Wednesday, 22 June 2011

Letter from Liberal Democrats re budget setting - 20 June

20th June 2011

Dear Cllr Anderson

I write in response to your offer to the Liberal Democrats to take part in a joint budget process and your outlining of conditions attached to that.

I have now discussed this with Shadow Cabinet and Liberal Democrat Group members.
We have decided not to join the joint process. 

I think it important to outline the reasons.

Firstly, we do not believe it to be realistic to ask any party, or any individual Cllr to sign up at the beginning of a decision making process to all the outcomes whatever they may be.  This effectively asks people to ignore strongly held opinions as well as the opinions of the people they are elected to represent. We believe it is the duty of Cllrs to speak up for the people who elect them

Secondly, we believe that effective, robust and questioning opposition is good for the City This does not mean that we intend to oppose everything the administration does but it does mean that we intend to ask probing questions and, when we think a decision or potential decision is wrong, to say so. 
The good of the City is not served by the suspension of democracy and while there are clearly areas on which parties can work together (examples would include my member officer relationship group and Cllr Moores work on emergency preparedness) it serves no one if there is no effective opposition.

Thirdly, we have clear Liberal Democrat positions on some of the key service areas in the City which we intend to argue for. You will, for example, be aware of the disagreements last time over the Sure Start Children’s Centres which we want to protect.

I am disappointed that someone saw fit to leak your letter to the party leaders to the Post and Echo on the very day it was received.  I understand that this leak did not come from your office and want to assure you that it did not come from mine. I have treated the letter as private and therefore restrained from taking public issue which some of the points you made about the Liberal Democrats.

However I will say that not only do we have written confirmation from the City Treasurer that what we suggested in our budget amendment last year was legal, I believe if the LDL option had been selected you would have put your considerable influence behind speeding things up.

Finally,I do want to say thank you for making the offer.  You told me previously to my face that this would not happen and it is refreshing to see a politician who is not afraid to change their mind. I know that Cllr Storey made offers in the past to Labour of some joint budget working, something I understand Labour turned down at the time. I don’t question your reasoning then so I trust you won’t question ours now.

Liberal Democrats intend to take an active role in scrutiny, in holding the cabinet to account for their decisions on behalf of the people of Liverpool, and in the development of our own ideas . I will be contacting officers to confirm previous reassurances about the availability of papers.

Cllr Paula Keaveney
Liberal Democrat Group
Liverpool City Council

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