Liverpool awaits judgement day as Tories circle

It's not something anyone in Liverpool would want to see.

The idea of a Conservative government controlling this city from Westminster is deeply unpalatable and not exactly democratic.

But today there is a very real possibility that Communities Secretary Robert Jenrick will stand up and confirm just that.

It would be a huge decision and something that has never been done on this scale before.

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And it would be a hammer blow to Liverpool.

Clearly much has gone wrong at the city council, with multiple arrests and an inspection report that will be published today and will make for very difficult reading.

Inspector Max Caller's report will spell out in painful detail exactly what has gone wrong within the council's regeneration, planning, highways and property management departments.

As a city, Liverpool has done so much to banish the ghosts of the 1980s and become a vibrant, world famous destination, visited by millions.

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There is a fear that all that has now been put at risk.

Many will be hoping that the government, while recognising the need for some kind of intervention, will seek to support the work already being done to turn things around – rather than take complete control.

Most agree that the council's current chief executive Tony Reeves is the right person to continue to create and build the improvements he has been working on since he arrived at the Cunard Building in 2018.

It seems inevitable that some form of government intervention will be announced, but the big question is whether that intervention will be to support Mr Reeves or to sideline him and complete what would certainly be a hostile takeover by a Conservative government that is not exactly well thought of in these parts.

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Liverpool's opposition parties are angry at the Labour administration that has led the city into this mess, but strongly believe a full blown Whitehall takeover is not the answer.

Green leader Tom Crone said: "There is no good outcome possible today, we are just bracing ourselves and hoping the Secretary of State doesn't call for commissioners to take over the running of the council.

"We are in this situation entirely due to over a decade of Labour mismanagement, and they need to take full responsibility for it.

"The Greens stand ready to form, or be part of, a clean slate administration running the city in the best interests of the people of Liverpool. We will oppose Tory rule from Westminster."

Lib Dem leader Richard Kemp agreed, he said: "Liverpool Council is in a poor state. We cannot ignore the fact that there has clearly been inappropriate behaviour from Officers and Members. This has led to many of the problems that the Inspection Team will be reporting on. The problems have led to huge waste within the Council and a squandering of taxpayer’s resources.

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"We have seen improvement on the officer side of the Council since 2018 and that must be built on."

The opposition parties are clear in their minds that while there have been serious problems at this city council, a Tory Government takeover is not the answer and that the current Chief Executive should instead be supported in his work to take the authority forward in a healthier state.

Whether Mr Jenrick will see things this way is an entirely different matter altogether.