Mayor hits out over ‘lies and smears’

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Liverpool Mayor Joe Anderson  © Trinity Mirror

Liverpool Mayor Joe Anderson © Trinity Mirror

Liverpool Mayor Joe Anderson angrily responded to a story about him in the Sun even before it was due to be published on Sunday, claiming they were “printing lies and smears fed to them by Tories”.

The Labour Mayor hit out on Twitter after a Sun reporter approached him for responses to claims about the way he is running the city, during a period of making £32 million cuts from the council budget in 2013-14 – with £149 million more required in the next three years’ budgets.

Anderson, who has a policy of refusing to speak to the Sun, instead issued a public statement via the Liverpool Labour Party about the Sun’s story – which was yet to appear – saying his comments “follow lies sent by Conservative Party Central Office to national newspapers”.

He also defended his record since becoming Liverpool’s first ever directly-elected mayor in May last year, stating: “All the money we spend is to secure the city’s future. Every penny spent is scrutinised, rightly. But we cannot deliver growth and support our communities in their darkest hours unless we spend money. This misrepresentation of our spending smacks of absolute desperation from a Government in disarray.”

In response to questions by the Sun about his travel expenditure, Mayor Anderson retorted: “As a 55-year-old family man with three grandchildren and a wife whom I adore, the idea that I enjoy 14 hours a day of meetings and travelling 11 hours on planes when I could be at home is ridiculous.

Mayor Joe Anderson's tweet © Twitter/joeforliverpool

Mayor Joe Anderson’s tweet © Twitter/joeforliverpool

“I would much prefer the convenience of just doing business here in Liverpool. But I recognise that as Mayor of a world famous city, it is right and proper on occasion to travel in order to spread the word that Liverpool is open for business – just as the Prime Minister does for the UK.”

He went on to accuse Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, Eric Pickles, of being “behind these smears”, adding: “If he isn’t he should say so and get his Central Office to apologise to me and for making a fool out of themselves.”

The 1,364-word statement gives a detailed rebuttal to a series of Sun questions about:

* The Come Together conference in Liverpool

Sun story on Mayor Joe Anderson, March 24th 2013 © News International

Sun story on Mayor Joe Anderson, March 24th 2013 © News International

* The Mayoral trip to Boston

* Budget reduction statistics

* Mayor Anderson’s visit to the New Cities Summit in Paris and a trip to London

* Liverpool’s Council Tax collection record

* Claims that the city “has increased its reserves to £147 million, while complaining about reductions in funding”

Read the full Liverpool Labour statement here >>

UPDATE: the Sun published a 60-word story about the cost of food at the Come Together cuts rally in their Sunday edition, longer versions of which appeared online on the Express and Daily Star websites.

On Monday, Mayor Joe Anderson issued an open letter to Brandon Lewis MP, Minister for Local Government, asking for permission to leave the country >>

About John Mathews, Editorial Director