By Cllr Graham Morgan, Leader of Knowsley Council
I don’t know about you but, at the moment, I sometimes feel like I am bombarded with information and it can feel a bit overwhelming at times. This week has been a bit like that for me. We started the week with rumours and suggestions of what might be announced by the Government. And then we heard the official announcements which included phrases like “one metre plus” etc. It’s difficult to feel completely clear on things sometimes – I am sure many of us might feel like that at the moment.
From the outset of the pandemic, I have been really conscious of the sheer volume of information being shared through the Government’s daily press briefings (although these are now no longer happening), the media and of course through social media, where you can literally see hundreds of interpretations and opinions within a quick five minute scroll.
Since the start of the pandemic, our officers have worked really hard to make sense of all of that information and boil it down into clear guidance and advice for people here in Knowsley. I know that many of you have appreciated that and it’s something we will continue to do.
There are bound to be hundreds of new changes and advice emerging in the coming weeks and months, so we will continue to provide a central place where you can go for more information. As well as updates on Council services, we also share information about support provided by partners and of course health advice and guidance which will be really important as we move forward and as more and more people take part in the Test and Trace programme.
Test and Trace is a really good example to illustrate my point about confusion – there’s tonnes of information out there but what does it really mean for us? We know that many of our residents aren’t clear on this, so we’ve produced a really simple guide and answered some frequently asked questions with colleagues from our Public Health team. I hope it is helpful. That information and lots more is available on Knowsley News and I would urge anyone to use the website as a reference point in the coming months.
And in those coming months, as well as advice and guidance relating to COVID-19, you will also see lots of updates and news about projects that will support our recovery as a place. We all know that our economy has been negatively impacted and that people are really beginning to struggle. New data this week shows that clearly and we know as a Council that we need to help people and businesses to get the whole Borough back on its feet.
We also need to push forward with major projects in the Borough –to secure additional investment and jobs to strengthen our local economy. We are already very clear on what our priorities are – from town centres to major multi-million pound schemes like Halsnead Garden Village, Kirkby town centre, and The Shakespeare North Playhouse (more about that below!). So, whilst we may still have lots of COVID-19 work to deal with, we are already well under way in our work to get Knowsley back up and running and be the thriving place we all want it to be. I know you will all support me with that aim.
I read with interest this week a Liverpool Echo article outlining Liverpool City Council’s plans for recovery, which I am sure created similar levels of hope and confidence which we will replicate here in Knowsley. I make no secret of the fact that it is frustrating to me that we don’t often get afforded similar positive support from our local newspaper. I remain hopeful that they will try to be a bit more positive when it comes to recovery – it’s just too important for them not to work with us and help to promote all the good things that are going on. Let’s hope so anyway.
Specifically, I’m asking for our local newspaper to cover and support good things like The Shakespeare North Playhouse – which has continued to be constructed on site throughout lockdown, which is an achievement in itself! Last night, the Playhouse came to the national attention of viewers of The One Show (approximately 4 million people!) when Dame Judi Dench and Frank Cottrell-Boyce launched an exciting new young persons’ playwriting competition. “As You Write It – Your Play on Stage” is a joint initiative from The Shakespeare North Playhouse and The One Show and is looking for bright young talent and ideas from across the UK to come up with ideas for a play. Three winners will be chosen in early 2021 and will have the amazing opportunity to have their plays performed at the Playhouse in Prescot when it opens in 2022. Not only will this competition boost awareness of the Playhouse, but it will also, crucially, help to ignite an interest in theatre, arts and culture for many young people. So, if you know someone who might be interested, you can watch the show again on i-player or visit The One Show website for all the competition details. I know I might be biased but how great would it be to see a Knowsley young person shortlisted or even win this national competition?
And finally, speaking of bias. I am afraid that I cannot leave this update without offering my congratulations to Liverpool Football Club. Whilst my personal affection lies very firmly in the blue half of Merseyside, I know that many of our residents are lifelong Liverpool fans and will be delighted to have captured the Premier League title. And of course this is especially good for Knowsley as we will soon welcome the Club and its first team to Kirkby when their new training facilities open alongside the existing Academy site. Congratulations!