The arrogance of Liverpool’s Labour Councillors


Last night I went to a meeting called for residents of three wards about the fate of green spaces in those wards. It wasn’t a politically called meeting such as the stunt one that Labour called in Church Ward nor was it one called by one of the pressure groups that have sprung up around the city to defend greens spaces. Instead it was one called by the Council under the auspices of Simon O’Brien and his Independent Review Team. In those wards there are 9 councillors. Two are Lib Dem one of whom as the Lord Mayor cannot attend such meetings whilst in office – but I was there. One was a Green, Cllr Laurence Brown – he was there. Six were Labour and not of them bothered to turn up to hear what their constituents had to say.
Labour have a very different view of being a councillor than I do. My belief has always been that my ward is a place in which to do something not a stepping stone to the Town Hall or Parliament. Labour’s seems to be just a place a base in which to practice Party politics. Of course I will be practicing Party Politics for the next month because I am seeking re-election. I am a Party politician for one month every year. But for me the most important point of being a councillor is to do things within the ward.
Next month we will be launching a casserole club – an idea to bring good quality food to young and old and rich and poor alike. I am working with a local GP to try and establish a localised register of tradespeople because so many people are fearful of using unregistered unknown people. Some people would say that these ae not things to be done by politicians but I disagree. Councillors should use their position not just for making speeches and waving their arms around (although I would be the first to admit that I do my share of that) but to facilitate actions within the community. We have a unique position as locally elected representatives to bring people together to make things happen to pick up the small things in the community which make such a difference to so many people.
By not turning up to a meeting specifically called to listen by their own Mayor the councillors betrayed a deep contempt for their electorate. To so many councillors in Liverpool the people of Liverpool are just voting fodder. We can see that in the way that the Labour machine is practicing the dark arts of spin at present. Fortunately they are not very good at it. The Labour Rose which has just been issued in Church Ward (the first for 6 months) is dreadful. Tedious political polemic and half-truths which I suspect has gone straight in to many a bin.
You see at the end of the day Liverpool is not a Labour city or a Lib Dem one. The City Council owns nothing – it merely holds things in trust for the people of the city. Ancient Athenians had to swear when they took office as councillors that they would “leave the City better than they found it”. Such thoughts are so important when we consider the current debate about the Parks. We have no right to sell off those parks – it is our duty to ensure that this City of ours will always be a green and pleasant place where people want to live. And to be absolutely clear the Head of Planning at the Council confirmed last night that “The Government cannot force the Council to sell land”.
It is the Council which has decided to declare that 60+ pieces of land in the city are ‘surplus to requirements’. This land includes Jericho Lane fields, it includes land in my ward such as that which currently houses the Beechley Riding for the Disabled, Calder Kids Adventure Playground for the disabled and the model railway. We want the city to grow its population. If we grow to the level anticipated over the next 40 years we will need every space.
Last night the Head of Planning confirmed that there were good sites with planning permission in outline or final form that could be used to meet our building requirements. I invited members of the Review Board (neither of the Labour members of the Board managed to be there either) to walk from Riversdale Road along the Mersey and pass the site of the Garden Festival where there is planning permission for 1,300 homes, to the South docks sites where there is a master plan in place for 2,500+ homes and along to the North Docks where there is outline permission for 7,500 units. Those three sites alone will meet our growth needs for the next 10 years.
If finance really is the problem that the Mayor claims then I gave a solution last night that most in the audience welcomed. In the case of Calderstones Park we should sell none of it BUT give the control of it to the Groups that already make major use of the Park. A long-term lease could be provided to the Reader Organisation (a none profit making body) working with the other 9 groups in the Park to run it in partnership with the local community. They could reduce the costs of running it and increase the income by using parts of the park more imaginatively. Such solutions are possible for many of the other parks as well, if not all of them. I am delighted that the Review Board are looking at ideas such as this and indeed have a social enterprise expert as part of the team.
Finally I must say I was impressed last night with the Review Board. Its Chair, Simon O’Brien is clearly truly independent. His team didn’t say much, they were there after all to listen, but have a wide range of competences which I think meet the needs of the Review. I am not concerned about the quality of the review but I am concerned about how the council is approaching it and what will happen to it. The sites for the meetings are poorly chosen – perhaps deliberately. At the end of the day though the Board will make no decisions. It will be Anderson who makes the decisions and I know that many people share my concern that perhaps this review has been instigated to get Labour past elections. We shall see.
On Thursday the council started issuing the nomination packs to people wanting to seek election to the council. My next blog will tell you what my reasons are for standing for a ninth term of office. As of today you have 47 days to decide whether you want more of Joe’s cronies on the council or people from other Parties and none who believe as I do that this City is more important than any Party and any Person.

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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2 Responses to The arrogance of Liverpool’s Labour Councillors

  1. joedd says:

    Correct Richard, the public are seen as voting fodder by this Labour Council – but what they seem to have forgotten – we the voter ”plucked them from obscurity and the voter can put them back there” Your Vote is Powerful ”Use It”
    To quote Gandi – “The True Measure of Any Society can be found in how it treats its most vulnerable members”

  2. paul traynor says:

    Excellent. Monograph. Richard keep up the good work

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