The link above to Southport Lib Dems web site gives details of John Pugh’s position on a Metro Mayor for Merseyside. He does not pull any punches and he is right.
As a watcher of politics and indeed a participant in it I do worry about the leadership of Liverpool. Joe Anderson comes over to me as someone so tribal that he can’t surely be the person to take Liverpool forward.
I saw this the other day on Moorfields in Liverpool:-
Click on the photo to enlarge it
And I thought the present elected Mayor of Liverpool is, in my view, a part of Liverpool’s problem and is unlikely to be a part of the solution to it.
A topic I have commented on often in the past but am drawn to again because I have been reading a report to the Liverpool City Region Combined Authority dated 16th April.
Agenda item 10, item 3.7 points out that low priority for electrification lines, such as Ormskirk Preston, are ‘lightly used rural lines’.
Well yes, but that’s because it is a rubbish infrequent service with no Sunday trains at all. What’s more it is deliberately not connected to the Liverpool Ormskirk service meaning folk have to change trains at Ormskirk. It would be very different if it was a through Liverpool – Preston service. Do the powers that be never think outside the box? Give me strength!
It would have been nice to read that our local rulers were making it clear that they had ambitions to once again make it a through Liverpool – Preston service. Lack of vision? Lack of ambition? Too far away from Liverpool for anyone to be bothered?
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.
I have long fought for this station to be built and was pleased when the Coalition Government gave what amounts to around 90%+ (£6.1m) of the money required (Est £7m) in 2014 to The Liverpool City Region.
My understanding of where we are up to is this:-
* Merseytravel is in the process of developing a detailed business case for the new station.
* At least a year will be needed to complete the final design and around another year to construct the station. But additional approvals will be required at City Region level and from Network Rail.
* Two and a half to three years would seem to be a reasonable estimate from now until the first train stops at Maghull North Station.
Having said that major projects like this are often subject to slippage for all sorts of engineering and/or financial reasons so further delays would not be surprising.
The Liverpool Echo has the story – see link above.
But there are two big problems here. Firstly Labour have not all of a sudden become a party that wants to give power away to local communities so that they can decided what is best for themselves. What Labour means by devolution is that local Labour political barons will be given power to decide what’s best for you and I. This is very different from how Liberals see power being devolved to communities and out of the hands of political parties. You can’t empower people if all you are doing is shifting a decision making process from one set of party hacks to another.
Secondly, and my previous posting (see link below) about devolving control over bus services on Merseyside refers of a couple of days ago, how could we have any confidence that our local Labour Council Leaders could do the job?
Their record in recent times of public bickering, an inability to seemingly get along with each other and arguing over the the name of Merseyside’s new combined authority does not fill anyone with any confidence.
Labour are centralisers of power within their own clans, it is not in their nature to share power with ordinary people. Beware of Labour politicians bearing devolution gifts!