New Year message from Liverpool City Council Leader

Speaking on behalf of Liverpool City Council, one of KQ Liverpool’s Partners, Council Leader, Cllr Liam Robinson, reflects on 2023 and looks ahead to the new year...

In May 2023, I was so proud to be elected Leader of Liverpool City Council. It is one of the greatest privileges of my life and of huge significance for me personally to represent the city I call home.

From day one of my term, my focus has been to end the statutory intervention at Liverpool City Council and restore trust in the Council.

I was always very conscious of the amount of work we needed to do to correct mistakes made in the past, but I am pleased that we are now making progress to address the concerns outlined when the intervention began.

Liverpool has now turned a corner and we are making significant progress. In fact, we can now expect a majority of the Government intervention to end in June 2024, with the departments of Finance, Highways and Transport returned to Council control in March 2024. We can truly say that the latest Commissioners’ Report marks the beginning of the end of intervention here in Liverpool.

Looking back at what we have achieved in 2023…

I’m especially proud of what this city achieved during the Eurovision Song Contest, we really stepped up and provided the world with a brilliant celebration of music and culture, while also boosting the local economy by £54.8million.

We’re also making great strides in education, with the proportion of good and outstanding schools in the city higher than ever.

Liverpool only thrives when our communities thrive as well, so we have delivered £17m of retrofit improvements supporting over 1,000 vulnerable residents and we have recently started piloting a scheme to tackle rogue and criminal landlords operating in the city.

I am proud of what we have delivered in 2023, but honestly, I know there is so much more to do in 2024.

My top priority is to be honest with you and to make sure that I am accountable for my decisions, there have been times in the past when the Council has not been as transparent as it should have been and I will continue to work to remedy this.

I’m also conscious that frontline services in Liverpool need to be better and up to the standards you deserve. That’s why I am excited by our new Neighbourhood Model, which we have designed to improve the delivery and effectiveness of our services in all of our communities.

The cost-of-living crisis has impacted people across the country and is keenly felt here in Liverpool. I’m saddened by the increase in homelessness that we have witnessed and combatting this is deeply important to me. I will work to improve how we tackle homelessness in the city and continue to challenge the Government as they are failing to respond to this national crisis.

I will continue to work closely with Mayor Steve Rotheram to secure a more ambitious deal for Liverpool, from Westminster. I want to make sure the decisions that impact the future of our city are made here in Liverpool.

I’m so excited for 2024 and look forward to delivering on our plan for the city. Finally, I would like to wish you and your families a Happy New Year!

All the best,

Cllr. Liam Robinson – Leader, Liverpool City Council

Liverpool led way in reopening big cultural events

Liverpool researchers have authored a new study detailing definitive population-based evidence of risks of Covid-19 transmission around the early reopening of mass cultural events before restrictions were lifted.

Liverpool City Region hosted the world’s first regional cluster of experimental reopening of mass cultural events after Covid lockdowns as part of the UK Events Research Programme (ERP), including a business festival, two nightclubs (Circus’ First Dance) and a music festival (the Sefton Park Pilot).

All ticketholders were required to take a lateral flow test ahead of the events – a negative test would allow them access. Attendees were encouraged to take a PCR test on the day of the event, and a second one five days later, and gave consent for their routine NHS Covid testing data to be linked.

The analysis, published today (23 June 2023) in the Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine, finds that of 12,256 individuals attending one or more events over 5 days, there were just 15 linked cases detected through research, public health and clinical testing using population-wide linked data.

Half of the cases were likely primary or secondary, reflecting transmission no higher than the background rate at the time, in contrast to a concurrent outbreak of more than 50 linked cases associated with a local swimming pool.

The key strengths of the study are its population-wide design and the realistic way the events were run. The Liverpool City Region was the first region in the world to introduce voluntary open-access asymptomatic testing, and used real-time linked data systems to study patterns of SARS-CoV-2 transmission and coordinate public health responses from November 2020 through the COVID-19 pandemic.

The University of Liverpool’s Professor Iain Buchan, Principal Investigator for the Events Research Programme in Liverpool, said:

“Around the May Bank Holiday of 2021, the Liverpool City Region ran the world’s first experimental reopening of a realistic set of mass cultural events after COVID-lockdowns. We studied the feasibility and effects of risk-mitigations including supervised self-testing, contact-tracing and joint communications between event organisers and public health teams. The events were designed to be realistic, so mask-wearing was not compulsory. Out of 12,256 eventgoers there were 15 event-linked cases detected through research and routine NHS testing – no greater than background rates, which were low then – just before the Delta variant surged. The same surveillance system detected over 50 cases linked to a swimming pool in the area at the time, which did not have pre-attendance testing.”

He added:

“This public health initiative was a response to the social development and mental health needs of young people, who were last to be vaccinated, and among whom mental health referrals were rising. It was also a response to rising unemployment in the events and hospitality sector, and the importance of this sector for social wellbeing. Future pandemic recovery might take greater advantage of digital links between ticketing, events management, and public health systems, including testing and risk communications.”

The live links between different data sources, including events ticketing and public health testing were built by the Liverpool City Region Civic Data Cooperative (CDC), which is funded by Mayor Steve Rotheram and the Liverpool City Region Combined Authority, and hosted by the University of Liverpool. The CDC is the UK’s first Civic Data Cooperative and was launched just before the COVID-19 pandemic to mobilise health-related data across the city region to improve the health and wellbeing of its residents.

Director of Culture Liverpool Claire McColgan CBE, said: 

“The Events Research Programme remains one of the most challenging projects I have ever been involved with and one that I’m incredibly proud of. At a time when restrictions were in place, we couldn’t mix indoors with family and friends, and mask wearing was the norm – Liverpool stepped up to be the focal point of a pilot project which would help shape national policy and breathe life back into the culture and leisure sector.

“This industry represents more than half of our local economy and it was in our interests to do everything we could to start to bring a sense of normality back. The eyes of the world were on us as we blazed the trail, and worked around the clock with the University, Government and event organisers to make each activity a safety success, and help unlock live events for the rest of the country.  And in terms of legacy, our learning from those projects has been invaluable, shaping how we now deliver major events, such as the highly-acclaimed Eurovision host city programme, and as a result are regarded as an exemplar of best practice in this field.”

Mayor of the Liverpool City Region, Steve Rotheram, said:

“Being the first region in the country to reopen its hospitality and events sector in the midst of a global pandemic was no mean feat, yet we knew it was essential one – not only for our economic recovery, but for our collective wellbeing.

“While the rest of the world watched on, we worked with our world-leading scientists, researchers and our ethical Civic Data Cooperative, to safely reopen our visitor economy to the public. Few areas can claim to have made a bigger impact on global health than the Liverpool City Region – and it’s a legacy that we’re proud to be continuing today.”

Click here to read the full paper.

(Image credit: Blossoms Perform / Liverpool City Council)

£6.9M funding to better understand child mental health

Further funding to enhance the flagship birth cohort study Children Growing Up in Liverpool (C-GULL), which opened this spring, has been announced today (4 July 2023).

The new ‘Microbes, Milk, Mental Health and Me’ (4M) strand, supported by £6.9M funding from the Wellcome Trust, seeks to better understand the early-life origins of mental health conditions.

Poor mental health is a growing public health challenge, particularly exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic, and yet there is still much to be learned about their early-life origins. Compelling evidence suggests that gut microbial colonization, strongly influenced by breastmilk, impacts neurodevelopment and mental well-being, but more research is needed to fully understand the underlying mechanisms.

This funding will enable the collection of additional bio-samples for the diverse birth cohort, including state-of-the-art gut microbiota and breastmilk profiling. Researchers will utilize large-scale genomic and epidemiological data to perform experiments, discover new biological insights, and carry out epidemiology and translational science. They will also establish an internationally unique archive of paired bio-samples from mothers and babies and identify keystone bacteria and milk constituents that influence neurodevelopment and mental health.

The findings from this study will inform new methods for preventing and treating adverse mental health conditions in children. The Children Growing Up in Liverpool (C-GULL) program is the first large-scale birth cohort study in the Liverpool City Region and will follow 10,000 first-born Liverpool babies and their families from early in pregnancy through childhood and beyond.

C-GULL is a partnership between The University of Liverpool, The Wellcome Trust, Liverpool City Region Combined Authority, Liverpool City Council, The Liverpool Women’s Hospital NHS Foundation Trust, and NIHR Clinical Research Network North West Coast. The study will also introduce further collaborations with University College London, The Wellcome Sanger Institute, and the University of Manitoba.

“The Children Growing Up in Liverpool (C-GULL) study represents a unique opportunity to explore the complex interplay between early-life exposures, gut microbiota and mental health,” said Professor Anthony Hollander from The University of Liverpool.

“We are thrilled to receive this additional funding from The Wellcome Trust which will allow us to further advance our understanding of how we can improve the mental health of children.”

Dr Catherine Sebastian, Head of Evidence for Mental Health at The Wellcome Trust, said:

“Poor mental health is increasing in children and young people, and we need to understand more about how these problems develop to better tackle this public health challenge. The 4M strand of C-GULL will generate important new insights into the relationship between gut microbes, breast milk, and mental health during child development, and will provide a foundation for future research in this field.”

The official opening of the C-GULL research centre will take place later this month in the academic unit at The Liverpool Women’s Hospital.

Participants and prospective participants can find more information on the study at the patient-facing website: http://www.cgullstudy.com/

World leading Pandemic Institute launched in Liverpool

Liverpool is to headquarter the Pandemic Institute, committed to helping the world prevent, prepare, and respond more effectively to pandemics.

Biophilic building for human resilience and pandemic prevention

Dr Fiona Marston is to become LSTM’s Entrepreneur in Residence after being awarded a place on the Royal Society’s scheme for 2021.

Bruntwood SciTech Finalise Science Deal

After a competitive and legally thorough process, the owners of Sciontec Liverpool finalised contracts today, making Bruntwood SciTech a 25% shareholder in the company, which operates Liverpool Science Park.

City Stakeholder Event

On the 23rd of October, the marketing team at KQ Liverpool attended an insightful city stakeholder event hosted by the Liverpool City Council. It took place in the stunning Cunard building, which Mayor of Liverpool, Joe Anderson, was quick to compliment in terms of its South African rosewood interior and its history in the maritime industry.

Sciontec Liverpool Announces Preferred Bidder

Sciontec Liverpool’s vision for a globally-facing 21stcentury knowledge-economy moved forward today as a major partnership to help unlock growth in the science and technology sector was announced.

PPI Announces Rutherford Diagnostics HQ in Liverpool

Medical innovation in the UK was given a significant boost today with the announcement that an advanced diagnostics centre is to be built in Liverpool.

Ground Breaking Celebrations for RCP’s new Liverpool Home

Work has begun on The Spine – the Royal College of Physicians’ new £35m northern headquarters in Liverpool – with a ceremony to mark the breaking of the ground upon which it will be built.