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Council delivering on key priorities despite pandemic

by Jonathan Kearney

Knowsley Council is continuing to make excellent progress against its Corporate Plan priorities.

Hundreds of jobs have been created, major developments have been progressed and millions of pounds have been made available to support our most vulnerable residents, our children and young people and our local businesses as the borough recovers strongly from the COVID-19 pandemic.

Notable achievements and milestones since the last Corporate Plan update were highlighted by Knowsley’s Cabinet (Wednesday 17 November).

The Council’s Corporate Plan priorities include those associated with the COVID-19 pandemic and the UK’s exit from the EU.

Despite those significant challenges the Council has also continued to deliver successfully against its priorities in key areas, including those related to education, adult and children’s social care, health and wellbeing, business growth, jobs, housing, and environmental sustainability.

Significant areas of progress have been made since the Cabinet’s last Corporate Plan update six months ago. These include:

  • Creation of around 400 new jobs as part of Kirkby Town Centre’s new retail development, with more to follow
  • A planned £230m investment in Ford’s Halewood plant to develop electric vehicles
  • A distribution of over £25m to local businesses to manage pressures related to COVID-19 and the UK’s exit from the European Union
  • Creation of 570 new jobs as part of the Kickstart Programme a contract for Knowsley Works to deliver the £11.9m Restart Programme
  • Support to residents hardest hit by the pandemic with the distribution of the £2.5m Knowsley Better Together Hardship Fund
  • Increased footfall in our town centres with the support of summer and festive events programmes
  • £2.6m secured for further improvements to Knowsley’s parks and green spaces, including the installation of new play areas, pathway improvement projects and habitat improvement projects
  • Continued financial support in Adult Social Care to support early intervention and prevention measures
  • Extensive support to schools, children, and families as part of the return to school in September 2021, including managing attendance, providing mental health support, and addressing the “lost year of education” for Knowsley’s children.

For the remainder of this year to March 2022, the Council will focus on key priorities including:

  • Continue to protect residents from the impact of COVID-19 and encourage take-up of the vaccine programme
  • Continue to support businesses, residents and schools in response to the challenges of the pandemic and its longer-term impacts
  • Support the ongoing delivery of the borough’s major development programmes, including Halsnead Garden Village and the Shakespeare North Playhouse
  • Finalising an exciting programme of events for Knowsley’s Borough of Culture Year, starting in January 2022.

Cllr Graham Morgan, Leader of Knowsley Council, said: “We have continued to respond to the changing needs of our communities in challenging times and made significant progress towards our longer-term aims. Over the last six months, we have continued to demonstrate this is a Council which works hard to make a difference to the lives of our residents.”

Cllr Tony Brennan, Cabinet Member for Regeneration and Economic Development, said: “Despite the challenging national economic climate facing us all due to the impact of the pandemic, Knowsley is continuing to go from strength to strength. The Council is working alongside Knowsley residents and businesses to mitigate the impact of the pandemic and ensure local communities benefit from the growth which we are delivering.”

Cllr Jayne Aston, Cabinet Member for Resources, said: “Knowsley is a place where people look out for each other.  While we don’t know what the full, long-term impact of COVID-19 will be on our communities, we do know that our communities can count on this Council to keep standing alongside them.  No matter what.”

The Council’s Corporate Plan has been extended until Spring 2022 to ensure continued focus on its existing priorities and the challenges presented by the pandemic and the UK’s EU exit.