At yesterday’s Council meeting we had a mixture of anger, dissembling and just misleading statements from the Mayor of Liverpool but eventually he revealed that he agreed with the Lib Dems on two crucial issues
Where should I start with yesterdays council? It was the usual mix of bollocks and bravado but within that there were some good announcements and some incomprehensible votes!
The first good announcement was that Kingdom are to be banned from the streets of Liverpool. What a turn round this was. At the Council meeting In September we moved a motion which asked the Council to get rid of Kingdom and convert the work from bonus induced Fixed Penalty Notices to education and fighting the really serious offenders. Our motion was so bad that Labour’s Cabinet member, Liz Parsons, moved a 1.5 pages amendment to it. (Perhaps that is why she wasn’t there yesterday!)
We were roundly criticised for attempts to make a better and fairer systems. Yesterday the Mayor announced that he had given Kingdom notice just 5 weeks after he had said that we were wrong. When I asked what had changed since the last meeting the was simply, my mind!” Actually, the change came because the Council had got it wrong from the start. A bonus-based system of repayment was always going to mean an emphasis on fines and not education.
Well done John Foley and his team who continued to highlight this issue and the appalling behaviour of Kingdom staff in Liverpool and Birkenhead.
The second good announcement was about the future of Calderstones Park. We were having a debate on a Labour amendment to the Lib Dem motion which was only there to serve one purpose – unite Labour. They could not debate the issues so Barrister Brant moved an amendment which all Labour voted for which would have been laughed out of Court if he had presented it there. He wanted us not to discuss the issue because our debate might prejudice the Judicial Review decision. Total nonsense of course. I would not have been allowed to move it if that were the case. If I had strayed into inappropriate discussions there was an army of advisers to assist the Chief Executive in ruling me out of order.
So, the amendment was nonsense but what the Mayor said was important. For the first time he told us publicly that if Beechley Riding for the Disabled and the miniature railway do not want to move they don’t need to. That, of course, scuppers the planning application from Redrow. It also means that in many ways the Judicial Review decision is irrelevant. Why did the community have to raise £40k and the Council spend £35k to fight a court action which is irrelevant?
I will be talking to all the organisations concerned to consider our next steps next week.
But these were the highlights and there were at least two important occasions in which the Mayor misled the Council. Mind you only his Party colleagues were fooled by this.
We moved an amendment to a Labour motion relating to the scam leasehold which unscrupulous freehold owners are using to ramp up charges to people who thought they had bought their house but had realised that in fact they hadn’t. Appallingly, in Liverpool many of these scams had been conducted on land which the Council had sold to developers.
In fact, three Labour Councillors pointed this out. Legislation is needed but that should not stop the Council taking action in these specific cases where homes are built on land that we sell. Quite simply we can insert into the sales documents a clause that forbids such behaviour. The Mayor claimed that only national action can prevent such behaviour. This is wrong. We can stop it where we sell the land. I spoke to Labour Councillors after the vote who had believed the Mayor and then when they found out the Mayor was wrong regretted their vote.
No problem. I will be moving our amendment at the next Council as a motion. I will carefully explain to them why the Mayor was wrong and I am sure that we will then have all-Party support for a very reasonable motion that we should actually do something in our City rather than just whingeing about what the Government is doing.
Lastly another farce in which the Mayor misled the Council. We moved a motion which would encourage the Government to give increased powers to the Liverpool City Region. We looked at policing which would enable us to abolish the ridiculous position of the Elected Police Commissioner. We looked at health which would enable more decisions to be taken locally to spend money on local priorities rather than those of London based bureaucrats. Both of these are not new. They are actually happening in Manchester.
Lastly, our motion asked for money for innovation, science, employment and investment to eb transferred from a Government Ministry to the City Region. That would again mean local rather than national priorities and the opportunity to join up services in a much better way. Amazingly, despite evidence to the contrary from 30 miles along the M62 the Mayor claimed that these policies were not possible. The reality was that a Labour Liverpool Mayor did not want more power and influence to go to a Liverpool Region Labour Mayor.
The comradeship in the Labour Party has to be (not) seen to be believed!
I’ll be in touch when we can work out together what the Mayoral announcement means!