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EU Money that could help National Recover from Covid-19 us at risk

MORE than ₤730 million in vital EU cash which could help local communities bounce back from COVID-19 risks going unspent and being sent back to Brussels if the funding is not allocated by the Government before the end of 2020, Councils have warned. The Local Government Association said 24% of England's allocation of the European Social Fund remains unspent. It is calling on the Government to urgently work with Councils and combined Authorities to ensure the remaining money; which amounts to more than ₤730 million; is allocated quickly to support the national recovery from the pandemic.

The fund; which the UK is continuing to participate in until the end of the programme; is used for supporting employment, skills and training. With unemployment expected to rise and local businesses likely to struggle to get back on their feet, the LGA says investment in employment and skills will be more important than ever in the coming months. It is vital that the remaining funding is used to respond quickly to support people and places where it is most needed.

Councils are also concerned about the ongoing lack of detail around the Government's proposed UK Shared Prosperity Fund, which will replace EU funding. The LGA said Councils and combined Authorities want to work with the Government to co-design the UKSPF, based around local need and the alignment towards a single pot of growth funding. It is calling on the Government to provide the details and consultation of the UKSPF, to help give communities the long term funding certainty they need to rebuild and renew their economies following this crisis.

Cllr Kevin Bentley, Chairman of the LGA's EU Exit Taskforce, said:- "The Government needs to make sure the remainder of this fund reaches the local communities that need it desperately following the devastating economic impact of COVID-19. Councils and combined Authorities are ready to work with Government to make sure that local residents and economies can reap the benefits of this funding. As the country looks towards how we bounce back from COVID-19, this funding is more important than ever. This is vital money which as it stands risks going unspent and returned to Brussels, when instead it can and should be invested in jobs, skills and training critical to the national recovery."

Vision for a world class Theatre and Conference Centre revealed for Southport

A new state of the art venue planned to replace Southport Theatre and Convention Centre.

ON 17 July 2020 Sefton Council released plans outlining its ambitious vision for a brand new world class Theatre and Conference Centre on Southport waterfront. The new state of the art venue would sit on the edge of Marine Lake and replace the current Southport Theatre and Convention Centre. The waterfront is a key area in the Seaside Town and an important part of what makes Southport an all year round destination for visitors, with its further potential as part of a comprehensive redevelopment also recognised. The plans for a new Theatre and Conference Centre highlight Sefton Council's commitment to investing in the future of Southport as a leading destination.

Cllr Ian Maher, Labour Leader at Sefton Council, says:- "This project is a real game changer for Southport and The City Region and showcases a bright future for the town. We understand the valuable role that having a Theatre and Conference Centre plays and we want to ensure that Southport is on the map for having 1 of the best in the Region, if not the whole county. This site offers a stunning location so, if we can match this with world class facilities, we'll be able to ensure that national and Regional conferences visit Southport as well as giving us the opportunity to secure leading Theatre shows; all of which bring additional investment and footfall into the town. Having such an ambitious project in our sights is also an important part of how we'll be trying to achieve an uplift for the local economy, as we all work in partnership to overcome the impact of Covid-19. Furthermore, the new venue will play an instrumental and leading part in the wider regeneration of the waterfront area."

A new state of the art venue planned to replace Southport Theatre and Convention Centre.

A feasibility and design study has been commissioned for the new Theatre and Conference Centre by Sefton Council as part of its commitment to investment and growth within the Borough. The study evaluates a range of options including minor renovation works, as well as the ambitious vision, which may comprise either a full new build, or partial new build with retention of the Floral Hall. The work is being led by IPW who are experts in venues and facilities and supported by global architects HOK.

Southport's Town Deal Board is supportive of the project, which could be integral to the Southport Town Deal bid. The Town Deal centres on bringing into reality the master plan that has been created for Southport, which is being led by Southport Town Deal Board; made up of public and private industry leaders. Later this year a bid of up to ₤25million will be made to Central Government to support the delivery of this master plan. While consultation on the specific project will take place in due course, residents are encouraged to share their early perspectives, including on the range of options above, via the Town Deal consultation process on the Sefton Council website.

A new state of the art venue planned to replace Southport Theatre and Convention Centre.

The existing Southport Theatre and Convention Centre remains closed at the moment due to the Government guidance for all Theatres following the Covid-19 outbreak across the UK. The previous operator, Bliss Space (Southport) Ltd, went into liquidation in May. However, Sefton Council is committed to the venue in the short term as well as the long term, and will reopen the site when it is safe and viable to do so. Further work to finalise the exciting plans for the new Theatre and Conference Centre in more detail will take place over the summer.

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