By Cllr Graham Morgan, Leader of Knowsley Council
Yesterday was an important one for the Council as our Annual General Meeting took place. As you might imagine, this year’s meeting was a little different than usual with all proceedings taking place ‘virtually’. It’s a big adjustment for us all but only a small challenge to overcome in the scale of things at the moment. Following a slight delay, I think overall everything ran very smoothly and it was great to hear positive feedback from all political parties recognising the way Knowsley has responded to the COVID-19 crisis.
Following that meeting and confirmation of my position as Leader of the Council for another year, I just wanted to take the opportunity to thank each and every one of you for your continued support. When I took over the role as Leader of the Council two years ago, I was acutely aware of the importance of this position and I have to say in this crisis I am more aware of that than ever before. Leading this organisation and our Labour Group through this pandemic has been an overwhelming experience at times as we make decisions and manage changes we could never have imagined.
Having worked in the public sector for much of my life, I have always been acutely aware of the difference which public sector workers can make to people’s lives – and again that has never been more true than it is now. So, whilst I look to the future and the challenges ahead, I have also taken some time to reflect on the challenges we have faced, the work carried out across the Borough, and the strength that is so evident across our communities.
There is no denying that we will face struggles ahead. There are many unknowns about the virus and our financial ability to provide the support we need to put in place is far from certain. One thing I can be sure of and one thing that has been demonstrated very clearly in recent months however is our collective resolve to manage this pandemic locally. I have talked before about the kindness and generosity shown by our residents, the ingenuity and innovation from businesses, and the sheer hard work and adaptability of our workforce. I have been so impressed by this collective effort that, despite the challenges ahead, I know that we will do “whatever it takes” here to emerge from this crisis stronger and more resilient than ever.
The coming year will no doubt be a difficult one to navigate, but I am confident that – with the support of our Labour Group, Council officers, and partner agencies and businesses across Knowsley, we will see a positive future for the Borough and for our residents. In the coming months, our work to support those impacted by COVID-19 will continue but we will also turn our attention to how we “recover” as a place. We will need to consider how we open up buildings, facilities, help businesses to do the same and provide people with the support they need to move us towards a new normality and a safe future for us all.
It’s no easy task to face but if nothing else, this crisis has also provided a chance to reconsider our choices and think more about the decisions we make as individuals or as organisations. Perhaps it’s a renewed desire to shop local and support local businesses, or a commitment to exercise more, or look out for your neighbours or use the car less and help the environment. Or indeed all of those things. These are all potentially positive changes arising from COVID-19 as is our appreciation of frontline workers who have risked their own wellbeing to help us through.
So, for the year ahead, my focus is to embrace the changes we face – some by choice and some not – but nonetheless changes that we must make to stay safe and to protect those around us too. And hopefully in the coming weeks as we see small steps towards positive change in our everyday lives, we can all continue to embrace the wonderful community spirit and kindness that has never been more alive and well in Knowsley than it is now.
Thank you all for your support – it means a great deal.