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Do we need an elected Mayor?

LIVERPOOL will elect a new — or maybe old — mayor in May. Current Mayor Joe Anderson, who first brought in the directly elected position, will be standing once again.
But does the city really need THREE mayors? The Scottie Press spoke to councillors from three different parties, to see whether they agree or disagree with the current situation.

Cllr Joe Hanson, who represents the Labour Party in Kirkdale Ward, favours the Elected Mayor role — arguing that the Mayoral Fund has brought unprecedented investment into Liverpool.
“The mayor does stuff that the leader of a council can’t do,” he said. “If you look at Paddington Village, for example, that could only be achieved through using the mayoral fund. I think that was £200million. If we still had the council leader model, we would not have got anywhere near that kind of money to enable us to do a project like this.

“We favour the committee system, where there’s a leader and there’s lots of committees that have an active role. That’s the best way to involve the most councillors as possible, and get as much input and as much democratic decision-making as possible.”

“The heartbeat of the city has changed. And the reason it’s changed is because of that position of mayor. I’ve worked under both models — under the Leader of the Cabinet and the Mayor of the Cabinet, and for me the role Joe plays as mayor has made a massive difference to the city.”
So Cllr Hanson is hoping Joe Anderson retains his job as the elected Mayor, having previously won the vote in both 2012 and 2016, saying Anderson is “the best thing to happen to this city.”
He adds: “He’s probably the most powerful politician outside of London. All this nonsense that you hear from the (councillor) Nick Smalls of this world — who say he doesn’t listen — well, if you’re in a position and the guy you’re working for is not listening, you don’t hang around and pick up your pennies every month. You resign.”

Cllr Tom Crone, leader of the Liverpool Green Party, is a candidate to replace Mayor Anderson in the vote on May 7. But he actually disagrees with the mayoral system — as it puts too much power into the hands of one person. His party favours a council committee system instead.
“We don’t think the current situation is the healthiest way to run a democracy,” he said. “We would rather see lots of councillors and lots of different parties having an active role in making decisions and designing policies to get the best possible outcome for the city — rather than just one person being able to act on a whim.

“We favour the committee system, where there’s a leader and there’s lots of committees that have an active role. That’s the best way to involve the most councillors as possible, and get as much input and as much democratic decision-making as possible.”

A third candidate for the Mayor’s job is Cllr Richard Kemp, leader of the city’s Liberal Democrats, and he agrees that too much power is assigned to the elected Mayor. He told the Scottie Press that he would get rid of the position within two years — and change the role back to having a council leader in the top job.

He also revealed that he would halve the salary of the directly elected Mayor, which he says is “grossly overpaid”. According to the latest figures on the council’s own website, Mayor Anderson’s allowance for 2018/19 was £81,667 — the highest figure in the country, for a directly-elected mayor, outside London.

Cllr Kemp says: “We think that one of the problems is that elected Mayors centralise power and create a sort of court with the king and his courtiers.
“The courtiers don’t exercise any independence because they have to do what the king wants. Their job is to please the king, not to challenge the king.
“So the Mayor becomes less accountable, generally.”