Liverpool councillors await their fate

Rebel Liverpool councillors who refused to vote for a cuts budget over a month ago are still waiting to hear from the Labour Party how they are to be sanctioned.

At the Liverpool City Council budget meeting on March 2nd, seven Labour councillors voted against the Cabinet’s proposals.

In a statement, the councillors said: “We could not vote for cuts to social care, the Green Bin Charge or measures that would leave non-council run libraries facing an insecure future. We also opposed the decision to raise reserves by £10 million when such deep cuts were being made.”

One councillor has since left the Labour Party. A second has resigned as a councillor. The remaining councillors have written to the Labour Party asking to be informed of any sanctions related to their decision. Given how open they were about their decision and the reasoning behind it, they were expecting a prompt reply.

Some have received a letter from the Labour Party apologising for the delay and confirming a swift resolution of the situation. Despite this, the councillors still have no news of their fate.

The councillors stated: “We could not vote for the cuts in the March 2nd budget so what are the consequences? This does not require a long investigation, leaving us in limbo as suspended Labour members. We are therefore asking the party for an immediate decision. We have many years of service to the Labour Party between us and we think we deserve that respect.”

The councillors warn that if they do not receive a response by Tuesday 19th April, they will have no choice other than to resign the Labour Whip and establish an independent group.

The councillors’ rebellion last month came after a decade of grinding austerity, followed by the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic. Liverpool is now a city engulfed by widespread poverty. Families are struggling to make ends meet, with many dependent on food banks and subsidised pantries.

The City Council has seen its funding reduced by around 65% since 2010, with spending now £465m a year less than it was in 2010. Year after year Labour administrations, however reluctantly, have passed on Tory cuts.

Cllr Alan Gibbons commented: “I wasn’t elected to make the lives of the people who voted for me worse. This was a reluctant step for all of us, but these cuts were a step too far. We are not criticising anyone personally. We criticise what we consider policy failures. The task now is to press hard for a better budget next year, one that invests in the city and is in the interests of the people of Liverpool.”

Image: Liverpool Townhall. Source: Liverpool Townhall. Author: Miguel Mendez from Malahide, Ireland, licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license.

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