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Liverpool Echo
Liverpool Echo
David Humphreys

Panel to guide Liverpool Council out of trouble to finally meet 'this month'

The panel established to guide Liverpool out of government intervention and help set its long term future path is expected to meet for the first time later this month.

In August Greg Clark MP, the then Levelling Up Secretary, confirmed alongside further expansion of government oversight of the city council, a new panel would be set up to lead it out of the intervention. The panel is to be chaired by Steve Rotheram, Metro Mayor of Liverpool City Region, and former city councillor.

In a statement to the ECHO, Mayor Joanne Anderson said she will be attending the first panel meeting “later this month.” Last month, Mr Rotheram said the scope of the panel was still being worked out and progress remained slow on convening members.

READ MORE: Liverpool schools hit with £2.3m bill after council energy blunder

When it was first announced last summer, the Liverpool Strategic Futures Advisory Panel was set up to work closely with the Mayor and her cabinet, and also with the commissioners on long-term strategy and decisions over the future of the city, beyond the current intervention. The panel will have a particular focus on driving growth in skills, jobs and opportunities for the city.

Liverpool is also moving away from the mayoralty to a leader and cabinet model following May’s all out elections. When the panel was announced in the summer, Sir Howard Bernstein, former chief executive of Manchester Council, and Baroness Judith Blake, former leader of Leeds Council, were named as two who would join Mr Rotheram, who told the ECHO “a couple more” would likely be co-opted onto the panel.

Mayor Anderson said: “I will be attending the first Strategic Futures Advisory Panel later this month. I was pleased by the initial announcement to set up this panel, and disappointed that government instability has delayed getting the project off the ground.

“Despite this delay, I have continued to work hard on delivering for the city, leading a difficult budget process and on projects such as Eurovision which will have a positive, long-term legacy for Liverpool, and the wider region.”

In a statement of his own, Metro Mayor Steve Rotheram said he was committed to securing Liverpool’s long-term future and the benefits it would bring to the wider city region. He said: “My priority remains ensuring that all stakeholders feel that they have had the opportunity to input on our collective proposals to government and the council to get to a place where the Commissioners can leave as soon as possible.”

Cllr Richard Kemp, leader of the opposition Liberal Democrat group, said he had written to the government calling on Levelling Up Secretary Michael Gove to speed up the process and “send the quivering Mayors the permission they crave.”

Responding, Mr Rotheram said: "We all want to see rapid progress, but the fact remains that we cannot unilaterally decide to launch the Strategic Futures Advisory Panel without the government's say-so, or it would just be a talking shop without the ability to implement changes proposed, which would require central government funding support.

"It is not about quick fixes, but mapping out the strategic vision of the city for decades to come. I have always said that my door is open to local leaders who want to work together constructively to improve the lives of the people and businesses in our area - and despite the intemperate language from Cllr Kemp - that offer remains unchanged."

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