Repeat Call to stop the Coca-Cola Van coming to Liverpool


Sugary drinks like coke are a  major cause of childhood obesity

I have repeated a call made in the summer that Liverpool should not host the Coca Cola Van as it is currently intending to do in November in Williamson Square.

When I learned that Liverpool 1 was not intending to host the van this year I was delighted. I now find that Liverpool City Council is doing so instead in Williamson Square.

This is pure hypocrisy. Liverpool is the public health authority for the city and in a recent report we noted the high levels of childhood obesity in the City. Obesity wrecks and shortens lives. It has been described as ‘the new smoking’ because of the health risks associated with obesity which can lead to skeletal, diabetes, liver, heart and lung problems. It can shorten many lives by up to 10 years. It is known that if you are obese at the age of 11 it is likely that you will be obese for the rest of your life.

I have great respect for Cllr Brant, the Cabinet Member for Health in the Council and am sure that he is not party to this development. I believe, however, that it is his responsibility to bring health issues to the fore. If we cannot ban the van we need to ensure that they bring the least damaging of their products to our city and that public health information is readily available alongside the coke to counteract the massive advertising spend of this worldwide company.

Appended below is my letter to Cllr Paul Brant.

Cllr Richard Kemp CBE,

16, Dovedale Road,

Liverpool L18 1DW


Cllr Paul Brant,

Cabinet Member for Health & Adult Services,

Liverpool City Council

6th November 2016

Dear Paul,

The Coca-Cola Truck and Liverpool

If you recall at the last meeting of the Health & Wellbeing Board we received a report on public health in the City. We were so concerned by it that we decided to take time out at a special meeting to consider it in detail and how we deal with some of the extreme health problems contained within it. One of the key problems which Liverpool faces, along with every other part of the Country is childhood obesity. I chaired a meeting about this past week when we told clearly how if children leave junior school obese, and in Liverpool up to 30% of them do, then their path is almost certainly set for life. They will continue to be obese which leads to early death, diabetes II, liver, heart and kidney problems as well as problems with the skeleton because it has not been properly formed.

You will know that one of the major reasons for childhood obesity is the over consumption of sugary fizzy drinks. This is very clear and very well documented by a large number of independent studies.

That is why I was appalled to see that Liverpool City Council is encouraging the consumption of such fizzy drinks by welcoming the Coca Cola Van to Liverpool later this month when it will come to Williamson Square. Earlier this year I wrote to Liverpool 1 where the truck came last year and was delighted to see that they were not hosting it again. I really could not believe my eyes when I saw the report that this year Liverpool City Council, the body with responsibility for public health in the city, has taken their place.

Some may say that I am trying to be a Scrooge and destroy Christmas. Far from it. I want children to have a happy and HEALTHY Christmas which they will not achieve if they guzzle fizzy drinks. It is true that Coke are not the only sellers of this stuff BUT they are, worldwide, the biggest maker and seller of such products.

As you might have guessed I am asking you to stop the truck coming to Liverpool. If the council are legally committed to this event it should do one or both of two things:

  1. Insist that they only have available their none sugar or diet coke varieties;
  1. And arrange for public health displays and literature to be placed near the site in Williamson Square.

This matter is of major concern to many people. Childhood obesity has been described as the ‘new smoking’ for its ability to wreck and shorten lives. Having 30% of our children set on the path to poor health and shortened lives is absolutely unacceptable.

As the public health authority for Liverpool is Liverpool City Council we should not be condoning fizzy drinks. We should instead champion the cause of those who seek healthier ways.

Yours sincerely,

Cllr Richard Kemp CBE

Leader, Liverpool Liberal Democrats

About richardkemp

Leader of the Liberal Democrats in Liverpool. Deputy Chair and Lib Dem Spokesperson on the LGA Community Wellbeing Board. Married to the lovely Cllr Erica Kemp CBE with three children and four grandchildren.
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