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Freeport status must act as catalyst for better infrastructure

SAVE Rimrose Valley is calling on the Metro Mayor and the Liverpool City Region's business community to use Liverpool's newfound freeport status, as a catalyst for a transport infrastructure revolution in Sefton and beyond. The campaign is fighting Highways England's plans for a new access road to the Port of Liverpool. This involves building a dual carriageway down the entire length of Rimrose Valley Country Park, severing it in two. It claims the road would do little to address the issues associated with Peel Ports' current operations and its plans for even greater expansion, which impact the whole area. Save Rimrose Valley is calling on the Metro Mayor, Peel Ports and associated businesses to back Sefton Council's calls for better alternatives to moving freight in and out of the Port of Liverpool. Sefton Council recently commissioned Arup, world leaders in sustainable infrastructure design, to report on non road solutions to Port access. Pursuing these types of solutions, instead of a new road, could improve life for everyone in the south of the borough as well as protecting vital green space. Speaking on behalf of the campaign, Stuart Bennett said:- "The Liverpool City Region and the maritime sector were quick to back the freeport bid, as they're banking on this being good for business and the wider economy. If that is the case, they should be equally keen to back Sefton Council's calls for better transport infrastructure that actually facilitates growth without dumping more traffic and pollution on the local communities and destroying precious green space. We feel that it's only right and fair that those who stand to benefit from this the most; Peel Ports and Peel Land & Property in particular; have a duty to see that this growth is responsible and sustainable. Otherwise, it will be seen by many as nothing more than a money and land grabbing exercise by the Port. Our Metro Mayor, Steve Rotheram, must give this issue the attention it deserves. He should be supporting our Council and our MPs in calling on central government to abandon the road and instead to invest in clean and safe ways of moving goods into and out of the Port. Why isn't he? This is likely to be a big issue for Sefton voters in the forthcoming Metro Mayor elections."

'We Can Work It Out' - Liverpool's Pledge

LIVERPOOL has set out its very own roadmap to recovery which will build a better, brighter and fairer future for all. At the heart of the plans are 10 pledges which aim to make the City, its communities, its residents and its businesses thrive over the next year and beyond. As 1 of the hardest hit Cities in the UK as a result of Covid19, the City Council's priorities have changed, with issues such as the importance of green spaces, bridging the digital divide and tackling loneliness now at the fore. These ambitious and inspiring Post Pandemic pledges shine a spotlight on where our resource, and that of partners, needs to be invested, with a focus on health, education, climate and inclusion.

Liverpool's Acting Mayor, Councillor Wendy Simon, said:- "12 months ago Liverpool was growing in confidence and prosperity, and seemingly overnight, everything changed. Our economy, our culture, regeneration projects; all of them came to a standstill and together we were living through a crisis the likes of which we have never seen before. But in the midst of that gloom, this City's grit and solidarity shone through. Liverpool was quick out the blocks, positioning ourselves as an exemplar of how to invigorate a flagging hospitality and leisure sector, and how to tackle a virus head on by embracing mass, rapid testing. We are slowly seeing an end to the current outbreak and restrictions, so we are once again seizing this moment and using it as an opportunity for us to work together to shape a City that we are all proud of, and ensure it remains somewhere people want to live, work and visit. These ten pledges are a way of us homing in on key areas that need to be invested in and supported; areas which will have the biggest, positive impact on lives and will turn the tide on inequality. They are Liverpool's roadmap, and it's a route not only to recovery, but to also building a better, brighter future for everyone."

The 10 pledges are as follows...

►  Well Liverpool:- As well as continuing to work closely with healthcare partners to support the most vulnerable, a one-off ₤500,000 will fund improved mental health provision which will include a raft of new services such as an online support tool and additional help for anxiety and depression. Psychological support will also be given to health and social care staff who have been affected by the pandemic. Physical activity will form a key part of this pledge, as well as commitment to develop a:- 'Health in all Policies' approach which will see health and wellbeing underpinning all decisions relating to our economy and communities.

►  A Strong and Thriving Inclusive Economy:- With the dual challenge of a Covid recovery and Brexit, a proactive service will be provided to get people back in to work, as well as partnering with businesses across the City to provide internships and apprenticeships. Job creation will be aimed initially at unemployed residents previously working in the hospitality and leisure sector, along with the ambition to financially support at least 400 local businesses. As part of the Next Generation Neighbourhoods programme, County Road (in the North of the City) will be the 1st area to benefit from a ₤1 million high street renewal project.

►  The Comeback:- The City Council will reintroduce Liverpool Without Walls; last year's successful, ground breaking initiative which enabled the hospitality sector to continue trading by spilling out on to the streets. Introducing a cultural programme to the City Centre also forms part of the plan.

►  The Great Outdoors:- Up to ₤10 million will be invested in parks, green spaces and areas to play and exercise in. All residents will be no more than 10 minute walk from a park or green space, and a new park:- The George Harrison Woodland Walk; will be created. Park rangers, volunteers and 'Friends of' groups will help be intrinsic to this pledge, which safeguards green spaces, protects wildlife and tackles the impact of climate change.

►  Succeeding at School:- A ₤12 million Education Improvement Plan will be delivered over the next 3 years, supporting young people's mental health and wellbeing, ensuring children can read and establishments are inclusive, and defining clear pathways to further education, employment and training.

►  Get Connected:- Free broadband will be provided to children and families at risk of poverty. The detrimental effect of digital exclusion has far reaching consequences, so working with the private sector, it is estimated that 20,000 children will be able to get online as part of this commitment.

►  Good Food, Warm House:- To tackle the issue of fuel poverty, free advice and support will be available to residents to ensure their homes are energy efficient. New planning legislation will also be introduced which sets high quality energy efficiency, lifetime standards for all new build properties in Liverpool. Working with the National Food Strategy team, Liverpool will champion the need for high quality frontline food provision for those who experience hunger and food insecurity. The ambition is to make this a statutory duty for all local authorities.

►  Next Generation Neighbourhoods:- The City Council wants every community to be safe, sustainable and inspiring, and for those who live in those areas to feel empowered. A Neighbourhood Renewal pilot is currently under way in Picton, which responds to priorities identified by local people; whether this be enforcement powers, waste collection and street cleaning services or highways issues. The aim is to roll this pilot out across other areas of the City, while continuing the ₤11million alleyway renewal programme and investing in energy efficient street lighting.

►  Opening Closed Doors:- The pandemic has highlighted the importance of family and friendship bonds, so 'Foster 50' will help the most vulnerable children by attracting 50 foster families this year. Loneliness will be tackled with The Shared Lives project and Safe Homes will address the increase in domestic abuse which has occurred during the pandemic. Around ₤1million will also be spent on a preventative early help service which will work with families to stop issues from escalating.

►  All Voices:- Partnership is key. Businesses and the community will be brought together to create a number of 'action groups' and a 'Citizens Panel' to generate ideas about how to improve and make the most of the City we all love. Forging links with the City Council, where possible, these ideas will become reality.

The pledges are have been presented to the Liverpool City Cabinet on Friday, 5 March 2021, and once approved, teams across the City Council will continue to work on bringing each project to life.

Liverpool City Council's Chief Executive, Tony Reeves, said:- "Last year we announced the City Plan which outlined our ambition for the long term future of the City, bringing together the public, private and voluntary sector to instigate change, tackle inequality and give everyone a better quality of life. These pledges complement the plan, sharing the values around the determination to build a stronger, fairer City which is innovative, hopeful and compassionate. We will learn to live with this virus and in doing so will adapt when the situation demands, ensuring that the City Council and its partners are taking communities and businesses on this exciting journey with us. We all want to make Liverpool the best City it can possibly be, and to achieve this we need to work together, embrace new ways of thinking and look ahead to a brighter future for us all."

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