The never ending waste of cash in Labour Liverpool

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Sometimes I have to pinch myself when I see a report coming through of the way that the council spends its money. Or rather how the council spends YOUR money!
Just weeks after we heard from the Echo how the Council had splashed out on £3,500 taps and 65inch TV screens for our plush new HQ we learn that even more money has gone down the drain.
This time its £10,000 towards a ‘luvvies festival’ which seemed designed to give a small coterie of the ‘elite’ a good nosh and prizes to each other. There are allegations of impropriety being involved and that Labour councillors have personally gained from this cash. I will reserve judgement on this until I get answered a series of questions that I have posed to the council. I suspect that everything will have been done legally but sure as hell it hasn’t been done morally. What is the council doing spending money on something with no obvious benefit to the people of Liverpool and which has appeared to only advantage a small piece of the ‘in crowd?’
My questions cover who suggested this money be given and which officers and members authorised it. I have asked to see a copy of the report which should have been prepared to justify this expenditure which should reveal the outputs and outcomes which were expected from this expenditure. I suspect I shall wait in vain. There is no transparent process within Liverpool for spending money of this type – certainly not a process which allows the taxpayer who foots the bill for these things to know what is going on.
But the taps and the £10 are only pocket moneys compared to the squandering of money wholesale by the council. Let’s take the wider matter of the purchase of the Cunard Building. The Mayor claims that it is good value for money and he may be right. I have been trying to fight out what other buildings were considered because it was clear in 2012 that the idea of proceeding with the use of the ground floor as part of a new liner terminal was not feasible. A major development company who looked at the potential realignment of the Municipal Buildings; Millennium House and the Cunard Buildings made this abundantly clear and then were suddenly dropped from the discussions. We do not know if the council just proceeded with the purchase (which we know the Pension Fund was delighted to get rid of after a report some 4 years ago indicated the very high costs of putting the building into good condition) or looked at the other office blocks in the city which were and are still available. It may be good value but was it the best value?
Then what about the £750,000 per year lost on a whim of the Mayor when he took the decision, subsequently put through the system by his Labour apparatchiks, to chop all the bus lanes. He has now reinstated four of them but, incredibly, 6 bus lanes where the consultants paid for by the council have said that there removal will slow both bus and car travel have gone for good.
And what about the use of consultants? Well I cannot tell you how much we have paid for consultants over the past 5 years because all this is clothed in ‘commercial confidentiality’ and is lost somewhere in the system.
The Mayoral system which was brought in without the support of the people of Liverpool costs £500,000+ per year with its salaries, special allowances and office staffing costs.
But if you want to see where the big budgets went look at our voluntary early retirement policy. We lost track of this about a year ago when more than £30,000,000 had been spent on this. Some of this was for genuine retirement. However many people just got a new job, cashed in their chips with the Council and went straight to new jobs in the public and private sectors. Many people took 6 figure sums with them with the highest I have seen reported being £300,000. The fact is that if there had been a coherent strategy much of this money could have been saved. On average about 5% of public sector staff retire or change jobs to another employer every year. That would have meant that more than 20% would have left the council by now without a pay-off.
But that is only one side of not having a strategy. We actually in some cases let the wrong people go! In this financial year alone we have spent more than £1,000,000 on interim management and ‘day-to-day’ consultants. How much over the past 5 years? Again I have no idea because our processes lack transparency.
This is seriously damaging to our city in two ways:
Firstly it is an obvious waste of money that could have been better used in defending and supporting our services.
Secondly it damages our reputation with central government and partners. Why is it that Greater Manchester scoops the pool for cash compared to the Liverpool City Region? Well there are a number of reasons but at least the Government know that in Manchester the money gets spent properly and transparently. How can we argue that the Government gives us too, little money compared to our needs (and I strongly believe that they do) when we blow away so much of the money that we have had?
By now the people of Liverpool should know that when Labour get into power the money flows like water around the city. If they don’t it’s your duty and mine to tell them.

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About richardkemp

Leader of the Liberal Democrats in Liverpool. UK representative on UCLG Finance Committee, Executive Bureau and World Council. Deputy Chair and Lib Dem Spokesperon on the LGA Community Wellbeing Board. Married to the lovely Cllr Erica Kemp CBE with three children and three grandchildren.
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3 Responses to The never ending waste of cash in Labour Liverpool

  1. paul says:

    Well.said Richard. Still too many who shrug their shoulders fight back.people and get the parasite anderson out

  2. Some valid points made, why after funds being managed so poorly when so many areas in Liverpool are poorly funded?

  3. Pingback: Can Liverpool Afford It's Mayor? - GVmag

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