The joys of being a Councillor in Anderson’s Town Hall


Mayor Joseph Anderson. The master of bluff and obfuscation

This is a blog with a difference. I am actually writing it during a council meeting in the Town Hall. You might think that I should have better things to do in a council meeting than write a blog but in all council meetings there is a huge amount of tedium where people recite prepared and partisan speeches which are occasionally interspersed with items of drama, tension or plain anger.

So, we are approaching 5.00pm. The Lord Mayor will be in soon and I am thinking about my first intervention which is to challenge the accuracy of the minutes of the last council meeting because they do not include a full report on the statement by the Mayor that they had legal advice that suspending a staff member without prejudice is in itself prejudicial.

Well that was a waste of time but I did try! The Mayor made a statement at the last council about how the Chief Executive had not been suspended because they had legal advice that suspending someone without prejudice was itself prejudicial. I tried to ensure that was written into the minutes of the Council because it has important ramifications for the way the council does its work.

The Mayor and Deputy Mayor were up and down like jack-in-a- boxes with the Mayor totally inventing something I had said just seconds before. This might sound trivial but it really is important.

We are now listening to a sombre but excellent statement from the Deputy Chief Fire Officer about what is happening in Merseyside after the Grenfell Tower disaster. They are doing a shed load of work to check properties and reassure tenants. Hundreds of blocks and individual properties visited and full checks in place across the conurbation. Well done our fire bobbies. A massive endorsement to them from every councillor across the political divide.

Then a cracking speech from Francis Molloy whose son was killed when an ‘accident’ was caused when a 17.5 hour tyre collapsed. Accident in inverted commas because this was no accident. Although regrettably not illegal the penny pinching actions of buying second hand and ancient tyres is grossly immoral.

Well that was a funny one. We had a statement from the Mayor updating us about the situation with the Chief Executive which didn’t say anything other than what was already in public. We were told that legal advice had been given that we couldn’t ask questions about this item! So, we didn’t. We can have a private and confidential meeting but I rarely go to those because I normally feel that if it cannot be said in public. I accept that in personal matters that can be changed. I don’t see any point to going to such a meeting in this case because I suspect I already know more than the Mayor is prepared to tell me!

But then the Mayor made no other statement. This meant that I could raise no questions on any of the issues that the people of Liverpool want to hear about. Not only the Chief Executive but St John’s Market; Chinatown; the Edge Lane hole; the city region squabbles (that will be the last item on the agenda) or anything at all. That’s why I don’t take Council meetings seriously they have very little bite or meaning.

Labour have just voted down an amendment which called for a reduction in allowances for members of the Transport Authority which is no longer an authority!

Now back to the subjects we had outside speakers for earlier. Grenfell Towers and the ‘Tyred Out’ campaign. We will not speak on these items not because we disagree but because we do agree. We need more regulations to protect our lives not less. Government continually gives the impression that ‘Health & Safety’ is just an unnecessary. Tell that to Francis Molloy and the relatives of the 80 who died in Grenfell Towers.

Actually, I did speak in support. There are times when we can just agree and support each other.

So, on both the two motions about safety the council voted unanimously to support them with an excellent speech for our own Cllr Juarez in support of the ‘Tyred Out’ motion. She spoke as a mum as well as a councillor.

Now we are on to a motion about the problems being faced by the Police and Police Officers. It is clear that there are huge problems here. The police are over stretched and are facing more dangerous problems with guns, knives and drugs. They cannot provide the day to day presence on our streets to reassure the community that want to. On many occasions, they seem to be more a quasi-military presence. This is regrettable but unavoidable given the terrible people that they have to face.

Again total unanimity but no real point to the speeches. We could have dealt with all this by letters, visits to the Government etc.

So we had a motion on breast feeding which was really just an opportunity to attack Andrew Makinson for a poorly expressed tweet. I wanted to speak but was not allowed to.

Then Labour refused to accept an amendment from us designed to correct a statement that the Lib Dem General Election manifesto would have taken money from Liverpool schools. I read out both the Labour and Lib Dem manifesto pieces which were almost identical. I told the Council where the money would come from according to our manifesto. Yet bigotry and bias won the day. Labour will go to any lengths to try and discredit the Lib Dems and deflect attention from their own inadequacies.

Now I have spoken in support of our motion to try and get people from all Parties to work together both inside the Labour Party and outside them to get the Liverpool City Region working properly. Anderson replies with an attack on the Liverpool Echo! This is really low life behaviour. The personal attack on an Echo reporter takes place in a place where he cannot reply. Anderson now seems to be saying that he didn’t say what he said in public and which Mayor Rotheram has responded to. I sometimes think he lives on another planet!! Apparently the two Mayors love each other! He didn’t respond to the complaints about withdrawing staff. He didn’t address the key points of his disagreement. He also didn’t say why he didn’t follow up the offers to work together that he initiated and to which Lib Dems responded.

Mayor Anderson not only didn’t address the issues he did what he normally does and went into personal invective. We were supported by the Liberal Party in this. We don’t always agree on things but sometimes the other Parties do and set a good example. What Mayor Anderson should have done whilst attacking me and the Liverpool Echo sit oi look at his own supporters. I can read politicians faces and many of them (the thinking ones) were not happy. The fact is that everyone within the Council Chamber knows that there is a serious rift between the Mayors and no amount of blustering or denial will stop that.

The Greens played a blinder this Council. They abstained three times on key issues! They were going to vote one way then voted another. They were all over the place.

So about 125 people have just spent an evening either politely supporting each other or slagging each other off. If people came to see us in action they would never vote again!

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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1 Response to The joys of being a Councillor in Anderson’s Town Hall

  1. The Childwall Kid says:

    I came, I saw, I left, (after 40 minutes). Agree with your observations Richard, the bit I saw was like a scripted panto, with Mayor Anderson playing to the audience, well those sycophantic enough to bother listening.

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