In praise of Erica Kemp – Part 2

This time last year I proudly blogged about the fact that Erica had been sworn in as Deputy Lord Mayor and would, in time, become the Lord Mayor of our adopted hometown of Liverpool.

That time is today. At 5.00 p.m. she will be installed as the Lord Mayor in a time honoured ceremony. In our 807 year history she will only be the 13th woman to hold the role. Spectacularly for Liverpool we are now the first city in the UK ever to have a woman, Lord Lieutenant, High Sheriff and Lord Mayor at the same time. The women are taking over boys – and about time too!

Although I have been around the Town hall for 31+ years and knew what the Lord Mayor did in office I hadn’t appreciated the work that needs to be done beforehand. In many ways its like a very public wedding! Erica’s Charity Committee has been in place for almost a year and will hit the ground running tonight. Her aim is not so much to raise money but to increase awareness and the number of people who volunteer with and for her charities.

The diary meetings started in earnest in January with much of Erica’s life for the next 49 weeks already diarised for her. She will be welcoming some of the most powerful mayors from major cities like Istanbul and Guangzhou to Liverpool next week at our World LGA gathering; will be attending all sorts of commemorations of World War I but will also go to lots of small events kicking off with an ecumenical civic service. With a bit of luck the chippy and I will become well acquainted over the next few months although I have a heavy work load of my own.

The problems with who sits with who and where at tonight’s inaugural dinner are every bit as complex as the average wedding reception.

She will be very different from every one of the 31 Lord Mayors I have served under and quite right too. Each Lord Mayor, if they are to be authentic, must develop a style that recognises their own strengths and skills. None of them have failed to do this and all have left with memories of their time in office in a very positive fashion.

While I am in the chippy Erica will be doing a fair amount of eating out. It did remind me of why I never wanted to be Lord Mayor when she went out to a black tie dinner recently and watched the telly. I really loathe black tie dinners! Will she put on weight under the pressure of the eating and her failure to spend as much time on the allotment as she normally does? “NO!”, she says. We shall see!

I know that all her family and friends, many of whom are coming from all over the UK and further to be with her today are willing her on. I also know that the people of Liverpool are willing her on as well. The Lord Mayoralty is a position that is loved by the people of the city. That is why Erica may well do up to 1,000 events/meetings in the coming months. Our holiday will be short, just one week in the Peak District, but the year will be full of memories for us and our children and grandchildren.

You can follow what she does at cllrericakemp@twitter.com. I might put the odd thing on my twitter account and blog as well!

Wish her luck everyone. This is a position that she deserves and Liverpool deserves a Lord Mayor like Erica. I have no doubt she will do us all proud!

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About richardkemp

Leader of the Liberal Democrats in Liverpool. UK representative on UCLG Finance Committee, Executive Bureau and World Council. Deputy Chair and Lib Dem Spokesperon on the LGA Community Wellbeing Board. Married to the lovely Cllr Erica Kemp CBE with three children and three grandchildren.
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