Sunday 21 March 2021

Government poised to take over running of Liverpool, says DT

Telegraph has an article, a sighting shot from the Tories one suspects, that the government is about to send the commissars into Liverpool to take control of the council. Many coulds and mights - it'll be interesting to see just what Max Caller's investigation has to say.

Here's the article (not much to say, really). And please, no snide comments on Robert Jenrick taking a decision on corruption.

The Government is poised to take over the running of the city of Liverpool this week after a string of corruption allegations, The Telegraph can disclose.

The expected decision by the Local Government secretary Robert Jenrick to intervene in the running of one of the UK's biggest cities is unprecedented in modern times.

Commissioners could be sent in to run the day-to-day operations of the council for several years, something which has only happened three times in the past 25 years.

Commissioners were sent in by the Government to take over the running of councils in Northampton in 2018, Rotherham in 2015 and Towers Hamlets in 2014. None of them was the scale of a city like Liverpool, however.

Max Caller, a respected local government inspector who was the commissioner in Tower Hamlets, was appointed by Mr Jenrick to lead the investigation into Liverpool last December.

Mr Caller focused his investigation on property management, regeneration, highways, contracts and planning at the council over the past five years.

The Telegraph understands that Mr Jenrick has now received the final report and recommendations from Mr Caller.

He will make a final decision on what action to take this week before the formal purdah period begins ahead of the local government elections. It is likely that Mr Jenrick will order commissioners into Liverpool.

Mr Caller has already briefed local MPs in the area about the findings which will be published this week. His report is understood to contain a "damning indictment of the council".

Councillors will still be elected in Liverpool but could cede executive powers to the commissioners for as long as they are appointed.

The city's accounts have not been signed off by auditors for the past five years because of the continuing police inquiry into "financial irregularities".

Mr Jenrick ordered the inquiry into Liverpool's council last December following the arrest of city Mayor Joe Anderson.

Mr Anderson was held on suspicion of conspiracy to commit bribery and witness intimidation. Mr Anderson has denied any wrongdoing and last week he told The Telegraph: "I have never taken a bribe in my life."

A spokesman for the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government said: "The Secretary of State has received the independent Best Value inspection team's report. This is being considered carefully and next steps will be set out shortly."


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