The article is on Jim’s blog site accessed via the link above
I remember Jim, as others will, from his BBC North West Regional News days and respect his views. I’m sure he and other devolution skeptics (and I include myself here) are right to think that government is not that keen on the process of devolving power to the regions of England, except that is when it suits them to be able to blame the regions for whatever the troubles of the day are.
It might seem odd me being a Liberal, having been brought up on a diet of power needing to be exercised at the lowest possible level of government, but I opposed the devolution deal for the Liverpool City Region. I opposed it as it was a second if not third rate deal that was hardly worth having. My views have not changed.
Yes we now have a City Region Mayor but for me that post, whomever holds it, is a bit like the Police and Crime Commissioner one in that no one really thinks either will bring any positive change to Merseyside.
What has also concerned me since first hearing that government wanted a city region mayor for Merseyside is that it would make the sub-region more Liverpool centric with the towns and communities surrounding Liverpool always playing second fiddle. I’ve seen little to change that point of view either. Bringing more power and influence to Liverpool is often at the expense of its surrounding communities.
Devolution as presently practiced in England is indeed half hearted and deeply flawed.
And later on the same day that I published this posting I found that Cllr. Richard Kemp was on a similar theme:-
The Liverpool Echo has the story – see link above
Can this Liverpool City Region nightmare get any worse? First we are told by a Tory Government that we can only have devolved powers if we accept a Metro Mayor to lord it over all of Merseyside. I personally know of only one person who wants a Metro Mayor for Merseyside.
Then we find out that our 6 Labour Council Leaders are negotiating a deal which clearly includes us having Metro Mayor.
We end up with a third rate devolution deal (no control over the NHS or Police) and a Metro Mayor because that’s what our Labour Council leaders have agreed to.
Now we have Joe Anderson back in charge after his fellow Labour Merseyside Council Leaders (by a majority) blocked him from getting the very same job only a few months ago. It seems he now has their unanimous support!
In my view Joe is sadly a divisive figure who hardly seems to unite the people of Liverpool under is leadership as their elected Mayor. Indeed, the good people of Liverpool did not even get a say as to whether they wanted an elected Mayor because Labour-run Liverpool City Council just voted to have one without so much as a by your leave.
Now Merseyside is going to get an elected Mayor and again, guess what we have not had a say!
This is not democracy it is an appalling political farce that has been forced on us by a Tory Government and compliant Labour-run Merseyside Councils.
And I say all this despite championing devolved powers for our diverse communities for many years. Devolution being forced on communities is not devolving power it is telling us what to do and the terms under which it will be done. It is top down Tory imposition and Labour should hang its head in shame for for buying into it.
The Champion newspaper in its edition of 25th November carried an article where the present Leader of Sefton Council endorsed what I call Merseyside’s 3rd rate devolution deal. Here is my response to Cllr. Ian Maher……
Devolution powers so poor they are not worth having
Reacting to the Labour Leader of Sefton Council Cllr. Ian Mayer’s endorsement of the devolution deal for Merseyside the Borough’s former Lib Dem Council Leader Tony Robertson says the devolution deal for the Liverpool City Region/Merseyside is rubbish.
Tony, a long-time campaigner for devolution of powers from Government to the diverse communities of Sefton and Merseyside says the deal that Sefton Council voted for is poor and he sees nothing in it for Sefton or the Boroughs surrounding Liverpool.
“We get a Metro Mayor imposed on us, whom we will have to pay the wages of, for little or nothing in return that will be of any use to us.”
“We Lib Dems passionately believe in devolution of government powers to the lowest possible level of governance commensurate with the effective delivery of services for our diverse communities. However, that does not mean we will accept 3rd rate devolution – no control over the Police or the NHS like in Manchester comes to mind. But holding a gun to our head and being told you can only have your 3rd rate devolution powers if you accept a Metro Mayor to lord it over you is utterly ridiculous. We will not even get a referendum on these issues.”
“This is not devolution it is imposition and there’s nothing good going to come from this for the people of Sefton my view. I was delighted that the Lib Dem opposition Group on Sefton Council stood their ground and opposed this poor deal for the diverse communities of Sefton”
Editors Note – Tony was Leader of Sefton Council from 2004 until 2011
At the time of posting this article the Champion had not printed my opposing view.
Great to see the opposition Lib Dem Group on Sefton Council standing up for Merseyside and effectively saying take this 3rd rate devolution deal and stick it where the sun don’t………!
I have commented on the poor deal previously as I see nothing in it for the Boroughs surrounding Liverpool. We get a Metro Mayor imposed on us, whom we will have to pay the wages of, for little or nothing in return that will be of any use to us.
Sadly Sefton Council Tories backed Labour in endorsing the deal, but of course Labour and Tories in Sefton have always had a close relationship.
We Lib Dems passionately believe in devolution of government powers to the lowest possible level of governance commensurate with the effective delivery of services for our diverse communities. However, that does not mean we will accept 3rd rate devolution – no control over the Police or the NHS like in Manchester comes to mind! But holding a gun to our head and being told you can only have your 3rd rate devolution powers if you accept a Metro Mayor to lord it over you is utterly ridiculous. We will not even get a referendum on these issues.
Sorry but this is not devolution it is imposition and there’s nothing good going to come from this for the people of Sefton my view. However, I await all the publicity/propaganda that will tell me how wonderful it is going to be!
My two most recent postings on this subject are available via the links below:-
The Liverpool City Region settlement announced today falls far behind the one negotiated for Greater Manchester.
The Liverpool City Region has been given far fewer powers than was Greater Manchester.
Manchester will have control over the Police and over the Health Service Liverpool will not! These are two huge areas where Manchester will be able to better coordinate at a sub-regional level the work of the public sector across their huge conurbation. Crime and the NHS are probably our greatest local challenges so what’s the point of a devolution deal that does not empower the Liverpool City Region to address them?
In addition one of the new Liverpool City Region powers, to regulate buses is probably little more than whistling in the wind. The North-East combined authority has already decided not to make use of this devolved ‘power’ because they would have to pay over £230 million in compensation to the existing bus operators.
This is not a good deal, it’s in no way a historic deal but it is just about the best deal our often publicly bickering Merseyside Council Leaders could get with their poor quality, seemingly last minute application. We could have had a much better, potentially worth having, deal had the 6 Merseyside council leaders been working together for the past few years in the way that the 10 council leaders in Greater Manchester have been doing.
In my opinion the deal is not worth a carrot, it will probably get us an unwanted and costly Metro Mayor and Merseyside is hardly likely to move forward. Not radical just ridiculous and it should be rejected out of hand.
The fact that it was poor now seems to be a fact not just my opinion – see my previous posting at:-
But the more I have thought about it the more I have come to the conclusion that the 6 Council Leaders must surely have known what a poor effort it was. That then leads you to consider why it was poor?
* Simply done too late and therefore rushed and ill-considered?
* Bearing in mind the now legendary bickering that has gone on between our esteemed Council Leaders on Merseyside could they not agree a more radical/credible submission?
* Was it an attempt to kick this uncomfortable matter into the long grass by seemingly making a submission (playing the game so to speak) but one that they hoped would be unlikely to be agreed by George Osborne?
* Were the majority of other 5 Council leaders trying to stop Joe Anderson becoming a City Region Mayor by attempting to slow down the devolution process via a poor submission?
* Or was it simply that our 6 Council leaders did not realise how poor the submission was?
How will this be outed I wonder?
And to finish this posting which is of course related to George Osborne’s Northern Powerhouse strategy (whatever that may be in reality), which in itself seems to be built on John Prescott’s Northern Way (remember that?), a comment from a Labour Party friend of mine seems to be appropriate. For Northern Powerhouse read Northern Poorhouse! Seems to sum up our position in the north under the Tories quite well.