Paying taxes is “frivolous” according to Liverpool Labour Party

LiverpoolGroup

Your four Lib Dem councillors believe that we should collect every penny in tax for both central and local government that is due. Only the Labour Party in Liverpool would say that motions designed to achieve this were frivolous

At Wednesday’s Audit and Governance Committee the Lib Dem Deputy Leader Cllr Andrew Makinson moved two motions to ensure that both central and local government get their taxes in from people and landlords in Liverpool..

The first referred to recent revelations that some councillors have not been paying their Council Tax on time and may have voted illegally at council tax setting meetings. Cllr Makinson said, “Councillors must be above suspicion. We cannot set a tax level and then not pay our bills. Councillors above all must know that there are ways to get help if people have financial difficulties. They must use and test those systems and must never put themselves in a position where they vote illegally”.

The second relates to taxes not being paid by private landlords. In recent enquiries conducted in the London Borough of Newham and by other councils large numbers of landlords were found who were not declaring their income to the tax officials. “This is wrong”, Cllr Makinson said, “Good private landlords pay all taxes and work properly to provide a good safe service to their tenants. But we suspect that there is in Liverpool as elsewhere a considerable proportion who do not licence their premises with the Council and do not declare their profits to HMRC”.

And what was the Labour response to these motions? Did they support them? Did they try to improve them? No, they voted against both of them on the grounds that they were frivolous. What a surprise. That is the way that Labour both locally and nationally have always treaded taxation. You can see that best with Labour Councillors not paying the council tax they demand off others. But in Liverpool perhaps the relationships with iffy private landlords is even more sinister.

We have seen over the past 2 years how the Council has helped to ramp up the dodgy investment in the housing market in Liverpool. Appearing on platforms in the UK and overseas with little understanding of the people they were working their presence led to confidence in developments that was always overstated. Charitably, they may have been duped by the developers. Whether by an act of commission or omission on the Council’s behalf private investors from around the globe have lost up to £70 million and the good name of our city has been tarnished.

As Andrew Makinson pointed out good landlords register for tax and get licensed because they are responsible. Dodgy landlords try and avoid tax; don’t licence their properties and in extremis, by not looking after their tenancies, cause death by danger or death and poor health by poor conditions. Which landlords do Labour instinctively side with? Of course, the dodgy ones!

We have, of course, seen all this before. Militant encouraged people not to pay tax in the 80s and we spent two decades trying to get taxes in that were due. Instead they borrowed money at extortionate interest rates from Swiss banks and that too took more than 2 decades to get right. Increasingly Labour is under the cosh of Militant look alikes, Momentum. That’s why we will see more and more daft decisions from this Labour controlled council.

Motions to ensure that central and local government get in the taxes that they are due is never frivolous. Taxes are what we pay to ensure that the Government can spend money on the common good. Most people accept that and see their taxes as a price worth paying, providing of course that they are not wasted. Only the irresponsible would fail to support well thought through motions designed to increase our tax and service charge take as a council.

Well it is always easier to posture and attack the Government than  actually do something positive to raise more of the money locally using the powers that we as a council have.

The two motions are reproduced below:

Payment of Council Tax

Council notes with concern the recent media coverage in respect of none or late payment of Council Tax by Councillors. Whilst recognising that Councillors have the same problems as any other citizen of the City we have a duty to set a good example to all tax-payers to pay Council Tax on time. Council therefore undertakes to continue to offer the opportunity to all Councillors to voluntarily agree the deduction of Council Tax at source from their Councillor’s allowances to ensure that such problems are not repeated.”

Private Landlords, Planning permission and payment of tax

Council notes that in a recent exercise conducted by HMRC and the Council in Newham it was found that up to half of all private landlords registered in the Borough appeared not to be declaring their income to the tax authorities. Council therefore requests the City Mayor to –

  1. continue to assist HMRC in their ongoing campaign to ensure private landlords pay their fair rate of tax and actively use enforcement powers to crack down on poor quality landlords;
  2. subject to feasibility and compatibility with Data Protection and Investigatory Powers legislation, Officers be requested to review all buy to let mortgages registered with the Land Registry with a view to ensuring that all landlords are properly registered and their properties checked for safety and other requirements; and
  3. submit a report to the relevant Select Committee outlining the procedures for assessing properties using the student discount, the frequency with which checks are carried out and whether any other measure can be taken by Council or by Government in ensuring that this is legitimately used.”

 

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Former Labour Minister accuses Liverpool Council of “Institutional Incompetence”

Kilfoyle2

When a former Labour Minister with a vast experience of Liverpool politics makes comments like this in a national newspaper we should all listen to him

Without a doubt the most experience Labour politician in Liverpool is Peter Kilfoyle. He was the Labour ‘Witch-finder General’ who worked to defeat Militant was an MP for 17 years and is a former Minister. When he tells us that the Council is institutionally incompetent and gives more reason for concern than in the past 50 years the people of Liverpool should listen to him. That’s what you would expect me or any other Lib Dem to say – and we do. But this is the reaction to what is happening to someone deep within the Labour tribe. It must be incredibly difficult for someone like him to come out and use such terms about his own Party but he does and we should all take heed.

At the last council meeting I posed a series of questions. Here are the answers to just 4 of them. These are not the responses from a council leadership who are open and transparent. They show nothing but contempt for the people who fund everything in this City – YOU!

  • We must at some stage, legally be told the amount that the Council will get for the sale of part of Calderstones Park to Redrow. Why not tell us now?
  • We must at some stage legally be told the costs of the relocation of the Model Railway, Beechley Riding and Calder Kids. Why not tell us now so we can really work out whether or not it has all been worthwhile in cash terms?
  • Why not admit that we should have checked up on the companies that we were selling land to and which now us more than £1,000,000 and have left us trying to deal with derelict sites across the City?
  • Instead of answering questions that were not posed why not admit that the Council has already lost £1 million+ in rent and service charges in St John’s Market and will have to spend at least £500,000 putting right the botched improvements to try and save the market from extinction?

Peter Kilfoyle is right about ‘Institutional Incompetence’. This is not, however, the incompetence of officers but a comprehensive failure of the political leadership to bring in the right people; apply the necessary political oversight; and ensure that systems are in place for the council to adequately discharge its responsibilities.

As so many people tell us – “Roll on the next local elections in May”,  when we can elect a good number of Lib Dem councillors who will join our current ‘Fab 4’ to put things right and hold Joe Anderson’s Labour Party to account.

 

Question 1 To the Mayor of Liverpool

Given that the price that Redrow will pay for the land at Harthill Road must become a matter of public record when it is published on the Land Registry will the Deputy Mayor reveal how much the Council are asking for the land?

Answer

Negotiations are still continuing regarding the sale price for the land. As such the proposed land value figure received from Redrow remains commercially sensitive.

Question 2 To the Deputy Mayor of Liverpool

Given that the Council is not applying for grants towards the relocation of the Model Railway; Beechley Riding Stables or Calder Kids and that therefore the capital to meet these costs must come from the Council’s own capital programme, which must be a matter of public record, would the Deputy Mayor please indicate what budget has been allowed for the relocation of the model railway given that work is due to start soon on this site.  Will she also give the indicative amounts for the relocation of the other two units?

Answer

Details of the estimated cost of relocating Beechley were reported to Cabinet in 2015 and are included in the capital programme, which is in the public domain.

As has been frequently stated, the purpose of the Harthill scheme is to provide a new future for the riding stables and Calder Kids.  Both require new facilities (in the case of Calder Kids, desperately) but the austerity measures brought in by Lib Dems in Government have removed Liverpool City Council’s ability to fund new facilities without using the land receipt from Redrow.

The relocation costs for the three individual projects will however remain confidential until the works have been individually tendered, but the overall cost of the scheme will contained in a Cabinet report to be presented in due course.

Question 3 To the Mayor of Liverpool

Marketing of China Town and other sites

  1. Would you agree that the behaviour and actions of the Council are a major cause for concern and that we need to consider carefully our concepts and practice of due diligence in these sites whether we had a controlling interest because of land ownership or by helping to sell them?
  2. Would you agree that the council should participate in no more marketing exercises for any property in Liverpool until these issues of North Point Global have been resolved and internal mechanisms have been strengthened?
  3. Would you agree that the Council has a moral duty to respond to the people in these failed investments and in assisting them in coming together to try and get their money back all or in part?
  4. Would the council immediately take what remediation activity as is possible around the failed sites, especially in terms of partial road closures, to return communities to as close to normal as possible given that it might take years to resolve these issues.

Answer

  1. The City Council has no legal relationship with North Point Global (NPG) in relation to the Pall Mall site. The Pall Mall scheme is a private developer-led project and the site was acquired by NPG from a third party by way of a commercial transaction. The City Council has no land interests on the site and its involvement in this project has merely been one of granting planning consent for the scheme, which was approved by Planning Committee.

On this basis the only due diligence that the City Council has been required to undertake is to ensure that all information needed to determine the planning application has been submitted and determined in accordance with the City Council’s planning policy framework.

  1. The Council does not engage in direct selling or marketing to investors of any schemes, other than those wholly owned and run by LCC. The Council does however, promote schemes across the city as part of its job of increasing investment and growing the economy. As stated already the sale of the Pall Mall site was a private transaction between two private parties, therefore the Council procedures would have had no impact on the transaction.
  2. The Council has worked closely with all investors that have contacted the Council, even those that have invested in the Pall Mall and Baltic House schemes where the Council has no involvement. Indeed officers met with The Pall Mall Action Group when it was over from Hong Kong to discuss the Council’s position. Both

Pall Mall and Baltic are private developer-led schemes and investors will have entered into a commercial transaction with NPG or a related company and its agent and it will have been the investor’s individual responsibility to undertake its own due diligence around the risk to their investment.  Investors should also contact the agent who sold the scheme.  For example, the following is from Aspen Woolf’s website (Aspen Woolf sold New Chinatown investments in the UK):

How can I be sure my money is safe?

All property sales within the UK must go through a UK solicitor. Your solicitor won’t ask you to pay a deposit unless they have thoroughly checked your sales agreement. Most of the developments Aspen Woolf deal with have a first charge for our client’s financial security, safety and benefit. This is above and beyond what is normally required. We also spend considerable time conducting due diligence on not just the developer, but the directors of the development, ensuring the development has full planning approval.

That said, the Council is gravely concerned about the potential for reputational damage that the NPG situation has brought on the city and the Council continues to put pressure on NPG to dispose of the Pall Mall and Baltic House sites to proven developers who could build out the schemes. The original Tribeca scheme with Urban Splash, under the Lib Dems, had stalled for 10 years before the existing legal agreements and rights to new legal agreements were acquired by Chinatown Development Company Limited in 2015 and 2016. The Council took decisive and speedy action when it believed the China Town scheme was stalling indefinitely. The action taken by the Council could result in the assets of the developer being placed in the hands of a liquidator and if this occurs the Council would work with the liquidator in the disposal of the site to a developer who will deliver a scheme. The City Council are also retaining the details of developers who approach the Council with an interest in the China Town site and will make this list of interested parties available to the liquidator should matters proceed this way. The Council is determined to be proactive and try to unlock these schemes in the city, as opposed to the track record of the previous administration, where the Tribeca site was stalled for a number of years.

  1. Officers are presently reviewing the position with the various highway closures, temporary road closures and site licences, with a view to terminating these where they have lapsed and not renewing when they become time expired. However notices will only be terminated as long as by doing so it does not present a health and safety issue for the public, which has to be City Council’s primary concern.

Finally, instead of taking the opportunity to smear the city, the Lib Dems should help the city.  Liverpool remains a good place to invest, with over £11bn of schemes being developed.  The city acted decisively in the case of New Chinatown with concerted efforts to take action to ultimately, get the scheme back on track. The public would expect that all political representatives will do their best to grow the economy and promote Liverpool, rather than talking the city down.

Question 4. To the Mayor of Liverpool         

St Johns Market

Would the Mayor please inform us:

  1. What the income estimate from Market traders was for the financial year 2016/17 and what the actual income was?
  2. What the income estimate for traders was for the current financial year and what the current estimate is?

Answer

The Council is not privy to information regarding the income of market traders within St John’s Market either individually or as a collective.

Liverpool City Council does not employ the market traders, who are mostly either self-employed or own their own business, and therefore does not have access to their personal financial trading details

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Millions of small actions will make the difference

charity shop

Charity shops like this are kept alive by armies of volunteers. Any social policy must empower and fund the volunteers who keep our society vibrant

Over the past few days at the NACAS Conference I have been inspired by so many stories about good things that are happening to look after people the length and breadth of the Country.

Of course, we need big policies and strategies. Of course, we need money to make those strategies work. However, there was a huge amount of evidence put forward that those strategies should not be directive i.e. telling people and councils what to do but empowering i.e. allowing them and encouraging them to do things.

I thought that throughout the conference but particularly so at the session I both chaired and spoke at this morning which was about policies and strategies to combat loneliness. I gave three examples of this from my own Church Ward:

  • The lady who said that the best thing that ever happened to her was breaking her leg! This meant that the family from three doors up had noticed her; talked to her; and helped her for the first time. This was a great match. Her children and grandchildren are many miles away. Their Grandmas are many miles away. Hey presto an instant grandma for 3 youngsters and a real sense of purpose for the honorary Gran!
  • I talked about Calderstones Park and the physical exercise which the walkers; the dog walkers and the children get. I talked about mental serenity caused by a calm, quiet green space and the Japanese and English Gardens.
  • I talked about the community on wheels that some people call a bus. How, in Liverpool people talk to each on the bus. Complete strangers swap view on the weather, football and everything under the sun.

Then the floodgates opened. Councillors and officers from all over the Country wanted to speak about the good things that are happening in their own communities:

  • The firefighters who ‘buddy up’ to older men and encourage them to take up hobbies and pastimes and go with them a couple of times until they make friends.
  • The Facetime chat scheme where people, especially in rural areas are encouraged to network via social media.
  • The village wardens who have a list of people who need to be checked on. Not obtrusively, but where someone will knock if no-one has been seen for some time.
  • The refuse collectors who, provided they are always given the same collection route, keep an eye out for people who are not using or bringing out their bins and will knock to see what is going on.
  • Example after example of staff going more than an extra mile. Example after example of people behaving like decent folk and neighbours and doing things within their communities.
  • There were not only public sector workers. A lovely example was the delivery man from a large supermarket who always made the last delivery on a Friday to a 91 year old lady and brought with him fish and chips for them both. This act of simple humanity was the high point of that lady’s week but I can guarantee would have been frowned on by his superiors had they known.
  • The question for policy makers is, “How do we understand the way that simple actions like this can add up to a wider strategy”. How do they create the space in which communities can flourish and staff can go the extra mile?

Looking into two of these examples we can see that it is not quite so easy as it might appear when it comes to evaluating cause and effect and costing it against other alternatives.

To run Calderstones Park costs about £250,000 a year. That’s the cost of 50 bed nights in a hospital. How do we show that the Park prevents xx number of hospital admissions, xx visits to hard-pressed GPs,  xx less visits to the chemists for drugs? We can be absolutely certain that this is true but how do we show this to the NHS. How do we get them to move expenditure from the clinical and medical to the preventive?

What is the value of the refuse collector who took time out of their round to talk to the elderly who they hadn’t seen. In pure financial terms this would have damaged productivity based on bins emptied per minute. But what did it save the rest of the public sector in terms of early warnings for the system and contentment of an individual. How can we empower front line staff for one service to be front line staff for the whole of the public sector? What are the costs of this and what are the savings?

In many places in the Country councillors are given small amounts of money to use on small activities in their ward/division. I think this is the best value expenditure that we can make because it unlocks so much more. This year Cllr Makinson and I have funded half a new water system for a community kitchen; new planters for an amenity group and new railings for a church at the end of Penny Lane. Tiny amounts of money from us help unlock hours of voluntary activity and real visible benefits for our constituents.

When David Cameron tried to establish his ill-fated Big Society it failed not because it was not, per se, a good idea but because it was a good idea that is already being undertaken. Almost everyone I know who has stopped work for a living is now working harder than ever in their retirement. Sometimes this is as a grandparent or a carer. But the National Trust; most heritage charities; boards of charities; school governors, charity shops, faith groups et al are kept alive by an army of volunteers buoyed up by oceans of tea and weighed down by huge chunks of cake!

So let’s all lobby the Government for more money. Let’s press for new programmes and policies and strategies. Then let’s look around our communities and our people and add up all the little things and work out how we can support and empower even more people to do the little things which take the pressure off the acute services like hospitals and social care.

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Fight For Europe this Saturday in Croxteth Park

EURALLY

Join us at Croxteth Park on Saturday. Bring your flags; bring your whistles; bring your mates!

This Saturday Afternoon – 14th October – I will be joining what I hope will be thousands of my fellow Scousers at a pro-Europe rally in Croxteth Park. The decision to leave the EU; Single Market and Customs Union is just too big a decision facing this Country for those of us who believe in EU membership not to give our all to the very last minute to try and keep us in.

Everything that will affect the lives of my Children and Grandchildren will be badly worsened if we leave. My generation will not be so badly affected unless we get old or we get ill!

  • Our NHS and Social Care systems will be starved of funds if we leave the EU because growth will continue on  the slide that we have seen post Brexit. There will be less money to pay for it which may be just as well because there will be less staff to spend it on. The NHS is already seeing a huge cut in the number of people from the EU applying to work here and many are going home. The staffing crisis is already leading to the cancellation of operations and procedures and the closure of wards. 7% of all the jobs available in social care and the NHS are currently vacant and the vacancy rate is increasing.
  • Our Universities are seeing reduced numbers of students from the EU and because of indecision from the rest of the World as well. They are being frozen out of pan-European Research programmes.
  • 2 million people do not know if they can continue to call the UK their home.
  • Business investment is hit with a huge reduction in the number of cars being registered. The bosses of global car manufacturing brands have warned that their next investment decision will be continental Europe and not the UK.
  • Banks are shifting lucrative jobs to Paris and Frankfurt
  • Our holidays will get more expensive with more border controls and a weakening £
  • The hard border will create major problems for peace in Northern Ireland as it will contravene the Good Friday agreement and promote lawlessness and smuggling.

Meanwhile the Promised Land is not on the horizon. Remember the trade deals which would come to an independent UK? The USA was going to be the first. Now look at the trade sanctions being imposed by them which will affect 4,000 jobs in Northern Ireland. Then the Commonwealth would rally to the Mother Country. All major potential trading partners in the Commonwealth would prefer a trade agreement with the EU than a new one with the UK. Finally the EU would realise the evil of its ways and would beseech us to remain of their club in terms of access to markets without having to pay our share of the responsibilities and decisions. No the EU will treat us as it treats any other Country which is outside its borders. They will negotiate the best possible terms for the remaining 27 members.

Meanwhile two Parties fiddle while we slide into the abyss. “You are more indecisive than us, Labour accuse the Conservatives and the Conservatives accuse Labour. “Our BREXIT is better than your BREXIT”, Conservatives taunt Labour and Labour taunt the Conservatives.

Meanwhile Lib Dems stand firm. There is no indecisiveness in our approach. There is no such thing as a ‘Good Brexit’. The only way forward for our Country is an Exit from Brexit!

That’s what every Lib Dem present will say on Saturday and we believe that this is what the vast majority of people who attend that rally will also believe.

Whatever you were thinking of doing on Saturday afternoon it is your duty, if you are a Remainer, to be in Croxteth Park between 2pm and 4 pm. Your presence must be seen; your voice must be heard. Together we can stop BREXIT, together we must stop BREXIT.

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Knocking on the door of God’s waiting room!!

elderly

Swing on a swing; be frivolous; wear purple; run your stick against the railings; learn to spit, but don’t feel old!!

I was half way through a speech in London last week about the need to provide adequate social care for the older generation when it suddenly occurred to me that is a generation that I am about to become part of! Last week I received an e-mail asking for my bank details so that I can receive the state pension. I also received a notice that from 8th January I will no longer pay a National Insurance contribution. Yes folks as from 8th January 2018 I will officially be an OAP.

At this stage members of the Labour Party might be fondly imagining me hanging up my delivery bag, buying some slippers and learning to contentedly smoke a pipe. Sorry folks I am not retiring from active service. Neither do most people my age. We move from one sort of occupation to another. I find myself doing as much work as ever but mostly for free! That’s fine. I have some pension money put away and can afford to live decently but not opulently with Erica. Our wants are few and are supplied; our ambitions are fewer and need no fulfilment.

So I am not going to rage against ‘the dying of the light’. I am not going to define my future life against the inevitability of my death. The average age of death for a man in my ward is 82 so I can hope for some 17 years more of life and I want to use that to the full having had some sensible discussions with Erica. It always amazes me that people do not talk about death more because of either superstition or dread. This can cause huge problems for their family when they go up the chimney at their Crem of choice.

Erica and I have made a will which leaves our meagre possessions firstly to each other and then to our children. We have discussed a ‘living will’ so that each of us knows how far we would want the NHS to prolong our lives. We have discussed what kind of a funeral we want although acknowledging that it will be nothing to do with us!

So having done those things how shall I spend the rest of my life? Well for a start off there’s no bucket list. I will not be jetting off around the world or doing things I have never had the time to do before. I want to carry on doing the same sort of things that I have always done. I was joking recently that I seem to be working as hard as ever but mostly for nothing these days!

I love being a councillor for Church Ward. Every time I get on the bus to town I meet a constituent and we have a natter. It is a tremendous feeling to be part of a community. At a wider level I passionately want to rid Liverpool of Joe Anderson and his cronies. So much damage is being done to our City with catastrophes across the whole of the council and our reputation getting trashed globally because of our failure to enquire properly into the antecedents of property developers and festival promoters.

I love being a trustee of World Merit. This Liverpool based international charity involves young people over the World in doing good things within their own communities using the global power of social media. This re-energises me and I feed off the enthusiasm and bravery of committed young people all over the World.

I do want to spend more time with my grandchildren and, if she’ll put up with me the person that almost everyone in Liverpool thinks of as a Saint, my lovely wife Erica. I have not carved out enough time for them and want to contribute more to their lives.

So in short I want to gradually do less but still in the same areas; I want to spend more time with my family; I won’t be stopping working; but I do want to reduce the amount of responsibility that I cover now. I recognise that I am very lucky to be able to do this. I wonder if I was a refuse collector having to get up at 6a.m. every morning to put load after load into a bin lorry would I be as keen on working on!?

Why am I telling you this? Because I suspect more and more people are coming to the same summary of their lives but society and the institutions that serve society have not caught up with these new ways of thinking. The private sector has but not the public sector. When I was Young Liberal we helped a charity called the Chorley Old Folk’s Treat. This patronising society arranged a ‘treat’ every year for the older citizens of Chorley. A good feed and a party was the way old folk were treated. People went to live in ‘Old Folk’s homes’. It was almost as though we were trying to find agreeable places to ‘park’ those people of retirement age. As long as there were treats and bingo we can forget about them until they shuffle off this mortal coil. More people had to retire and do nothing because life was much more physical then. People also died a lot earlier. We forget that there has been a huge rise in life expectancy over the past 50 years.

Now most 65 year olds do not feel old. We look to continue our work and pursue things of interest to us. Our minds are active and we want to use them in a variety of different ways. Our health is better and we can do more for longer. Our bank balances are largely better and we ‘baby boomers’ can often choose to spend money on things sometimes without even ski-ing (spending the kid’s inheritance!)

A number of people I know have retired so that they can do the degree or doctorate that they had always wanted to but never had the time for. That’s far to cerebral for me!

But society as a whole still sees old age as a problem not as an opportunity. There was a suggestion some years ago from a Tory that retired people should have to do things for the ‘generous’ pensions that they are getting. I thought at the time, “Does this bloke never go into a charity shop?” Charities, trusts and foundations, the National Trust, school governing bodies; amenity groups et al are glued together by the enthusiastic volunteering of the recently and not so recently retired. That’s before you count the work being done by the many people I see on ‘Grandma/Grandpa duty’ pushing their grandchildren around and playing with them while Mum and Dad go out to work or just take a break.

So my impassioned plea is this. When you see us don’t see an OAP. See an 18 year old with a more mature body. Don’t feel sorry for and work out how to help us but make us an offer of something interesting to do to help you or your causes. We helping you means that you are helping us. Then when we do have to reduce the pace help us do it with dignity placing less demands on us but keeping us in the loop.

Now where’s my leaflets? I reckon I can get a couple of hours delivering in before catching the train to Bournemouth for a three day Conference on…..Adult Social Care!

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Labour pass buck on Hope & Glory Fiasco

H and G

Once again the Labour Party have ignored the fact that they control the council and have allowed officers to carry the can for the fiasco on William Brown Street

The shambolic behaviour of Liverpool Council in the licensing and controlling of the Hope & Glory Festival has been rightly exposed by the report produced yesterday. But once again the responsibility has been left with officers of the council rather than the Politicians who appoint and should oversee them. Clearly, day to day decisions must be made by staff but it is the politicians who carry the final responsibility. They appoint the staff; establish the structures and systems and should be part of any decision-making process in times of difficulty. There are only two options. Either the politicians knew what was going on and ignored it or they did not know what was going and should have done. Neither position is acceptable.

The only thing in the report which is clearly wrong is the suggestion that the Council could not have foreseen what would happen. As I said in Council my 8-year old granddaughter was able to find out within 2 minutes that the event’s promoters had a string of failures behind them. If Eva can do it why couldn’t the many Labour Councillors and the highly paid staff of the Council?

There were also many opportunities to take action as things unfolded. Time after time the protestors missed meetings that were vital for safety purposes. Even as we approached the day the shambolic behaviour of the promoters in arranging a secret gig within the main event which clearly left vital safety arrangements incomplete should have led to the event’s cancellation. Safety is of paramount importance when handling crowds as we Liverpool should know more than anywhere else.

On the day itself there appears to have been no supervision of the event. It was left to the Police to control crowds approaching the events and to limit the number of people officially entering the site. No official council statement was made about the failure of the event until the Monday.

Reports from people there indicate that there were hundreds of people bunking in. That even those going officially were being handed any wrist bands that were available and that the bag searches ceased to be done. After the Bataclan and the Manchester tragedy how could any promoter not deal with basic safety issues.

So, we have been trashed in the media and local businesses have lost more than £900,000 and the response of the Council has, to date, been poor.

In the view of the Lib Dems we need to do 4 things:

  1. Say that William Brown Street will never again be used for paid events such as this.
  2. We need to establish within the council a proper reporting mechanism so that the obvious abuses by the promoter can be dealt with at a high level both managerially and politically.
  3. We need to undertake comprehensive due diligence checks on any business with which we wish to undertake a high level, high visibility event.
  4. The Cabinet Member responsible for this should consider their culpability in this matter and follow the time honoured democratic route and either resign or issue an apology and ensure that mechanisms are set in place to ensure that problems like this do not recur.

It was only the actions of the Police that prevented a potential crowd tragedy. We were fortunate that terrorists did not target an event in which they could, literally, have got away with murder. If we are to continue to attract the high-level events with which we have been so successful for many years we need to show that we have learned from the mistakes of this ‘Festival’ and ensure that they will not recur.

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Lib Dems welcome Anderson U-Turn on World Heritage Status

Peered

After 6 years of denial the Mayor has finally recognised the importance of our World Heritage Status after 6 years saying it was just a ‘plaque on the wall of the Town Hall’

So, after 6 years attacking us Joe Anderson has finally realised the importance of our World Heritage Status.  In 2011 the Labour Party put out a newspaper throughout the City which criticised me personally and the Lib Dems generally for defending the World Heritage Status gained by the Lib Dems in 2006. They claimed it would cost the City 6,000+ jobs because we were threatening the Liverpool Waters development (what development you might ask!). Mayor Anderson described it then and used the expression many times in attacks on us as, ‘just a plaque on the wall in the Town Hall’.

We welcome his U-turn because now, faced with the reality of losing the status he has seen the light. Like me he does not want to see the City being awarded a pariah status of a handful of places which have had the award removed. The buildings in our commercial district plus all the 50 conservation areas make Liverpool unique. They make a vibrant city that understands and treasures its past and wants to use that past as a foundation for its future. I’ve seen people from many Countries being wooed by our buildings. They provide a worthy back drop for our arts and culture offer which is such a huge tourist draw and makes our City so great to live in.

It’s not just the iconic Pier Head but the other 980 listed buildings. Let’s not forget those conservation areas. They remind us that Liverpool is a City made up of villages. I can walk from my house to Penny Lane and walk alongside dry-stone walls that were used 200 years ago to delineate the old field system of our area.

But whilst the Mayor has taken years to stagger to this conclusion much damage has been done. We have allowed too much low-quality, high rise building in our City Centre. Buildings like Heap’s Mill have been allowed to deteriorate. Our Lime Street area has been ruined by the inappropriate development taking place there.

As we look to the future Peel’s Liverpool Waters scheme, which promises much but delivers little must now be reviewed. It alone is a major threat to the Status.

We must now use the campaign to keep the World Heritage Status to drive up the standards of architectural development in the City so that the ‘jewels’ in our crown’ can be joined by more buildings that will in 100 years’ time leave residents and visitors alike saying, ‘what a wonderful city’.

We can also take the opportunity to look at the numbers and types of buildings that we need. There is clearly now an overhang in the market with too much flat and student accommodation. We can now look at what we do need rather than what developers, some of whom are just exploiting the good name of the city, think they can make a big profit out of.

These are the tasks that should be considered by the new group of elder statesmen established by the Mayor. I hope they rise to the challenge and that the Mayor is then prepared to do what is necessary to keep the City’s status intact.

ARE THERE TWO JOE ANDERSONS? MY WORRIED LETTER TO THE LIVERPOOL ECHO!! WE MUST BE TOLD

The Editor,
Liverpool Echo
Dear Sir,
I had a terrible dream last night – I dreamed that there were two Mayor Joe Anderson’s and I suspect that dream must be true.
One Mayor Anderson has claimed in a letter to you that he has always supported our World Heritage Status and that I have got it wrong when I say he has u-turned on the issues. It’s just that he could not deal with it because of austerity
The other Joe Anderson put out a Labour newspaper to every household in Liverpool in 2011 telling us that I personally could prevent 6,000 jobs being created in the so-called Liverpool Waters and that the World Heritage Status was just a “plaque on the wall in the Town Hall”. This Joe Anderson has repeated that claim many times in the Council Chamber and elsewhere over the past 6+ years. We have a copy of the Labour newspaper and videos of him saying on YouTube to prove the point.
So which Joe Anderson is doing what? I am delighted if Joe has changed his mind on this issue. Big men admit they are wrong and change their mind. Small men pretend that they never believed anything else.
Which Joe Anderson do we have now? It’s the people of Liverpool who need to decide that!
Cllr Richard Kemp CBE,
Leader, Liverpool Liberal Democrats
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