Will Joe or his Labour challengers just suck the life out of Liverpool’s surrounding borough’s?

www.liverpoolecho.co.uk/news/liverpool-news/labours-three-metro-mayor-candidate-11503354

The Liverpool Echo has a story about Labour’s potential candidates for Lord of Merseyside – see link above

Readers of this blog site will know that I am in no way a fan of Merseyside having a Metro Mayor to lord it over us all, indeed I think the whole carry on will potentially be the death of Liverpool’s surrounding council areas.

But whether we want a Metro Mayor or not this wretched Tory Government, whose bed Merseyside Labour has all to firmly jumped into, is making us have one.

So who will the Metro Mayor be? Just look at the potential Labour candidates – see link above! They are all from the Liverpool City part of Merseyside, a real worry here.

My concern all along has been that the City of Liverpool may well prosper by pulling everything towards it but that could well be at the expense of Sefton, St. Helens, Knowsley, Halton and Wirral council areas. Indeed, it has started to happen already as poor old Bootle is being stripped of over 3,000 civil service jobs three quarters of which are to be resettled again in Liverpool City Centre!

If we have to have a Metro Mayor (at least until hopefully a new government abolishes them) then surely we need one who clearly has loyalties outside of Liverpool City? Could this be a way of ensuring that the City does not suck the life, economic or otherwise, from the surrounding areas?

Merseyside’s Metro Mayor – Many don’t know about one being foisted upon us and many don’t want to know!

www.liverpoolecho.co.uk/news/liverpool-news/were-getting-new-metro-mayor-11319268

The Liverpool Echo has the story – see link above:-

Who wants a Metro Mayor for Merseyside? No one that I know wants yet another politician living off the taxpayer’s purse.

But many who do know about us getting a Metro Mayor don’t want Joe Anderson even though Liverpool voters seem to love him if the recent Mayoral election is anything to go by. In my view Joe has been a huge drag on Liverpool moving forward and he would be no better for Merseyside. And I don’t say this because he represents the Labour Party; I would hold this view whichever Party he stood for. But maybe it’s one of those situations where whomever Labour put on the ballot paper next year Merseyside electors will approve them. I hope not but the Liverpool result must indicate that despite Joe being seemingly quite unpopular, when it comes to the ballot box, tribal Labour loyalty is all that matters.

But, as the Echo article above points out, many folks don’t even know that a Metro Mayor is going to be forced on Merseyside. In Sefton Borough we are told that 61% of electors know nothing of us getting a Metro Mayor in 2017.

So many don’t know and many don’t want to know but getting a Metro Mayor we are because of a strangely close partnership between Labour on Merseyside and the hated Tory Government and the 3rd rate devolution deal they struck for us.

Merseyside/Liverpool City Region – Desperately needs credible political leadership

So with news reaching us that we are having a Metro Mayor imposed on us (although imposed with the endorsement of our local councils who did not consult us) and a 3rd rate devolution deal to go along with it, what next?

Putting it bluntly will Merseyside elect as Metro Mayor anyone who Labour puts up as a candidate? Or exceptionally will a really credible candidate appear who can and will take Merseyside forward?

Surely the rather unfortunate (for Liverpool), in my opinion, period of office for the City’s first elected Mayor is something that we all need to learn from. Yes Joe Anderson is larger than life but is he really the kind of person to take Liverpool or Merseyside forward? Sadly, Joe has come over to me as being a divisive character not someone that the people of Liverpool can get behind and really see as their leader. If we don’t learn from this, we will not succeed in taking Merseyside forward.

And yes, I am still utterly opposed to having a Metro Mayor and the 3rd rate devolution of power deal that has come with it for Merseyside. However, as both are coming our way whether we like it or not in our top down ‘do as you are told’ society we had better get our thinking caps on.

A 3rd rate Metro Mayor to go with a 3rd rate devolution deal and Merseyside is headed nowhere. We need leaders with vision, not class war warriors, not ‘Mr. Big’s’, not ego trippers, not a buggins turner, not the last one out of the room because no one credible wants to do it.

Will we fluff it? Sadly history seems to indicate that there must be a huge possibility of this! Or will we become enthused by a really credible candidate with great ability and vision? I really hope so but where will they come from?

Liverpool City Region devolution – The deal is rubbish and should be rejected out of hand.

My two most recent postings on this subject are available via the links below:-

tonyrobertson.mycouncillor.org.uk/2015/10/07/liverpool-city-region-underwhelmed-by-lackluster-submission-for-delegated-powers-2/

tonyrobertson.mycouncillor.org.uk/2015/11/03/liverpool-city-region-was-that-submission-for-devolved-powers-from-government-deliberately-poor/

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.

Liverpool City Region – Underwhelmed by lackluster submission for delegated powers

So our 6 Labour Council Leaders from across Merseyside have put in their plea to George Osborne for him to give the City Region some crumbs from his devolution table. I must say I am sadly underwhelmed by their bid though.

This posting is not an attempt to comment on the document page by page but I am picking out things that caught my eye, or are a particular policy interest area for me or where I think the document is deficient.

Firstly the laugh out loud moments from the 25 page document:-

We are working together!!!! – ‘We have a proven track record of being able to decide priorities locally’ and ‘We have also proven our ability to work together collectively’. No not made up it’s there in the document! Bearing in mind how our Labour Council Leaders have seemingly squabbled like ferrets in a sack for years in public via the press you wonder whether they were able to keep their faces straight when they signed a document going to Government saying they were now best mates who will stick by each other.

Metro Mayor!- But moving on through this rather uninspiring document which could hardly be said to be innovative or motivating we come to a paragraph on page 3 which effectively gives the Metro Mayor game away. It says ‘We also recognise that the “prize” of devolution may necessitate a “price” to be paid in respect of the government’s stated aim of introducing an elected mayor for the City Region. We are prepared to consider making a change in our local governance arrangements……….’ Is this the Merseyside Labour Council Leaders waving the white flag and falling in behind Joe Anderson, who seems to want to rule Merseyside? Yes I believe it is and in the words of Dave Allen ‘may your God go with you’.

We cost Treasury too much? – There is an interesting and I take it to be accurate statement to the effect that the Liverpool City Region area spends two pounds on public services for every one it raises in taxation and this means the City Region has the largest relative gap between tax raised and public spending in England. £9.5 billion generated for the Treasury but £18.6bn back in public spending. A sobering thought indeed.

More Cuts? – This also caught my eye ‘there are potentially efficencies and cost savings to be gained if greater control and coordination of government funding and activity is devolved to the City Region’. This could be interpreted as room for more cuts of course.

These are the tickets my family were given when we walked through the new (2nd) Tunnel in 1971

These are the tickets my family were given when we walked through the new (2nd) Tunnel in 1971

Mersey Tunnel tolls – One of the ‘Asks’ of government is that ‘Legislative clarity on the ability to utilise [Mersey] tunnel toll income for wider economic development purposes’. That should go down a bundle with residents of the Wirral in particular! This ‘ask’ seems to be linked to another ‘ask’ which requests government to pay off the loans to build the tunnels. Of course a proportion of the toll money is presently used to fund the debt repayments. I think tunnel users would want to know what their extra tax would be paying for if it was not to pay off the loans to build the tunnels. Indeed you could expect them to want lower tolls if the tunnel debts are paid off by government.

The present Merseyrail rolling stock Class 507/8 EMU's) at Southport Station.

The present Merseyrail rolling stock Class 507/8 EMU’s) at Southport Station.

A train ‘ask’ – There an ‘ask’ about our promised (many times) replacement rolling stock for Merseyrail to ‘reduce the financial risks’. This is linked to needing long term certainty over the Special Rail Grant that Merseyside gets each year. A reasonable request I would think here.

A blast from the past a former Ribble Lydiate bound 321 bus in model form. Sadly it's another lost route for Lydiate residents.

A blast from the past a former Ribble Lydiate bound 321 bus in model form. Sadly it’s another lost route for Lydiate residents.

A buses ‘ask‘ is to ‘secure the ability to franchise local bus services, to ensure that they have the required reach, penetration, quality and pricing structure and serve the needs of the Liverpool City Region’. This may well, depending on what it actually means, turn the Tories Bus Deregulation Act of the early 1980’s on its head (or drive a bus through it at least) and not before time I say. BUT bearing in mind that the thrust of this submission to government acknowledges in effect that austerity is here to stay then it does not mean more subsidy for bus services unless of course that is where the tunnel tolls may be siphoned off?

Campaigners, outside Maghull Town Hall trying to save Sefton Borough's high grade agricultural land from development.

Campaigners, outside Maghull Town Hall trying to save Sefton Borough’s high grade agricultural land from development.

Housing and Spacial Planning – Some very worthy stuff here but what is so obviously missing? Well as far as Sefton Borough is concerned it’s protection of its high grade agricultural land from development. So is the fact that the City Region is not making a request to government for local powers to protect it the final admission that the City Region and Sefton Council do not want to?

Energy – Some good stuff here about support for the proposed offshore tidal lagoon and also a request for powers to maximise the potential of renewable energy. But even then this is hardly taking the ‘green’ agenda and running with it, surely we should be aiming to be the most energy efficient City Region in Europe? Where’s the ambition to inspire?

City Region Mayor Powers – If there was any doubt that our glorious Leaders are now all but fully behind a City Region Mayor then this quote leaves no room for any doubt:-

*To consider whether an elected Liverpool City Region Mayor should take over the role of the directly elected Police and Crime Commissioner and the role of the Fire Authority.

There are other ‘asks’ about Children’s Services, Education, Cultural Partnership, Health – Wellbeing and Social Care, a Free Trade Zone, European Funding, Skills & Employment and Business Support but I have not touched on those areas in this posting.

My conclusion is that frankly the submission is too bland and it lacks ambition. Here was a great opportunity to lay out a radical plan to fundamentally change the health, wealth and environmental sustainability of Merseyside and it has been an opportunity lost. It strikes me, as a former Council Leader, as one of those documents written by Council Officers and then signed off/rubber stamped by politicians. Even if government gave it the green light on all the ‘asks’ I can’t see it changing the outcomes of Merseyside residents much at all.

I wonder if it will get the green light from government (with a few tweaks along the way) because all the Tories really seem to want is the appearance of devolution and a Metro Mayor. If so government will say they have negotiated a fine deal to empower Merseyside and local council leaders will say they got virtually every possible concession from government and the Metro Mayor has been forced on them. But in the real world not much will change other than we all get that damn Metro Mayor idea imposed on us and another highly paid politician to lord it over us.

Liverpool City Region – 6 middle aged men from Merseyside decide what is good for us all

www.liverpoolecho.co.uk/news/liverpool-news/liverpool-city-region-leaders-reveal-9977153

The Liverpool Echo has the story – see link above

Just as I predicted recently – see link below –

tonyrobertson.mycouncillor.org.uk/2015/08/26/devolution-for-merseyside-but-on-whose-terms-beware-labour-leaders-tory-government-will-want-to-impose-a-package/

Joe and Jane Public are not getting any say at all over what the 6 Labour Council Leaders on Merseyside think are our priorities as they lurch us nearer to an unwanted Metro Mayor.

Of course we want powers devolved locally to the communities of Merseyside so that we can decided our own destiny but we don’t want this decided by 6 middle aged men from Merseyside and a Tory Chancellor in Whitehall. What we actually want is to be consulted before the 6 middle aged white blokes tell the Chancellor what they think we want.

This is not democracy, it’s imposition!