SOUTHPORT/SEFTON LIB DEMS CONDEMN CALL FOR ELECTED MERSEYSIDE MAYOR
A report was published last week co-authored by Tory heavyweight Lord Heseltine (former Deputy Prime Minister) and Sir Terry Leahy (former chief executive of Tesco).
Michael Heseltine was dubbed "Minister for Merseyside" in the 1980s, following his efforts in the aftermath of the Toxteth riots, and Liverpool-born Sir Terry Leahy was Chief Executive of Tesco from 1997 to 2011.
The independent report "Rebalancing Britain: Policy or Slogan? Liverpool City Region - Building on its Strengths" was commissioned by Conservative Prime Minister David Cameron.
Liberal Democrats in Southport and Sefton have welcomed aspects of the Report but are strongly opposed to one of its key elements: an elected Mayor for Merseyside.
Lib Dem leader Cllr Tony Robertson who is Sefton Council's Cabinet Member for Communities, said: "I and my fellow Lib Dem councillors am strongly opposed to the idea of an elected Mayor for Merseyside. I think it is bad news for Sefton and its diverse communities."
"The vast majority of our Borough, and I am thinking here of Southport, Formby and Maghull, has a boundary with Lancashire. So the idea of a "Metro Mayor" would only put yet another artificial barrier between our Borough and those neighbouring Lancashire areas with which we naturally sit."
Lib Dem Councillor Simon Shaw is Cabinet Member Environmental, and said: "There are certainly aspects of the report that I warmly welcome, for example its support for the Mersey Barrage project, for establishing a proposed Green Investment Bank in central Liverpool and relocating civil service jobs to the region."
"However the idea of an elected Mayor for what they term the 'Greater Liverpool' area is a complete non-starter for me. I know that Sir Terry has said that he thinks our area needs a 'Boris'. I'm much more worried it might be a Derek Hatton instead."
"I suppose if the people of Liverpool and Knowsley and Bootle want an elected Mayor, then that is up to them. Just leave us out of it."Lib Dem Councillor Mike Booth, the Cabinet Member for Tourism and Leisure on Sefton Council, welcomed what the report had to say on opportunities for boosting tourism throughout the area.
Cllr Booth said: "For example the report highlights the issue of trying to resolve the issue of whether cruise liners are allowed to start and end their journeys at Liverpool. To have that would not only benefit Liverpool, but Sefton and Southport as well, with our wide range of attractions to tourists."