Liverpool City Council ‘taking back control’

Almost three years after Government Commissioners were parachuted into Liverpool City Council following a damning report the authority is set to begin to take back control. Tony McDonough reports

Liverpool Town Hall
Government Commissioners are to hand back powers to the council. Picture by Tony McDonough


Government Commissioners sent in to run Liverpool City Council are to start handing back powers to the local authority over the next few weeks.

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, on Thursday 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 over the coming weeks, earlier than planned.

The ability to appoint most senior managers will be returned to the council with immediate effect. And the council will regain oversight of the finance and highways functions from March 31.

On March 18 the size of the Commissioner team will reduced to four following the resignation of Joanna Killian, who is taking up a new post as chief executive of the Local Government Association.

The remaining Commissioners will steadily reduce their involvement and days spent with the council.

Council leader Liam Robinson, said: “I am really pleased that the Government has accepted the recommendations of the Commissioners and confirmed the handing back of some powers to the council ahead of schedule.

“It is recognition of the fact that we have made significant progress over the last nine months or so, although we know that we have much more to do.

“We are continuing to work at pace to deal with those areas where we still need to make progress, such as property management.

“I am confident this marks the beginning of the end of the intervention as we know it. It is a tribute to the hard work of staff and councillors who have worked so hard to put in place the building blocks for improved services.

“I want to reassure residents that we are not complacent and we continue to move at pace to drive the improvements we need to make and achieve our ambition of becoming an excellent council delivering value-for-money services.”


Liam Robinson
Liam Robinson, Labour leader of Liverpool City Council. Picture from Liverpool City Council


Cllr Robinson has held “constructive discussions” with the local Government minister, Simon Hoare MP, about the intervention.

Mr Hoare has written to Cllr Robinson to say the Government recognises the progress made and “wish to support a managed transition to ending the statutory intervention”.

The Commissioners will continue to exercise functions relating to governance, regeneration, property management and a limited number of senior appointments.

READ MORE: Chancellor confirms £450m AstraZeneca expansion

The next Commissioners report will outline what will happen at the scheduled end of the intervention in June 2024.

On Wednesday evening Liverpool councillors approved a budget for 2024/25 which will see Council tax bills rise by 4.99%. The budget also includes a£20m drive to improve key frontline services.

You might also like More from author

Leave A Reply

Your email address will not be published.

Username field is empty.