One of the things that many people do not realise about politics in Liverpool, or for that matter, the Country is that most politicians get on with each other most of the time. In Liverpool, Lib Dems and Labour vote with each other on about 90% of the votes that are taken in the Council or committees. That is for two reasons:
- We share some of the philosophy and policies of another Party; and
- Within local government we are often not doing what we want to do but responding to the dictats of central government.
This often shows itself in the votes that are taken on issues where central government or multi-national corporations are doing things that affect our City or where we believe in principle that the Government based in the South East does not understand the problems that affect councils and people in the North. That’s when we ask for more policy and on these occasions, with minor amendments we vote together on such issues.
So, we were very pleased when the Secretary of the Labour Group, Cllr Joann Kushner sent our chair, Cllr Kris Brown, a motion for Council relating to how to pay for the Giants and similar programmes. After a discussion we too submitted the motion to Council. This means that the names of both Lib Dem and Labour Councillors will appear as proposers of the motion on the Council’s Agenda. We too had been considering such a motion and whilst we would have expressed things slightly differently and asked for slightly different things we are not insisting on those differences when we so clearly are together on the main principles of the policy and our ask of Government.
We believe that the Government should allow a new tax on hotel bedrooms and restaurants in the City Centre to fund big spectacles in the City such as the Giants. This would, of course, not just be a tax for Liverpool but would give all councils the right to levy a ‘tourist charge’ for specific purposes defined in law and up to certain levels.
Such a tax is common throughout Europe and indeed in tourist areas throughout the World such as the USA.
Lib Dem Culture Spokesperson Cllr Carole Storey said, “Ever since 2000 when the Council first started to run for the European Capital of Culture, we have been staging big events and big programmes in the City. These events and activities have boosted our image, brought huge investment into our City and created thousands of jobs. Now because of Government cuts all that is at risk.
This Council like all others is being cut beyond the bone. It will have money left only for statutory services mainly for children and adults in need. Things like the Giants will not be possible because we cannot afford either the staff time to prepare and bid for them or the costs of running them which, in spite of sponsorship, does leave the Council with a bill.
But we know that the hotels, restaurants and other businesses in the City Centre and further afield make a huge profit from these events. Our proposal is that the Council should ask the Government to create a new tax, not just for Liverpool, on things like bedroom occupation. Just £2 a night per occupied room in hotels, ‘bed and breakfasts’ and Airbnb would bring in enough money to keep the visitors coming and the cash flowing.
Until the Government acts, we should consult relevant businesses to seek a way forward to enable them to make a fair contribution to the event’s costs from which they so clearly benefit.
The full motion is appended below.
Cllr Carole Storey and Cllr Kay Davies
This council recognises and applauds the inventive ideas and boundless energy that has originated from the Culture Team.
The worldwide appeal of the Giants, World Boccia, International Netball, Red Bull Drifters, Fusion Festival, Cruise Liner Terminal to name just a few of the international events that have brought millions of tourists to the City since 2008.
These outstanding events have, over the past 10 years since the Capital of Culture, led to a huge increase in tourism, which has seen many new hotels, restaurants, bars and bistros etc within the city centre. This has created £100 million plus economic impact to the city resulting in full hotels, restaurants and bars.
Unfortunately, this economic impact now needs to show itself in many of the areas whose residents contribute towards the costs of these events but see little of its rewards.
With this in mind this council believes that it should adopt the principle of a small charge on meals and hotel rooms that is prevalent in many international cities throughout the world. This money would be ring fenced and be used in the areas of deprivation and need throughout the city.
This council is aware that at present it is illegal to for the council to impose this upon hoteliers and restaurateurs, therefore, until the law is changed that a voluntary scheme is discussed with those concerned.