Lib Dems boss accuses Labour of ‘kowtowing’ to govt amid futures panel

The leader of the Liverpool Liberal Democrats has accused the ruling Labour group of “kowtowing” to government ministers amid a first report being sent to help the city out of trouble.

It was confirmed on Monday that the panel set up to guide Liverpool out of government intervention has delivered its interim assessments on the challenges ahead. In the aftermath of a critical second report by Whitehall-appointed commissioners in August last year, the Liverpool Strategic Futures Panel was established to help plot a course for Liverpool Council to be free of direct government oversight. 

After months of delay, the group – chaired by Steve Rotheram, Liverpool City Region Metro Mayor – convened for the first time in March. Yesterday evening, it was revealed the panel has sent its interim assessment of the challenges facing the city to the government for consideration.

This will now be considered by Michael Gove, the current Secretary of State, with the document to be published “later this year.” Responding to the report being sent to Whitehall, Cllr Carl Cashman criticised a perceived lack of public engagement over the document.

He said, “Right from the start Liverpool’s Lib Dem group said that the future of Liverpool needed to be discussed with the people, communities and organisations and businesses of the city. 

“Instead, the report has been constructed by a small group of people with very little consultation with the people of Liverpool. The panel of three has only one local on it and the report will only be made public towards the end of the year. This is not open or transparent.”

In August last year Greg Clark MP, the then Levelling Up Secretary, confirmed alongside further expansion of government oversight of the city council, following a report by the team of commissioners which cast doubt on progress being made in the aftermath of the damning Caller Report in 2021.

In a statement posted online, it was confirmed the Liverpool Strategic Futures Panel convened to agree the recommendations of an interim report following engagement with 300 stakeholders across the region.

When the panel met for the first time earlier this year, it was confirmed former chief executive of Manchester Council, Sir Howard Bernstein, and Baroness Judith Blake, the former leader of Leeds Council, had been tasked to support Metro Mayor Rotheram with helping Liverpool move forward. Speaking in February, Mr Rotheram said the panel was “not about quick fixes but mapping out the strategic vision of the city for decades to come.”

In a brief post on social media, Cllr Robinson, leader of Liverpool Council, said, “I’d like to thank the Liverpool Strategic Futures Advisory Panel for their support. Their interim report on the challenges facing the city is a key piece of work and the feedback received from stakeholders is very encouraging in helping to set out a new era of partnership working.”

Less than impressed opposition leader, Cllr Cashman, fired a warning out to Cllr Robinson on Tuesday. He said, “Liverpool’s Labour leadership needs to spend more time with the people of Liverpool and working with them than they do kowtowing to Michael Gove and the Tory Government.”


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