Putting the Mayor in charge of the Council’s money is like putting a fox in charge of the chicken coop!

Mayor Anderson has hardly spoken about finances this year but now she is taking over as a result of our huge electricity losses. We have to question her ability to do the job!

My Liverpool Liberal Democrat Group colleagues and I have reacted with incredulity to the news that the Mayor of Liverpool has completed a reshuffle of her Cabinet team by making herself the Council’s spokesperson on Finance. The move follows the potential loss of up to £16 million caused by the Council failing to do what every householder has done and secure a new fixed rate contract at a time of rapidly rising power prices.

Mayor Anderson, who has twice been forced to avoid action from her creditors by personally becoming bankrupt in her personal affairs, is not the obvious choice to take over the Council’s finances, in our opinion.  At least Cllr Corbett understood how the Council worked and had some idea of its finances. Mayor Anderson has hardly spoken about the tight financial situation of the Council this year leaving everything to Cllr Corbett.

However, we have no say in who the Mayor puts into her Cabinet which is why we want to abolish the Mayoral system and put in place instead a Cabinet system of governance.

We can, however try to do a number of things to try and hold the Mayor and Cabinet to account and open up the Council to proper questioning and scrutiny.

So Liverpool Lib Dems will be moving two major amendments at the Annual Meeting of the Council which will take place on 25th May.

The first will be to merge the Finance and Mayoral Performance Select Committees into one major top level strategic overview committee. We had decided to do this even before the news broke. It makes even more sense now. Mayor Anderson now already gets scrutinised in the Mayoral & Performance Select Committee and will now also eb scrutinised at the Resources Select Committee. It makes absolute sense to have one Select Committee scrutinising at a strategic level the control of the cash and performance of the Council.

The second is to try and place the Leaders of the two major opposition Parties at Cabinet Meetings so that they can challenge the Cabinet on items before them. Now opposition cllrs don’t get the chance to speak and challenge and have to do things after the decisions have been made. Giving the opposition none-voting places at the Cabinet table will ensure better reports from officers and better scrutiny of what they are moving by the Cabinet Members themselves.

These two moves will help the Council sort out its affairs in the short term while we decide how to run the City in future. Labour have combined cash and the mayoralty before when Joe Anderson also took the finance brief and declared himself to be an Executive Mayor.  There’s no one in Liverpool who would think that was a good idea.

I recall also that Joe had only had one foray into running an organisation and that was when we forced a pub he ran into financial meltdown. The two Andersons have more in common than I had thought!

Joanne Anderson appointing herself resources spokesperson is like putting a fix in charge of the chicken coop! There are at least two members of the Labour Group who do know how to run a budget, but they ae not in the Cabinet. It looks as if the people of Liverpool are the last consideration as Labour settles scores inside its own Party

The next 11 months will probably be tortuous for our City but at least there is hope that a rejuvenated Lib Dems will take control of the Council next May and put Labour out of its misery.

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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