Liverpool governance consultation shows majority for change but no clear result

Only 41% of the responders to the Liverpool Governance consultation wanted to retain the position of elected mayor which has so damaged our council and the city’s reputation.

At midday today I took part in a call which gave the results from the Council’s consultation process on what form of governance they want for the City. The first thing we must note is a derisory response rate to a seriously flawed consultation process. The process was so flawed that there were only 11,519 valid responses out of the 330,000 electors of the city plus business and other residents who could have responded.

However, in so far that people have responded to the Governance Consultation which concluded last week with a clear preference for change. 57% of the respondents supported a change away from the mayoral model with the clear favourite of the alternatives at 33% being the Lib Dems preferred model of a committee system and only 23.5% supporting Labour’s proposed model of the Cabinet and Leader. 3% expressed no preference.

Despite the fact that this was a deeply flawed process Liverpool’s Lib Dem Councillors will follow the lead of the people of the City and support within council a move to the Committee system which is by far the most popular of the alternatives.

The main mistake of the Council was producing a consultation document that looked like some form of detailed legal document which most people appeared to have binned without reading, so poorly was it presented. We predicted that council officers could not understand the consultation processes required and suggested that it would be supported by the Council’s political Group Leaders. That proposal was rejected by Labour.

My fellow Liverpool Liberal Democrats and I believe that we must now draw a line under Joe Anderson’s past mismanagement of the Council and move the council forward positively. Nothing will say that the Council is changing more than a move to the Committee System which decentralises power, opens up the dark corners of the Council and then allows full discussion of policies at an appropriate time.

If the council’s ruling Labour Group decide to respond to the consultation either by ignoring it totally and keeping the Mayoral system or moving to their preference of a Cabinet/Leader system, we will firstly oppose them, and if they insist on that way forward will seek ways to make the Mayoral or Leader Cabinet system work far better than they have done under Joe Anderson’s control

It is possible to find ways of reducing the bad outcomes of the Mayoral system to make it less bad than the practices under Joe Anderson. It is also possible to make the Leader/Cabinet model work more effectively by introducing better scrutiny, detailed performance indicators and greater involvement of all councillors in decision making even if final decisions are left to the Mayor or Cabinet.

But these options would not be as good as involving all councillors at an early stage of policy development and decision making following on from those processes.

It is important that we do not get distracted by issues of constitutional nicety. Our council is still making mistake after mistake which is costing the people of Liverpool money. The move from Joe Anderson to Joanne Anderson.

The real way forward for the people of Liverpool is to vote the Labour Party out at the all-up elections next year when 85 members will be elected. Liverpool’s Lib Dem team are working hard to produce a good result with many more councillors able to take strong decisions to bring proper controls into the council to ensure financial and operational efficiency and a strong sense of direction to take the City into the future.

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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