Another day, another dodgy deal! The people of Liverpool have historically been taken for a ride by moneyed interests resident just about anywhere but in the city of Liverpool. Nowadays they are aided and abetted by the very people who are supposed to look out for the public’s interests. Do the councillors understand what is happening, or are they so focussed on their immediate and narrow self-interest, that they cannot see the wood for the trees?
Take the much-heralded Bramley Moore scheme. Everton’s previous plans for a new stadium – first, at King’s Dock, and then at Kirkby – foundered for one essential reason. They were unable to raise the necessary finance without the involvement of a major partner. That is the current role of the city council – much more than a guarantor. The crux of this deal is the arrangement between the council and Peel. As with the costly Private Finance Initiative, the financial risk associated with this deal is passed to the council, not to EFC or its billionaire head, Mr Moshiri.
It is another example of how the council tax payer is subsidising outside exploitative interests. We are also being told that Mayor Anderson is quoting a £50 million spend on associated roadwork, having already promised a new Merseyrail station (another headache for the incoming metromayor and the leaders of the other five boroughs). Remember that all of this subsidy is additional to the millions already spent buying and improving EFC’s training ground, and many more millions used underwriting Peel’s airport. These two private businesses must love the mayor.
Yet the mayor’s fan club is bigger than two members. How about developers, the Elliott Group? A council report described their unapproved demolition of an old building in a conservation area as a “criminal act”. The council under Joe has decided to take no action. The building had been deliberately torched although the police have made no arrests.
Meanwhile, at MIPIM over in sunny Cannes, mayoral favourite – developer Lawrence Kenwright – trumpeted his plans for the city-owned Cunard Building. Having previously touted the iconic building as an office space initiative, Mr Kenwright is now promoting it as a venue for weddings, and as the site of yet another restaurant. Surely this is a fan of the mayor, given that he sponsors the mayor’s fundraising dinners? Indeed, the mayor reciprocates with an appointment as an Advisory Member of the Council’s grandly titled “Culture and Leisure Select Committee Scrutiny Panel”!
Naturally, the mayor has other concerns than his fan base. Business groupies apart, he is considering the effects of diesel engines in the city centre. However, this does not seem to fit with his demonstrable anti-green credentials and his expensive closure of bus-only lanes. He must also have been distracted when, as chair of the Combined Authority, he led the purchase of one-man trains. As a former active member of the RMT union, he was blissfully unaware of that union’s long campaign against these trains (built overseas, incidentally, rather than in the UK), and the repeated strike action over them down south. Thank goodness for the Mayor’s comprehensive appreciation of what really matters.
He should, perhaps, tear himself away from dreams of the Commonwealth Games and other glories, although he cannot have what he really wanted – the metromayoral crown. He could rekindle his connection with real issues, like the next round of planning applications saddling the city with yet more blocks of flats. Silly me – the applications come from paid up members of his fan club like the Iliad Group and the Elliott Group. Hey ho – what was I thinking of??