City to hold mayor election in May

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Liverpool Town Hall

Liverpool will have an elected mayor in office by the summer after the city council passed an historic vote at the Town Hall last night.

Liverpool City Council voted ‘yes’ to bringing an elected mayoral system to the city. At a meeting of councillors the ruling Labour Party won the vote with a majority of 62 in favour of the motion, three were against and 13 councillors abstained.

The Liberal Democrats argued that the decision should go to a referendum of the public, claiming that Labour was enforcing a ‘democratic deficiency’ on the people of the city. Labour accused the opposition of ‘breath-taking ignorance’.

Lib Dems’ councillor Richard Kemp, spoke strongly of the need for a referendum and of the shortcomings of the mayoral system, saying:

“This issue should not be decided in this council hall, it should be decided by the people of Liverpool. We will fight the mayoral system as the system won’t work, and has gone so badly wrong for the two councils like Liverpool who have tried it.”

Liverpool Labour Party and Council Leader Joe Anderson fought back, accusing the Lib Dems of inconsistency with their policies, and describing the decision to have an elected mayor as a “no-brainer”.

Cllr Anderson said: “If this council decides tonight to go to a mayoral model we will have powers devolved to us. Don’t you understand what is clear is that the government will devolve these powers immediately, not next month, not next year – but now? There is the potential to promote growth in this city like never before.”

The Liberal Party joined Labour in agreement over passing the motion, even though they were against the idea of the mayoral election. The party believed the funds for the city were more important.

Cllr Steve Radford said: “If we are to arrest decline in the city we need to create jobs for the people we represent. We need to send out a powerful signal. It is the right thing to do. It will change our position in the scale of cities.”

After the verdict Lord Mayor Frank Prendergast spoke in favour of the decision, saying: “I know as Lord Mayor I am allowed no part in these votes, but if I was down there I would have 100 per cent voted ‘yes’.”

In his final address, Cllr Anderson said: “This is a deal that puts our city ahead of other cities in our area. It’s a game changer. This is an offer that is too good to turn down. For once, let Liverpool decide itself to be a leader.”

The mayoral elections will take place on 3 May. Confirmed candidates include BBC journalist Liam Fogarty – who has campaigned for an elected mayor, celebrity hairdresser Herbert Howe and Cllr Anderson, who will request the Labour nomination and is the clear favourite to win at this point.

About Adam Nash, JMU Journalism