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One man in charge – and no one to stand in his way

With the Lib Dems fading fast, the role of the councillor is about go the same way, says Larry Neild

Written by . Published on April 5th 2012.


One man in charge – and no one to stand in his way

AS nominations closed for the council and elected-mayor votes next month, politicians were pondering on the fate of the once mighty Liberal Democrats in Liverpool. 

And some say it could be at least 20 years before Nick Clegg's local army march once more into the front line at Liverpool Town Hall. 

It cannot be good for local democracy
to have a virtual one-party state

That would take us into the 2030s before the Lib Dems rule once more, and, even then, that supposes a rebuilding exercise. 

With the city due to be ruled by an elected mayor from next month, the role of the elected councillor will diminish. 

Happier Times - Mike StoreyHappier Times - Mike StoreySome say councillors will have a key job, scrutinising the mayor's office, but apart from kicking, screaming and shouting, there will be no powers to overturn his decisions. 

Lord Mike Storey swept to power in 1998 and built the group until it held 71 of the council chamber seats. 

Labour was left with a rump, counting its numbers in the teens and taking 12 years before the flag over the Town Hall changed political colours. 

Storey himself was one of the victims last year of Labour's unstoppable rise to supremacy, beaten by Jake Morrison, just 17 when he was selected by Labour as their council candidate.

Standing this year in, as an independent, in Wavertree, is one-time Storey protege and former leader Warren Bradley, now estranged from the Libs Dems and recently convicted of perjury.

Some of Storey's one-time key players are bowing out, insisting they are quitting by choice for a mixture of reasons, and not because they fear dismissal at the ballot box. 

Others going into battle on May 3 may well be beaten, reducing the Lib Dem contingent from its current 21. 

Just two of the 30 council wards are solid Lib Dem – Woolton and Church.

And while dominant Labour will celebrate more successes, and in some cases perhaps gloat, it cannot be good for local democracy to have a virtual one-party state. 

When the Lib Dems ruled the city with a massive majority, one of Storey's key councillors said to me: “Watch us like a hawk, Larry, you are the opposition now,” referring to my role, of course, as a municipal correspondent. 

Out of the count

Flo Clucas - OffskiFlo Clucas - OffskiThe former deputy leader and one of the Lib Dem's key figures, Flo Clucas, is leaving the area, probably the biggest loss after Storey's departure. 

Also quitting is one time cabinet member Marilyn Fielding, former Planning chairman Dave Irving and Woolton councillor Barbara Collinge. 

Jan Clein, wife of one time lifelong long cabinet member Paul Clein – beaten last year – is retiring. 

Facing the voters is Lib Dem Group leader Paula Keaveney in Cressington, hoping she doesn't suffer the same fate as another of Storey's generals, Peter Millea, beaten last year. 

Current town hall line-up Labour 62, Lib Dem 21, Liberal 3, Green 2, Others 2. 

Twelve candidates will be battling it out to become the first ever directly mayor of Liverpool. Voting will take place on May 3, same day as the local council election.

 

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AnonymousApril 9th 2012.

I'm voting for Englebert Humperdink

Dick ShunneryApril 10th 2012.

Engelbert Humperdinck FFS!

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