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Green light for improvement works to enhance Ainsdale Beach facilities

Following approval at January’s full Council meeting, plans are now progressing for improved access and facilities at Sefton’s Ainsdale Beach.

In 2020, the Council saw huge numbers of visitors flocking to the coast. This highlighted the need for further investment to maintain the best possible experience for all beach users, while factoring in important conservation and environmental needs.  

As part of the investment, designs are now being drawn up for an off-beach car park that will help to reduce the impact on local communities who have been affected by irresponsible parking in the past. A new, cashless payment system will also be introduced at the beginning of April when beach car parks reopen.

The Council’s Green Sefton team is set to recruit more than 30 Seasonal Rangers for the 2021 summer months, an increase in the number of posts usually recruited for the busy visitor period. Some of the new rangers will help to manage car parking and access at Ainsdale as well as ensuring that visitors keep the coastline clean and tidy.

Options for new toilet facilities are being explored alongside a trial for new off-beach food and drink vendors, all with a view to enhancing visitors’ experiences at Ainsdale.

Cllr Ian Moncur, Sefton Council’s Cabinet Member for Health and Wellbeing, said: “I am pleased to see plans progressing for the much-needed investment at Ainsdale beach and I am very much looking forward to welcoming more Seasonal Rangers to the Green Sefton team. Not only will the additional rangers help to support our management of the existing car parks, they will also play a vital role in ensuring that our coastline remains clean and beautiful.”

This week, Cllr Moncur approved a freeze on the car parking season ticket for all Sefton residents, which was introduced last year, meaning they can continue to enjoy the beach and save money after just three visits.

The specially reduced ticket costing just £30, also remains available to anyone driving an electric or hybrid car, as part of measures to encourage the use of more environmentally-friendly transport.

Meanwhile, the standard day visitor rate for the car park will increase by £2, to £10 per day to cover the costs of the latest improvements and generate income for the long-term care of Sefton’s unique 22-mile coastline.

Cllr Moncur added: “Further improvement of facilities will provide a better environment for people to enjoy this beautiful space, while protecting our special wildlife and landscape, and tackling car parking concerns.

“I am particularly pleased that the Council can continue to offer a favourable car parking rate for Sefton residents, and electric and hybrid car drivers.

“We often say we want visitors to our beaches to leave nothing but their footprints, but we can now help them think about their carbon footprint too as well as encouraging them to enjoy these special sites.”

Residents and visitors alike will continue to be encouraged to travel by other means to the beach too, as part of the Council’s commitment to reducing carbon emissions and tackling the Climate Change Emergency. People can access the coast via local walking and cycling routes, as well as wheelchair and pram friendly access through Ainsdale station and village. 

Beach car parking charges for 2021:

  • £10 per day for cars
  • £16 per day for horseboxes or minibuses
  • 50% off the above rates after 4pm subject to car parking management arrangements
  • £30 season ticket for Sefton residents and those who drive an electric or hybrid vehicle

An online form to purchase season tickets will be made available on the Sefton Council website in the coming weeks. 

Current national lockdown restrictions still apply to the use of outdoor spaces across Sefton, with people being advised not to travel to the coastline for exercise if it is not local to them.

Southport Market work now underway

Southport Market is a step closer to being transformed into a leading food, drinks and events space, with work now underway. The market is scheduled to reopen in Spring 2021.

The £1.4m scheme, which is a key enabler and an early part of Sefton Council’s Covid-19 recovery plan for Southport, will see 10 new food units and a feature bar installed.  This will be supported by a flexible events space able to host high-quality markets along with other events.

External funding from The Liverpool City Region Combined Authority and Southport Town Deal acceleration fund has been secured making the scheme possible.

Once complete it is hoped the revitalised market will act as an enabler for Southport, and forms early plans of an ambitious regeneration programme for the town following the Town Deal Board bid for £50 million from the Government’s Town Deal. 

Medlock have been appointed to undertake the works, on behalf of Sefton Council, which are scheduled to take 12 weeks to complete, and have committed to a number of social value measures such as using local supply chains and sub-contractors. A number of extra measures will be put in place to ensure the site is Covid safe and meets all of the requirements with regards to construction sites.

Cllr Marion Atkinson, Sefton Council’s Labour Cabinet Member for Regeneration and Skills, said: “We know just how much of an important asset Southport Market is to the town, which is why this project is such a cornerstone of the Southport Town Deal. 

“But we’ve also managed to secure additional external funding to completely transform the building, which shows real commitment from Sefton Council.

“I’m thrilled that a number of new food and drink traders have already signed up to be a part of the new Southport Market, demonstrating a real confidence in the scheme. This will see a number of new local businesses established, creating substantial new job opportunities in the hospitality industry which, as we know, has been hit so hard over the last 12 months.

“The new flexible events space will also create many opportunities for individuals or local businesses to trade again demonstrating that Sefton is not only business friendly but open for business.”

The project will act as a catalyst for the regeneration of Southport and surrounding area and will provide a vital boost to the local economy and continued regeneration of Southport’s market quarter and King Street.  The market will also include units for fresh produce stalls, creating a true market feel to the building.

Chris Addy, Project Director Medlock FRB Ltd said: “We are excited to be working alongside Warrington architecture and interior design specialist @DV8 to transform the historic Southport Market for Sefton Council.  We will be delivering a full remodelling and fit-out.

“We’ll be refurbishing the existing market to create a new food hall and plenty of extra space, rejuvenating this beautiful social hub. While there’s a range of exciting new features to add, we’ll be retaining some existing features.

“We’re excited to be working on such a huge project for Sefton Council and eager to get the market up and running for a great start to the summer.”

Enabling works already completed mean Blackhurst Butchers, who have been trading in the market for over 20 years, will move to a brand new, self-contained unit at the front of the market, and will continue to trade throughout the works.

 

Work begins on repairing Southport’s historic Hesketh Park conservatory with £22,000 grant from the Culture Recovery Fund

Repair work is now underway at Hesketh Park’s historic conservatory after Sefton Council’s Green Sefton team secured a £22,000 grant from the government’s Culture Recovery Fund.

Hesketh Park conservatory SouthportA local contractor, overseen by a specialist conservation architect, has started work on site this week which will include assessing and repairing the overall cast iron structure, mending leaks to the roof and replacing broken windows.

The Grade II listed structure, which has stood in the park since 1878, has deteriorated in recent years years as a result of water damage. The Council has been looking at opportunities to fund short term repairs alongside long term plans to restore the entire conservatory.  

Grants from the Culture Recovery Fund, administered on behalf of the government by Historic England, are designed to protect heritage sites and ensure that jobs and access to culture and heritage in local communities are protected, despite the pandemic.

Cllr Ian Moncur, Sefton Council’s Cabinet Member for Health & Wellbeing, said: Hesketh Park is just one of our many beautiful outdoor spaces that the Green Sefton team, along with the valued help of dedicated volunteers, work hard all year round to maintain and improve.

“I’m really pleased to see that work has now begun on making essential repairs to the building, and that this signifies just the beginning of a journey to fully restore this historic conservatory.”

Longer term plans will be developed, as further funding is sourced, to restore the building and bring it back into public use.

Culture Secretary, Oliver Dowden, said: “These grants will help the places that have shaped our skylines for hundreds of years and that continue to define culture in our towns and cities. We’re protecting heritage and culture in every corner of the country to save jobs and ensure it’s there for future generations to enjoy.”

Duncan Wilson, Historic England Chief Executive, said: “Historic places across the country are being supported by the government’s grants awarded under the Culture Recovery Fund. This funding is a lifeline which is kick-starting essential repairs and maintenance at many of our most precious historic sites, so they can begin to recover from the damaging effects of COVID-19.

“It is also providing employment for skilled craft workers who help keep historic places alive and the wheels of the heritage sector turning. Our shared heritage is an anchor for us all in these challenging times and this funding will help to ensure it remains part of our collective future.”

About Hesketh Park

Hesketh Park was designed by renowned Victorian landscape gardener Edward Kemp in 1865. A decade after it first opened, a large conservatory was erected and housed an array of rare and exotic plants. It had originally been part of Brunswick Villa on Lord Street, Southport, but was purchased by Southport Corporation and moved to the park in 1878. Today, the Grade II listed Conservatory still stands in the centre of the park next to the lake.

Southport’s Botanic Gardens Aviaries to undergo repairs

Southport’s Botanic Gardens Aviaries – home to a range of exotic birds such as parrots and parakeets as well as rabbits and guinea pigs – are set to undergo further repair works this month.

Last year, Sefton Council refurbished the parakeet aviary and the guinea pig area. Now further works work will take place to repair and improve the infrastructure that houses the animals to ensure the aviary remains fit for purpose.

The Council’s Green Sefton team works in partnership with the Botanic Gardens Community Association (BGCA) to maintain the aviary. The BGCA has raised £8,000 to support the works, which will include new and improved flooring, roofing and drainage.

The aviary closed to the public in December, in line with national restrictions for an on-going avian flu outbreak and remains closed under national lockdown guidance. The birds and animals remain at the aviary, but for safety are being kept in their indoor accommodation during the outbreak and while the aviary undergoes repair works.

The aviary will reopen to the public after the completion of the works and dependent on the latest government advice on both the avian flu and coronavirus restrictions.

Cllr Ian Moncur, Cabinet Member for Health and Wellbeing, said: “It is important we maintain good standards of animal welfare at the aviary and these latest works are part of our annual programme of repairs and improvements to ensure that the exotic birds and small animals continue to have a comfortable place to call home. We remain committed to maintaining the RSPCA Five Freedoms –measures which ensure our animals are kept safe and well.

“In the future we will be offering opportunities for people to sponsor pens and birds to help maintain these high standards.”

People can find out more about the aviary on its dedicated Facebook page.

Cllr Moncur also extended his thanks to the BGCA members: “I would like to acknowledge the tremendous support and dedication of the BGCA members who are committed to working alongside Green Sefton to maintain and improve the park and gardens, so that everyone can continue to enjoy them.”

People can find more on the Borough’s parks, play areas and open spaces managed by the Green Sefton team, with support from volunteers and partners, by visiting the Sefton Council website.  

All eyes on the enterprise in Southport

Southport is set to have its first purpose-built incubator spaces for start-up businesses.

Forming part of Southport’s Town Deal Bid, Crown Buildings, located within one of Southport’s famous grand shopping arcades, Cambridge Walks, is proposed to undergo extensive refurbishment.

Repurposing an historic, empty property to create a new business incubator space to support Southport’s emerging creative, digital and tech sector, the working title for the space is the ‘Enterprise Arcade’.

The Town Deal bid proposes to acquire and repurpose one of the town’s former department stores. The ‘Enterprise Store’ has been designed as move-on space from the Enterprise Arcade, supporting further growth and diversification of Southport’s economy, and bringing new footfall to a declining area of Southport’s town centre.

The near 3,000m2 flexible workspace, allowing for event and networking space to encourage cross collaboration, innovation and business growth, can house around 54 Creative, Digital and Tech focused SMEs in co-working and private office spaces.

Artist impression of what te outside of the arcade may look like

These two distinct and exciting projects will support the development of a focused Creative and Digital District in the town to play host to a vibrant cluster and community of businesses and like-minded individuals.

The redeveloped Southport Market, near to the Enterprise Arcade, will in turn benefit from custom generated by the new business hubs, playing host to informal meet ups and socials which are known to be vital to the success of these collaborative business spaces.

Cllr Marion Atkinson, Labour Cabinet Member for Regeneration and Skills, said: “I’m delighted that, as part of the Southport Town Deal Bid, we will be able to repurpose and fill key empty properties in the Town Centre attracting more people to work in the town, supporting the retail and hospitality sector and providing more reasons for young people to stay and work in Southport.

“The Enterprise Arcade and Enterprise Store will offer a space for start-up businesses and entrepreneurs, creating a community for our existing and future talent.

“The designs won’t be like any other traditional workplace setting and will capture Southport’s distinctive entrepreneurial character.

“Together with the redevelopment of Southport Market, all three projects will work in tandem bringing new uses to underused and vacant buildings while generating substantial footfall to the area.

“Our bid has now been submitted and we have done everything in our power to make Southport an attractive proposition for the Government to invest in. Without Government support these fantastic schemes won’t go ahead. We eagerly await their response.”

Inside of a similar office space that the enterprise hub could look like

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