Merseytravel – Well they do seem to be playing with a straight bat

A while back I posted this (see link below) about a party political matter in a Merseytravel staff briefing:-

tonyrobertson.mycouncillor.org.uk/2016/08/16/merseytravel-staff-briefing/

Merseytravel logo

And of course I in effect issued a challenge to Merseytravel to be party politically balanced in what they say to their staff. Well they seem to have risen to that challenge because in subsequent editions they have name checked the Green and Lib Dem candidates for the position of Mersey Metro Mayor, for which there will be an election next year. This is their latest article:-

New Mayoral candidate

The Liberal Democrats have this week announced that Prescot Councillor, Carl Cashman will be their candidate for the Liverpool City Region Mayoral election in May 2017.

He will stand against Labour Walton MP Steve Rotheram and Cllr Tom Crone for the Green Party who represents the St Michael’s ward on Liverpool City Council. Other parties, including the Conservatives, are yet to confirm their candidates.

A Liverpool City Region Mayor is part of devolution plans that will allow more local control over decision making. These powers include areas such as transport, training, skills, and strategic planning.

But why did I raise this in the first place? Whatever a public body does needs to party politically balanced or alternatively not party political at all. After all it is public money that pays their way, so when I saw the first entry in their staff briefing I felt the need to keep an eye on things simple as that really.

Wonder why they have not mentioned the other candidates selected for Manchester’s Metro Mayor post though? Although you could equally ask what on earth did they mention the first declared candidate for Manchester for to start with?

Why I am backing Carl Cashman to be Merseyside Metro Mayor

14681612_696537703845859_7410615004637708644_n

Yesterday I attended a hustings meeting at Dovedale Baptist Church Hall in Liverpool to hear prospective Lib Dem Mersey Metro Mayor candidate Carl Cashman speak. Carl is an impressive young man who seems to have that ‘X’ factor that many other politicians simply don’t.

So what are Carl’s assets? Well youth is one, being in his 20’s brings us a candidate unburdened by the baggage that many older politicians carry with them. He has a fresh perspective and one that folks seem to like.

Carl has not had a privileged upbringing; he was brought up a a Merseyside Council estate.

He is big on green issues and has been a thorn in Labour’s side as they keep trying to build on Green Belt and green spaces. This is a huge issue across Merseyside.

He’s already a Borough Councillor on Knowsley Council regularly taking on the appalling record of Labour in running that Council. This is the Council that was staring down into the abyss of potentially having no schools where young people could take A Levels recently!

He wants more social housing built. The Merseyside housing crisis is at it’s worst in terms of the supply of such properties.

He wants to find a way of improving the income of those living on the Minimum Wage. A Merseyside initiative to try to address our low wage culture – Why not give it a go?

The people of Prescot and Knowsley have taken this young man to their heart and I hope he gets selected as the Lib Dem Metro Mayor candidate so that more electors can find out why Carl Cashman is going places.

Oh and by the way, yes I know that the vast majority of us don’t want another politician running our lives but this new post (Merseyside Metro Mayor/Liverpool City Region Mayor) is being imposed on us in 2017 whether we want it or not.

It’s a result of the Tory Government and Merseyside Labour doing a second or even third rate deal which supposedly devolves significant powers to Merseyside from Whitehall. The powers are far too limited though and Westminster will still be calling the vast majority of the shots, surprise, surprise!

Carl wants to renegotiate that shabby deal so that we have real power over our own affairs locally. And he does not want power for himself but to push that power down to local communities wherever its possible to do so.

Carl is not a man to be told what to do by Westminster, neither is he a slave to a party political machine. Watch this young man go places.

Southport – Says NO! to Mersey Mayor Madness

This blog site has carried articles before about the astonishingly poor 3rd rate devolution of power deal that Merseyside’s Labour council leaders negotiated with Tory Chancellor George Osborne. It was such a poor deal that it came nowhere near to that which Greater Manchester council leaders negotiated for their communities. The Merseyside deal is shockingly poor by comparison. Here’s how Southport’s leading councillors and it’s MP see the deal:-

IMG_0001

IMG_0002

Click on the articles to enlarge them

Elected Mayors – Centralising power in one persons hands is bad but if it is being forced on Merseyside the crunch will be finding/electing someone of a stature respected by many

www.liverpoolecho.co.uk/news/liverpool-news/referendum-merseyside-metro-mayor-moves-9258654

I have long opposed an elected Metro Mayor/City Regional Mayor/Merseyside Mayor call it what you will and without going over too much ground this is why:-

* Merseyside is too small to be a successful competitive City Region with areas such as Ellesmere Port and West Lancashire being excluded from it.
* A Borough like Sefton which has a majority border with Lancashire could end up being even more disconnected with its neighbouring communities. I am thinking of Southport, Lydiate and Formby here especially.
* What’s so cleaver about centralising power in one person’s hands? Surely this is an illiberal idea that goes against the long held view in the UK about how local governance should be set up. Indeed, it is an American idea imported to the UK.
* Electing a candidate whom people can genuinely respect would be crucial if the idea is taken forward on Merseyside against all my other significant reservations/objections above. A Party hack from one particular political tribe who wants to lord it over Merseyside will be no good for anyone.

But despite my reservations is it going to happen? Well it seems it may well just do so if you take on board what is said in the Liverpool Echo article – see link above.

Of course Liverpool already has an elected City Mayor but the role was in reality imposed on the City without a referendum by Labour-run Liverpool City Council. On that basis clearly he electoral legitimacy test of whether the City wanted a elected mayor at all was dodged. The only say Liverpool folk got was who was going to get the job.

What’s more quite a few cities/communities that have held referendums on whether they wanted an elected mayor have said no they don’t. Where elected mayors have been successful will have been where, probably more by chance than anything else, a person of widely respected stature has been elected. In other words it is a game of chance; get a good elected mayor and it may possibly work out get a bad one and it could be an utter nightmare. Such is the result when power is not shared by a group of elected people.

I still think it is a bad way forward and will be campaigning against this Americanisation of UK local government.

Liverpool – Cameron & Anderson – the best of chums? – But surprisingly there is a Tory/Lab pact history on Merseyside

My recent posting where I talked about working with Labour councillor Steve Kermode to address some issues in Maghull provoked comment and I was pointed to the article below run by the Liverpool Echo. Does the Echo article confirm my view that politicians across the political divides can and should cooperate?

www.liverpoolecho.co.uk/news/liverpool-news/cameron-praises-liverpool-mayor-fighting-8065021

In many ways this is an interesting article and I always look at such writing from the perspective of why was it written? What was the motivation behind it? Why did the politicians involved make such statements?

It may have been an attempt to embarrass Joe Anderson as you would think he would be uncomfortable being congratulated by a Tory Prime Minister.

Alternatively, it could of course havevbeen an attempt to massage Joe Anderson’s ego.

Joe Anderson – locally, like Cameron – nationally, is seemingly rather unpopular at present because of the Cunard Building fiasco, the selling off of green space in Liverpool and I am told the relationship between Anderson and some local journalists has become rather rocky in recent times.

Cameron, of course, wants his policy of elected City/Metro Mayors to be a success so he feels he has to back people like Joe Anderson no matter how much he dislikes their policies and record.

My own view is that Joe Anderson has sadly and inadvertently been highlighting the concerns that many of us hold about putting a great deal of power in the hands of one person. Maybe Cameron can see that too but his priority seems to be to impose elected City/Metro Mayors on all English Cities/City Regions no matter what.

So my answer to the question in the first paragraph of this posting is no, this Echo article does not confirm my view about the value of politicians cooperating. My working with Steve Kermode is I think a genuine attempt on both our parts to address a local matter jointly. Cameron and Joe Anderson are simply flung together in a rather uncomfortable way to promote elected City/Metro Mayors; Joe likes being one and seemingly carves such power over the whole of Merseyside, Cameron seemingly wants anyone to have such power.

We should all be highly sceptical of this Anderson/Cameron agenda as it is illiberal and yes I do include here the small minority of Liberals who have flirted with support for elected City/Metro Mayors.

But there is another odd and very much Merseyside angle to this matter. It is not so long ago when Labour relied very much on the Conservatives to keep them in power on Merseytravel (the transport authority for Merseyside). What’s more there was a failed attempt to run Sefton Council via a Conservative/Labour pact in 2008. It may only have lasted a couple of months but here on Merseyside Labour and Conservatives backing each other up is not new at all!

Liverpool City Region – Chucking Money away? It seems so!

www.liverpoolecho.co.uk/news/liverpool-news/councillors-anger-18m-unspent-funding-7883509

This Liverpool Echo (see link above) story needs teasing out more but at face value Knowsley Council are in the dock for managing City Region money poorly and having to send it back. Knowsley blame Government but it is clear that Liverpool Council think Knowsley are the real problem!

Some Liverpool City Region leaders blame this farce on the dysfunctional way the city region authority is operating. Of course they are still smarting over not being able to come up with either a name for the joint authority or agree who should chair its meetings! No wonder things continue to be dysfunctional.

And how much did Sefton potentially lose out on from this investment stream?

But watch out Liverpool Labour want a ‘Metro-Mayor’ on the back of this i.e. a Mayor to run all of the City Region. No thanks Joe (Joe Anderson – Present elected Mayor of Liverpool) we don’t want you or anyone else running Sefton from Liverpool Town Hall.