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With an ELECTED MAYOR Liverpool can have both...
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News From Liverpool
It's official. Liverpool City Council is the worst-run in the country. Poor budget management has sent the city to the bottom of the latest Audit Commission league table (alongside Rutland) with a one-star rating. The watchdog highlights poor leadership and management failures over several years.
The Daily Post describes the rating as "humiliating."
We say: No amount of spin can disguise this disastrous performance. Poor leadership, infighting and a failure to take tough decisions has made this Council a laughing stock.
Liverpool needs real leadership for real change.
ANOTHER FAILURE, ANOTHER FAT CHEQUE
Culture chief Jason Harborow has finally quit his post, taking a £230,000 pay-off with him.
His departure follows the Mathew Street fiasco, and his falling out with the council leadership.
The payment comes as the Council faces a £60m budget deficit. The Liverpool Echo calls it " a slap in the face" for city taxpayers. More HERE
We say: As dozens of local community and voluntary groups face grant cuts, the Council throws good money away showing these characters the door. First David Henshaw.Then Robyn Archer. Now Jason Harborow. What is wrong with these people ? They keep falling out, and we keep forking out...
COUNCIL SLAMMED BY WATCHDOG - AGAIN
The Audit Commission has condemned the way Liverpool City Council's finances are managed.
The spending watchdog gives the Council a pathetic ONE STAR rating (out of four) for budgetary management. It's the worst rating for any major city in the country.
The Daily Post has more HERE
"FIRE SALE" RESPONSE TO BUDGET CRISIS
Liverpool City Council's deepening budget crisis may lead to the sale of more of the City's assets. Council buildings - including libraries - may be handed over to trusts to raise cash, though the Daily Post reports this is fraught with pitfalls. MORE
We say: Liverpool's most famous firefighter is presiding over a "fire sale" as the Council staggers from one cash crisis to another. Perhaps the next BBC show to be broadcast from the European Capital of Culture should be Flog It!
TRAM FIASCO COST £70m SAYS AUDITOR
The doomed Merseytram project cost local taxpayers £70m, according to the Audit Commission. Merseytravel's handling of the scheme is criticised, though transport chiefs insist the project was undermined by political infighting in Liverpool. More details HERE
LIVERPOOL'S OTHER CASH CRISIS
As if the Capital of Culture budget crisis wasn't enough, there's a £25m hole in Liverpool's "Council Tax collection fund", its bank account if you like. The audit watchdog blames poor relations between councillors and officers for letting the debt get out of control. More details HERE:
And the Auditor warns the Council's financial position is going to get worse in 2008...
BRADLEY TO CITY: "SHUT UP AND PARTY"
Our year as European Capital of Culture has arrived. It's a great opportunity for Liverpool. The city and its people WILL rise above the shambolic politics of Liverpool'08 to create something special. But it's vital we keep holding our "leaders" to account. Asked about the huge hole in the '08 budget, Cllr Bradley today told BBC Radio Merseyside " I don't want to get hung up on the politics." Asked about Jason Harborow's imminent departure, he replied "I'm not getting hung up on that. " Anyone see a theme here ...?
AS BAD AS IT GETS
The current council leader and his predecessor are to be investigated by the watchdog responsible for Town Hall ethics. The Standards Board will hear claims that Cllr Warren Bradley and Mike Storey set out to undermine Culture Company chief Jason Harborow. Mr Harborow is poised to be paid off by the City Council, at a cost to local taxpayers of at least £200,000.
More details HERE
We say: Liverpool's 800th birthday year is ending in disgrace and disarray. The Mathew Street fiasco triggered yet another round of infighting. A scrapped festival, a whitewash report and kitchen-sink conspiracies have destroyed this Council's credibility. As 2008 looms, it's time to re-invent the way this great city is led. Our hapless, hopeless "leaders" should get out of the way. It's time for an Elected Mayor.
LCC "WORSE THAN EASTERN EUROPE" SAYS WATCHDOG
The Audit Commission has condemned the way Liverpool's Town Hall politics is conducted. In unusually strong language, a Commission source told the Daily Post that councillors' behaviour "fell short of that seen in a fledgling East European democracy." The watchdog is also poised to give the Council a pitiful 1-star rating (out of 4) for financial management.
We say: The Commission confirms what every Liverpudlian already knows - our leaders aren't up to the job. In two key areas - budgeting and behaviour - the Council is actually going backwards. Its culture of failure and in-fighting has held Liverpool back for years. Now it's dragging us down.
...PANTS ON FIRE ?
Council leader Warren Bradley stands accused of telling lies in the aftermath of the Mathew Street report. The allegation was made by the Labour opposition during a Council meeting to discuss the fiasco.Mr Bradley denies he misled a reporter on the Daily Post three times in as many days. The Post - in a robust editorial - stands by its story. It also claims Cllr Bradley threatened retaliation against the reporter and the paper. Judge for yourself HERE
We say: Our campaign is not about targetting individuals or parties. It's about getting rid of a broken system. But the current Leader's erratic behaviour and inconsistent statements are making him - and us - a laughing stock. This administration's authority and credibility are shot to bits.
CITY GREENS BACK REFERENDUM
The Liverpool Green Party is backing our referendum campaign! The Greens have voted to support a city-wide People's Poll on having an Elected Mayor, saying Liverpool's local government needs revitalisation. Green Party Cllr John Coyne said the current system was "broken."
Green Party Cllr John Coyne
supports the call for a People's Poll.
A QUESTION OF TRUST
The position of City Council leader Warren Bradley is under renewed scrutiny. He faces an enquiry by the local government watchdog,The Standards Board. And council Chief Executive Colin Hilton has failed to back up Cllr Bradley's claim that he told Mr Hilton about the mystery meeting with ex-events manager Lee Forde. More HERE
We say: A breakdown of trust between Leader and Chief Executive proved disastrous in 2005, when the Storey/Henshaw rift damaged Liverpool. Now - for the second time in a few weeks - their successors' versions of events don't add up. And councillors have utterly lost confidence in Culture Company chief Jason Harborow. If our so-called "leaders" don't trust each other, why should Liverpool trust them ?
IF YOU'RE IN A HOLE...
...stop digging. Unless of course you're the Leader of Liverpool City Council. It's emerged that he held a secret meeting with Lee Forde, one of the officials condemned in the Mathew Street report. The tryst took place two days AFTER the report was published, when Mr Forde was already taking his former employers to an industrial tribunal. More HERE:
We say: What an extraordinary admission! We were told that the City's report into Mathew Street was the last word on the issue. Yet 48 hours later Cllr Bradley and Cllr Mike Storey are meeting the report's chief victim for a chat in deepest Wavertree. The Daily Post also reveals Cllr Bradley was "p****d off" with the report, and at the way more senior figures weren't "fingered" for the fiasco. It's a shame he didn't say that the day he presented the report's findings to a disbelieving public...
THE LONG GOODBYE
Council leader Warren Bradley has refused to give public backing to under-fire Culture supremo Jason Harborow. And Cllr Bradley is also at odds with Chief Executive Colin Hilton over conflicting accounts of the Mathew Street debacle. The Daily Post has More HERE
We say: The council's flawed report into Mathew Street was supposed to be the last word on that sorry tale. Instead it's exposed damaging rifts at the top. Liverpool cannot stomach another dose of in fighting and paralysis.
FIASCO REPORT "A SHODDY PIECE OF WORK"
At last, 105 days after the Mathew Street festival was scrapped, the council has published its report into the fiasco. Two middle-ranking officers are blamed. One, Events Director Lee Forde, claims he's been made a scapegoat for the failings of more senior figures. We also learnt that the budget for this year's festival was slashed six months earlier. The Echo headline - "SHAMBLES" - sums it up. More HERE
Chair of A Mayor For Liverpool, Liam Fogarty, says:
This was Liverpool's biggest PR disaster in years. Yet no senior politician or official is willing to accept responsibility.
We needed an independent enquiry. What we got was a shoddy piece of work, an inside job. Mathew Street represents everything that's wrong about the way Liverpool is run: poor leadership, a lack of accountability and a 'seat of the pants' approach to city management.
THE TURNER PRIZE - FOR CHEEK.
Liverpool has come bottom of a list of 20 UK cities in the Sustainable Cities Index. We lag behind in life expectancy, skills, environmental impact and quality of life. The Index also highlights Liverpool's failure to plan for a more sustainable future. More HERE
Brighton & Hove came top, prompting an extraordinary outburst from Liverpool's executive member for Environment. Cllr Bernie Turner told the Daily Post:
"How can you compare a yuppie paradise valley like Brighton and Hove with Liverpool? It does not have the issues with deprivation like Liverpool."
We say: When Liverpool's "leaders" get a dose of the truth, they lash out in all directions. Cllr Turner slags off Brighton, a city of 200,000 people with a host of social problems and a decaying Victorian infrastructure, in an embarrassing display of ill-informed chippiness. Cities like Hull, Bradford, Bristol and Manchester also rate more highly than Liverpool.
Yes, Liverpool is deprived - deprived of genuine civic leadership!
WANTED: THE TRUTH ABOUT MATHEW STREET
"I requested the independent, internal investigation and was therefore entitled to see it first."
With these words Cllr Warren Bradley tells us all we need to know about the lack of accountable leadership. An internal report can never be independent. Even Cllr Bradley's predecessor, Mike Storey, now admits that an objective enquiry by outsiders should have been ordered. The Echo reports on delays and claims of a "cover up" HERE
We say: Mathew Street needed someone to take the reins to make it happen, or to take the rap when it didn't. Instead the dodging and diving goes on.
The Council is happy to spend £350,000 on outside PR consultants to promote Liverpool'08, but prefers a cosy "inside job" when picking over the debris of its biggest public relations disaster.
CULTURE COVER-UP CLAIM
The council's in-house report into the Mathew Street fiasco is being "sanitised," according to opposition councillors.
Ten weeks after the festival was abandoned in chaos, the report has yet to be published. The Liverpool Daily Post has more HERE.
Meanwhile, the Culture Company's operations director has quit, and there's speculation that LCC chief
Jason Harborow may follow him out of the door soon.
CAMERON TELLS PARTY "I'M BACKING MAYORS"
Conservative leader David Cameron today told his party conference he wanted to see directly elected Mayors running Britain's great cities. He also said it was time to "rip up the rule book" so that more decisions were taken by local people instead of Whitehall.
We Say: Mr Cameron could not have made his support for Elected Mayors any clearer. Like us, he wants to see strong, accountable civic leadership, and that's what Mayors provide. Liverpool’s discredited system of local government is living on borrowed time.
WE FOOT THE BILL FOR CULTURE CHAOS
Everyone in Liverpool wants 2008 to be a success. Details of events during our Capital of Culture year have been unveiled and there is much to look forward to. Having sidelined him for 3 years, Liverpool's civic leaders have finally turned to Phil Redmond to rescue the event. We wish him well, though the on-going shambles with the Neptune Theatre and the unresolved £22m budget shortfall remind us how they got us into this mess in the first place. Read how financial mismanagement will leave us paying for 2008 for years to come HERE:
"THUMBS DOWN" FOR CITY POLITICS
A landmark debate to mark the city's 800th birthday found Liverpool believes traditional politics has failed. The debate, held in Anfield's Lighthouse, revealed 59% backed Liam Fogarty's claim that conventional politics had failed Liverpool. 39% disagreed. Liam said having an Elected Mayor was the first step towards renewing local government in Liverpool. An Echo online vote showed a whopping 87% of respondents agreed it was time for change.
Read coverage of the debate HERE
CULTURE SHAKE-UP: THIRD TIME LUCKY?
And then there were six. As predicted, the board of the Liverpool Culture Company has been "downsized" yet again, from 24 to 15 to half-a-dozen, in the wake of the Mathew Street fiasco. Phil Redmond has been tasked with delivering key events, and has promised to re-visit local bids for Culture Company funding. The scheduled announcement of next year's events programme has also been brought forward. Controversial culture chief Jason Harborow remains in post. More HERE
We say: A slimmed-down board with clear objectives has a chance to repair some of the damage done in four years of dithering, delays and dodgy appointments. Now, what about that £22 million culture budget shortfall...?
The leader of the City Council has survived a no-confidence vote in the wake of the Mathew Street fiasco.
The ruling LibDems also rejected calls for an independent inquiry into how the festival was cancelled.
Meanwhile former Liverpool'08 Events Organiser Lee Forde has broken his silence to reveal that budget cuts, poor organisation and indecision were to blame. Read what he told local website Liverpool Confidential HERE
JOIN THE GREAT DEBATE!
The future of Liverpool politics comes under the spotlight on Thursday, September 13th, in the latest Liverpool Debate to mark the city's 800th birthday.
Organised by the Bluecoat, and supported by the Echo and BBC Radio Merseyside, it will address voter apathy and ask, "Has traditional politics failed?".
Liam Fogarty will debate with Liberal Democrat peer Lord (Bill) Rogers. Echo readers - and the audience on the night - will vote. Tickets are free.
More details of the event HERE
SECOND MEMBER BACKS CALL TO SCRAP 08 BOARD.
Following Phil Redmond's call for the board of the Liverpool Culture Company to be scrapped a second Board Member, Louise Ellman MP, has echoed his demand.
More details HERE
SACK THE BOARD !
Prof Phil Redmond says the board of the Liverpool Culture Company is a "talking shop" that should be scrapped. He's also calling for a scaled-down team to take charge of cultural events in 2008.
We say: Liverpool's so-called leaders have lost the plot. No one was is in charge as the Mathew Street outdoor festival unravelled. And no one is in charge now. Phil Redmond has put his finger on the lack of competent and accountable leadership that risks damaging Liverpool '08.
More details HERE:
CULTURE CHAOS - HERE WE GO AGAIN...
The Mathew Street fallout just got toxic. An explosive e-mail leaked to the local media reveals that on August 3rd Council Leader Warren Bradley demanded that culture chief Jason Harborow be " relieved of his duties." Yet Mr Harborow is staying put, insisting he won't leave his £150,000 a year post. The Daily Post reports the pair are no longer on speaking terms, raising the spectre of a Henshaw/Storey style rift and Town Hall deadlock. More HERE:
We say: Losing the city's premier visitor event was bad enough. Now our so-called leaders have lost the plot. No one is in charge. Responsibility is always to be shifted, never taken. The unholy alliance of toothless councillors and seemingly untouchable officers is letting Liverpool down again.
MORE '08 CRISIS TALK
The Daily Post says preparations for 2008 are being hampered by poor organisation, low morale and alienated communities and arts organisations. The regional development agency (NWDA) says Liverpool's year as European Capital of Culture is "at risk." Evidence that the Mathew Street fiasco wasn't a one off, but the product of poor leadership and incompetence, can be found HERE.
ANTHONY H. WILSON RIP
Every city needs a Tony Wilson. Contrary to popular myth, "Mr Manchester" was actually rather fond of the city of Liverpool. He tried to build a wonderful museum of popular culture ("POP") here but our city fathers had other ideas. Except, of course, they didn't. Yes, he was provocative and opinionated, but he always worth hearing. The great cities of the North have lost a true champion. Sincere condolences to Tony's family and many friends.
LEADERSHIP WANTED, SAYS BUSINESS GURU
Reacting to the Mathew Street fiasco, Daily Post Business Editor Bill Gleeson told readers:
"Last week's events represent an eloquent argument for fundamental reform of local government and provide first grade ammunition to those, like Liam Fogarty, who are campaigning for a mayor for Liverpool. At the very least what this city needs is a full time political leadership in charge of the major departments, such as regeneration, environment, education and social care."
Liam told the BBC's Roger Phillips that the Festival shambles was a watershed for Liverpool.
Listen to Liam HERE
HELP ! WE NEED SOMEBODY...
...and not just anybody. The axing of the Mathew Street outdoor festival makes the case for an Elected Mayor for Liverpool overwhelming. Councillors failed to do their job. Officials involved in this fiasco are investigating their own conduct. And the current Leader of the Council blames his officers and "a lack of will by others" for the loss of Liverpool's top annual visitor attraction.
More evidence that this lot couldn't run a bath, let alone a city, is beginning to emerge, as the Daily Post reports HERE
LAST ORDERS FOR FAILED SYSTEM
Liverpool's pub and club owners and licencees are reeling from the decision to axe the Mathew Street Festival.
And we got a positive response in the city's pubs, bars and cafes as we gathered signatures for our "People's Poll" petition.
Campaigners distributed flyers and petition forms to 35 premises in the City Centre, and another 15 in the Allerton Road/ Penny Lane area.
WHO RUNS LIVERPOOL?
"Sheer, unmitigated, bungling incompetence." That's how the Liverpool Daily Post describes the Mathew Street debacle. News that the Festival had been cancelled stunned the city and left the City Council's credibility in shreds. Liverpool's business community is outraged, as the Post reports HERE
Liam Fogarty says: "This is the City Council's equivalent of John Major's Black Wednesday in 1992. The people of Liverpool won't forget this shameful episode in a hurry. Liverpool has a leadership vacuum. Blaming unelected officers fools no-one. Councillors who are supposed to protect our city from this mess were nowhere to be seen. These powerless part-timers will never give Liverpool the leadership it needs."
FESTIVAL AXED - NOW HEADS MUST ROLL
An own goal. A disgrace. An embarrassment..that's just some of the reaction to news that Liverpool's Mathew Street Festival has been axed on safety grounds, just 3 weeks before it was due to be held. Details on this astonishing development HERE:
We say: Another week, another Council-inspired calamity. Unelected officers made the announcement, with council leaders nowhere to be seen. Councillors who are supposed to scrutinise these matters were kept in the dark. So too were members of the Culture Company board. Someone in these organisations should take responsibility, do the decent thing and resign. This fiasco is a reminder that Liverpool needs a new form of local leadership.
It needs an Elected Mayor.
" At the end of the day, it is important Everton FC have a new stadium somewhere within the city region. If it happens to be in Knowsley, the benefits will be shared among all of us. "
Cllr Warren Bradley, Daily Post, 5th September, 2006.
" And what are Everton fans getting ? A glorified cow shed built in a small town outside Liverpool. "
Cllr Warren Bradley, Daily Post, 21st July, 2007
Further comment seems entirely unnecessary.
LIVERPOOL'TWIN' GETS ELECTED MAYOR
The Irish Government has announced that Dublin is to get its own directly-elected Mayor. The new city leader should be in post by 2011. The Irish Local Government Minister said:
"A city of Dublin's status needs a mayor who can act as the voice of the city. That can best be achieved by a directly elected mayor, with real powers, and with the certainty of a reasonable term in office." Read more details HERE:
We say: Successful cities all over the world have visible, accountable Mayors with powers to make things happen. Of Liverpool's "twin cities", Cologne and New York are run by high-profile Mayors elected by the people. With Dublin soon to follow suit, it means the only other "twin" in Liverpool's unhappy position is...Shanghai. 'Nuff said.
CAMERON CALLS FOR LIVERPOOL MAYOR
Tory leader David Cameron has told local business leaders that Liverpool needs a directly elected city Mayor. He said "people power" and elected Mayors were essential to reviving great cities like Liverpool.
Mr Cameron told his audience at St George's Hall that a mayor like London's Ken Livingstone "has the power and authority to make things happen." Read more HERE:
TORIES BACKING CITY MAYORS
Liverpool and other cities should have Elected Mayors with the power to run key services. So says the Conservative Party's Cities Taskforce chaired by Lord Heseltine.
The former "Minister for Merseyside" says Mayors bring clear leadership and accountability. "Hezza" says Mayors are needed to take charge of regeneration.
At present, he says, "no-one is in charge," and there is inertia and inactivity. The Taskforce says US-style Mayors with extra powers can spearhead an urban renaissance and a revival of local politics. More HERE
Council leader Warren Bradley has today accused Liverpool businesses of not doing enough to make 2008 a success. He suggested local firms should "chip in £100" into a kitty to pay for banners and posters.
Meanwhile, council opposition leader Joe Anderson has resigned from the Liverpool Culture Company board slamming the City's inadequate preparations for 2008.
Cllr Anderson said communities and artists had been ignored, finances mismanaged and little done to create a lasting legacy beyond '08. Read more HERE:
WE SAY: Joe Anderson has confirmed what we've been saying for months. Poor leadership, bad decision-making and a lack of vision mean Liverpool's showcase year is in jeopardy.
If 2008 does flop it won’t be because of a lack of bunting. We'll know who to blame - and it won't be Liverpool's business community!
CULTURE CHAOS: CITY TAXPAYERS "MUGGED"
Liverpool council taxpayers will have to bail out the organisers of Capital of Culture, after council chiefs admitted they got their sums wrong. The city has a £20m "black hole" in its budget for Liverpool'08. In a damning editorial, the Liverpool Echo spoke of "treachery" and "naivety" More details HERE:
WE SAY: "The mismanagement of Capital of Culture sums up everything that's wrong with the way Liverpool is run. Poor leadership, a lack of accountability and an addiction to spin mean preparations for 2008 are in serious jeopardy. The Council has had four years to sort this out. They're now begging and borrowing to balance the books. Time and again Liverpool's politicians, officials and appointees go missing when they should be taking responsibility. Liverpool desperately needs accountable and visible city leadership, the sort only an elected Mayor can provide."
ELECTED MAYORS - CHAMPIONS FOR EXCELLENCE
Soaring towers are stunted at birth. Would-be skyscrapers get top-sliced. And prime sites end up with third-rate schemes. Welcome to urban planning, Liverpool-style.
Mayors like Chicago's Richard Daley and Paris's Mayor Delanoue are champions for excellence as they rebuild their cities. They get the brightest thinkers and designers and let them get on with it. Echo columnist Joe Riley brilliantly sums up Liverpool's approach to urban design. He describes the Council's Planning Committee as "a small huddle of seven tepid burghers, nose-led by unimaginative town hall pen-pushers, and haunted by silk-hatted conservationists."
The Planning Committee called plans for a new Mersey Ferry terminal "an eyesore" – and voted it through regardless. The new cruise liner "facility" (not an actual terminal) resembles what Riley calls "a £19 million bus stop." And the bland off-the-peg buildings erected north of Pier Head are a disgrace to a city claiming World Heritage status. Read more HERE
"BETRAYED" BLUES SLAM HAPLESS COUNCIL
As Everton FC move closer to leaving Liverpool, fans attended a protest meeting organised by "Keep Everton In Our City." The chair of amayorforliverpool.org Liam Fogarty told the meeting fans felt betrayed by the City Council's failure to offer Everton a viable alternative to a site in Knowsley." Poor local leadership helped put the club in this dilemma, " said Liam. "Fans have seen through the council's hand-wringing and media spin."
The Liverpool Echo's Everton Correspondent, Dominic King, offers a scathing appraisal of the Council and its current leader HERE
AND THE WINNER IS....APATHY
Another Liverpool council election, another dismal low turnout. At 27% it was the lowest among England's big cities. The turnout in Central ward was a shocking 12%. Figures like these are a damning indictment of the way politics is conducted in our city.
We say: Electing a Mayor for Liverpool would revive interest, attract quality candidates, spark a real debate and give us the clear, accountable leadership our city needs. Today Independent Mayors in Middlesbrough, Mansfield and Bedford were all re-elected. Voters were able to see how they'd led their communities and pass judgement directly at the ballot box. It's called democracy. We should try it some time...
Voters in Liverpool went to the polls to elect one-third of the city's 90 councillors today. Supporters of our "People's Poll" campaign collected signatures outside polling stations in a number of wards. Volunteers Heidi Ison, Rebecca Alverston, Lyam Kirkham and Rob Roach (below) are pictured in St Michael's ward.
ELECTIONS? WHAT ELECTIONS?
The local elections on May 3rd ought to be a chance for people to argue about what's best for Liverpool and to hold our civic leaders to account.
Instead the city is on course to record another abysmally low turnout, maybe the worst in the country. In many wards you wouldn't even know an election was going on.
We say: Liverpool's local democracy is dying on its feet. For proof, just check out the websites of Liverpool's Lib Dems HERE and the Labour party HERE - what a depressing jumble of name-calling, negativity and juvenile stunts. No ideas. No vision. No change there, then.
Liverpool urgently needs a directly-elected Mayor to revive interest in local politics. A mayoral contest would attract high-calibre candidates who'd actually have to earn our votes with fresh ideas and a fresh approach. And the winner would have a mandate to speak for ALL Liverpudlians and to provide our city with real leadership.
AS (UN)HAPPY AS LARRY
Alex Corina isn't the only person fed up with the way our Capital of Culture year is being handled. The Daily Post's veteran reporter Larry Neild highlights the gap between the hype and the reality in his latest blog HERE
Everyone wants Liverpool'08 to be success. But some of us aren't prepared to simply "shut up and party." Drawing attention to the City Council's many shortcomings is not - to paraphrase Senator Joseph McCarthy - an "unLiverpudlian activity."
Voters in South Liverpool at the forthcoming local elections are being invited to pass judgement on the Council's handling of Capital of Culture. Artist
Alex Corina - who's publicly endorsed our referendum campaign - is standing as an independent in Cressington ward. Alex is focussing on how Liverpool'08 is passing local communities by. He's also highlighting the fiascos, botched appointments and budget crises that have dogged the 2008 preparations.
Alex was the creator of the iconic Mona Lennon image that was successfully used to promote the Capital of Culture - back when we were all filled with hope and enthusiasm. As part of his campaign Alex has created a companion piece to his earlier work, it's called The Liverpool Scream and it represents the frustration that many of us feel about the way 2008 is being mismanaged. You can see the piece HERE.
GOODISON - THE LONG GOODBYE ?
The prospect of Everton FC leaving Liverpool has prompted the formation of a fans' group "Keep Everton in Our City."
Their excellent website www.keioc.net makes it clear they're unimpressed by the Council's efforts to gloss over its own woeful record on this important issue.
Chair of amayorforliverpool.org Liam Fogarty says:
"Everton's dilemma is another product of poor civic leadership and a lack of vision. Any final decison on where the Blues play must rest with the club. But so far all the Council has offered is hand-wringing and half-baked "ground share" suggestions. There are publicly-owned derelict sites all over Liverpool. There are powerful regional and national agencies that could help the City develop them. Everton believe there's no viable alternative to the Kirkby move. It's time our Council came up with one."
Eight months to go until 2008, and Liverpool City Council still hasn't told us how it's going to pay for Capital of Culture. The Council had pledged to chip in £22m. But it actually faces an overall budget shortfall of almost £30m, and has until June to sort it out. Local Labour MPs claim they've been kept in the dark - the Lib Dems accuse the MPs of "playing politics." The Liverpool Daily Post outlines the scale of the looming cash crisis HERE:
We Say: The Council has had almost FOUR YEARS to sort this out. Years of dithering and poor leadership means we're now relying on a "fire sale" of civic assets, and as-yet-unidentified corporate sponsors, to stop Liverpool's big year from being an embarrassment.
CULTURE CASH CRISIS!
The scale of the City Council's mismanagement of Capital of Culture is becoming clear. It's now emerged that the council simply doesn't have the £21m it promised to spend on the 2008 festivities. The Liverpool Echo spells out the stark truth HERE
We say: What a shambles! Behind the bluster, the blarney and the spin Liverpool's preparations for 2008 are in serious jeopardy. The sums just aren't adding up.
The people who brought us Robyn Archer, the Summer Pops fiasco, the closure of the Central Library, the Pier Head Festival of Building Work and a series of bungled announcements and appointments should be ashamed of themselves.
LIVERPOOL : TWINNED WITH SPRINGFIELD ?
Peel Ports - which owns large areas of the Liverpool waterfront - has been briefing councillors and the local media about its plans to build on the North and Central Docks.
The plans for yet more high-rise flats and offices are uninspiring, and do nothing to regenerate neighbouring areas like Vauxhall and Kirkdale. Proposals for a dockland monorail will ring alarm bells with anyone familiar with this classic episode of The Simpsons. HERE
We say: the unfortunate citizens of Springfield were conned into building a doomed monorail system. The last thing North Liverpool needs is another flashy, pie-in-the-sky proposal which will do nothing to improve our poorest areas. Someone at the Council should show some leadership and come up with a proper Masterplan to address the real needs of the North End. But don't hold your breath...
CULTURE BUDGET'S "BLACK HOLE"
Liverpool City Council has managed to balance its books, but only by postponing a`£20 million payment meant to meet the costs of Liverpool'08. Just how councillors plan to pay for our year as Capital of Culture is anyone's guess. More details HERE
LIVERPOOL STILL LAGGING BEHIND
The latest performance ratings for English councils show Liverpool continuing to trail behind other big cities. The Audit Commission gives Liverpool City Council 2 stars (out of a possible 4.)
Rival cities Manchester, Leeds and Newcastle all get 3-star ratings. Sheffield is awarded 4 stars. Our neighbours Knowsley and St Helens also receive a top 4-star rating.
The Commission also rates individual local services. Liverpool's troubled council housing service is given a miserable 1-star rating.
We Say: Yet again the gulf between council hype and council performance is laid bare by an independent watchdog. Liverpool people are being let down each and every day.
BRUMMIES DEMAND REFERENDUM
Support for having an Elected Mayor in Birmingham is gathering momentum. The city's main newspaper is backing a referendum and staged a public debate on the issue. Speakers included Middlesbrough Mayor Ray "RoboCop" Mallon. More details HERE:
Birmingham's opposition Labour group has swung around in favour of a city-wide vote. There is business backing from the Chief Executive of Birmingham Chamber of Commerce. And former CBI Chief Sir Digby Jones is also giving his support.
We Say: The great city of Birmingham pioneered council reforms in the 19th century. Today it's realising that dynamic, accountable and imaginative leadership from a Mayor is the way forward for a progressive city. The main obstacle to the idea in Birmingham is the ruling Conservative council group, which is being accused of failing to provide proper leadership. Sound familiar...?
Liverpool's Summer Pops will be held this year after all. The City Council - which a week ago had axed the event on cost grounds - has now agreed to sponsor a re-vamped festival to be staged inside the Aintree Equestrian Centre. More details HERE:
We Say: The Council's credibility has been damaged by this long-running farce. A lack of proper scrutiny over several years left taxpayers to foot a bill totalling £3m. The latest on-off-on again fiasco just makes Liverpool look ridiculous.
POP GOES THE COUNCIL
In this our 800th birthday year, Liverpool City Council has scrapped the Summer Pops. It says it can't justify subsidising the event at the expense of frontline council services. More details HERE:
Business leaders say the decision is another "own goal" for the city .
We Say: Liverpool shoots itself in the foot yet again.The loss of this major attraction sends out a negative message, and will cost local businesses an estimated £4.5m. Ask yourself if Newcastle/Gateshead or Manchester would have got itself into such a tangle. The loss of the Pops, the Mersey River Festival and access to the Pier Head in Liverpool's Charter Year is an extraordinary "triple-whammy" which bodes ill for 2008.
COUNCIL GIVES FANS THE BLUES
As Liverpool FC looks forward to life in a new stadium, Everton fans are unimpressed by Liverpool City Council's efforts to keep the Blues within the city.
On the popular Toffeeweb website fan David Hughes condemns "the Council's pitiful excuses." Tony Wardale describes the present council as " hand-wringers." Steve Guy sums it up: "The City Council - despite their halfhearted protests - can hardly be said to be doing everything within their power to keep Everton."
For the latest on the proposed Everton move out of Liverpool click HERE:
We say: As Knowsley bends over backwards to accomodate Everton, our Council's response to the imminent loss of a cornerstone of Liverpool life and culture can be summed up in (almost) two words: " Er, whatever..." The Council's lack of leadership,creativity and political will over this vital issue is likely to haunt most Evertonians all the way to Kirkby.
BUDGET CRISIS: IT'S WORSE THAN WE FEARED
Liverpool's libraries, sports centres and school uniform allowances are earmarked for cutbacks as the Council reveals there's a hole in its budget of almost £50m . More details HERE:
The Chair of amayorforliverpool.org, Liam Fogarty says this is another damaging blow to the Council's credibility:
" This is a depressing throwback to the bad old days of the 1980s and 90s. The Government may be partly to blame - councils everywhere are having their grants reduced after years of relatively generous settlements. But these days councils are given three-years notice of what they're likely to be able to spend. Town Hall ructions and an obsession with spin mean the City Council's taken its eye off the ball, leaving the rest of us to pick up the bill."
Council sources indicate the ruling Lib Dems may postpone the most damaging decisions until 2008.
WORLD HERITAGE (BUILDING) SITE
Liverpool's legacy of mismanagement and Town Hall infighting will be all-too-visible when visitors come to the city in Capital of Culture year.
It's emerged that our world-famous Pier Head will effectively be out of bounds to Liverpudlians and others until well into 2008 as major building work takes place behind schedule.
It's yet another project promised for Liverpool '08 that won't be ready in time.
We Say: If an Elected Mayor was in charge of this city she/he would be facing the consequences of such dithering and delay. Instead we get the usual game of pass-the-buck.
We look forward to explaining to bemused visitors that their complaints should be directed towards the City Council, Liverpool Vision, Peel Holdings, Merseytravel, British Waterways, Network Rail, the guy who owns the Shanghai Palace restaurant etc,etc...
A RETURN TO THE BAD OLD DAYS?
Faced with a budget gap of up to £18m, the City Council may be about to take a leaf out of the old "Militant" handbook.
Councillors are being asked to consider taking out expensive mortgages on civic buildings to raise extra cash.
The Liverpool Daily Post has MORE
CITY "LACKS AMBITION" SAYS TOP ARCHITECT
Renowned architect Ian Simpson has pulled out of a scheme for a Mersey skyscraper, saying the City Council lacks ambition. He claims his controversial Maro project has been "diluted" to make it easier to get planning permission. Read the full story HERE
WE SAY : if you want to see how NOT to rebuild a city, take a look at the banal, off-the-peg, low-rise buildings that are emerging north of the Pier Head. They sum up the "talk big - build small" mentality that repeatedly lets Liverpool down. The area needs a Masterplan and some real urban political leadership.
THE ECONOMIST FEATURES CITY CAMPAIGN
The emergence of city mayors in the UK features in the latest edition of The Economist magazine. Our campaign for an Elected Mayor for Liverpool gets some good coverage, too. Read more HERE:
HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO US
"Giving Liverpool real leadership can be our 'birthday gift' to the City as it celebrates 800 years." So says the Chair of amayorforliverpool.org Liam Fogarty. "The current message from the Council seems to be 'shut up and party.' But we'll carry on highlighting how our current civic leaders keep letting Liverpool down."
In recent weeks council bosses spent £17,000 on a shelter to protect their free parking spaces from bird droppings. We also learnt they spend £1,000 a week on taxi bills.
It's time for a new way of doing politics in Liverpool. It's time for an Elected Mayor.
MORE POWERS FOR MAYOR KEN
The Greater London Authority Bill has begun its journey through Parliament. It'll give Mayor Livingstone extra powers - and extra money - to tackle London's housing problems and protect the capital's environment. Londoners now have a direct say over how such big issues are dealt with.
WE SAY: Democracy and Delivery: that is what this campaign for a Mayor for Liverpool is all about. London is showing how more visible, accountable and far-sighted local leadership by an elected Mayor can make a real difference.
MP SLAMS "LAPTOP SCANDAL"
Liverpool City Council is again trying to defend itself after revelations it signed a costly contract to maintain councillors' computers. The deal - agreed with contractors Liverpool Direct Ltd (LDL) - works out at £2,000 per laptop per year. Wavertree MP Jane Kennedy called the arrangement " a scandalous waste." Details HERE:
WE SAY: This deal was one of hundreds examined by accountants KPMG earlier this year. The Council's decision to publish the auditors' recommendations - but not their findings - makes no sense. It's like a GP giving you a prescription , but refusing to say what's wrong with you. We know millions has been wasted. Liverpool taxpayers have a right to hear the full story.
CAMPAIGN AD " A SHORE THING"
Our new campaign advertisement can now be seen via the hugely popular YouTube website. The mini-movie was shot on Crosby beach, and features the "iron men" installed there by sculptor Anthony Gormley.
Campaign Chair Liam Fogarty says:
"Our online ad has a simple message. Liverpool needs clear and visible leadership, not identikit figures most people cannot recognise, let alone vote for. With an elected Mayor Liverpool really can become 'Another Place,' and a better one."
Watch the advert HERE
QUEEN'S SPEECH "COUP FOR MAYOR KEN"
The Government today confirmed it's devolving extra powers to London's Elected Mayor.
A Bill unveiled in the Queen's Speech gives Ken Livingstone responsibility for skills training, affordable housing and dealing with climate change in the capital. Mayor Livingstone's new powers are currently held by unelected quangoes and civil servants. More details HERE.
MILLIONS WASTED - NOW TELL US HOW
Huge failures in the way the Council pays contractors for key services have been uncovered. Deals worth half-a-billion pounds were examined by accountants KPMG, who've recommended extensive changes that could save local taxpayers millions. Opposition councillors say it's "a scandal." The Daily Post broke the story HERE:
The Council is refusing to publish KPMG's investigation, citing "commercial confidentiality."
WE SAY: Liverpool people need to know the full facts behind this shocking waste of their money.Council leaders have practically admitted the City was being fleeced and procedures were deeply flawed. The councillors and officers responsible for scrutinising these massive contracts weren't doing their job properly.
Publishing a list of recommendations isn't good enough. What KPMG have uncovered now needs to be officially investigated by the District Auditor. The council claims we now have a 'clean slate.' But without full disclosure, another whitewash is on the cards.
"TODAY" REPORTS ON MAYOR CAMPAIGN
BBC Radio Four's flagship "Today" programme is the latest high-profile media outlet to bring our referendum campaign to a national audience.
Local Government Correspondent John Andrew heard from both sides in the debate, including a Liverpool cabbie who says the city is "light years" behind others and lacks vision.
We couldn't agree more.You can hear the report HERE
WHITE PAPER MEANS "MORE MAYORS"
The Government's long-awaited plans to reform local councils are published today. They aim to create a new generation of strong and visible civic leaders, including Elected Mayors. Local leaders would serve four year terms to encourage long-term planning. Local Government & Communities Secretary Ruth Kelly told the BBC:
"The proposals that we set out today...will put in place strong, visible local leadership everywhere so people know who is taking decisions, they are able to take tough decisions, they are able to make long-term strategic decisions about the future of an area."
WE SAY: Part-time ward councillors and unelected officials cannot give Liverpool the dynamic leadership it needs. The system is broken. It's time to fix it. Accountable, visible local leadership is at the heart of this White Paper. It will inevitably lead to more directly elected Mayors. Liverpool people don't have to wait for the Government to act. They can simply join our campaign for a referendum on the issue right now.
Liam was a guest on BBC Radio 5 Live's Simon Mayo show to discuss the new White Paper. Click HERE to listen to the show.
ARCHER FINALLY BITES BACK.
Former Artistic Director of Liverpool'08 Robin Archer has finally broken her silence for the first time since she left the post in July.
Ms Archer told an audience in Cardiff that "bureacracy" and "structural problems" had hampered preparations for 2008. The Daily Post reports that Ms Archer criticised the link between the City Council and the Liverpool Culture Company.
"The Culture Company...is basically a part of the Council. So the CEO of the Culture Company is the CEO of nothing," she claimed.
It looks like Ms Archer will not be replaced, though there will be a new "Cultural Adviser" and a slimmed-down Culture Company Board.
WE SAY: The Culture Company is promising "a renewed focus" and "more efficient decision-making." Let's hope so.
It's now almost three-and-a-half years since we won the Capital of Culture title. Yet still the fundamentals aren't sorted out. Poor civic leadership means a unique opportunity for our city may yet be squandered. If it is, Liverpool people will know who to blame. And it won't be Robyn Archer...
CAMPAIGN APPLIES "PIER PRESSURE"
Our campaign took a trip to the seaside this week at the invitation of the Electoral Commission. The Commission had organized a fringe meeting at the Conservative Party Conference in Bournemouth and invited Liam as a featured speaker.
Liam was joined at the meeting by fellow panellists Theresa May MP, Justine Greening MP and writer-comedian Armando Iannucci.
The meeting - which, explored radical ways of raising voter turnout and connecting with citizens - was told that Elected Mayors would revive city politics.
"Europe's Capital of Culture is the UK's Capital of Low Turnouts. Liverpool people don't believe their vote can make a difference. They're confronted by an over-complicated system dominated by people they've never heard of and can never vote for. Having an Elected Mayor would change all that."
Liam & Armando Iannucci at the fringe meeting.
RISING STAR TELLS LIBDEMS "EMBRACE MAYORS"
Liberal Democrat MP Nick Clegg - widely tipped as his party's next leader - has told colleagues they ignore the idea of Elected Mayors "at their peril." At a conference fringe meeting in Brighton Mr Clegg, the LibDems' Home Affairs Spokesman,said mayors could re-engage ordinary people in politics. He also praised the work of London Mayor Ken Livingstone. (more details HERE)
WE SAY: The Labour Government, the Tories' David Cameron and now another top Lib Dem all recognise that Elected Mayors can revive local politics and re-connect with absent voters. We urge Mr Clegg to persuade Liverpool's ruling Liberal Democrats to drop their self-interested opposition to a local referendum.
Many key projects promised as part of Liverpool's Capital of Culture bid will be late for 2008 or never built at all, according to a survey in the Liverpool Daily Post.
Click HERE for a full list.
WE SAY: Abandoned schemes, bungled appointments and a lack of leadership has undermined confidence in the entire Capital of Culture project. People realise some building work can fall behind schedule. But it's Liverpool's unstable edifice of hype and pumped-up expectations which is in danger of collapse. Newcastle-Gateshead, Birmingham and other cities could be forgiven for seeing Liverpool's 2008 bid document as a "dodgy dossier."
CLLR WARREN BRADLEY – A CLARIFICATION
The Leader of Liverpool City Council has contacted amayorforliverpool.org to object to the way we reported his unsuccessful attempt to help resolve the Merseyside fire dispute.
On September 4th we stated, "He (Councillor Bradley) has apologised for being naive."
In fact, the Daily Post article to which we referred (HERE) reported "He (Cllr Bradley) apologised for intervening as leader of the council, but said he 'maybe naively' hoped the strike could be averted."
It is clear from the Daily Post report that Cllr Bradley had apologised for intervening as Council Leader, and that any naïvety on his part referred to his hopes for a settlement of the fire dispute, and not to his own actions. This is a distinction which we are happy to acknowledge.
EFC IN L4: THE END?
In February the Leader of Liverpool City Council told the Liverpool Daily Post " I will be fighting to keep Everton FC within the city boundary." In May Cllr Bradley declared he would "fight tooth and nail" to persuade the club not to move to a site in Knowsley. Now it seems his fighting spirit has deserted him.
Today he told Daily Post readers: "At the end of the day, it is important Everton FC have a new stadium somewhere within the city region. If it happens to be in Knowsley, the benefits will be shared among all of us."
Tell that to the cafe owners, shopkeepers and publicans of North Liverpool and to many supporters of the city's oldest professional football club.
Everton FC has every right to decide where it plays its football. But the people of Liverpool have every right to expect their civic leaders to defend and advance the City's interests. They'd also appreciate some consistency and leadership. Neither commodity has been much in evidence during this sorry saga.
COUNCIL LEADER ‘STRIKES OUT’
Warren Bradley's clumsy attempt at intervention in the Merseyside fire dispute re-enforces the case for a full-time Elected Mayor. Cllr Bradley offered to help broker a deal - despite being a striking firefighter himself. His offer was scornfully rejected. For full details click HERE.
WE SAY: Liverpool needs dedicated firefighters. But it also needs someone who can devote all their energies to leading our City. Try as he might, Warren Bradley cannot do both jobs.
Humiliated by the Fire Chief and the Fire Authority, Cllr. Bradley's ability to “speak for Liverpool” has been damaged. Liverpool needs a credible, accountable full-time Elected Mayor. Part-time ward councillors cannot give the City the leadership it needs.
NOW TOP LIB DEM SAYS "YES" TO MAYORS
The country's only Liberal Democrat Elected Mayor says party colleagues in Liverpool should embrace the idea, not dismiss it. Watford's Dorothy Thornhill says directly-elected Mayors revive local politics, increase accountability and provide clear leadership.
She told amayorforliverpool.org that Liverpool's ruling Lib Dems had nothing to fear:
“ What I don’t understand from my [Liverpool] colleagues is that they seem not to realise that an Elected Mayor has a solid democratic mandate, a Leader of the Council has not... a Mayor does provide a very visible clear leadership, highly accountable with a legitimate democratic mandate to take decisions.”
Mayor Thornhill was re-elected in May after cutting Watford's council tax and boosting its offical performance rating from 1-star to 3-stars.
Listen to her full interview with Liam Fogarty HERE
CAMERON SAYS YES TO ELECTED MAYORS
The Conservative Party leader David Cameron has given his personal backing to directly-elected city Mayors. In a mini-manifesto entitled Built to Last, Mr. Cameron pledges to reduce Whitehall's powers over local councils and to scrap unelected regional bodies.
New policies now include:
- Giving local communities greater control over local services.
- Welcoming directly-elected mayors in cities where they have public support.
- Enhancing the role of local communities in drawing up regeneration plans.
‘EVIL CABAL’ BLOG RAISES SERIOUS ISSUES.
Throughout the summer, Liverpool’s “mystery blogger” has turned up the heat with allegations of City Council sleaze.
The now-famous “Liverpool Evil Cabal” website has been suspended by its anonymous author. But disturbing allegations have been made, and vital questions have been raised about the way our City is run.
The claims, which have now been read by tens of thousands of Liverpudlians, must be properly investigated.
The website’s detailed claims of wrongdoing by senior Council officers – past and present – paint an unappealing picture of cronyism, infighting and incompetence. In today’s Liverpool Daily Post I’ve called on the City Council to bring in the District Auditor and the local government Standards Board to get to the truth. Click HERE to read more.
The culture at the Town Hall hasn’t changed.
The City Council’s first instinct when alerted to the “blog” was to try to squash it. Library users and council workers found access to the site blocked. The result? Everyone went home and logged on instead. The site became the talk of the town.
The episode reminds us just how dysfunctional the City Council is.
The Council is unable to speak clearly or act decisively when confronted by a challenge. As Chief Executive Colin Hilton was calling on the police to act against the blogger, Council leader Warren Bradley was asking why the site had been censored.
The Council “blog ban” became public knowledge on July 28th. Yet it took Cllr Bradley two weeks to publicly disown this act of official censorship.
The local press reported that Cllr Bradley was “demanding to know who ordered the ban.”
If the Leader of the Council doesn’t know who’s in charge, no wonder the rest of us don’t either…
TWENTY TOP NAMES BACK CALL FOR ELECTED MAYOR
Our campaign for a mayoral referendum has today won the public backing of more than 20 leading Liverpudlians.
In an Open Letter to the local media, they call for a city-wide debate on how Liverpool should be led. They include the Regional Director of Public Health Professor John Ashton, KIND charity founder Stephen Yip, business guru Professor Tom Cannon, community leader Dorothy Kuya and award-winning authors Frank Cottrell-Boyce, Brian Jacques and Paul du Noyer.
For more CLICK HERE
WE SAY: “The quality of civic leadership in Liverpool has become the key issue in our city. It’s hugely significant that a wide range of people who contribute to Liverpool life as entrepreneurs, educators, community leaders, writers and artists are prepared to endorse our call for a mayoral referendum. They agree it has to be the People’s Choice.”
MAYORS WINNING POWER GAME
London's elected Mayor, Ken Livingstone, has been given extra powers. The Government is transferring powers over public health, skills training, arts, sport, the environment and housing to Mayor Livingstone. The £800m budget for affordable homes for Londoners will switch from an unelected quango – the Housing Corporation – to the Mayor's office.
For more click HERE
WE SAY: Say what you like about Ken Livingstone, he gets things done. And Ministers are prepared to recognise this by handing over extra powers to London's directly-elected Mayor. And if Ken messes things up, Londoners can get rid of him and choose someone else. It's that simple. What's good enough for London should be good enough for Liverpool.
“A CITY WAITING TO BE LED.”
Radio 4’s flagship news show ‘Today’ featured Liverpool’s growing Capital of culture woes this morning. The coverage should leave us in no doubt that the outside world is unconvinced by the ‘business as usual’ spin of the City Council.
Robyn Archer’s botched departure - and the chaos that has resulted - is the latest in a long series of wake-up calls. It’s time to address Liverpool’s crisis of leadership.
Click HERE to listen to the story.
CAPITAL OF SPIN
''Robyn was the outstanding candidate. She has a global reputation and a proven track record… Liverpool needs someone with the vision and flair who can create a programme like nowhere else on the planet. Robyn fits that bill perfectly."
Two years ago Cllr Mike Storey put out the welcome mat for Liverpool’08 artistic director Robyn Archer. Today Cllr Storey told BBC Radio Merseyside listeners Ms Archer had not been his personal choice for the job.
Ms Archer’s departure leaves the city’s plans for 2008 in tatters. The national media have leapt on Liverpool (Details HERE) and the city’s name is dragged down yet again. The City Council spin machine has gone into overdrive. Yesterday we were told Robyn Archer had “resigned for personal reasons.” Council leader Warren Bradley said “we shall all miss her drive and enthusiasm.” Yet today’s Liverpool Daily Post reveals Ms. Archer was “ousted.” Unnamed sources told the paper she’d been “a diva” and “difficult to work with.”
To read the full Daily Post story, click here
WE SAY: So did she jump or was she pushed? And how much is Robyn Archer’s “Henshaw-style” pay-off? It’s time we had some straight answers to straight questions. As usual instead of sorting out a problem, our “leaders” look for a scapegoat and resort to spin-doctoring.
COUNCIL 100% TO BLAME FOR CULTURE SHAMBLES
The news that Robyn Archer has quit as Creative Director for Liverpool Capital of Culture, just four months after she took up the post full-time probably comes as a surprise to absolutely nobody.It’s been an open secret for months that Ms. Archer has been ‘exploring other options’, and that her relations with the Council and the Liverpool Culture Company had been strained. The Council mishandled the appointment of a new Culture Company Chief, and outside lawyers had to be called in to sort of relations between the City and Culture Company. Yet again the people of Liverpool have been failed by a total absence of competent leadership. And yet again the Council is insulting our intelligence with ‘crisis, what crisis?’ spin-doctoring.
Chair of amayorforliverpool.org Liam Fogarty says:
"Liverpool City Council has some serious questions to answer.How much time did Robyn Archer actually spend in Liverpool since her appointment two-and-a-half years ago?How much did we pay her? And what exactly has she done? Liverpool people deserve some straight answers but - as usual - we doubt we’ll get any.Since our campaign for new leadership in Liverpool began, people across the city have been telling us they feared that Capital of Culture would be another Council cock-up. What should be Liverpool’s finest hour threatens to turn into yet another avoidable shambles."
"MAYOR, KEY TO MILLIONS." SAYS GOVERNMENT.
A Government Minister has confirmed that Liverpool will miss out on hundreds of millions of pounds unless the city opts for a directly-elected US-style Mayor.
The Government is planning to transfer powers from unelected agencies to new “city regions,” led by Mayors chosen directly by local people.
But Local Government Minister, Phil Woolas, has told the Liverpool Daily Post that Liverpool isn’t ready to claim the new spending powers. He said the impact of the David Henshaw - Mike Storey bust-up was still being felt.
Mr Woolas also dropped the clearest hint yet that devolution would only be offered where there was a directly-elected mayor.
He said: "If you want more financial and economic powers over money spent in the area then you have to show you have strong and visible leadership."
Pointing to the 12 elected Mayors already in place across England, he added: "We think the experience of those twelve is good. We are very much pushing councils to consider that idea. "The person in the street has to know who is in power so that person can be held to account, rather than a council leader from just one ward."
Chair of amayorforliverpool.org Liam Fogarty says:
"The Minister’s intervention is a stark warning to the City of Liverpool.
It’s now clear that the Government is preparing to give both Manchester and Birmingham extra powers worth some £600m each. They’ll be able to decide what’s best for their cities in areas like transport and the economy.
But Liverpool will miss out yet again, and the consequences could be disastrous. The Government clearly doesn’t trust Liverpool City Council to deliver. And who could blame them?
Liverpool needs real leadership, and it won’t get it until Liverpudlians are given a real choice."
To read the full Daily Post story, click here.
WANTED: ACCOUNTABLE CITY LEADERS, SAYS KELLY.
Ruth Kelly, Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, has told Liverpool and other big cities that strong, directly-elected Mayors should be leading City Regions like Merseyside.
Ms Kelly thinks the North West should have “its own Barcelona,” and the Midlands “its own Milan.”Chair of amayorforliverpool.org Liam Fogarty says:
“`Liverpool does need more accountable and visionary leadership. But we don’t have to wait for a Mayor for Merseyside to get it. We welcome anything that reduces the power of unelected regional quangos.
But there’s no guarantee that Liverpool and Merseyside will benefit from these latest proposals. Better-run cities like Manchester and Birmingham would get priority. They’d get extra powers and extra money while Liverpool would again be left behind. "
CULTURE – THREE WASTED YEARS
Liverpool’s plans for 2008 have been undermined by a “turf war” between the City Council and the Culture Company.
Liverpool’s newly appointed Chief Executive has revealed that lawyers have been called in to sort things out. Colin Hilton told the Liverpool Daily Post that “independent legal advice” had been sought to draw up “a memorandum of understanding” so there is greater clarity between the council and the Culture Company, to clarify who does what. Mr Hilton also acknowledged there’d been too much secrecy about the plans for 2007 and 2008.
Chair of amayorforliverpool.org Liam Fogarty says:
“Mr Hilton has confirmed what many in the city already knew. It is quite astonishing that - three years after Liverpool was awarded the Capital of Culture title – the duties and responsibilities of those who are supposed to be organising 2008 still haven’t been sorted out.
Everyone wants Liverpool ’08 to succeed. But it won’t unless those responsible show some leadership for a change. I’m afraid the signs aren’t encouraging.”
YOBS 1 - CITY O
Liverpool's Big Screen will be showing no more World Cup matches following Saturday's mini-riot in Clayton Square.
City Council leader Warren Bradley told the Liverpool Daily Post; "The yobs have won." Chair of amayorforliverpool.org Liam Fogarty says:
"Clearly the hooligans who spoiled things for everyone else are the prime culprits. But - this being Liverpool - no-one in authority is taking responsibility for allowing such a thing to happen. The police, the City Council, the Culture Company, local stores and pubs and even the BBC have been criticised. Yet this was a public event in a public space with implications for public order. But none of Liverpool's public representatives will hold their hands up. And handing victory to the yobs is a shameful abdication of leadership. "
Anyone who’s ever flown a kite or taken a stroll at Otterspool Prom will welcome the plan to upgrade facilities there. The Mersey Waterfront partnership to spend £1m+ on new seating and fitness & play areas. The plan goes before councillors this week.
Shame about the vast – and still derelict – Garden Festival site next door.
Despite numerous photo opportunities and upbeat press releases, the City Council is no nearer to sorting out this eyesore than it was 20 years ago. It’s time Liverpool had a coherent & inspiring vision for all its open spaces.
In 1998 the incoming Liberal Democrat administration promised to “transform” our Victorian parks by setting up a public Trust to run them. Nothing has happened. Instead parks like Newsham, Stanley and Sefton continue to decay. Smaller parks like Larkhill and Springfield suffer too.
Other cities have great ideas to make the most of their parks. See how New York’s public, private and voluntary sectors do it CLICK HERE
'PANEL GAMES' MAKE CITY A LAUGHING STOCK
Labour councillors have walked out on a panel put together to choose a new Chief Executive for Liverpool City Council.
They are angry that former council leader Mike Storey, who stood down after a huge fall-out with ex-chief Sir David Henshaw – costing the City £350 000 - will have a say on his successor.
But the ruling Liberal Democrats have accused Labour of "political point-scoring." Mr. Storey says Labour raised no objections his being on the selection panel when the list of candidates was drawn up. Unless Labour reconsider, six Liberal Democrats and one Liberal will decide who takes the top job.
Chair of amayorforliverpool.org Liam Fogarty says:" Here we go again. Another crucial decision for Liverpool has descended into name-calling and confusion. A few weeks ago councillors failed to appoint a Chief Executive to run the Liverpool Culture Company, then made a U-turn by asking one of the losing candidates to do the job anyway. You couldn't make it up. What sort of message is this sending to potential applicants for our top jobs?"
This week the highly-regarded chief executive of St Helens Council, Carole Hudson, withdrew her interest in Liverpool's £200,000 top post.
To read the Echo story click HERE
To read more stories from the last few months visit our news archive HERE.