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Sefton’s Budget Meeting and Council Tax set for 2019/20

Council Tax for services provided by Sefton Council will increase by 2.99% to fund the unprecedented demand on Children’s Social Care, protecting our vulnerable older people, and being able to continue to provide the everyday services residents rely on.

At Full Council this evening (February 28), councillors agreed the third year of the budget plan and approved the 2.99% rise for 2019/20 for the local authority’s services.

For an easy explanation of how your council tax is spent, click here.

It means that for the provision of council services, it will cost the majority of householders an extra 78p or less per week (figures based on a Band C property).

Cllr Ian Maher, Leader of Sefton Council, said: “It is with a heavy heart that we have to increase our Council Tax but we’ve been left with no alternative because we just don’t get enough funding from the Government to continue to run the services that our communities rely on. This is the only way to ensure we manage to provide the vital services everyone expects from us. From caring for children, the elderly and other vulnerable people to emptying the bins, cleaning the streets and maintaining the roads, as well as still providing leisure, cultural and community activities and supporting the skills and business sectors that are essential to the growth of our economy.

“To put it into context, between 2010 and 2020, Sefton will have lost the equivalent of £746 from each household as the Government continues to reduce the money it gives to councils. That is a huge loss and we keep warning about the huge risk to local services. This loss also comes at a time when we have seen massive increases in pressures for services. Not only due to the unprecedented loss of funding and the ongoing social care crisis, but a surge in demand for children’s services, support for special educational needs and disabilities and the uncertainty over schools funding.”

Due to the increased pressure for social care services, Sefton has still had to identify some new savings to ensure a balanced budget this year. At full Council, a number of options were agreed that would have the least impact on Sefton’s communities.

Cllr Maher continued: “We will continue to invest our resources where it will deliver the most impact – in creating jobs, protecting our most vulnerable children, adults and families and in improving the local environment. Despite the challenges we face we will work hard with our partners to remain a confident and connected borough. We believe that with the right funding, we can continue to lead our areas and improve residents’ lives.”

The overall Council Tax bill – which includes police and fire services charges and the new tax for a Liverpool City Region Metro Mayor – will go up by 5.11% to £1,662.32 for the coming financial year (for a Band C property). This excludes the amounts charged by Parish Councils for homes in their areas.

In the following video, Cllr Maher provides insight into the pressures facing Sefton Council as it continues to deliver quality services to residents despite increasing pressure on its resources.

Sefton launches major bid for Future High Street funding

Sefton Council is bidding for a slice of the £675m Future High Street Fund with bids planned for both Southport and Crosby.

The Future High Street Fund was announced in last November’s budget and aims to support and fund local areas’ plans to make their high streets and town centres fit for the future.

In this first round, Sefton will include bids for both Crosby village and Southport town centre and builds upon the Council’s ambitions for its town centres encapsulated within its agreed regeneration frameworks and 2030 Vision.

The Future High Street Fund aims to help Councils, their communities and the private sector work in partnership to develop and sustain town centres to enhance their vitality and viability.  The fund also includes the opportunity to bid for part of a £55m Heritage High Street Fund.

Cllr Marion Atkinson, Sefton Council’s Labour Cabinet Member for Skills and Regeneration, said: “Building on Sefton’s ambitions for its town centres, we are aiming to submit two bids to the Future High Street Fund for both Southport town centre and Crosby Village to help sustain them for the future. The bids will also support Sefton’s and the City Region’s ambitions for future growth.

“For Southport this will build upon Sefton’s success in securing around £10m of Heritage Lottery and Coastal Communities Funding for King’s Gardens, Southport Pier and the recently announced Townscape Heritage Scheme.

“For Crosby this will build on the significant private sector funding by St Modwen into the village centre. If successful, Sefton Council will continue to work in an inclusive way with private sector and community sector partners.”

Formal stage 1 bids for both projects will be made in the coming months with further details issued in due course.

Sefton awarded £500k to help bolster prevention of youth crime

Sefton Council has been awarded half a million pounds for its early intervention programme and ongoing work to prevent youth crime in the borough.

The £500,000 from the government’s Supporting Families Against Youth Crime fund with help the local authority to continue in-depth work with parents, carers and professionals around the dangers of children being exposed to gang culture.

The Supporting Families Against Youth Crime fund enables keyworkers, community groups, teachers and other professionals working with children and young people at risk, to intervene early on and help stop them from becoming drawn into gang crime, serious violence and the youth justice system.

Sefton Council will now use the £500,000 funding to continue with a range of initiatives, which will see teams work closely with young children who may be directly impacted by crime from an early age.

Cllr Trish Hardy, Sefton Council’s Cabinet Member for Communities and Housing, said: “I’m pleased that we’ve been given this grant. This much-needed vital funding will allow us to continue to help families in need to resolve problems that affect them and their community.

“We recognise that investing in people at an early stage, before problems become too serious, will help our families across the borough so they can make positive changes to their lives that will keep them safe and healthy and away from youth or gang crime. This funding will help us support initiatives that focus on early intervention and scaling up whole family working before problems escalate into something much more serious that could have consequences later in life.”

“However, the funding is only short-term and doesn’t substitute for a much needed sustainable approach to local government funding to tackle issues like this in our community.”

The grant is the latest recognition for Sefton Council’s Localities team after their partnership work around gang awareness was praised as an example of best practice by the government’s Victim’s Commissioner, Baroness Newlove.

For more information about Sefton Council’s Localities team and their work around early intervention and prevention, where they offer support at Family Wellbeing Centres, Libraries, Leisure Centres or community bases, please visit www.sefton.gov.uk/localities

Consultation begins on tackling Grand National ticket touting

Sefton Council have launched a public consultation to tackle the issue of ticket touting at the Aintree Grand National after a sharp rise in the practice.

The Local Authority are proposing to introduce a Public Space Protection Order (PSPO) which would make it an offence within a designated area to sell, offer for sale or advertise tickets for the three day event.

Failing to comply with the order would result in ticket touts being required to leave the area for up to 24 hours, as well as being handed  a £75 fixed penalty notice.

A consultation will now run until March 10 with residents being asked for their views on the proposed PSPO.

Cllr Paulette Lappin, Sefton Council’s Cabinet Member for Regulation and Compliance, said: “Ticket touting at the Grand National is an ongoing issue and we want to curb this unpleasant practice.

“Touts can be intimidating and their behaviour may cause distress to members of the public and racegoers during what should be a completely enjoyable experience.

“We know through evidence provided to us that there has been a significant increase in the number of touts operating during the event over the last four years.”

John Baker, Managing Director of Aintree Racecourse, said: “We would very much welcome the introduction of a Public Space Protection Order for ticket touting by Sefton Council which would make it an offence to sell, offer for sale or advertise tickets for the Randox Health Grand National outside the racecourse.

“At Aintree we pride ourselves on providing first class customer service and that starts at the perimeter of our racecourse.

“We are grateful for the support of Sefton Council on trying to eradicate these unpleasant, and often criminal, activities of touts and look forward to continuing to work closely with the Council.”

Ward Councillors, Aintree Parish Council, The Jockey Club and local businesses will also be asked to give their views on the consultation.

For more information or to give your views, please visit www.sefton.gov.uk/aintreepspo.

To request a hard copy of the consultation please call 0345 140 0845

Ainsdale Beach Exercise: All You Need To Know

The Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA) are holding a training exercise on Ainsdale Beach today to test their contractor response to an oil spillage incident.

Sefton Council is urging members of the public not to worry if they spot this exercise in action on the coast this morning (February 19) as it is not real.

In preparation, the Council has been working with the MCA to provide a suitable location for the exercise and to ensure that any disruption to the community is kept to a minimum.

There may be limited access to some parts of the beach, carpark and Ainsdale Discovery Centre which may need to be cordoned off to pedestrians and dog walkers, but this will only be a temporary measure for today and there is no cause for alarm.

Green Sefton’s operational staff will be on site to advise any local beach users about the exercise and to ensure the safety of public access around the test site.

There will be no actual pollutant used either at sea or on the foreshore and no lasting impact to the beach once the exercise is complete.

Councillor Ian Moncur, Cabinet Member for Health and Wellbeing, said: “We’re urging people not to panic. The exercise is not real – but it provides a unique opportunity for us to help other agencies like the Maritime and Coastguard Agency to test their plans and will provide a wealth of insight and mutual benefit to Sefton and other Merseyside coastal Local Authorities in terms of ongoing shoreline pollution response and recovery planning.”

Ryan Carter, Resources and Claims Lead for the Maritime and Coastguard Agency’s Counter Pollution and Salvage Branch, said:  “Every year the MCA undertakes exercises with our partners across the country from ports, harbours, councils and other agencies to test our oil spill response.

“Today’s exercise is a ‘cold callout’ whereby we test our Oil Spill Response Tier 3 contractors, without giving them notice.

“We are very fortunate to be working with Sefton Council and their Green Sefton team in this area and shoreline around Ainsdale Beach. During the exercise there will be no actual pollution present.”

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