What did Liverpool councillors say about death and 2 cars at an incredible public meeting?
The annual budget meeting of Liverpool City Council is known for those who go for producing political fireworks (for example two years ago when a councillor passionately argued against a cut to domestic violence charities and was asked to leave the Council Chamber).
Local politics (especially party politics) can become ideological at times rather than based in reality (realpolitik).
So what happened at the last Liverpool City Council meeting at Liverpool Town Hall?
Well what I’ve sometimes referred to as the Joe Anderson show this time became the Joe Anderson slideshow presentation until the projector we were sitting next to decided it had really had enough, started to kick up a fuss and embarrass Joe, so Joe had it turned off and made a joke about it still being under guarantee.
Unfortunately for Joe, councillors don’t come with an off switch and the meeting later descended into bickering, denials, claims, counter-claims and the kind of behaviour the Lord Mayor doesn’t approve of.
Part of it was about cars provided for senior managers (including for the Chief Executive Ged Fitzgerald who sat to the right of the Mayor). The Chief Executive (to my memory) didn’t declare an interest during the meeting and leave the room at this point and unusually all three statutory officers (Chief Executive Ged Fitzgerald, s.151 finance officer Becky Hellard and Jeanette McLoughlin (Monitoring Officer)) had a speaking part during the meeting as obviously the Chief Executive can’t be seen to be making recommendations to councillors about his own conditions of employment on a party political issue.
Jeanette McLoughlin (in the fine tradition of local council solicitors) made sure what had been said about cars was “ruled out of order”. In most other councils wouldn’t this traditionally be a ruling of the person chairing the meeting (Mayor)?
A partial explanation given later in the meeting was that the Chief Executive and Director of Regeneration had been provided with a leased car each by their previous employer and as part of their job offer when they had joined Liverpool City Council this perk had been transferred over.
Whereas meetings of the House of Commons and House of Lords are protected by absolute privilege, meetings of local councils are only covered by qualified privilege (which councillors were reminded of by Liverpool City Council’s Monitoring Officer).
Liverpool City Council and its councillors and many of its senior officers spent meeting time denying information that had been released through a FOI request until a U-turn was made and a partial explanation given.
A Lib Dem councillor called Cllr Mirna Juarez also highlighted the death of homeless people in Liverpool, which was like waving a red flag at the mob of Labour councillors.
Another claim made during the meeting by Mayor Joe Anderson (denied strongly by Cllr Richard Kemp) was that Cllr Kemp had sold a house for £850,000 (financed by money he received from work done for the Local Government Association).
Anyway, standards complaints are being made. Legal professionals are being contacted.
The video is there for all to see below as to what councillors did and said and I hope matters improve going forward.
Liverpool City Council (Budget) 8th March 2017 Part 1 of 5
Liverpool City Council (Budget) 8th March 2017 Part 2 of 5
Liverpool City Council (Budget) 8th March 2017 Part 3 of 5
Liverpool City Council (Budget) 8th March 2017 Part 4 of 5
Liverpool City Council (Budget) 8th March 2017 Part 5 of 5
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