Mayor’s warning as more cuts beckon

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Joe Anderson © Trinity Mirror

Joe Anderson © Trinity Mirror

Mayor Joe Anderson has warned of the pain and potential job losses to come as the council embarks on another round of deep spending cuts.

The mayor said that after the £32million savings for 2013/14 the council doesn’t really know what to do when it comes to services after that.

Mayor Anderson said: “We’ve lost 1,600 jobs and that’s why services are not as good as they were and potentially there are more jobs to go but what I want to do is work with the trade unions who understand the predicament that we’re in.

“People are complaining to me about the roads, the potholes, the cleanliness of the streets and those things are going to get worse because we simply haven’t got the money. The reality is that we’ll only be a commissioner of services rather than a provider.”

But the mayor insisted that Liverpool is in a good place with and is confident that projects such as the water scheme and the redevelopment of the Royal Hospital to come and pledged to help those who are struggling.

Mayor Anderson added: “Liverpool is in a great place, Liverpool is going places. I am absolutely confident of that.

“The city has a really bright future but it’s tough for those in need, those who are unemployed, those who are on benefit and we’ve got to do all we can to try and help them.”

The city budget has been overshadowed by the Budget Working Group (BWG) – a cross-party group which worked on the council’s budget decisions – breaking down over the weekend. This transpired in an email row between Mayor Anderson and Councillor Kemp over documents from the BWG leaked into the public domain with the Mayor accusing the Liberal Democrat leader of being dishonest and of being a “despicable character”.

Liverpool Town Hall

Liverpool Town Hall

But Councillor Kemp claimed that despite the sour relationship that has developed between himself and the Mayor that he will support a lot of what the Labour group will put forward.

Councillor Kemp has expressed his bewilderment at how the BWG got to this stage.

He told JMU Journalism: “It was quite obvious that public finances were going to fall off a cliff irrespective of who had been in government because of the financial position nationally and internationally.

“We will support the vast majority of what has come through the BWG and we will support the vast majority of what the Labour group is going to do because we’d have been doing roughly the same thing.”

“We are going to be a responsible opposition. We will continue to support all those things which we think they’re having to do and having to do correctly so I’m not going to be leading an opportunist charge at the budget meeting. That would be wrong.”

Councillor Richard Kemp

Councillor Richard Kemp (left). Pic: Liam Deveney

Councillor Kemp has also called for a fresh approach such as social enterprises to the way the council runs services like Allerton Golf Course and the city’s libraries – which could be hit by closures as a result of cuts.

“Let’s go and talk to the users and say “can you do something about this?” and in many cases they will do.

“Lots of these peripheral activities that are going to get chopped you could say “there you are, there’s the golf course, we’ll give you a 99-year lease, you run it and carry on running it then it won’t be a drain on our finances.””

He also said that libraries need to have a thorough review about what a library is for and the services and technology it offers.

“The biggest threat to libraries isn’t now money, anything that the government does, the council does, it’s Kindles and iPads.

“So my view was on the libraries – and I put this forward – is to have a thorough review about what a library is for and what it does and if you want to do those things, is the library the best way to do it [run the service] now? Because to my mind a library has become a specialist community centre now rather than a place of books.”

About Ian Bolland, JMU Journalism