Taking Liverpool Forward after the Virus

First priority is to sort out immediate problems but even before the dust has settled on the coronavirus we need to think through the changes that will arise permanently from the virus and plan how to benefit from the good changes and minimise the bad ones.

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

Dear Joe,

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.

Keep safe,

Richard

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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