As Line of Duty’ winds to an end today we can be sure that there is at least another series being planned in Liverpool’s fight against corruption, waste and incompetence.
By 19th May the Council has to prepare its response to the damning and shaming Caller Report which revealed for all to see the incompetence waste and corruption of Liverpool’s Labour Council. Money and contracts given without due process to mates and relatives. High quality property developers turned away to allow a series of improperly financed developments which have fleeced investors globally out of hundreds of £millions; huge bills for the public sector to pick up the failed sites; roads shoddily repaired and needing doing again; worthwhile projects such as that for the esteemed Blackburne House side-lined and ignored.
So that’s one side of things. On the other we still have 6 ongoing police investigations. 16 arrests have been made of 15 people on potential charges relating to bribery, corruption, witness intimidation and malfeasance in public office but I am sure that there will be more to come. One senior officer has been summarily dismissed with possibly more to come. Other Labour councillors, officers and contractors have been visited. I suspect that by the end of June more people will have been arrested, formal charges will be laid and the process of resolving the matters through the Courts will be finally started.
Recovery will not be easy. I can set some of the things we need to do going within minutes of being elected Mayor and more within days. It will take time to bring them to fruition. It will take even longer to put right the damage to Liverpool’s reputation that has been caused by the national and global bad publicity. It took 20 years to recover from the Militant area of the 1980s. That cost the City jobs, investment and opportunity.
Only when the Lib Dems under Mike Storey started to get Council Tax down did people feel more confident in the Council. Only when the Lib Dems applied for and then gained European Capital of Culture status for 2008 did people from outside start getting confidence in the City as a whole. That led to tens of thousands of jobs and huge investment in our City Centre and infrastructure.
I’ve talked to thousands of people in the last 6 weeks. If there are two words which sum up the opinions of the majority they would be anger and sadness. Real anger over the fact that people have lost £917+ in a waste of money that could have gone either to keep tax down or to provide better services. Real sadness that under Labour the old jokes such as, ‘watch your hubcaps there’s a Scouser about’, have started up again.
I know that lots of people have already decided to switch to our Lib Dem team and many have already voted. By Tuesday more than 17,000 postal votes had already been returned. Given that only about 100,000 votes are expected to be cast that means that 17% of the vote was already in. Postal votes are likely to account for 40% of the total votes counted. Many of them have been cast for us as I discovered as I canvassed in Wavertree and Allerton & Hunts Cross yesterday.
My team has gone further than we have been able to for years as money has been donated and volunteers have turned up demanding work to do. As of yesterday, we had been out in 28 wards – I have been out in 18 of them – which is a huge contrast with 2015 when we had to put most of our effort into successfully defending just one seat – mine!
I just don’t know how high our boat will float but I do know that we will have more influence in the Council next year than we have had this year. Every Lib Dem Councillor elected will strive to bring about good governance, abolish waste and ensure transparency in everything that we do.
Time and time again I have been told, “It has to be you Richard. You’re the only one with the experience to turn things around”. Many of those who listened in to the 4 hustings have been appalled that they have largely been a policy free zone – especially from the Tory who hasn’t turned up to one of them! Pious platitudes from well-meaning amateurs will not rescue our City from its woes and restore confidence in our Council and our City.
It’s not only me but a whole team of Lib Dems with the ability, knowledge and skills to put our City right. Our offer to you is simple. Lend us your vote on Thursday and we will make huge changes to the way our City is run so we can send the Tory Commissioners back down to London a year early. We will have the elections for a new full council in 2023 secure in the knowledge that our City is back on track to achieve wonderful things for our people.
Or, as they say more simply on Line of Duty, “then we’ll be sucking diesel!”