The Liver Bird Must Soar
Anyone who has ever read my blogs will know that I am not in favour of Elected Mayors. The effects of one in Liverpool have hardly been uplifting! However I am now putting my own view aside and saying that although the option for having an Elected Mayor is a poor one the failure to grasp powers from central government by not having one is even poorer.
That is why I have written the letter below to the 6 Labour Leaders in the Liverpool City Region. Their inability to work together on major issues and instead fight like ferrets in a sack has been alarming and detrimental to the preservation of services and the creation of jobs in the City Region.
There is now too much at stake in terms of taking a much greater control of our own affairs than ever. There will be a terrible squeeze on public services in the coming years and the only way to mitigate at least some of those effects will be by taking control of greater budgets and using the money to meet local assessed needs with locally resourced organisations.
Are the Labour Leaders in the City Region big enough both to work together and to allow others into the discussion to try and build a consensus for change in our area? Only time will tell but a failure to do so will mean that they choose instead to put narrow factional politics and in-fighting before the needs of the people of the Liverpool City Region.
My Letter is here:
To All Labour Leaders in the Liverpool City Region
Now is the time to bite the bullet on the Liverpool City Region.
You will be aware that I have a very low opinion on the merits of Elected Mayors – a view which I know is shared by some of you. I would have liked all political parties and those who have other important roles to play within our Liverpool City Region life to have got together and positively suggested other ways of governing the Liverpool City Region. However that option has now gone. It is quite clear that there will not be a maximum devolution of powers and responsibilities to the Liverpool City Region unless we have an Elected Mayor.
Having an Elected Regional Mayor might be a poor option but an even poorer option is not to have the devolved powers that Greater Manchester already has. That is why I have overcome my own reluctance for this position and have decided to endorse the idea of an elected Mayor for our City Region and I am writing to you today to urgently ask you to do likewise and set in motion discussions with the Tory Government to bring it about.
Quite simply the opportunity is too important not to be grasped. Although there is little new money available to us under a devolved city region there is the opportunity by introducing local decision making to improve the value we get from the spend which is currently dictated by bureaucrats in London. The opportunity to join up social care and health care using our local knowledge is of paramount importance. The other key area that we could grasp is effective marketing of the City Region for inward investment and employment creation activities.
I personally would like you to call a meeting for all political group leaders to discuss the options available to us to improve an elected mayor system which will otherwise be imposed on us without our input. That would give it the wisest possible support and approval for a way forward. If such inclusiveness for a major constitutional amendment is beyond you all then I would urge you to set aside differences within the City Region Board and apply to the Government to adopt a Mayoral Model way forward.
I look forward to hearing from you that you support a positive way forward for our City Region.
Cllr Richard Kemp CBE,
Leader, Liverpool Liberal Democrats
Cc: Rt. Hon Greg Clark, Secretary of State DCLG