Yesterday’s Council meeting was one in which Liverpool’s rag, tag and bobtail group of Labour Councillors never failed to underwhelm.
On three occasions they totally failed to rise to the challenges faced by a Council which is absolutely the best in the Country in the league table for arrests! In 4 years, 16 arrests have been made in connections with Council contracts and developments in the City. This is absolutely unprecedented. I can think of no time in the 54 years that I have been connected with local politics there has ever before been the arrest of a political head of the Council as there has been of the Labour Mayor of Liverpool, Joe Anderson.
This has led to systemic failure across the services of the Council. Shady and lost investments by the Council. £billions lost by shady developments. A poor education service which is the worst of any core city in the Council. Invest to save projects that became invest to lose. I could go on.
All this, of course, means that we have a Government Inspection Team in the City. We are the only Council in the Country with this unenviable status. The last two councils were Northamptonshire and Nottingham, where the Councils were teetering on the brink of insolvency. That is not the situation in Liverpool. We’re in the dock for the way we have conducted the regeneration, or should we say degeneration, in the City.
Yesterday Liberal Democrats moved three major items of debate written in such a way that they were none-partisan, attacked no-one but would have moved the Council and therefore Liverpool forward. Labour voted against all of them.
Firstly, we moved an amendment that would have brought some basic and common-sense practices into the council. It should be absolutely clear to everyone that politicians and officers should not have private 1:1 meetings with developers and contractors. We wanted to see proper scrutiny of all decisions taken. We wanted to see Cllrs who are clearly unskilled received training support so that they can do their job properly. Common sense to your and me.
Rejected by Labour whose motion tried to convince us that everything was already being done to correct this situation. So why are the Inspectors in Wendy Simon?
Secondly, we moved a motion asking for the urgent development of a task force to deal what has clearly become a major problem – the future of the City Centre. It is absolutely clear that all major City and Town Centres will be subject to major change. More office workers will work from home for all or part of the week.
That means we have to consider what to do with those offices. Less workers in the City Centre means less purchasing power and less shoppers. Retail will also be affected by changes in the way we shop. People have more interest in on-line shopping for ever. So, what are we going to do with all those retail outlets?
We believe that urgent action is needed so we asked for it. We also suggested that these moves might benefit District Centres like Woolton Village, Allerton Road and centres in Childwall, Allerton, Hunts Cross and Aigburth.
Labour’s response was to say that this organisation is doing this and that organisation is doing that. A total mumble jumble of dithering with no accountability back to the people of Liverpool. At the same time of course, they are trying to extort rents and service charges from the traders in St John’s Market based on a 2016 footfall.
Lastly, we returned once again to the question of the Mayoralty. My email inbox and Twitter feeds are full of people demanding change. We agree but Labour didn’t. Lib Dems argued that many of the problems that the Council is facing are caused by the way we run ourselves. All power is concentrated in one pair of hands and there is little scrutiny of decisions that are made by a Mayor dominated Cabinet and Set of Scrutiny Chairs.
We wanted consultation now to ensure that there would be no wasteful election for a City Mayor in May. Labour kicked this into the long grass with an amendment that there will be consultation but in September. This means that there will an Elected Mayor in place until May 2024. That is not what the people of Liverpool want but perhaps there too many Labour snouts in the trough to expect them to want to create a better system.
So, what we need is more Lib Dem Councillors! If Labour don’t want a strong and well led council that conducts its business in an open and transparent way, the Lib Dems do. Every vote that we get, every extra Councillor that we get means that your voice will be heard more in the council chamber and that a corrupt Labour Party can be held more accountable.
A lot of people challenge me to ask me why the Lib Dems don’t do more to take on Labour and all the corrupt practices. The fact is that there is only so much that 10 Lib Dem Cllrs can do. If everyone who moaned about Liverpool Labour on Twitter or Facebook actually spent an hour a week working with the Lib Dems, we could quickly sweep Labour from power.
That’s my challenge to you. Stop moaning and do something. Join us or become a supporter on our website http://www.liverlibdems.org.uk.