I wrote yesterday to the Mayor of Liverpool as consultations begin on next year’s budget to say that ‘the budget is not for one day a year but every day in the year.
My Liberal Democrats and I have laid out a five-point plan which will ensure an increased value for money for our very high council tax:
- Ensure that all money that is due to us is billed and collected efficiently
- That income is maximised at all times
- Ensure that all contracts are effectively established, effectively monitored and have within them claw back clauses to enable us to rectify all faults from the contractor.
- Ensure a reduction in the core costs of running the council.
- Ensure that all service charges and payments due for services from Liverpool residents are at competitive levels.
Recent announcements have shown that how you spend and raise money can be almost as important as what you spend it on.
We know that the Lime Street contract has been totally messed up and is already overspent by £13 million which will incur a whopping £5 million in interest charges. This will cost taxpayers £706,000 a year which will be cut from vital front-line services. Even this dreadful figure will rise.
We know that we have overpaid more than £2.5 million to social services providers and much of that cannot be claimed back.
The list of calamitous financial recklessness is almost never ending.
We have also developed a list of spending priorities which recognise the problems and the opportunities of a post pandemic, post Brexit era. We need to spend more on green and community based issues and not on the over emphasis on grandiose schemes, many of which never actually took place, which has characterised the last decade of Labour rule in the City.
The full letter to the Mayor is appended. As always let me and the Lib Dem Cllr team know what is in your mind as to spending priorities.
Cllr Richard Kemp CBE
16, Dovedale Road,
Liverpool L18 1DW
26th October 2021
Thank you for your email about priorities for the budget. This is a joint response from the 12 Lib Dem Councillors:
- What should the foundation principles be for our 2022/23 budget decisions?
We need to provide value for money for our residents. The best guesstimate is that more than £125 million has been wasted, lost or not collected in the last ten years of Labour control of the Council. This ignores appalling misjudgements which have wasted £56 million on Lime Street and the Strand with no discernible benefit and that figure is before the £13 million overspend, the £4.5 million to service the new debt and the extra costs which will inevitably arise from the need to recontract. Already this means a cut in front line services to repay the debt + interest that runs to £709,000 per year.
So, the principles for constructing and running the budget are:
- What are your main city-wide concerns for our 2022/23 budget?
- That the Council will continue to waste money by not establishing proper procedures within the officer processes.
- That the so-called ‘City Plan’ is failing to develop policies and programmes which will need to be redesigned given changes in the retail sector and increased home working.
- What are your main Ward concerns for the 2022/23 budget?
- Our concern is the failure to effectively manage and deliver projects and routine day to day activities such as caring for grass verges. This is not necessarily caused by a shortage of money but a shortage of proper systems.
- All our wards have problems with dangerous and illegal parking.
- Linked to that are pressures around schools as parents feel unable to walk their kids to school and instead create a dangerous and unhealthy environment outside them.
- Gees that are becoming increasingly dangerous, blocking out light to people’s homes and with basal growth which obstructs pavements.
- What are your main city-wide ideas for our 2022/23 budget?
We need to spend to meet the real needs of Liverpool and have failed to learn from the Pandemic and Brexit what the new challenges and opportunities are.
These would include issues such as:
- Electricity generation from wind and solar on council and public sector owned land and properties.
- Use of derelict land and under occupied land to create woodlands, wildflower meadows or other ways of naturally cleansing air and producing usable biomass.
- Creation of social housing programmes.
- Effective programmes to reduce car use in the City and move residents to walking, cycling or public transport options.
- Development of neighbourhood centres to create localised jobs and reduce car use.
- Upstream prevention activity on public health issues to fight premature deaths, obesity and drug use including reinvigorating no smoking programmes.
- Action in the City Centre to consider how it needs to be changed to be contemporary.
- Utilising our local libraries as centres of recovery during the pandemic to combat loneliness and develop community.
- What are your main ward ideas for our 2022/23 budget?
All of our wards suffer from a failure to deal with detail. We want our wards to be clean, safe and green but too often roads are half swept, potholes are half repaired, green spaces are half attended to and decaying and obstructive trees are totally ignored. Road signs on the road and locational street signs are often hard to see or have badly degraded.
This is also true of our parks where there is a need for more care of pathways which are becoming dangerous.
It is a moot point as to whether these areas of concern need more money or better management.
- What are your long-term concerns and ideas for the next five years (2023-2028)?
The next five years are actually 2022 -2027
Failure to invest in green infrastructure
Failure to control demand in both children’s and adult service by providing better and cheaper upstream action.
More grandiose schemes such as the Lime Street and Strand developments being developed instead of the small projects that will make a major difference to people’s lives.
My colleagues and I hope that this information is of use to the Mayor. Like any budget it is not only what you do or do not put in it that counts. It’s how you manage it on a day to day basis throughout the year.
Cllr Richard Kemp CBE,
Leader, Liverpool Liberal Democrats