Traditional wood fired pizza from local business 600 Degrees is heading to Southport Market. Dan Johnstone from 600 Degrees is pictured with Sefton Council Cabinet Member for Regeneration and Skills Cllr Marion Atkinson

Sefton Council has unveiled the appointment of its first female leader. 

Cllr Marion Atkinson, who has been heavily involved in the regeneration of Southport through her role as Cabinet Member for Regeneration and Skills, was announced as the new leader at last night’s full Sefton Council meeting at Bootle Town Hall (Thursday, 18th January 2024).

The Labour councillor for Molyneux Ward will now take up the role of council leader, becoming the first female council leader in Sefton’s 50 year history and the only female council leader in the Liverpool city region.

The appointment comes after former council leader, Cllr Ian Maher, made the surprise announcement earlier this month he would be stepping down from the position he has had held since 2015. 

He has not yet publicly revealed the reasons for his departure. 

At last night’s meeting, Cllr Atkinson made a short speech and took time to pay tribute to the previous and outgoing council leader Ian Maher and commended his work during the Covid 19 pandemic.

The new leader also gave some hints to what her focus will be going forward and was clear children’s services and child welfare will be of central importance to her tenure as council leader and promised she ‘will not shy away from tough decisions’.

Sefton Council’s Budget for 2024/25 is due to be set in the coming weeks. 

Read More: 11 questions on Southport’s future in 2024 from Events Centre, to Market Quarter to Southport Pier

Focus was drawn to the importance of plans involving Bootle Strand, the creation of new quality homes and also the ongoing issues with Southport Pier.

A round of applause broke out as the chamber recognised Cllr Atkinson’s position as the first female council leader in Sefton’s history and she finished the opening speech with a call-to-action: “Let’s get to work”. 

In December, Cllr Atkinson gave an exclusive interview to Stand Up For Southport, in which she declared: “Our focus is on identifying and securing the funding necessary to refurbish Southport Pier. 

“Both surveys together explain in great detail the necessary works required and the need for continued safety for all.

“We’re pleased that extensive exploratory and investigative works have begun. 

“This phase of the project is expected to last until mid-February 2024 and see a significant section of the Pier’s damaged decking removed as well as further assessments of the integrity of both the Pier’s cast iron columns and steel structure.”

She also revealed her confidence for the year ahead, saying: “2024 is an exciting time for Sefton, not just Southport and the beauty of our borough is that it is readily and easily accessible for people to explore and enjoy. 

“There is plenty to see, do and enjoy and we have a wealth of fabulous events from the Food & Drink Festival to Southport Air Show and British Musical Fireworks Championship. Plus we are delighted that Sir Tom Jones will be performing at our amazing Salt & Tar Weekender in Bootle in the Summer. It’s not unusual to find many things to enjoy in Sefton next year!

“Away from the jaw dropping and mouth watering events our officers continue to be hard at work delivering on our programme of growth and investment.

“Sefton’s Growth and Strategic Investment Programme is a group of projects that aim to improve the Borough for people who live, work and visit the area.

“Sefton is a diverse Borough with residents and businesses that have different personal needs. “The purpose of the programme is to meet these different needs by including a variety of projects. These needs may be financial, social or environmental, and the projects have been designed to meet each of these.

“As well as supporting Sefton residents and visitors, the programme aims to attract further private sector investment and opportunities, allowing for more projects to be created in the future.”

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