Salford Liberal Democrat, Alex Warren, has reached into his own pocket to hand-deliver 5,000 Christmas cards to Salford Quays residents this week.
The idea behind the Christmas cards is to inform the public about the efforts that the Salford Liberal Democrat team have been doing in the area to improve littering and safety.
The team consists of about 5 volunteers who spend their free time outside of their 9-5 jobs trying to find ways to make Salford a better place.
Warren has been talking to residents about his campaign to ‘Clean up Salford Quays’, which he also included in the Christmas card: “We have been working to make the area cleaner and greener with the hope we can build a community with nature reserves and make our area safer at night’
He said: “I’ve been around Greater Manchester and you know, this is a city at the end of the day, and it’s a city that is on the border of one of the biggest cities in the country”
He added, “Manchester, as a city is only made as great as it is by the boroughs that surround it and Salford is one of the most important boroughs within Greater Manchester, I would say. I’m obviously biased, but there’s a huge opportunity for not only my parties to say what we are and why we’re important, why community is important, but I think it’s good for local people to have someone who will knock on the door and ask them how they are, and get things sorted around in their local area.”
Warren’s vision for Salford Quays is to create nature reserves, clean up the area and the water, and to make it an overall safer and more vibrant place to live in.
He said, “I feel like there is a vision. So a lot of it is to add voice to the end of the cladding scandal, I’d like to have late-night trams, I’d like to create a safe night-time economy like we have around MediaCity.
“In a post-COVID environment, night-time economy in an area like Manchester or in any urban areas is so important and this area is perfect for it.
“We don’t have to be the ugly sister of Greater Manchester. We can be really good here. This is a very unique area. We’ve got a waterfront district. Let’s put some nature reserves in, let us spend a bit of money making it look nice. Let’s put some disabled ramps in so everyone can come there. Let’s make it safe at night.”
He added, “The thing is everything’s connected and what I’d like to do is do some proactive, visible stuff on a local level. It is an area that has so much potential. It has a bad attitude, this area. I think a lot of Salford does, it has a bad reputation, but it doesn’t matter.”
In light of this vision, Warren has taken the matter into his own hands and has started a petition to ‘Clean up Salford Quays’ in a bid to urge the council to fix the ongoing issues of rubbish and pollution in the area.
— Alex Warren (@awliberal) December 9, 2020
He said, “I know as a councillor, it’s not my job to come down and clean up the area, but I would do that every Saturday or one day a week with a team of people because I can. And if loads of people did that, that would make a difference, but that’s not happening right now. The current councilors aren’t doing that. So I’m thinking this is a fresh opportunity to change the attitude of this area”
Since September, Warren and his team of volunteers have handed out a total of around 16,000 pieces of literature to local residents. Since December 3rd, they have handed out 5,000 Christmas cards.
“I feel like if you’re going to put out a political leaflet at Christmas, that’s normally tone-deaf anyway, because I know at Christmas I don’t give a s**t about politics really. If I send a leaflet through the door saying ‘Cladding Chaos’ or ‘Look at this swan choking on a bottle’, it’s just not going to land well, and I don’t want to make people feel like that at Christmas either.
The Christmas cards also included words of support and encouragement, stating “This can be a hard time of year for those isolating because of Covid-19 or for other reasons. We are always contactable and up for a chat about any issues, you may have. Please let us know if you are struggling and we will do what we can to help in any way”.
Warren explained, “I think it was just an overall message of positivity and in a time when things aren’t positive, I think it’s necessary.
“I think sometimes just having that safeguard and knowing that someone is there to talk to, because I don’t know how often these people speak to other people. I have my family on messenger and you know, I can give them a video call every day, but not everyone has that. So it’s just really giving people a safety net and an option. I’m not a mental health professional. I have not attended any kind of training, but I know that it’s important to reassure people.
“I have had people get back to me and say ‘That was a really nice thing to send out, thank you for that, I really appreciate it’. It’s nice to give people Christmas cards anyway, but it sends a message to people about what kind of representative I’d like to be for them and how we’re going to proceed as a local party and group.
Warren hopes he can encourage more locals to get involved in the work his party has been doing to improve the area: “What we need to be doing is perhaps be getting people who aren’t normally political involved in politics because I think that’s helpful for the system and I think it’s good to teach people about something they don’t know that controls every aspect of their lives.
“It’s the overall message to clean up the Quays and tied into that is ending the cladding scandal and making it a safer place at night; thinking about post COVID recovery and putting in some nature reserves, it is just there. Our main focuses, that’s my main target and that’s all I can affect. And to be honest, I’m only one person.”
He explained how even if he can’t achieve much change with the Liberal Democrat party, he expects his efforts to at least encourage other political parties to step up to the plate: “Well actually having a healthy opposition means you’ve got a healthy administration because the administration is protecting itself against a growing opposition.”