‘It’s not the leaving of Liverpool that grieves us’

Government Commissioners will hand back control of Liverpool to the city council in the summer three years after they were parachuted in following the damning Max Caller report. Tony McDonough reports

Cunard Building
Cunard Building, headquarters of Liverpool City Council. Picture by Tony McDonough


Liverpool City Council is to take back full control of the authority in June when Government Commissioners leave after three years in charge.

They have written to Secretary of State, Michael Gove, concluding that the council is now “a well-governed, improving organisation, with ambitious leaders who are committed to long term change”.

They added:“If LCC continues on this path, it will soon be a council that can achieve the value for money, good quality services the people of Liverpool have a right to expect for many years to come.”

In 2021 the Max Caller report identified a “fundamental failure of governance” at the council and saw Government commissioners take over three council departments – property, regeneration and highways.

By August 2022, things had not improved. A new report said the council still had “serious shortcomings”. Consequently, the Government Commissioners were given full control of the authority.

However, in March this year the Government confirmed a significant reduction in the powers of the Commissioners with the publication of revised directions. They will hand back powers for several functions earlier than planned.

Subsequently, in the last few weeks the council has taken back full control of finance, highways and the majority of senior appointments.

The council and the Commissioners have agreed that a Statutory Assurance and Improvement Board will be set up until March 2025, to provide oversight of the ongoing changes. More details of how this will work will be released in the near future.

Council leader Liam Robinson, said: “I would like to pay tribute to the incredibly hard work of officers, the cabinet and councillors in ending the intervention in the period originally set out.

“It has been a truly herculean effort, particularly over the last 12 months, to get us to this position and I am incredibly proud of everyone for their dedication and commitment.

“We are now a mature and focused organisation which knows its strengths and weaknesses, and we have a clear vision and plan to deliver well run, value for money services.

“We know we still have a long way to go to prove to the people of Liverpool that we are a changed organisation, which is why we have jointly agreed with the Commissioners that there is a need for an Improvement Panel.

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“When combined with the Futures’ Panel work around regenerating Liverpool, I believe this marks a new dawn for our city.

Liverpool City Council chief executive, Andrew Lewis, added: “I have seen a tremendous amount of change in the 12 months that I have been with the organisation, and I am proud of the passion and determination from both staff and councillors.

“There is an absolute commitment from Liverpool City Council to deliver services that make a real difference to the lives of our residents. Today marks a real milestone and a new beginning for our organisation.”

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