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Southport's Christmas Tree targeted again by Vandals

MERSEYSIDE Police have a festive message for the yobs who have vandalised Southport's Christmas tree this week:- "We are watching you, and we will prosecute."

Merseyside Police Officers are investigating following 2 incidents which have occurred, at the tree, which is situated at the Town Hall Gardens, located on Lord Street, in Southport. The area has CCTV cameras focused on it and detectives are currently looking at video footage from the vandalism which occurred on Tuesday, 15 December and Friday, 18 December 2020.

Merseyside Police say they will put extra patrols and Plain Clothes Officers into the area in a bid to prevent any further trouble from happening and in a bid to catch any offenders. Also, local people are being asked to report any damage they spot being caused as it happens to Merseyside Police on:- 999 while anyone with any information is asked to call Police on:- 101 or Crimestoppers anonymously on:- 0800 555111.

Police would like to speak to a man dressed in a bright blue anorak and dark trousers, who was spotted on CCTV entering the Town Hall Gardens, from opposite the tree, on the Lord Street side, at 6.27pm, on Tuesday, 15 December 2020. The man then walked through the tree and out towards The Atkinson. He returns and begins to climb the tree by the doorway nearest the Atkinson; cable ties and a few cables are cut at 6.28pm. He then jumps down. At 6.29pm a blue Ford Fiesta pulls up outside The Pavilion and waits. The man walks back through the tree and then starts to run before getting into the waiting vehicle, which drives away down Eastbank Street. Police would like to hear from anyone with any information about either the man or the blue Ford Fiesta. Southport BID, which provides the tree and other Christmas decorations in Southport Town Centre, asked contractors Illumidex UK Ltd to reinstate the fence and repair the cut light and data cables. The tree was repaired promptly.

The 2nd incident occurred at 11.18pm, on Friday, 18 December 2020, when a young couple were spotted on CCTV before being joined by a larger group of up to 10 youths. The lights on the tree subsequently stopped and this subsequent vandalism has also been reported to Merseyside Police.

Southport BID CEO Rachel Fitzgerald said:- "Thanks to local businesses in our Town, Southport BID is able to provide a Christmas tree and decorations throughout our Town Centre for everyone to enjoy. They are in place to provide a festive atmosphere which will help to encourage people to come and visit the shops, restaurants, cafes and other businesses we have in our Town Centre. They also provide some much needed Christmas cheer for local families who have endured such a difficult year. We are hugely disappointed to see that anyone would want to vandalise Southport's Christmas Tree. There are a number of CCTV cameras covering areas including the Town Hall Gardens, Lord Street and Eastbank Street, from a variety of angles and locations. Merseyside Police Officers are currently investigating footage which was taken of both of the incidents which occurred this week. They will seek to prosecute those cases. I would like to ask anyone with any information to call Police immediately on 999 if they see any further incidents happening. I would like to ask local residents and local businesses to be our eyes and ears. I would also ask anyone with any information about the 2 incidents this week to please call Merseyside Police on:- 101 or Crimestoppers anonymously on:- 0800555111."

Combined Authority announces ₤2.8m further funding for Kirkby to create 200 jobs

LIVERPOOL City Region Combined Authority has agreed a further investment of ₤2.8 million to support the 2nd Phase of Knowsley Council's regeneration of Kirkby Town Centre. In December 2019, the Combined Authority approved ₤10m to support Knowsley Council's purchase of the Kirkby Town Centre in November 2019, which kick-started the retail development in the Town Centre which is now well under way.

This 2nd Phase of the project, which already has planning permission, will see the development of a multi screen cinema and food and beverage outlets on the site of the former Kirkby Library site. The construction Phase of the cinema scheme will create 108 jobs during the construction Phase and 95 permanent jobs. This is in addition to the 500 new jobs created by the 1st Phase alongside 278 construction jobs.

The new retail development is delivering 94,000 feet of retail space, including:- a 45,000 feet Morrisons superstore, a petrol station, a new store for Home Bargains, and drive through restaurants for KFC and Taco Bell. Work on the site has been progressing throughout the Pandemic with the units really starting to take shape in the Town Centre with steel structures, cladding, roofing and glazing now visible.

Speaking about the investment, Steve Rotheram, Metro Mayor of the Liverpool City Region, said:- "When we announced our support for this project last year we made it clear that we would be prepared to back further stages of regeneration. Knowsley Council has come up with a superb addition to the 1st Phase of the scheme that will be transformational. I'm so happy to see the regeneration of the 'Townie' is moving into this second Phase and I'm so proud that we are playing a part in backing this much needed development to the area I grew up in.These are uncertain times for all businesses and I'm pleased we have been able to make sure that this vital scheme continues."

Councillor Tony Brennan, Knowsley Council Regeneration and Economic Development Cabinet Member, added:- "Earlier this year, we asked residents what they would like to see in Kirkby Town Centre. As well as a supermarket, people asked for a cinema and a greater choice of food and drink outlets. We have taken on board this feedback and have been working behind the scenes on the cinema scheme. We already have planning permission in place and our next priority was securing the funding. So today marks another significant milestone in our plans for Kirkby Town Centre with funding secured from the Liverpool City Region Combined Authority; we will now get on with the scheme itself."

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