I don’t believe that there should be an election for an elected mayor of Liverpool. I think that it is a poor system of governance and that it has been announced on the back of a deliberate deception on the people of Liverpool. As a liberal I believe that it is dangerous to put too much power in the hands of one person. As a democrat I believe that the people of Liverpool should have been the people who chose to undertake he biggest change to our local democracy since the 1890s.
I am delighted, however, that this government with its Liberal Democrat influence is the first for almost 40 years to place power back in the hands of local councils and through councils local communities. Three major pieces of legislation relating to localism, police and health will place extra powers and finance in the hands of every council in England. In December last year even more power and funding was promised to the 8 core cities of England. Not only will this provide better decision making with the adoption of local priorities rather than national ones it will mean more money for some of the most deprived communities in the UK.
However we are where we are. The people will be denied the choice of choosing how they want to be governed so we move to an election on who will ‘govern’ them. I am standing because I believe that only the Liberal Democrats have the long term strategies which will place this city in a leading position able to create the jobs and investment which this city so badly needs.
One has only to look at the achievements of our 12 years in control. In 1998 the only award that Liverpool could have won was First Prize for whingeing. Our services were the third worst in the country; our council tax was 20% higher than the next council; children were poorly served and consistently underperformed any other city in the country; our housing service was rated ‘below average’ for 8 years in a row.
Liberal Democrats won Capital of Culture which brought more than 17,000,000 visitors to the city in 2008. Our council tax fell to about 100th in the national league; at one stage in the mid 00’s there was more than £2.5billion of private investment being built in Liverpool city centre at the same time; more than £1 billion of public and private money was brought into Liverpool to deal with outstanding problems in public sector housing; and our educational performance rose to one of the best for urban areas – and well above the average for core cities.
What we have done once we can do again. But to do so Liverpool needs an encompassing vision and direction that everyone in the city, residents, business and friends can buy into and support. I believe that the big statement for our city must be to make it the greenest city in the country and become the European Green City.
In Liverpool we have the intellectual power of our universities; the commercial power of our businesses; the wind, tide, wave and river power of our location. We can make our city the cleanest and greenest in Europe. Doing so will improve our health and create jobs and wealth. We need to change green talk into green actions.
Between now and the elections I will be issuing regular policy updates looking at how the Liberal Democrat councillors and I will work together to deliver a strong confident Liverpool.
This is not an election we want to fight but it is an election we will now fight to win. This is an election for a new position with a new voting system and with possibly a new range of candidates from outside the 2 main parties. No-one knows who will win but we leave no stone unturned to convince the people of Liverpool that this opportunity created by Liberal Democrats should by delivered by Liberal Democrats.
Keep in touch with my mayoral campaign at my website www.kemp4mayor.org.uk
Cllr Richard Kemp CBE
Liberal Democrat Candidate for Mayor of Liverpool