New Mayor, same name, same old Liverpool Labour

In all the excitement of the election that took place in most of the UK last Thursday two items seem to have been missed by many in Liverpool. The over costly leccy bill and the screwed up mayoral consultation.

The Electricity Farce

The Council will have to pay up to £5 million more in electricity bills because it failed to agree a new contract on time with our electricity supplier. Whilst a high rise was inevitable it would have been much less than this had the Council kept to its own procedures and properly negotiated with the supplier as our previous fixed term contract came to an end.

That is of course what everyone in the City has been doing as our energy costs have been hit by Brexit and the Russian war in the Ukraine. So, you and I can do it, but a report has shown in detail why the Council couldn’t do it. There is much still to learn about this debacle but it is clear that we cannot procure big ticket items well and that there is still a spirit of evasiveness and a lack of competence in our officer corps in that sector.

This is not new. Readers will recall that last year the costs on the Strand/Lime Street work soared by £13.5 million + £6 million in interest charges, because we failed to procure the road improvement contract. It appears that nothing has been learned.

Labour have tried to weasel out of responsibility for this mess up, but they cannot do so. The ‘babes in the woods’ cabinet have now become the ‘lost in the woods’ cabinet. They oversee the key functions of the Council. After the Lime Street episode last summer, they should have doubled down on the officers to ensure that a seasoned procurement profession was hired and rigour, standards, reporting methods and legal properties were properly put into place. In fact, they did nothing.

Liverpool Council will not be the only people suffering. An equal amount of power is procured on behalf of our schools and the fire service so their bills too will shoot up. Make no doubt about it we will lose teachers and teachers assistants to cover this extra bill. To put it into perspective the amount that the Council will have to pay is the equivalent of a 2.5% rise in council tax or social care packages for more than 500 elderly people.

This matter has been referred to the Audit Committee currently chaired by my colleague, Kris Brown, who is determined to get to the bottom of all this and to make sure that lessons are learned and if necessary to ensure that heads roll!

Mayoral Consultation farce

When the Council first published its letter to every household about the consultation process, we warned that:

  1. It was a poorly produced letter that looked like some sort of legal demand and didn’t enthuse people into putting their viewpoint forward and relied too much on people picking up messages on social media and the Council’s website. Many people don’t recall seeing the letter so badly written and uninspiring it was.
  2. It was absolutely unclear how people could write in if they weren’t inveterate users of social media. We don’t all log on excitedly every day to look at our Twitter accounts or turn on to the council’s website regularly to see what it’s up to. Even the old standbys such as the Echo are not followed in the way they were when I first got on the council.

As usual we were fobbed off by an arrogant council that always thinks it knows best. However, they have been forced to think again presumably because not many people have responded to the survey. It would appear that they have put ballot boxes have been placed in 17 locations across the City so that people can look at something and then put their choice into the box to be counted alongside all the others at the close of the consultation.

The first I learned about it was when I read it on a Tweet!! The council’s website does not list the locations. So, to ensure that the locations are properly advertised I have had to ask the Council to let me have the details but at this stage, halfway in to the consultation process we cannot inform everyone about the changes through the letter box so we will have to use social media to spread the word so that people who know other people without computers can inform them.

My first reaction when I saw the letter was that the Council was actually trying to suppress resident involvement because Labour had already decided the way forward. Perhaps I am being cynical or perhaps it is just the absolute incompetence and arrogance that we have come to associate with Labour in our City.

What’s changed in Liverpool?

What has changed since Joe Anderson was replaced by Joanne Anderson? It would appear absolutely nothing. Still wild promises about the future and absolutely complacency about the present. Still a failure to get the council’s officers working to the big priorities. Still a total lack of concern for the waste in the system and the waste of your hard-earned cash which should be spent on the priorities that you want rather than frittered away in waste and mismanagement.

We’ve got the minimum cost to the City caused by Joe Anderson to be £135 million of Waste, mismanagement, failure to collect money and incompetence. We have now started to tally the cost of Joanne Anderson’s administration and have opened it with an immediate deposit of £10 million!

But help will soon be at hand. It is now only 360 days to the all-up elections next year. The Mounties will come over the hill in in our yellow jackets to rescue the City Council and to get the basics right!

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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