New Liverpool Lord Mayor sworn in

One of Liverpool’s longest-serving political leaders has been sworn in as the city’s Lord Mayor.

Cllr Richard Kemp said it was a “privilege” to take up the post as he was sworn in as Liverpool’s First Citizen at the historic Town Hall. The veteran Liberal Democrat councillor becomes the latest person to hold the role in the city’s history and takes over from outgoing Lord Mayor Mary Rasmussen.

He also follows in the footsteps of his wife and former councillor, Erica, who was Lord Mayor 10 years ago. Cllr Barbara Murray was named as his deputy for the municipal year.

Cllr Kemp came to Liverpool in 1974 and was elected to serve on the city council a year later. This was not a fresh introduction to the city however, with family ties long existing.

The Liberal Democrat man’s mum was Walton born and his uncle owned a shop on Scotland Road. His mother left the city after meeting Richard’s father at an RAF site in Lancashire.

In his four decades’ service to Liverpool, Cllr Kemp has held a number of influential roles, leading his party on the city council for 11 years before stepping down following last year’s all out local elections to be succeeded by Cllr Carl Cashman. He was also a cabinet member during the Liberal Democrats’ term in power running the local authority between the 1990s and 2000s.

At one point Cllr Kemp and his wife Erica were the group’s only two serving members at a nadir for the party in 2015. Having spent 12 months as deputy Lord Mayor, the Penny Lane ward member will now take on the historic robes and responsibilities.

The veteran public servant was also awarded a CBE in 2011 for public service to local government, regeneration and housing. Cllr Kemp and Alderman Erica have three children and five grandchildren who play a major part in their lives.

Their younger daughter Rachel served as Lady Mayoress for her mother during her time as Lord Mayor.

Speaking during the annual general meeting at Liverpool Town Hall, Cllr Kemp thanked group leaders for their support and said it was a “privilege” to be Lord Mayor in front of his local government and close “families”. He paid tribute to the work of all involved with Liverpool Council adding how they were a “group of people who give their time and effort willingly to do what is often a thankless task”.

Tributes were also paid by Cllr Liam Robinson, leader of Liverpool Council, who said it was fitting the 50th anniversary of Cllr Kemp’s association with the local authority would coincide with his stint as Lord Mayor. He said he was in no doubt the former cabinet member would be a “superb Lord Mayor and ambassador for the year ahead”.

Cllr Cashman said Cllr Kemp remained “passionate about the role local government can play in people’s lives” and was a “perfect example of how powerful” it can be. The Liberal Democrat leader said it was clear his predecessor was “so proud of his home city and representing his ward of Penny Lane”.

In his own 12 months as Lord Mayor, Cllr Kemp has vowed to support care leavers across the city. He has got straight to work, establishing a care leavers’ fund after securing investment of £100,000 a year for three years. The money, which will be distributed by Liverpool Council, will be in addition to other support that the authority has in place and will go towards provisions such as books for college or university, new clothing for interviews, or household items.

Liz Parsons, Cabinet Member for Children’s and Young People’s Services said, “It’s fantastic news that the Lord Mayor has chosen to help support carer leavers across the city throughout his year in office. We’re really excited to work together in highlighting care leavers’ experiences and celebrating their successes.”

A spokesperson from the Community Foundation for Merseyside added, “The Community Foundation for Merseyside is proud to be managing the Liverpool Care Leavers’ fund. Making the transition to adult life can be especially difficult for young people leaving care, who may not have had the stability of a settled family life, or the support of their own family.”

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