By Leader of the Council, Cllr Graham Morgan.
From today, the wearing of face coverings in shops is compulsory.
It’s yet another change to our lives as we seek to adjust to the new normal and hope to move towards a more positive future.
I know that the wearing of masks/face coverings has been debated endlessly this week – both in the media and in all of our homes. It’s something which can feel initially strange or uncomfortable – but I’m sure that when we consider the potential benefits of doing so, we can get into new habits and help protect ourselves and others.
As well as simple steps like the wearing of face coverings, our “new normal” must continue to include every individual taking their responsibility to fight this virus seriously. You will have seen a lot of messages lately about the importance of “test and trace” and understanding what you must do in the event that you, or someone you have been in contact with, shows symptoms or tests positive for COVID-19. Making sure that you understand your responsibilities is crucial if we are to stop this virus from doing more damage to our lives, and threatening our health and that of our loved ones. If you are in any doubt as to what test and trace means for you, please take a look at all the guidance we’ve been sharing here on Knowsley News.
I chaired our latest local Outbreak Management Board yesterday and received an update on cases levels in Knowsley. The good news is that they continue to be low, and indeed are getting lower. This tells us all that we are doing the right things – so we need to avoid complacency and keep on doing what we have been doing – maintaining social distancing, regular hand washing, wear a face covering on public transport, in shops and hospital settings. And it you do display symptoms, stay at home and book a test through www.nhs.uk or by ringing 119. Let’s keep going – it seems to be working.
This week, after one of the strangest ends to a school year which any of us can ever remember, schools in Knowsley officially finished for their six-week summer break. I know that many of our pupils may not have stepped into a classroom since March, but I also know that has not meant that school work has stopped and the support from teachers and other staff has of course continued throughout the challenging last few months. Whilst the majority of children have been home-schooled, all of our schools have remained open for the children of key workers and for vulnerable pupils. That means that our teachers have been working right through this crisis – both in person at schools and also virtually – setting work for home learning, checking in on pupils and families, and offering support where needed. It has been an incredibly difficult time for everyone but, despite the uncertainties and anxieties, our teachers and school staff really have done our Borough proud.
I had a request this week from Malvern Primary School to light up the Greystone Bridge over the M62 (and just a short walk from the School) in green to mark their last day of term, which was yesterday. It was a great idea, so I made arrangements to illuminate it every night this week as a symbol of the Council’s gratitude to everyone involved in schooling in Knowsley. You all deserve a great big thank you for what you’ve done. I know that children and parents can’t wait for the classrooms to re-open safely in six weeks’ time.
For many of us now, life is beginning to settle into a new routine, one which may more closely resemble pre-lockdown life. Whilst many people remain on furlough, or are working from home, there are also many who are returning to the workplace (or who never left it). As a country, we still have no idea what the long-term economic impact will be from this virus, and I know that there are many people who are worried about their job security or prospects. I would remind anyone who is looking for work that our Knowsley Works team is here to help. And if you are struggling with payments for Council Tax, there is help available – please make sure that you ask for help before you fall behind as there are a number of ways we can help.
This coming Monday, one of the darkest days in Knowsley’s recent history will be revisited, when a one-off drama about Anthony Walker is aired.
Anthony was a wonderful young man who, at the age of 18, had a life full of promise ahead of him. All that was brought to an end when he was brutally murdered in a racist attack in McGoldrick Park in Huyton, 15 years ago. For anyone connected to the borough at the time, the shockwaves of that unfathomable act were far reaching and long lasting.
Since then, Anthony’s mother, Gee Walker, has proven time and time again what a strong and inspirational woman she is. If you’ve heard her interviewed this week in the media, I’m sure you were just as moved as I was to hear her quite incredible courage and strength and of course her ongoing sadness at the senseless and incomprehensible loss of her son.
The film goes out at 8.30pm on Monday on BBC1. I know it is going to be a very difficult watch, but it will be an important one, as we must never forget what happened – and we must never let hate take away another life so needlessly. I would urge you to watch it if you can.
And to finish my update this week, I have something which is guaranteed to lift your spirits.
This week a field of sunflowers, grown by local farmer Olly Harrison in Tarbock, came into bloom.
That would be lovely enough, but in this case the sunflowers in Olly’s field have been planted to spell out the letters “NHS” when viewed from above.
Well done Olly for such a lovely gesture to say thank you to all those incredible NHS workers who have supported us through the pandemic and of course continue to do so.