Control of this place is too important to be left to gimmicks
I did something just now that I have never done before! I visited Labour’s web site to look for their manifesto for the local elections which are just over two weeks off. I looked at Joe’s official website which states “2016 manifesto coming soon”. Well its only 16 days to the elections so it had better be soon! In fact though almost a quarter of the votes that will be cast in the elections will be cast by post. Those ballot papers go out on Wednesday and many of them will be on their way back on Thursday!
The reason I was going through this torture was to see if I could put in context the two announcements that Labour have made. I will deal with them in turn:
Firstly, the suggestion that Liverpool should host the 2026 Commonwealth Games. This is not a new idea – in fact it was discussed in Council and was heavily reported in the local media last summer. Labour made it clear then that they could only support the idea if the Government supported it financially and in other ways. This is absolutely the right approach. This is a national matter and no individual council or even the city region could go it alone. So what you might ask has been done since last summer and the powerful announcement last week. The answer is precisely nothing. I contacted the officers who have said there had been a couple of conversations with the Mayor about this but nothing had been prepared or considered.
This is quite dreadful. Bidding for a complex event like the Commonwealth Games needs years of planning and partnership building. You cannot start too soon to do this as it will involve many millions of pounds of capital investment. Yet a year after this was first discussed we haven’t started at all.
The second announcement was to create a new housing company to build 10,000 new rent to buy homes at a cost of £1 billion. It would not only provide the home but would charge extra on the rent to enable the tenant to secure a mortgage on this or another property. Simple maths tells us that this works out at £100k for each property. What would you get for an average of £100k? One or two bedroomed apartments. There is already a glut in the market in Liverppo, especially inner city Liverpool, with the number of homes of this type being built. Do we really need more of them when the ‘market’ is producing more than is needed? How many people actually want to live in a flat?
What Liverpool needs more of are family homes at an affordable price and those homes should be houses not apartments. It also needs more social housing. We need to build homes for rent not just to those who can and do aspire to move onwards and upwards but for those who, for a variety of reasons cannot share those aspirations.
I have talked to potential investors for this housing company including insurance companies, building societies and banks. There are no institutional takers for this amount of money for this purpose. The council could not begin to find money at this sort of scale to meet the promises being made by Labour. It’s already massively increased our borrowing at a time when our revenue has shrunk making the whole financial situation of the council inherently more risky.
So what Labour have presented us so far are two uncosted gimmicks with no supporting documents behind them and no idea as to where the money might come from for either of these grandiose schemes. What Labour haven’t presented is a manifesto by which we might look at the proposals in context and across the whole range of the council’s activities. Mind you they are not alone in this. The Green Party have presented an uncosted wish list and no-one else appears to have produced anything!!
Our manifesto is available at https://richardkemp.org.uk. It’s costed and it’s coherent. That’s what all the Parties should be doing now. These elections are extremely important for the city. The electorate have an absolute right to demand of those who seek one of the most powerful jobs in English politics a detailed manifesto against which they can judge those candidates.
Liverpool is at a cross roads. The momentum given to the city by the successful run up to and delivery of Capital of Culture is beginning to wear off. We desperately need new ideas, methods and targets if Liverpool is to sue all the potential which I know that it has. To date only the Liverpool Lib Dems have given a detailed way forward for the city. Perhaps you should ask the other Parties why they have failed to do so.