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Mayor under scrutiny

Monitoring panel is mostly Labour

Written by . Published on July 3rd 2012.

Mayor under scrutiny

MAYOR Joe Anderson will be facing his first grilling in public on Wednesday when the Mayoral Select Committee holds its inaugural meeting at Millennium House. 

The setting up of the scrutiny committee is part of the civic machinery to hold the elected mayor to account for his actions. 

Can Labour members really be expected to put their boss through the wringer, in public? It conjures up jokes about Bernard Mathews and turkeys voting for Christmas

When the Mayor has faced questions about the exclusive power of a directly elected and powerful head, the response is that checks and balances have been written into the constitution. 

So will the mayor be pacing up and down his Dale Street office on Wednesday, awaiting some verbal onslaught? 

Hardly. But that could be because since his election just a matter of weeks ago, Mayor Joe has seemingly not put a foot wrong. He has sorted the cruise terminal wrangle, he has extracted millions of pounds from the government for housing regeneration and he has had numerous one-to-one conversations with Government ministers. 

Mayor Joe AndersonMayor Joe AndersonHowever, critics will point to the political make-up of the scrutiny committee. Eight of the 11 members are from the Labour group, a group headed by the Mayor. Three of the committee members have key jobs as assistant cabinet members. 

Respected Liberal and former Lord Mayor Hazel Williams will be chairing the committee and there will be one Lib Dem and one Green member. 

Human nature and a sort of survival instinct may make extreme criticism, from among the Labour ranks, a rare beast. 

Can Labour members really be expected to put their boss through the wringer, in public? It conjures up jokes about Bernard Mathews and turkeys voting for Christmas. 

The committee’s make-up is determined by a system of proportionality – this uses a pro-rata system based on the number of councillors each group has at the Town Hall. To be honest, if that equation had been fully applied there would be two, not three opposition members, on the Mayor’s Committee. 

But given the fact that Liverpool has entered a brave new world with rule by a mayor, shouldn’t the council have volunteered a committee with a wider breadth of representation. If the mayor continues to do a good job he would have no fears of facing his opposites. 

Mayor Joe plans to have Q and A sessions with the public at council meetings. The arrangements for such encounters will be interesting – will people have to submit questions in advance, for instance? 

Green councillor John Coyne is heading to Wednesday’s Mayoral scrutiny meeting with an open mind. 

He has already laid one question for Mayor Joe: Name three actions you have done that could not have been done with you as leader of the council rather than as mayor? 

"It is up to the mayor to make this system work,” he says. “If there are things being done that are good for the city we will say so. I have chaired a council select committee and in my experience Labour members have had little to say. Such committees are rarely adversarial. This new scrutiny committee will be a big test for the Mayor to see whether he can engage in constructive criticism." 


The Mayoral Select Committe: Who’s who.

Chair: Hazel Williams, Liberal, Tuebrook Ward. Former Lord Mayor


Louise Ashton-Armstrong (Fazakerley) Joined the council in 2010.

Christine Banks (Central). Chair of Licensing and Gambling Committee Councillor since 2008.

Tim Beaumont (Picton) Assistant Cabinet Member Environment and Climate Change. Joined council 2010.

Peter Brennan (Old Swan) Assistant Cabinet Member Housing and Community Safety. Re-elected in 2011 having previously served as a Labour councillor.

Councillor John CoyneGreen Councillor
John Coyne
Joe Hanson
 (Kirkdale). Chair of Street Trading Committee; Chair of Disputes Panel; Chair of Appeals Panel. Councillor since 2000.

Janet Kent (Belle Vale). Joined council in 2007.

Laura Robertson-Collins (Greenbank) Assistant Cabinet Member Employment and Skills. Elected in 2011.

Gerard Woodhouse (County). Elected in 2010.

Opposition members:

GREEN PARTY: John Coyne (St Michael's). Councillor since 2002.

LIBERAL DEMOCRAT: Erica Kemp (Church). Elected 1993. Wife of Lib Dem group leader Richard Kemp.



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