Princes Park councillor Joanne Anderson is the new Labour Mayor of Liverpool after seeing off a strong challenge from independent candidate Stephen Yip. Tony McDonough reports
Joanne Anderson has won the race to become Liverpool’s new elected Mayor after seeing off a challenge from independent candidate Stephen Yip.
Labour Party candidate Cllr Anderson secured 38,958 votes (38.51%) in the ballot, way ahead of Mr Yip, who got 22.047 (21.79%). However, the election uses a preferential voting system and to win outright a candidate must secure 50% of the votes.
This meant there was a run-off between Cllr Anderson and Mr Yip, founder of children’s charity KIND, with the other five candidates excluded. And, although Mr Yip won more second preference votes, 10,032 against 7,535 for Cllr Anderson the final score was 46,493 votes for Cllr Anderson and 32,079 votes for Mr Yip.
She now becomes Liverpool City Council’s first elected black female Mayor. It is a meteoric rise for Cllr Anderson who was only elected as a councillor for the city’s Princes Park ward in 2019. But her selection by Labour was mired in controversy.
Labour’s selection process was thrown into disarray when the original three shortlisted candidates, Acting Mayor Wendy Simon, Lord Mayor Anna Rothery and former Deputy Mayor Ann O’Byrne, were barred from standing by the party.
Cllr Simon took over as Acting Mayor in December when two-time elected Mayor Joe Anderson was arrested by Merseyside Police on suspicion of conspiracy to commit bribery and witness intimidation as part of the Operation Aloft investigation. Mr Anderson, who is no relation to Joanne Anderson, is no longer on bail and denies all wrongdoing. However, he decided to step aside from his role.
Cllr Anderson won a selection battle for a Labour nomination by beating Croxteth councillor Anthony Lavelle by a thumping two to one margin in a ballot of Labour Party members in Liverpool.
She takes the helm at the city council during one of the most turbulent periods in recent years. In March Government inspector Max Caller’s damning report into the council uncovered a “dysfunctional culture” in the highways, regeneration and property management functions of the authority.
Pledging to clean up the mess, and introduce a more transparent and accountable system of Governance, Cllr Anderson will now have to work alongside Government inspectors in the affected departments.
In a statement following her victory, she said: “I want to thank everyone who has supported me in becoming Mayor of Liverpool. My campaign team, Labour councillors and members, family and friends, colleagues and the staff who have worked so hard in making this election happen.
“I am so proud of the positive and hard-fought campaign we ran, together. Most of all I want to thank the citizens of Liverpool for voting for me and believing in me. I know that I still have to earn your confidence but I promise that I will not let you down.
“The first thing I want to do is apologise to the city of Liverpool on behalf of the party and administration for the findings of the Caller report. It uncovered things that have deeply hurt us all. I have always held an unshakeable sense of justice and this is one of the reasons I stood for this role.
“I am wholeheartedly determined to put our city on a restorative path after a difficult year. Like you, I believe we deserve better and I will deliver that through world-leading governance and public scrutiny. I want Liverpool to have the best accountability and transparency structures in the country.
“I will take full responsibility for driving improvements, rebuilding trust in our city, and putting best value for our communities at the heart of everything our council does and delivers. I love our city, I love our strength, our grit and our compassion for others. I am Scouse and proud and, despite all the stereotypes thrown at us, I would not want to be from anywhere else in the world.
“Today is the beginning of the fresh start that we all want and need. An opportunity to improve our culture and transform the way we do things. We have so much to work with – we are talented, determined, creative and capable with so many untapped opportunities in front of us.
“The challenges and pain of the pandemic has also shown us the very best of Liverpool. As we begin our COVID recovery, I am asking you to join me in rebuilding Liverpool as the world class city we know it to be. We are people with pride and people that care.
“I want to harness our spirit to create a greener, fairer and more ambitious city for our people – a place where everyone can truly thrive. Let’s use this opportunity to create the city we want.
“Lastly, I am so proud and honoured to be the first black woman directly elected as Mayor in the UK, and our city’s first-ever female leader. Liverpool has always been a city of firsts – one that does things differently and that charters its own path.
“Today, we made history. I cannot wait to get started in the job and prove that you have made the right choice. From the bottom of my heart, thank you.”
Among the other candidates, the Lib Dems’ Richard Kemp received 17,166 votes (16.97%), Tom Crone of the Green Party got 8,768 votes (8.67%), Steve Radford of the Liberal Party secured 7,135 votes (7.05%), Conservative hopeful Katie Burgess won 4,187 votes (4.14%) and Roger Bannister of the left wing TUSC Party received 2,912 votes (2.88%).
Turnout was again very low and similar to the 2016 election at 30.51%. The result will be a huge disappointment for the Lib Dems who ran the city for a number of years until not much more than a decade ago.
Their candidate, Cllr Richard Kemp, is the party’s leader on the council. But the veteran councillor had already stood in the previous two mayoral elections. His performance this year is down on 2016 when he secured 21.1% of the vote.