By Frank McKenna 4 November 2011 at 11:00
Lord Michael Heseltine and Sir Terry Leahy released a report on the future of Liverpool City Region last month, and within it there is much talk of mergers.
Merger of the partially private sector funded Mersey Partnership and Liverpool Vision; and merger of Merseyside’s Chambers of Commerce.
No talk though of the most obvious common sense, cost saving, red tape cutting merger that should most certainly take place – that of local authorities.
It is absolute madness that Liverpool, Knowsley and a large chunk of Sefton are governed by three separate local councils. Forget that we have around 250 councillors ‘representing’ us and falling out over all manner of things from football stadia to trams. Each council employs a highly paid senior executive team and a costly tier of middle management. The existing structure is unnecessarily disjointed and cumbersome, and it is costing us a fortune.
One Greater Liverpool council would offer clarity, strategy, vision and financial benefits. The Hezza/Leahy report does promote the idea of an elected mayor, but falls short of a local authority merger proposal.
Maybe they felt that this was a merger too far. More likely, they recognised how difficult challenging the self interest and parochialism of local politicians and breaking up fiefdoms that make no sense to anyone who lives and works within their boundaries would be too much hassle.
Whatever their reasons, the Lord and the Knight ought not to have ducked this issue in an otherwise exceptional blueprint for Liverpool.