Liverpool City Council has today been described as “the most troubled authority in the entire country,” with the government set to intervene in how the city is run.
Leader of the City Council opposition, Richard Kemp, has been highly critical of the Labour-led authority on the eve of what is expected to be a damning report made in parliament following an investigation into alleged misconduct in the council’s regeneration, planning and highways departments.
One outcome from the findings of the investigation, ordered by local government secretary Robert Jenrick in December, is for the government to send in commissioners to take over many aspects of the day-to-day running of Liverpool City Council.
Opposition councillors, including Liberal Democrat Kris Brown, fear that a commission set up by the Conservatives, who haven’t controlled Liverpool City Council for 50 years, will “undermine the democratic process” of local governance in the event of a takeover.
He told JMU Journalism: “Commissioners and ministers in Whitehall might be making decisions on the ground for things happening in Liverpool when they’re not here and won’t necessarily understand the day-to-day struggles that people are going through in the city.
“They won’t relinquish control until they feel things have cleaned up. And we’re in this mess because of the Labour party, the Labour Mayor, and the decisions they’ve made.
“It’s going to go down as a case study for local government for generations I suspect. It’s a very negative chapter for Liverpool’s history.”
The controversy surrounding the city council deepened yesterday when regeneration director Nick Kavanagh was dismissed. Mr Kavanagh, who was arrested in December 2019 on suspicion of conspiracy to defraud and misconduct in a public office, told the Liverpool Echo that he “always worked within the rules and regulations set out by the council constitution.”
Mr Kavanagh, who has never been charged with either offence, is said to be planning to appeal his dismissal at a tribunal.
The arrest was part of Merseyside Police’s Operation Aloft, an investigation into building and development contracts in Liverpool, that would later also see Liverpool’s Elected Mayor Joe Anderson arrested and questioned by police before also being released without charge.
Councillor Kemp says that failings at the hands of the Labour Party over the past few years are to blame for the proposed drastic measures, and that allegations of misconduct will have a serious effect on their election performance in May.
He has also warned of the potential dangers the city could face in light of a government takeover.
He said: “My fear is that we’re about to face the biggest set of local elections since 1973. Will a secretary of state, who is a Tory, be tempted in front of those elections, to make an example of a Labour Council, and therefore go too far? I don’t know.”
The Liverpool Labour party have been contacted for comment but are yet to respond.
Watch councillor Richard Kemp’s scathing criticism of the Labour led Liverpool City Council>>>