The MIPIM bash in Cannes has become something of a regular jolly for many local authority leaders, including Liverpool’s Mayor Anderson. It occurs next week when developers importune their guests to flog off council assets at giveaway prices. It is amazing how persuasive free drinks and canapés can be.
This expensive car-boot sale in the south of France came to mind when I saw a “business” report in the “Echo” confirming the imminent purchase of a large chunk of King’s Dock by Liverpool Council. “Purchase” did you ask? Yes – cash-strapped Liverpool Council is bidding £4.1 million. Apparently, the council hopes to get a grant from our parsimonious national government. Failing that, they will borrow the cash. Once again, having cried poverty, the council has the appearance of a drunken sailor on a spending spree. Why?
The giveaway is in the report going to cabinet to be rubber-stamped. It says – “In advance of the acquisition of the land, the council has been proactively engaged in detailed discussions with a potential developer consortium”. In short, it is a done deal. Joe has agreed it, and his supine cabinet will do what he tells them. One or more of the mayor’s closest allies – the ubiquitous “developers” –are lined up for another big payday, courtesy of the council’s largesse.
The site has long been earmarked as a “visitor destination”. Remember the abortive plan to build a stadium there? How about Joe’s much-vaunted daydream of an Olympic ice rink? Goodness knows what the mayor’s developer confederates have in mind. We can only be sure of one thing – they will make stacks of cash whilst council tax payers lose out.
It is questionable whether or not we need more visitor attractions. Perhaps we should widely market council meetings as a spectator event, although a bigger venue than the Town Hall would be needed. This week’s meeting suggests that they might plug an entertainment gap between cage fighting and Jeremy Kyle. Events this week reveal the low point which the council – and, especially, the mayor – has reached in the conduct of meetings. These people are supposed to represent us and the city, but they are nothing short of a disgrace. As a Labour Party member, I was appalled at the ignorant and abusive excuse for a debate. They certainly do not speak for, or act like, the people of Liverpool.
All representatives should keep in mind one of politics’ truest maxims: oppositions do not win elections; governing parties lose them! Generally, the electorate is reasonably forgiving of those in power until a tipping point is reached. Beyond this, loyalty and trust is lost, and the party concerned gets its just desserts – political oblivion. There is one thing of which we can be sure. No matter how solid one’s political position is at a given point, you can be sure that, as night follows day, it will be overturned at some point.
Incidentally, how craven is the “Echo”? During his Town Hall rant, Mayor Anderson whinged away about what he considered to be his pet journal’s poor coverage of his difficulties. Within two days, the “Echo” has a long piece on “How the Tory cuts have hit city”. No mention of the other boroughs facing similar cuts, by the way, and how they are coping. Perhaps now, its editor will order some investigative reporting on the very real and widely held concerns about the role of “developers” in the city.