The Labour Party has revealed its new shortlist of candidates for the position of Mayor of Liverpool having controversially scrapped the last one.
The party has been heavily criticised for how it handled the replacement of Mayor Joe Anderson with a new candidate for May's election.
Mayor Anderson has been suspended by the party following his arrest in December. He had been due to challenge for a third term in office.
Labour began the process of replacing him in January and initially shortlisted three current city councillors.
They were Acting Mayor Wendy Simon, former Deputy Mayor Ann O'Byrne and the city's current Lord Mayor Anna Rothery.
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But just before ballots were due to go out to members last month, the party suddenly suspended the process and re-interviewed the three women.
The following week it emerged the entire process was being restarted, with applications re-opening and the three previously shortlisted candidates told they would not be considered.
The Labour Party has not provided any form of public explanation for the move, which sparked anger across the city and around the party's wider membership.
Having re-opened applications, the party carried out new interviews yesterday (Monday).
It can now be confirmed that the new shortlist is made up of two current city councillors, Joanne Anderson and Anthony Lavelle.
Kensington Councillor Liam Robinson, who had also been interviewed for the role, has not made the shortlist.
The ECHO understands that Anne Lundon, the Chief Executive of The Florence Institute community centre in Liverpool 8 had been interviewed for the position but withdrew late on.
Cllr Lavelle is one of the youngest Labour councillors in the city and was first elected to serve the Croxteth ward of Liverpool in 2016.
He also sits on the Transport Committee of the Liverpool City Region Combined Authority.
Cllr Joanne Anderson is a fairly recent addition to the city council, first being elected in 2019 to serve the Princes Park ward of Liverpool 8.
She said she had initially been reluctant to get involved with politics but felt a 'sense of responsibility' to help her community and also increase the diversity of the city council.
Speaking last year, she said: "Politically I feel a sense of responsibility as there's been so few Black councillors and a lack of gender representation in the Liverpool city region."
Under the party's new schedule, ballots are expected to be distributed to Labour Party members in Liverpool from next Monday.
Members in the city will then have three weeks to vote, before ballots close and Labour's candidate for Mayor of the city is announced on March 29, around five weeks before the election.
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The Mayoral election in Liverpool is set to go ahead on May 6.
a Labour spokesperson said: “In Joanne and Anthony, Labour members in Liverpool have the choice between two excellent candidates who are both rooted in their communities and have outstanding campaigning and organisational skills.
“They offer the city a new leadership, which is proud of its strong values and diverse communities. They are both fully committed to moving Liverpool forward out of the coronavirus crisis and fighting for the resources that the city desperately needs.”
There had been a move by some members of the Liverpool Labour group of councillors, who are angry at how their originally shortlisted colleagues have been treated, to remove the position and return to the leader and cabinet model before the election.
This move was voted down at Saturday's group meeting after it was made clear that such a move before the election would be open to a legal challenge.