Joy to the World and especially Liverpool!

The crowds that came together at short notice time after time to campaign for Calderstones Park is just one example of the way that our Liverpool community instinctively comes together when the need is there

So, it’s now Christmas Day and I hope everyone is having a good time. I am not going to spoil it with a ‘doom and gloom’ blog. I could do that but let’s leave it until 1st January!

I wanted to talk about some of the good things that have been happening in Liverpool this year and some of the other things I have been involved with which give me hope for the future.

Locally, I can only be impressed by and grateful for the work of the Save Calderstones Park campaigners who have raised more than £40,000 to fight a judicial review and to get more people to sign a petition against the deal to sell part of our park to Redrow. This is an absolutely marvelous set of actions. It just shows how the people of Liverpool instinctively get together when they believe that their heritage, their City, is threatened.

In an entirely different context thanks to all those who keep the food banks going especially the football supporters who on a weekly basis fill vans with donations. It’s a sad sign that such food banks are needed but a tremendous sign of the compassion of our City that wherever possible we rally round to meet the needs of our fellow Scousers.

Similarly, this City does more for the homeless than any other city. We welcome the fact that Labour have put more money into initiatives such as Labre House. But a range of other projects exist such as the Paper Cup Project run by the indefatigable Michelle Langan and the alternative centre for the homeless established by Lawrence Kenwright. I don’t often agree with Lawrence and I think that the way he has added a gross carbuncle to Millennium House is a disgrace but every credit to him for opening a centre to complement that of the Council.

Going back to parks I see the tremendous work being done on a daily basis by Chrissie and her team in Walton Hall Park. I believe that they should be running the Park and taking full control of it. As volunteers they bring life and vitality to the Park and a real sense of community spirit.

In my own Church Ward local residents have come together in a number of locations to keep entries and pavements clean so that they can be used by children in cleanliness and safety and also making a much better environment for us all.

Coming up soon will be a new initiative in Meredale Road where just one a month for two hours the road will be closed to cars so that children can come out and play together and the adults can meet up as well. It was interesting at the recent public meeting that was held that people shook hands who had seen each other going past but had never spoken to each other before. That’s community for you.

It’s worth remembering too, the people who will be at work for at least part of Christmas Day. When Erica was Lord Mayor, I became her chauffeur for the day and we visited the Police; Fire Service; ambulance service and Women’s Hospital before visiting a group who had raised money to provide a lunch for lonely people. The staff were proud to be serving, albeit very pleased to get back to their families. There were almost more volunteers at the lunch than people being fed as people wanted to ‘give back’ to their City.

Further afield, indeed across almost the entire world, I am thrilled and impressed by the young people who are part of World Merit. In almost half the Countries of the World we have committed and concerned young people doing good things to help their cities and their countries. From beach clean up campaigns; to homeless programmes to helping women with menstrual products to creating micro businesses to lift people out of poverty they are engaged and engaging. I get such a boost of personal energy when I am working alongside them.

My own Party in Liverpool is stronger than it has been for years. Over the past year the Council Group has doubled in size. Only 8 but that is a lot compared to 2 in the council year 2014/15. We gained in Childwall; Woolton and took the last seat in Church Ward all, of course, from Labour. Then in September we were joined by Cllr Kay Davies in County Ward who joined us from Labour because of Corbyn and Anderson.

Then on a very personal basis Erica and I were blessed with the arrival of our 5th Grandchild in October. Mairi is our second grand daughter and although she lives in a remote island off the coast of Scotland, we can see her almost every day because of the miracle of the internet.

In my own family Erica is in Guernsey spending Christmas with her Mum so I am ‘Home Alone’ until tomorrow. Her Mum has dementia so just like every other family we have our downs as well as our ups and are having, together, to deal with a problem which many other families are facing.

Does this blog sound smug and complacent? I hope not. In the midst of the national turmoil over Brexit; in the face of those people who will wake up today lonely and hungry it may seem that way. What I have tried to describe today are the green shoots of hope which support our City enrich our lives and for which I feel personally proud.

We will need to build on all these green shoots in 2019 and beyond. Liverpool has huge problems and the SS Great Britain is currently travelling in very choppy waters. I just hope that all those who are concerned about our City and Country will take advantage of a few days of peace and calm before returning to the fray in the very early New Year.

So as Tiny Tim so sagely observes in ‘A Christmas Carol’, “God Bless us – Every One”. My best wishes and those of the Lib Dems in Liverpool to all the people who live in; work in; visit or just love our great City and its people.

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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