Once again the Labour Party have ignored the fact that they control the council and have allowed officers to carry the can for the fiasco on William Brown Street
The shambolic behaviour of Liverpool Council in the licensing and controlling of the Hope & Glory Festival has been rightly exposed by the report produced yesterday. But once again the responsibility has been left with officers of the council rather than the Politicians who appoint and should oversee them. Clearly, day to day decisions must be made by staff but it is the politicians who carry the final responsibility. They appoint the staff; establish the structures and systems and should be part of any decision-making process in times of difficulty. There are only two options. Either the politicians knew what was going on and ignored it or they did not know what was going and should have done. Neither position is acceptable.
The only thing in the report which is clearly wrong is the suggestion that the Council could not have foreseen what would happen. As I said in Council my 8-year old granddaughter was able to find out within 2 minutes that the event’s promoters had a string of failures behind them. If Eva can do it why couldn’t the many Labour Councillors and the highly paid staff of the Council?
There were also many opportunities to take action as things unfolded. Time after time the protestors missed meetings that were vital for safety purposes. Even as we approached the day the shambolic behaviour of the promoters in arranging a secret gig within the main event which clearly left vital safety arrangements incomplete should have led to the event’s cancellation. Safety is of paramount importance when handling crowds as we Liverpool should know more than anywhere else.
On the day itself there appears to have been no supervision of the event. It was left to the Police to control crowds approaching the events and to limit the number of people officially entering the site. No official council statement was made about the failure of the event until the Monday.
Reports from people there indicate that there were hundreds of people bunking in. That even those going officially were being handed any wrist bands that were available and that the bag searches ceased to be done. After the Bataclan and the Manchester tragedy how could any promoter not deal with basic safety issues.
So, we have been trashed in the media and local businesses have lost more than £900,000 and the response of the Council has, to date, been poor.
In the view of the Lib Dems we need to do 4 things:
- Say that William Brown Street will never again be used for paid events such as this.
- We need to establish within the council a proper reporting mechanism so that the obvious abuses by the promoter can be dealt with at a high level both managerially and politically.
- We need to undertake comprehensive due diligence checks on any business with which we wish to undertake a high level, high visibility event.
- The Cabinet Member responsible for this should consider their culpability in this matter and follow the time honoured democratic route and either resign or issue an apology and ensure that mechanisms are set in place to ensure that problems like this do not recur.
It was only the actions of the Police that prevented a potential crowd tragedy. We were fortunate that terrorists did not target an event in which they could, literally, have got away with murder. If we are to continue to attract the high-level events with which we have been so successful for many years we need to show that we have learned from the mistakes of this ‘Festival’ and ensure that they will not recur.