A consultation to decide how Liverpool City Council should be run and if the elected mayor should be scrapped, is being stepped up with ballot boxes placed across the city. Tony McDonough reports
People in Liverpool are being given more opportunities to have their say on how the city is run and if they want to keep or scrap the elected Mayor position.
In March, a letter was sent to every household in the city offering people the chance to vote for their preference online or request a paper ballot. Now ballot boxes are being placed inside 18 libraries and one-stop shops across the city.
Originally, the current elected Mayor Joanne Anderson wanted to hold a full referendum on the issue but this was deemed too expensive for the cash-strapped authority. The three options for running the city are:
- By a Mayor who is directly elected by voters every four years (current system).
- By a leader who is an elected councillor, chosen by a vote of the other elected councillors.
- By one or more committees made up of elected councillors.
In 2012, councillors voted in favour of replacing the council leader role with that of an elected Mayor. It bypassed the typical practice of a local referendum and was said the move would create “the most powerful politician in England outside the capital”.
Labour’s Joe Anderson was elected as Liverpool’s first Mayor in May 2012, winning almost 60% of the vote. Later explaining why there wasn’t a referendum, Mr Anderson said the £130m in extra grants promised by the Government was an incentive that was too good to refuse.
The consultation is ongoing until June 20 and the outcome will be reported to the full council. The consultation is advisory and not binding which means elected members will make the final decision on how the city is governed.
Any changes will take effect from the elections in May 2023 and will be binding on the council for five years. It will still be possible to hold a referendum in this period if a petition of 5% of electors is presented to the council.
City solicitor Dan Fenwick said: “We want to give as many people as possible the chance to have their say over the future governance of Liverpool City Council. We’ve introduced this to ensure that those without access to the online survey have an additional way to respond in addition to emailing the council or in writing.
“We recognise that not everyone has easy access to a computer, which is why we are taking the step of putting ballot boxes in key locations spread across the city. For security reasons, they are sealed and will only be opened during the evaluation.”
You can also have your say by clicking here or by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org and you can also write to Electoral Services, Liverpool City Council, Cunard Building, Water Street, Liverpool, L3 1AH.
If writing, or emailing, include your name, address and postcode. This is to ensure that the council does not receive multiple responses from a single person.