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Sefton Council Leader ‘confident’ Borough’s people & businesses will continue to protect each other as new COVID-19 variant announced

Cllr Ian Maher
Council Leader Cllr Ian Maher

Cllr Ian Maher has said he is confident people across the Borough will continue to do all they can to protect themselves and others from COVID-19.

Best non-clinical protection

Responding to the announcement on Saturday that cases of the new Omicron COVID-19 variant had been found in the UK, Cllr Maher said: “It’s expected that the government will introduce precautionary measures this week, including the compulsory wearing of facemasks in shops and on public transport.

“Wearing face masks in busy and indoor public spaces, is what we have been advising, particularly as a recent global study found masks provide the best non-clinical protection for ourselves and others.

“It’s a minimum effort or inconvenience that can do so much to prevent us, our friends and loved ones and others from COVID-19 as well as other seasonal viruses such as flu.”

Cllr Maher also urged everyone eligible for a vaccination, whether their first, second or a booster to book their appointment now by calling 119 or visiting

Vaccine confidence

He said: “Work is underway to find out more about the new variant, but experts are confident that our current vaccines will continue to be our best line of defence.

“Over the coming days, the Government is expected to widen the group of people who can book booster vaccinations, which are currently are available to people aged over 40 and in other specific groups.

“I would encourage people to keep an eye on the latest developments and book a jab as soon as they become eligible.

“And if you’ve missed you first and second vaccination, it’s not too late to book them now.”

Information and updates are also available on the Sefton Council website at


Sefton Council is still reminding anyone who starts to show COVID symptoms of a high temperature, a new persistent cough or a loss of taste or smell, should book a PCR test by calling 119 or visiting And it is recommending that people out and about on a regular basis, meeting up with groups or attending indoor events to carry out regular tests using the rapid home test kits available free from pharmacies and other locations.

Swab Squads will be out across Sefton over the coming week, providing free lateral flow testing kits and vaccination information and advice. Details will be published on the Council’s @SeftonCouncil Twitter feed.

Efforts and sacrifices

Cllr Maher added: “People and businesses across Sefton have made great efforts and sacrifices to look after each other and themselves throughout the pandemic and I want to thank them again for that.

“I am confident that when asked to do simple things like wearing masks and getting vaccinated they will continue to do so, which will vastly improve the chances that we can all enjoy the Christmas we missed out on last year.”

Mobile Testing in Sefton – December 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
Planned dates and sites may be subject to change if testing is required in other locations:

Dates and locations for December 2021

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

Remaining November dates

  • Monday 29 Southport, Esplanade Park and Ride
  • Tuesday 30 NO MOBILE TESTING

Our mobile Swab Squads are out this week.
Check our @SeftonCouncil Twitter feed for dates and locations. 

Walk-through test centres

In addition, local walk-through test centres are open , 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.

These are at:

  • Splash World car park – open from 8am to 6pm seven days a week.
  • Bootle Strand site, the former H Samuel unit, is open 8am to 6pm Monday to Saturday and from 10am to 4pm on Sundays.

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

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

Sefton businesses offered second chance to apply for Trading On Scheme grant

Eligible businesses have until Friday 10th December to apply for a Trading On grant
Eligible businesses have until Friday 10th December to apply for a Trading On grant

Liverpool City Region leaders have extended the grant application window for the Trading On Scheme, to encourage more businesses affected by Covid-19 to secure financial support.

The second application window is open from 10am on Monday 29th November until 5pm on Friday 10th December 2021.

Last month, Liverpool City Region leaders announced that they had secured a further £8.1m in emergency funding to support businesses across all six local authority areas in their post-pandemic recovery.

The additional funds are to be shared with small or medium-sized businesses, with between 10 and 249 employees, as part of the Trading On Scheme.

More than 100 Sefton-based businesses applied for a share of the £1.4million allocation set aside for the Borough during the first application window. Existing applicants will be contacted in the coming weeks and do not need to re-submit an application.

Businesses who did not apply initially, now have another fortnight to check their eligibility and apply via an online form. 

Sefton based businesses can find guidance and further details about the application process on the Sefton Council website: 

In a joint statement issued at the launch of the scheme, Liverpool City Region Metro Mayor Steve Rotheram, Cllr Mike Wharton, Leader, Halton Borough Council, Cllr Graham Morgan, Leader, Knowsley Borough Council, Joanne Anderson, Mayor of Liverpool, Cllr Ian Maher, Leader, Sefton Borough Council, Cllr David Baines, Leader, St. Helens Borough Council and Cllr Janette Williamson, Leader, Wirral Borough Council said:

“Throughout the past 18 months, we have worked together to protect our region from the biggest challenge it has faced since the war. That collaboration, creativity and hard work resulted in millions of pounds of support that helped sustain thousands of businesses in all parts of our region through the worst of the pandemic.

“More than £44m was distributed to more than 4,000 businesses, saving many more thousands of jobs and livelihoods in the process. We start our recovery from a much stronger position as a result.

“That recovery is already well underway and received a massive boost in May, with the launch of Mayor Steve Rotheram’s £150m Covid Recovery Fund, which has allowed our region to get a headstart on the rest of the country.

“Now we’re launching another £8.1m of funding for SMEs, who make up a massive chunk of the local economy. Together, we are making sure that the Liverpool City Region has the fastest and strongest recovery possible, with no one left behind.”

The government requires each council to exercise its local knowledge and judgment in devising a grant scheme that aligns best with the particular economic characteristics of its area by funding those businesses that have been severely impacted by Covid-19. Because of this and the limited amount of funding available, the amounts of grant funding for individual businesses will vary across different local authority areas.

How Sefton Council has supported its local businesses during the pandemic

Sefton Council has administered 23,000 grant payments through local, regional and national financial support packages and schemes totalling £97.7 million in payments to businesses right across the Borough – from taxi drivers to childminders to pub landlords.

A total of £41.8 million in Business Rates retail discounts were awarded in 2020/21 with a further £22.5 million awarded in 2021/22.

Sefton urged to keep safe and well during cold snap

With the Met Office issuing a weather warning for the North West, healthcare leaders in Sefton are sharing advice for keeping safe and well this weekend.

The weather warning means that from Friday evening through to Monday there is a high chance of very strong winds, cold temperatures, rain and sleet, which can be hazardous for vulnerable people or those with long term health conditions.

Sefton residents are being asked to look out for their relatives, friends and neighbours, and to follow the NHS advice on keeping safe and well, below.

Keep warm

If you are aged 65 or older, or have long term conditions such as heart or kidney disease, diabetes or breathing conditions, you should keep warm by heating your home to at least 18°C (65°F). You should also wear several layers of light clothes to keep warm, as multiple layers will trap warm air better than one bulky layer of clothing.

Keeping warm over the winter months can also help us all to prevent colds, flu and more serious health problems such as heart attacks, strokes, pneumonia and depression.

If you do go outside during the wet and windy weather, remember to wear shoes with a good grip to prevent slips and fall. If possible, stay inside during a cold period if you have heart or respiratory problems.

Be prepared

Ensure you have stocked your cupboards with food and medications in advance, to avoid going out in the bad weather. There are a variety of items you can keep at home to keep healthy and treat minor illnesses, such as pain relief medications, lozenges, cold and cough syrups, antihistamines, and much more.

Susanne Lynch MBE, head of medicines management at NHS South Sefton Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) and NHS Southport and Formby CCG, said:

“The cold weather can make us all more vulnerable to illness, but help is available from all local pharmacies in Sefton, who can advise on treatment for minor illnesses and what to keep in your medicine cabinet.”

“If you do become ill, we ask that you think about self-care, speaking to your local pharmacist, or calling NHS 111 for non-emergencies.”

Know where to get help

If you have an urgent medical problem, but not an emergency, get help from NHS 111 by visiting: online, or calling 111.

For help with treatment for common illnesses like coughs, colds or earache contact your local pharmacy who can give advice and recommend medicines and are happy to help. You can also access NHS advice and information at

Cllr Ian Moncur, cabinet member for health and wellbeing at Sefton Council, said:

“During the poor weather this weekend we encourage everyone in our local communities to keep an eye out for vulnerable residents and neighbours, or anyone living alone who may need advice or support.”

“If you’re worried about a relative or an elderly neighbour, contact your local council or ring the Age UK helpline on 0800 00 99 66.”

Support with energy bills

Anyone living in fuel poverty, or who knows someone who is, can be reassured that there is help and support available for those worried about keeping warm or paying energy bills.

To seek advice and information about the support available, people can call Sefton Council’s Affordable Warmth Service on 0151 934 2222 or the local Energy Advice line managed by the charity EPPlus Freephone 0800 043 0151. Mon-Fri 9am-5pm.

More information is available on the Sefton Council website:

Botanic Gardens lakeside mural to be repainted by its original artist Robert Newbiggin

Artist Robert Newbiggin has been given the green light from Sefton Council to create a replacement mural that will adorn the lakeside area of Southport’s Botanic Gardens.

The current mural was painted by Robert around 14 years ago and local students have added to it as part of their studies. It has weathered in the elements over the years and now Robert has offered his time, at no cost, to replace the mural. 

The new design will depict Victorian scenes within the park, reminding people of the history of the site and its inclusion on the Historic Parks and Gardens Register.

Pastel sketch of the proposed mural background. Victorian figures enjoying the scene will be included in the final design.
Pastel sketch of the proposed mural background. Victorian figures enjoying the scene will be included in the final design.

The initial concept and design have been signed-off by both Sefton Council and the Botanic Gardens Community Association (BGCA).

Robert will now begin the painting process in his studio across a series of boards, that once finished, will be put into position in the park. It is hoped that the project will be completed by spring 2022.  

The Council’s Green Sefton Service works in partnership with the dedicated volunteers of the BGCA to maintain the popular park. The materials required for the mural will be funded by the Association.

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

“I’m so pleased that we’re seeing another of the phased improvements planned for the Botanic Gardens lakeside area coming to fruition. The park has such a rich heritage and the new mural design will really showcase this to both visitors and park users.

“I’d like to thank Rob for offering his time at no cost to undertake the painting in his studio and to the volunteers of the Botanic Gardens Community Association for their contribution for the mural materials.

“I know that the community is very excited about the mural, as well as the wider park improvements, and can’t wait to see it take pride of place by the lake next year, which by that point will be fitted with new aerating fountains too.” 

Robert grew up in Southport and spent a huge part of his teenage years drawing and painting – often in the Botanic Gardens studying and sketching the flora and fauna. His career as a self-taught artist has taken him around the globe, but closer to home people may know him for his Southport town centre mural of Captain Sir Tom Moore that he painted last year.

Robert Newbiggin, said:

“I’m excited to start as I have the boards now, and the fact I’m the artist I am today will make all the difference.”

David Cobham, Botanic Gardens Community Association (BGCA), said:

“The Botanic Gardens Community Association volunteers have kept the existing mural going for the past few years with a new surround. But, time marches on and we are delighted that Rob has offered to carry out the artwork for free to add to his magnificent portfolio.

“The new mural will be far longer lasting, and we are equally delighted to fund the first-class infrastructure materials.”

The new and improved mural installation works follows last month’s news that two aeration fountains have been ordered as part of the first phase of lakeside improvements at the park.

The costs of the fountains have been met by recent fundraising efforts from the Make a Change for Ben group who have donated their funds raised to the BGCA for improvement projects and on-going maintenance within the park.

A longer-term vision to source a multi-million-pound investment for the park remains at the early stages of development. Next steps will include launching a public consultation in 2022.

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

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