Liverpool’s Liberal Democrats have vowed to go all out for victory and “rescue our city” in this year’s local elections.
With three weeks to go until polling day, the largest opposition group in the Town Hall has launched its plan on how it would govern Liverpool after May 4. It is the fourth of the five parties to set out its stall, with Labour, the Green Party and the Liverpool Community Independents all staging events of their own.
Rather than settling for second place, the Liberal Democrats have set lofty ambitions for the city-wide poll, with 85 seats up for grabs across 64 newly drawn wards. Cllr Richard Kemp, leader of the Liverpool Liberal Democrats, said the city had lived through 13 “unlucky” years of Labour control and his party has set out six key areas it would seek to address from its first day in the corridors of power at the Cunard Building.
Cllr Kemp said: “A manifesto is usually all about what a political party wants to do to change things. We have needed to devote a lot of this manifesto in showing how we will get the council sufficiently well led and well managed to be able to deliver anything.”
The party is standing 57 candidates across the city, including former council leader Lord Mike Storey, who led the authority for seven years from 1998 to 2005. He is hoping to return to the Town Hall in Childwall as the party seeks to increase its standing from 11 elected members.
The party’s manifesto said it wanted to address half a dozen “key themes” including; a council that gets the basics right; caring for the environment; delivering value for money; protecting communities; attracting jobs and investment; and being honest, transparent, and listening. Cllr Kemp said should his party take control, they would “rescue” Liverpool.
He said: “Some say that 13 is an unlucky number. Well, it certainly has been in the 13 years that Labour has controlled our council. They have trashed our finances and shredded our reputation.
“As we have done twice in the past 50 years, we will rescue our city and create the sort of momentum for the city that we did when we successfully created a new image and a new reality for the city through the European Capital of Culture delivery and tens of thousands of jobs, housing improvements and educational attainment increases. What we have done before we can do again.
“We stand ready and are willing and able to take this city forward.” Despite the council’s much publicised difficulties of late, the Liberal Democrats remain way behind in terms of seats.
Cllr Kemp said despite this, the party had made significant strides in Liverpool. He said: “Let's be realistic about where we've come from and what's happened to the party nationally in Liverpool.
“When I became the leader, we were down to 10 seats, then we went down to two. Our position has been one of incremental change, and at the last election we took six wards in Liverpool.
“We built up, we brought in new people.” The veteran leader said should no party gain overall control when all the votes are tallied on May 5, he would seek to engage other parties to establish who could work together.
This didn’t detract from Cllr Kemp’s broader ambition however. He said: “At the end of the day, what must come first are the people of Liverpool, and we have no preconceptions about that, but we're going for control of the council.”