Councillor’s cull called for in Liverpool

LpoolTH

There are too many councillors in Liverpool with too little to do

It has become quite clear to me that we now have too many councillors in Liverpool. I am not the first to suggest this. The Green Party mentioned it a couple of years ago as did Mayor Anderson. I understand it was torpedoed by the vested interests in the Labour Group. I did not initially support the idea because I believe that good councillors can form the pivot for many of our communities in the city. Regrettably, I feel that we do not have enough good councillors.

In the past few days I have been out about with teams in wards that we used to represent and where we are beginning to mount a challange once more. Too often I was told, “You’re the first councillor we have seen for years”.

Inside the Council large numbers of  councillros attend pointless Select Committee meetings with no spirit of enquiry or purpose. They are there simply there to make the numbers up and do their ‘Master’s bidding’. This situation will only get worse when we have a Liverpool City Region Mayor from May 2017.

I have now put down a resolution to the Council which I hope will be discussed later this month and I have also sent the letter below to the Local Government Boundary Commission.

I believe that a reduction in councillors at this time with one less election in a four year cycle would save the Council at least £500,000 per year which could be better used and would improve the efficiency of the governance of the City by introducing a system which would focus Councillor’s time more effectively. As ever please let me know what you think of this idea.

Cllr Richard Kemp CBE,
16, Dovedale Road,
Liverpool L18 1DW
richardkemp68@yahoo.co.uk
07885 626913

Max Caller CBE,
Chair,
Local Government Boundary Commission for England
14th Floor
Millbank Tower
London
SW1P 4QP

3rd January 2015

Dear Max,

Review of the number of Councillors in Liverpool

It is now 13 years since the Commission reported its review of the local government boundaries in Liverpool. The new boundaries that the Commission recommended were introduced in 2004 and since then much has happened:

1. We have introduced a mayoral system which has placed almost all the power of the Council in one pair of hands shielded by a cadre of Cabinet Members;

2. We have lost many of our services and are doing about 40% less than we did when the last review was enforced. Not only do we have less than half the schools we used to be responsible for our social services, neighbourhood services and other activities of the council have had huge reductions in budget and staffing.

We also have lost some of our powers. We no longer place people onto a Police Authority and will shortly cease to provide councillors for the Fire & Civil Defence Authority.

3. Communications have massively improved. For example I am able to communicate with more than 2,000 of my constituents at the press of a button from my computer although I still deliver a regular Councillor’s newsletter.

The result of these three things is that we now have many more councillors than we actually need to run the authority and this trend will shortly be exacerbated by the decision to have an elected Mayor for the City Region from May 2017. Although strictly speaking no powers will move upwards to the City Region mayo and scrutiny authority the fact is that Liverpool City Council plays a major role in the shaping of the agenda for the whole of the City Region. That work will clearly move away from us.

I believe therefore that given these changes and the fact that it is now 13 years since the last review it would be an opportune time to do 2 things:

1. Reduce the number of councillors by one third to 60 in 30 x two members wards with councillors coming up for election every two years on a four yearly cycle:

2. If necessary review the boundaries of the 30 existing wards although my quick review of the current numbers indicates that the wards are broadly OK.

If this was to be done quickly, especially if the boundaries themselves did not need reviewing this could enable a new council to be elected in May 2017 at the same time as we will vote for a new Liverpool City Region Mayor.

I would be pleased to discuss this with you further and meet members of your staff if you are minded to take this matter up.

I look forward to hearing from you.

Cllr Richard Kemp CBE
Leader, Liverpool Liberal Democrats

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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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8 Responses to Councillor’s cull called for in Liverpool

  1. joedd says:

    we have 3 labour councillors in kirkdale – haven’t seen them in years …… waste of tax payers money

  2. Dr C says:

    And where did this £500,000 come from?

  3. The Childwall Kid says:

    Makes perfect sense to me Richard, a simple yet effective idea on saving money in an alternative fashion.

  4. John Brace says:

    Interesting you state “and will shortly cease to provide councillors for the Fire & Civil Defence Authority.”

    That will really upset the Chair of the Merseyside Fire and Rescue Authority Cllr Dave Hanratty who has often used public meetings to say how terrible it would be if that was the case.

    I have heard rumours that in phase 2 of the democracy deal it (the Merseyside Fire and Rescue Authority) will be absorbed into the Combined Authority, just as Merseytravel was.

    I used to report on the Merseyside Police Authority before its abolition. Personally I think the Police Authority (half councillors, half independents) was a more understandable system of governance than Police and Crime Commissioner and Deputy.

    When I was in America (which is where the idea of PCCs seem to have been taken from), although the police chief would be elected, for the area I was in, the PCC was for say a population of 1,000 people, not ~1.4 million voters as we have in Merseyside!

    • richardkemp says:

      The Government are considering putting Fire Services under the control of Police Commissioners. I think that this is almost certain to happen. For the Police to come under the authority of the elected regional mayor they will have to sort out the fact that Halton is currently policed by Cheshire Constabulary.

      • John Brace says:

        Ahh thanks, that proposal has already been discussed by the Merseyside Fire and Rescue Authority and the Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner for Merseyside.

        However Jane Kennedy (Merseyside’s PCC) and the Merseyside Fire and Rescue Authority are both against such a merger between the Merseyside Fire & Rescue Service/Merseyside Police (and their associated governance arrangements). So with that sort of resistance I’m not sure it’s possible to force such a merger (unless as you point out the government force the issue through legislation change).

        I’m not disagreeing however that it is possible in phase 2 of the devolution talks that that the governance of the Merseyside Fire and Rescue Service might come under the control of a Merseyside Mayor (or like Merseytravel a committee ultimately accountable to the Mayor).

        However considering the above I predict there will be resistance to that idea too from those councillors and politicians that would lose out from such an arrangement.

        There is however a big drive to share services/collaborate better between Merseyside Police and Merseyside Fire and Rescue Services. As both organisations get smaller this does make sense.

      • richardkemp says:

        I agree with you that there is a lot more room for joint working although I don’t think a merger is a good idea. At the end f the day thus will be a government decision

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