It is right that Cllr O’Byrne should announce today that she will not seek re-election in May. The question is, “why did she not do so when she received a large fine for a traffic offence when she was Deputy Police Commissioner?”
I have today welcomed the decisions of Cllr Ann O’Byrne and Cllr Barry Kushner to stand down as Councillors in May. This is entirely the right decision, and, in fact, it was one that Cllr O’Byrne should have taken following police action being taken against her when she was given a fine for a traffic offence by the Police when she was the Deputy Police Commissioner.
Councillor Kushner whose nickname is Barbecue Barry should have stood down in 2020 when photographs showed him flagrantly breaking covid lockdown rules.
It is also right that the Liverpool Community Independents have suspended their Leader, Anna Rothery to allow a full examination of her behaviour. Ironically, she was suspended on the day that her Party, with her as Leader, was officially registered by the Electoral Commission. At least Anna apologised for her actions and has offered to pay the fine
Whilst this might appear that Labour is doing the right thing, we should note that Labour have done everything in their power to stop this information coming out. I first raised this officially 18 months ago and the Liverpool Echo had to struggle time and again over 16 months to get their FOI answered which revealed that in fact 14 Labour members have dodged the payment of their fines.
They apparently did this by insisting that an officer cancelled these tickets without going through the proper procedures. The officer, who no longer works for the Council, claims that he was bullied into doing so. I have no doubt that this was the case having been on the receiving end of Labour bullying myself over many years.
In the meantime, Labour seems to have employed solicitors to depress the enquiry and my request for disciplinary action against the five that I knew about was turned down. Any suggestion that Labour knows how to behave properly should be weighed against the fact that they are acting now in a panic because their suppression failed and people are appalled at their behaviour.
It just shows that in Liverpool a little probing goes a long way. I have other probes in mind that I am also trying to pursue.
I don’t know if more Labour councillors will stand down but in my mind everyone who was a Cabinet Member under Joe Anderson now needs to stand down. Either they knew what he was doing and failed to stop it or did know what he was doing and went along with it. They loved being in power, they loved throwing their weight around. They gloried in their position from which they clearly befitted but did things that were a real disbenefit for the people of Liverpool.
In many ways this is a side show compared to the two police enquiries into the Council’s affairs. Charges have been laid against 4 council officers as a result of Operation Sheridan and those cases will be heard later this year in the Crown Court.
Alongside that Operation Aloft has been investigating the City Council since December 2019 when the first arrests were made. It should be noted that no one has been charged because of Operation Aloft and under British Law everyone is innocent until proven otherwise in a court of law.
No one should doubt that this means that Liverpool Council is absolutely unique. No other Council has ever had two major Police enquiries being undertaken into its work at the same time. No other Council has 5 Government Commissioners installed with an improvement programme costing £millions a year. No other council is facing a £73 million deficit which it needs to find by increases in tax and fees and huge cuts in services.