A ‘Sunday Times’ report last weekend was a timely reminder of the dangers of cosying up to the Tories. The government, it was reported, has unilaterally decided to drop the funding promised to connect Liverpool to the HS2 rail system. Little wonder, then, that Mayor Anderson moved quickly to finally recognise that the so-called Northern Powerhouse was a waste of time, as was his previous enthusiasm for the Big Society – another Tory bluff. He has wasted so much political capital hobnobbing with Tory ministers and selected “businessmen”, betraying an alarming lack of political acumen.
I also recall that the mayor signed over a six-figure cheque to Tory insider Phillip Blond for making Liverpool’s case for connection to HS2. Obviously, this was more money wasted in a vain attempt to persuade the authors of austerity that the city had a special case to plead. Not just the city but the city-region. Mind you, the mayor always contrives to bounce back, like one of those dolls which rights itself no matter how many times it is knocked over.
Our local leader has deftly moved across the river, in the hope of resolving the difficulties at Cammell Lairds. He is at least positioned well in one regard. He has been a close ally of Peel ever since he became council leader; and Peel are the owners of Cammell Lairds. However, the reality is – as always – that the dispute can only be resolved by agreement between the employers and the unions involved. We all must hope for a speedy resolution to the matter, but it will be interesting to see what eventuates at the end of the four week truce (that is, until after the holiday) which the unions and management have agreed.
There is another angle to this. The mayor’s imposition of himself into the dispute is an illustration of his sheer arrogance. He has no limit in his refusal to respect other politicians’ areas of competence. Politically, one must assume that he believes that there are brownie points in projecting himself as a man for all seasons – an industrial relations expert one day, an entrepreneur the next. Yet skipping from one public relations opportunity to the next will do nothing to resolve the challenging situation facing Liverpool Council, nor will it assist the mayor personally if he seeks re-selection as Labour candidate for the mayoral job in 2019.
On a different subject, LCC sold a rather rundown property – 80 Rodney Street – to Mr Elliot Lawless in 2016. The total cost of the combined leasehold and freehold amounted to £485,000. The property itself was listed with the Land Registry (care of solicitor Mr Michael Leo Murphy, of Hill Dickinson) as owned by The Global Property Agent Limited of the Seychelles. It is safe to assume that The Global Property Agent Limited is an offshore finance vehicle owned or used by Mr Lawless.
Mr Murphy and Mr Lawless are old business associates with a mutual interest in Birch House Estates. In April this year, Mr Murphy formed a company – 80 Rodney Street – and on August 1st, registered the purchase of the building in question for £1,100,000. After just 22 months, Mr Lawless appears to have made a profit of 123% (or £615,000). Not bad, eh, especially in these days of austerity? One small deal in the life of a local “developer”. There appears to be nothing unusual in this way of maximising profit and stashing it overseas but it does nothing for the city.