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Elected mayor for Liverpool as early as May?

Larry Neild asks whether the city is about to jump the referendum gun and fast track a ballot

Written by . Published on January 19th 2012.

Elected mayor for Liverpool as early as May?

LIVERPOOL could be governed by an elected mayor as early as May - if a proposal being discussed by senior city politicians wins backing in the coming weeks.

Currently Liverpool’s voters have been told by David Cameron they will be taking part in a Government-imposed referendum in May to decide if an elected mayor should be introduced.

In that scenario a YES vote would trigger a further election for a city mayor, this coming November.

But Liverpool Confidential understands from various sources at the heart of the city’s political community that city councillors will take the initiative and introduce an elected mayor on their terms.

It would mean NO referendum to decide on the concept of an elected mayor.

Joe Anderson 1Joe Anderson It would still mean a city-wide election to decide who will win the job, but that vote would take place on May 3, the same day as the local council elections, with an additional ballot paper of candidates.

The advantage of the new proposal is it would introduce a governance system for the city of an elected mayor and cabinet.

That would respond to critics opposed to a standalone elected mayor - a one man or one-woman show running the Town Hall.

A mayor-and-cabinet system of decision-making would help ensure a higher level of local involvement and scrutiny.

Under Government rules, councils already have the option to introduce an elected mayor-and-cabinet form of local rule, without the need for a referendum.  But for it to happen, there has to be some public consultation and then a majority of at least two-thirds of councillors backing the move.

Currently, Liverpool City Council’s Labour administration has 62 of the 90 seats – giving that potential for a two-thirds majority without having to rely on any opposition councillors. If some of the opposition councillors get behind that mayor-and-cabinet system, it would add a stronger voice to the change.


Liverpool’s power base is a 10-member cabinet headed by Council Leader Joe Anderson who has earned much praise for his handling of the council funding crisis.

If Cllr Anderson stood as Labour's mayoral candidate and won, it would essentially be business as usual for the city, with added extras from the Coalition Government.

Local Government Secretary Eric Pickles has promised cities introducing an elected mayor will be “well placed” to receive new powers from Whitehall. The list under consideration includes power over rail and bus services, skills, apprenticeships and money to invest in high speed broadband and other economic infrastructure.

Nevertheless, if the move to a mayoral ballot in May is approved by councillors, there is a risk of a backlash. It would mean local citizens being denied the opportunity to decide themselves if they actually want an elected mayor to run the city, even with a cabinet.

Liam Fogarty, LeftLiam Fogarty, leftThis week, former BBC man Liam Fogarty threw his hat into the ring and declared he would be standing as a candidate for Liverpool mayor.

If the council follows the "fast track" system,  all the legalities would have to be introduced by March when a mayoral election would have to be declared to follow a legal timetable for a May election.

One source close to the debate said: “If these reports are correct, it is a wise move by the Labour administration to introduce an elected mayor working with a cabinet, with arrangements decided locally rather than by Whitehall.

“Whether we like it or not our system of local governance is changing to one fit for the 21st century. People here would much prefer to do it on out terms rather than follow a line imposed by the Coalition.”

Chains of command

*Tony Blair, as PM, introduced the option of directly elected mayors in 2000. Liverpool then opted for a leader and cabinet system of governance.

*If Liverpool gets an elected mayor (with that title) it cannot have a ceremonial Lord Mayor.  A council can’t have two people with the word “mayor” in the job title.

London and 14 other cities already have oneLondon and 14 other
cities already have one
*There is a growing body of opinion saying a directly elected metro mayor, covering the Liverpool City Region, would be a better option.

*Currently London and 14 provincial cities and towns in England are governed by directly elected mayors.

*Voters in 25 other towns have said NO to an elected mayor in local referendums, and, in a handful of places, local people are campaigning to ditch mayors to return to the old system.

*Queen Victoria was on the throne when the current system of local council governance was introduced.

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16 comments so far, continue the conversation, write a comment.

Ellie Hall shared this on Facebook on January 19th 2012.
AnonymousJanuary 19th 2012.

But I was looking forward to the referendum. I wanted to vote NO!!!! Thanks a million

Liverpool taxiJanuary 19th 2012.

Anyone told Degsy about this?

Julie PolandJanuary 19th 2012.

Professor Y. Chucklebutty is also nominated to stand and has a big following already. Who is Liam Fogarty, is what most people will say.

Prof. ChucklebuttyJanuary 20th 2012.

Harry! I am shocked at your bias reporting on this issue. You know full well that I have answered the call of nature several times for an elected mayor, yet you make no mention in your article about me being a strong potential candidate.

Whenever people find me on their doorstep they have made it clear that they would like to see my ring in the hat if this contest ever comes about. I am confident that the public would line up to pick it over any of the rival candidates.

Now you mention Joe Anderson as one possible contender. Are you serious?

Let me tell you that I have assembled a team of cracked researches and they found out that he is both leader of the Liverpool Labour Party and the City Council! The man is up to his eyes trying to deal with the coalition cuts, he’s not going to want to have to go round cutting ribbons as well.

He has far more important things to do than judging who has made the best Victoria sponge and legging it before the vicar has to wade in and break up the fight.
No, I can’t see that happening, you’ve not done your research on that one.

But then you go on to mention the man that I thought was going to run my campaign when this idea was first looked at. Foghorn Leggarty, who used to do the weather on the BBC. I say BBC! Well he chickened out, started ignoring me.

I joined his site on Facebook and he never replied to any of the ideas I sent him or posted a single comment.

All he’s done is go on for years about a list nobody has ever seen and saying he needed 5000 signatures to get a Referendum! What’s him getting some posh Italian car got to do with having a mayor?

Anyway I heard when he tried to get another list going over the Mayor issue he had to scrap it as Phil Brookside grabbed it from him in Home and Bargain and signed it 4,999 times.

Foghorn said, “Look boy, I say look, I know you fancy being the Mayor but use your head son, head that is, the one nature gave you. People is gonna notice they all look the same. You need to use a different biro for some of them”

Anyway that one got torn up when he realised he’d forgotten to put “Professor” on it.
So as far as I know he’s still only got his own signature and that of Warren Bradlow, who thought it was a nomination paper. Although he says he didn’t.

But if Mr Leggarty has now started ruffling feathers by sticking his beak into it again and thinks he can wing it with no policies or ideas about exactly how he would run the city, I think he’s laid an egg to be honest.

The only person I am worried about as a serious rival would be if Herbert decided to stand.

I mean let’s face it, we all love Herbert. He would be very good in dealing with the cuts.

I did ask my friend Mrs Hewitt, who regularly pops into his place to have her bubble perm waxed, if she’d heard anything but she said he tends to blow hot and cold and that drowns everything out.

So in reality, I am the only serious contender at this stage and my first policy will be to demolish the three black coffins they built on Mann Island and put a cocky watchmans hut there to stop them throwing up any more rubbish like that.

I will demand that Grosvenor does something about Liverpool One which hasn’t got a decent wool shop anywhere, and that he finishes the damned job by putting the roof on!

And when I am in control of local transport, by jove, you’ll see some changes.

First of all, I will bring back conductors on the buses. Simon Rattle on the 86. And that bloke who is always at the back in the mornings smoking a maryjoanna joint, I’ll have him thrown off and banned, if he doesn’t pass it round.

I will bring the Egremont and New Brighton ferries back and throw those bloody speakers in the Mersey, drives you mad that does!

I will re-establish the Pier Head as the main bus terminus once I have had the X Factor Museum levelled and once again turn it into a gathering place for all the mad buggers screaming about the end of the world and how the spinners must repent!

There will be Punch and Judy and Fred Tablets back on the weather map. Googie the Liverpool Duck will be on at the Arena, I shall get that bloke who does the terrible statues to do one of Cilla, and serves her right! Made me look like Einstein on crack!

I am more than ready to be committed.

This is my city and I deserve a few free tickets and foreign trips and hopefully at least £300k a year. I don’t believe in taking and taking. I have always tried to put something back, especially if the store detective is watching.

I tell you this now, Harry, if you want to see change in Liverpool, well when I am elected and I first sit down in all my finery as Mayor there in my private office, once I pull on that chain, I shall emerge through the door and say to the assembled people, give it ten minutes!

2 Responses: Reply To This...
AnonymousJanuary 20th 2012.

Ken Dodd?

Andy MeliaJanuary 20th 2012.

I certainly chuckled over my butty reading this

Julie PolandJanuary 20th 2012.

Join the fun on our facebook page

AnonymousJanuary 20th 2012.

OK War and Peace scribe, there is a most serious issue here. If this post is correct, and I say if, the people of this city will be denied the chance to vote on the question of whether they actually want an elected mayor. I think a referendum would be lost basically because the quality of people running the city leave much to be desired. What this proposition suggests is the councuillors of this city and not the 440,000 citizens, will decide if we are to have an elected mayor. Come on Joe, you can do better than that. Fight fare and if people endorse you as mayor we'll have to (somehow) live with it. What do we want.... A REFERENDUM ...when do we want it .....NOW .... what do we don't want? An imposed mayor .... when do we don't want it ..... NEVER

OptimistJanuary 20th 2012.

Will Fireman Bradley will throw his helmet in the ring? I hope so.

AnonymousJanuary 20th 2012.

It's way too quiet these days. These Labour rulers could be up to anything. You would never know unless they allow it to appear in the Echo

AnonymousJanuary 20th 2012.

Couldnt agree more with Anon. for a single political party to completely change the basis of the city's democracy without a mandate from the electorate to do so is wholely unacceptable. The people must decide how their governing is done, there MUST be a vote.

Beware short memoriesJanuary 20th 2012.

Agree with the last three Anon comments. Can you imagine if Mike Storey had pulled a stunt like this, there would have been uproar! Joe would have been off to the Standards Board before you could say smoke and mirrors

EditorialJanuary 20th 2012.

We have received a copy of the following letter from Councillor Richard Kemp, deputy leader of the Liverpool Liberal Democrats, to the leader of Liverpool City Council, Joe Anderson

Dear Joe,

An Elected Mayor for Liverpool

As always rumours swirl round this city. The latest of these being about the Mayoralty. I am told that disaffected members of your group are leaking to the press that an announcement is to be made next week that not only will Labour support a Mayoral model but that you intend to sneak it past the electorate without a referendum by using the existing Labour Government legislation before the new legislation which makes a referendum compulsory comes into force.

Of course I do not know if these rumours are true. I do, however, know that they would contradict everything that you told Paula and me at our meeting before Christmas.

At that meeting the three of us agreed that it would not be worth going for an elected mayor unless there were substantial new powers, freedoms or cash. We now all know that this will not be the case. Very senior people in Government made clear to all DCLG Ministers last week that mayoralty and powers were not linked. As we discussed if we get new powers we will need to robustly review our governance mechanisms to be able to accept those powers and none of us would disagree with that.

As Paula made clear earlier this week in her letter to all group leaders:

1. We should campaign together for a no vote
2. We should work together to look at the new powers that you and we believe the council should have and to get the government to agree them
3. We should all work together to review the governance of the council to take advantage both of potential new powers but also the new freedoms granted in the Localism Act.

My particular concern about the rumour is the suggestion that you might move to a Mayoralty without popular support. I am under no illusion that there is NO clamour in the city on this issue and that if a full debate on the issue does take place the people of Liverpool would reject it.

This is a major constitutional issue for the city which will have major and long-term consequences for the City. It is the people who should decide this issue not a handful of politicians initiating the idea in a closed room and then using their majority to force it through council.

If this rumour is wrong I will be absolutely delighted and pledge that the Liberal Democrats will work with you to achieve the three things above.

Kind Regards,

Cllr Richard Kemp CBE
Deputy Leader, Liverpool Liberal Democrats

Cc: All Councillors
Local and Regional Press

Absinthe & TurksJanuary 21st 2012.

"*If Liverpool gets an elected mayor (with that title) it cannot have a ceremonial Lord Mayor. A council can’t have two people with the word “mayor” in the job title."

Why not? London has both
(a) a Lord Mayor with his parade and his charity and lives in the Mansion House and sucks up to the rich and the City, as well as
(b) the Elected Mayor Boris Johnson whose job is to be an embarrassment to London at home and abroad.

BorisJanuary 21st 2012.

I largely agree with Cllr Kemp on his main points but didn't we hear the Liberal Democrats pledging to work together for the good of the city in drawing up and agreeing the first major budget after the Coalition imposed the first years disgusting cuts in the budget? They worked closely together with Joe anderson and the cabinet, sat round the table, made the difficult decisions together for the sake of the city and agreed it all until the very last minute when it came o the vote and then in a pathetic attempt to get some votes, they reneged on most of the agreements.

It would be good if all of the parties could work together but how could Anderson trust them ever again? As soon as they signed the agreement, Richard Kemp would probably be rushing off to buy a tricorn hat and painting "Vote For Dick" placards.

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