Earlier today I sent the letter below to Mayor Anderson and followed this up with a phone conversation this afternoon.
I am pleased to say that he is in full agreement as to the need to get Liverpool on the front for the post Virus economic, social and climate change environment and that the Council should put together the sort of partnership of the sectors that I include in the letter.
He feels that it is a little too early to think about this yet as many of the people we want to involve are key decision makers but that we can discuss it in about two weeks and see how we might take it forward.
Together this City can weather the storm and come out stronger. In the meantime, let’s batten down the hatches and look after each other.
My letter to Mayor Anderson
Taking Liverpool Forward
I hope things are well with you and yours. I have been individually been passing on my thanks to some of the Council’s staff that I have encountered who are doing marvellous things in difficult times to keep our much-needed public services going.
In particular as I have been reviewing the national advice to Councils and our partners as to how to deal with Coronavirus and its aftermath, I have been struck by the way that our Adult Services and health teams are either already doing what is suggested or, indeed, have already exceeded. So special thanks to Cllr Paul Brant and Martin Farran the Director of Adult Services.
But I think that in addition to dealing with the hectic present we need to think of the mid and long-term future of our City. Before the virus struck, you and I had already discussed the need to set up a ‘Future of the City’ commission, task force or grouping which would involve our Universities, Private sector, voluntary and community sectors as well as our own and other organisation’s public sector staff. Although we had not finalised the mechanism for this, we had agreed the principle of it.
Whatever the need pre-Crisis I think there is an even greater need now. I have no doubt that the coronavirus will make massive changes to the way we do things permanently. In particular there will be changes in the way we work; what we buy and how we buy things; how we take our pleasure; and how we take our holidays. All this, of course, accompanied by an increased realisation of the consequences of climate change and the real opportunity presented by the afore mentioned changes to radically tackle the environmental problems which are killing both us and our planet.
I think, even now, that we need to marshal our thoughts on the City’s future. If we can get ahead of the curve of change, we can make Liverpool prosper. If we don’t then Liverpool may fall behind others in the economic and social change that will occur.
Liverpool is lucky in that we have 3 great universities in the City. In the immediate aftermath of working out who got which degrees at which level and who they are going to invite to be students here next year there will be considerable intellectual capacity that could be employed to answer key questions about:
Changes in transport need and practice
Changes in working practices
The opportunities and threats of Artificial Intelligence both in economic terms but also in the delivery of public services;
The move to a carbon free City and wider economy
The opportunities and threats of an ageing society
The need for immigration to bring in skills
The need to change our education system to meet modern needs
The effects of changes in leisure and pleasure
Changing patterns of consumption and purchase.
What sort of housing will be needed in the future and how to we plan for it and ensure it happens in a fragmented delivery system?
It’s not only in our universities that we have some capacity and knowledge. The way that our business and voluntary sectors have rapidly adjusted to changing times shows just how much they too contribute to the debates and discussions.
The virtual meeting of our planning committee this week shows just how much can be done through modern technology to enable us to work together and produce decisions and consensus.
These are discussions therefore, that both need to be taken and we can do so in a City blessed with people who can contribute to those discussions. I would be delighted to work with you on discussion about what; who; how; and when by which we can set these discussions in action.
For the first time ever Liverpool’s Planning Committee met today in a virtual format using Skype. Despite some IT teething difficulties, we managed quite well to hear each other and contribute. For legal reasons we could not make decisions today but only recommendations to the Chief Executive who will use his delegated powers for these applications. We are hoping that in the very near future the Government will move regulations to make virtual meetings decision making for the period of the Coronavirus problem time.
Of course, it was not as good as a proper committee. We could not hear from objectors and although we saw presentations, we could not hear from the developers either. It has however enabled our business to go on and for councillors to be involved in the process.
The ‘decisions’ of the committee will be put on the Council’s website in due course. In the short term these are the substantive items and how I voted on them as the sole opposition member present.
The items in normal type are the description of the application. The bold italic after the item indicated my inputs.
4. Former Liverpool Festival Gardens Site, Riverside Drive, Liverpool L17 7HW (St Michaels Ward)
To consider a recommendation that Application No. 19F/3136 in respect of Former Liverpool Festival Gardens Site, Riverside Drive, Liverpool L17 7HW (St Michaels Ward), to carry out operational works to land within Liverpool Festival Gardens to include ground remediation, service and drainage removal / diversion, removal of unsuitable and surplus materials, installation of gas venting infrastructure, construction of a temporary internal haul road and re-landscaping of Southern Grasslands, be approved subject to the conditions proposed by the Head of Planning.
I supported this but only after asking a series of questions relating to what was in the material that would be moved, how much would leave the site and the safety issues relating to the air quality whilst the work is being undertaken over an 18-month period. The officers agreed that it would be important to keep nearby residents informed bother before and during work on site.
5. The Royal Daffodil Boat, Canning Dock, Adjacent to Strand Street, Liverpool 3 (Central Ward)
To consider a recommendation that Application No. 19F/1917 in respect of The Royal Daffodil Boat, Canning Dock, Adjacent to Strand Street, Liverpool 3 (Central Ward), to carry out refurbishment works to the boat formerly known as “The Royal Daffodil” and sited in Canning Dock to create a mixed-use restaurant, bar and event space to the promenade deck and main deck (Use Classes A3 /A4, Sui Generis); the provision of a mixed-use restaurant, bar and event space (Use Classes A3 /A4, Sui Generis) or 13 no. guest accommodation rooms (Use Class C1) to the lower deck; and the provision of a mixed-use restaurant, bar and event space (Use Classes A3 /A4, Sui Generis) to part of the bridge deck with the provision of a heritage museum space (Use Class Sui Generis) to the wheelhouse area of the bridge deck, be approved subject to the conditions proposed by the Head of Planning.
I supported this after asking a series of questions about noise and traffic matters. It was made clear that the applicant has many questions to answer about these and other issues before permission was finally agreed by planning staff.
6. Land bounded by Laurel Road and Laburnum Road, Liverpool (Kensington & Fairfield Ward)
To consider a recommendation that Application No. 19F/3225 in respect of Land bounded by Laurel Road and Laburnum Road, Liverpool (Kensington & Fairfield Ward), to erect 48 no. dwellings with associated works, be approved subject to a Legal agreement and the conditions proposed by the Head of Planning. (Pages 75 – 101)
I supported this.
7. Land at Blackstock Street & Paul Street, (Opposite Nos 25-31 Blackstock St), Liverpool 3 (Kirkdale Ward)
To consider a recommendation that Application No. 19F/2446 in respect of Land at Blackstock Street & Paul Street, (Opposite Nos 25-31 Blackstock St), Liverpool 3 (Kirkdale Ward), to erect 11-storey residential block containing 560 units consisting of 224 studios, 264 1 bed units and 72no 2 bed units, with associated access, servicing, parking and landscaping, be approved subject to a Legal Agreement and the conditions proposed by the Head of Planning.
I voted against this. The application was for a large number of apartments which are between 10 and 20% smaller than the national space guidelines from the Government which I consider are already to small. I said that we should use the breathing space which is being afforded by the coronavirus outbreak and its aftermath to raise standards so we build the right stuff to the right standard.
I consider it unlikely that there will be much building going on anywhere in the next few years and times will be especially hard in Liverpool where we have an overhang of far too many empty apartments. Let’s use that time to drive up standards for when building work will start again.
8. Royal Liver Building, Georges Pier Head, Liverpool L3 1HU (Central Ward)
To consider a recommendation that Application No. 20F/0083 in respect of Royal Liver Building, Georges Pier Head, Liverpool L3 1HU (Central Ward), to carry out internal alterations on ground and lower ground floors to facilitate a gym (Use Class D2) alongside a barber shop and hair salon (Use Class A1), be approved subject to a Legal Agreement and the conditions proposed by the Head of Planning.
I supported this subject to details being given of the type of signage which would be used. It must be in keeping with the style of the building which is a listed building.
9. Land at Lineside Close, Liverpool L25 2UD (Belle Vale Ward) To consider a recommendation that Application No. 19F/3009 in respect of Land at Lineside Close, Liverpool L25 2UD (Belle Vale Ward), to erect 20 no. dwellings with new access road and associated parking and landscaping, be approved subject to a Legal Agreement and the conditions proposed by the Head of Planning.
10. 62-78 Lord Street, City Centre, Liverpool L2 1TD (Central Ward) To consider a recommendation that Application No. 20F/0562 in respect of 6278 Lord Street, City Centre, Liverpool L2 1TD (Central Ward), to change of use of upper floors from vacant offices to 58-bedroom hostel (Use Class Sui Generis) and carry out associated alterations, be approved subject to a Legal Agreement and the conditions proposed by the Head of Planning.
I supported this application
11. Hesketh House Care Home, Old Mill Lane, Liverpool L15 8LN (Wavertree Ward)
To consider a recommendation a recommendation that Application No. 19F/2821 in respect of Hesketh House Care Home, Old Mill Lane, Liverpool L15 8LN (Wavertree Ward), to erect 9no. dwelling houses with landscaping and carry out associated highway improvement works to access way including car parking, be approved subject to the conditions proposed by the Head of Planning.
I supported this application
12. Fruit Exchange Building, Victoria Street, Liverpool L2 6RE (Central Ward)
To consider a recommendation that Application No. 19F/2260 in respect of Fruit Exchange Building, Victoria Street, Liverpool L2 6RE (Central Ward), to carry out internal and external alterations in connection with the conversion of the existing vacant building into an 85 bedroom hotel, with associated restaurant and bar, be approved subject to the conditions proposed by the Head of Planning. (Pages 204 – 225)
I supported this application which will bring a listed building back into use after many years whilst preserving the fruit exchange itself.
13. Former Bridge Inn P.H., 162 Childwall Valley Road, Liverpool L25 2PL (Belle Vale Ward)
To consider a recommendation that Application No. 19F/1932 in respect of Former Bridge Inn P.H., 162 Childwall Valley Road, Liverpool L25 2PL (Belle Vale Ward), to demolish existing buildings and erect A1 retail unit along with access and servicing arrangements including new HGV egress onto Kings Drive, car parking and landscaping, new substation and associated works, be approved subject to a Legal Agreement and the conditions proposed by the Head of Planning.
This item was withdrawn by the applicants
14. The Plaza, 100 Old Hall Street, Liverpool L3 9QJ (Central Ward) To consider a recommendation that Application No. 19F/2591 in respect of The Plaza, 100 Old Hall Street, Liverpool L3 9QJ (Central Ward), to change use of part of ground floor of building from offices (Use Class B1) to restaurant/bar (Use Class A3/A4), along with associated external seating area to Rigby Street frontage and external alterations to St Paul’s Square entrance including replacement of canopy, relocation forward of recessed curtain walling at third floor level (resulting in the creation of 258 sqm B1 office space), the removal / replacement of glazing and insertion of sliding doors, erection / replacement of parapet walls and railings to create roof terraces, along with installation of plant and other associated works, be approved subject to the conditions proposed by the Head of Planning.
I supported this application
15. 369 Smithdown Rd, Liverpool L15 3JJ (Greenbank Ward) To consider a recommendation that Application No. 19F/2582 in respect of 369 Smithdown Rd, Liverpool L15 3JJ (Greenbank Ward), to use retail unit as hot food takeaway opening between 09:30 hours and 23:00 hours, erect 3 storey extension to rear in connection with reconfiguration of flats above and install extraction flue to rear, be approved subject to the conditions proposed by the Head of Planning. (Pages 273 – 283) 16. 360 Smithdown Road, Wavertree, Liverpool L15 5AN (Greenbank Ward)
I supported this item
To consider a recommendation that Application No. 19F/2939 in respect of 360 Smithdown Road, Wavertree, Liverpool L15 5AN (Greenbank Ward), to use post office as a post office/cafe/restaurant (sui generis) opening between 09.00 and 1800 hours and erect extraction flue to rear, be approved subject to the conditions proposed by the Head of Planning.
I supported this application which ensure that the Penny Lane Post Office stays open
17. Site on Network Rail land, north of Orrell Park Station and to the rear of properties 45-57 on Caldy Road, Liverpool 9 (Fazakerley Ward)
To consider a recommendation that Application No. 20F/0035 in respect of Site on Network Rail land, north of Orrell Park Station and to the rear of properties 45-57 on Caldy Road, Liverpool 9 (Fazakerley Ward), to install a telecommunication mast, comprising 4 no. antenna, plus one electricity cabinet and associated equipment, to support and enhance internet connectivity for the future Merseyrail fleet, be approved subject to the conditions proposed by the Head of Planning.
I supported this application
18. Site on Network Rail land, north of the A5090 and to the rear of dwellings 21-31 Brewster Street, Bootle, Liverpool 20 (Kirkdale Ward)
To consider a recommendation that Application No. 20F/0038 in respect of Site on Network Rail land, north of the A5090 and to the rear of dwellings 21-31 Brewster Street, Bootle, Liverpool 20 (Kirkdale Ward), to install a telecommunication mast, comprising 4 no. antenna, plus one electricity cabinet and associated equipment, to support and enhance internet connectivity for the future Merseyrail fleet, be approved subject to the conditions proposed by the Head of Planning. (Pages 305 – 315)
19. Site on Network Rail land, north of Rice Lane Station and to the rear of U26 Clothing Wear (clothing Store), Rice Lane, Liverpool 9 (Warbreck Ward)
To consider a recommendation that Application No. 20F/0042 in respect of Site on Network Rail land, north of Rice Lane Station and to the rear of U26 Clothing Wear (clothing Store), Rice Lane, Liverpool 9 (Warbreck Ward), to install a telecommunication mast, comprising 4 no. antenna, plus one electricity cabinet and associated equipment, to support and enhance internet connectivity for the future Merseyrail fleet, be approved subject to the conditions proposed by the Head of Planning.
I supported this application
20. Site on Network Rail land, north of Long Lane (B5187) and to the rear of Archbishop Beck Catholic Sports College, Fazakerley, Liverpool 9 (Fazakerley Ward)
To consider a recommendation that Application No. 20F/0046 in respect of Site on Network Rail land, north of Long Lane (B5187) and to the rear of Archbishop Beck Catholic Sports College, Fazakerley, Liverpool 9 (Fazakerley Ward), to install a telecommunication mast, comprising 4 no. antenna, plus one electricity cabinet and associated equipment, to support and enhance internet connectivity for the future Merseyrail fleet, be approved subject to the conditions proposed by the Head of Planning.
I supported this application
21. Site on Network Rail land, north of Adlam Park and Garden, Sherwood’s Lane, Fazakerley, Liverpool 10 (Fazakerley Ward)
To consider a recommendation that Application No. 20F/0050 in respect of Site on Network Rail land, north of Adlam Park and Garden, Sherwood’s Lane, Fazakerley, Liverpool 10 (Fazakerley Ward), to install a telecommunication mast, comprising 4 no. antenna, plus one electricity cabinet and associated equipment, to support and enhance internet connectivity for the future Merseyrail fleet, be approved subject to the conditions proposed by the Head of Planning.
I supported this application
22. Vacant land at Lee Park Avenue, Ringway Road & Woodlee Road, Liverpool L25 3RS (Belle Vale Ward)
To consider a recommendation that Application No. 19F/3203 in respect of Vacant land at Lee Park Avenue, Ringway Road & Woodlee Road, Liverpool L25 3RS (Belle Vale Ward), to erect 10no. dwellings and 4no. apartments with associated parking spaces and landscaping, be approved subject to a Legal Agreement and the conditions proposed by the Head of Planning.I supported this application
Radix are a think tank of which I thoroughly approve. Existing to service the intellectual processes of the radical centre it continually produces thought promoting stuff.
This is a guest blog that they have written to start us thinking about how we recoup the vasts sums of money that the government is rightly putting out to both public and private sectors. We need to learn the lessons of past bail outs where the Government stood the losses and the private sector moved on to enhanced profits. I can be contacted as usual at email@example.com. Radix can be contacted via the buttons given at the end of the Blog.
Once again, vast amounts of taxpayer money are to be made available to bail out companies struck by the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.
It is right that governments step in to mitigate the economic meltdown effects of the crisis. The nature and scale of the economic support being provided is to be commended. As is the action by a number of businesses to mobilise their resources to help combat the pandemic.
The government also has a duty to ensure that taxpayers are treated fairly; that we do not have a repeat of the 2008 crisis where taxpayers carry the downside while others benefit from any eventual upside.
Yet, unlike others, the UK government has, so far, not attached much conditionality to any bailouts.
Here we put forward five suggestions:
1. Stock ownership not debt
The UK government has already hinted that any bailout will likely be in the form of taking equity positions in bailed out companies rather than debt. We believe that this, or similar alternatives such as convertible bonds, is crucial.
2. Employment Conditionalities
Some governments have already announced that support for companies will be conditional on companies not letting any workers go during this period. We believe that similar conditionalities should be applied in the UK.
3. Tax Avoidance
A number of larger companies that are now hoping to be bailed out by taxpayers have, for years, built tax avoidance structures to minimize their UK tax liabilities. It is time to have real conversations about dismantling such tax structures and ensuring that bailed out companies have a meaningful effective UK tax rate.
Solidarity has to be a two-way street
4. Blocking Takeovers
The meltdown in equity markets has the potential to drive a surge in wealth inequality.
As private equity firms and those with private wealth leverage that wealth at near zero interest rates, they have the potential to scoop up many companies at bargain basement prices with large subsequent gains.
In Europe, governments have already indicated that they will not let their industrial base be taken over.
“I say to all those people in hedge funds and elsewhere who are looking forward to acquiring one or the other [German firms] on the cheap — make no mistake, we are determined to stand by our companies.”
Peter Altmaier German Minister for Economic Affairs and Energy
We believe the UK government should be committed to doing the same?
5. Stock Buybacks
At RADIX, we have long argued that large scale stock buybacks should be banned – as they were in the US until the 1980s.
Many corporations are in the poor financial state they are in today because they have blown all financial reserves on stock buy backs. The US airline industry spent an astounding 115 per cent of their free cash flow on share buybacks since 2014 (apart from their regular dividends). Many corporations are now left financially naked and dependent on taxpayers to make up for their lack of financial resilience.
The European Central Bank has already instructed European corporations to stop all dividends and stock buybacks until October. We believe it is time to stop large scale stock buybacks permanently.
RADIX is a think tank for the radical centre of contemporary politics. We exist to challenge conventional wisdom; to be provocative enough to shake institutions out of their complacency; to translate the dynamism, creativity and human potential of our age into practical policy solutions.
We are not affiliated to any particular political party and welcome independent-minded people from all parties and none.
We are a UK registered educational charity (Registration Number 1167393)
In my last blog I looked at the environmental improvements that we might make if we learn the lessons of the coronavirus lock down. In this blog I am trying to begin to think through what this might mean in the ways that we live our lives as individuals, families and communities.
Behavioural scientists tell us that if we stop doing a bad habit for 21days we are very likely to break that habit. If we keep to a new good habit for 21 days, we are likely to keep it up and for it to become a new part of our lifestyle. Our habits, good and bad are going to be broken for a lot longer than 21 days and the likelihood is that many will want to continue with the ‘good’ things that they have started doing and not do the ‘bad’ things they have been prevented from doing.
Work in the future
I suspect that many people, having been given the opportunity to work from home will want to carry on doing so. This should be supported because:
They will be more productive if they are not facing long and nasty commutes;
They will be more family oriented and strong families are a corner stone of our society;
There will be a huge environmental saving as people cut down on travel although there will be some environmental losses as more individual homes will need to be heated etc during the day.
Not everyone will have a job which can easily be done at home and not everyone has a home that can easily be worked from. I can do it because I have a relatively large house with only two of us in it and my wife always socially distances herself from me by working from her play room while I work from mine!
I also suspect that we will move much of our spending focus from making things to doing things. There is a huge need for more social carers. We will perhaps be wanting more stuff for gardens and hobbies which can be undertaken quietly at home. We will want more education and interest activities. Hasn’t it been marvellous the way places like Chester Zoo and other places which cannot stay open for people have been doing streaming of animals and setting up quizzes and other things which have kept kids occupied?
Doing more from home will involved structural changes in investment particularly in the field of IT. Companies will have to pay more for home kit and there is a clear problem with Wi-Fi bandwidth in some areas.
Pleasure in the future
So, we now can’t get smashed until 05.00 in the morning. I’ll miss this terribly (not!)
But it’s not only pub and club users that will be subject to a culture shock but many other areas of our none work lives. Retail therapy will be hit for a long time. Even if the shops open again after 3 months, they won’t necessarily be running properly because of the discontinuation of long supply chains many of them from China. We already know that there won’t be as many toys in place at Christmas time because of that lead in from design to production to delivery. Similar issues with clothing.
We cannot fly to the Sun in Spain or Italy for months and are beginning to learn the benefits not only of our own localities but also of our regions and country. Will we use our own facilities more? It’s years since I have been to the Lady Lever Gallery in Ellesmere Port and 3 or 4 since I went to Sudley House which I can walk to in 30 minutes.
Last Summer Erica and I had a great 5 days in Llandudno where we basked in sun as hot as Spain but got there in an hour. Have we just got into the habit of going to Spain etc and can we now rediscover and holiday in nearby venues.
On the plus side many people are finding new, cheap and local things to do. People are being encouraged to go to parks providing they don’t mingle with other people. I saw a Tweet yesterday from someone who said they hadn’t been in Calderstones Park for years and had forgotten how beautiful it is.
There is an upsurge in reading and music appreciation. I know this partly from Twitter but partly because I have set up a book and CD exchange at my front gate and it is proving to be very popular.
Many people have also started to do remote learning on a range of subjects. Some of these are subjects from scratch; some are refreshing school work and some are picking up learning dropped aside because of the pressure of life.
At the moment although there is a huge problem in the hospitality industry our local restaurants near Penny Lane are continuing to do well because although they have no diners, they have either expanded or initiated a takeaway service and these are proving to be very popular. People say they will remember this localised service and the relationships they have created into the future.
Of course, I don’t expect this idyllic way of life to continue. The Clubs will reopen; the shops will fill with imported rubbish and we’ll fly out to the Costas. But will we want to drink, eat, shop and holiday in the way that we did. On the 21-day rule will we learn to spend at least some of our time and money differently?
What will that mean to council thinking?
It’s obviously too soon to tell but the longer that the disruption lasts the more profound the changes will be. If more people do work from home what will happen to the city market not only for offices but also all the social and support infrastructure which support offices and their workers. If people work from home more what investment will be needed in their communities to enable them to do it properly.
If we won’t be going to town and city centres for leisure as much what will we need to provide in our suburbs and small towns to give local facilities, pleasures and opportunities.
What is the future of our High Streets if we do less in town but still want to buy less stuff? What will they look like in a few years’ time given the changes that were already in place? Are suburbs and ‘none’ city centres like Allerton Road and Old Swan the place to invest for a range of new opportunities to meet changing times? Has the swing to the ‘big’ been replaced by a move to the ‘small’?
Of course, neither I nor anyone knows the answers to these questions and there are many more questions to be asked. Before the crisis struck Mayor Anderson and I had talked about the establishment of some sort of Liverpool Futures Commission which would look at trends in all areas and work out what our response should be to them. We agreed that this should be done and were going to look at this in coming weeks. I think that the need to do that is now urgent. There are changes going on which could sink our City. Alternatively, we can understand those changes and work out how to use them to the advantage of our City to create employment and prosperity.
We cannot do anything in the very near future except think what we can do, how to do it and who to do it with as soon as life starts to get back to normal. I hope that is what the Council, in our new spirit of unity will be prepared to do.
As always, I’d love to hear your ideas on this and other issues at firstname.lastname@example.org.
This may seem a peculiar thing to say whilst globally we are fighting a virus which is now, and will be until a vaccine is produced, a killer. I am not hoping, as some clearly do, that this will kill off loads of the elderly. I am of retirement age myself! What I hope is that it will change our behaviours and we will be in a world which is much more apart of social values of society, community and family. I will deal with these in a future blog.
However, today I want to concentrate on the environment. I reproduce below an article from the Guardian on 24th March. I have ‘paid’ for this by making a donation to their funds.
What is clear is that the virus shutdowns are having a huge effect on global warming. Far fewer noxious gases are produced as we stop going to work, with more of us working at home, and factories and offices shut down. Of course, I want people to get back to work; I want our society to be productive; I want people to share in the beauties of our Country because we share the resources out more fairly.
We have plenty of time to think so can I just put some questions on the table about things we could be thinking about:
Will more of us decide that working from home rather than commuting is a good idea? That would mean vast reductions in the infrastructure required for transport.
Will we decide to have fewer long-haul holidays and either just travel in Europe or even better travel in our own glorious Country. That would help our economy and make a massive reduction in the fuel we consume on air trips.
Will we buy less stuff and better-quality stuff as buying cheap clothes, for example, has a huge impact on our environment?
Will we decide to do more in the localities that we live in using inexpensive but healthy facilities like parks and libraries?
Will we either but smaller cars than the ‘Chelsea Tractors’ which adorn our car parks or can we move quickly to electric cars?
Will the wide, open roads that exist at present help us move to cycling more or even encourage to walk to places nearby instead of automatically getting into cars?
Will we learn to accept that where it exists it is good for us and the planet to sue pubic transport?
Will we devote more of our money to draughts, wind and rain proofing our homes as the heating and lighting of homes is a major cause of environmental degradation.
Will we ask all retail and commercial premises to turn their illumination signage off at night as they wastefully consume fuel?
Will we grow more of our own food both domestically and as a Country to save the food miles that cause such pollution.
Any elected members, such as me, should be asking these questions and working within our Councils, Assemblies and Parliament to create a great national debate on the environment and then, even more importantly, a great national set of actions which all of us can participate in.
The coronavirus pandemic is shutting down industrial activity and temporarily slashing air pollution levels around the world, satellite imagery from the European Space Agency shows.
One expert said the sudden shift represented the “largest scale experiment ever” in terms of the reduction of industrial emissions.
Readings from ESA’s Sentinel-5P satellite show that over the past six weeks, levels of nitrogen dioxide (NO2) over cities and industrial clusters in Asia and Europe were markedly lower than in the same period last year.
Pollution levels in China are markedly lower than last year
Nitrogen dioxide is produced from car engines, power plants and other industrial processes and is thought to exacerbate respiratory illnesses such as asthma.
While not a greenhouse gas itself, the pollutant originates from the same activities and industrial sectors that are responsible for a large share of the world’s carbon emissions and that drive global heating.
Paul Monks, professor of air pollution at the University of Leicester, predicted there will be important lessons to learn. “We are now, inadvertently, conducting the largest-scale experiment ever seen,” he said. “Are we looking at what we might see in the future if we can move to a low-carbon economy? Not to denigrate the loss of life, but this might give us some hope from something terrible. To see what can be achieved.”
Monks, the former chair of the UK government’s science advisory committee on air quality, said that a reduction in air pollution could bring some health benefits, though they were unlikely to offset loss of life from the disease.
“It seems entirely probable that a reduction in air pollution will be beneficial to people in susceptible categories, for example some asthma sufferers,” he said. “It could reduce the spread of disease. A high level of air pollution exacerbates viral uptake because it inflames and lowers immunity.” Agriculture could also get a boost because pollution stunts plant growth, he added.
The World Health Organization describes NO2 as “a toxic gas which causes significant inflammation of the airways” at concentrations above 200 micrograms per cubic metre. Pollution particles may also be a vector for pathogens, as well as exacerbating existing health problems. The WHO is now investigating whether airborne pollution particles may be a vector that spreads Covid-19 and makes it more virulent.
One of the largest drops in pollution levels could be seen over the city of Wuhan, in central China, which was put under a strict lockdown in late January. The city of 11 million people serves as a major transportation hub and is home to hundreds of factories supplying car parts and other hardware to global supply chains. According to Nasa, nitrogen dioxide levels across eastern and central China have been 10-30% lower than normal.
NO2 levels also dropped in South Korea, which has long struggled with high emissions from its large fleet of coal-fired power plants but also from nearby industrial facilities in China.
The country has avoided putting entire regions under lockdown but is meticulously tracing and isolating suspected coronavirus cases.
The changes over northern Italy are particularly striking because smoke from a dense cluster of factories tends to get trapped against the Alps at the end of the Po Valley, making this one of western Europe’s pollution hotspots.
Since the country went into lockdown on 9 March, NO2 levels in Milan and other parts of northern Italy have fallen by about 40%. “It’s quite unprecedented,” said Vincent-Henri Peuch, director of the Copernicus Atmosphere Service. “In the past, we have seen big variations for a day or so because of weather. But no signal on emissions that has lasted so long.”
The source is not yet clear. One possibility is a slowdown of activity in Italy’s industrial heartland. Another factor is likely to be a reduction in road traffic, which accounts for the biggest share of nitrogen dioxide emissions in Europe.
Peuch said satellites were now starting to pick up similar signals in other European cities that are entering into lockdowns, though the data needs to studied over a longer period to confirm this is a pattern.
Although the UK is more than a week behind Italy in terms of the spread of the disease and the government’s response, roadside monitors already show significantly reduced levels of pollution at hotspots such as Marylebone in London.
Road traffic accounts for about 80% of nitrogen oxide emissions in the UK, according to Monk. For the average diesel car, each kilometre not driven avoids 52 milligrammes of the pollutant entering the air.
“What I think will come out of this is a realisation – because we are forced to – that there is considerable potential to change working practices and lifestyles. This challenges us in the future to think, do we really need to drive our car there or burn fuel for that,” said Monk.
This is the advice from the NHS that our local GPs are working to. It explains why they are working in the way they are working. They need to keep themselves safe so that they can serve us all properly and, as they are in the front line of fighting the coronavirus, are often the first to become ill. You can help all our GPs and other medical services by following all advice from the NHS about social distancing and only contacting your GP having first taken all other advice and self-help steps
Advice and guidance on coronavirus
Anyone who is unwell should go to NHS111 online first for advice, rather than approaching their GP practice.
If a case comes to the surgery or extended hours hub:
If the patient is WELL then: – they should go home immediately and self-isolate – use nhs.uk/coronavirus for advice and guidance.
If the patient is UNWELL then:
use PPE as per current PHE guidance for possible cases
isolate the patient
if acutely unwell treat as appropriate
if not then ask them to use NHS 111 online or ring NHS 111 from home or the isolation room
decontaminate as per the standard operating procedure (SOP).
2. Service implications and priorities
Responding to COVID-19 is already necessitating major immediate changes to how general practice works.
Right now, all practices and their commissioners are asked to focus on six urgent priorities:
Move to a total triage system (whether by phone or online). This does not mean not advising/treating patients for other health issues, where there is clinical need, or unilateral closing of practices doors, rather ensuring that patients are appropriately triaged to the right health professional setting. The upsurge in telephone calls to general practice means that providing a reliable and timely response for patients has already become a vital operational priority.
Agree locally with your CCG which practice premises and teams should be used to manage essential face-to-face services.
Undertake all care that can be done remotely via appropriate channels, guided by your clinical judgement.
Prepare for the significant increase in home visiting as a result of social distancing, home isolation and the need to discharge all patients who do not need to be in hospital
Prioritise support for particular groups of patients at high risk. Next week the NHS will be writing directly to all patients in this category, and you will receive further advice shortly
Help staff to stay safe and at work, building cross-practice resilience across primary care networks, and confirming business continuity plans.
The NHS are doing their bit to help us but we must do our bit to help them.
Don’t go out unless it’s essential;
If you do go out keep 2 metres away from anyone else
Safely check on elderly relatives and neighbours to see they have food etc.
Keep everyone’s morale up with phone calls, face time, skype. I got some stamps in so we will even be sending people letters and cards.
Keep an eye out for changing Government advice and do what they say!!
This will come to an end and society will return to a normality which may be different from the normality of only two weeks ago. Being patient, helps you, your family and your neighbours. Above all it helps our front-line workers in the NHS, food supply chains etc. Lets all buy time for the NHS.
Some Coronavirus Advice from your Local Councillors Andrew Makinson, Liz Makinson & Richard Kemp
To assist our residents, we have looked around at the best advice available on how to live our lives for the next few months. Most people understand the situation and are doing what health authorities suggest. Regrettably, there are, as always, some people out to take advantage of the situation. This advice is the best advice that we can give at present. The advice is changing constantly so listen carefully to what the NHS is saying on social media and normal media channels.
In accordance with advice we are not undertaking any public activities. We are however available by email, phone or letter and our details are at the end of the leaflet:
Listen carefully to what the NHS is saying and follow any advice they are giving.
If you have a particular medical condition such as diabetes your GP should have contacted you with specific advice. 1,250,000 have been asked to self-isolate for 12 weeks and it may be longer. You may need particular help in the current circumstances. Get in touch with them if they have not contacted you.
Avoid all social contact wherever possible. Going out for a coffee and a natter even with a close friend and certainly not with strangers is not a good idea.
Going out to the Park or a solitary walk is, however, a good idea. Walk but don’t mingle. Talk but don’t get more than 2 metres close to people you are talking to.
Do not touch or shake hands with people. You could pick up the virus from their hands or clothing.
If you go out try and avoid touching things as the virus can last more than 24 hours on some surfaces. When you get back wash your hands.
Wash your hands even more than you normally would do. 20 seconds with soap or hand sanitiser is now a must.
Phone a friend. Many people will be lonely and would love to get a call from you even if it’s only a quick, “how are you doing?” Even better if you can use modern social methods such as Skype or Facetime.
Check up on people you know either in your community or street who you haven’t seen and see if they need any help with getting shopping or medicines.
Don’t go into other people’s houses and don’t let people, especially strangers, into your house.
Only give small amounts of money for the purchase of necessities to people that you know. Never hand over cash to strangers.
Never give your credit card details to anyone unless it’s your immediate family and only then if you trust them!
Always check the identity of people offering to help you. If you have any doubts just say, “no thanks”.
A lot of people have been using their own initiative to set up some help schemes to get supplies in and to help with boredom. Thanks for that and its great but the Council has set up a help line for people who want to help. Sign up and you will be properly supported to provide proper and informed help. The number is 0151 233 3068. There are a lot of people volunteering so please be patient.
If you need help the Council is also ensuring that volunteers and staff are directed to help you. The number to get help is 0151 233 3066. Again, demand is high so please be patient.
We are increasing our electronic emails to keep residents in touch with events and opportunities. If you live in Church Ward email Andrew with details fo your address and you will be put on our e-mailing list.