Protests as Cameron visits Liverpool

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PM David Cameron on a previous visit to Merseyside © Trinity Mirror

PM David Cameron on a previous visit to Merseyside © Trinity Mirror

Prime Minister David Cameron has told local residents that Liverpool City Council is adequately funded whilst on a visit to the city, despite claims that the budget cuts are so ‘unfair’ on the region that it could cause riots.

Mr Cameron made his address alongside the Mayor Joe Anderson at the launch of Liverpool International Business Festival at the Museum of Liverpool, although he earlier entered the building through a back door to avoid protesters at the front.

Police held back around 60 people from trade unions and anti-cuts groups as the Prime Minister’s motorcade drove to the back of the Pier Head museum.

Mayor Anderson is due to co-host a summit at the Echo Arena later this month, inviting council leaders from other major cities who feel that the national budget cuts have hit their residents unfairly.

The mayor claimed recently that the cuts could cause civil unrest.

Mr Cameron, who was greeted with shouts of “Tory scum” as he arrived for his address, dismissed the possibility of budget reductions causing riots, saying: “Obviously I don’t agree with the mayor about that. What we are asking Liverpool to do is have the same level of funding it had in cash terms in 2010/11. I don’t think that is an unmanageable reduction.”

The Prime Minister continued: “I don’t think it is right to make the sort of predictions that he did. It is the job of everyone in government, whether central government or local government, to use the taxpayers’ money as efficiently as possible.”

Liverpool Council’s budget is being reduced by £252 per person, compared to a £61 nationwide local council average, but Mr Cameron said there was no reason for that figure to cause alarm and that every council must pull its weight.

Budget cuts protests in Liverpool in 2011 © Trinity Mirror

Budget cuts protests in Liverpool in 2011 © Trinity Mirror

He said: “Every local council faces tough financial times; that would be the case whoever was in government. We have a very big deficit – one of the biggest in Europe – and we need to pay that down and everyone has to bear their responsibility.

“Liverpool council is still well funded to the tune of £930 per head in Liverpool, which compares favourably with many parts of the country.”

The Prime Minister did praise Mayor Anderson for his work in promoting the private sector, with the International Business Festival being another example of how “Liverpool is leading the way”.

Due to be staged during June and July 2014, it is hoped that as many as half a million visitors would come to the region for the festival, helping to inject around £100 million into the local economy.

Mayor Anderson said: “We are delighted to welcome the Prime Minister to Liverpool today to join the launch of the countdown to the International Festival for Business 2014. Our city is no stranger to spectacle and has proved over the last few years its first class ability to host major global events. We look forward to showing the world the very best of Liverpool and the UK and what’s more, the very best in international business.”

PM Cameron welcomed the initiative, saying: “We are in a global race in our world today, a race in which Liverpool is not just competing with Barcelona and Hamburg, you’re competing with Beijing and Jakarta. Some countries will make it and others will fall behind, and I am determined that Britain, and cities like Liverpool, will make it.”

Mr Cameron also touched upon the next stages of the investigation into the Hillsborough cover-up, insisting it would receive full funding.

He said: “We have not come all this way – the panel, the review, the decision by the courts, the passage of new legislation to allow the IPCC to do their job – to see it stall at the next hurdle.

“The government is right behind what needs to happen here and also will be helping the families face the inquests as well.”

About Sam McDonnell, JMU Journalism