This sad and battered Teddy is believed to be the very Teddy that Mayor Anderson threw out of his pram yesterday in his ongoing spat with Mayor Rotheram!
Having been a campaigner in Liverpool for 43 years I thought nothing would ever surprise me again about the way that Labour behave in our City. I was wrong. To say my jaw dropped when I heard from the Liverpool Echo that Mayor Anderson had withdrawn both himself and Liverpool staff from the Combined Authority is an understatement.
The City Region only exists because Anderson fought for it. It only has a Mayor now because he managed at the last moment to herd the fighting cats of the LCR Labour Leadership to make a last minute and incredibly weak bid to meet government deadlines and requirements. This time last year he approached me and through me the Lib Dems across the Region because he felt that we needed to work together in the face of the problems that our Region would be faced with post the BREXIT vote. Lib Dems agreed with him, met with Labour Leaders and even put forward a set of suggestions of our own about the policies and procedures that we could work with Labour on.
That, of course, came to nothing when Anderson did not get the Mayoral go ahead from the region’s Labour Party. We heard nothing back despite several attempts and in the end the idea petered out. So now we have the situation where Anderson will not speak to two important people. He won’t talk to the MP for Walton, because he was beaten to that job and he won’t talk to the Mayor of the City Region because he didn’t get that job. Well the situation that our Country and Region is in means that we will talk to both of those people although we would have preferred to see Kris Brown as the MP for Walton and Cllr Carl Cashman as the Regional Mayor.
There is never a place for Toy Town politics and there certainly isn’t a place when our economy nationally is tanking and our Region is set to go the same way. Now is a time when we do agree to work together and we do, wherever possible, set aside our differences and see what common ground there is to campaign together for the common good.
So I have written to City Region Mayor Steve Rotheram offering Lib Dem support to both him and the Combined Authority in the aftermath of Mayor Anderson withdrawing Liverpool Council support for the City Region.
I make clear that the Lib Dems in the City Region agreed last year to meet with Mayor Anderson and work with him and that nothing came of that offer. I am repeating the offer to Mayor Rotheram because we believe it is important that the LCR works well in the aftermath of the Brexit vote and the worsening financial state of the Country.
This is a genuine offer to bridge the political divide and work together to provide hope for the people of our communities across the City Region. I hope that Mayor Rotheram responds to this more positively than Mayor Anderson
The full letter to Mayor Rotheram is appended
Cllr Richard Kemp CBE,
16, Dovedale Road,
Liverpool L18 1DW
Liverpool City Region,
23rd June 2017
The day after the EU referendum last year I was surprised to get a phone call from Mayor Anderson. You will appreciate that this is not something that happens often! He asked to see me because of his concern that Merseyside would suffer after EU for a whole variety of reasons and that all Parties in the region should work together to mitigate the effects of Brexit. He approached me because the Lib Dems are the major opposition Party in Merseyside and the only one who, like Labour, have representation on every council.
I called a meeting for all our 6 Group Leaders and they agreed to cooperate with Mayor Anderson, who was then leading the Combined Authority, and 5 of us attended a meeting with all the Labour Leaders after a CA meeting and agreed to put forward some areas for discussion where we thought we could work together. We did this is a paper which not only looked at policy areas but also mechanisms for establishing effective joint working operations in this time of stress and concern.
We believe that the LCR which you lead is a weak organisation. The deal negotiated by the 6 Labour Leaders in the Combined Authority is vastly inferior to the one that Manchester has. BUT it is the only deal that is now available to us. We took the view that even though the powers were limited the influence of an LCR Mayor would be great if we all work together.
We submitted the paper and waited for a response. A response that never came! Of course what happened soon after that was that you became Labour’s candidate for the LCR Mayoral position.
I am writing to you because I have been both astonished and appalled at the fact that Mayor Anderson has now withdrawn both his presence and that of Liverpool staff from the Combined Authority. He is doing something that contradicts his own opinion of just 12 months ago that we needed to work together in these troubled times.
So if Mayor Anderson will not work with you let me reiterate the offer made by the Lib Dem Group Leaders 12 months ago that we will. We do not agree with you on everything. We put a lot of effort into supporting Cllr Cashman in May and in defining a radical manifesto which had many similarities but also crucial differences to yours. But we still agree with what Mayor Anderson said last year that we need to overcome our political differences and work together to ensure our success as a City Region.
On that basis I would be pleased to coordinate a meeting with you and the 6 Lib Dem Group at which we could look at our ideas and yours and work out if and possibly how we could suspend hostilities and work together at LCR level to fight for the cash, the jobs and the influence that we believe the people of our area both need and deserve.
If you are interested in taking this further please do not hesitate to contact me and I will coordinate things with my Group Leader colleagues.
I am releasing this letter to the press not in any way to try and force your hand, your decision is your decision, but because I believe that all people of good will need to come together to defeat the ‘bull in a china shop’ attitude of Mayor Anderson.
I look forward to hearing from you
Cllr Richard Kemp CBE
Leader, Liverpool Liberal Democrats