Why did Mayor Anderson claim a councillor was “behaving like a child” for highlighting a cut of £42,000 to domestic violence charities?
Just for a change I thought I would attend a public meeting of Liverpool City Council yesterday evening, which was their budget meeting.
Prior to the meeting starting, there were a lot of police outside Liverpool Town Hall and not just on foot, but going round on motorbikes and police vehicles. The High Street was closed off to traffic as you can see from the traffic cone to the right of the photo I took below:
Outside Liverpool Town Hall for their budget meeting where there are a lot of police officers ahead of the meeting. pic.twitter.com/f9umyevMKH
— John Brace (@level80) March 4, 2015
Even before getting in to the Council Chamber, the City Watch (Liverpool City Council employees) were stop searching everyone from the press and public attending, supposedly for “whistles and banners”.
At the time this meeting happened (due to the similarity in uniforms between Liverpool City Council’s City Watch and Merseyside Police) I made a Freedom of Information Act request to Merseyside Police for further details. However it turned out that Merseyside Police had nothing to do with the stop searches.
However moving swiftly on to the meeting itself, you can read the papers for the meeting on Liverpool City Council’s website.
Liverpool City Council (unlike Wirral Council) doesn’t have a public gallery a floor above the Council Chamber, so the public sit on chairs (or benches) around where the councillors sit. What was also interesting was that during the meeting a screen showed a live transcript of what was said.
On Wirral I know that during Council meetings there are two people providing sign language, however having what is being said during the meeting appear on a screen that everyone can see, benefits everyone with hearing difficulties in being able to follow what’s going on.
The Lord Mayor of Liverpool (who chairs meetings of Liverpool City Council) did refer to social media and filming of meetings at the start and said, "Can I remind those present that this is a meeting held in public and not a public meeting? I would also like to emphasise that this is a key public meeting, can I therefore request that everyone present, including the public treat this meeting accordingly which will enable the business to be dealt with effectively?
The use of social media and filming for reporting proceedings is permitted during Council meetings. This does not extend to filming of members of the public and anyone wishing to film the proceedings are also particularly directed to the very sensitive issue of filming children without the express permission of their parents."
Sadly although the public were well-behaved during the meeting, the Lord Mayor’s plea to councillors to behave fell on deaf ears (but more of that later). Once the items such as declarations of interest and minutes of the last meeting were dealt with, the Lord Mayor suggested that Mayor Anderson had twenty minutes to speak to Labour’s budget, the mover of an amendment or right to reply ten minutes and all other speakers allowed five minutes and with the permission of Council a two-minute extension.
Mayor Anderson started his speech at 5 minutes 36 seconds into the video clip above and finished it at 45 minutes 48 seconds (a total of forty minutes 12 seconds) which was double the twenty minutes he’d been given.
It’s hard to summarise such a massively long speech although I will try. He said, "we’ve faced an onslaught by this government in terms of financial cuts" and referred to the Green Party as "no more than militant in sandals, the phrase I coined but it is true and absolutely true".
He went on to criticise the Green Party’s budget amendment for raising Council Tax by 6% (whilst conveniently failing to mention that his own party’s budget would also raise Council Tax by 1.99%) and asked if the Greens wanted to "return us back to the 80s"?
Mayor Anderson referred to Cllr Kemp (Leader of the Liberal Democrat Group) as "caustic Kemp" and then went on to say about Cllr Kemp "it’s another smear and it’s another insult and that’s all we get from you so either put up or shut up, that’s my advice to you". He then went on to refer to Cllr Kemp as "Mr 3% who spends more time jetting off around the world telling people how important he is, instead of spending more time with the Deputy Prime Minister telling him about the damage that is being done to our city on a daily basis".
Mayor Anderson also stated that he wanted people who worked in Liverpool to live there so that Liverpool City Council would receive council tax from them. He also said (if I heard it correctly) that next week he was going to MIPIM (Le marché international des professionnels de l’immobilier which is an international property event held in Cannes, France), although the screen displayed it as Mickham but that this was "not a jolly".
After his speech and the applause from the Labour benches had died down, Cllr Jake Morrison (independent) tried to move an amendment to the budget. He said that the chief financial officer had looked at it and said it was legal, but that the Chief Executive [Ged Fitzgerald] had decided "not to allow it tonight" so he was asking the Lord Mayor whether he could move it.
The Chief Executive Ged Fitzgerald then gave a rather long-winded response stating that it shouldn’t be accepted as it hadn’t been submitted in time and that it would set a bad "precedent". The Lord Mayor asked Cllr Morrison if there was a reason why he hadn’t been able to move the amendment.
Cllr Morrison said that the Council summons hadn’t informed him of the consequences of submitting a late amendment and that his budget amendment related to a cut of £42,000 to domestic violence charities which he only found out about the day before.
The Lord Mayor asked if he could speak to the main motion and ask for his amendment to be accepted rather than as an amendment? She then detailed how she had planned the meeting to go.
Cllr Morrison said "I will stand up until I can move this amendment". Everyone started speaking at once and the Lord Mayor said (to Cllr Morrison), "sit down or I will ask you to leave the chamber! Would you leave the chamber Councillor Morrison? Could you leave the chamber please thank you? Could you leave the chamber please Councillor Morrison? Would you leave the chamber?"
Throughout this Councillor Morrison carried on talking to his amendment.
The Lord Mayor then said, "If you don’t leave the chamber, I will adjourn the meeting for ten minutes!"
Mayor Anderson then intervened and referred to Cllr Morrison’s behaviour as "behaving like a child, you can stand up there and get thrown out. That’s what you might want for your leaflets or whatever". He asked if Cllr Morrison wanted an answer to his amendment or to "spit your dummy out?" and that he felt he’d "wasted the last twenty-five minutes on you".
Cllr Morrison said, "Can I respond to that?" to which the Lord Mayor replied, "No. Cllr Morrison, I’m sorry no, Councillor Morrison either you’re quiet or you leave. You really are being grossly disrespectful".
Cllr Morrison said, "I want to move that amendment."
The Lord Mayor banged her gavel and said, "This meeting’s adjourned for ten minutes."
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