Each day, there are snippets of news concerning the ongoing drama that is public life in Liverpool. However, it was still a disturbing surprise to hear that one of those arrested under Operation Aloft had attempted suicide. Happily, it was unsuccessful – I am sure that most people have no wish to hear of such an extreme degree of self-harm, no matter who the individual might be.
Less of a shock was to see that Joe Anderson’s crowd-funding page had raised exactly zero funds as contributions in aid of his action against the city council. You may recall that he sued his former employers – at a cost of over £100,000 to the city’s council taxpayers – in a failed attempt to obtain more money from them. On this occasion, he appears to believe that the council taxpayer should again pay for whatever legal actions he now wishes to take against Liverpool City Council. It could be that in the last few days, he has secured a paltry sum in that crowd-funding account. What is clear is that his erstwhile “friends and supporters” have deserted him, conscious that he is no longer of any use to them, and that association with the former mayor may prove toxic.
A later piece of news was the repeated threat to the city’s World Heritage Status. I hope that this does not materialise, but it does reflect the council’s continuing failure to address the issues raised by the council’s cavalier disregard for the city’s truly outstanding built environment. Will the council never collectively wake up to itself? Perhaps we should not be surprised by its hitherto failure to act radically and immediately. Let us take the “new” deputy mayor, Cllr. Corbett, previously a member of the Joe Anderson cabinet. Her attitude to transparency was exemplified by the fact that she sat on a report into the Fox Street debacle, which happened to be in her ward. Transparency can hardly be said to be her by-word, although it is the key to good governance.
I am also told that the refurbishment of a grand house is underway in the leafy village of Rainford, in the borough of St Helens. The property, bought for the princely sum of £850,000, is undergoing extensive alterations which will bring the final cost to around £1,250,000. The ultimate buyer is Mr Peter McInnes, late of Dubai. Remember him and his company, PHD! This heavily embroiled him in the Paramount development scam (between Lord Nelson Street and London Road) as well as the New Chinatown development fiasco. He was also the man named by the police as a money launderer for drug importers, in open court at Preston Crown Court.
All of these relate to what has become a mantra for me – that is, without prosecutions and convictions, nothing will change. That is simply because those who have been major contributors to the mess that is Liverpool City council today, have yet to be held to account. The council leadership is said to be working in tandem to do its bit in correcting the failings of the past, but all we have to date is some proposals to juggle the number of council wards and the number of councillors, promised for 2023. Equally, I remind you that the police and the Crown Prosecution Service are yet to act on the findings of Operation Sheridan, five years after its inception. Lastly, the national Labour Party is currently beset by other priorities than Liverpool Labour’s condition. I am not hopeful that we will see soon any of these undertake the radical action which the city’s recent experiences demand.
I would hope that right minded local elected representatives will be asking of the various agencies, just what they intend to do, and how expeditious any action might be. The fear is that, as in so many similar and previous situations, the local and national Establishments will hope that people will forget, and the whole sorry mess can be shunted into the “too inconvenient/too difficult” file. I do not believe that that will wash, especially with those few people whose diligence in rooting out the truth about council operations gave the real impetus behind the limited action to date. They, above everyone, know that there is a very long way to go.