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Sefton Council proposes Council Tax changes for empty and uninhabitable homes

Sefton Council is proposing changes to Council Tax discount on empty and uninhabitable properties, with home owners in the borough currently receiving the most generous discounts in the Liverpool City Region.

The Council recently launched an online consultation to garner the views of local residents on the proposed changes, which could see properties vacant for less than one month have their discount reduced from 100% to 50%, while those houses that are uninhabitable will be liable for the full Council Tax amount.

Cllr. Paulette Lappin, Cabinet Member for Regulatory, Compliance and Corporate Services, said:

“In Sefton we have nearly 180 homes that are unfit to occupy, and a further 435 homes that are empty – all of these properties receive Council Tax discounts that are generous when compared with our Liverpool City Region neighbours.

“By reducing the relief that owners of these properties receive, we will incentivise them to ensure they are occupied or in the case of those not fit for purpose, take the necessary steps to improve them and make them suitable for human habitation.

“At a time when we are creating new homes to support families now and as demand increases, encouraging landlords to improve the quality and availability of existing priorities is a big priority for the council.”

This quick five minute survey is open until November 1. Take part by clicking the Your Sefton Your Say website

BAFTA Nominee to host the Liverpool City Region Culture and Creativity Awards

With just days left to enter the 2019 Culture and Creativity Awards in the Liverpool City Region, the host of the glittering ceremony taking place at the Lady Lever Art Gallery in Wirral in November has been announced.

Critically acclaimed award-winning actor, screenwriter and BAFTA Cymru nominee Celyn Jones, who is standing in the Best Actor category against Anthony Hopkins and Michael Sheen for his role in ITV’s Manhunt, will be hosting the event joined by a number of guest presenters.

Born and raised on the island of Anglesey in North Wales, Celyn lives in Wirral with his family, is a co-founder of the internationally recognised and Wirral based Mad as Birds Films and a proud Welsh ambassador for the children’s charity Into Film.

These are the first city region-wide Culture and Creativity Awards and have been created by the Liverpool City Region Combined Authority to recognise and celebrate excellence and innovation in art, culture and creativity across Halton, Knowsley, Liverpool, Sefton, St Helens and Wirral.

Nominations will be shortlisted by the panel of judges. Some categories will then go to a public vote.
There are eleven categories including the People’s Choice award and the Star of the Borough of Culture – which this year is Wirral. There will also be an Inspiration Award for Lifetime Achievement chosen by the panel.

The judges have been named as:

• Phil Redmond – Chair of the Culture Partnership
• Alison Clark – ACE North Director
• Lucy Barrow – Assistant Director, Wirral Borough Council
• Alastair Machray – Editor in chief, Liverpool Echo
• Claire McColgan – Director, Culture Liverpool
• Professor Dinah Birch – Pro-Vice Chancellor for Cultural Engagement, University of Liverpool
• Alan Higgins – Head of Programme, LCR Public Health England North West
• Michelle Charters – CEO, Kuumba Imani Centre

Metro Mayor of the Liverpool City Region Steve Rotheram said: “I’m delighted to welcome our host and the judging panel and know what a difficult job they will have in choosing the winners of the first Culture and Creativity Awards. Culture and creativity are in our DNA and we should celebrate what makes us special.

“We are inviting nominations from across the Liverpool City Region. Who do you know who has used culture and creativity to make a big difference in your community? Or is there someone you feel is inspiring and innovative in art, culture or through their creativity? We want to hear from you so we can celebrate and recognise what’s happening culturally in our city region. I wish everyone the best of luck and look forward to seeing the results in November.”

The awards are part of the Metro Mayor’s 1% for Culture initiative and will honour the value and contribution that the cultural and creative sector brings to the Liverpool City Region.

The 1% for Culture initiative means that Liverpool City Region currently uses the equivalent of 1% of its £30 million annual devolution funding to stimulate cultural and creative opportunities.
Chair of the Liverpool City Region Cultural Partnership Phil Redmond said:

“Everything in life starts with people and their ideas and talent. Whether music, science, sport, business or literature, the region has always been a crucible of creative innovation. These inaugural awards are part of the long term cultural strategy to find, nurture, exhibit and promote that creative energy.

“In future years these will be the awards to watch for both evolving and emerging talent. And the one everyone will want to win. To be, simply, the best at what they do.”

The competition closes on Friday 20th September 2019 with the red carpet ceremony taking place on 28th November 2019 at the Lady Lever Art Gallery hosted by the 2019 Liverpool City Region ‘Borough of Culture’, Wirral.

Nominees must live, study and/or work in the Liverpool City Region – Halton, Knowsley, Liverpool, Sefton, St Helens and Wirral, or have created work/projects that significantly benefit the residents or visitors to the LCR and/or has positively contributed to the development of the economy of the LCR.

Go Green with the Merseyside Collective Switch

To celebrate the Liverpool City Region’s Year of Environment, we’re asking you to Go Green! and switch to a green energy tariff with the Merseyside Collective Switch.

Run by local charity Energy Projects Plus, in partnership with your local authority, the Merseyside Collective Switch uses the power of the group to negotiate cheap energy tariffs, available exclusively to its members. Anyone can join and it’s completely free.

If the winning tariffs aren’t right for you, we will help you find one that is. Plus, by switching with the Merseyside Collective Switch, you will be helping to support charity Energy Projects Plus, who work with local people who are vulnerable to the cold or living in fuel poverty.

The Merseyside Collective Switch has been running since 2013. Together, we’ve helped local people save £1.5 million on their energy bills.

This year, we’re asking you to think about going green. Most of the larger suppliers now offer green tariffs, which means they use renewable energy sources such as wind power, rather than fossil fuels.

Alan Jemmett, Director, Merseyside Environmental Advisory Service said: “Collective switching is a great opportunity for securing a greener energy supplier and giving communities an opportunity to save on bills and avoid fuel poverty.

“Year of Environmental Action for the Liverpool City Region is delighted to partner this initiative. Sustainable Energy is one of our themes for 2019. By switching energy and using it wisely you can make a personal contribution to climate emergencies.”

“Switching your energy tariff with the Merseyside Collective Switch is both quick and easy, and it could save you hundreds of pounds a year.

“Whether you’re a savvy or reluctant switcher, it’s always worth shopping around to check if you’re on the best deal. If you haven’t switched recently you may be on your suppliers most expensive standard tariff. You may find a better deal elsewhere or even with your existing supplier.

“The winning tariffs have often been the cheapest on the market. Previous winners have included Big 6 suppliers such as British Gas, E.on, SSE and EDF Energy as well as Ovo and Green Energy.

“Offers have been included for prepayment meter (or pay as you go) customers as well as direct debit and pay on receipt of bill customers, so there’s something for everyone.

“The Merseyside Collective Switch also includes a full market comparison, so if the winning deals aren’t right for you, you can find one that is.”

The service is free, and there’s no obligation to switch if you decide not to.

Registration for this round closes on 10th October. We will then contact you to let you know about the deals that have been negotiated for the group.

To join the Collective Switch visit www.lcrenergyswitch.co.uk/ or call the local Save Energy Advice Line on freephone 0800 043 0151, where you can also get other free and impartial support to help you save energy at home.

Cheshire and Merseyside put suicide prevention at the forefront

On World Suicide Prevention Day  (Tuesday, 10 September) the Champs Public Health Collaborative and Samaritans hosted an event at Everton Football Club’s Goodison Park, in association with the club’s charitable arm Everton in the Community.

The event brought together a group of delegates made up of communications teams from hospitals, CCG’s and local authorities, media contacts and journalists, education staff and students to learn about the responsible reporting of suicide.

With figures for suicide in 2018 being released just last week by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) showing that suicide numbers have increased in general across the UK since 2017, never has it been more necessary to raise awareness on suicide and ensure that it is being talked about in a responsible manner in order to prevent further deaths.

In Cheshire & Merseyside (C&M) suicide rates have in fact fallen since 2017, likely in part due to the ongoing work taking place across the sub-region, implementing the NO MORE Suicide Strategy, which aims for zero suicides.

It is as part of this strategy that the important event was organised, to continue to educate people, particularly those that may be in a position where they must report on suspected suicide.

The event was chaired by Cllr Louise Gittins, Leader of Cheshire West and Chester Council and Elected member champion for suicide prevention in Cheshire & Merseyside (C&M). Cllr Gittins’ introduction was followed by a brief overview by Sue Forster, Director of Public Health (DPH), St Helens and DPH lead for Suicide Prevention, of the NO MORE Suicide Strategy in C&M and the aims for zero suicides throughout the area. She also highlighted the benefits of downloading and using the Stay Alive app, as a way to potentially mitigate suicidal crisis.

A key theme of the event was the media coverage of suspected suicide and how this can have both negative and positive effects on individuals and society. Renowned suicide prevention charity Samaritans delivered a workshop discussing best practice when it comes to reporting on or communicating suspected suicide.

This was followed by presentations from several organisations delivering men’s mental health programmes in the local area. Dave Scott from James’ Place presented on the recently established centre in central Liverpool, delivering interventions for men who are going through suicidal crisis through counselling for the individual and their family and friends.

Mike Salla, Phil Cooper and Professor Andy Smith spoke about how their organisations Everton in the Community, State of Mind and Edge Hill University are working together to deliver sport programmes for men which benefit their mental health.

The day concluded with a powerful and moving talk from former professional footballer Clarke Carlisle and his wife Carrie Carlisle, who spoke openly about their personal experience of suicidal crisis.

Clarke Carlisle knows all too well about how an individual comes to be in a position where they are considering taking their own life, and he shared his own experiences of this, discussing the stigma which is still very much attached to men’s mental health.

Carrie Carlisle then talked about how the experience affected her and their families, discussing the ways in which media can have both a negative and positive impact in the search for an individual who is known to be suicidal.

It is hoped that the event has opened attendees up to conversations about suicide and enabled them to feel more able to communicate about the subject in a responsible manner, consequently ensuring that further lives are not lost.

If you are having thoughts about suicide – speak to Samaritans 24/7 on 116 123 (free) or www.samaritans.org

Pocket-sized suicide prevention resource could help save lives in Sefton

sefton in mindSefton residents are encouraged to download innovative app helping to save people from suicide for World Suicide Prevention Day.

To mark the International Association for Suicide Prevention’s (IASP) World Suicide Prevention Day on Tuesday, 10 September, residents of Sefton are being encouraged to download an innovative app that could help to save the life of someone in suicidal crisis.

Across the UK around 6,000 people die by suicide each year. Every suicide has a huge impact on the people affected by it, with enormous emotional and social implications. This year’s theme for World Suicide Prevention Day is ‘Working Together’, an apt reminder that by asking someone if they need help you could save a life.

The Stay Alive app, which was developed by charity Grassroots, is a pocket-sized suicide prevention resource which gives people the tools to do just this – start a conversation about mental health. The app is designed to help both those who are having suicidal thoughts and those who are concerned about someone else who may be considering suicide.

As part of the Cheshire & Merseyside wide NO MORE Suicide strategy, a localised version of the app has been developed with appropriate signposting to organisations within the nine local authorities across the sub-region.  

The app has several key features including:

  • Finding help from local crisis services in the Cheshire & Merseyside area
  • Quick access to UK national crisis support helplines
  • A safety plan that can be filled out and used if a person is in a crisis and needs to keep safe
  • A LifeBox to which the user can upload photos from their phone reminding them of their reasons to stay alive
  • Strategies for staying safe from suicide
  • How to help a person thinking about suicide
  • Suicide myth-busting
  • Research-based reasons for living
  • Suicide bereavement resources

The Stay Alive app is free and available to download for iOS and Android devices.

Councillor Ian Moncur, Sefton Council’s Cabinet Member for Health and Wellbeing, said: “Our aim as part of the NO MORE Suicide strategy is to eliminate suicide completely. The Stay Alive app will be a key resource in delivering this vision, and I believe that it really could help to save lives from suicide. I would urge everyone to download the app so that in the unfortunate circumstance that you encounter someone who needs help, the app is ready and waiting to assist you.”

Local residents are also being encouraged to keep an eye out for and attend 30 days of activities and events to support good mental health that are taking place from World Suicide Prevention Day (10 September) to World Mental Health Day (10 October), follow @SeftonCouncil on Twitter to keep up to date with the campaign.

 

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