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Posted by: John Brace | 24th April 2017

What are 6 powers the new Liverpool City Region Mayor will have?

What are 6 powers the new Liverpool City Region Mayor will have?

                                    

Mayor Joe Anderson Chair at a meeting of the Liverpool City Region Combined Authority 21st April 2017

Mayor Joe Anderson (Chair) at a meeting of the Liverpool City Region Combined Authority 21st April 2017

As there is some interest in what a Metro Mayor (or Liverpool City Region Mayor) will do I thought, despite the fact that everyone registered to vote will have received a booklet (or should shortly receive one) I’d answer some questions.

There are however some errors in the booklet I’d like to point out here. The booklet also omits that the Mayor will end up being paid £77,500 a year (a decision made last Friday by Cllr Phil Davies, Mayor Joe Anderson and others).

In the booklet it states the City Region Mayor “will not be responsible for … setting Council Tax.”

(Another decision made on Friday was to hire a temporary Comms/Engagement person for 3-6 months).

First, I’d better describe the current arrangements. The executive arm of the Combined Authority (Merseytravel) levies each of the district councils (based on population) in addition to money it receives from other sources (such as Mersey Tunnel tolls).

The model on which the Combined Authority will work in future is based on the London model. As it states in this briefing note for MPs “Elected mayors will be able to raise a precept on constituent authorities’ council tax bills”.

I presume (if the Mayor decides to go down this route) it’ll be an extra line on everyone’s council tax bill like the lines for police (decided by the Police and Crime Commissioner and Police and Crime Panel) and fire (decided by the Merseyside Fire and Rescue Authority) at the moment.

So yes, the Combined Authority (although this will almost certainly go up next year) for example this year has a budget of £139.371 million of capital spending and £255.5 million of revenue. (Predictions are of a underspend in the revenue budget at year-end of £81.2 million (I feel obliged to point out that Labour councillors repeatedly state they’re not given enough money)).

The bit where there’s an answer to the question about whether the Liverpool City Region Mayor will made decisions over my local council/ the services they provide? is in my opinion also wrong. I’ve already written a detailed blog post about What are the new powers of the Metro Mayor to decide on planning applications?.

However, for a taste of one of the matters the new Mayor will be doing (chairing Liverpool City Region Combined Authority public meetings) you can watch my video below of the 15 minute meeting (there are about one of these a month).

So that’s 3-4 hours a year of work (probably more if the meetings are longer).

Liverpool City Region Combined Authority 21st April 2017

Unlike in London, where there are 25 elected London Assembly Members to scrutinise the Mayor this won’t happen in the Liverpool City Region.

There will still be a Scrutiny Committee, but it’ll be made up of councillors nominated by the district councils as before. At the moment there are 14 councillors on that Committee (12 Labour, 1 Lib Dem and 1 Green).

On the opposition front, out of the last three Scrutiny Committee meetings in public, the Lib Dem councillor has sent her apologies for two of them, the Conservative councillor (from Wirral) resigned years ago and no-one else was appointed instead and the sole Green councillor (Liverpool would normally under proportionality rules nominate all Labour councillors but Liverpool decided they wanted at least some opposition) has been to the last three meetings. He’s also the Green Party candidate in the election.

There will be some decisions made solely* by the newly elected Mayor which I will summarise below:

a) matters devolved from the Homes and Communities Agency around land and infrastructure such as housing, regeneration, infrastructure, powers about burial grounds and consecrated land, powers in relation to statutory undertakers,

b) deciding on grants to the local councils in the LCR region,

c) reviewing the local transport plan (at least every five years),

d*) planning applications (of “potential strategic importance”)

*interestingly decisions on these planning applications will also require the consent of the member of the Combined Authority for the area the application for planning permission was made,

e) matters relating to the spatial development strategy and

f) matters to do with Mayoral development areas.

Originally I know the plan had been was for the Combined Authority to combine Merseyside-wide authorities such as the Merseyside Fire and Rescue Authority, Merseyside Recycling and Waste Authority to give two examples (similar to old Merseyside County Council).

Even when just talked about, these sorts of proposed changes caused so much resistance from certain existing Labour councillors (who angrily and vocally were against any such changes) that as far as I can tell such plans at the present time were dropped by the negotiating team and the government.

Polling day for over a million people in the Liverpool City Region Combined Authority area (Halton, Knowsley, Liverpool, St Helens, Sefton and Wirral) is on 4th May 2017 (although postal voters may receive their ballot paper before this date).

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Responses

  1. I’d heard that Steve Rotheram – who will obviously be appointed on the day – has been unable to come out and condemn the idea of driver only trains on Merseyrail, although he has had several opportunities to do so at various hustings, media appearances.

    It looks like he’ll soon be making a mockery of this “ONE OF US” **** that’s being ladled over us all currently… as he bows before big business and big money and gives the idea his full endorsement.

    Yeah, well done Steve. Forgotten where you came from already have yer mate?

  2. Its just more red tape and more money wasted paying others to checking the person being paid silly wages does his/her job correctly!
    Soon we will have a Mayor of England, Wales, Scotland and Ireland.

    • I might point out that the Combined Authority and Merseytravel is well known for not complying with legislation or red tape already.

      For example last year Merseytravel and the Combined Authority were legally required by a certain date to publish a notice on their website stating the public had a 30 day period to inspect their financial records and make objections.

      You can read here some of the correspondence about this.

      First they stated they hadn’t published the notice stating correctly “This notice is not unfortunately on our website at this present time.”

      Then they did publish the notice about a month late, giving the public about a week to respond (instead of 30 days).

      From memory I think I pointed out that the 30 day period wasn’t allowed to start until the notice was published, so they then had to do things properly.

      Really I hate to think what the cost to the public purse was in embarrassing them into doing what they should’ve done in the first place!

      Or indeed about how internal checks and balances failed.

      As a cost saving, the politicians decided to merge the Audit Committees for both Merseytravel and the Combined Authority. There are six councillors on that Audit Committee including one from Wirral, who has been known in the past to tell my wife to shut up if she says something!

      Just in case anyone thinks I’m on silly wages for doing my job, my salary grade is such that after taxes are paid my hourly pay is probably below the minimum wage.

      Whereas the person who was supposed to make sure (under the legislation) the public notice was published was picked by councillors and is paid a six-figure salary.

      But then as their Head of Internal Audit sums up her attitude towards blowing the whistle as

      “I suppose the purpose of that one in the policy statement and I will take some advice through you Chair from legal, is that errm, that if we received a complete nonsense of an allegation and its clearly complete nonsense from Mickey Mouse for example that we would not investigate that, there are boundaries aren’t there?”

      So there!

  3. G’day John

    If you see “Phil the Very Very Very Very Slimy, Elusive, LYING Dill” on your journeys today mate tell him “Highbrow” has found another unmitigated disaster of a BIG fund disaster.

    No wonder he attempted to hide them for almost six years.

    Him, Jones and Adderley should give themselves an uppercut.

    Ooroo

    James

    Absolute incompetents.

    • I am beginning to view “Highbrows’s” FOI requests as similar to the way Martin Luther (the 16th century) had a battle with the church.

      Mind you we’ve already had the public meeting where “heresy” (or words to the like effect) were said by all sides, but has Wirral Council tried to ex-communicate him (regard his requests as vexatious)?

      • G’day John

        “Highbrow” vexatious?

        vexatious

        causing or tending to cause annoyance, frustration, or worry.

        Mate they hid these reports, papers and lied about them for almost six years.

        I think they are the vexatious ones particularly as they committed crimes.

        See Beverley Edwards and Grant Thornton Reports that they also hid for as long as they could.

        Ooroo

        James

        Scum bags.

        I bet they have got more BIG wrong uns we haven’t seen yet.

        • I meant as in Dransfield vexatious [2016] Env LR 9.

          Because public bodies (including Wirral Council at times) seem to have a rather loose interpretation of vexatious.

          You were at the Employment Tribunal and read those reports about the working culture at Wirral Council.

          Remind me again how much Kevin Adderley got when the internal audit report was published and he decided to leave?

          Severance of £49,057, plus a £207,000 pension topup for early retirement?

          If it ends up costing Wirral Council £1/4 million in extra costs as a result of releasing one embarrassing report can you understand why they just say “no”?

  4. I had looked at the consitution for the authority and as a far as I could see the Mayor would have little more power than the other members. Where did you get your list of powers from?
    I was not aware that there was a Scrutiny Panel. As the Combined Authority seems to delegate almost everything to Merseytravel, it is a bit odd that there is a Scrutiny Panel and that it has more members than the Authority has.

    • Thanks for your comment.

      Well the Scrutiny Panel has met in public 9 times over the past roughly 3 years. It’s all on Halton Council’s website as at the time the Scrutiny Panel was created LCRCA had no staff. So Halton Council administer the arrangements for it.

      However the scrutiny arrangements do change after the Mayor is elected from the arrangements now.

      The list of powers I write about is from the legislation changing the Liverpool City Region Combined Authority which is called the Liverpool City Region Combined Authority (Functions and Amendment) Order 2017.

      A large part of the LCRCA is transport yes, as there is a Merseytravel Committee and Merseytravel. For example the Merseytravel Committee makes recommendations on the Mersey Tunnel tolls each year and the LCRCA decides on what they will be.

      I’m not sure if the version of the constitution you’ve seen is the new one (that’ll be in effect once the Mayor is elected) or the existing one? Would it be possible to link to the version you refer to as I’m interested to read about how the new planning powers will work in practice?

      The LCRCA also has an Audit Committee too.

      Originally there was one Audit Committee for Merseytravel and a different audit committee for the LCRCA but it was decided to merge the two a while ago.

  5. Can not believe that the Merseyside tax payers trump up any money lost through legitimate strike action by the RMT. Merseyrail has a FORCE Majuere Clause in their franchise contract, which was cleared by the Labour party. The contract runs until 2028. I have recently communicated with one of the councillors on Merseytravel who admitted, that they were not aware of the Force Majuere Clause that allows public funds to be used in this way. What an absolute disgrace that people who are making decisions on new rolling stock, do not know that such a fundamental clause exists.
    This is a disgrace. Since I highlighted this to the councillor, i received a statement from the same person, that the Franchise should be taken back into public ownership.
    A bit late after the horse has bolted till 2028.


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