Disgraceful scenes at last night’s council meeting


Last night’s council meeting was an absolute disgrace. This was not because of the way that the Lord Mayor conducted the meeting (would I dare to criticise her?!) but the way that the Elected Mayor of Liverpool conducted himself!
As people left the meeting and conducted a debate on what had transpired afterwards three words were used about the Mayor. No doubt he imagines himself being described with words like great statesman; marvellous leader, wily politician. The words being used most frequently were bully, cheat and disgrace.
Let’s take where the concerns of the people started – the very first item!
In what is broadly described as Mayoral Announcements the Mayor made not one single announcement. Instead for 20 minutes he lambasted his opponents and in that time launched no less than 7 attacks on me. These attacks do not personally bother me because they were a mix of half-truths, evasions and total fantasy. All of them could have been answered to the satisfaction of any neutral observer. The only trouble was that no-one but the Mayor can speak on this item. He confirmed publicly that he would not even answer questions from me. You must decide for yorself whether those actions can be construed as proper leadership or as people said, “the actions of a bully and a coward”. Joe Anderson loves to dish out the attacks but is incredibly thin skinned when it comes to accepting criticism.
The Mayor could have been making an announcement on all sorts of things that should have been raised in the Council Chamber. We would have liked to hear about why he was unable to get his fellow Labour Leaders to back the idea of a City-Region Mayor last Saturday and what he intends to do next. He could have told us why the Santa Dash and other major sporting/charitable events in the city are under threat. He could have told us why spending got totally out of hand in the refurbishment of the Cunard Building with purchases that would have made the Shah of Iran envious! He chose to tell councillors nothing – he chose to tell the people of Liverpool nothing about these issues. He chose to resort instead to cheap and unanswerable political sneering and posturing.
Joe does not like to admit this but I support 90% of what he is doing in Liverpool. He knows that money would have been incredibly tight even if Labour had been re-elected to Government and to his credit admitted it last night. BUT the biggest difference between us is our style of politics. I don’t think that Liverpool needs an Emperor but a Leader. I don’t believe that the Leader of the City should spend much of his time mocking its citizens but should work with them. I don’t believe that places like Allerton Golf Course should be privatised but leased to their users on a none-profit making basis. I believe in creating partnerships not creating tensions. I believe in working together with all the people of Liverpool and not driving wedges between communities and the council and each other. I believe in openness and transparency and a system where councillors and the public do not need to resort to FOI requests for information from the council to which they are entitled.
And that’s is what people dislike about the Mayor. Not so much what he does but how he behaves. Nationally he is loved by the Tories because he dances to their game. (Incidentally I am proud to say that there are very few national Tories who like me or I like!) Locally he is despised by much of the Labour Party which is why our City Region is proceeding so slowly. On the BBC television programme last week about devolution his most significant intervention was an attack on a Labour MP!

On the main  issue that we discussed there was little agreement between us. Yet again he put decsion making off into a Commission when the council could have both legally and practically said that they would not sell off Sefton Park Meadowlands; The Harthill Estate of Caldersones Park; Walton Hall Park etc. On these vital issues of concern Labour tried to throw sand in the eyes of the people of Liverpool by mis-stating the role of the Liverpool Plan and their powers as a land owner and planning authority. They could have voted to keep our parks safe for our grandchildren but chose not to. Let me warn Labour that the clamour will not die down. The fight will go on until the Parks are safe.
I am rapidly coming to the conclusion that we need to have a referendum on whether we should have an elected mayor. Remember that the people of Liverpool were denied a vote on the issue and that all but one of the Cities that held a referendum rejected the Mayoral model. I had thought until recently that a referendum would be a distraction but so damaging is Mayor Anderson to Liverpool that perhaps we all need to think again and collect the 16,000+ votes needed for a referendum.
Let me close by repeating the challenge that I made in Council last night. I will debate any issue which is affecting the people of Liverpool on the Pete Price show; on Radio Merseyside or in any public debate with a neutral chair to which the people of Liverpool were admitted and could join the debate and ask questions.
I just don’t think that Joe Anderson is man enough to accept the challenge to a debate where the rules aren’t rigged to make him the victor. We shall see!

About richardkemp

Leader of the Liberal Democrats in Liverpool. Deputy Chair and Lib Dem Spokesperson on the LGA Community Wellbeing Board. Married to the lovely Cllr Erica Kemp CBE with three children and four grandchildren.
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12 Responses to Disgraceful scenes at last night’s council meeting

  1. Stephen Morris says:

    It is not the Mayoral system thats at fault but the person holding the position, come next Mayoral election the people( and it is the people who decide) should look at who they vote for.

  2. joedd says:

    The Strongest poison ever known came from Caesar’s Laurel Crown – William Blake.

    Mr Anderson’s world is unraveling, he treats people in the most arrogant dismissive way even the vulnerable adult.
    His reign as Mayor has been a reign of stupidity – aggression along with a huge dose of ego which has had a toxic effect on the city, his reign is looking more like ”Watergate” on a daily basis………… Wonder who Deep-throat is..????

  3. I actually do think it’s the position. At least Joe is the leader of the party with the most councillors. But potentially the City Mayor could be anyone.

    Late in the 90s we facilitated a weekend’s discussion for the Liverpool Democracy Commission (remember that) which concluded that Liverpool may well want an elected Mayor, but that a rigorous procedure would need to be gone through to verify that. Well it never was.

    I did cast my ballot in the mayoral election we eventually got. On it I wrote ‘Where’s our referendum’. So – much as we differ politically (and whether the Tories like you or not you are in a coalition with them) I would completely support you in getting the 16,000+ votes needed to finally force the referendum I’ve been waiting for. It’s about democracy.

  4. Catherine says:

    The fact that there appears to be no way whatsoever to rein him in (even if there was a Council motion, he wouldn’t actually have to take any notice) is a major flaw in the constitutional arrangements for an elected mayor here. I think this happened because the Labour group short-circuited the process by moving straight to an election without a referendum, so there was no debate about what the position would entail, what powers he or she would have, and how they would be balanced, held accountable etc. So now Anderson clearly believes that he has a mandate to do pretty much whatever he wants – and even if the full Council did vote against one of his proposals, I suspect he could and would just go ahead and do it. The fact that there is a clear procedure for the leaders of the component policies to rein in their mayor, indicates that people are now aware of the need for some kind of brake. Having said that, though, I doubt any of the people who stood against him would have so quickly become overbearing and bombastic. That looks to be his default setting. As does dealing with opposing views by sneering at people, instead of answering entirely reasonable questions, arguing the point, etc., which has brought politics here to a new and shameful low.
    Whatever, I hope that you will start campaigning for a referendum – and collecting signatures. I suspect there are a lot of people out there who will help and support it. Not for party-political reasons but because this isn’t working, and is in fact getting worse.

    • joedd says:

      …..Mayor Anderson abuses all – that shame is his – he stands over people bullying them – one day soon I hope someone will be standing over him when his powers are removed. The people plucked him from obscurity and the people can put him back there. I agree with Catherine’s comments.

    • Catherine says:

      Sorry, there’s a sentence in the middle that should have read “The fact that in the Manchester proposal there is a clear procedure…….”. Doesn’t make much sense otherwise!

  5. John Brace says:

    The strange ways of Liverpool politics reaches my ears on the Wirral side of the water.

    My suggestion is this, have someone along to public meetings of Wirral Council filming the Mayor (and others) and broadcast it either live or publish it later.

    When he knows he is being filmed, he does tone it down a little.

    Next time I’m planning on filming the Mayor is Friday morning at the Liverpool City Region Combined Authority. Since these meetings were filmed, he’s been better behaved than earlier in the year such as it’s first meeting in April and the row over Chair.

    • John Brace says:

      Sorry that should read Liverpool City Council, not Wirral Council.

      I have filmed a couple of minor LCC meetings myself. If you have any suggested ones I should film please make them.

      • Catherine says:

        I was really hoping someone had filmed the last meeting of the Mayoral Select Committee, which was full of disgraceful abuse. Any other meetings of this committee would be worth filming, as would the Cabinet. What meetings have you filmed?

      • John Brace says:

        Thanks you for that question Catherine.

        At Liverpool City Council, I filmed a public meeting of the Constitutional Issues Committee on the 8th September 2014.

        I also filmed more recently a public meeting of Liverpool City Council’s Mersey Port Health Committee on the 16th October 2014.

        I’ll probably be filming future meetings of the Mersey Port Health Committee.

        However, I can only film meetings of other LCC public meetings when they don’t conflict with my schedule.

        I do also usually film meetings of the Liverpool City Region Combined Authority and Liverpool City Region Combined Authority Scrutiny Panel as well as sometime Merseytravel (on these last three Liverpool City Council have councillors).

        One of the advantages of filming at Liverpool Town Hall is in theory due to the wifi (if the wifi speeds can take it) I could broadcast the meeting live. In practice though I haven’t tried this yet.

  6. John Brace says:

    Filming of LCC public meetings is still in the beta stage for me really as Liverpool isn’t really my “patch” so to speak as I’m from Birkenhead on the Wirral.

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