Waffling around the next steps post Liverpool Consultation

We have a great city which is being held back by its council. However, there are really some bonkers ideas being floated after the consultation debacle about the way forward.

I really am surprised at some of the nonsense that is being talked about the next steps that could be taken in the City following the Governance consultation debacle.

As I argued in my last blog, I warned that there was a likelihood of it going wrong when the council decided to consult and suggested a way of strengthening the process. Every member of the Council other than the Liberal Democrats voted down my suggestion. Now they seem surprised that it went so badly.

There are only two ways forward that make any sense:

  1. Persuade Labour that they should follow the directions of the people in the consultation and follow the most popular of the change alternatives. This the Liberal Democrats will try and do; or
  • Have another referendum for which there are two routes.
  1. Get the Council to agree this. Frankly given Labour’s intransigence it would be a total waste of time even trying to do this.
  2. Get a petition going with a view to holding a binding referendum.

The Lib Dems have looked at the possibility of getting the names on a petition for such a binding referendum and concluded that we could not do it. We could, if we did nothing else, but that just is not an option. We must work inside our wards and inside the Council so any action in this way would rely on people outside the political process.

We did a limited testing of this in 2015. Because of the restrictive nature of the petition and the need to link it to the electoral details of the signatory we found that at most we could get 10 signatures an hour. Don’t forget that we are skilled canvassers. That would mean that it would take at least 1,650 person hours, on the door, to get the numbers required.

On top of that would be the time spent in organising everything and making sure the electoral information is available. Also, there would be travelling time of moving everyone around and some elements of literature printing to let people know what was happening.

If anyone is up for that, we Liberal Democrats will morally and publicly support them providing that of the two options presented one of them is a move to the Committee System. But no-one should be unaware of the size of the task. 20 years ago, other people tried to do this and after a year of trying gave up.

Let’s face it one of the reasons for the appallingly low turnout was the lack of engagement by politicians in this process and the lack of debate. We Liberal Democrats put out 60,000 newspapers which led on the subject, continually tweeted and produced mini videos. I saw no action at all from the other Parties who are now complaining about the low turnout. They seem to forget that this is partly their fault.

I also cannot find any activities from Messrs Yip or Fogarty to publicly contribute to the public debate and then influence the turnout in an upwards direction.

It would appear, however, that an adviser to Mr Yip thinks that there is another alternative. This is what he said on Twitter in response to a comment about me.

“Of course, you can design a referendum with three options and a second preference. It would not be legally binding under the 2000 Act but would still be lawful and the Council could resolve to honour the outcome. It was misleading to claim this was not possible”.

Yes, I concede that it would be possible to do this but what would be the point? You can call it what you will, but a referendum that is not binding isn’t a referendum but another consultation. So, the proposal appears to be a suggestion that we spend another £600,000 on another consultation and I would suggest that the turnout would only be slightly more because of the larger amount of money spent but because it is none-binding the Labour Party would ignore it anyway. This really is fairy tale posturing on stilts about an issue that is important.

So, we Liberal Democrats will do what we can on 20th July to persuade the Labour Party to accept that they should back the change option with the most support.

But if and when that fails, we will just have to get in to the job of making a poor decision work as well as possible. The Council is looking at its constitution, its performance measures, its methods of scrutiny, its codes of conduct, its standing orders, and its culture. All this is vital work that we need to get on with if we are to get the Council running effectively and delivering the services that the people of Liverpool need.

Liberal Democrats understand how the Council works, we understand the legislation behind the practices within the Council and the legislation behind the referendum idea. We have ideals in which we would like to totally revolutionise the way that the Council works in ways that are even more important than the question about the Elected Mayoralty. We are constrained by an incompetent and unthinking Labour Party. That is why we are straining every sinew to take control of the council next year.

Let us all make May 4th 2022 Liverpool’s Independence Day and free ourselves for ever from the muddled and incompetent Labour Party who so badly run our City down.

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.
This entry was posted in Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s