Why does reporting on a public meeting of Liverpool City Council at the Cunard Building require getting through 2 locked doors, a locked gate and a last minute room change?
By John Brace – Local Government Sketch Writer
Just like the film Ice Station Zebra, Guest Editor Leonora had her instructions to take John to a “public meeting” of Liverpool City Council’s Constitutional Issues Committee to retrieve a canister of film.
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Following previous outbreaks of revolutionary singing and protests (see above) (and we really can’t have that can we?) at the Bastille (sorry Cunard Building) security has been upgraded.
The disabled access to the building is extremely hard to find and badly signposted but going down the ramp you soon find yourself confronted by a locked door.
Leonora (who has hearing difficulties) was then required to have a conversation over an intercom for the door to be unlocked. I might point out at this stage that any able bodied person can merely walk up the adjacent stairs and enter the building to get to exactly the same point with no problems. Has Liverpool City Council never heard of the Public Sector Equality Duty?
After a long exchange of words between Leonora and well based on her description and attitude of the person can be described as the “Voice of the Mysterons” but based on its length and misunderstandings during the exchange could also be described as like Abbott and Costello’s Who’s on First? sketch (without the laughs).
So as the first locked door is finally unlocked – we enter. There is only one way to go to a lift, that only goes to one place (exactly the same place that had you walked in off the street up the steps).
Both of us (despite being intelligent) had trouble getting the lift to move at all.
Now you enter what I will refer to as the “Gate Room” – think of this as Stargate SG-1 but on a much lower budget.
Having already explained to the “Voice of the Mysterons” why we were there and where we are going Leonora then has to explain all over again (presumably in case she has changed her mind in the last couple of minutes) and sign the visitors’ book. We are of course are not issued with visitors’ passes as the receptionist expects to go home by the time the meeting is expected to end.
Of course everything is not as it seems at Liverpool City Council who appear to be highly trained to the motto, “my ignorance is just as good as your knowledge!”.
At this point we couldn’t possibly now just go straight to the room the meeting is going to be in as we do at literally every other council, combined authority and virtually every other place we report on (which must come over the years to at least a dozen other places).
No because this is Liverpool City Council where you are behaved towards as if you are a 2-3 year old child.
The presence of members of the public exercising their legal right to be at a public meeting (according to an email I received before Christmas) is viewed by Liverpool City Council just by their very presence as “disruptive”.
You have to be told at least two contradictory instructions and lied to – these are part of the traditions of Liverpool City Council!
Thankfully as Leonora was retrained as a Probation Officer – she has the skills and patience to protect the public and wider society from the effects of Liverpool City Council, but does get frustrated by an atmosphere described previously as a bit “inhuman” and behaving like “bureaucrats”.
So we (eventually) went up in the lift to the 6th floor, to find that the meeting of the Constitutional Issues Committee, originally to be held in the Queen Mary Room is now to be held in the Cunard Boardroom on the 5th floor (which we have never been to before).
Getting back down to the 5th floor is fine but the signage providing directions to the Cunard Boardroom is either deficient or missing. Not only that but it requires going through another locked door (or two locked doors if you include the Cunard Boardroom)!
Eventually we get to the Cunard Boardroom – even some Liverpool City Council councillors on the Committee turn up late to the meeting.
Part Two involving the actual meeting will cover apologies from the Chief Executive, councillors’ allowances and expenses and whether Liverpool City Council is being run for the benefit of the Labour Party (or the wider public) and will be published at a later date.
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