What should I do for Christmas?

Please make sure that you don’t let this family join your family for Christmas! Until we have a full vaccination programme we have not beaten this virus just suppressed it.

This is a question that I have been asked frequently lately and it’s one that I have been reluctant to answer.

Let me tell you what my family will be doing to begin with. My youngest daughter and her family will NOT be travelling for 12 hours from Scalpay in the Inner Hebrides to spend Christmas with us as they did last year. Whether flying or coming down by car with two small children will involve lots of interventions in public places which is where the biggest dangers lurk especially for people who live on an island where there hasn’t been a Covid case for months.

Erica and I will NOT be going for Christmas lunch to our other daughter who lives with her family in Wallasey. Instead they will be coming to us just for a couple of hours on Christmas Eve and where only two families who have been very careful about avoiding infection will be the only ones in the house. They will, however, still see their aunt and uncle who will come for a chat in the road.

We’ll see Jonathan and his wife on Boxing Day when again just two households of two feel very safe about coming together.

On Christmas Day Erica and will eat alone. If the weather is good, we’ll eat at her allotment. If not, we’ll eat at home. All the rest of the family will be phoned or zoomed according to a complex schedule of events!

This might sound a bit boring to some. Where’s the big event, the charades, the getting slightly tipsy and then sitting 16 round a table. This year they are all on hold!

We’ve taken the attitude after family discussions that we won’t do what the law allows but what we think is a safe and sensible thing to do. Put simply the evidence from all over the world is that family occasions which are great fun and what we would all want to do are a major source of infections. It’s not only the fact that lots of people get together in small rooms, mingle close and hug and cuddle but there are inherent dangers in moving around.

Unless people are very careful there will be people who will have a great time; then visit relatives two weeks later in hospital and bury them two weeks after that. We must all remember that even here in Liverpool we have not beaten the virus but only suppressed it. The movement of people be it students returning home or Aunty Mary coming to stay for a few days will multiply the chances of infection and increase the R rate. This is particularly true where a visitor will be coming from a higher tier than the one that you live in.

There are some thing that we can all do:-

  • Split your big events into one on Christmas Day and one on New Year’s Day. Invite everyone but not at the same time.
  • Make sure that the rooms you are in are well ventilated – not easy if it’s cold outside.
  • Wear masks whenever possible. Its not being rude to your guests to suggest that all should be masked – it’s a way of showing that you care for them.
  • Have sanitiser readily available and make a point of using it which will encourage others to do so.
  • Get out into the open as much as possible if the weather allows.

We must minimise contacts until March for two reasons:

1.         The weather gets markedly better (I hope) and we can get out more. Being in the open air is generally safer than being inside.

2.         We should be well into a vaccination programme by then in which the most vulnerable, who are the elderly and those who care for them, have been inoculated against the virus and can be much more mobile in so many ways.

Our family prize is not this Christmas but next Easter and Christmas. By doing the right things for the next 4 months we should be in a position to get back after that period to both family and big-ticket events such as theatre, religious services and sport.

So, what you do is up to you. Please just take it easy, simplify and reduce what you would normally do, and be careful.

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I was born a European and I’ll die a European

This great City of Liverpool will always be a major European city. I was born a European and will die a European no matter what happens in our short relationship with the EU caused by half witted Tory incompetence and lies.

I’ve just accepted an invitation to speak to the UK section of the European Youth Parliament later in mid-December. What a great opportunity it will be, as this once great nation of ours slides into chaos, to reaffirm my belief that I will always be a European, that Liverpool will always be a major European City and why, whether some people like it or not, the UK will always be a European Country.

Over the past few months, it has become absolutely clear that many of those who voted to leave the EU in 2016 bitterly regret doing so. Every single opinion poll taken on the subject in the past year has shown substantial and rising numbers of people regretting leaving the EU. The latest polls have almost a 2/3 split in favour of the EU.

What has changed? As the polls break down the reasons, they correspond to the discussion that we are having in Liverpool. The basic assertions that were made by the Leave campaign were shown to be mostly untrue.

Negotiating a trade deal with the EU can be done in an afternoon. After 3 years of discussions there is no real deal in sight. The Government have failed to realise that all the EU negotiators have been seeking to do is to enforce the same trade conditions which apply to every other near neighbour who continues to trade with the EU. That is what always happened with trade negotiations you have to give as well as take.

There will be no border on the island of Ireland. Totally untrue. There was always going to be a border if we didn’t agree to trade on the standard EU terms. Now new shipping routes have been established between Dublin and Rotterdam which will bypass Liverpool and the UK because of the complexity of the paperwork that will be involved.

There will be a big trade deal with the USA. This was unlikely even before the election of Joe Biden because a market of 60 million people is nowhere near as important as a market of 600 million people. Us effectively breaking the Good Friday Agreement by creating a border a border between North and South is a no-no for the USA who are a joint signatory to that agreement.

The rest of the world will flock to do trade deals with us. No major Country has signed a meaningful trade deal with the UK. The only trade deal with such a Country is with Japan and covers about 10% of the deal that we currently have within our EU membership.

There will be no costs involved. Since then we have discovered that we have to employ 50,000 more staff to deal with cross border bureaucracy and that many of our haulage firms will be unable to transport in continental Europe because they have not got the right external certification.

Our borders will be more secure. No they won’t. At the moment we benefit from cross border information exchanges about the movement of criminals and illicit goods. We are withdrawing from such incredible cross-border information which will allow criminals to move much more freely.

I could go on but won’t! The Government’s own figures show that there will be a 4% drop in our national income if we leave without a deal and 2% if we leave with a deal. But that is just the starting point. Our Universities will lose students and research opportunities. Big factories will close because the difficulties of cross border product assembly will be too difficult. Medicines will be harder to procure and the cost of bureaucracy and delay will push the price of food up.

So how should Labour and the Lib Dems vote when a deal is brought back to the House (if one is brought back)? I believe that Lib Dem MPs and Peers should vote against the Treaty because we already know that it will be a very, very weak one.

One of the ways it is suggested that we treat people with alcohol or drug dependencies is to let them reach down to the very bottom so that they know that they must improve and will have the self-determination to make the effort to change. Most of those who still argue for leaving fall into two categories. The first are the very rich most of whom are at the top of the Tory Party or who have Tory links who will personally benefit from the chaos and even more will benefit from not being subject to the new tax regimes which will come into effect of the 1st January 2021. The second are people who choose to believe what their puppet masters are telling them. They have voluntarily swallowed the Tory and Leave lies. Some are beyond redemption but many more will be appalled when they see what they have done.

It’s in the UK’s best interest now to get to the bottom swiftly so that we can rise again and start to recrate the losses of trade, contacts, influence and income that we are so wilfully giving away. The sooner that this happens the sooner that we will see a mass movement far bigger than the Remainers which will be the Rejoiners. I want the Liberal Democrats to go into the next General Election with a pledge that we should apologise for our ignorance and ask the EU to let us back in.

Such a request will not be easy. I don’t believe that they can take place over a cup of tea in an afternoon. However, I do believe that the EU will be kind to us. Most EU Countries do want us inside the system. It will bring benefits for them although the much greater benefit will be for us.

I’m saying this as a Scouser, as a Northerner, as an Englishman, as a Briton because all those things make me implacably a European. In 1953 I was born a European in London and at some time in the future I will die in Liverpool as a European. I just hope not for my sake but my grandchildren’s that when I do go to the debating chamber in the depths, I will leave it not only as a European but as an EU citizen. That’s the best future for my grandchildren, my City and my Country.

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I need your help in scrutinising the Council’s Companies

As a Councillor I often have great difficulty in getting information out of the Council. Getting information out
of the Council about our Council owned companies has been even more difficult. That’s why I’d like
your help in doing so.

As many of you are aware, from following my blogs and twitter account, I am getting increasingly concerned about the state of the Companies owned by the Council. The last accounts that I have been able to access are for the year April 2018 to March 2019. By now we should have had the accounts for the year ending March 2019 for scrutiny but they have not yet been prepared. The Council set up a Committee to scrutinise the council owned companies but it is long, long overdue to meet.

In the light of the Council not scrutinising these accounts properly I have tried to do so my-self. I have got some key questions outlined below but I lack both the time and the accounting expertise to do this properly.

My initial thoughts are:

Why haven’t the accounts for the year ending March 2019 being scrutinised by the Council? I am sure that the Council will, rightly, blame Covid for delays but this does not explain the failure to look at these accounts

Why haven’t the accounts for the year ending March 2020 been completed and scrutinised by the Council?

How is the External Auditor to the Council treating potential liabilities to the Council for the year ending March 2020 as it reviews the closing of the Council’s accounts for the year and issues an opinion on its accuracy?

Specifically, on the Arena Accounts I have asked the Chief Executive of the Arena two questions on two occasions.

On the 18/19 accounts you made a profit by transferring £4.2 million of admin costs to the Ultimate Parent Company. What were the costs transferred and what is the “Ultimate Parent Company?” Where can I find its accounts?

You submitted the 18/19 accounts on 25th September 2019 to Companies House. When will the 19/20 accounts go in?

I have yet to have the courtesy of an acknowledgement or a reply!

So now I am asking people to look at the last available accounts. Let me know what your impressions of these account because as a taxpayer you will be responsible for paying off any liabilities. Let me know what questions you think I should be asking. The links to the last available accounts are given below.

As a general point although you might think these requests strange it indicates the way that I think that the council should operate. It’s your money we spend and the Council needs to be far more transparent about how it treats these almost off-balance sheet companies.

Please contact me at Richard.kemp@liverpool.gov.uk

The Council’s Owned Companies are:

Liverpool Arena and Conference Centre: last filing, accounts up to 31/3/19 – next accounts due to be filed by 31/3/21


Liverpool Street Scene Ltd: last filing, accounts up to 31/3/19 – next accounts due to be filed by 30/3/21


School Improvements Ltd: last filing, accounts up to 31/3/19 – next accounts due to be filed by 31/3/21


Foundations: – accounts due to be filed by 31/3/21 


Liverpool Vision: last filing, accounts up to 30/9/19 – next accounts due to be filed by 30/6/21


Liverpool Markets: last filing, accounts up to 31/3/18 – (in administration)


Liverpool Science Park: last filing, accounts up to 31/3/19 (notice of accounting period extension to 30/9/20) – accounts due to be filed by 30/6/21


Sciontec: no accounts yet filed – accounts for period to 30/9/20 due to be filed by 30/6/21


LLP: last filing, accounts up to 31/3/19 – next accounts due to be filed by 27/3/21


Glendale, last filing, accounts up to 31/3/18 – accounts overdue (in administration)


Airport property company, last filing, accounts up to 31/3/20


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We must give Liverpool and its Centre a new purpose

Liverpool needs to take advantage of new Treasury rules and develop a role for itself as a leading global city. It can do this by understanding the new ‘post-covid’ world and thinking big.

News that the Government is changing its treasury led rule book for public sector investment gives Liverpool a golden opportunity to reset our City and our economy. If we consider things properly and fully and add some sparkle of a long-term vision Liverpool can move to become one of the Worlds’ leading cities which do not have national capital status.

Big change is on its way. As a City we should not resist it but embrace it. Do that and we can move from always being a ‘glass half empty’ sort of a place to being a ‘glass half full’ sort of place with an opportunity to all to come and help us fill it. To do this is a complex task starting with a full understanding of how our City and District centres need to function in a post-virus society.

 For those outside Liverpool who read this blog when we say, “I’m going into town”, we Scousers mean visiting the City Centre. In the light of the pandemic, which has accentuated a number of trends, we now need to re-evaluate not only the role of our City Centre as we will not be going into town so much but also understand what that means for district centres like Allerton Road, Woolton Village Aigburth Road, Old Swan and Walton Village.

Traditionally we go to town for four reasons all of which are now being challenged:

We go to work: There has a been a trend for years now with the advent of Wi-Fi, laptops and Zoom for many people to work at home for at least part of the time. That has been hugely magnified in recent months. More employers will downsize their premises and allow working from home for at least part of the working week. New premises are being built in the immediate outside of the city centre which will attract grade A tenants who need new and bigger space. This will shift next and existing tenants from our glorious but difficult to use listed buildings in our World Heritage commercial heartland.

We go to shop: White van man now rules supreme. We can buy just about anything on line and all the pundits suggest that there will only be a partial return to shopping in specialised or department stores. So, there will be a smaller footfall in the shopping areas which will be compounded by the fact that there will be less people ‘nipping out’ in the lunch hour or before they go home. Shopping won’t be dead but it will become part of a day out with shopping becoming part of almost a day trip.

We go to learn: Many of our educational institutions and the place students live is now concentrated in a square mile in and adjacent to the City Centre. This seems to be highly stable and the least affected of all our core city centre themes provided that nothing on the national level, such as Brexit, makes a national difference to the figures.

We go to enjoy ourselves. The City Centre is where our Theatres, Philharmonic, museums and main services are such as the Central Library. This is challenged by the realisation that many people have had of the culinary and cultural delights in many of our district centres. The big institutions will not make and will still attract core business from the region but there will be less local footfall and, for the foreseeable future, far fewer international and UK tourists.

In addition, of course, many more people live in our City Centre. Twenty years ago, it was largely caretakers. Now, in addition to students, many younger professionals live there until they have children and some older people move back when their children have left home.

I believe that the announcement that the Government will make this week about throwing away the ‘Green Book’ and providing new rules for treasury engagement which will benefit the North provides a major opportunity for Liverpool to shine. I believe that if Liverpool grasps the opportunity now with a through review of what the City Centre and our district centres are for, we can lead the way in repurposing our City and providing long term prosperity for our Citizens.

How would I do this? By setting up a long-term strategy guided by a public/private partnership to take the City forward. The Council has begun to do this with a Partnership established to deliver the Liverpool Recovery Plan. The recovery plan is not deigned to be a long-term strategic document but a plan which kick starts our growth out of an immediate slump. The partnership is not intended to have a long-term life and the Partnership is high on well thought through immediate aspiration but lacks the long-term thinking we now require. In addition, it is not clear to me where the political leadership is making an input into the process or whether they are now just signing off officer led ideas which are inputted more by outsiders than by the politicians whose leadership is crucial to long term planning.

That partnership needs to look at:

Where people live. How do we accentuate the trend for people of all ages to live in Town and ensure that there is high quality appropriate accommodation available for them? Do we need an element of residential zoning in or adjacent to our City Centre? How do we create communities out of a multiplicity of unconnected apartment blocks and provide a more diverse offer?

How people work. Which employers and employees will want to work in the Centre? What accommodation of what quality do we currently have? What do wee need? What will we do with the heritage buildings that businesses are likely to move out of?

How people study. Should we extend the concept of the campus shared by a number of institutions down from the new developments at Kensington down Brownlow Hill to the Adelphi area taking in adjacent learning buildings?

How people will shop. Why will they want to come into the City Centre instead of getting a brown box delivery? What else will they want to do to add to their shopping experience.

How District Centres will work. How can we ensure that the work needs of home workers are catered for within easy reach of their homes? How can we ensure that the ‘work, rest and play elements of life are accessible to localities without them impinging too much on residents close to the facilities required?

How will transport connect all this together. Does our public sector infrastructure need changing away from the ‘into the city centre’ bias to increased permeability between district centres?

How will tourism change: For a long time to come there will be less people thinking of jetting around although I would project and immediate splurge of sun seekers post vaccination. Do we need to be more attractive to people within easy reach in the UK and less dependent on foreign visitors?

These are big questions but Liverpool has the intellectual power to answer them and to develop a new vision with a new strategy to ensure that in future we will not measure ourselves against other cities but they will measure themselves against us.

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The UK has a Government of arrogant, incompetent, lying plunderers

Never has a bigger shower of half wits sat around this table. However a bigger question is should all the power of the Country be held by people who sit around this table or be decentralised into localities, regions and nations?

Well what a dreadful few months we have seen in the UK! At least we can say until January 20th that we don’t have the worst Government in the Western World. But even that tiny fig leaf (I’m not being personal Mr Trump) will disappear when Joe Biden is sworn in as President.

Let’s start with the incompetence or was it just lying:

We will deliver 100,000 tests a day by the end of April. Only achieved by including a large number sent in the post that day many of which were not returned.

We will have a world class test and trace system in place by the end of June. There is not one in place yet. The national system is a joke achieving just over 50% contacts whereas local systems deliver 90%+. Almost comically the Tory place woman supposed to be overseeing this charade was only informed after 5 days to self-isolate after contact with an infected individual.

We will have a first-class app suggested at several different dates in the summer. The App is working poorly and slowly. Some of us, even though we have a smart phone, are unable to use it because our phone is too old.

We have put our arms around care homes. No, you didn’t. You sent people to the care homes to die, cared for by staff without proper PPE and having to use bin bags to give themselves some protection. Many of them I turn got infected and died.

Above all, of course, was the failure to get to grips with the virus in the first place and when they did understand it they have consistently refused to take tough action quickly which has led to tougher and longer action thereafter.

There is very little defence from the Tories for this

Let’s go on to the arrogance:

Lord Snooty or Jacob Rees-Mogg as he is otherwise known declaiming patriotic but Victorian era songs to the Commons.

Priti Patel being defended by the PM after a report was issued which clearly showed her to be a bully. This has led to the Prime Minister’s ethics adviser resigning.

Dominic Cummings taking his family for a holiday and checking his eyes on an 80-mile round trip. Not sacked as he should have been but allowed to parade his drivel in the garden of 10 Downing Street.

An attack on the concept of Scottish government as the call for Independence rises based on Brexit and coronavirus blundering.

Entering into the Brexit negotiations firm in the belief that we are an all-powerful Albion which is too important for the EU to do without and then not changing their mind  when they discovered that the UK was not a huge issue in EU eyes although they have made very reason effort to keep us in.

And what about the Plundering?

Well where do we start? £12 billion for the track and trace? No tender, no quality controls, no reasonable results.

Dido Harding being parachuted into a new job redefining Public Health England when she has yet to be successful at any job particularly the T and T system

£600k splurged on a comms company without tender

£20 million plus on commission to someone to act as a middleman for the purchase of PPE from a company with no experience in delivering PPE.

This is all so new to the British system. Like all political systems there has always been a tendency to cronyism; to listening to mates; to providing opportunities to mates and to allowing some contracts to get through in dubious circumstances.

But the UK has never seen anything on this industrial scale of larceny before. Never before has there been a system where Ministers and MPs can get in through the back door for the awarding of contacts on this scale.

So, what can we do about it?

Step one. Ensure that no-one from Eton can hold national public office for the next 50 years. Name one who has not been an arrogant buffoon if you can!

Step two. Break up the power of this centralised state. We have the biggest state control apparatus of any Western democracy with too many decisions being made in Westminster and Whitehall. We need to give more powers to the Scottish, Welsh and Northern Ireland Assemblies and set up regional assemblies with fiscal powers for the 8 regions of England.

Step 3. We need change the relationship between citizens and state with decision making taking place closer to the citizen and with more opportunity for them to get involved.

Step 4. We need to change the tax system and simplify it. Too many people get away with paying too little tax for the needs of the Country leaving too many of us having to pay too much tax in redress. If international companies and hedge fund spivs paid their fair whack there would be plenty for us all to provide the series which society, as a whole, needs.

Step 5. Change the law so that all MPs and Peers have to declare their tax returns so we can see who is getting away with what!!

Does this sound a bit revolutionary? Guilty as charged. What makes me a liberal is that I don’t want to change their elite for mine. I want to see a fairer society and that is only possible if power is dispersed, services are paid for by taxes which have been raised equitably and where everyone has the same opportunities in life from which to potentially benefit.

I think Tony Blair did many good things and was basically, with the obvious exception of Iraq a good thing! But he did not make the fundamental changes that I think are needed if we are to rebalance our communities, country and economy. Unless we do that, we will continue to have a cycle of better and worse government but never an introduction into the cycle of good government.

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Put pressure on businesses to reintroduce home working

The full extent of the problem can be seen here in St Pauls Square. The only dark floor in the building is that where the Liverpool Echo operates from. Why can’t other businesses which are clearly office based adopt the same safe working practices as the Echo?

Today I have written to the Mayor of Liverpool, Joe Anderson, asking for his support in encouraging employers to adopt safe home working practices.

The letter comes after I received emails from employees saying that although they had worked from home successfully during the first lockdown their employers were making them come in on normal working conditions for marginal increases in efficiency. I spent an hour in the City Centre between 7.45 and 8.45 this morning and talked to people about this issue and has suggested a possible link between forced office working and the fact that the two lowest groups of people coming in to be tested are white middle aged men and young professionals.

In the letter I point out that his thinking and mine on these issues entirely overlap, The Government advice, which we both support, is “work at home if you can, go to work if you must”. Of course, that is only advice. It has been left to employers to interpret this. Most employers have interpreted that to maximise the safety of their staff. Others claim that their Covid secured premises are safer for employees than working at home. This is untrue. Going to offices with hundreds of other people is not safe. Even if it were true then it ignores the fact that people have to get to and from the office.

I’ve asked Mayor Anderson what we can do about this. “Can the Council put pressure on the Government to strengthen the lockdown which applies to most of us to one that applies to all of us? Can we publicly draw attention to this appalling state of affairs? Can we name and shame businesses that won’t conform to decent standards?

Every business must come to their own conclusion about this if clear guidelines are not given by central government. But employees this morning were pointing out alternatives such as changing office hours to make transport safer or allowing staff to work from home 2 or 3 days a week but coming in for the remaining time. One suggested that staff should only be allowed in the office if they could show that they had a current negative test reading.

Work situations were the cause of 30% of virus infections before lockdown. If lockdown does not work as well as we all hope it will then one of the reasons for it will be selfish employers who put marginal profit gains before the health needs of their employees and the wider Liverpool community

The full letter to Mayor Anderson is appended here:

Dear Joe,

Businesses forcing their staff to work from the office

Last night you told us at the briefing that the 2 biggest categories of people not taking up the testing opportunities were young professionals and middle-aged white men. I told you that that I had been getting many complaints about people being forced to work at the office when in the first lockdown they had been able to work well from home. I think the two facts are connected.

This morning I spent an hour in the City Centre between 7.45 and 8.45. I spoke to about a dozen people who were predominantly middle-aged white men and young professionals whose employers were making them work standard hours from the office as if the pandemic meant nothing. Of course, the City Centre was not as busy as it usually is but it was a lot, lot busier than I expected it to be.

The Government advice which you and I support, is “work at home if you can, go to work if you must”. Of course, that is only advice. It has been left to employers to interpret. Most employers have interpreted that to maximise the safety of their staff. Others claim that their Covid secured premises are safer for employees than working at home. This is untrue. Going to offices to meet people is not safe. Even if it were true then it ignores the fact that people have to get to and from the office.

You will recall that prior to the Tier 3 lockdown which became the national one 30% of infections were arising in business settings outside the leisure and hostelry sectors. I have no doubt that if the numbers do not come down as much as we need to a major reason will be the moral indifference that some employers have shown to their staff. It is quite clear that this leads straight on to the testing question. Most of these people have not been tested. Their view was, “if we’re safe to work we don’t need to be tested”.

I know you agree with me on this so the question becomes, “what can we do about this?” Can the Council put pressure on the Government to strengthen the lockdown which applies to most of us to one that applies to all of us? Can we publicly draw attention to this appalling state of affairs? Can we name and shame businesses that won’t conform to decent standards?

I have copied this to the Chief Executives of the Chamber of Commerce and the Liverpool Business Improvement District and asking them to take urgent and immediate action on this matter.

We all want to return to normal and the sooner we can all work together in the lockdown the sooner that we can return to that new normality.

I am happy to work with you on any suggestion that you and the team come up with.

Kind regards,

Kemp sig

Cllr Richard Kemp CBE

Lib Dem Leader,

Liverpool City Council

Cc:       Liverpool BID

            Liverpool Chamber of Commerce

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Why I’ve been out with the traffic police today

Today I went out in my ward, accompanied by Cllr Kris Brown, to meet Police Officers doing speed tests in my ward. In just 1 hour they caught 18 people going at least 6 miles over the speed limit. One was doing twice the speed limit on Queens Drive and will have to go to Court to explain why.

50 years ago, last month, I passed my driving test (at the second attempt it must be said). Since then I have received just one speeding ticket. I was doing 37 m.p.h. on Aigburth Road 4 years ago. I thought I was in a 40 mph limit, in fact the limit was 30! I paid my fine BUT also got the signs improved.

I keep to speed limits and observe other laws about drinking and driving, I never touch drugs so that one doesn’t count, wearing my seatbelt and getting proper MOTs and insurance. I do this not because I am some sort of goody-goody or a blind follower of the law. I do it above all because I know that these laws keep both me and other road users, including pedestrians and cyclists safe.

Speed does kill. If a motorist hits a pedestrian at 20 miles per hour the pedestrian will almost certainly live. In fact, depending on how the collision took place might suffer no more than a few bruises. If the motorist hits a pedestrian at 40 miles per hour the pedestrian will either be killed or suffer terrible, life changing injuries. A few years ago, I visited a centre for people with brain disabilities many caused by traffic accidents. One person who was before his accident a rising star in the legal profession couldn’t even feed himself properly.

Just look at these figures. There were 25,945 serious injuries in road traffic collisions reported to the police in 2019. There was a total of 153,158 casualties of all severities in reported road traffic accidents in 2019. Of these 1,752 were fatal injuries. Of these ‘only’ 746 were inside a car. The rest of the fatalities were mostly caused by cars on pedestrians, cyclists and motorcyclists.

Today I went out with the Traffic Police in my ward accompanies by Cllr Kris Brown who will be the Lib Dem candidate for Police Commissioner next year. In just one hour with a camera overlooking Queens Drive the Police recorded 18 vehicles going not just over the limit but over the 36-mph limit which triggers action. One car was travelling at 58 mph almost twice the legal limit. That driver will be summoned to Court to explain their actions. It may well be that they will lose their licence.

Even worse were the figures for last Friday. In two one-hour sessions at the same spot 90 speeders were recorded. On the same day the team worked Brodie Avenue and a further 90 speeders were caused in 2 one-hour sessions.

I spoke to the police officers. I have once seen a fatality in a collision and its not a pretty site. The officers who had 17 and 15 years’ experience in the unit were saying how they remembered every fatal incident and could guide me round Merseyside based on the fatalities they had seen.

We discussed the knock-on effect of this.  They are people who have to do a job they I would not want to do. They have to knock on the door and tell people on the other side that the dad, daughter, mum, son, fiancée or friend who had the house full of life hours earlier would never come home.  One death or serious injury can affect dozens of people often for life.

I go regularly to a service held in either of the two Liverpool Cathedrals where there is a service for families and friends who have seen people die in collisions. I spoke to one who was on her 20th annual pilgrimage to the service to remember her son dead at the age of 20. Every day she thought of her son. She thought of him at Christmas and birthdays in particular. She mourned the loss of grandchildren who would never invade her house looking for treats!

This morning a woman came along and screamed at the officers because if she got any more points, she was likely to lose her licence. I had little sympathy. No one has to speed. For a first offence everyone can take a speed awareness course for £80 instead of getting a fine and three points. After that It’s automatic points. Go way over the speed limit its almost certainly a court case. To get 12 points you must either have been stooped a number of times or you must have been committing a smaller number of serious offences.

Some people who read this might blame me instead of the Police. I have certainly reported to them several offending ‘hot spots’ and discussed with them the best approach. If you really want to blame me or the Police perhaps you should start by looking in the mirror. No-one asked you to speed. The speeding laws are there for a reason and that reason is to save lives, collisions and ruined lives. If you still want to blame me then blame on. I know that the actions that I have instigated with the support of the Police will save the lives of my residents.

My thanks go to the staff of the Merseyside Police Traffic Unit who are doing their jobs in keeping streets safe and who don’t often get thanked. I’m delighted that in the near future there will be even more of them using the best technology to keep our streets safe.

Drive legally and you’ll never have a fine or perhaps, like me, you’ll get a ticket every 50 years because at one time you should have been more aware of your surroundings.

Drive at the right speed in the right way and in the right conditions and you can be a good citizen. Drive too fast at the wrong time and you could be a killer.

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Trump is imperilling global democracy

As Shakespeare so wisely observed, “The evil men do lives after them. The good is oft interred with their bones”. The baleful influence of Trump will be felt globally for many years to come.

A few years ago, I was at an Afro-Cities Conference in the Moroccan Capital, Rabat. As with most conferences there was a big exhibition with all sorts of organisations, businesses and Countries selling their wares. One of the stands was taken by a group called Republicans Abroad. As I looked at their literature it became clear that they were a sort of charitable wing of the Republican Party of the USA. When I asked them what they did they told me that their aim was to help develop democracies in ‘the third world!’

Never being to too concerned with diplomacy I asked them a simple question, “wouldn’t it be better if you started in Florida?” I’m afraid they didn’t understand the question. Like so many they thought that their system was so good they didn’t need to challenge it. They just couldn’t understand that the ‘hanging chads’ in Florida had weakened the view that the world had of the robustness of American democracy.

I have thought repeatedly about that incident in the past few days. Hanging chads are as nothing to the onslaught on due democratic processes launched by Donald Trump in the past few months which have been heightened since he so clearly lost the American Presidential Election.

Of course, this is likely to create problems in the USA. There are those who cannot conceive that Trump the Messiah could possibly lose an election. Nowhere have I seen a sight more pitiful than the people launching prayers at the Pennsylvania counting offices to try and get God to deliver the election to Trump. God clearly and wisely decided not to intercede.

As I have watched the situation reasonably dispassionately it is quite clear that the election has been very efficiently organised by trained, thoughtful and caring government officials at state and county level. Like their counterparts in the UK they take pride in their professional impartiality. I have no idea how our counting staff and election workers vote and I am entirely unconcerned by it. What I do know that the election process itself is scrupulously impartial and the votes are added up correctly within miniscule proportions of error.

The American process has been absolutely transparent with observers able to watch the votes being counted. National impartial bodies responsible for the vote have declared them to be fair and free. Trained election observers from other Countries have declared them to be fair and free. The national organisation for election managers has declared them to be fair and free. Most county, and state politicians of both Parties have declared them to be fair and free.

The only major figure who has challenged this is Trump who is supported by a number of Republicans who dare not oppose him although more are doing so on a daily basis. This is above all America’s problem and I strongly hope that justice will prevail and that Joe Biden and Kamala Harris will have their victory endorsed through the labyrinthine processes of the US constitution. “All’s well that ends well”, you might say. But you would be wrong!

What happens in America casts a heavy shadow all over the World. Look at what’s happening in Hong Kong where the Chinese authorities are effectively saying why bother with democracy when you can see the chaos in the USA. Here democratically elected legislators have been thrown out of the Legislative Assembly because they chose to change the autocratic rule of the Chinese Communist Party.

Democracy takes time to instil and needs to have a number of checks and balances to make it work. It needs to have politicians prepared to state their case to the people but go when their time is up. It needs laws which are fair about the conduct of elections. It needs courts who will neutrally enforce those laws. It needs a free press to truthfully report what is happening both pre and post-election. Above all it needs a population who both believe in democracy and have faith that their collective will shall prevail.

Many corrupt politicians will now look at the American fiascos and feel empowered by it. “If Trump can challenge and vilify the election and its result in his Country why should I not do the same” they will rightly conclude and ask. There have been many cases recently where changes in power have been bitterly contested. I think particularly of the Gambia some three years ago where the President refused to move until World opinion including thoughts and actions from the UK and USA forced him to reconsider. There are at least four more states in Africa where democracy is hanging by a thread and three in S America.

The ability of the USA to intervene in corrupt democracies, especially in South America which they think of as their back yard, is extremely reduced. The USA has continued to intervene in Brazil, Ecuador and other South American countries. Ostensibly they do it to protect democracy although I suspect it is more about their own security. The number of people who will listen to them in future will be hugely reduced.

American influence in global affairs has been on the slide for the past two decades although the Obama period steadied the decline. Trump has hastened its demise as THE world power. People have looked with horror at the sexism, racism and protectionism of this MAGA politician. I want America to be a great power which could lead the ‘West’. It is, however, its own actions from illegal calls about an army of immigrants to a wall building President and now a challenge to its own democratic processes, that are dragging it down quickly.

I don’t think out system is perfect in the UK by any means. For most elections we have a poor system which magnifies small leads and creates governments at all levels which does not represent the voting intention of the people. Our own national government has an 80 seat majority on 42% of the vote.

However, after all my 53 years I can definitely say that votes in the UK are distributed fairly, looked after fairly and counted fairly. The idea that elections should end up with court challenge after court challenge is just amazing and unheard of here with very few exceptions over the centuries.

To change the words of Shakespeare and convert them to apply to Trump, “the evil that Trump does will live after his Presidency, the good will be fast forgotten in the USA and the World”.

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Work together when we can – oppose each other when we must

You would expect Ed Davey and I to have similar ideas and work together. What surprises many is that today He, Munira Wilson MP and I found that on two crucial issues, dealing with the Pandemic and its aftermath and council financial problems we could all work together with similar ideas and determination

Today I chaired a Zoom Meeting between Ed Davey, the Leader of the Liberal Democrats; Munira Wilson MP, our health spokesperson in the Commons and Joe Anderson who is, of course, the Labour Mayor of Liverpool. None-Partisan observers of the meeting concluded that it was interesting, genial and timely.

If you were to have watched it you might well have asked, “What’s the difference between the Labour and Lib Dems then?” The answer is that there are many differences between us both in Liverpool and nationally. Today however, we were discussing three specific areas where there clearly is only a small difference of opinion. How to fight the Coronavirus Pandemic; how to deal with the appalling state of Council finances nationally; and how to rebuild our economies post-Covid.

On these three issues we have a large measure of agreement:

Fighting Covid-19. Booth agrees that there should have been an earlier lockdown which would have been more effective and shorter. Both Parties believe that the amount being given for those who self-isolate is far too small. Both parties believe both that there has been a huge waste of money in things like PPE and the grossly incompetent SERCO track and trace contract and also that large amounts of cash have been inappropriately or illegally sent to Tory linked companies.

As we go forward there are important lessons to be learned from how Liverpool has handled the pandemic and especially how we were the pilot for the first mass testing operation. Making mistakes, unless they were stupid ones, is nothing to be ashamed of. Liverpool had to do things quickly without much preparation time. Of course, it would have done some things differently given time but it didn’t have time. The job now is to learn from those mistakes and build the right paths into our thinking and methodologies for the future.

The Council’s finances have been battered by the virus. We have to spend more on a variety of different issues and have lost income in others. In March we were told by MHCLG Secretary, Robert Jenrick to “do what it takes”. We have and are getting extra cash but nowhere near what we need to do what needs to be done. This year is bad enough but we should cope. The cash forecasts for the next two years look almost impossible to manage.

That is why I have agreed to work with the Mayor. We will conduct a line by line review of our budget but will also challenge other and our staff with a key question. “why do we do this in this way?” We need to think of some of the good lessons learned though the pandemic about communications; IT; robotics and the strength of the Liverpool community to do different things and to do things differently.

Our economy is battered with two of our key sectors tourism and hospitality shedding companies and jobs. Almost 100 companies in the hospitality sector have closed for good. Others may do so when the lockdown ends if they, “don’t get a good Christmas”.

We agree on much of how those jobs should be replaced and how the UK economy as a whole will prosper. The economic fightback for the Country will only come about if our big cities prosper. We agreed to day that the recovery must be green-led with a variety of industries which build on new technologies to promote green power and green products.

With some much that we agree on what is there left to disagree on? Well lots actually. Already I have had some angry emails in block capitals saying things like, “YOU ARE LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION OPPOSE ANDERSON!*?” Most of these complaints come from people who are concerned about the actions of our regeneration department over the last 10 years. I probably agree with most of the things they say about this; the way the World Heritage Statius has been treated; the ridiculous Zipwire proposal; the potential Redrowisation of some of our green spaces; the dodgy developers that came into the city and some of the deals that were undertaken without proper oversight have shamed our City.

Eventually some officers, Mayor Anderson and leading Labour Councillors will need to be held to account publicly for some of these issues.

I cannot comment any more on some of them for the obvious reason is that they are the subject of Police action and internal actions by the Council. However, that has not stopped me from speaking out over the issues over the past 10 years and does not stop me speaking about them now when I feel that it won’t prejudice the afore-mentioned enquiries.

So, my Liberal Democrat Colleagues and I have decided to work with Mayor Anderson when we can and oppose him when we must. We believe that this is not only the right thing to do but it is what the people of Liverpool expect us to. There are no easy answers to the long-term problems that we face. Good effective and lasting long-term answers are best created when people challenge each other appropriately and conduct those challenges positively and not negatively.

Next May the Lib Dems as the only effective Party in Liverpool that can come up with the new ideas and the campaigns to back them will challenge Labour for every vote, every seat and every position. In the meantime, we don’t think they are our enemy but our opponents. When we can work with them on the most pressing issues we will continue to do so.

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Protect our Parking Enforcement Staff – Plea to Council and Chief Constable

Our parking staff do a very necessary job to keep our kerbsides and pavements safe. The Police and Council should take action when they are malevolently abused

Today I have written to the Chief Constable and the City Solicitor asking for more help for the Council’s parking enforcement staff following an incident reported to me which occurred last week.

In the Incident when after being given a ticket the recipient had both harangued and chased our enforcement staff for 40 minutes. After the staff wisely walked away from the conflict the recipient had got in his car and followed them making dangerous turns and movements. In the end they had to resolve the incident by getting in their van and leaving their assigned patch.

When I asked them if they had reported this for action, they just shrugged their shoulders and said it was not worth it. When they had reported similar actions before no action had been taken by the Police. They also appeared to have had little support from the Council.

I think that this is wrong. They are used to ‘effing and blinding’ but this is a much more malevolent set of actions and I believe that the Council is being negligent in not, from time to time, taking action in these cases and publicising them but also that the Police could do more to assist. The Council would not tolerate such a level of abuse for any other staff and I see no reason why these staff should not be supported.

These staff keep our pavements and kerbsides safe and free from congestion. They deserve our support.

The full letter to the Chief Constable is attached

Andrew Cooke,

Chief Constable,

By E-mail

9th November 2020

Dear Andy,

Protecting our Enforcement Officers

Last week I went around the Allerton Road area with our supervisor for parking enforcement. I believe that these officers perform a necessary function in keeping our roads and pavements safe and our shopping centres able to use parking for commercial purposes.

Whilst I was out with them, I was told of an incident the previous day when after being given a ticket the recipient had both harangued and chased our enforcement staff for 40 minutes. After the staff wisely walked away from the conflict the recipient had got in his car and followed them making dangerous turns and movements. In they end they had to resolve the incident by getting in their van and leaving their assigned patch.

These are staff who are used to abuse. Effing and blinding does not especially bother them. They just shrug it off when it happens. This however appears to be a different order of malevolence. When I asked them if they had reported this for action, they just shrugged their shoulders and said it was not worth it. When they had reported similar actions before no action had been taken by the Police. They also appeared have had little support from the Council.

I believe that this is wrong and that both the Police and the Council should have a zero-tolerance approach to abuse of hard-working council staff who try and defuse every situation that they can. These staff are properly trained and do not seek confrontation and try to calm down every situation.

I would be grateful if you would discuss this urgently with the City Solicitor who is copied in to this. I know that the police are hard stretched but this seems a necessary action. The Council appears, in my view to be negligent in not supporting our staff properly in these situations when they would certainly do so for any other member of staff.

I look forward to hearing from you.

Cllr Richard Kemp CBE

Lib Dem Leader,

Liverpool City Council

Cc:       City Solicitor

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