The incoming leader of Liverpool Council has vowed to “finish the job” of fixing the city and pledged to repay people’s trust as Labour secured four more years in charge.
Cllr Liam Robinson said he was “humbled” to be leading the largest group on the city council after Labour secured 61 of the 85 seats on the newly-drawn city map. In a landmark all-out election, more than 300 candidates contested 64 wards in the first ballot held since the installation of government-appointed commissioners in June 2021.
It was a day of few shocks for Labour, with the party securing a 46-seat majority over the Liberal Democrats, who with 15 seats remain the largest opposition party. However, Cllr Robinson’s group was upset in Garston, where two seats were taken by the Liverpool Community Independents.
The group’s interim leader, Cllr Alan Gibbons, scored a commanding victory over Labour in Orrell Park. After his ward was the last result to be confirmed, Cllr Robinson paid tribute to everyone who had stood in the election held on Thursday and said it had been a “difficult” ballot to contest.
He said, “I’m extremely humbled to be stood before you as leader of the winning Liverpool Labour Party and leading the next administration on the city council. Our democracy is a precious thing and it’s a basic freedom to be able to choose our votes locally or nationally is really important.
“This has been a really difficult set of elections, all out elections on new boundaries, particularly when we’ve had a government that completely unnecessarily introduced new ID rules that quite frankly make it much more difficult for people to exercise their basic freedom to choose how they are governed.”
Cllr Robinson was effusive in his praise for the Labour group in its triumph amid a backdrop of a difficult couple of years for the party which included the government appointing commissioners and the damning Caller Report in 2021. He said, “My heart bursts with pride at the team I’ve led into this election, some fantastic hard-working people who really care about this city and want to get out there and deliver for the people of our city.
“This was a huge mandate for our party to lead our city council, we’ve got a clear majority of seats, we’ve won the popular vote. I’m proud that we went into these elections with a really strong plan and vision for our city.”
Cllr Robinson said it was “clear” the people of Liverpool had rejected Rishi Sunak and the Conservatives – with the party failing to win a seat in the city once again. Addressing voters, the Kensington and Fairfield member said he would get straight to work from tomorrow morning.
He said, “I want to pay tribute to the people who voted in this election, particularly those who voted for Labour, we will repay your trust. Straight away, this is now the time to deliver.
“We will finish the job of fixing the city council to ensure we’re always delivering the very best for the people of our city and we will work morning, noon and night to make sure as soon as we have a Labour government, we can do some really transformational things for the people of our city. “
Thanking the people of Liverpool, Cllr Robinson said: “We really appreciate the trust you’ve given us by giving us your vote, we will not let you down. We will work continuously to deliver for you because at the end of the day, that’s what it’s all about accordingly.”
Drama was limited at the count, held at Liverpool Tennis Centre in Wavertree. A recount was held in the new Festival Gardens ward where Peter Norris clinched the seat for Labour by a single vote, 358 to 357 won by Green Party hopeful Maria Coughlan.
Student Rebecca Turner proved to be the biggest shock, clinching the Waterfront South seat for the Liberal Democrats, pipping sitting Labour councillor Patrick Hurley to the new ward. She said, “It feels amazing, I had a gut feeling I might do it based on what I’d heard on the doorstep.
“I love helping communities and Liverpool needs cleaning up, more young people, women and fresh faces. I’m ecstatic.”
Among those returning to the Town Hall later this month will be former city council leader Mike Storey, who took a seat in Childwall for the Liberal Democrats. He was positive about his party’s performance after it secured 15 seats.
He said, “It’s a little bit surreal truth be known, I’m delighted to be back, I didn’t think this was going to happen but I’m here and elected. Thanks to the good people of Childwall.
“The Lib Dems have had a good day, I felt we’d win 15, but we could have won three more, it was very nip and tuck. We’re on the road to recovery.”
There were emotional scenes as the Liverpool Community Independents managed to take three seats, with Alan Gibbons securing a thumping win in Orrell Park and a majority of more than 1,000. It was in Garston that the biggest cheers went up for the group, as Sam Gorst and Lucy Williams clinched two seats over Labour.
The pair, who won 1,470 and 1,159 votes respectively, were elated when the results were declared after a bitter campaign in which a controversial flyer was issued and a spoof Twitter account was found. Cllr Gibbons said, “It proves there is a political space to the left of Labour.
“We’ll build on this, we had a lot of second places just 10 months into existence and in four years time we hope to double our seats. We ran a positive campaign and the people of Garston saw that.”
Cllr Williams said, “This wasn’t a win for us, it was a win for Garston, it’s been neglected for years and now it has two of its own representing it.” The overall turnout for the election was recorded at 28.1%.
Image: David Humphreys