The end game approaches for Mayor Anderson

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The end is nigh for Mayor Joe

I felt sorry for the journalist from Society Guardian who rang me today. She rang me to ask me my opinion about what will happen with the Metro Mayor and how the Mayoralty of Liverpool City had gone. Aafter 10 minutes I asked her where she was and she replied Crewe Station. “You’re not on your way to see Joe Anderson are you?” I asked, “Yes”, she replied. Oh dear not the best day for that.

 

For surely today was the day that Joe Anderson realised that his dream of becoming the Boris of Greater Liverpool had come to an end. The first blow came last week when Steve Rotherham announced his nomination and Luciana Berger announced her possible candidacy. What, without a doubt, sealed his fate was the announcement that the Leader of the Council in St Helens had decided not to stand and would support Steve was the nail in the coffin. It had already become clear that Joe had little support outside Liverpool. I was expecting a strong challenge to come from one of the 5 other Boroughs. But in fact the Brutus of the piece came internally in the shape of Steve Rotherham. One of Joe’s own protégés brought to stardom from obscurity by Joe as a very young Lord Mayor.

 

Forget Luciana she is a light weight with little support from Scouse Labour members. Steve Rotherham though is a different matter for three reasons.

 

  1. He is popular inside Liverpool
  2. He is popular outside Liverpool
  3. He has the support of Momentum, Labour’s new kingmakers, as the PPS to Jeremy Corbyn.

 

From what I see on Twitter and in a number of other fora it is game set and match for Rotherham. My concern is that for all his good points, and he is a good and honest man, Steve Rotherham has little experience of running things. He was never a leading councillor and never even a shadow minister in Parliament. That however is a matter initially for the Labour Party to decide and secondly and more importantly for the electorate to decide next year.

 

So what then will become of Mayor Anderson? Well the original plan was to get him safely installed as the candidate for the City Region and then abolish the position of elected Mayor in Liverpool City. Because Liverpool dodged the electorate and decided to go for a Mayor on a vote within the council only they can dodge the electorate again. From the middle of February next year they will be able to abolish the Mayoralty.

 

I will support that. You might say that I should be consistent and ask for a referendum on the matter. We could do that but I won’t be making that request. Over the past 6 months Lib Dems have called at more than 15,000 doors in Liverpool. I cannot recall anyone asking to keep the mayoralty.

 

It’s confusing enough to have an Elected Mayor of Liverpool and a Lord Mayor of Liverpool. Adding on an elected mayor of Liverpool City Region would simply be unnecessary and confusing. Getting rid of the mayoral position would immediately save about £250,000. More importantly than that it would introduce better governance inside Liverpool. When I opposed the idea of the mayoralty I said it would fail to achieve its three main objectives. These were getting more people voting; getting more money into the city and getting more power. There has clearly been a total failure in all these with a miserly 30% turnout in Liverpool showing how much the creation of the position had failed to capture the imagination of the public.

 

Decision making will become much better in the city. There will be much more discussion in council and less capricious decision making. Too many bad decisions have been made on the whim of one person with the cronies and coterie publicly going along with the decision. I think of things like the bus lane fiasco where instead of having a proper review which would have been supported by all in the Council there was eventually a vote to get rid of 6 bus lanes despite our officers telling us it would make journeys slower for both cars and buses. I also think of the purchase of the Cunard Building where the council has moved to poor internal accommodation simply because one man had a dream of the Building becoming the ticketing and reception office for the cruise liners. This was despite already having been told that this was not possible for a whole range of reasons.

 

I sometimes feel sorry for politicians down on their luck and clearly on the way down but not in this case. The way that Anderson has treated political opponents and members of the public in Liverpool has been a disgrace. He treats everyone who is not 100% behind him as someone who is 100% against him. He alone ensured that we had a mayoralty and pushed it through on specious grounds. He deserves to leave the council next year in other than the circumstances that he was hoping for.

 

Lib Dems will be choosing their candidate for the regional mayoralty in September or October time. Everyone assumes that it must be a Labour mayor. I can tell you that Lib Dems have a spring in our step now after May 5th. Back on Knowsley Council, trebling our vote in Liverpool and our best ever results in Southport do not by themselves token immediate success. But another year of Corbyn and Anderson in Liverpool with clear angst in the Labour Party and who really knows what the result might be!

 

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The fight for Liverpool’s Parks and Green Spaces is only just beginning

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This piece of Land at Beechley Riding Stables in Calderstones Park is still under threat from Redrow’s bulldozers

Some people are becoming very complacent about the possibility of the Parks and green spaces of Liverpool being safe from the bulldozer Labour has threatened to unleash on them.

This hopeful complacency has been brought on by two recent announcements:

  1. The decision that Everton will not be proceeding with the purchase and development of Walton Hall Park. Not only will EFC not be going there the other suggested developments of retail, leisure and housing will not take place. This is good news but it is not based on any view about the importance of Parks especially in North Liverpool where there is a clear deficiency. It was cold, hard economics which stopped this proposals. EFC doesn’t have the money to proceed as the anchor for this development.

 

Whether they have the money to plan for, acquire and develop a new site by 2019 remains to be seen. It seems highly unlikely to me but miracles can happen.

 

  1. The announcement that Mayor Anderson will oppose the development of land at Allerton Priory for housing. This prompts three thoughts in my mind. It is just the first success for the local residents and new councillor Mirna Juarez. I doubt that this announcement would have been made if the <Lib Dem team had not stormed to victory in Allerton on May 5. It may just be all talk. The decision on these matters is actually made, legally, by the planning committee. It could be that the planning committee will vote against the application and then the council offers a weak case against the developer, Redrow, when it goes to appeal. Does Mayor Anderson now have to pay back some of the money that was donated to his campaign last year by Redrow?!

Whatever happens will be watched very carefully by campaigners at Calderstones and Sefton Parks. There is not a single argument which could be advanced by the planning department in opposition to development of the Priory site that could and should not be used in the case of the Harthill Estate and other land at Calderstones and the Meadowlands. I warn the council now that any differential defence of green wedge will be the subject of a judicial review hearing which would be launched immediately we saw such a report appearing before the planning committee.

But the development of parts of our parks and green spaces is only one of the threats to them. In some ways of far greater concern because it affects all of our parks is the statement made last year and oft repeated by Mayor Anderson that from31st March next year there will be no money in the budget for looking after our Parks. I don’t know whether that is true but I have no reason to doubt it although the Cabinet Member responsible for Parks has hinted that there might be some money available for a transition from council to other sorts of management.

The failure of Labour to do anything to prepare for what would be an apocalyptic future for our Parks is either showing gross incompetence or great cunning. In June last year the Council agreed to set up two ‘task and finish groups’, one for Calderstones Park and one for Walton Hall Park to look at possible alternative forms of management of the Parks. Note the word ‘management’. We would have had nothing to do with these discussions if there had been any talk of transferring the ownership of the Parks.

We took that in good faith. Although no meetings of the Walton Hall Park group took place there were two meetings of the Calderstones Park Group. We met in October and December. In October Cllr Andrew Makinson and I worked with the Friends of Harthill & Calderstones Park to promote a consultation event inside the Park. More than 130 people came to it and more than 100 replied to a questionnaire we circulated in the community. We presented a report to the Task & Finish Group in December which was going to be fully discussed in January along with other items of hard information from the Council.

The meeting in January was cancelled and despite our best efforts no meeting has since been held. Originally we were told that this was due to legal difficulties and then we found out that there was no-one of the Leisure Department writing the report. Then we found out that the delay was the Cabinet Member for Neighbourhood Services not having time to write the report!

This shambles is not only related to The Park. One of the ideas that came of the O’Brien Review was a suggestion that two pieces of land, one in the North of the City and the other at Menlove Gardens should be given to the management of local people. In good faith we worked with the council and more than 50 local people came to the meeting at the Halfway House in February. They voted in principle to accept management of the Park but raised a lot of very reasonable and practical questions. 5 months later those questions remain unanswered. We await with interest future developments but have repeatedly pointed out that the clock is ticking and we only now have 9 months to find, develop and prepare for solutions to the problems of the deadline of the end of March still stands.

So is this incompetence, lack of action or something deliberate. The alternative is, of course, that the Labour Party already knows what it wants to do with our parks but doesn’t want to tell us all or involve us all. Perhaps there is a solution in the offing with one of their chosen partners in the community or private sector who could take over at the last minute because there has been no time to prepare properly for community led, none-profit making initiatives.

Whatever the reason for the delay it is extremely worrying. Our Parks are treasured assets of the people of Liverpool. This slap dash, half-hearted approach to developing a realistic future for them deeply disturbs me and all the people who talk to me or otherwise communicate with me about green space issues.

Everyone connected with the Green and Open Space issues must continue the fight to prevent development for housing. But we must also open up a new front in the relationship with the council. We have to challenge Labour about the future of all the Parks and Green spaces of Liverpool if they are not to disintegrate into an unusable and dangerous jungle. The fight must go on.

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Lib Dems in local government respond to the Queen’s Speech

QueenEK Erica and Her Majesty chatting about the Queen’s Speech!!

QUEEN’S SPEECH: COUNCILS RESPOND TO NATIONAL CITIZEN SERVICE BILL

 Responding to the National Citizen Service Bill announced in today’s Queen’s Speech, which includes plans to dramatically expand the National Citizen Service, Cllr Gerald  Vernon Jackson, LGA Liberal Democrat Group leader said:

“The Government is proposing to allocate £1.1 billion in funding for it over the course of this Parliament, and with many local services under pressure since 2010 following substantial cuts to local government funding, it is vital that money to run the NCS should not be at the expense of restoring and supporting local services for young people. Councils – who know their communities best – must be able to provide services tailored to local needs.

“If local authorities are to actively promote the NCS, it is essential that there is a reciprocal duty on providers to engage with local authorities, including a duty to share relevant data, to make sure that promotion is effectively targeted to meet local needs.”

QUEEN’S SPEECH: LGA RESPONDS TO NEIGHBOURHOOD PLANNING AND INFRASTRUCTURE BILL

Responding to the Neighbourhood Planning and Infrastructure Bill announced in today’s Queen’s Speech, Cllr Gerald Vernon Jackson said:

“The planning system is not a barrier to housebuilding. Councils approve almost nine out of 10 planning applications and the number of homes being granted planning permission by local authorities during 2015 was 253,000, the highest level since 2007. There is support for the intention to improve the process for reviewing and updating neighbourhood plans but are clear that any additional requirements on councils should be fully funded.

“There is little evidence to suggest development is being delayed by planning conditions. Planning conditions provide a vital role, enabling planning permissions to go ahead which would otherwise be refused or delayed while the details are worked out. They can also save developers time and money as they do not need to invest in detailed submissions until the principle of the development is granted.

“We support measures to free up new land for homes. Reforms to Compulsory Purchase Orders could pave the way for councils to capture the value from increased land prices to invest in the vital infrastructure that boosts housebuilding and creates places that people want to live.”

QUEEN’S SPEECH: COUNCILS RESPOND TO DIGITAL ECONOMY BILL

Responding to the Digital Economy Bill announced in today’s Queen’s Speech, which includes plans for a broadband Universal Service Obligation (USO), Cllr Howard Sykes, LGA Lib Dem Group Whip, said:

“The creation of a broadband Universal Service Obligation (USO) as a safety net for those residents and businesses with poor connectivity could help but only if properly enforced. Many people, including in rural areas, get very poor coverage at the moment”.

“The LGA is calling for the USO minimum download speed to be defined as a percentage of average national download speeds to ensure the new national minimum standard keeps pace with average broadband speeds across the country.

“This will mean that when the USO speed is up for review and national average download speeds have risen, the minimum standard will also increase.

“Extending excellent mobile coverage across the country is also key to ensuring all residents have access to 21st century digital connectivity, especially in some of the country’s most rural areas.

“With commercial operators obliged to extend coverage across the country, it is important they work in partnership with councils, who maintain the best overview of local areas’ digital connectivity needs, to find the best locations for new phone masts and ensure communities are properly consulted on developments. Mobile network operators should not be able to build huge masts in places without local residents and councils having their say.

“The reform of the Electronic Communications Code must not discourage communication network providers from liaising with councils. It will also be important for the mobile sector to adhere to its own Code of Best Practice on Mobile Network Development in England, especially liaising with councils and the community, before installing or upgrading phone masts.”

QUEEN’S SPEECH: COUNCILS RESPOND TO POLICING AND CRIME BILL

Responding to the Policing and Crime Bill, which requires emergency services to collaborate and makes provision for Police and Crime Commissioners (PCCs) to manage fire and rescue services in their areas, Cllr Jeremy Hilton, Lib Dem Chair of the Local Government Association’s Fire Services Management Committee, which represents 48 fire and rescue authorities in England and Wales, said:

“Fire and rescue authorities have been collaborating with other emergency services for a long time and further progress is being made with ongoing partnership work. On governance, councillors already do a superb job in running fire and rescue authorities. The LGA believes it should stay that way.

“PCCs should only run fire and rescue services where there is a robust business case setting out the advantages of doing so, which is supported by all sides and has the support of local communities.

“PCC take-overs could involve a lengthy bureaucratic process – for example, through the need to alter governing boundaries – which do not deliver worthwhile improvements over what can be achieved through collaboration.”

QUEEN’S SPEECH: COUNCILS RESPOND TO SOFT DRINKS INDUSTRY LEVY 

Responding to the Soft Drinks Industry Levy announced in today’s Queen’s Speech, the Local Government Association’s Lib Dem Community Wellbeing spokeswoman, Cllr Richard Kemp, said:

“Councils have long called for measures to be introduced to tackle sugar content in soft drinks, which can help the fight against child obesity.

“As well as being a key driver behind obesity, sugar is also a major cause of tooth decay, with a recent survey finding that a quarter of children starting school have rotting teeth.

“It’s time for the soft drinks industry to step up and take its share of responsibility for the child obesity crisis we face.”

QUEEN’S SPEECH: COUNCILS RESPOND TO BUS SERVICES BILL

Responding to the Bus Services Bill announced in today’s Queen’s Speech, which includes plans to allow combined authorities with directly-elected mayors to take on responsibility for local bus services and franchising options, Cllr Chris White, Deputy Leader of the LGA LIb Dem group, said:

“With government forecasts of an increase in traffic levels of up to 55 per cent by 2040, the ability for local areas to take responsibility for bus services through the option of franchising and greater access to buses data could help councils struggling to avoid gridlock on their roads and local people to access vital services.

“Franchising should be available to all local authorities who wish to improve bus services in towns, villages and rural areas that are poorly served at present. It should not depend on having a directly-elected mayor.

“To protect cherished bus services, which remain under threat as councils continue to receive less money from government to provide all services over the next few years, the option to franchise needs to go hand in hand with the devolution of bus subsidies. Handing councils control over the Bus Service Operators’ Grant – a fuel duty rebate paid directly to bus operators by the Government – would help them support vital routes and the roll-out of smart ticketing.

“Years of underfunding of the concessionary fares scheme – a statutory duty on councils to provide free off-peak travel for elderly and disabled residents – has forced councils to spend millions of pounds subsidising it. Government needs to fully fund this to protect the routes which act as a lifeline for vulnerable and non-driving residents to go shopping, pick up medication, attend doctor appointments or socialise with friends.

“Councils also need effective traffic management powers to enforce moving traffic offences – such as banned turns and blocking yellow box junctions – to help unblock congestion hotspots that delay buses and lengthen journey times.

“We will now seek to work with the Government on the detail of the Bill to ensure that the legislation is simple, streamlined and easy for councils to implement.”

QUEEN’S SPEECH: COUNCILS RESPOND TO CHILDREN AND SOCIAL WORK BILL

Responding to the Children and Social Work Bill announced in today’s Queen’s Speech, Cllr Liz Green, Lib Dem spokesperson on the LGA’s Children and Young People Board, said:

“Councils are committed to improving children and young people’s experience of the care system. Many of the provisions outlined in this Bill have the potential to support the good work already taking place in local authorities across the country, and could make a real difference to the lives of vulnerable children and young people.

“Adoption is not right for every child, but neither the local authority nor the court should shy away from making that decision when it is in the child’s best interests. Finding loving homes for children is one of the most important jobs that councils do, with local authorities at the heart of efforts to find permanent homes for some of our most vulnerable young people. The Government’s determination to drive longer term decision making through the court system is encouraging, as the recent decline in the number of children adopted from care will only be tackled through close working between social workers and the judiciary.

“However, we must take care that the ongoing focus on adoption does not distract from the importance of other types of long and short-term care for vulnerable children. Local and national government must continue to work towards improving the experience of all children in care – whether they are being looked after by friends or family, in foster care or a special guardianship arrangement, or in residential care.

“It is important to be clear that many children and young people have a very positive experience of the care system. Research shows that the love and support of foster families, kinship carers or residential care workers can help children in a range of ways, improving their progress in school and helping them to overcome some of the trauma they may have experienced earlier in their lives.

“There is room for improvement though. Proposals to provide clear, consistent support to young people leaving care until the age of 25 is supported by councils, but this must be fully funded.

“In addition, improving regulation of social workers will increase public confidence in the profession and a sense of pride in the many highly-talented social workers. However we need to ensure this is not overly bureaucratic and doesn’t deter new recruits or existing staff from remaining in social work. This is also an excellent opportunity to align the new system with DBS record checks so time is not wasted on repeating lengthy checks that can take months to complete.”

QUEEN’S SPEECH: COUNCILS RESPOND TO COUNTER-EXTREMISM BILL

Responding to the Counter-Extremism Bill announced in today’s Queen’s Speech, which includes plans to introduce extremism disruption orders to restrict those trying to radicalise young people, banning orders for extremist organisations which seek to undermine democracy or use hate speech in public places, and powers for councils to close down premises used to support extremism, Cllr Dorothy Thornhill, Deputy leader of the LGA Lib Dem Group said:

“Councils have built up considerable experience in dealing with extremism and the impact of extremist activity on their communities.

“Preventing people from being radicalised and engaging in extremist activity means understanding and building relations with communities, and a better understanding of the reasons why some people are vulnerable to radicalisation and what can be done to make them more resilient to extremist views and propaganda”.

QUEEN’S SPEECH: COUNCILS RESPOND TO EDUCATION FOR ALL BILL

Responding to the Education For All Bill announced in today’s Queen’s Speech, which includes plans to end the statutory role of councils in school improvement, and give the Secretary of State new powers to force all schools in a council area to become academies if the council is underperforming or unviable in its support for those schools, Cllr Ruth Dombey, Chair of the LGA Lib Dem Group said:

“We strongly believe that all schools should have the choice to stay with their council or convert to academy status, and remains opposed to any forced academisation. Hundreds of schools, often in disadvantaged areas, are being turned around thanks to the intervention of local councils, highlighting that they should be regarded as education improvement partners rather than as a barrier to change. Our recent analysis of the grades achieved by all schools under the more rigorous Ofsted inspection framework proved that 81 per cent of council-maintained schools are rated as ‘good’ or ‘outstanding’, compared to 73 per cent of academies and 79 per cent of free schools. Schools should not be forced down the academy route unless they make that decision themselves.

“Only a handful of Multi-Academy Trusts currently maintain more than 10 sponsored academies, compared to councils, which maintain large numbers of schools and have significant experience and expertise, so we will be keen to explore how councils will be considered ‘unviable’ to maintain schools. In addition, councils will continue working with all schools to deliver the education needed by individual communities, from making sure every child has a suitable school place, to protecting vulnerable children. Suggesting a council is ‘unviable’ ignores this crucial role that councils will continue to play in education.

“If the statutory role of councils in school improvement and holding them to account ends, parents will have to raise any problems with one of the eight remote Regional Schools Commissioners. We have serious concerns about the capacity and local knowledge of each individual Commissioner to effectively hold more than 2,500 schools to account, particularly when each RSC already has between 53 and 133 failing academies to turn around. The LGA is against the transfer of significant powers relating to education to unelected civil servants, and it is vital that local oversight of schools by democratically elected councils is maintained. Councils must be allowed to work with RSCs to drive up education standards in their areas.

“The LGA remains keen to work with the Department for Education to ensure that all partners are working together to deliver the excellent education that our children deserve, regardless of where they live or the structure of their school.”

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Let’s Ban all Immigration Now!

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There really is a lot of rubbish talked about immigration at the moment. Let’s have the truth and hang the consequences.

I know that 23% of all senior professionals in the National Health Service are immigrants BUT I DON’T CARE. I would rather die than be looked after by an immigrant!

I know that Jaguar Land Rover has been saved by an Indian Company who have brought a lot of senior managers over to make the plant and company one of the finest in the World BUT I DON’T CARE! I would rather at least 15,000 people in JLR and their supply chain were unemployed rather than take jobs from an immigrant.

I know that almost all the fresh British fruit, veg and salads is harvested by immigrants BUT I DON’T CARE. I’d rather the crops rotted in the fields and I starved than eat food harvested by an immigrant.

I know that immigrants have put more than £2.5 billion into our economy by way of National Insurance and taxation than they have taken out in any sort of benefit BUT I DON’T CARE. I’d rather live in a poor country than a wealth creating one.

Now a few of you might at this stage think I am serious; a few might think I am temporarily deranged but most of you will have gathered by now (I hope) the strong ironic nature of the above paragraphs. I clearly and obviously believe that immigration is a good thing for Liverpool, the Country and for our place in the World.

Let me move to a slightly different arena for a moment to consider another area of debate which is clouded with misinformation – the growing number of elderly in the UK and who will pay for and look after US! I was told yesterday that when the NHS was first established there were 10.5 workers paying taxes to pay for it. Now there are just 3.5 and if it had not been for immigration it would have been going down to 2.5. I want someone to look after me when I am old. I want someone to be paying taxes to pay for the NHS that I will need. We either breed more or let people in!

I hope that all these facts which actually try and deal with some of the myths that are clouding the air in the EU referendum so called debates. I think it sad that having lost the key argument, the one on the economy, the ‘outers’ have had to rely on two lines of attack. The first of these is immigration where they make up scare stories without any regard for the facts or the way that the UK has long-term needs or that we live in a global economy where more than 2,000,000 Brits work in the EU and more than 1,000,000 Brits live in Spain alone. People move where they want to and take their money and skills with them. We need those people to move here.

The second line of attack raised by a number of the outers is Hitler!! You always know that when a politician uses any comparison with any situation and invokes Hitler they have lost the arguments and are desperately casting around for something to distract from the real world. The idea that the Germans are trying to resurrect a Hitler dream of a united European under German rule is drivel. The Germans are the leading country in the EU for two reasons. Firstly they have committed themselves to make the EU work. They have argued for the changes that they believe from the centre of the EU not from the comic fringe which the UK has occupied for so long. Secondly they are just much better at business than we are.

Let me give you one example of the last point. The Outers are suggesting that if we weren’t in the EU we would do much more trade with the Commonwealth. There is absolutely nothing to stop us doing more trade with the Commonwealth and I think we should. We have so many advantages of language; customs; diaspora ties; friendship ties with Commonwealth countries that we should take advantage of them for mutual benefit. But if we look at the largest Commonwealth country, India, we can see that despite all those advantages Germany exports three times as much to India as does the UK.

It’s the economy that will really either benefit from staying in the EU or will decline if we are not in the EU. Of course the outers are right to say that all the 78 trade treaties which are in place now will, eventually be replaced with new treaties with a stand-alone UK. But hear the words of the President of the USA, our biggest single country trading partner. He tells us clearly that we will be at the back of the queue and that our arrangements will not be as good. This is common sense. The USA will spend more time dealing with the potentials of a 540 million trading bloc than a 60 million country. We will not get as good a deal because we don’t have the market that is as appealing as the EU. This is not a matter of politics but plain common sense!

If we vote to come out of the EU on June 23rd we will not fall off the edge of a cliff on 24th. But over the next decade we will subside gradually losing market share and employment opportunities. Some things will happen immediately. If you have booked a holiday in the EU but your currency now because the EU will strengthen overnight against the £. If you have shares you should consider doing what many others are doing at present, and sell those shares because they will decrease in value.

Perhaps the most telling point of all is that the Brexit Boys refuse to tell you what will happen if we leave the EU. Perhaps they genuinely don’t know what will happen and are asking you to take a blind leap into the dark with them. Hardly a responsible position! Perhaps they do know and don’t want to tell you because this referendum is not really for them a matter of principle but of personal political gain. Neither of these is a satisfactory position.

I’m voting in because I am proud of my country; its traditions and values. I want my Country to be influential and a world leader. It will never do that by clinging to the past and not understanding the needs of the future. We need mates and the best ones to have are the other 27 countries of the EU.

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Europe – The most important vote in Liverpool this year

Union Flag        European_flag_wavy

Two Flags – One Country – One Future

Some people might be surprised by this headline. “Surely”, they might say, “you’ve just been a candidate in the Mayoral Election. Wasn’t that important after all?” Of course the recent local elections were important and particularly the one for Mayor but they were nowhere near as important for the future of Liverpool as the vote that is still to come on June 23 when we look at whether or not we stay in Europe.

I have been appalled at the way both the Leave and Remain sides have been taking forward this debate. They present everything in black and white and with extreme views. Nothing is that simple. I do not believe that the UK will fall off a cliff edge if we leave the EU. I don’t even think we will see much difference for a couple of years. I am, however, convinced that over the years the UK will decline and become a backwater whilst the major decisions about its climate; about its economy; about its legal and other systems are made outside its borders in a way that it will be unable to influence.

Before we go into detailed arguments let’s just apply a little bit of common sense to look at what will happen if we leave the EU. Let’s assume we are members of a club. Let’s says it’s a golf club. You pay your membership fee and you get a range of services for that fee. In most golf clubs you can continue to play if you are not a member but members take priority for using the fairways; set the local rules by which you play and you will have to pay more for the privilege than if you were not a member. You go in on ‘their’ terms. That’s true of any club, grouping or organisation. If you are in you benefit if you are out you pay more and get less.

Of course if we leave the EU we will end up with treaties on trade and other matters given time but they will not be as good as we get inside the EU. Put bluntly we are much smaller; much less worth the effort; much less of a market. As the President of the USA has made clear we will be back of the queue when it comes to trade and other negotiations.

Today we have heard about security. I didn’t believe either side’s arguments were cohesive or persuasive. The Boche will never again invade plucky Belgium. We won’t be hanging out our washing on the Siegfried Line. Roses may continue to blossom in Picardy but not because there has been a war. The Countries of Europe are now too linked in too many ways for that to ever happen again. 2 million Brits live in Spain. Hundreds of thousands of young French people live in the UK. Everywhere there are sizable numbers of people who originated somewhere else and who see a common European identity and heritage.

If security is a talking point in the referendum it should be about external security and not the security of weapons. That surely is a matter for NATO. The security the EU can provide is through united trade and cultural missions. In working in Countries with problems of poverty, sanitation poor education; corruption, poor crop yields, declining water and other resources. Create stability through prosperity in those countries and we can indeed minimise if not eliminate

I think these things for the whole country but I think it more for our City of Liverpool because of what we do and where we are.

For me there are two abiding reasons why people in the Liverpool City Region should vote YES on 23rd June.

Firstly we are a merchant city. That’s why we were founded and that’s to a very large extent why we still exist. The Port of Liverpool is currently having a £300,000,000 expansion so that it can service 95% of the ships in the World. That expansion will serve not just increased trade with the UK and the World but has been designed to carry increased trade between the EU and the rest of the World. Cargo can be offloaded here and speedily transported though the Channel Tunnel across Europe. It can do this cheaply, swiftly and efficiently. It will not do it though if we are outside the EU. Liverpool will not be an obvious route to Europe because however minimal the trade tariffs and however minimal the bureaucracy there will be tariffs and there will be paperwork.

In the Country as a whole we have maintained our position as a world trade power because we are in Europe. Companies from other Countries use English; have similar customs and practices to us and see us as a logical entry point into Europe. This is especially true of the car industry which is one of our major manufacturing success stories. But car making is by no means unique. Hundreds of thousands of jobs have been created in the UK because it provides easy access to European markets. Those jobs will not go immediately but as investment decisions are made they will not be made in favour but in favour of continental Europe.

Secondly, we are a needy city. We still have vast amounts of poverty and that poverty has been addressed more by the EU than by Whitehall which Party or combination of Parties has formed the Westminster Government. Aid and assistance from London comes on the whim and favour of Ministers and they have not looked kindly on the North as a whole and Liverpool in particular for decades. 10 times as much government money is spent on infrastructure in London and the South East. Similar figures for culture, the arts, research, universities etc. etc. The EU on the other hand sets objective criteria for aid and assistance and sticks to them. That’s why we got the Objective One money which has reshaped our City Centre; providing help for our skills base; universities; museums; hotels and transport. We’re still poor but in a much better shape with EU policies than if we had been relying on Whitehall largesse.

The EU needs reforming. All governance throughout the World needs reforming in the light or trading; IT and cultural changes. We can reform it better AND to our advantage by being inside it and not having to do what we are told by it as outsiders.

Liverpool Lib Dems are flinging themselves with passion into this debate. We will be out on the streets; knocking on the doors and rattling the letter boxes because we want our Country to be a World Leader; ecause we are patriots who believe in our Country and its future; because we care for the young people who will otherwise live in a poorer and poorer country.

We have 6 weeks to ensure a Yes vote. We will do everything we can in those weeks to ensure that in Liverpool at least we carry the day convincingly as we did 40 years ago in the first ‘Common Market’ referendum.

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Thanks for your Support

Liverpool Group

Thanks to those who voted Lib Dem in Liverpool last Thursday from the Liverpool Lib Dem Council Group Andrew Makinson, Richard Kemp, Mirna Juarez and Malcolm Kelly

On Thursday the election results for our City were poor. Joe Anderson was re-elected and I fear now for the physical and green heritage of our City. For the Lib Dems, however, the day was good. In fact it was at the very top end of our hopes for the day and well, well beyond our fears.

In the Mayoral vote I went up from the near death experience of 6.5% in 2012 to a very healthy and competitive 21.1%. In terms of numbers of seats we doubled the size of the Council Group from 2 to 4 and now represent three wards. In all three of those wards we have elected strong and devoted campaigners who are first class liberals.

In Church Ward Erica was replaced by Andrew Makinson who has considerable experience in 13 years as a councillor and our spokesperson on the Passenger Transport Authority. Andrew had a majority of 1,462. He lives in the area and has done all is life and has already been out and about campaigning since his election.

In Allerton/Hunts Cross Ward Mirna Juarez had a convincing majority of 537. A local Mum and committed activist for green issues she has already served for 4 years as a councillor.

In Woolton Malcolm Kelly retook his seat with a majority of 813 after losing the ward twice by about 200 votes. Another old council hand Malcolm will hit the ground running with his 17 years of experience.

I believe that we will go on in all three of these wards to gain all the seats available (3 in 2018) not because the swing is with us; not because we have a right to be the councillors for those seats but because my colleagues and I are committed to the concept of community politics and to caring for our communities. Now that the negativity of the coalition days are behind us we can return to the point where people will elect us based on our commitment to them.

But that is not all the good news. In 5 other wards we came a very good second and will soon be putting candidates in place to work up those wards for 2018. You may think I am foolish revealing this is in a public blog but our opponents will already have worked out what we intend to do and where we intend to do it.

Let’s just mention our opponents for a while. The English Democrats were trounced. I hope they have slithered back into the sewer that they came from with their appalling perversion of Christianity and foul minded assertions about immigrants. The Tories as usual got nowhere and lost their deposit. UKIP almost disappeared from view. As far as we know they didn’t deliver a single leaflet in the City. The Greens showed the depth of their naivety. They had no understanding of what was going on. Had failed to realise that the General Election changed everything and that they were being stuffed in local by-elections across England. They came a poor third in the elections and only managed to hold on to their one seat in St Michaels. They have no prospect for a win anywhere outside that ward.

So what of Labour. It was pitiful really. Yes they have won – for now! They produced a selection of gimmicks which they described as a manifesto just two days before Election Day. No wonder they didn’t want it scrutinised. It had more holes than a Gruyere cheese! On election Day Labour were reducing to reproducing a 6 year old newspaper article to remind people of a coalition that has been dead for a year. They too have not realised that the General Election was a game changer. One half-witted Labour Councillor decided to give people links to blog articles that I wrote in 2011 and 2012. It produced a massive number of hits on Election Day. Mostly though people looked at my more recent blogs about the incompetence of the Labour Party in the City. They refused to stand on their record. They barely mentioned the Mayor as they knew he was a vote loser.

So how do we continue to move forward? Already I have been deluged by e-mails both of congratulations and commiserations. “What can we do next to help the Lib Dems move even further forward?” People ask me. The answer is astonishingly simple. Join us, help us and work for us. It is our intention based on the evidence of these results to move forward across the City. The more people that help us the quicker we can take over and protect what is left amongst the wreckage of Labour’s strategies.

Please take that step today. You can join the Party by clicking the link at www.richardkemp.org.uk. Just a few hours per month will enable us to take this City back with the leadership that it needs. I hope that you will this idea some careful thought. If you want to talk it through just contact me at richardkemp68.yahoo.co.uk and we can arrange to talk things through.

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Vote with Hope in Your Heart on Thursday

My Documents

Elect me on Thursday and I will put all my passion, energy and experience to work on behalf

of the City and its people

Thursday marks the end of an appalling election in Liverpool. It will not be appalling in terms of the Lib Dem vote. We are very confident in a big boost to our vote in all three contests that people can vote for in Liverpool.

No it’s been appalling because there has been next to no discussion of some of the things that most need doing in the city. I think that there are three reasons for this:

The lack of hustings debates in the city. There has only been one community based hustings meeting in the City and that was in my ward! Croxteth Gems tried to hold one but much too late in the day when everyone’s diaries had been filled. I cannot say why this is you have to ask the community groups, amenity groups, churches and similar who should have been doing something about it. Noticeable by their absence were debates about employment creation and jobs. Last time both the Chamber of Commerce and Downtown in Liverpool had a hustings. This year not a peep from either of them.

The lack of long-term coverage by the media. In London the media has been reporting on mayoral issues since last June. There have been hundreds of articles and the media have both arranged their own hustings and interviews but reported extensively on others. Here in Liverpool the media only really got interested at the end of March and even then the coverage has been sketchy.

The lack of policy promotion by the candidates and Parties. I am amazed that, given all the issues which face our City, the only Party to come up with a detailed manifesto was the Lib Dems. I will come back to that later.

Labour put out two gimmicks. The first was to host the Commonwealth Games in 2026. I actually think that is a good idea BUT this is not a new idea. It was actually discussed in June last year. When I rang the council’s officers to find out what had happened since then the answer was nothing. So this great idea of Labour’s is not thought through and is totally uncosted. All we have is a letter to the Government asking for help towards the idea. Similarly with their big plan for new private sector homes for sale. At the prices they are talking about these can only mean one bed apartments with the occasional 2 bed thrown in. What do we have a glut of in Liverpool at the moment – yes you guessed it – small apartments!

The Greens, as is their way put out a wish list – uncosted, incoherent and ill thought through.

No-one else bothered at all.

So what hasn’t been discussed?

  • The creation of good quality, high paying jobs.
  • The health inequalities both between our City and the national average and within our City.
  • The environment generally
  • Social housing
  • Promotion and marketing of Liverpool
  • How we should run and scrutinise our political work.
  • The appalling state of the Council’s finances

And many, many more things. You can see what we think about these issues at www.richardkemp.org.uk. What you cannot do is hear or find what the other Parties think of them nor can you hear a debate between candidates which would have brought out the differences between us and perhaps shown where we could work together in the common good.

So we have had largely a negative campaign. But I hope that people will not just vote against Parties and, in the case of Mayor Anderson, just vote against him as an individual. I hope that people will consider whatever evidence they can find and vote for a candidate and Party who they feel can take this city forward.

This last week was a great one for our City as well as for the brave families of the Hillsborough victims and LFC. Those of us that live here know that this city has a strong, proud, innovative and compassionate heart to it. We know that this is a great city that could be greater. But we will only make it great if two things happen:

  1. We need a shared vision for our city. A long-term plan which will look scientifically at our problems and opportunities and convert them into strengths and opportunities.
  1. We involve all the citizens, organisations and businesses of our city in delivering that vision. This city will only work if we all have a piece of the action; if we all can use our own passions and interests and knowledge to create a small part of a greater whole.

This City does not belong to any mayor or any Party or any council. It belongs to its people. If and when we move to a position of power in the city we will take that power and give it away to people to help deliver that big vision, that big intent.

If we become ‘Team Liverpool’ there is no City that can take us on. If we work together I honestly believe that the best days for Liverpool are yet to come. If you want to help us in any way lest us know at http://www.richardkemp.org.uk.

 

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