In the 2000s we knew what to do. We had a big goal – to win, prepare for and deliver the Capital of Culture in 2008. We did it well. The drive, impetus and partnership which enabled us to have the best ECC ever drove so many other things from investment in L1 to improved education standards as we carried people forward.
Liverpool does not seem like that now. As a councillor I have no idea what our big ideas are. There is no driving force behind which we can unite as a city to pursue different ideas against a common background. I don’t know where the city wants to be in 15 years time or what it will do to get there. I know this isn’t easy – I know that there are still short and medium term financial difficulties to overcome. BUT if we don’t think ahead we will lose out. Liverpool lost 2 decades of investment and opportunity because in the 80s and 90s we stuck our heads down and looked inwards. I don’t want that to happen again.
I am standing in the election on May 5th in my own Church Ward. I have no mandate to say things for or in any other part of the city but I do want to share my ideas with my constituents so that they know not only what I will be aiming at locally but what I will be trying to do in the ‘corridors of power’. So here goes.
- I believe that the big idea should be to make our city the greenest in Europe. This is not an impossible dream. We already have good recycling rates; a reasonable public transport system and excellent parks. There is much to be done but much to build on.
- We should seek to generate all our own power. To do so we will need to fund a major partner to help us harness the power of the sun, waste, wind and tides.
- We should seek to eliminate fuel poverty and some ill health by dealing with damp and draught problems in so many privately owned and rented homes;
- We should work with the 3 Universities to develop new high tech, high paying jobs in the new industries that greening is creating.
- We should work together to improve public transport in the city to reduce costs and improve air quality and quality of life.
- Use the opportunity created by the Localism Bill to engage communities in deciding what sort of neighbourhoods they wish to live in.
- If we start all of these we could bid to become European Green Capital at some point in the future which would be a way of harnessing all our activity into one discernible programme.
So I suggest 7 big things linked around the greening theme. Partly, of course, I think this because I recently signed the memorandum of understanding between central and local government on climate change and related issues. But I put these ideas forward independently of that because I believe that facing up to green issues is an opportunity for Liverpool that would become a threat if not acted upon. Of course there are other things I want to do such as:
- Developing further the neighbourhood management concept
- Encouraging more resident control of community facilities
- Develop properly the new role of councils in the public health and health commissioning fields
- Creating better linkages between health and social care
But even some of these can be added to the overarching green agenda which I set out above.
I believe that many Liverpool residents would be prepared to join in an all party campaign to introduce the green agenda as the centre piece of our work I would hope that we can recreate the ‘spirit of ’08’ as we face the new problems but also the new opportunities which now present themselves to us.