Another day, another scandal and getting our kids back to school safely

Decisions taken by councillors in Liverpool affect all of us. Liverpool Lib Dems take up dozens of issues a day big and small. Here, as an example, are two that we have taken up today.

Every day the Liverpool Lib Dem team take up dozens of issues big and small. Often, we seek no publicity for them because they are very small scale, or are sensitive for a variety of reasons. On other occasions we do seek publicity for them because we want to see these issues properly discussed and the taxpayers of Liverpool informed as to what is going on. Today we have put out two press releases and it will be interesting to see how the media pick this.

We will spread these stories on our own social media routes and would ask you to support us by doing so as well. You may not agree with what we say on these two issues but I hope that you will agree that losing £4 million and getting our kids back to school safely are issues that should be publicly raised. Even better would be a rational debate as to ways forward for these. As always let us know what you think.

Lib Dems ask for full examination of £4 million missing from Council’s Accounts

Liberal Democrats will be asking for an investigation into the failure of the Council to collect up to £4 million on planning gain money owed by the developers at next week’s budget council meeting.

Cllr Kris Brown says, “Its no good the Council moaning about lack of money from the Government when it fails to collect the money due from developers. The Council is now owed £4 million pounds. Some of this was due from developers before work started on site. Some of it is for schemes which have been completed for up to 5 years.

Council needs to understand why the money wasn’t collected and what steps are being taken to collect it. This might mean that we write some off or that we take a more aggressive role with administrators as we are now creditors on approved schemes such as Fox Street and the Paramount development on Lime Street. In these cases we can use our role as creditors to get money on this failed and stalled schemes.

At a time when we need every single penny to meet our needs our failure to collect agreed sums of cash is a disgrace.

We need a proper system for collecting money in when it was due. In the case of the Fox Street Village the developers were supposed to either provide a 120-place underground car park or to pay S106 money. It did neither. It beggars belief that our planning department could neither tell whether or not a huge car park had been provided or a sizeable invoice paid!”

The request for a review is being included in an overall budget amendment being moved on 3rd March by the Liberal Democrats. The specific amendment says:

‘Council (further) notes that Section 106 invoices have been raised for 35 locations in the City which have not been paid. It is understood that the total amount outstanding is approximately £4 million. It notes that some of this is for developments which have been completed up to 5 years ago. It requests a report to be presented to an early meeting of the Audit Committee to establish what steps are being taken to recover amounts due and which of these amounts should be written off.

Let’s learn lessons before schools reopen

Liberal Democrats believe that more action is needed to make schools safer when they fully reopen in 2 weeks’ time. 

Liverpool Lib Dem spokesperson for Education, Cllr Liz Makinson said 

“We need to do everything possible to support the school community by mask wearing and good ventilation and that good practice learned during the lockdown should be continued to ensure that our schools are safe for pupils and staff and that transmission is not made into the wider community. 

Mask wearing is commonplace in schools throughout the world and we must catch up to stop the spread of Covid.  Although mask wearing will now be mandatory on corridors, in classrooms they are not generally being used.  This has to change or we will be back here again with schools closed to everyone apart from vulnerable children and those of key workers.

A relaxation of some uniform rules, such as scarf wearing in class would allow constant ventilation to take place until the weather warms. 

Teachers and school support staff are the unsung heroes of this pandemic, working continuously either virtually or in schools to ensure that children’s education is as good as possible.  Children are suffering not just from disrupted education but are worried about being in school and the risks involved.  

From France, Germany and Italy to Chile, Malaysia and Thailand, children are wearing masks in classrooms, with some countries now specifying the type of masks to keep children safe.  We are so behind the curve on this and this needs action now.

Blended learning, with lessons in the school for some and in the home via social media for others, must also be an option available to reduce numbers in school and ensure that schools stay open. Schools have done tremendous work on virtual and distanced learning and this should remain a factor for older children.”

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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