Bootle Town Hall
We have all heard of the Chancellor’s Northern Powerhouse but the reality across Town Halls in the north of England is more akin to Poorhouse than Powerhouse.
With Council budgets being cut, way, way beyond what anyone thought they could be/should be the reality is community services being reduced to an absolute minimum.
Don’t get me wrong, of course local government had to play its part as the UK tried to re-balance its books after the financial crash which happened during the last Labour government’s watch. However, to reduce local government across northern England to the point where it is virtually unable to deliver anything but very basic services of poor quality is what is actually happening.
Yes, no one has much sympathy for those who run our Town Halls as many think, and possibly with good reason, that too much money goes on paying the wages of officers and councillors.
So the cuts have gone too deep but are our councils too stuck in the past to reform themselves? Sadly if you look at Sefton Council the answer has to be yes they are stuck in the past and it’s a past that costs us money.
Just look at the opportunity to reduce the number of councillors from 3 per ward down to 2. Should it happen? Yes of course it should as Councils are delivering far fewer services and managing much small budgets than in the past. But what does Sefton Council under its Labour leadership do? It votes not to reduce the number of councillors and keeps on paying 66 when it could be paying 44. Makes no sense and neither has Labour explained why it voted to keep 66.
Then again look at the amount Sefton Council’s Cabinet members are paid. It is still higher than many other councils. Clearly there are savings to be made here but to date Labour have fought to keep their high wage earning Cabinet members on those high wages.
Local government in Sefton is being done no favours when sensible reforms are resisted. Time to wake up Labour – cut the number of councillors and the wages paid to Cabinet members in Sefton.
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.
The Liverpool Echo has the story but I think they missed the real issue here which is agglomeration! What? Yes, agglomeration! What does that mean? According to an on-line dictionary it means:-
1. The act or process of gathering into a mass.
2. A confused or jumbled mass: – To avoid the problems of large urban agglomerations, the state decentralised……
Now lets go back to what the Echo article was all about i.e. George Osborne’s budget and what it means for the north and Liverpool City Region’s troubled debate about having a City Region Mayor (Joe Anderson?) and devolved powers.
Liverpool Elected Mayor Joe Anderson is quoted as saying “The only way to achieve genuine agglomeration across the north is by connectivity.” But I like the definition above of agglomeration i.e. ‘A confused or jumbled mass’ as it pretty much sums up Liverpool City Region under its squabbling Labour Council Leaders.
Beware of being be agglomerated! It will be painful and pointless!
Devolution yes, what else would a Liberal say? But with a City Region Mayor running our lives from Liverpool Town Hall? Not on your Nelly!