Today I have welcomed the call by City Region Mayor, Steve Rotheram, to scrap the role of Elected Police Commissioner and stop the chaos of Liverpool citizens voting four times next year.
Early last year we moved in the City Council the abolition of the roles of Elected City Mayor and Elected Police Commissioner. We argued then that these positions were unnecessary and expensive. Significantly our view was not supported by a single Labour Councillor. We have the absolute power to scrap the Elected Mayor but it would need Government approval to remove the Elected Police Commissioner position.
Next year the people of Liverpool will be presented with 4 ballot papers on election day. There will be votes for a councillor, City Mayor, City Region Mayor and Elected Police Commissioner. This is hugely expensive and highly confusing.
Scrapping elections for City Mayor and Police Commissioner would save more than £1.5 million in election costs. Together they would save tax payers more than £1.5 million a year in running costs.
It is not a complicated matter to transfer the Police Commissioner responsibilities to the Regional Mayor. There is a small problem of the policing of Halton which is currently undertaken by Cheshire and not Merseyside Police but that can be sorted out at a later date.
To assist the Regional Mayor a committee could be formed of the Cabinet Members on the 5 councils responsible for community safety with a couple of additions to allow smaller parties to be represented. This would have the added bonus of strengthening links between the Police and local councils which often have joint responsibilities for dealing with low level crime and anti-social behaviour.
There is already a scrutiny committee for the Regional Mayor in place and that could take over the scrutiny function currently undertaken by yet another committee.
Our views on a City Mayor are well known. The people of Liverpool were prevented from having a referendum on having a Mayor by a move in Council just 3 days before a referendum would have been compulsory. Significantly of the 12 councils that had such a referendum only one voted for a Mayor and that by just 234 votes across the entire city of Bristol.
We would return to the cheaper and more effective council leader system which would reduce the direct costs for the Mayor plus an over expensive office behind him. We could also abolish large swathes of none jobs whereby a payroll vote has been created to ensure loyalty. Effectively we have created in Liverpool an Emperor and courtier system divorced from reality and where the Emperor is only told what he wants to hear.
It would also end the confusion of who does what. Why did we send two Mayors to Cannes recently when one would have been sufficient and potential investors would have greater clarity about who to turn to?
Why is the Mayor of Liverpool interfering with discussions about Cammell Lairds which are rightfully the prerogative of Wirral Council and the City Region Mayor to deal with?
Times are hard and we need to devote every possible penny that we have to ensuring the maintenance of the frontline services that our residents so badly need. That is why it is vital now that we spend money on those frontline services, such as adult care, children’s services, education and the environment and not a bloated payroll for Labour politicians.