The week seemed to begin well for Wirral Council. A detailed schedule of committed road repairs was released, and went down well with exasperated motorists on the peninsula. Then the Housing Secretary, Sajid Javid, announced that Wirral Council was one of three councils nationally into which he was sending a team of officials. The problem? He said that the council was more than ten years overdue in submitting to him its local development plan. Leader “Big Phil” Davies put up namesake George Davies as the patsy to explain the issue away.
At the same time, St Helens was introducing to its council tax payers, a programme of cultural investments, lending itself to the title of “council of culture”. This stems from a grant made to it for cultural purposes by the Combined Authority – the collective of council leaders in the city-region, headed by metromayor, Steve Rotheram.
Across in Liverpool city, however, there was no such positive publicity, just Mayor Anderson again making a fool of himself on social media. Having been on a jaunt to the MIPIM knees up in Monaco, he took himself off to the exotic island of Java. To the best of my knowledge, there was no prior public announcement of this. Accompanying our own local Don Quixote was his faithful Sancho Panza, otherwise known as Cllr. Gary Miller. He left Java to travel on to China – again! Perhaps he should be known as the councillor for Beijing East.
This raises many more questions, most notably: who paid for these jaunts? If the trip, as suggested, was connected to a twinning arrangement, surely that is a matter for the ceremonial Lord Mayor, Cllr. Kennedy, taking the lead? If the trip was a commercially orientated venture, what was its specific purpose? Will it turn out to be a washout like the mayor’s unproductive visit to Birmingham, Alabama?
What did emanate from the mayor’s trip to the Indonesian city of Surabaya was the image of a man on a very obvious jolly. His antics filmed on social media were not those of someone who can be deemed a fit and proper person to represent the city of Liverpool. In fact, he managed to raise huge criticism from both EFC and LFC supporters on social media. To people with no football inclination, he simply offended their sense of good taste.
Whilst he was being “crowned” by the Indonesians like a latter day Sanders of the River, back home the Housing Secretary was also firing a shot across his bows over Liverpool’s outdated local plan. Of course, this is partly explained by the fact that we are still without a Head of Planning in Liverpool, as well as a chief executive still on paid suspension. Perhaps such officials are deemed inessential in the Cunard Building, given Mayor Anderson’s readiness to accommodate developers without question.
Mayor Anderson and his cabal should be very cautious. His current fixation of borrowing on behalf of EFC for a new stadium is not only meeting increasing opposition; but the build cost has already rocketed up by 66% in just twelve months. The rumour, too, is that the current CEO of EFC – Robert Elstone – may be on his way out of the club. With the Housing Secretary circling, and the support of rank-and-file councillors diminishing daily, Mayor Anderson may yet find himself in more serious difficulties than those which he already faces.