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Job Vacancy – Clerk/RFO to Scarisbrick Parish Council

Scarisbrick Parish Council has the following vacancy:

CLERK AND RESPONSIBLE FINANCIAL OFFICER TO THE COUNCIL

(PART TIME – 15 HOURS PER WEEK)

Salary commences at £22,627 per annum PRO RATA (SCP 13 on scales agreed by the National Joint Council for Local Government Services) but is negotiable dependent on any previous experience in the role.

Scarisbrick Parish Council is seeking to appoint a first class administrator with good communication skills. The successful applicant will be forward thinking and enthusiastic. The Clerk has responsibility for all the Council’s functions and will be expected to advise and guide the Council. Applicants should preferably have a local government background, although applicants from other sectors are welcome to apply. However, sound administration and financial skills are essential due to the statutory nature of the post.

The closing date for receipt of applications is 12 noon (midday) on Wednesday 30th September 2020. We will contact all candidates invited for interview shortly after the closing date.

An application pack can be downloaded here. It contains a description of the work of the Council, details of the application and selection processes, person specification, job description, and printable application form.

A version of the application form which can be downloaded and completed electronically is available here. (You are advised to read the contents of the application pack first).

Details of the Local Government Services Pay Agreement 2020-21 can be found here.

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Coronavirus – important information from Scarisbrick Parish Council

IF YOU LIVE IN THE PARISH OF SCARISBRICK, ARE SELF-ISOLATING, AND FIND YOURSELF IN SERIOUS AND IMMEDIATE NEED THEN PLEASE READ THIS ARTICLE AND FILL IN THE FORM BELOW. 

Scarisbrick Parish Council is actively looking at ways that the vulnerable in the parish can be supported and will make funding available as appropriate. Something that is causing a significant problem at the moment is the growing number of coronavirus scams that are appearing – we want to be as sure as possible that we don’t unwittingly expose elderly residents to harm. We are working on it.

The best way anyone can help at the moment is to keep in touch with each other’s immediate neighbours. This is particularly the case if they are elderly, have pre-existing medical conditions, and are self-isolating. You will know them and, more importantly, they will know you. This immediately creates trust and ensures that they are not relying on people they may never have seen before (no matter how well-intentioned they may be). This is far better than any scheme we can devise and it can get off the ground with immediate effect.

We advise all residents not to hand over money to anyone they do not recognise (and trust) on the promise of having shopping done for them. This is, unfortunately, a scam that is gaining pace. Unscrupulous individuals are doing this whilst pretending to represent Parish Councils.

If you live within the parish, are self-isolating, and find yourself in serious and immediate need then please get in touch with the council and we will do what we can to resolve the problem. At the moment we will only be able to help with serious and immediate problems such as having run out of food or medication. Contact us by completing the form below. Give us your telephone number and a password (memorable word) of your choice. We will call you back and return the password so you know it is us. Our telephone number (mobile) is 07577240928, please only use this if absolutely necessary – we are a small parish council with limited resources.

We are not qualified to give medical advice. If you need this advice – and it’s not an emergency – you should dial the 111 telephone number.

We are starting to ramp up a flow of information on our website and Twitter accounts (@scarisbrick2day) but please bear with us – our resources are relatively small.

 

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adopt

Adoption Lancashire & Blackpool launches #WishForAFamily campaign

The new regional adoption agency for Lancashire and Blackpool is celebrating a successful first six months despite the challenges of coronavirus with a new campaign highlighting the value of bringing a new child into your family.

Adoption Lancashire & Blackpool brings together expertise from both councils to simplify the adoption process, increase the number of adopters, improve the matching processes for children, and provide support for adoptive families. The agency has adapted the way it works to ensure permanent homes are still being found for youngsters in need of a loving home, including the use of digital technology.

Bookable telephone sessions are currently running, instead of the usual face-to-face adoption information events. The sessions are aimed at anyone interested in finding out more about adopting. They offer a chance to have an informal chat, ask questions and discuss options with one of the dedicated team members.

These sessions run every Monday, excluding Bank Holidays, at 2.30pm and each Wednesday at 6.30pm until further notice.

Telephone sessions can be booked by emailing the team at enquiries@adoptionlancashireblackpool.org.uk, or by calling 0300 123 6727, giving your name, telephone number and the date and time of your chosen session.

Running from Monday 21 September until Sunday 4 October, the #WishForAFamily campaign will encourage anyone wanting to start or grow their family to consider adoption.

To find out more, please visit www.adoptionlancashireblackpool.org.uk

Alternatively get in touch on 0300 123 6727.
      

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Scarisbrick Litter Group Needs New Members

PLEASE HELP KEEP OUR LOCAL ROADS AND LANES LITTER FREE

We are a friendly group of Scarisbrick residents who meet once or twice a month to collect litter from our local roadsides and verges. All you need is a pair of gardening gloves and some good footwear and we will provide the rest. All glass, cans and plastics are sorted and re-cycled. Please get in touch and join us.

Litter

If you can help please contact Mike Wilson on 07702 564654

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Scarisbrick Parish Council Meetings

Coronavirus restrictions mean that physical meetings of the Council continue to be inappropriate. However, meetings of Scarisbrick Parish Council are  being held virtually using video conferencing. Members of the public can view the meetings but must contact the Clerk by email (scarisbrickpc@outlook.com) prior to midday on the day of the meeting for an invitation to join.

A schedule of meetings can be found here.

Agendas can be found here.

We still want to hear from you in relation to matters of concern within the parish (coronavirus or otherwise). You can get in touch via the “contact us” button at the top of this page, by email (scarisbrickpc@outlook.com) or leave a reply below. Keep an eye on this website for news and information from the parish council. We hope to be back to normal as soon as possible. Stay safe!

 

Coronavirus

Coronavirus – the crucial role of social responsibility

As coronavirus continues to spread circumstances have become somewhat surreal and will be causing great anxiety.

Not everyone will get the disease and the majority that are affected will have a relatively mild illness. Nonetheless, the consequences for a minority will be profound and no-one knows for sure on which side of the divide they will fall (whether they be young or old). However, those of us who are older and/or have “underlying medical conditions” perhaps have most reason to be anxious.

So what can be done to lessen the impact? There has been plenty of advice regarding personal hygiene and hand-washing. Social-distancing is the new fashion. Self-isolation is a phrase that we once associated with hermits but is now commonplace. Guidelines change quickly as matters progress and won’t be reproduced here (our article on “Coronavirus Information” provides useful links). However, I would like to mention two of the most important weapons we have in the battle against the virus and these are community-based.

The virus will thrive if it is given the opportunity to spread but the chances of containment improve if we cut off its routes of transmission, in other words we reduce its opportunities to spread from person to person. This aids in protecting the more vulnerable in our society but also helps spread the burden on the NHS, from which we all benefit. The human, social, and economic costs are enormous as schools, shops, pubs, restaurants, and many other facilities we take for granted all shut down.

There are also huge personal costs to be met. Vulnerable people are being asked to self-isolate for months, cutting themselves off from family and loved ones. Yes, this can be for their own good but they are also doing their bit for the rest of us. If they get the disease they will be a particular burden on the NHS, by avoiding exposure they help conserve this limited resource. Self-isolation is also important if you become symptomatic with a new persistent cough, temperature, or breathlessness. For most the disease will be mercifully mild but this gives rise to an inherent danger. There may be a temptation to go back to work, do the shopping, meet with friends etc whilst still contagious. This keeps a door of opportunity open to the virus which it will use to transmit itself. The next people in the chain of infection may be more vulnerable, possibly even the doctors and nurses in the frontline. It is well known from previous pandemics that they are not only the most important of resources but also the most fragile due to their intense and extended exposure. I know that frontline medical and nursing staff were horrified to see thousands of people descending on seaside resorts and so on over the last weekend, thereby providing huge incubators for the virus. They fear becoming cannon fodder in the forthcoming battle, but to see so many members of the public prepared to light the fuse must have been terrifying. So, the first and most important weapon to which I refer is social responsibility. In fact, it is a duty with which we must all comply if we are to avoid a possible death rate measured in hundreds of thousands. Please, please, please observe rules on social distancing and self isolation. Nothing could be more important at this time.

This brings me to the second weapon we must use – good neighbourliness. We particularly need to look after those that are self-isolating for a prolonged period and are vulnerable; this is the true measure of us as a society. They are being socially responsible in what they are doing and it comes at a cost, particularly in terms of mental health. They need to have all the support we can give. This may mean chatting over the phone or ensuring that shopping is done for them.

There is a scheme that is better than anything we as a parish council can organise and it can be got off the ground with immediate effect. The best way anyone can help is to keep in touch with each other’s immediate neighbours. This is particularly the case if they are elderly, have pre-existing medical conditions, and are self-isolating. You will know them and, more importantly, they will know you. This immediately creates trust and ensures that they are not relying on people they may never have seen before (no matter how well-intentioned those people may be). This is far better than any scheme we can devise and has a built-in method of safeguarding the vulnerable from the unscrupulous. We need an army of good neighbours and this means you. Don’t wait to be organised by the council or anyone else, it’s not necessary in order for you to look after your immediate neighbour.

We will get through this – we have no choice. We may even emerge as a better society. However, we need to get as many of us as possible through this crisis. We all have to deploy the weapons of social responsibility and good neighbourliness to push this menace back.

 

 

 

 

 

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Coronavirus Information – reliable sources and the CRAP test.

Links to reliable sources of information are provided at the end of this article.

It is important during the coronavirus pandemic that we keep ourselves well-informed. Unfortunately there is a lot of misinformation circulating, particularly online and in social media. Some of this will have been posted with malicious intent but for the most part it will be the result of genuine misunderstanding or wanting to be first with the latest rumour. It is also important to remember that even genuine information will quickly change as the situation rapidly evolves.

Information must therefore be approached with common sense, certainly apply the adage “if it sounds too good to be true it usually is”. Also consider the CRAP test in evaluating information (Currency, Reliability, Authority, Purpose). The test was developed for academics and students to assess online information but can be adapted to this situation.

Currency:

How current is the information? When was it posted? Has it been recently updated? Even genuine information from the most reliable sources can quickly become dated in rapidly evolving circumstances. For example, the modelling exercises on which government decisions are based involve uncertainties and assumptions. The advice changes as more becomes known.

Reliability:

Is the information based on someone’s personal opinion? If it is opinion is it balanced or one-sided? Does the author offer hard evidence which can be independently confirmed? Does the author stand to profit or gain in any way (not just financially)?

Authority:

Who is the author? What are his/her credentials? What do you know about the author? Is the author reputable? Is the site sponsored (including advertisers), if so by whom? We British have a healthy scepticism of people in authority and during the Brexit debate experts were often vilified. However, now is the time to take notice. These are likely to be the most reliable sources of information, your hairdresser probably isn’t. Information that comes directly from central government (.gov.uk), local government (.gov.uk), NHS (.nhs.uk), and police (.police.uk), is likely to be the most reliable. There is some good advice from charities/non-profit organisations but they should be mainstream organisations with names you recognise. Some links are included below.

Purpose/Point of View:

Is the author trying to push an agenda or particular side? Are the arguments obviously biased? Is it an attempt to sell you something? Are you being asked for money or bank details?

Finally, before passing on information it is important to take a step back. Consider the reason for having been sent something and the possible consequences of passing it on. Before passing on any online rumour, take the time to verify it. This can be done by checking how recently an account has been created, keeping a close eye on information from your local authorities, and searching key words to find another source.

Sources of information (click on the links below):

Government guidance on social distancing and protecting the vulnerable.

Coronavirus advice from the NHS.

Check if you have coronavirus symptoms.

Coronavirus – Lancashire County Council response.

Coronavirus – West Lancashire Borough Council response.

Number of coronavirus cases and risk in the UK.

Coronavirus and heart or circulatory disease.

Coronavirus and lung disease.

Coronavirus and diabetes.

Coronavirus and the elderly.

Lancashire Constabulary – Coronavirus – Stay in the Know.

 

Community Infrastructure Levy 2018-19

The Community Infrastructure Levy is a levy paid by developers to improve the infrastructure within the area of their developments.

Parish Councils receive a percentage of the levy to use within the Parish. Between 2015 and 2019 the Council received £5900.83 to improve the local infrastructure.

During 2019-2020 the Council allocated the levy to improve access to local transport support and to repairs at the Village Hall

The statutory report can be downloaded here:

CIL2018-19Scarisbrick

Smithy Lane (October 2019)

Scarisbrick Parish Council – Flooding Questionnaire

The questionnaire appears in the Winter 2019 edition of Scarisbrick Village Matters (SVM). An electronic version is available for download here. This can be completed on your computer, saved, and emailed as an attachment to scarisbrickpc@outlook.com

The SVM article is reproduced below.

FLOODING: REASONS, RISKS, AND RESPONSIBILITIES

News programmes have recently been as depressing as the weather. Flooding in Northwich saw the Environment Agency (EA) and United Utilities bickering about responsibility. The gloomy point was made that any flood defence would eventually be overwhelmed – a fight with nature has only one winner. Climate change apparently increases likelihood that Southport will become an island. The article ignored that this involves large areas of Scarisbrick being submerged. Then there was the potato farm in Lancashire that flooding had turned into a jet-ski resort!

How much do we know about personal flood risk, what influences it, and who is responsible for managing it? The Parish Council wants your thoughts on flooding in Scarisbrick and asks that you complete the questionnaire in this edition.

Climate change debate is controversial but Met Office records for 2019 demonstrate extremes. Unprecedented temperatures were recorded in February followed by Storms Freya and Gareth. A sunny Easter preceded Storm Hannah. A new UK maximum temperature on 25th July was followed by twice the average rainfall in many areas. Winters of 2013/14 and 2015/16 were the wettest on record with widespread impacts. Intense rainfall plays a major part in flooding and can’t be controlled, but we can influence how rainfall is managed once it hits the ground. Land use, extent of local development, drain and watercourse maintenance all play a part.

Heatons Bridge-culvert under canal overwhelmed

Heatons Bridge – culvert under canal overwhelmed with overflow into canal.

Flood classification is useful when determining areas of responsibility. Coastal and groundwater flooding are unlikely in Scarisbrick whereas surface water (pluvial) and watercourse (fluvial) flooding are commonest. Backflow from sewers is a potential cause of flooded property and in Scarisbrick is the responsibility of United Utilities.

Pluvial flooding occurs anywhere at any time. Heavy and sudden rainfall causes rapid flooding which usually subsides quickly once rain stops. In extreme cases “flash flooding” is fast-moving and dangerous. Pluvial flooding is minimised by good drainage but is commonly seen where drains are blocked or overwhelmed – flooding of roads is an example. Run-off from flooded roads and inconsiderate driving can cause flooding of gardens and inside property. Lancashire County Council (LCC) maintains roadside drains whereas West Lancashire Borough Council (WLBC) clears gutters.

Run-off from fields

Run-off from fields.

Run-off from adjacent land can be significant if the ground is hardened by compaction (agricultural practices play a role) or prolonged hot spells. Road drains are designed to take water from roads and can silt-up or are overwhelmed in these circumstances. Overdevelopment increasingly causes absorbent ground to be lost. WLBC is responsible for planning but this isn’t simply about new development – we install patios or additional car parking on our properties which contribute to the problem. In rural areas road drains discharge into ditches that may themselves be full, this brings us to another problem.

Fluvial flooding occurs when watercourses overflow. Scarisbrick has many watercourses of various sizes because we live in an agricultural area where ditches drain land, but we also lie between Ormskirk and the sea. Hurlston and Sandy Brooks run through the parish and take the surface drainage of Ormskirk from Scarth Hill downwards. This is a particular concern because 100 year floods are now considered to be 30 year floods.

Fluvial flooding from Sandy Brook (right)

Fluvial flooding from Sandy Brook.

Responsibility for watercourse maintenance depends on classification. Main rivers are the EA’s responsibility; the classification reflects significance rather than size and includes watercourses on Martin Mere. Others are “ordinary” watercourses where responsibilities lie with riparian owners and are defined by legislation. This applies to farmers but also homeowners with drainage ditches crossing or adjacent to their gardens.

Living in Scarisbrick means you are close to a geological bowl which is the pumped area of the Alt-Crossens drainage catchment. This contains some of the most fertile soil in the UK with importance to national food supply contributing £230m to our local economy. It is the lowest point of the Borough’s drainage system and water is pumped out to sea at Crossens. Pumping operations are currently threatened by government cuts. Pumping to protect agricultural resources is no longer considered viable, although no flood threat to property is anticipated. However, new data suggests flooding could be more widespread than predicted and may isolate Southport. The extent of surrounding ground saturation is difficult to determine and could also threaten infrastructure.

Alt-Crossens - pumped catchment (EA map)

Alt-Crossens – pumped catchment (Environment Agency map).

There is growing acceptance that flooding is inevitable but we need to mitigate impacts. Everyone plays a role which may be as simple as reporting blocked road drains or driving more considerately through floodwater. We should avoid covering gardens with impermeable surfaces and consider our carbon footprint. We should take riparian responsibilities seriously. We should hold local authorities to account and challenge policymakers whether this is over new development, pumping station closure, or how often gutters are cleaned. There is also emphasis on reasonable self-help such as purchasing sandbags, installing domestic flood barriers, or clearing grids outside our homes.

 

Useful resources:  

If floodwater enters your house, or is over halfway across the road, telephone:

    • 0300 123 6780 (Monday to Friday 8am to 5pm, excluding bank holidays). 
    • Otherwise telephone 101 (Police non-emergency number).
    • IF THERE IS A THREAT TO LIFE CALL 999.

 

If flooding is from sewers or burst water mains, telephone:

  • 0345 6723 723 (United Utilities)

Report blocked road drains:

https://www.lancashire.gov.uk/roads-parking-and-travel/report-it/flooding-and-drainage/

“Flooding in Lancashire” – what to do before, during, and after a flood:

https://www.lancashire.gov.uk/flooding/

Owning a watercourse – rules and responsibilities:

https://www.gov.uk/guidance/owning-a-watercourse

“Know Your Flood Risk” – advice and links:

http://www.knowyourfloodrisk.co.uk/flood-advice-guidance

 

John Herbert

Scarisbrick Parish Councillor