Scrap Liverpool Mayor role if Joe goes, says business leader McKenna

Joe Anderson became Liverpool’s first elected mayor in 2012, securing a second term in 2016, but has now revealed ambitions to become Labour’s Parliamentary candidate for Walton. Tony McDonough reports

Liverpool Mayor Joe Anderson wants to become the Labour MP for Walton

Liverpool business leader Frank McKenna says the city should scrap the post of elected mayor if Joe Anderson quits the role to become the Parliamentary Labour candidate for Walton.

Mayor Anderson became Liverpool’s first elected mayor in 2012, securing a second term in 2016. Steve Rotheram is standing down as Walton MP to run for Liverpool City Region Metro Mayor, a role Mr Anderson was also keen on at one point.

Mr McKenna, chief executive of private sector lobby group Downtown in Business, says if the mayor does stand down then the city council should revert back to a council leader model.

Cllr Richard Kemp, leader of the city’s Liberal Democrats, has also put forward the same view.

“With Joe vacating the post, I see this as an opportunity for us to simplify governance arrangements locally,” said Mr McKenna.

“With the introduction of a Metro Mayor in May, the only reason for the continuation of a city mayor was to maintain a role for Joe Anderson, who has been a huge influence in winning devolution for the Liverpool city region.

Frank McKenna, Downtown in Business chief executive

“Now that Joe is likely to enter Westminster politics, I think it would be sensible for the local authority to review the existing arrangements and consider the option of scrapping the elected mayor position and reverting back to a council leader and cabinet model.

“I understand that the existing post has until 2019 to run. However, if the Government can get around the fixed term parliament legislation, then surely we can propose common sense changes at a local and regional level that the Government would support?”

On Mayor Anderson’s decision to seek a parliamentary seat, Mr McKenna added: “Joe and I haven’t always seen eye- to- eye, but his commitment and passion for Liverpool could never be doubted.

“His engagement with business, particularly in the earlier stages of his leadership, was extremely positive and his drive for devolution will be his lasting legacy, alongside the many regeneration projects that he brought to fruition during the past seven years.”

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