with them and all community partners to drive forward further improvements for the whole park. This is in line with our longer-term vision to source a multi-million-pound investment to ensure this historic site can be enjoyed for generations to come.”

Nicola Cave, Community Campaigner, said: 

“We are absolutely delighted by the news of the progress being made to fit aerators in Botanic Gardens Lake. In particular we’d like to thank Cllr Ian Moncur and the Council officers for engaging so positively with the Make A Change For Ben campaign and Cllr Greg Myers for his ongoing assistance.

“We must also thank every single person who has donated to the campaign to make this a reality and cannot wait to see the new aeration fountains in action very soon.”

David Rawsthorne, Make a Change for Ben Campaign Founder, said:

“I am absolutely delighted that our campaign and Sefton Council have worked hand-in- hand over the last three months to secure local contractors to carry out works on the aeration fountains. Huge thanks to all the people who have got involved and helped to get us where we are now.”

Earlier this year, Sefton Council’s Green Sefton Service confirmed it was looking at ways to develop and improve the Botanic Gardens to offer better facilities for its communities as well as providing a positive boost to the local visitor economy.

Heritage

In time, it is expected funding will be sought from streams through organisations that support the heritage sector. Around £5 million is likely to be required to deliver the Council’s ambitious plans to transform the park.

The major proposals are at the very early stages of development and next steps will include launching a public consultation in 2022. This will bring together the views of residents, regular park users, visitors and the dedicated volunteer groups who support many projects at the park to keep the space clean, green and beautiful for all.

Anyone interested in helping to shape the developing project, or would like to volunteer in the Botanic Gardens, can contact the Botanic Gardens Community Association at https://botanicgardensca.org.uk/

Sefton listens to the views of children whose parents foster

Throughout October Sefton has been celebrating Sons and Daughter Month. This is an annual campaign to recognise and say ‘thank you’ to the children of fosters carers for the important work they do in welcoming vulnerable children into their home.

In the lead up to Sons and Daughters Month, Sefton listened to children from fostering families who spoke about how fostering impacts their life, the challenges that growing up in a fostering family brings and the benefits it has.

The children told us;

They explained that the extra rules, lots of visitors to the house could be hard. The biggest impact was seeing their parents time and attention divided.

Some children described the ‘buzz’ of meeting new children and how it brought their family closer;

Cllr Mhairi Doyle MBE, Sefton Council’s Cabinet Member for Children’s Services, said:

“It’s so important for us to recognise the vital role that children of foster carers play in helping vulnerable young people. Thank you to all those who shared their thoughts and feelings with us. Listening to your voice is key in helping us to continually improve and shape the service to ensure that it benefits children in our care and foster families.

“Our Sons and Daughters really are a testament to our foster carers as they welcome many children who may be scared or unsure, into their homes, make them feel safe and secure and help them settle in.

“If you are thinking about fostering and you already have children, please don’t see this as a barrier. Sefton involves the children of foster carers every step of the way and do all that we can to make them feel valued. Our carers with children tell us how fostering has many benefits in enhancing their life and bringing them closer together as a family unit.

Angela Sitoe Sefton Fostering’s Training Development Officer, conducted the survey and said:

“I was bowled over reading the children’s experiences and by how generous and welcoming they are.  It is clear this can be difficult at times. Thanks to all who support the children in our foster families to be open, loving and where possible make life long connections.”

Sefton’s Foster Carers receive full training and support, plus payments for their skills and allowances. Anyone who is thinking about fostering can find out more by speaking to one of the team. Get in touch on our freephone number 0800 923 2777

People can also find out more on our dedicated website https://seftonfostering.co.uk/ 

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