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'Quit bitching and get us a Boris-style mayor'

Mersey leaders urged to work as one in wake of Gtr Manchester's historic deal

Written by . Published on November 6th 2014.

'Quit bitching and get us a Boris-style mayor'

MERSEY Civic Society today called on Liverpool City Region’s six local councils to stop their squabbling and work towards a metro mayor for Merseyside to compete with neighbouring Greater Manchester.

The plea follows the historic signing of an agreement by Manchester and its nine neighbouring councils to opt for a Boris-style elected mayor.

On Merseyside, the so-called hissing cousins seem lights years behind when it comes to civic harmony.

Liverpool’s Mayor Anderson has always backed a metro mayor, and has indicated he’s up for the job. But his enthusiasm is not shared across the Mersey region, with preference for the current "combined authority" model, a form of city region cabinet.

This weekend, leading Labour Party figures from the six councils will be meeting to discuss what should happen.

Some critics say Liverpool’s six local councils need to kiss and make-up and agree to work in harmony, something seen as more important than whether a metro mayor or a regional cabinet is eventually agreed as the future.

The split among Labour leaderships appeared earlier this year when the Combined Authority held its first meeting.

The expectation was that Mayor Anderson would become chairman, given the prominence of Liverpool in the city region. Instead, Wirral’s Labour leader, Phil Davies, was chosen while Anderson and Sefton leader Peter Dowd were out of the room.
Merseyside Civic Society Chairman Dr Peter Brown said: “The Government has indicated its commitment to the creation of the first metro-wide elected mayor outside London to serve Greater Manchester. 

“Merseyside Civic Society welcomes this overdue recognition of the role of local democracy in shaping the future of the northern powerhouse and believes that this devolution of power and responsibility should be extended to Liverpool City Region.
“However, for this to happen, the six constituent authorities have to stop squabbling between themselves and present a united front in facing up to the challenges that they share. 

“This is an unprecedented opportunity for the city region to follow the Manchester lead in speaking with one voice and reaping the benefits of direct responsibility for a wider range of activities and associated expenditure, including  housing, planning and policing.”
In a statement, the civic society said it was calling on the LCR Combined Authority, the Local Enterprise Partnership and the six individual authorities to examine how Greater Manchester has secured the Government’s confidence that it can discharge this higher level of responsibility and then to identify the essential steps that the Liverpool City Region needs to take to enable it to move towards securing the same degree of devolved power to which it should be equally entitled.

The 10 leaders in Greater Manchester appeared in a highly publicised event with Chancellor George Osborne signing the accord to back a metro mayor to be in place by 2017.

As a reward Greater Manchester will be given sweeping new powers, including a Transport for Manchester’body to match the power Boris Johnson’s Transport for London has over buses and tube services in the capital.  A £2bn goodybag would also wing its way to Manchester.

The fear is that if a Boris mayor is installed in Manchester, other parts of the North West, including Liverpool, would be shunted into the shadows.

Indeed Osborne hinted that he’d like to see Manchester’s new very best friend, Leeds, as the second conurbation to have an elected metro mayor as part of a cross Pennine Northern Powerhouse.

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

John BradleyNovember 6th 2014.

Needs to be bigger than the LCR. Should include West Lancs, Warrington and Cheshire West. Even then it would still have a smaller population than GM, but would be big enough for a TfL style transport body. It would also give a better selection of leader candidates. It needs to be done within an Open List system, to prevent the Party selection commitees creating a stitch up, one nomination from each part, from each borough.

3 Responses: Reply To This...
AnonymousNovember 6th 2014.

Primaries are needed

John BradleyNovember 6th 2014.

With an open list system the primaries are combined with the main vote en.wikipedia.org/…/Open_list…. It be happy to drop the local residency requirement to give national candidates a chance.

John BradleyNovember 6th 2014.

Sorry meant instant run off, en.m.wikipedia.org/…/Instant-runoff_voting… preferably with electronic voting.

Katie54November 6th 2014.

If we get the same kind of governance arrangements as Greater Manchester, this should work well. The component councils retain control of most core council functions, while the Mayor will be responsible for stuff like transport, housing, skills, although a two thirds majority of the leaders making up his cabinet will be able to block his strategies, with additional scrutiny (in Manchester, by something called the Scrutiny Pool). All this sounds reasonable and workable. It avoids the mistake made here in Liverpool of concentrating all power in the hands of one man, creating major problems with accountability, transparency and scrutiny. Hopefully, if we go for this city region mayor, we will go back to the leader and cabinet model for normal council business.

1 Response: Reply To This...
RobertNovember 6th 2014.


BillNovember 6th 2014.

Merseyside is only recognised in this country the smart move would be to call the authority Greater Liverpool or Liverpool Bay. Can't see it being agreed though.

1 Response: Reply To This...
John BradleyNovember 6th 2014.

Doesn't really have to be agreed. HMG has the mandate to do it. Every arrangement of local government has been a product of central government not local.

Pete JonesNovember 6th 2014.

John, you've saved me some typing - thanks for being the voice of common sense. The people know what they're doing - trust them and let's vote in Joe and he can lead all 6 councils (and hopefully West Lancs and even Warrington too) to previously unimagined freedom and reward! Or, we can fiddle while rome burns and become an abused satellite of the manchester political who-res...

2 Responses: Reply To This...
Emma BNovember 8th 2014.

Ha if Joe Anderson stood, he'd probably be defeated by an Independent or even UKIP at the moment. I know Labour Cllrs who'd vote against him. He got away without having one Referendum for Mayor. He wouldn't get away with it a second time. Warrington, Southport, Runcorn, St Helens, etc don't want to be run from Liverpool. Half of them don't even want much to do with Liverpool.

AnonymousNovember 8th 2014.

From a Liverpool perspective, if Anderson did become regional Mayor, that would improve things, wouldn't it? Because he would no longer be running LCC.

Pete JonesNovember 6th 2014.

Erm, thanks Larry too - sorry! :-P

Clive MayNovember 6th 2014.

I've been saying on here in response to the recent HS3 situation that these clowns that call themselves council leaders should start realising how much they are letting down their respective boroughs by not working together. How much more obvious does it have to be before they wake up and smell the coffee? Does it have to be in 20 years or so that someone with a bit of savvy laments the missed opportunities that a bit of cohesion and working together brings. Our cousins up the motorway have been working on this for years and years and it is this and not confrontation that serves the populace better. I still hold the view that there are times that you have to understand and work with central government and sometimes you just have to get on with it. Manchester and the environs did just that because they had a plan, Come on you leaders of Wirral, Sefton, Knowsley, Liverpool & Halton, sort it out before you really let everyone down.

RobertNovember 6th 2014.

Not dawned on you that surrounding Labour Party authorities are not keen on seeing the way Labour politics are conducted in this city imposed upon them? Under the 'elected mayor', there is no voice of reason from within Liverpool Council, given Joe Anderson's sweeping, unscrutinised powers. Were Liverpool Council able to provide another candidate other than bullyboy Joe, then it's likely plans would progress smoothly, and not in the public eye. Regarding wider transport powers, given Andersons recent record on bus lanes (those lanes that come to a stop when leaving neighbouring councils and entering Liverpool), what point of sweeping powers of re-regulation in the form of franchising? You might just find that bus priority measures are required, together with swipe ticketing to get passengers onboard, thereby reducing congestion, allowing the roads to serve the economy more effectively. Perhaps given the shoddy report and stitch up on bus lanes (not a single Cllr able to translate and press home the numerous shortcomings of the bus report..), our neighbours fear similar moves by Anderson were he in charge. Ditto sale of prestigous green space for housing. Short terminism in one. Little wonder the Dft / Govt ignore the region for both HS2 and HS3. Somebody other than Joe at the helm and people may well unify. He is a devisive figure, and for populations not necessarily identifying with Liverpool and Scousers, that is a rejection of his assertions to be the best to Govern over them.

1 Response: Reply To This...
AnonymousNovember 6th 2014.

Yes, it has dawned on a lot of people. The problem is that Joe portrays himself as the plucky scouser fighting back against the big bad government - which goes down well for understandable reasons with a lot of people, who confuse bombast and bullying with strength, personal insults and abuse for witty debate (as seen last night on TV "With all due respect ... you're stupid", or words to that effect). Since the Labour party must surely know that he will be the stumbling block for many people elsewhere in the region, it will be interesting to see what they come up with.

RobertNovember 7th 2014.

It certainly will be Anonymous

ConfusedDotComNovember 7th 2014.

Now here's a thing. Old Nicky Clegg has told Leeds and Sheffield they can bag a Greater Manchester deal without needing a metro mayor, and now Dave Cameron has told Birmingham it can also have metro powers with an elected metro mayor. If I lived in Manchester i'd be well cheesed off, told we can only have power and money with a big-shot elector dictator. Merseysiders beware of politicians bearing gifts.

5 Responses: Reply To This...
ConfusedDotComNovember 7th 2014.

sorry that should have read Birmingham can have powers WITHOUT an elected city region mayor.....sorry

Katie54November 7th 2014.

Yes, the insistence on elected mayors is weird. They say it's more democratic - the "definition of democracy", according to Joe Anderson, in an article on the BBC News website yesterday. But it means voting for a specific individual, who it is almost impossible to get rid of for the next five years. How on earth is that more democratic than voting for councillors, who decide on a leader they can get rid of if he starts doing things people really don't like and don't want (as is the case of Cameron himself). Mind you, Anderson is becoming increasingly messianic - in the same article, he took personal credit for just about everything good that has happened in Liverpool for the last 10 years... "Having a directly elected mayor has put Liverpool firmly on the front foot - long-term challenges of economic and population decline have been overcome and the city has transformed its infrastructure, its appearance." www.bbc.co.uk/…/uk-29849343…

Katie54November 7th 2014.

Sorry, I cut off the end of the quote ".... and the city has transformed its infrastructure, its appearance and its image - and it can work for other cities too."

AnonymousNovember 7th 2014.

If the Mayor was as keen on democracy and accountability as he says, why can no-one ever put him on the spot, the way they can with Cameron (Prime Minister's Questions), or Boris (who has to answer the questions of the (elected) London Assembly). He could revamp the Mayoral Select Committee, let it ask him whatever questions he wants, and put webcasts of the meetings of this Committee, and of the whole Council, on the web - other councils have been doing this for a while - Lancashire, for instance. He won't, because then we would all see what a travesty of democracy these meetings actually are, these days.

AnonymousNovember 7th 2014.

whatever questions THEY want.... sorry.

Judith PattersonNovember 8th 2014.

Ive said it before and I will say it again, GET RID OF THE MAYOR.

Josie MullenNovember 8th 2014.

Not totally against a mayor- but it needs to be someone who (1) is totally accountable(2) believes in the concept of democracy (3) doesn't hide reports and information that the people of Liverpool have a right to access (4)listens and responds to local people when they object in large numbers to certain LCC initiatives I.e. Sale of the Meadowlands, Walton Hall Park, part of Woolton Woods, closure of 11 out of 18 public libraries. Balancing the authorities budget is, without doubt, a very difficult job - however the mayor could have started with the councils massive food and drinks budget, it certainly is not the right financial moment to tart up the Town Hall at a cost of £400.000 ( I think that amount is right) and has anyone seen how many thousands of pounds have been spent on consultants. If Liverpool had the appropriately experienced officers and councillors in place the LCC shouldn't ' t need consultants

Josie MullenNovember 8th 2014.

Yes Judith you are 100% right - get rid of this mayor!

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