Since the latest lockdown started on January 6th Liverpool Liberal Democrats have stopped all external activity and have moved online with regular online newsletters, phone calling to local residents to check how they are and using social media.
However, today the Government have confirmed that the local elections will go ahead on May 6th despite the requests from Lib Dems locally and nationally to defer the elections until July when they will clearly be safer.
In the light of this ill-considered Government opinion Liverpool Lib Dems have now reviewed our activities and have agreed that it would still be wrong to engage in any face to face activity which involved meetings, advice centres or knocking on doors. However, we have decided to start delivering newsletters once more on a regular basis.
We are doing this for two clear reasons. Firstly, we believe that it is important to get out to residents our localised information and particularly information about Covid and how it is affecting their area. All sorts of things continue to happen such as planning and licensing applications where we have been unable to adequately inform local people and therefore represent their views.
Many elderly and people on low incomes do not have access either to the Internet or to paid local newspapers. They are therefore not picking up information in the way they can. In places like Wavertree, Aigburth, Liverpool 18 and Childwall and Woolton our Focus newsletter is a trusted source of information throughout the year.
Secondly, although we have clearly called for a delay in the local elections until July and nationally have suggested ways to make the whole of the election process safer the Government are not listening. There will be 4 very important elections taking place on May 6 and we believe it vital that people should be informed about what is happening and what our approach will be to those things.
Liverpool Council is in crisis with a large number of Police investigations into actions within the Council and Government Inspectors looking at almost untold numbers of documents. It is important that the people of Liverpool hear the facts not only from the media but also the one Party in the City that could take control of the Council to end this disreputable behaviour from elected representatives. People deserve to know how we and others would deal with the situation that our Council finds itself in.
In Liverpool the other two opposition Parties supported our call for a deferment. Labour chose not to do so and have made no public statement apart from to suggest that Liverpool Liberal Democrats have been delivering illegally. This was not true.
The Government’s view is clear. It suggests that councillors can deliver as part of their duties, but that we could a pay delivery company or the Royal Mail to deliver the same leaflet on our behalf. Our deliverers will be equipped with PPE and will be far safer than commercial deliveries. In the past three days I have received a leaflet about holidays, an advertising booklet and a pizza shop leaflet through my door. If these can go out why not leaflets giving vital local information?
It is less clear what their advice is about election activity. Clearly if you have an election there must be the opportunity given to engage with the electors.
After consulting with police and public health officials we are satisfied that local activity of this sort is both safe and legal.