The Company One Keeps

To my surprise, Mayor Anderson’s return home from his freebie in Monaco with his favoured developer friends, was not marked by the usual hype about non-existent investment. By now, we would normally have had a public relations blizzard of announcements. On this occasion, the only blurb has come from his chums at Peel, with a tired repeat of their “plans” for Prince’s Dock.

Pondering on the mayor’s unusual reticence, I opened my “Echo” to find another editorial column by one of his dubious friends. It was written by disgraced former deputy city council leader, Derek Hatton. I recalled with dismay attending a political reception hosted by the mayor for former Labour leader, Ed Miliband. Mayor Anderson had Mr Hatton as a guest of the political party which had kicked him out! I no more understood Mayor Anderson’s thinking then than I do that of the “Echo” editor now.

Mind you, the mayor has a touch of a political St. Jude – the patron saint of lost causes. Another close friend and adviser of his is Mr Frank McKenna. Mr McKenna is another former deputy council leader – in his case, of Lancashire County Council. Like Mr Hatton, he was a controversial politician, whose political career collapsed ignominiously following a police investigation into an expenses scandal in which he was embroiled.

However, last year, Mr McKenna returned Lazarus-like to local politics. The good people of Skelmersdale, where he lives, elected him to West Lancashire District Council. He immediately had himself sent as that council’s observer to the Liverpool City-Region group. This gives him a splendid opportunity to provide support for his good friend Mayor Anderson in his quest to be king of the city-region castle.

The timing is good as Mayor Anderson may need all the support he can get if his ambitions are to be met. Questions are still being raised about his use of public money – £89,000 – for his private tribunal case. There is also confusion around his fund-raising activities. As more queries are raised, so are the odds against his power bid.

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