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Regional business leaders learn all about AI at latest Economic Forum

Business leaders from across the region have attended the latest Sefton Economic Forum to find out how Artificial Intelligence can support their business.

Hosted by InvestSefton, the Spring Sefton Economic Forum took place at the Park Hotel, Netherton with more than 70 local businesses present to discuss how the local economy is faring, and to learn about Artificial Intelligence and how SME’s can benefit from this technology.

The popular forum included guest presentations from Christian Spence, Head of Future Economies Analytics, Manchester Metropolitan University, Dr Carl Chalmers, Senior Lecturer in Computer Science, Liverpool John Moores University and Simon Reid, Head of Advanced Manufacturing at Liverpool City Region Local Enterprise Partnership.

Ensuring the presentations ran smoothly was guest chair, Chris Burgess, a Sefton based health and well-being expert.

Cllr Marion Atkinson, Sefton Council’s Labour Cabinet Member for Regeneration and Skills, said: “This was yet another great event with over 70 businesses turning up to learn all about how they can make both their own business and the local economy grow.

“All of our speakers gave a great overview of the local economy and the many opportunities that exist to stimulate and support business growth. Christian’s economic update provided a whistle-stop tour of the local and regional economy, Carl completely demystified the use of Artificial Intelligence in business while Simon highlighted how SME’s can benefit from Artificial Intelligence.

“After the forum finished, businesses spent time in the Growth Hub Marketplace and met with representatives from over 15 different business support agencies who provided vital information on what help is available to boost business.

“I would like to once again congratulate the InvestSefton team on organising such an interesting and well attended forum. I would encourage Sefton businesses looking to invest in AI technologies, or understand what it can do for them to contact the Sefton Growth Hub.”

For more information about the Sefton Growth Hub and further Sefton Economic Forum events call 0151 934 3452 or email

Sefton seeks assurances on proposed bitumen facility

Sefton Council is seeking further reassurances through an Environmental Statement from an applicant planning to build a bitumen storage and distribution facility in Bootle.

Sefton’s Planning Team has received a request, under the Town and Country Planning (Environmental Impact Assessment) Regulations 2017, for a Screening Opinion from Starius Bitumen for the facility at Hornby Dock on Regent Road.

While Starious Bitumen contend that their proposed facility is ‘permitted development’ – development that you do not need planning permission for – this would only be the case if an Environmental Statement was not required.

The local authority has now informed Starius Bitumen that an Environmental Statement is required given the concerns over worsening air pollution in the area arising from increased vehicle traffic from this proposal as well as traffic elsewhere from the Port of Liverpool.

An Environmental Statement will contain a number of different technical reports that assess the impacts of this proposal, along with the impacts of existing and planned developments nearby, that will help inform the Council and the public when an application is submitted.

Cllr Ian Maher, Labour leader at Sefton Council, said: “We have looked long and hard into this proposal and feel more environmental assurances are needed before anything can progress.

“We strongly believe that the proposal is chemical storage and distribution which falls under the EIA Regulations of 2017.

“Our biggest concern centres around the impact this facility will have on air quality in the south of the borough when we already have declared four Air Quality Management Areas (AQMAs) nearby.

“The information submitted suggests that in the region of 6,000 HGV movements per year will be associated with the operation of the plant which, in combination with existing traffic, is likely to have a significant impact on the air quality of our communities.

“We feel it is with our best interests to request an Environmental Impact Assessment from the company to get a better understanding of how this could affect our local communities in the south of the borough and await their next steps.”

Sefton promotes public service professions for UN campaign

Sefton Council is shining a light on the important roles of our staff as part of an international celebration to recognise public servants who go above and beyond to help others.

The United Nations has designated June 23 International Public Service Day, using the date to recognise the value of public service to communities across the world. The day is also used to encourage young people to consider careers in the public sector.

Cllr Ian Maher, Labour Leader of Sefton Council said:

“International Public Service Day isn’t only a chance to celebrate the amazing work of our staff in local government but also our partners such as the police, fire service and more. It’s also another chance to say that despite the challenges we face in local government, it is still a rewarding and fulfilling career path across a huge array of professions.

“I’m rightly proud to lead Sefton Council, an organisation that employs nearly 3,500 people, most of them from the local area and all of them doing something to make a difference for Sefton’s communities.”

Members of staff from a breadth of Council services will be sharing their experiences on social media as they give their insight into the things that make working in the public sector such a fulfilling role.

Dwayne Johnson, Chief Executive at Sefton Council said:

“As someone who started my journey in social care to become a CEO, I know that public service and local government in particular is not only a fulfilling role but also offers genuine opportunities for progression in the many careers on offer.

“I’m proud of our workforce but the Local Government Association said it best during our peer review when they said that Sefton has a motivated and dedicated workforce that is resilient, adaptable and willing to embrace new challenges. Sefton’s workforce embodies what is great about a career in local government during International Public Service Day.”

If International Public Service Day has motivated you to think of a career in the public sector, check out the latest vacancies on the Sefton Council website and on LinkedIn

Offering learning opportunities to refugees living across the borough

As part of Refugee Week (June 17 – 23), Sefton Council is highlighting the excellent work it does to support refugees through further education. 

A number of courses are offered to refugees living in the borough which support them on their journey of learning English and also helps them integrate into our communities.

Classes are accessed through the Council’s Sefton Community Learning Service, which provides educational courses to communities across the borough. The service offers high quality adult learning programmes to help people make positive changes, support personal development and help communities thrive.

Celebrating Refugee Week also ties in with Sefton’s Year of Friendship with the Council focusing on ‘learning’ across the borough throughout June. 

Sefton Community Learning Service has provided education to a number of refugees in the borough.

These learners began their journey without English speaking skills and have progressed rapidly through the levels. They have now enrolled on other courses designed to improve their Mathematics and ICT skills.

Cllr Marion Atkinson, Sefton Council’s Labour Cabinet Member for Regeneration and Skills, said: “Developing communications skills has given refugee learners in Sefton independence and confidence. This has allowed them to meet new friends and increased their chances of gaining work experience and employment.

“Learners say they feel welcomed and believe tutors have not only supported them with their English skills but with all aspects of UK life and British values.”

Debbie Parkes, Curriculum Manager-ESOL and Education and Training, said: “We have been involved with the Syrian Resettlement Programme for over 2 years now and continue to welcome new students to our classes. The refugees arrived in this country with little or no understanding of the English language and culture. They have faced many challenges whilst in this country and have required help in adjusting to the area and life in England. In some cases, learning again has been a whole new experience.

“They have adapted well and can now communicate in the English language and make themselves understood. I feel privileged to have the refugees learning here at Sefton Community Learning Service”.

If you would like to know more about our refugee programme or any other courses at the Sefton Community Learning Service, please contact us on 0151 934 4546.

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School eco warriors quiz council experts on air quality

School children from five schools in south Sefton took on air quality experts at Southport Eco Centre on Wednesday (June 19).

The ‘Air Quality Meet the Experts’ event gave young people the opportunity to quiz a panel of senior managers and officers from Sefton Council.

The event built on previous work the Eco Centre has been doing with schools across Sefton to make sure that they are well informed about the causes and impacts of air pollution and what they can do to avoid it.

The expert panel included Matthew Ashton, Sefton’s Director of Public Health, Dr Stephen Birch, Transport Planning and Highway Development Manager, Stephanie Jukes, Section Manager for Energy & Environmental Management, Helen Armitage, Consultant in Public Health, Greg Martin, Principal Environmental Health Officer and Jean Hunt, Principal Highway Safety Officer.


They were put to the test by pupils from Bedford Primary School, Lander Road Primary School, Our Lady Star of the Sea RC Primary School, Thomas Gray Primary School and Waterloo Primary School.


The students grilled the experts on a range of topics that are important to them including Highways England’s plans to build a road though Rimrose Valley, the health impacts of air pollution and what needs to be done to promote more active travel.


The event coincided with the launch of the Eco Centre’s brand new ‘Clean Air Crew’ website which has been created as an interactive resource to educate young people about air quality. Visit the site at


Cllr Ian Moncur, Sefton Council’s Cabinet Member for Health and Wellbeing, said: “It was a fantastic day for young people to learn about air pollution and the effect it has on their lives and their community.


“The efforts, interest and commitment that they put into the day has been truly phenomenal and I have no doubt that when they become the business leaders and politicians of the future, Sefton will be an even cleaner, greener and more beautiful place to live.”


Check out a video from the event here:



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