A new future for the Liverpool Food and Drink Festival

It’s always sad when a local business closes but in this case it gives us the opportunity to rethink the background and purposes of the Liverpool Food and Drink Festival and bring it back to its local producer/customer links

It’s always sad when a company goes into administration and that is true of the company behind the Liverpool Food and Drink Festivals which folded yesterday.

However, in this case there may be a silver lining. I have been concerned for the last couple of years about the Festivals. The original idea was that it would give a chance for local restaurants and food and beverage producers to be able to exhibit their products and attract local customers. These customers would continue to use those companies and buy their products on a permanent basis. To make this work it needed to be cheap for the producers and free for the visitors.

Of course, the long-term purpose of this was to produce local food chains whereby local businesses would develop and would both keep their profits in Liverpool and bring back their profits when they expanded outside the City

In recent years this was far from what happened. It became a money-making venture in its own right. There was an expensive entrance fee and the vast majority of exhibitors were representative of large chains which have a Liverpool presence but not a Liverpool base.

The fact that there is now no contract in place means that the Council once again has freedom to restart the venture with its original aims of localisation. It also gives a chance us to choose a new location for its revised format. Nowhere better in my view for trying this than Calderstones Park. We need to look again at Calderstones Park in light of the decision of the High Court Judge to quash the planning applications by Redrow Homes for 13 acres of the Park.

In the view of the Lib Dems all our Parks should be run by locally led, none profit making companies rather than the Council. This is not only our conclusion but was one of the recommendations which was given by the Green Space Review which was delivered as an independent report 3+ years ago and which has sat on the shelf ever since.

So, it would be great to move it to Caldies. Will it work there? I don’t know and we won’t know unless we try it out. 4 years ago, Cllr Makinson and I held a day-long consultation exercise in the Park and sent out 10,000 survey leaflets in the areas closest to the Park. It was clear from this that the users and local residents want to experiment with new ideas to raise the revenue the park needs and increase the number of people who use the Park. Food based activities were one of the most popular options.

So, what do we do next?

  1. Ask Liverpool Markets to take the lead in developing an event in September.
  2. Bring together local producers such as those who sell at the Farmer’s Markets to see what they would like and how much they think they could pay.
  3. Bring together locally owned restaurants and small chains of restaurants to see what they would like and how much they think they could pay.
  4. Involve Independent Liverpool who do so much to promote local inter-trading to develop a plan for marketing the new concept both to potential stall holders and then to the wider public to come along.

I believe that this approach will work and would be enthusiastically supported by producers and public alike. By leaving out the frills of celebrity chefs and the like and the concomitant expense we can produce a cost-effective future for a revived food festival. That festival could then be at the heart of wider attempts to promote local food chains which would decrease food miles and increase the circulation of Liverpool cash in the Liverpool economy.

If you are a local producer or restaurant owner or are interested in taking these ideas forward from any angle please contact me at richardkemp68@yahoo.co.uk

Posted in Liverpool, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

If Labour splits what do the Lib Dems do?

Is history about to repeat itself with a similar split in Labour to that which formed first the SDP and then the Liberal SDP Alliance?

So, some Labour MPs are rumoured to be preparing to leave their Party post Brexit debate. There are talks of 6 heavily involved and perhaps 20 in total. From my own observations I think that is highly credible but not necessarily guaranteed. There can be no doubt that nationally there are huge fissures in the Labour Party. What precisely those splits are is difficult to discern.

That is replicated in Liverpool. Its only partly a joke when I say that if my 7 colleagues and I were in the Labour Party here I would probably be the leader of the largest faction! We have north versus south; working class against callow youths straight out of university; people who like the Mayor against people who loathe him; and all this before we can work out the growing threat of the Militant Tendency of the 2019 era – Momentum.

It is no exaggeration to say that I regard few of the existing Labour Councillors as potential fellow travellers for the Lib Dems. Class War warriors who have let Joe Anderson do what he wants. A group of people who have little to offer Liverpool in terms of long-term vision and can only measure themselves against what they oppose rather than what they propose.

As I look at our 100,000+ membership, I have been trying to work out how many in our Party were members in the last Labour split which formed the SDP in the early 80s. Not many I suspect! So perhaps it is important that those of us who were there then should think through what happened and how we approached to see what lessons can be learnt.

As last time we have a Liverpool name in the frame – Luciana Berger. Last time there were three Labour MPs. There are crucial differences. I regarded those Labour MPs as a blast from the past. Right wing Labour MPs who had no respect for their constituents and did little in their constituencies. I remember that Colonel Crawshaw, the MP for Toxteth whose claim to fame was some walking event at Aintree race course was one of them. When the request came from Liberal HQ to make relationships with them, I tried. I had one meeting with Crawshaw but it led absolutely nowhere. We were too far apart in both policy and organisational terms.

At Liverpool level we let them fight 2 constituencies; we fought 5 and in Broadgreen (one of only a handful) we fought each other.

In this case I  and the majority of my fellow Lib Dems respect Luciana Berger. I can probably agree with her on 90% of the policies that she would wish to introduce.

However, I also remember from my past and note in here that she comes from a different tradition; from different roots than me. Her style of campaigning; her relationship with her constituents is different than mine and I know different from our Parliamentary Party. But if you ask, “could I work with her?” the answer is definitely “yes”.

What went wrong in the 80s was that we concentrated too much on our political differences and too much time in trying to carve up the cake in terms of who fought what, where and when. The result was that jointly we blew the best opportunity in the late 20th Century to create a break through for a strong centre grouping. We see that so clearly today with centrists in Labour and Conservatives marginalised by extremists.

I believe that there is a better model and that is the way the Labour Party has traditionally been operated. In theory there are two Parties that work together. There is a Labour Party and a Cooperative Party. There are subtle differences between them but they have one Leader and one manifesto. The Cooperative Party have their own Conference but then are full participants in the Labour Conference.

Negotiating seats at both parliamentary and council level would be far easier as wings of one Party than 2 Parties which inevitably put their own interest first.

Locally we have already had one councillor Kay Davies join us in County. She has said publicly on a number of occasions how much happier she is with us and we are very pleased to have her. It’s no secret that I have a ring side seat, as does the Echo’s Liam Thorp, at Labour Group meetings and in other CLP meetings where I seem to know who has been deselected or what the splits are before the Party’s own local Leader.

There will be no moves at a serious level before the May elections. I will, however, continue to correspond and talk to those Labour members who are considering taking the plunge and joining us.

The Lib Dems have already almost completed a national manifesto in case of a snap General Election. I believe that this could be quickly shared and an agreement made on the key issues. It would also be honest to say where there were differences between us. The same could readily be done in Liverpool if and when the time comes.

Tellingly within 5 or 6 years the right wingers of the Labour establishment and who we did not feel comfortable with who joined the SDP fell away. All those we were happy to work with stayed the course and were with us for a long time. We naturally formed a seamless Liberal Democrats out of the two former Parties. That is what will happen again in a few years’ time if a split did happen. That is why above all we must work on the similarities and not the differences.

We must not blow this opportunity for a second time if it is, indeed, presented to us. We must be more mature and more liberal than we were then and if so, it’s just possible that the dream that I have had for all my 51 years in the Party can be achieved – the creation of a radical centre Party that can help us recover as a nation from the terrible mess that we are in. Anyone who sets up another Party must be less arrogant than those who set up the SDP.

Posted in Politics | Tagged , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

We must act NOW to support children’s mental health services

These teenagers are having a great time but 40% of 16-24 year olds say they feel lonely often or very often

 Tomorrow I am at a conference about how we transition young people with mental health problems from their youth status into the adult mental health system. I’ll be speaking in part of it and chairing another part of. This Conference, hosted by the Local Government Association has been called, in part to highlight the growth in poor mental health and the obvious fact that if we cannot help young people at the point from which their poor mental health develops, we will have to pay even more to help them for the rest of their lives because their problems will get worse.

I speak here in terms of the monetary problems but the reality for mental health sufferers is a poor quality life and an early death if mental ill-health is not dealt with at an early age.

The situation is absolutely shocking so let me share some facts with you:

  • Suicide is the leading cause of death in children and young people aged 5-19. Suicide continues to be the leading cause of death in both men and women until the age of 34. For men, suicide continues to be the leading cause of death until the age of 49. 
  • Young people feel loneliness more intensely and more frequently than any other age group.
  • 40 per cent of people aged 16-24 say they feel lonely often or very often, compared to 29 per cent of 65-74-year-olds and 27 per cent of those aged over 75.
  • One in 6 young people aged 17 to 19 has at least one mental health disorder. In this age group, a quarter of young women have a mental health disorder. Half of them have self-harmed or attempted to take their own life.
  • Over half of all mental ill health starts before the age of 14, with 75 per cent of mental health disorders starting by 24 years of age.
  • Nearly 40 per cent of children and young people seeking help for their mental health from the NHS do not receive it.
  • Between 2010 and 2020, councils will have lost 60p out of every £1 the Government had provided for services. 
  • Children services face a funding gap of £3.1bn by 2025 
  • Adult social care will have a funding shortfall of £3.6 billion by 2025
  • Public health funding has been reduced by £600 million between 2015/16 and 2019/20  Councils face an overall funding gap of £8 billion by 2025

So, given these facts what must we do? We need to find a way to help the 40 per cent of young people who seek NHS help and don’t get it. If they are not unwell enough to receive NHS help, we need to work out how we’re going to help them in other ways.  It should be a priority to ensure that these 40 per cent don’t get worse, rather than waiting until they meet the criteria for treatment. We need to focus on how we can help them so they don’t need NHS treatment. If it is not the NHS helping this 40 per cent, then is there an assumption it’s up to councils, schools and the voluntary sector? If so, their contribution should be acknowledged and properly funded.

But look at the last three bullet points above. Money, alone, is not the answer to the problem but there is no answer without money. There is much we can do at relatively little extra cost to create the partnerships needed and to raise awareness of parents, teachers and the community at large to he problems but not without some cash input. A cash input which if spent well now will save a fortune down the line.

Councils are the most important part in this. Councils provide prevention-based services through their public health duties, and are responsible for a range of services that intertwine with children and adult mental health, such as children’s social care, youth support services, family support, school nurses, health visitors, leisure facilities, adult social care, housing, drug and alcohol services, etc. Yet they are not acknowledged in the most recent national children and adult mental health plans and strategies and their funding has been cut.

If the Government really believes as its long-term plan says in, “prevention not cure” then we need to ensure that the social determinants of poor mental health are dealt with. Children suffer from poverty, poor food and drink; drugs; alcohol; boredom; unstable families; poor housing; the threats of peer pressure amplified by social media; poor educational attainment levels. To some extent those pressures have always been there but there are today amplified by social and standard media alike. Are you an ‘acceptable’ weight; ‘sufficiently’ beautiful; ‘scoring well’ in the social media etc. I’m really glad I’m not a teenager now!

My principal messages tomorrow are twofold:

  1. That the huge pressures of poor children’s mental health; and
  2. That councils need the cash to deal with the problems rather than the clinical routes normally favoured by the NHS although money is needed in both sectors.

Will the Government listen? Well I’ll have the opportunity to tell you soon. Next month I’m meeting the Government Minister for suicide, Jacquie Doyle-Price. I’ll know then whether she takes the statistics above seriously and is prepared to do something about them.

| Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

International Holocaust Day reminds us that we must reach out to each other

A Lib Dem Lord, Aldermen and Councillors were all at Liverpool Town Hall today to commemorate the genocides of the 20th Century as well as those taking place in the 21st and vow to prevent them happening again

Liberal Democrats were out in force today at the Liverpool Town Hall at the service to commemorate those who died in the genocides of Rwanda; Poland; Germany and elsewhere in massacres that continue to this day.

We came to the event today particularly because although those specific events are in the past similar events, albeit smaller, are happening this very day in parts of the Middle East and Africa and Burma. People picked on because they have the ‘wrong’ coloured skin; the ‘wrong’ faith; the ‘wrong’ sexual orientation. Sometimes they are just in the way as warlords seek to gain territory. Their ‘wrongness’ is just an excuse to move or slaughter them.

Sometimes, it is a question of financial exploitation. Look at the situation in Burma where for generations people of different faiths have lived together, usually but not always, in harmony. Here greedy eyes wish to take over territories and exploit for their own clan, caste of faith.

We can now look much closer to home to find problems getting worse and friction increasing between peoples. Across continental Europe extremist parties are exploiting financial difficulties to create racial tensions. From Italy to France from Germany to Holland racial and social prejudice is being used to stoke up fear and loathing.

Across the Atlantic things are just as bad. The words and actions of Trump and his red neck bully boy supporters are reigniting the Ku Klux Klan and similar bodies. Build the Wall to keep out a handful of foreigners who are judged by Trump to be the major source of crime in the Country’s inner cities.

It would be comfortable to say that all these things are happening somewhere else. But that would be so wrong. Anti-Semitism is on the rise. Small numbers of pathetic and misguided would be ‘yellow jackets’ are seeking to march through the streets to stir up trouble. Much of this has been stoked by BREXIT. Massive pleas were made to stop immigration with no understanding of what an immigrant actually was.

I love the immigrants who might save my life in the NHS. I love immigrants who help research at our Universities to provide us with jobs. I adore the immigrants who will come and spend back breaking hours picking fruit and veg in our fields to ensure we have cheap food. I welcome the immigrants who bring their talents in all fields to improve the quality of lives in so many ways.

As I look how this works whether it be the Nazis of 1930s Germany or the racists of 2019 Britain it seems that there are three elements:

  1. People and communities who have been left behind by technological and economic change. These people lash out because that is all they can do. They have had a poor education, live in poor housing and see no obvious way forward for them and their families.
  2. Politicians who wish to exploit this ‘underclass’ for their own ends; and
  3. Politicians; academics; clerics and other movers in society who are not prepared to stand up and be counted in a fight against the exploiters and their adherents.

All of this can be summed up in the famous poem by Martin Niemoller:

First they came for the socialists, and I did not speak out—because I was not a socialist.

Then they came for the trade unionists, and I did not speak out— because I was not a trade unionist.

Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—because I was not a Jew.

Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.

That tells me that we must all speak out. We must ensure a better sharing out of the Country’s and the World’s resources so that people do not despair of their lack of potential. We must hold hands with people of other skin colours, faiths and sexual orientation or beliefs and say this man is my brother, this man is my sister.

Perhaps today we can all take a little time to think of what International Holocaust Day means. Perhaps we can learn from the past to protect our future. Perhaps, above all, we can resolve today to speak out for anyone who is ‘different’.

If that happens today will indeed have been a good day.

Posted in Liverpool Politics | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Will the Council apologise for threatening us over Harthill being part of the Park?

My Lib Dem colleagues and I were threatened with legal action by the Council because we refused to back down over their claim that the Harthill section was not part of the Park. Now that a High Court judge has agreed with us will the Council apologise?

Now that the dust has settled a bit on the great victory by LOGS in the High Court last week, I have expanded my questions. I have written to a senior officer at the council today asking for responses to a series of questions about how we got to this point and what happens now.

On a personal level I would like an apology from the Council for the advert that they put in saying that the Lib Dems and I were erroneously claiming that Harthill was a part of the Park. Of course, the people of Liverpool agreed with me. Now just as importantly, a High Court Judge has agreed with us. Tellingly he said at one stage in his decision:

“I therefore disagree with the bald statement “the application site does not form part of Calderstones Park, nor does its reference in schedule 8.3 of the UDP connote any policy status”.

Will we get an apology? I doubt it but that is not the most important thing anyway. Our main purposes must be to get a lease for the Disabled Riding Stables and for the Miniature Railway; to work out a future connected with park use for the so-called depot site and to look at better use of the woodlands and nature trail.

Here is my letter to the Council Officers. I will, of course, publish the reply.

Next Steps for Calderstones Park

You will be aware that I wrote to the Mayor on Friday following the loss by the Council of the JR against its decisions relating to Calderstones Park. You may not be aware that the Mayor has a policy of never replying to my e-mails or letters in spite of the fact that I am the Leader of the largest opposition Party!

I know that when we last spoke you had received no instructions from the Mayor as to how to proceed either in respect of the JR decision or perhaps more importantly in light of the fact that he had already decided, and said so publicly, that Beechley RDA should not move. I now believe that we need to move forward together as a council and united as a community.

So, I wish to test the water to find out more about two things. How did we get to this point? In order that we do not make the same mistakes and what do we do now? To enable everyone to move forward as quickly as possible.

So, I am posing some questions to the Council in both categories and look forward to both hearing from you in regard to this but also discussing the matter with you.

Questions about the Past:

  1. Was the decision to say that the area of Harthill was not part of the Park originally an officer suggestion or a political one?  I believe we must know this because it is absolutely clear to me that the officers have responded to unreasonable political pressure throughout the whole of the proceedings.
  • The Judge made abundantly clear at a number of points in his decision that he believed that this land is clearly part of a Park. In particular he says,

“I therefore disagree with the bald statement “the application site does not form part of Calderstones Park, nor does its reference in schedule 8.3 of the UDP connote any policy status”.

Whose decision was it to send out a letter to me as Lib Dem Leader in 2016 saying that we were being erroneous in saying that the Harthill part of the land and threatening action against us.? Whose decision was it to pay for an advert in the Echo (attached) which said the same thing?

How much did the advert cost?

  • Will the Council now apologise to me, the Liberal Democrats who were continually attacked and the campaigners for the Park now that we have a clear understanding from the remarks of the Judge that it was the council that was erroneous in not accepting that the land was part of the Park?
  • Why did the Council continue with the cost of a Judicial Review when the Mayor had already said at the beginning of September, repeated in Council, that he would not move Beechley Riding for the Disabled against their wishes?
  • Calder Kids

How much has been spent on the clearly unnecessary move by Calder Kids?

What commitments have been made for ongoing revenue support for Calder Kids?

What estimates were made of the costs of refurbishing their premises?

At what meeting of the Cabinet were the capital and revenue costs of moving Calder Kids agreed. Where are those minutes printed?

Did Calder Kids submit a business plan or a grant application to the Council prior to its relocation?

What performance measures have been included in the ‘contract’ with Calder Kids to ensure that this facility is fully utilised to meet the needs of its client group?

  • What does this mean for the Police investigation into whether or not the Council deliberately under performed in the public enquiry at Allerton Priory at the other end of the South Liverpool Green Wedge?

Questions for the future

  • Beechley Riding for the Disabled

Will the Council now give Beechley RDA the 25-year lease that they need to bid for grants?

What area of land will be given to them?

What will the access points be through to the paddock etc?

  • Beechley House

Will the Council now sell Beechley House for residential development or develop it for flatted accommodation through the new Foundations Company?

  • So-called, ‘depot site’

Will the Council work with the local councillors and community to establish a new park related use for the so-called depot site?

  1. Miniature Railway

Will the Council give a 25-year lease to the Miniature Railway so that they can apply for grants?

Will the Council give to them or to Beechley RDA the lease on the vacated Calder Kids building?

I know that some of these are complex questions but others are not. In particular you will be aware that I have been asking for 3 months for details of the decision-making process by which Calder Kids was moved and the revenue and capital implications for doing so.

Above all I think we need to move forward quickly on the RDA lease. They could start moving forward even if no final lease had been signed but a clear intent was made by the Council to give one.

I look forward to hearing from you.

Yours sincerely,

Kemp sig

Cllr Richard Kemp CBE,

Leader, Liverpool Liberal Democrats

Posted in Liverpool Politics | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Calderstones Park High Court judgement is victory for the many over the few.

Just some of the many banners that the community put up as together they raised £40,000 and got 53,000 names on a petition. Now we are challenging the Mayor to say what he will do now.

I welcome today’s High Court judgement which will save part of Calderstones Park from being built on. I can only describe it as a victory of the People of Liverpool over the political elite that rules the Liverpool Town Hall.

Today’s judgement by the High Court effectively rules out any possibility of the Council selling the Harthill section of Calderstones Park to Redrow Homes. It has vindicated the approach which has been taken by the local Lib Dem team for 3.5 years and the excellent work done by the community group, LOGS, which has raised £40,000 to fight the Judicial Review and 53,000+ names on a petition against the development.

This whole episode has shown up the managerial and political elite of the City in an appalling light. They started the process by buying Beechley House for approximately £1,000, just six months after a speculator had bought it for £500,000.

They claimed that they started the process off because Beechley wanted and needed to move a claim which has been consistently rebutted by the Chair of the RDA.

They moved Calder Kids to a new venue for a sum which the Mayor stated would be about £1.6 million including lease charges when it would only have cost £100,000 to fully refurbish their existing premises.

They received a flawed report which indicated that it would cost £1.7 million to move Beechley Riding for the Disabled.

In fact, had the decision to sell to Redrow been proceeded with the Council would have LOST over £2,000,000.

The Mayor has allowed both the Council and the community to spend money on a Judicial Review when he told Beechley in September that he would not force them to move. This effectively destroyed the planning application.

I am sure that Merseyside Police will also be looking at the High Court decision with interest given their investigation into allegations that Liverpool Council deliberately allowed a weakened case to be given at the Public Enquiry in to the planning application by Redrow to build on the Allerton Priory site which is also part of the same South Liverpool green wedge.

But something good did come out of all this. The tremendous community spirit which has brought people together from all over S Liverpool and indeed the rest of Liverpool to fight these proposals. As we now turn to what happens in the Park now, I hope that they will continue to use all that enthusiasm to make improvements to the Park. We have already had more than 20 suggestions about what to do with the so-called ‘depot’ site ranging from a Bee farm to a nature school, from a Garden Centre to a new biodome to house an orchid collection to replace the one destroyed in the 80s by the Militant led Labour Council.

So, there are now 6 key questions which the Mayor of Liverpool must answer:

  1. Why did he continue with the cost of a Judicial Review when he had already said at the beginning of September that he would not move Beechley Riding for the Disabled against their wishes?
  2. How much has been spent on an unnecessary move by Calder Kids whose premises could have been out right for £100,000?
  3. Will he now give Beechley RDA the 25-year lease that they need to bid for grants?
  4. What does this mean for the Police investigation into whether or not the Council deliberately under performed in the public enquiry at Allerton Priory at the other end of the South Liverpool Green Wedge?
  5. Will he now sell Beechley House for residential development or develop it for flatted accommodation through the new Foundations Company?
  6. Will he work with local councillors and the community to establish a new park related use for the so-called depot site?

But for a few days let us rest. Let our campaigners have a break from their ceaseless toil to keep our Park safe for future generations to be the lungs and the heart of our community.

Posted in Liverpool Politics | Tagged , , , , , | 1 Comment

Action at last on stalled property developments in Liverpool & Manchester

This was supposed to be the New China Town development which attracted investment from all over the World especially China and Hong Kong. Now the Serious Fraud Office is investigating some people behind this and two other schemes

I am delighted that the Serious Fraud Office in partnership with the North West Serious Crimes Unit and the Merseyside Police have today issued warrants in respect of people behind two Liverpool properties and the Angel Gate development in Manchester.

The two Liverpool properties are:

  1. North Point Pall Mall, 70-90 Pall Mall, Liverpool – the development company being North Point (Pall Mall) Ltd; and
  2. New Chinatown, Great George Street, Liverpool – the development company being China Town Development Company Ltd.

For more than 3 years I have asked Liverpool Council to clean up its own act in terms of the way that it has assisted with the promotion of these properties and in one case the sale of land to a failed developer. Although being blocked at every turn I am pleased that there is now an internal enquiry into these matters led by Cllr Jane Corbett.

We currently have 8 unfinished or semi-derelict blocks in our city which are blighting their neighbourhoods and damaging the City’s reputation.  Much of the investment for these sites has come from China and Hong Kong and it is highly interesting that the questionnaire that the SFO is using to try and identify more investors has a Chinese language version.  The questionnaire can be found here https://sfohills.egressforms.com/

I would urge anyone who is an investor or who knows an investor to make contact with the SFO using this form so a full understanding of the problems can be obtained.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment