Liverpool Council must change its ways

If our attempt to start a consultation process on the abolition of the post of elected mayor doesn’t succeed I pledge as the Lib Dem candidate in the mayoral election that my first job if elected will be to start the process of removing the position and return the Council to a better system of governance

The absence from the scene of Joe Anderson, temporary or permanent, gives us the opportunity to once again reassess the position of Elected Mayor. The Lib Dems have moved to hold an Extraordinary Meeting of the Council when it can be discussed. If carried we could change to a new form of government based on either a committee system or the Cabinet and Leader system which pertained before we moved to the Mayoral system.

Some might say that the Lib Dems are being opportunistic about this and are seeking to use the current debacle for our own ends. Clearly now is the opportunity to discuss this because so many people are thinking about it. However, we have been entirely consistent in this. We opposed the introduction of the Mayoralty and on three occasions since have moved that the position be abolished. We warned of the consequences of centralising power and avoiding scrutiny and we have been shown to be right. It isn’t only the Mayor but the major problems within the regeneration department that show we need a new system.

Although at the moment this has only been signed by Lib Dems, we have sent this to other Cllrs as well. We know that the Greens and the Liberals don’t like the system. We also know that many Labour members don’t like it either. In 2018 Cllr O’Byrne demanded a change in the system before the close of polls in the local elections. She was quietened down by a promise that a review of the system would be undertaken. Nothing happened.

When in the same year the Lib Dems tried to requisition an Extraordinary Meeting to review the system by consulting the people of Liverpool the Mayor announced that consultation would take place as part of a wider consultation process on neighbourhood activity. Those consultations never took place!

Labour have used every trick in the book to deny the people of Liverpool the right to choose what system they want. They know, as we know, that if the people of our City had been given the opportunity to vote on this they would not have chosen the Mayoral model. Of the 11 major cities that did go out to referendum only Bristol, by a very small majority, decided to adopt the mayoral model and now there are moves to scrap it.

Of the 16 councils who have adopted the Mayoral Model four have already voted to scrap it and bring in a more inclusive system involving all councillors and the people of their areas.

Can we get this through the Council or will the desire for patronage and to make real decisions away from full council or public scrutiny be uppermost in the minds of the Labour majority. Only time will tell. One thing I am absolutely clear about. If we do go ahead with a mayoral election next May, I will be the Lib Dem candidate. My first pledge will be that I will be the last elected mayor of Liverpool.

One way or another the people of Liverpool will get the chance to decide on the way ahead.

Here are our two resolutions. They may be slightly amended after discussions with the Council’s officers but I think that the intent is absolutely clear.

Requisition request to the Lord Mayor Liverpool Cllr Anna Rothery

Please accept this as a request to hold as a matter of urgency an Extraordinary Meeting of the Council to consider the following motion.

Cllrs Richard Kemp, Andrew Makinson, Liz Makinson, Kris Brown, Mirna Juarez, Barbara Mace, Carole Storey, Alan Tormey, Malcolm Kelly, Kay Davies

Consultation with the People of Liverpool over the future of the Elected Mayoralty

Requests the Officers of the Council to draw up and implement a consultation programme with the people of Liverpool on the system of governance that they would prefer from the three systems available in law:

  • An Elected Mayor and Cabinet
  • A Council Leader and Cabinet
  • A committee system

And for a report to be presented to a special meeting of the Council in such time as is necessary to preclude the election of an Elected Mayor in May 2021 should that be the outcome of the consultation.

Cllrs Richard Kemp, Andrew Makinson, Liz Makinson, Kris Brown, Mirna Juarez, Barbara Mace, Carole Storey, Alan Tormey, Malcolm Kelly, Kay Davies

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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