This year I will be attending two Remembrance events. The second of these will be at the Anglican Cathedral on Sunday. The first of these has already been held on Armistice Day and I was so concerned at what I saw that I wrote this email to our Mayor and Chief Executive and the Leader and copied it to the other two parties on the Council:
“Dear Joanne and Tony,
At 11.00 this morning I stood in silence at the Liverpool Cenotaph at St Georges Plateau and laid a wreath on behalf of the Liberal Democrats.
After the silence and a period or reflection I was inundated by complaints about the scene we saw there.
In all the years that have been a councillor it has always been a strict rule that any Christmas or other commercial activities were not established until after the 11th December or Armistice Sunday. It seemed to me as I stood there with our veterans and their representatives that we had dishonoured and not honoured our fallen heroes by accessing what should be an honoured area though an incomplete Christmas Market.
I know that there have been particular problems at Lime Street this year but this must never happen again. So, I have drawn up a motion for the next Council Meeting which I hope that you and the other Parties will endorse as an all-party motion at the next Council meeting in December. Will you sign it please?
Motion from Cllr Richard Kemp CBE and ……………………………
Council regrets that the November 11th commemoration of the Armistice for the First World War and its day of devotion to the memories of those who have made the ultimate sacrifice for our Country was spoiled by the way that this site had been commercialised by the early arrival of preparations for the Christmas Market.
It is proud of the fact that for many years the Liverpool commemoration has been the largest outside London.
It resolves that no commercial events will be initiated in any way before Armistice Sunday on St Georges Plateau”.
Within two hours I had a response from Green Leader Tom Crone saying that he would support the motion.
Today I got a very good response from our Chief Executive, Tony Reeves. He made it absolutely clear that the Council accepted that it was in the wrong and would not repeat the situation in future years. This is what Mr Reeves said,
“Firstly, each of your points are acknowledged and completely accepted so please let me begin by giving you absolute assurance that never again will there be any Christmas Market activity ahead of Remembrance Sunday.
Whilst we are all aware of the exacerbating factors this year due to the delayed Lime Street works, the ensuing impact caused by the presence of the Christmas Market site build has been a lesson that the officers involved have fully learned from.
In the absence of a Service of Remembrance on the Plateau, the agreement for the market to start their site build early was given with the best of intentions, in order to fall in line with the rest of the city’s Christmas activity. Christmas Market activity on the plateau was never part of the plan this year but as the relocation plans to William Brown Street had not had any real time to be fully developed, issues and challenges were being identified in real time, resulting in rearrangement of infrastructure once the site build had commenced.
This is no excuse and tough lessons have been learned from this year by the officers involved, so again, I would like to re-iterate my complete reassurance that future Christmas Market activity will never again commence until after Remembrance Sunday and this will be contractually agreed”.
I accept that Mr Reeves and the Council have learned their lesson and commend him for the way that he responded. It would be nice if the Mayor had responded but I accept that the Chief Executive had probably talked to her before replying.
However, I do intend to continue to put the draft motion above to Council. It is important that what went wrong is put on the record and that the Council knows, when all the current players have moved on, that there is a council decision which will continue to hold good and which all councillors and staff will need to follow.