Southport MP’s pledge for environmental campaign Earth Hour

SOUTHPORT MP John Pugh has signed up to support the World Wildlife Federation’s tenth annual Earth Hour by making a special pledge to help protect the planet.

The event encourages people to switch off the lights in buildings across the country.

The MP is one of many who joined WWF at the House of Commons at a reception last week to show they care about the future of our planet, ahead of the global lights out event, taking place on Saturday March 25 at 8:30pm.

MPs from all political parties are joining Earth Hour, sending a united message that this is a pivotal time for our planet and more needs to be done to tackle climate change and build a sustainable future.

Mr Pugh said: “I am delighted to support WWF’s Earth Hour this year to demonstrate how important it is that we take climate change seriously.

“I am proud to be a member of a parliament which has set ambitious targets to reduce our carbon emissions over the coming decades, and I will continue to urge the UK government to outline clear plans in order to live up to these ambitions.”

Each year, millions of people around the world come together to call for action to protect our planet.

Last year a record 178 countries took part and iconic landmarks across the UK switched out their lights, from Big Ben and Buckingham Palace, to Brighton Pier, Edinburgh Castle and Caerphilly Castle.

This year is set to be the biggest yet as it’s the 10 year anniversary of Earth Hour.

Southport community group ‘Rubbish Friends’ tackle pier litter in their biggest challenge yet

SOUTHPORT based anti-litter group Rubbish Friends faced the biggest challenge of their five years’ existence recently when they tackled a huge pile-up of litter and debris under the pier.

It took 28 volunteers – accompanied by three dogs and a child – to clear the area and fill a record 87 bags of refuse.

Members of the public offered words of encouragement to the volunteers as they set about the clearance operation.

Organiser Councillor Keith said: “It was completely strewn with litter, an absolute disgrace.

“The sight that greeted us under the pier was more in keeping with a third world country rather than a classic resort which is the way Southport is branded.

“It is a very sad reflection on a small minority of our disposable society.

“Rubbish Friends have been in talks with Sefton Council officials to try to work out methods of preventing such a build up in the future.”

However joint organiser Councillor Sue McGuire pointed out: “The best way of avoiding a litter build up is for people to be more environmentally conscious and dispose of their litter in the proper way in one of the many bins provided.

“ There was one light-hearted note during our clean-up operation when a watching child said to her mother: ‘Mummy, look at all those people clearing the litter.’ To which her mother replied: ‘So they should because they’re on community service for what they’ve done!‘”

If you would like to be a rubbish friend to Southport please contact Councillor Pat Keith on 07735005802 or Cllr Sue McGuire on 07766 968162.

The Emmaus furniture transformation project ‘Upcycle It’ supporting homeless initiatives

A project supporting homeless people in Sefton is using upcycling and furniture restoration training to enable homeless and unemployed people to get back into their own accommodation and gain valuable employment skills.

The ‘Upcycle It (Sefton) Project is run by the Emmaus Merseyside charity, and has been supported by a £8,000 Community Fund Grant from the Merseyside Recycling and Waste Authority (MRWA) and Veolia Community Fund to set up the project which produces a range of upcycled and restored furniture to be sold in their Superstore in Sefton.

The project is currently training 6 individuals including Margi Allen who said “The Up-Cycle It project is great. We get training in how to change old shabby pieces of furniture into attractive articles again. We improve our skills whilst things that might be thrown away can be given a new life! Everyone wins!”

Nigel Mellor, Chair of Board of Trustees for Emmaus in Merseyside said:The training will give our volunteers even more useful skills which we need to reuse and recycle more household items donated by the public. Many of the volunteers are unemployed so we hope the skills training and volunteer experience will ultimately help them get back into employment.  The project also helps to reduce the amount of waste sent to landfill.”

Cllr Graham Morgan, Chairperson of MRWA said: “We’re pleased to be supporting a project that proves its value by not only improving people’s lives – but also diverting furniture from landfill.”

Carl Beer MRWA Chief Executive said: “It’s great to see items that would have been thrown away get a ‘second life’.”

The project is running for the next 3 months – with the hope that the training will continue and will be integrated into the operations of the Superstore.

All upcycled furniture is available to buy from the Emmaus Superstore, 38 Sandy Road, Seaforth, Sefton, L21 3TW

Tel: 0151 9281588, Opening hours Mon – Sat 10.00am – 4.00 pm

£115,000 waste prevention fund for Merseyside and Halton community groups

A share of £115,000 is up for grabs to help make the region a cleaner and greener place.

The funding has been made available for Merseyside and Halton community and voluntary groups, schools, faith groups and not-for-profit organisations, who can reduce household waste, encourage recycling and resource re-use, and prevent carbon emissions.

The money is coming from the Merseyside Recycling and Waste Authority and Veolia Community Fund 2017/18, which has been running annually since 2006.

The impact of the 2015/16 Fund saw 10 projects deliver 71 full time equivalent jobs (created or safeguarded), participation by 253 volunteers, 24,256 people directly engaged, 680 tonnes of waste material diverted from landfill and £68,000 of equivalent landfill costs avoided.

Previous Community Fund projects have included:

  • Taking in unwanted bikes and cheap bikes from auctions, refurbishing them to ‘as new’ quality and selling them at an affordable price to the local community as well as teaching people bicycle repair and maintenance.
  • Targeting young adults aged 16-25 and providing a two-day course, arming club leaders with the skills and support to establish ‘Mersey Waste Muncher’ cookery clubs that focus on reducing food waste.
  • Delivering a series of learning workshops enabling people to gain skills to revitalise unwanted furniture and textiles.
  • Training homeless people with the skills to design and make attractive furniture and household accessories from waste, with the items going on sale at the Emmaus Superstore in Seaforth.
  • Reducing the amount of reusable items going to landfill at the end of the academic year by collecting unwanted materials from student accommodation and redistributing cleaned and repaired items back to new students and the local community.
  • Re-using waste wood from domestic properties and gardens to improve visitor facilities and livestock conditions at Home Farm in Croxteth Park and providing training opportunities in re-use.

Chairperson of Merseyside Recycling and Waste Authority (MRWA), Councillor Graham Morgan, said: “We’ve made this money available for new and existing projects which can have an impact on their local community and make Merseyside and Halton a cleaner and greener place for us all to live and work.

“Giving groups the opportunity to get involved in looking after their environment can only bring benefits to all and can help us appreciate items as valuable resources rather than something which otherwise might be just thrown away.”

Interested groups should complete and submit an Expression of Interest with MRWA. If applicants are shortlisted then they will be asked to fill in a more detailed Community Fund entry.

Successful applicants can be awarded up to £25,000 for schemes which operate across Merseyside and Halton, and £8,000 for projects which work solely at local authority level.

Projects will have eleven months to deliver their schemes and will be expected to get started in May.

Knowsley’s Centre 63 are one organisation to have benefitted from the Community Fund. Jeane Lowe, Chief Executive Officer at Centre 63, said: “The Community Fund has been pivotal in enabling ‘Bike Back 63’ to take in unwanted bikes from the Knowsley community and refurbish them for local residents to re-use and also to help reduce the need for car journeys within the Borough. This support has also enabled us to upskill young people who are NEET (Not in Employment, Education or Training) and isolated older adults to become bike mechanics and repair old unwanted bikes which are donated back into the community.

“We have also delivered a popular ‘Earn-a-bike scheme’, ‘Bike loan scheme’ and taught over 150 children and young people how to ride a bike and simple bike maintenance techniques.”

Organisations interested in this year’s Community Fund can:

DEADLINE FOR SUBMISSION OF EXPRESSION OF INTEREST: 1st February 2017

Future of Parks and Greenspaces in Sefton

Sefton Council values all its parks and greenspaces across the borough and is planning a consultation on their future management.

A report titled ‘Better Places Greener Spaces – the Future of Parks and Greenspaces’ has just been published and outlines a planned consultation later in the year.

The report highlights all the hard work and links with community and Friends of groups along with other partners such as schools, colleges and businesses, and looks to develop this further in the future.

Some of the key points from the report include:

  • The level of volunteer input and support for parks and greenspaces has been massive in recent years, and Sefton Council want to continue to support and develop this over time
  • Parks and greenspaces will have to continue to change, but it is not proposed to close any parks or greenspaces
  •  Sefton Council can continue to deliver good quality parks and greenspaces that meet the needs of our community and reach national recognised standards for quality
  • All sites will be safe and useable but some smaller less used spaces will require some design changes
  • Sefton Council will continue to put the community at the heart of managing our parks and greenspaces
  • Sefton Council will continue to find new and creative ways to fund parks differently in the future 

Subject to the call in period, the report will then go to the Consultation Panel with a view of engaging with the public later in the year.

A spokesman for Sefton Council said: “We are extremely lucky in Sefton to have so many parks and greenspaces, many of which are recognised through the Green Flag award scheme, Britain in Bloom judging and other quality awards.

“In the last 5 years alone we have witnessed a significant amount of investment and development in them.

“This includes more than £8m of new capital investment in parks and greenspaces and £500k has been invested in providing parts and maintenance to our playgrounds alone. In real terms we now have 16% more play equipment in our parks than we did 5 years ago.

“Despite public parks having seen a reduction in budget, we have maintained a strong commitment to providing good opportunities for play and other uses of our parks and greenspaces.

“Through the recent Imagine Sefton 2030 engagement process, we know our parks and greenspaces mean so much to so many people in Sefton and beyond, and this report sets out a consultation looking at their future management.

“This will help us move forward in the way we run them in the face of major Government cuts.

“A formal consultation process is set to start in the autumn and we will be revealing further details in due course.”

Sefton Council is having to find a further £64m worth of savings between 2017/2020 and is looking at how it provides numerous services across the borough.

£1 million saved for Merseyside through ‘The Merseyside Collective Switch’!

The Merseyside Collective Switch has saved local people in excess of £1million on their energy bills through switching to a cheaper energy tariff.

The next round launches today. Residents will need to register before midnight on the 16th October in order to access the exclusive collective switch offers tariffs.

Organised by local charity, Energy Projects Plus, in partnership with six Merseyside local authorities, the Merseyside Collective Switch was set up in 2013 to help local people to save money on their energy bills.

Collective switching works by asking people to register their interest then uses collective buying power to negotiate exclusive tariffs from energy suppliers.

To date, the scheme has delivered six rounds of collective switching. The last collective was the biggest yet, with over 7,000 people taking part and average savings of £311 a year.

Exclusive, market beating tariffs were negotiated for Merseyside residents including a fixed tariff from E.on, an offer for ‘payment on receipt of bill’ customers and a special deal for prepayment meter customers. Previous rounds of the switch have attracted exclusive offers from both the large and smaller suppliers, including British Gas, E.on, and Ovo.

In addition to the Collective Switch offer, participants are welcome to switch to any tariff on the market to find the deal that’s right for them, with tariffs shown against each other for comparison.

The scheme aims to make it easier and safer to switch supplier, and advisors are on hand to offer free and impartial help every step of the way.

It’s free to join, and there is no obligation to switch once the offers are released.

Michael Morris, aged 64, from Bootle saved £434 through the Merseyside Collective Switch. He said: “I was a first time switcher and was actually surprised at how much I saved, I would recommend people to just have a look at what’s out there.”

Mr David Bailey registered for the last round of the Collective Switch on behalf of his 87 year old Mother, Margaret, who saved £1,067 through switching.

He said “I’m thrilled with the big savings made for my mother and think it’s great we are coming together as a community to get a cheaper deal on our energy bills. It was so simple and quick to do, I would recommend it to anyone.’’

Mayor of Liverpool, Joe Anderson said: “The Merseyside Collective Switch is a great scheme that is putting money back into the pockets of local people. We are thrilled to have reached this milestone figure of £1 million collectively saved so far. It demonstrates that by joining together, we can get a fairer deal from energy providers. I hope many more people join this round. If just 1 in 10 of you joined us we could have over £20m staying in local people’s pockets.”

In order to access the collective switch offers, residents must register before midnight on Sunday 16th October.

To join the Collective Switch visit www.LCRenergyswitch.co.uk or call the local Save Energy Advice Line on freephone 0800 043 0151, where residents can also get free and impartial help and advice about saving energy at home.