Mayor backed in JMU Journalism poll

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Joe Anderson

Joe Anderson after winning the mayor vote in May 2012. Photo by Liam Deveney

Mayor Joe Anderson has won the backing of the people of Liverpool but not an overwhelming vote of confidence, in an exclusive street poll conducted by JMU Journalism.

Following last weekend’s national media reports criticising his expenditure – which were robustly defended by Anderson – we asked citizens for their verdict on him, a little over 10 months since he became the city’s first directly-elected mayor.

Mayor Joe Anderson JMU Journalism poll graphic

Our team of reporters went out into Liverpool this week and asked those who recognised a photo of Anderson if they think he is doing a good job as Mayor – and just under half of them gave him the thumbs-up.

Of the 354 answers we received, 49% (175) gave a positive response, with 35% (123) being negative and the remaining 16% (56) said they didn’t know or it was too early to tell whether Joe Anderson is an effective mayor.

The poll was conducted from March 26-29, although the relatively small 350+ sample was not guaranteed to be representative in a city where just over 100,000 people voted in the 2012 Mayoral Election.

As our poll was not designed to test his recognition factor, anyone who did not know who he is did not cast a vote.

This largely filtered out respondents from outside the region and the vast majority of people who expressed a view were from Liverpool or Merseyside.

More than one person thought the picture we showed might be movie director Alfred Hitchcock, while another asked if it was Winston Churchill.

Unsurprisingly, a large number of responses focused on the issue of spending cuts, as the Labour Mayor has to contend with making £32 million cuts from the council budget in 2013-14 – with £149 million more required in the next three years’ budgets.

Liverpool Mayor Joe Anderson © Trinity Mirror

Liverpool Mayor Joe Anderson © Trinity Mirror

Toni Hanley, 30, of Liverpool told JMU Journalism: “Yes, under the circumstances I do like him especially through the cuts. He’s doing well because these aren’t coming from him, they are coming from above and he’s doing his best to make it fair.”

Julie Carter, 51, of Edge Hill agreed, saying: “Yes I think so; he’s listening to us in Liverpool and standing up to the government over all the cuts we have to make.”

However, others like Karen McIver, 34, of Liverpool believe Anderson is not doing his best to protect the city during the recession and austerity measures. She told JMU Journalism: “No. He is sitting back and letting the government make all these cuts and take our money. It’s completely unfair.”

But Martin McGrath, 63, of Liverpool said: “I can understand why people are upset about the cuts, but they must realise that there is not enough money to pay for everything that we’ve had in the past. He’s reigning in all the waste and is trying to force departments to be more efficient.”

Another hot topic proved to be the government’s new ‘bedroom tax’, with Kate Collins, 46, of Wirral saying: “The bedroom tax here would hit families hard. He needs to do more to try and stop that from coming in.”

Edward Bucknall, 46, of Kirkby also said: “No, I think what he’s doing is wrong. I’m a Labour man but Joe Anderson isn’t doing enough to fight the cuts. He should have fought the bedroom tax more. I can’t actually believe this is getting introduced. This country is going to fall apart soon with policies like this.”

Meanwhile, Bill Healy, 55, of Old Swan spoke for those who feel judgement should not yet be passed on Anderson when he said: “It’s too early to say. He hasn’t been Mayor for very long has he? I think it’s worth giving him a chance first before people start moaning about him and his policies.”

The decision to scrap weekly bin collections in Liverpool, which Anderson said would not happen in his mayoral election manifesto, was a recurring source of disapproval.

CEO of Liverpool Vision Max Steinberg, PM David Cameron and Mayor Joe Anderson © Facebook/International Festival For Business 2014

CEO of Liverpool Vision Max Steinberg, PM David Cameron and Mayor Joe Anderson © Facebook/International Festival For Business 2014

A small number of those we asked raised the matter of Anderson’s pay which rose to £66,000 when he was elected last year, having previously been paid £52,000 when he was council leader. However, this figure is lower than the £79,500 which had been recommended by an independent panel.

Several people made references to the 55-year-old Liverpool Mayor’s persona, with some suggesting he should exercise more restraint when speaking in public but others feel that his combative style is ideally suited to the task he faces.

While 70-year-old Liverpudlian Catherine Evans said: “Sometimes I hear him say things on the TV and think ‘wow’ you shouldn’t say that…”, on the other hand Doreen McDonald, 62, of Maghull told JMU Journalism: “He is a very strong bold man with a big mouth, that’s what this city needs.”

Stuart Franklin, 69, of Liverpool said: “I trust him and that is why I voted for him. He works very hard and tries to put this city on the map – that’s brilliant.”

Scroll down through the comments below to read an edited selection of our poll result answers.

Additional reporting by: Kieran Etoria-King; James Busby; Katie Dodson; Georgia Dunning; Hollie Bradbury; Karen Coe; Hannah Anderson; Stephanie Bewley; Kaltun Abdillahi; Martin Abbott; Catherine Cunningham; Niamh Conway; John Elsworth; Alicia Birt; Liam Cotton; Connor Dunn; Jonathan Coupe; Jake Cottrill; Anthony Fisher; Rebecca Cookson; Josh Kelsall; Emily Lewis; Holly Jones; Eleanor Finn; Melissa McFarlane; Dan Goulding; Alice Kershaw; Angharad Millington; Emma Groves; Emma Mardsen; Lewis Mellor; Josh Handscomb; Amy Holdsworth; Sophie Lockett; Ruby Molyneux; Ben Matthews; Matthew Judge; Adam Jones; Billy McClure; Luke Holliday; Sarah Hancocks; Olivia Swayne-Atherton; Jana Sutenko; Samantha Gaulter-Green; Hannah Cain; Megan Hill; Daniel O’Sullivan, Sean Purvis; Michael Glynn; Daniel Wilson; Emma Menio; Richard Eves; Conor Gregory; Daniel Wright, Natalie Townsend; Georgie Whitworth; Owen Swift; Adrian Speed; Daniel O’Brien; Samuel Peers; Josie Timms; Laura Schumann; Shanaine Munroe; Beth Rogers; Imogen Sweeney; Charlotte Woolford; Lydia Morris; Josie O’Sullivan; James Tomlinson; Lauren Pulford; Kayleigh Watthey; Hannah Perselli; Bethan Tolley; Jovan Stacic.

About John Mathews, Editorial Director