BELOW IS A CRITIQUE OF LIVERPOOL CITY COUNCIL AND OTHER ELITIST BODIES. THE FIRST DOCUMENT COVERS POSSIBLE INSTITUTIONALISED, UNETHICAL, CORRUPT BEHAVIOUR IN THE LIVERPOOL CITY COUNCIL AND OTHER PUBLIC AND PRIVATE REGENERATION AGENCIES?
FOLLOWED BY A DISTURBING REPORT ON THE KENSINGTON REGENERATION WHICH WAS WRITTEN BY A COMMUNITY ACTIVIST CALLED ROBIN MORRITT
Is there institutionalised unethical corrupt behaviour in the Liverpool City Council and other public and private regeneration agencies?
(This document was started on 28th March 1999)
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As a means to caricature the situation on Merseyside the analogy of the jungle is appropriate. Use of the following metaphor is an attempt to crystallize the process that has been taking place. The dominant predatory felines (public and quasi-public sector agencies) rule as they carefully prowl and meticulously observe their prey (EC resources). When the opportune time arrives they attack and firmly fix their sharpened teeth and razor like claws into the helpless beast. They then gorge themselves on a prolonged feast, while their ravenous rival competitors (private, trade union and civil society) wait impatiently to feed on the carcass that remains. While not arguing that such a natural law exists on Merseyside, the comparison is useful in depicting how the dominant actors are able to use their strength and power to obtain the lion’s share of EC Objective One funding while others are left to pick up the scraps left behind. (Dr Philip Boland research paper 1999)
Liverpool is one of the poorest cities in Great Britain and Merseyside as a whole is one of the fifth poorest regions. Merseyside has some of the worst deprivation factors in the country. As a result of these problems the region was awarded Objective One funding from the European Commission. This was to help bring about economic regeneration.
This report can be backed up with statements from official reports, reviews and press cuttings. It is intended that the reader will see the problems pertaining to the city of Liverpool and the region of Merseyside.
The main issues of concern voiced by the people who live in the poor communities are:
· The lack of easy to read information pertaining to the administration of the Objective One Programme.
· The lack of easy to read information from Government Office for the North West (GONW) pertaining to the amount of jobs that have been created directly through the Objective One programme.
· Hardly any information relating to the projects that GONW say are in the process of being initiated.
· What are these projects and when are they going to come to fruition?
· How many of these projects have failed to come to fruition.
· The lack of information from GONW and the Liverpool City Council pertaining to the administration and achievements of the Pathway Partnerships especially the ones that don't have Central Government Single Regeneration Budget (SRB).
· The need for a comprehensive guide to the Objective One programme from GONW, that covers the whole administration of the programme directly across Merseyside as a whole; and all the bodies that are involved in its administration.
· The inability of the council officers and the counsel's administration to come to terms with the fact that a well-established gravy train has evolved appertaining to the Objective One programme in Merseyside.
· The need for the City's Council officers and the staff at GONW to be continually aware of, and except the fact that there is a culture of secrecy amongst, staff and management.
· The need for council officers and staff at GONW, to except and come to terms with the fact that there is hardly any community participation in the Objective One programme or any other public ally funded project such as New Deal for Communities (NDC) and Single regeneration Budget (SRB) initiatives.
· The need for the Council’s to be aware of the fact that they serve the people of |Merseyside, not themselves and big business.
· Instead of distancing themselves from the public our city leaders should become more aware of the fact that Merseyside's population are astounded at the fact that nearly all of its council officers and certain elected members are incompetent.
· The inability of the council to see things from the community’s perspective.
· The inability of the council and GONW to inform people, via the local media, of important reports and reviews.
· Council leaders and officers making major decisions without putting them to the people.
· The ability of the council officer to pay themselves extremely high salaries.
· The way in which council officers change written descriptions of poor areas, and alter documentation purely to suit their own ends.
· The lack of accountability amongst council officers and certain elected members.
· The council's inability to understand the problems appertaining to the Toxteth/Granby area and the deprivation and poverty being suffered by its ethnic community.
· The involvement of the local media in what seems to be a one sided portrayal (favourable to the New Labour Party) of local issues.
· The involvement of BBC Radio Merseyside in local political issues, and there ability of portraying a one sided view of things, (preferably New Labour's view).
· The involvement of radio-station personalities and newspaper editors with the Democracy Commission when they should be politically impartial.
· The involvement (directly or indirectly) of radio station personalities in Local Government and Central Government issues
· The inability of the city 's leaders and media to stand up against Central Government and demand the interjection of more SRB and other funding sources, primarily to enable the successful drawing down of Objective One funding sources in to all Merseyside's 38 pauperised Pathway Partnership areas.
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Guide to the first Objective one Programme:
Guide can be observed on my web page http://www.whistleblower.nstemp.com/custom2.html of Whistle blower web site.
People Not Profit (PnP) organisation web site:
I have also made contact with the organisation People Not Profit (PnP) who are also asking questions about the way in which European funding is being administrated and spent. There web site is www.peoplenotprofit.co.uk PnP have made a link to my web site.
On September 1998I successfully completed a research course at Hope University. The subject I chose to research was the Objective One programme. At the time community activists where finding it extremely difficult to understand how the programme was evolving. It seemed quite impossible to gain a comprehensive picture of how the programme was being put together or to gain access to any significant information. Such is the bureaucratic nature of the programmes evolution information is spread across many agencies and local government bodies. The Objective One programme has evolved into such a complicated maze of agencies and Partnerships that a whole book could be written about it.
It was determined by my tutor and myself that there was a need for an easy to read, but extensive guide to the Objective One programme. I chose as my research project the task of putting together a guide. When I completed the guide, which consisted of 15,000 words and 51 pages, which was only a compilation of information that was written by the many various agencies. I took it to Government Office for the North West (GONW. Government Office has now changed its name to Government Office for the North West Regions. I explained to them that there was a need for a comprehensive guide explaining to the public how the Objective One programme had evolved and how many people where involved in its administration.
GONW only managed to put together a leaflet guide, which consisted of a couple of pictures and a few hundred words. For some reason the guide was never printed, or even used as a forerunner to a more elaborate guide, even though my tutors at Hope University where impressed by the way in which the guide portrayed such a bureaucratic programme in a simple way. I have often wondered why the guide was never taken seriously? I can only conclude that the many people who where in charge of the programme's administration where deliberately keeping the people of Liverpool and Merseyside in ignorance, because they where making such a mess of it all. For
what other reason would they withhold this information?
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Changing all the goal posts:
Since the guide was written many things have been changed, especially with the arrival of the new chief executive David Henshaws. Mr Henshaw, working with the Liberal Democrat administration, has changed the whole structure of the Liverpool City Council. There is now a new Single Programming Document, which is available from the Chamber of Commerce, who it is said, played a big part in its compilation. There is also talk of reducing the local Partnerships in Liverpool from 11 to five. Its as though all the goal posts are being changed to further confuse people. It’s quite obvious that these changes are taking place because Merseyside has been granted another £844 million Objective One funding in 2000. (Merseyside now has this money).
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A well-established gravy train:
An article by the former editor of the Business Week (a once weekly supplement in the Liverpool Daily Post) Alex Hunt, titled Alex Hunt's Midweek View reported: "Objective One" The only democratic option is on a nuclear scale and therefore unusable, tells an extraordinary story connected with the way in which the Objective One programme on Merseyside has evolved. It speaks of the Liverpool Council's inability to stop its regeneration experts from leaving and setting up public/private partnerships to advance their already profitable careers.
The article goes on to report how: The council has expanded its in house training programme to train staff in the dark arts of regeneration programmes and complicated grant applications. Objective One grant money was probably made available to help them do this.
The article further goes on to say how the EC is swathed in bureaucracy and how over five years of its existence in Merseyside the Objective One programme has developed into a well established gravy train.
The article says: Like the computer programmers who created a bug that only they themselves can cure (getting paid huge sums in the process) so there are legions of grant application professionals out there getting rich on deciphering the appalling processes developed by their ancestors. Unfortunately these very same people were also responsible for devising the EC. (Business Week Jan 1999).
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Newsletter I put together about Objective One:
European 'Objective One' what's it all about and what does it mean? £635 million, over £1.5 billion when matched by Government and private sector money (With another £844 million due again in the year 2,000) to be spent over a six year period. Given to Merseyside by the European Commission to help economically regenerate the region and bring an end to poverty, depravation and social exclusion; to help reach the most disadvantaged in our communities. Has this happened? Can the 500,000 people who live in the 38 recognised disadvantaged areas of Merseyside (known as Pathway Partnerships) honestly say they have seen notable changes in their communities?
You can’t argue with the facts!
Merseyside has some of the worst depravation factors in Great Britain and is one of the fifth poorest regions in the country. Over two thirds of Liverpool's population are living either in or on the fringes of poverty. In Merseyside as a whole over half of the population are living either in or on the fringes of poverty (Council's Anti Poverty Unit). Some time ago the Liverpool City Council stated in one of its many documents that the ultimate aim of the City Council's economic development activities is to promote prosperity for the residents of Liverpool. Has this happened? It’s nearly five years since the money came and incredibly the region’s GDP has become 3% worse than before it received the money.
Is there a veil of silence?
It was reported that 76% of the population of Merseyside have never even heard of the Objective One programme or of what it is supposed to represent. Yet the European Commission recommended extensive community participation in its administration. Is there a conspiracy of silence? Are we being deliberately kept in the dark? Do the local media know what is going on? Are they instead obsessed with the favourable spin? Do our local MP's and Euro MP's know what is going? Are the so-called 37 Pathway Partnerships suppressing information? Is there a conspiracy of silence? Are the people who are working in regeneration living in an illusion? Could it be that they don't want the people of Merseyside to know what is going on because the army of regeneration experts, business advisers, administrators and council officers are making such a mess of it all?
The affluent suburbs!
One thing is for certain the people who live in the affluent suburbs have definitely benefited from this bureaucratic programme. If we take into account the endless supply of business advice agencies, regeneration experts, architects, deciphers of complicated application processes, university lecturers college lecturers, bankers, colleges, universities, TEC's and local authorities employed to make complicated grant applications and the amount of people employed in the huge learning, advice and processing industry runs into thousands.(media source). The figures could be much more than this but no one seems to know exactly. This is not surprising as no one can actually give a precise figure to any aspect of this run away freight train Objective One programme. It has for want of better terms, taken on a life of it's own. Local media sources are already suggesting that more than £70 million of the Merseyside programme has been spent on paying the fees of these and other professional advisers and the EC is unable to say whether this figure is accurate or not.
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Is there a need for all the advice agencies?
The would be entrepreneurs and small businesses who have tried to access money through the many agencies say they where so astounded by the complicated bureaucratic drawn out process that many of them simply gave up. Are the multitude of so-called business advice agencies deliberately dragging the process out to justify their very existence? Casual observations would suggest that there are a considerable number of professional services, from accountants to public relation agencies, which have the EC and the Objective One programme to thank for their existence on Merseyside. (Media source). To the ordinary person in the street it would seem that anything connected with the EC is infused with bureaucracy, a lack of democracy and a total absence of accountability. It’s not so long ago that the most bizarre and sinister accusations were levelled at Jacques Santer’s European Commission and his band of merry autocrats. Fraud, nepotism, cronyism, rifles with silencers, how scary! At first the European Parliament did nothing, giving more authenticity to the charge of lack of accountability. In fear of more scandal the European Parliament eventually capitulated and forced the European Commission to resign.
The Partnerships! Are they part of a wider subterfuge?
What are the Partnerships? They are supposed to represent the voice of the people who live in the 38 disadvantaged areas, but do they? A report undertaken on behalf of the Liverpool University indicated that 76% of the people who live in the 38 disadvantaged Partnership areas didn't know that their neighbourhood was part of a Partnership area, and the ones that did don’t really know what’s going on. The report concluded with, developing and sustaining community involvement in Partnerships requires not only time and resources, but also a commitment to democratic principles. Few could honestly say that democracy was an attribute connected with the EC ideology.
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The Central Partnership Team:
They are supposed to co-ordinate and support the 11 Partnerships across Liverpool. There is one of these teams in each of the five Merseyside boroughs. Liverpool's team is situated in the Central Policy Unit and seems to be as secretive as the council. When I first approached them for information in connection with how much money had been spent on projects in the 11 pauperised Liverpool Partnerships they said. Quote. The information requested here is not the kind of detail kept by my team. Eventually through my local councillor I found out that they did have this information. In my opinion, how can there be any worthwhile community participation when what seems to be a bureaucratic secretive culture like this has been allowed to flourish? (With the new round of Objective One funding £844m, which was awarded to Merseyside in 2000. (In 1999 or 2000 the “Central Partnership Team” ceased to exist and the people who worked there where moved to other regeneration initiatives).
The so-called Five Drivers For Change!
Objective One is subdivided into five parts, which are technically known as drivers for change. The fifth part £524 million was supposed to be targeted at improving the likelihood of unemployed people getting jobs and involving communities in the Partnership Pathway areas- neighbourhoods which are economically depressed - improving the local environment, community services and the general quality of life. Has this happened? The Liverpool City Council recently admitted (1997/98) that there had been a considerable underspend across Merseyside's 38 Partnership areas, especially in the areas that don’t have SRB funding. The underspend amounted to £10 million, £17 million when matched.
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It’s top secret and it’s a "Gravy Train"!
The most mind-boggling aspect of this whole scenario is the lack of information and the semi-secretive bureaucratic ethos that surrounds the projects evolution, but the whole history of the European project has been infused with the mentality that nothing, which might damage its long-term good, should be revealed or even admitted. (Media source).
A local journalist wrote: Despite the first Objective One programme being only four years and a bit into it’s existence Objective One is already developing strong symptoms of being a well established gravy train.
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The elusive 25,000 jobs:
When Merseyside received the first round of Objective One funding £635 million (another £844 million is due in the year 2001) the European Commission advised Government Office For the North West that 25,000 jobs should be created by the end of 1999. (This date has now been conveniently changed to 2001). This has not happened. If you approach GONW they are not able to provide you with any credible figures. They do have complicated graphs relating to jobs created, but many community activists say these figures are not credible or reliable. In fact GONW are now as unhelpful and as unaccountable as the city 's council officers and the senior elected members.
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Is the Liverpool Daily Post and Echo ignorant to what is going on or are they part of a wider subterfuge? (Newspaper articles and comments on articles by Mike Lane)
It was recently reported in the Liverpool Daily Post (Dec 23/1999) that all of Europe's £635m Objective One funding for Merseyside will have been allocated by the end of the year deadline, an Objective One spokesman said last night. And it is estimated that the six-year financial aid package has attracted a total of £1.5b to the region, made up of public sector funding to match Brussels's input, and boosted by private investment.
Local government officers overseeing the allocation of funding claim the original target of creating 25,000 jobs will be surpassed once the full impact of Merseyside's first tranche £638m Of Objective One aid has fed through.
So far 16,429 direct, permanent jobs have been created, but current, and proposed projects, could take a further two years to complete, by which time more jobs will be secured. As of the 22 Dec 1999 98% of the £635m European aid package has been allocated, while the remaining 2% will have been promised to specific projects before the December 31 1999 deadline.
(This figure of 16,429 is highly questionable. A question mark also hangs over what type of jobs these 16,429 jobs are, and how much money they pay. Comment by Mike Lane).
Preparations are now on course to begin drawing down from the second tranch of Objective One funds, worth an estimated £844m, by next spring.
(This money is now available. Comment Mike Lane).
Liberal Democrat councillor Flo Clucas, who sits on the Objective One monitoring committee, hailed the first six years programme as a certain success. "We have achieved a significant goal," she said "We have ensured that a very large amount of money has been committed to a vast range of projects in Merseyside, and many of those projects are either already in train, or completed." "These include training projects, community projects both large and small, job and business creation, and major development projects around Merseyside," she said.
(Again, we have a Liverpool Daily Post and Echo reporter indulging in the art of the favourable emotive spin. I wonder if Flo Clucas did hail the first six year programme a success using the enthusiasm the journalist tries to portray in his one sided article? The question always asked by sceptical community activists is, "What projects were they and how many projects was there? Comments Mike Lane)?
Examples of key schemes funded by Objective One cash include the £90m Queen Square renovation in the Liverpool City Centre, key scheme includes the Swallow Hotel, JB Sports, a restaurant and pub, business and community developments in the Speke-Garston area, the Knowsley Partnership, the soon to be started Ocean Plaza leisure development in Southport, and the Laird Foundation in the Wirral area.
(The above facilities employ around three hundred people who are earning not much more than the minimum wage. This is in spite of the Liverpool City Council’s assurance that they, using Objective One funding, are committed to creating a more prosperous life for the residents of Merseyside. Comments Mike Lane).
Councillor Clucas added: "We have ensured that additional investment has flowed into Merseyside and now we are about to see even more funds flow into the region as we prepare for the second programme of European Objective One funding. "What we have done today is ensure that all the remaining available cash can be spent over the next two years. The deadline for agreeing projects will continue to deliver activity and jobs and will continue to impact positively on the regeneration of Merseyside for the coming two years. This means that we have yet to see the full impact of the first round of Objective One money, but what we have seen already is hugely encouraging."
(The fact still remains that the elusive 25,000 jobs by the end of 1999 has not been reached, 16,429 is 8,571 jobs short of 25,000. Comments Mike Lane).
(A former Merseyside MEP Ken Stewart said: (Liverpool Echo 27/7/95) "It is hoped that 25,000 jobs will have come by the end of 1999. However, concerns have been expressed about what kind of jobs are being created; Merseyside looks like ending up with the best trained dole queues in Europe - unless more is done to create real jobs and help business." Comment Mike Lane).
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They say that there are many projects on the drawing board and that much money has been committed to them, but except for the city centre and the Speke-Garston Partnership, there hasn't been an abundance of major projects. This is certainly a fact in the rest of the 37 poor Pathway Partnership areas; yet the fifth part of Objective One: £524 million (according to GONW in their tiny guide) was supposed to be targeted at the Pathway Partnership areas, home to over 500,000 people.
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When Merseyside was awarded this money it was expected by the European Commission that there would be extensive community participation in the programmes administration. This has not happened. How can community helpers and activists have any meaningful involvement when they don't know what is going on, or how the programmes administration is structured? In my opinion the present community participation methodology is not conducive with bringing about a bottom up approach. The outreach workers who work for the Pathway Partnerships and for the many other regeneration partnerships do not impart onto the community a participation methodology that is empowering, but rather a participation methodology that contains within it’s centre a neo-liberal ideology that instead of empowering the community subjugates and oppresses it causing the community to become domesticated. This is done so that outside vested interests can surreptitiously impose its hidden agendas onto the largely unsuspecting community. As a result of this the community does not create its own environment but is cajoled and indoctrinated into accepting an environment that is imposed upon it. In essence the community and its leaders become active participant in their own subjugation. (This issue will be covered in more depth in other documents).
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The review into community participation:
The lack of community participation can be further confirmed by a report. that was undertaken by Paul Kyprianou. This report and research is based on a research degree that was undertaken at the University of Liverpool. MR Kyprianou was also a co-opted member of Liverpool Community Rights. The report was first presented at "Community Matters in Europe" Conference in March 1997. Copies of this report can be obtained from Liverpool Community Rights. Although this report was completed in 1997 matter in relation to community participation have not improved.
The review concluded with:
· There is a lack of information about what is happening from the point of view of the community
· Previous regeneration initiatives have failed to create partnerships with effective community participation
· More than Three-quarters of the local people did not know that their neighbourhood was in a partnership area.
· Most community activists felt that local people's ability to influence what happened was limited
· Overall there was a lack of confidence that the Partnerships would make a significant difference to creating jobs or improving the area.
· The most important issue identified by key people was housing followed by
Developing and sustaining community involvement in partnerships requires not only time and resources but a commitment to democratic principals. This will remain a challenge to all those involved.
A couple of years after this report Paul Kyprianou did another report, which contained a very favourable spin and a sterling review of the Objective One Programme. This favourable report was expected by many community activists who do not trust Paul Kyprianou. It’s common practice for middle class consultants, researchers, and newspaper journalists to complete initial bad reports then follow them up at a later date with a good report. This tactic is commonly used, and it’s primary purpose is to further their career prospects. When it is noticed by senior regeneration administrators and council officers that people like Paul Kyprianou are, what is termed in the regeneration game as “safe”, they use them again in other regeneration programmes. For instance, Paul Kyprianou, who now runs a consultancy firm, was recently invited into the £62m Liverpool Kensington New Deal for Communities (NDC) area (this NDC area covers 4,200 houses and business premises) to do research into what is known as the five “Citizens Panels”. These panels were put together by the NDC regeneration administrator’s consultants and, by using stealth, imposed onto the NDC community. They are grossly under-attended, have no powers of decision-making, and only serve to confuse the wider NDC community. In my opinion they are being used as a public relation stunt to make it look like the community are heavily involved when in reality there are only a hand full of people making the major decision.
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The Pathway Partnership newspapers and the most favourable spin:
One of the ways in which the Pathway Partnerships try to portray the image they are involving the community is by stating they distribute a quarterly newspaper around their designated area. What they don't say is they post these extremely sanitised papers to only a very small proportion of the area they cover, in some cases less than a quarter.
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An example of the lack of community participation:
It was recently reported in the Liverpool Echo (Oct 18/1999) that community leaders in Merseyside's Kirby area have written to the Prime Minister Tony Blair claiming their voice on a multi-million pound funding package is being ignored. When £12.5m of Single Regeneration Budget SRB cash was awarded this year residents of Northwood where told they would have a say in how it was spent to improve their quality of life. But in a letter to Downing Street Chris Ashton, chairman of the areas resident's association has claimed their views are being overlooked.
£12.5 million isn't much when one takes into account the fact that, as already mentioned £524 million was supposed to have been available. This £12 .5 million SRB funding can be used by the community to draw down a further £24 million Objective One European Regional Development Funding (ERDF) and European Social Funding (ESF). This particular case is only an example of the way in which community activists are being kept out of the Objective One project. Lack of community participation is happening on a much wider scale right across Merseyside's 38 pauperised communities. It also to some extent verifies the fact that a well- established gravy train has now developed. Comments Mike Lane).
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WHICH ACADEMICS ARE TELLING THE TRUTH? ARE CERTAIN CAREERIST MIDDLE CLASS ACADEMICS PROLONGING THE MISERIES OF THE POOR AND SOCIALLY EXCLUDED?
The issue of regeneration on Merseyside Great Britain covers many subjects, but the issue of community participation and empowerment is being conveniently down graded by many of Liverpool’s elitist elements and this is in spite of the fact that central government ministers are promoting the empowerment of our communities. This business, local government and central government elitists are also secure and safe in the knowledge that certain safe careerist academics are promoting the most favourable spin in relation to the above issues in their research projects on regeneration.
At this present time there are quite a lot of academics heavily involved in issues pertaining to the regeneration of Merseyside, Liverpool and many other poor communities throughout the UK. One of the main academics (who is funded by some government body or other, probably Government Office) involved with regeneration and New deal for Communities (NDC) is Professor Paul Lawless. Professor Lawless can be reached at Sheffield Harlem University. His phone number is 0114-225-5555. This man is head of a team of lecturers who span the whole country, for instance he knows lecturers in Liverpool such as Michael Parkinson and his team, who are situated in Urban Affairs at John Moor’s University and Richard Meagan, who has received funding from a government body known as ESRC to partake in a 3 year research programme. This research formed part of the ESRC’s ‘Cities, Competitiveness and Cohesion’ Research Programme. It was a ‘free-standing project’ based around investigation of an actual regeneration initiative being carried out on Merseyside as part of the city-region’s social and economic conversion plan under Objective One of the European Union’s Structural Funds. This initiative - known as ‘Pathways to Integration’ – was one of five priorities in the Objective One single programming document and was explicitly targeted at issues of social and economic (Richard Meegan Summery of full report). Meegan’s final research summery was favorable and very supportive of the way in which Pathway’s has evolved and is operated. Richard Meagan research can be viewed on the ESRC’s web site: http://www.regard.ac.uk/cgi-bin/regardng/showReports.pl?ref=L130251044 he can also be reached at the Department of Geography, which is situated in Liverpool University.
The most damning report (1994-1999):
In 1994-1999 Dr Philip Boland, a working class academic at Cardiff University, undertook a research project as part of his doctorate into the European Objective One programme. Although his study only covered Knowsley, which is one of the five boroughs of Merseyside, things are just as badly run, if not worse, in Liverpool. In fact Dr Boland's latest paper “A critique of Merseyside and Objective One status” covers the whole region, including Liverpool which, obviously, has city status.
Dr Boland’s extensive research has been largely ignored by Merseyside's media, Government Office for the North West Region, senior council leaders, senior council officers and the major players. It would seek that a lid is being kept on Boland’s work and it is not seeing the light of day especially in the media. This would give further authentication to the fact that the city 's main papers and radio stations are involved in a conspiracy of silence when it comes to the subject of criticising the Objective One programme or regeneration in general.
It’s also interesting to note that the careerist Richard Meegan wrote in one of his European Planning Study papers Vol. 9. No. 2,2001 titled Tackling Social Exclusion: The role of Social Capital in Urban Regeneration on Merseyside, From Mistrust to Trust? That quote: One observer (Boland 1999) has painted a particularly bleak view of the Pathways process in another Merseyside local authority, Knowsley. He claims that Pathways is mired in confrontational politics and the inflexibility of the Knowsley Borough council’s institutional capacity, which seeks to control community groups and is less than sincere in advocating ‘participation’. However, this representation, we believe, needs qualifying. As the author himself acknowledges, it was a snapshot of the process at an early point of Pathways learning curve, at the point where mistrust between participants was clearly in ascendancy. Dr Boland has denied this observation by Richard Meegan. Dr Boland told me that he stands by everything he wrote in his reports on the behaviour of Knowsley Council and the way in which community participation is frustrated by council officers and regeneration administrators. It is also common knowledge amongst critical community activists that community participation and empowerment has not improved, but has deteriorated, especially now that most of the second round of Objective One funding has been diverted into the Liverpool City Centre.
In my opinion Richard Meegan was chosen and given funding and centre stage, because he is a safe academic who will pander to the expectations of Liverpool’s City Centre elitist government bodies (local and central government) and certain elitist business organizations. Richard Meegan and other academics, especially postmodernist academics, refuse to accept that new and radical methodology is needed if the issue of community empowerment is to be taken seriously. Unless academics take seriously the teachings of people like Paulo Freire and Henry A. Giroux the subject of empowering communities will make no definite headway.
Dr Phillip Boland, web site: http://www.cf.ac.uk/cplan/staff/boland_p.html
There are other academics who are just as capable as the above mentioned elitist postmodernist academics, but I believe these mainly working class academics are being deliberately censored and kept out of the regeneration picture because they promote democratic process and critical dialogue. Dr Boland’s research papers are attached at the end of this document. On careful observation the reader will see how the Dr Boland research papers differ from the research undertaken by Richard Meegan.
In my opinion the above lecturers, other than Dr Bowland, are at least to some extent, post modernist in the way they think and are supporters of a system that promoted neoliberalism and actually supports the present oppressive community participation and empowerment methodology that is being imposed on most regeneration communities throughout the UK. This participation methodology does not empower poor communities, but rather, suppresses, subjugates and domesticates them, primarily to facilitate the intervention of outside vested interests so that these elitist bodies can by using stealth impose their agenda onto the unsuspecting community. These lecturers seem to be oblivious to the voice of diversity and critical dialogue, although they will claim to the contrary. Most of these academics are careerists who will pander to the expectations of elitist central and local government bodies. New and innovative ways of empowering communities, ways that grasp to their centre democratic practice are a threat and anathema to these elitist elements, locally and nationally. Libertarian academics such as Paulo Freire, Henry A. Giroux, Professor Ira Shor and others who advocate open democratic community participation and empowerment are being blatantly ignored in favour of a post modernist repressive neoliberal approach.
What has been allowed to evolve here, with no critical intervention or accountability, is a very serious set of affairs that has been set into motion by the Liverpool City Council’s Community Participation Unit and Government Office high ranking civil servants.
In conclusion on closer observation it becomes quite obvious that there is a lot more involved in what is going on with the issues pertaining to the regeneration of Merseyside and the supposed empowerment of poor excluded people who live in poor communities that have been earmarked for regeneration using central government Single Regeneration Budget and European Objective One funding sources. It would seem that there was is definite hidden agenda when it comes to the issue of community participation and empowerment.
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It was recently reported in the Liverpool Echo: "Poverty-stricken Merseyside is bottom of the league." (Echo Oct 1999). The article goes on to say how Merseyside was labelled the poorest region in Britain today in a household survey. Bootle came bottom of the league with families surviving on an average income of £8,200 per year. It is joined in the bottom 20 by nine of the Merseyside post codes including Edgehill and Birkenhead.
The Wealth of the Nation survey by the market research group CACI revealed that more than 80% of households in Merseyside's poorest areas get by on less than £13,000 a year. Liverpool City Lib-Dem leader Mike Storey, however, remains positive. He said, "It is no surprise that Merseyside is in this position but that is why we attracted Objective One funding. We are being positive and the indicators are very good. there is defiantly a market here."
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Threat to European cash:
It was reported in the Liverpool echo on Monday the 22 of November 1999 that Merseyside's European cash lifeline could be slashed after government hints that it might try to duck agreed spending targets. The region has been promised a package worth £2bn after receiving European Objective One status. But Merseyside European MP Chris Davies fears the government is putting the package at risk by failing to match European spending pound for pound. This is despite ministers approving a five year spending plan when it was submitted to Brussels earlier this year.
In a letter to Mr Davies, regions minister Beverly Hughes claims government approval was only given so as not to delay the presentation of the submission. She hints that the proportion of European money spent on grants should be increased - lowering the amount of cash put forward by the government.
Mr Davies now fears the government could risk seeing the package reduced - by more than half. He said: "The protocol is quite clear. Europe provides £844 million, the government contributes £844 million, and the private sector provides the rest. But the government seems to be trying to avoid paying its share. I demanded a simple yes or no answer from the government but I have still failed to get one. People must draw their own conclusions from that. We are at risk of having our package cut from £2 billion to less than half that."
Merseyside qualifies for Objective One status because it wealth is less than 75% of the European average.
(This is another commonly used tactic by the cities media. Most people who are in the know about what is happening in Merseyside know that the media always use a scare tactic like the storey above. This is what is known as a “rouse”, primarily done so as to divert the attention of the people away from other important issues. Comment Mike Lane).
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The Pathway Partnerships and the Central Partnership Team:
When Objective One status was granted to Merseyside's five boroughs. 38 Pathway Partnerships were set up to cover 38 of the most deprived areas of the region. There are 11 Partnerships in Liverpool with a further 27 in the other 4 boroughs. Most of these Partnership are located in a building within the area that they serve. The level of staff depends on how big the area is. These Partnerships have been accused of being the well paid, self appointed voice of the community, and they are not averse to excluding anyone, who is construed by them to be in anyway controversial. They are also in constant contact with the distrusted council officers.
Shortly after the new Lib-Dem council came to power in 1998 the 11 Pathway Partnerships in Liverpool were reduced to 6. This meant that each partnership covered a much wider area.
The Central Partnership Team:
Liverpool and each of the other boroughs have what is called a Central Partnership Team, who are located within each council. These teams are responsible for co-ordinating between the council and the Partnership areas. Liverpool's team is located in the Central Policy unit at Millennium House.
(As has already been stated in 1999 or 2000 the “Central Partnership Team” ceased to exist and the people who worked there where moved to other regeneration initiatives).
A culture of secrecy has evolved amongst these teams, especially relating to the accessing of Objective One funds and the successful completion of projects. One often wonders if these people know, or even care about what is going on in the 38 designated poor areas.
Changing documentation and area descriptions:
One of the most astonishing things relating to the Liverpool Central Partnership Team is how they changed the Granby/Toxteth area description/profile. This area is home to a large proportion of Liverpool's ethnic community and is one of the most deprived areas in Liverpool. This is also the area were the notorious Toxteth riots took place in the 1980's. A recent article in the Liverpool Echo (oct 1999) states that things in the area have actually become much worse since the riots.
The Liverpool Partnership's Annual Report:
In the councils “Liverpool Local Partnerships Annual Report for 1998” they clearly changed the description from the description that was written in the original report, which was presented to the European Commission.
Below is a more precise outline.
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Pathway Partnership area descriptions:
Area descriptions of the 11 Liverpool Partnerships are contained in the Annual Report starting with the Dingle and providing a brief description of each area. I have the original official Partnership description document that was used by the people who compiled the Partnership Annual Report. Nine Partnerships were described exactly as in the original document, except for the North Liverpool Partnership and the Toxteth Granby Partnership. Below is the descriptions of the Toxteth/Granby Partnership.
Official description of Partnership :
Description Profile as presented in the recent Liverpool Local Partnership Annual Report :-
Toxteth/Granby community. Population 15.354 people (official report)
The Granby Toxteth Partnership covers five neighbourhoods: Granby, Princes Park, Thackeray, Lodge Lane and canning. based in the inner city , it has a mixture of old and new housing, educational establishments, the Royal Liverpool Woman's Hospital and community based organisations in an area which is seen positively by it's residents as being convenient, multiculture and friendly.
The above description is not the original description that is contained in the original Pathway Partnership Area Description document. There has been an omission from the original document.
The original description states :
PL2B - Toxteth/Granby community. Population 15.354 people (official report)
The area is effected by continually declining job opportunities and prospects, particularly to young people. Levels of education attainment are low. There is also a growing perception of racism adversely affecting the lives of the majority of residents which has resulted in an inward looking attitude for a great many people. The area continues to suffer from physical blight, even though new housing stock has been built and a number of environmental improvements have been made. The area has a lack of green space, poor street lighting, a growing drug dependency problem and is in an increasing depressed state.
As you can see the situation in the Granby Toxteth area is not very promising. It would seem by the obvious omission from the original statement that the City Council are deliberately misleading the people of Liverpool, especially when it comes to the problems that are being experienced in the Toxteth Granby area.
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The black community of Toxteth/Granby have always felt that the Liverpool City Council suffers from institutional racism, and as such has deliberately discriminated against them.
Liverpool Echo articles about the area:
An article written in the Liverpool Echo (June 1997) stated that Granby Street in the heart of Toxteth faces a bleak future under plans to regenerate the area, it was claimed at a public inquiry. Shops including one in the same family for almost a century face being bulldozed so the Granby Triangle can be redeveloped in a comprehensive way. On the last day of the public inquiry into compulsory purchase order, the street traders claimed the council had ignored them because they were black.
Maria O'Reilly, of the Liverpool Law Centre, told the inquiry how one white council officer from the council's property services section had said to a local estate agent that he would not inspect shops on Granby Street "because he did not fancy it." Another council officer commenting on hard to let housing in the street referred to bullet holes in windows. Mrs O'Rielly told inquiry inspector Derek Rumford that the references pointed to a lack of respect to the black trader of Granby Street.
Another article written in the Liverpool Echo (1998) states Council chiefs in Liverpool to day denied victimising black groups bidding for funding cash. Cllr Richard Marbrow, Chairman of the Councils Community Education Committee said this allegation was completely untrue.
His committee yesterday debated the future of £345.000 funding for the Charles Wooton College (Charles Wooton was a black Liverpool Citizen who died as a result of racism) in Upper Parliament Street, Toxteth.
The funding for the next year will depend on an independent inspection of the college opened in 1974 to provide training for the black community.
Steve Smith, a former management committee member, and former chairman of the Liverpool black Caucus, told the committee, "There seems to be a black purge going on." But Cllr Marrow said, "All organisations receiving money from the Council must comply with grant aid conditions. (Liverpool Echo Thursday September 24th 1998 )
Most recent article:
There have been many articles written about the Toxteth/Granby area, the most recent, a full page article (Echo Oct 5 1999). The article is too large to print in this report. It was written to promote the Channel 4 documentary "Untold Riot" which was to be shown that same evening. The documentary covered the 1981 Toxteth riots and for the first time those involved on all sides tell how years of racism, oppression and high unemployment came to a head. It also tells how a series of incidents escalated into such a vicious break down of law and order that it brought the city to its knees and sent Margaret Thatcher's government into turmoil. The Echo article ends with a harrowing conclusion. Makers of "Untold Riots" claim their findings show that while much has changed in the ensuing 18 years, much still remains the same. The worst is its brewing again. The principal of Liverpool Community College and one time community worker Wally Brown agrees, although he believes that the chances of an 81-style disturbance ever recurring are slight. Not because conditions have improved, but because he feels the police are much more organised and willing to listen. "But," he adds, "if you had taken a camera around prior to the riots, say to Granby Street, and then you did the same now, Its actually worse now than it was then.. The actual opportunities in the community are less now in real terms and the job situation hasn't improved." "The conditions which set the scene for what happened then are still there and when society excludes people, it needn't be surprised if they kick back."
The other 37 pauperised areas:
The Toxteth/Granby area is in a bad way, but lets not avert our attention from the fact that there are another 37 pauperised areas in Merseyside, were mass unemployment, low paid jobs, poverty, deprivation, social exclusion, are a way of life for the unfortunate residents who live in these areas.
Has anything of any significance been accomplished in these areas?
When one reads the Partnership Annual Report one has to look for what is not being said rather than what is being said. It is quite obvious from the report that very little is being done within the 11 Liverpool Partnerships to alleviate the problems of the poor in their communities.
As I have already mentioned the Annual Partnership Report only covers the 11 Partnerships in the borough of Liverpool My guide covered all 5 boroughs of Merseyside, and was much more informative.
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The many agencies:
During the compilation of the guide I wrote countless letters to all the different agencies contained in the guide to try and ascertain their progress and achievements. I did this purely for my own interest. As a result I was able to build a comprehensive picture appertaining to the various agencies progress. I documented this and sent the information to various political and community leaders in Merseyside and throughout the country. I have a catalogue of letters from MP's, MEP's, Liverpool City councillors, council leaders and famous journalists.
The false favourable image:
During the compilation of the guide I was sometimes amazed at the way in which the administration of Objective One was being portrayed to the people of Merseyside. The City Council and its Central Partnership Team seem obsessed with portraying a most favourable image, when in reality they are actually faced with a multitude of problems. The money from Driver 5-1 is not reaching the Partnerships in the way that it was intended to.
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The Democracy Commission:
Over the last couple of years Liverpool has been experiencing some of the worst turn outs at local elections in the country. Liverpool’s leaders seem to believe this has something to do with the lack of democracy and the unaccountability of the elected members. As a result of this they decided to create, with the full backing of Central Government's front bench, a self appointed Democracy Commission. This commission was only appointed on a temporary basis and reached to the end of it intended purpose in December 1999. The person who was responsible for running this commission is a man called John Egan, (former Liverpool Council employee and sympathiser with the council officers) who was seconded from his job as a New Labour regional officer.
(At this present time May 2002 John Egan runs a consultancy firm and works for public agencies such as Liverpool Vision. Vision are responsible for City Centre regeneration).
The Democracy Commission's leader:
The chair of the Democracy Commission was James Ross chairman of Littlewood's shopping chain. The famous Moores family own the Littlewoods shopping chain. It was reported in the Liverpool Echo (June 1997) that some of the family's 32 members who control all the shares in the Liverpool based stores were angry that they were not consulted by Mr Ross over a £550 million bid for its stores division. Mr Ross rejected the approach, made through City Venture Capital Group CVC Capital Partners, claiming it was inadequate. He decided to retain the 130 strong store chain with plans to redevelop and sell off some of the stores.
The Moores family:
The founders of the Littlewoods organisation the Moores family are the second richest people in the North West with an estimated fortune of £1.5 billion. (Echo 1999).
It’s interesting to note that John Moore’s University, named after the Moores family, is active in the issue of community participation methodology. One can take a BA (Hon) in Applied Community Studies at John Moore’s University and on closer observation of the degree syllabus one who is conversant with the teachings of libertarian academics such as Paulo Freire, Ira Shor and Henry Giroux one soon realises that this BA (Hon) in Applied Community Studies has contained within it’s ethos a neoliberal ideology and social engineering.
The members of the Democracy Commission are quite influential and will have an important say in what happens in Liverpool's future, and for that matter the future of the whole region of Merseyside.
The North West Regional Development Agency:
James Ross is also a board member of the North West Regional Development Agency. It was reported in the Liverpool Business Week (Dec 5 1999) that James Ross voiced his concern, as a regional businessman and board member of the North West Development Agency, to Tony Blair that too many business initiatives are spoiling the regeneration broth of the province. And Ross speaking at the business breakfast at the Albert Dock in Liverpool, asked what the prime minister is going to do about it. A week later, enter another Department of Trade and industry initiative to help with the competitiveness of the North West firms and bring jobs and prosperity. The new innovation team in question will be installed at Ross's self same NWDA, and is charged with "concentrating on supporting the development of world class clusters of specialist companies including those involved in bio-medical, e-commerce chemicals and aerospace sectors." But will there be time in the support world's diary once the lunches and seminars of all the other local quangos-have had their day for yet another group to sit down.
The elected mayor and his cabinet:
The commission is largely responsible for bringing about moves to install an elected mayor who will then appoint a cabinet of his own choice (a form of cabinet is now in existence) to run the city . Its interesting to note that the Local Government Improvement's Task Force, in its damning report, expressed concerns at the way in which the council's present administration (without thinking it through sufficiently) changed the structure of political management with a cabinet. I also have 3 hours of video footage that the commission put together. This footage is supposed be available on the Democracy Commissions Web Site. The video footage covers meetings with Professor Gerry Stoker, (expert on elected mayors and member of the Local Government Network) certain city leaders and senior council officers.
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The Local Government Chronicle:
It was recently reported in the Local Government Chronicle, quote: The biggest single source of ammunition for the critics appears to be former deputy leader Derek Hatton. Executive member for life-long learning Paul Clein (one of the 10 elitist councillors on the cabinet. Clein resigned in May 2002 claiming he was stabbed in the back by Lib Dem leader Mike Storey in relation to some issue or other) says: "What if someone like Derek Hatton got a landslide victory and got elected for the four year-term? It would leave us up a bloody gum tree." Mr Clein believes the Democracy Commission is a "political fix" and a mayor will increase the opportunity for "shabby deals" in a "remarkably uncorrupt system." But the newly elected Labour leader and Blairite Gideon Ben-Tovim insists "this is yesterday's storey. A council which has been so quick to modernise (it took four months) is one to watch." (LGC Oct 22 1999). Its well known that Mr Ben-Tovim is a Blairite, that's why he was chosen to replace former leader Frank Prendergast.
(Labour leader Gideon Ben-Tovim was beaten in the 2002 election for party leader by councillor Joe Anderson, who two years previous resigned from the board of the council led agency “Rope Walks” which is presently under investigation for fraud by the European fraud squad OLAF).
Elitist members of the Democracy Commission are:
Chair - James Ross (Chairman of Littlewoods and mouthpiece of the Moore’s family)
Vice Chair - Roger Phillips (BBC Radio Merseyside)
Rt Revd James Jones (The Bishop of Liverpool)
Lord David Alton (the foundation of Citizenship and Honorary Professor of Citizenship. Based at John Moors University).
Phil Redmond millionaire (Chairman Mersey TV) Who's programmes gives an awful portrayal of Liverpool, with psychopathic gangsters, incest, lying, you name Phil will portrays it on his Brookside sit-com. Some people fear that the right wing Redmond will use his programme to brainwash the people of Liverpool.
Claire Dove (Director, Blackburn House, Woman's Technology and Education Centre)
Professor Michael Parkinson (Director, European Institute for Urban Affairs)
Dr Protasia Torkington (Hope University College)
John Grifith (Editor, Liverpool Echo)
Liam Black (Chief executive of the Furniture Resource Centre. A Community Based Project funded by Objective One and public funding. The staff of this project don’t earn much more than the minimum wage, yet Mr Black earn well over £35,000 per year)
Jane Kennedy former government whip and now a minister (Member of Parliament, Liverpool Wavetree) former NUPE union official, witch hunter of the left in the 1980s and super Blair's babe.
Sir Trevor Jones (Former Lib Dem Leader of Liverpool City Council and extreme right winger and supporter of an elected mayor also leader of the Lib-Dems during the infamous Toxteth Riots of the eighties)
Sir Malcom Thornton (Former Member of Parliament for Crosby and Garston)
David Wade Smith (Director, Wade Smith LTD)
Professor Dennis Kavanagh (Professor of Politics Liverpool University)
Did you know?
Its interesting to note that the self appointed Democracy Commission received financial and in kind support from:
· Radio Merseyside
· The Liverpool Echo
· Mersey Television
Mersey Television is owned by millionaire and local icon Phil Redmond. I wonder if the subject of a n elected mayor will appear (favourably) in his Brookside sit-com scripts?
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The Echo survey:
According to the Liverpool Echo (July 9/1999) a survey was carried out for the Liverpool Democracy Commission (Echo editor is a member of the Democracy Commission) who are considering the possibility of Liverpool becoming the first city outside of London to have an elected mayor.
The art of subterfuge!
The reporter who wrote the article cleverly quotes, more than 400 people took part in the survey. The words more than make it look like a great deal more than 400 people took part, when more than 400 is not over five hundred, so it could have been 401 people. In fact when the final report was finished it was stated in appendix 5 of the report that 402 people living in 10 of the city 's wards took part in a face to face doorstep interview.
This figure 400 pails off in to insignificance when one takes into account the fact that 474,000 people live in Liverpool. How can 400 people be used as a credible method to assertain a truthful and credible disclosure of what the people of Liverpool want? It was quite obvious that the Echo would come out on the side of the Democracy Commission by coming to the conclusion that 63% of the 400 people supported an elected mayor. I must confess, I am not a wizard at mathematics, but isn't 63% of 400 about 226 people? Not much is it? Yet these are the facts that the Liverpool Echo gleefully trumpeted to the politically uneducated people of Liverpool. Who's side is the Liverpool Echo on? Talk about the art of subterfuge and the favourable spin. It beggars belief. (Press cutting available).
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BBCchat show host Roger Phillips
BBC Radio Merseyside's chat show host Roger Phillips, (former Chair of the Democracy Commission). Much has been said about Roger and his public relation and consultation activities. Rumour has it that Roger holds allegiances to New Labour, although his friend John Egan (former New Labour regional officer, former secretary of the Democracy Commission and expert in the art of public relations and who now works for Liverpool Vission) denies this. Roger is often in and out of the Liverpool Echo and was a colleague of John Griffith (former editor of the Liverpool Echo) on the now defunct Democracy Commission. In my opinion Roger Phillips has been using BBC Radio Merseyside as a political and public relations platform.
He has appeared on at least three promotional videotape promoting stock transfers from the Liverpool City Council to private sector housing associations. On one of these videos he appeared alongside New Labour MP Marie Eagle urging the people of the Speke/Garston area of Liverpool (another deprived Partnership area) to vote yes to council house stock transfers from public ownership to the private sector. (More about this further on). Speke/Garston has a population of 24,000 people. If you go to these areas you will see that the people have to live in appalling conditions. Poverty and social deprivation are rife, yet the Liverpool City Council has painted a completely different picture. Bellow is the area description.
Its interesting to note that on the 25th of November 2000 BBC Radio Merseyside's chat show host Roger Phillips interviewed New Labour's local government minister Beverly Hughes on her and his favourite subject an elected mayor. As expected she was well versed and put across her agenda in the most convincing manner. Of course Roger Phillips who is a member of the Democracy Commission questioned her in a way, which could have given his listeners the impression that an elected Mayor was a big step forward.
On the same day as the interview the New Labour government conveniently passed a local government bill that would in effect give them the right to overrule our democratically elected councillors and push through a cleverly contrived referendum, using only 5% of Liverpool’s population to trigger it off. This will give Trinity's Liverpool Echo and Radio Merseyside (both of whom are in the pockets of New Labour) ample time to brainwash the people of Liverpool with the bizarre recommendations of the Democracy Commission's 14 power elitist members. And of course these recommendations are the ones that are more favourable to Tony Blair and his front bench band of control freak modernises. (Eventually in 2000 the Liverpool City Council told Central Government to get lost and the elected mayor issue was put to sleep).
The area is 10 kms south east of the city centre, 1034 hectares along 6 km of the Mersey. The area is home to 24,000 people (18,000 in the Pathway area) in two communities. It is the engine room of the city with the largest concentration of manufacturing industry plus Liverpool Airport and Garston Docks and is a major growth pole for the Merseyside region.
Hundreds of millions of Objective One regeneration money has been pumped in to Speke/Garston area via the Speak Garston Partnership. Yet the people who live in the area can see no real benefit to their community. Most of the jobs that have been created with this money are low paid. Most community activists are critical of this Pathway Partnership, many of them have long since turned their backs on it.
What should really be said about the above area:
The above description does not give the reader the correct picture of what this area is like. For instance there are problems connected with teenage crime and misbehaviour. The area is also remote from the city centre. In effect the area is a dreadful place for people to live and the unemployment problems are chronic. If you visit the Speke area you will see that landscape contractors have planted dense rows of trees adjacent to the main outer road that takes you into Speke. Many concerned community activists say this has been designed so that when these trees actually grow higher they will hide the council estate from prospective business people who are driving into the area.
Roger upsets the Fireman's Union:
Not content with appearing on a video alongside the young MP Maria Eagle about stock transfers. Roger Phillips was also involved in the making of a video that has been attacked by the Fireman's Union as a propaganda video. On the 22 Dec 1999 it was reported in the Liverpool Echo that quote: Fire chiefs were attacked today for spending £37,000 on producing a "propaganda" video. It is part of a campaign which could lead to the scrapping of round the-clock cover at Formby fire station.
The free fire safety video fronted by radio star Roger Phillips has been delivered to 13,000 homes in the area. The cover says Mr Phillips "investigates" the Formby free from fire campaign and puts the questions YOU are asking to Merseyside's chief fire officer Malcolm Saunders.
Union leaders today branded the video as an expensive propaganda tool paid for by the public to promote the Brigade's controversial plans to axe full night cover at the station. But brigade bosses said the video was part of a consultation exercise over the plans to replace 24 hour staffing with increased fire safety work.
As part of the switch, the brigade plans to offer free smoke alarms and fire safety advice. Roger Phillips said: "I don't have a particular view on the arguments about the fire station. I talked to people in Formby and there were very few who thought the changing of the manning arrangements were a good idea."
If the night shift is closed down 14 firemen will be moved to other fire stations. But ultimately 14 jobs will be lost, because when these fireman retire they will not be replaced.
Bellow are the contents of a leaflet I handed to all Liverpool's 99 councillors at a full council meeting:
The absurdity of it all
Did you read Lord David Altons (Professor of Citizenship at John Moores University) full page article in the Liverpool Echo on the 1st of February 1999? The article concerned the publication of his new book, Citizens Virtues. I wonder if the people of Liverpool know that the editor of the same paper sits alongside him on the new self appointed Democracy Commission? Stranger still is the fact that BBC Radio Merseyside's talk show host Roger Phillips (Vice Chair of the same Democracy Commission) that stalwart and personification of perfect moral and ethical excellence, should be involved in, and chaired the Radio Merseyside debate (held on 21 January 1999) on Liverpool's future and the possibility of a forthcoming mayory. And who said the BBC was politically impartial when they appointed their new Director (estimated salary £768,000) Greg Dyke? who incidentally was an active member of New Labour and whose claim to fame is inventing Roland Rat. It seems to me that this Radio Merseyside debate had at least certain political connotations. But lets not veer off into conspiracy theory; lets not erode the virtues of objectivity. Is there an ongoing asserted somewhat premeditated effort on behalf of our cities media and virtuoso dignitaries to bring about these happenings, which always appear to uncannily coincide with each other? I could not fail to notice that New Labour MP and government whip Jane Kennedy (recently promoted to minister, and also a member of the so called Democracy Commission) was present at the same debate.
Whose really in charge?
Could people really be blamed if they were to conclude that there was a strong possibility of the existence of a self appointed, middle class, power-elitist clique (outside the scrutiny of the elected councillors) in Liverpool?, who seem to think they can make decisions concerning the populations future, and for that matter the future of their city .
Its all so complicated
As for the elected mayor and whatever European city our leaders use as a model to put him in charge of, the people of Liverpool don't really know what's involved, but having the local media in their hands New Labour are bound to promote a one side view, especially when it draws nearer to a referendum.
Too much power in the hands of the few
It shocks me to think what power this single elected mayor and his cabinet will have, especially now that the elected councillors may be drastically downsized. Are the people of this country being conditioned to except the unacceptable? have they witnessed so much shocking behaviour that they have now become unshockable? No wonder they do not bother to vote anymore. Do our leaders elude themselves? Do they for one minute think that working class community and political activist don't know that they, along with other powerful people in Liverpool, want to drastically down-size the elected councillors and eventually replace them with a handful of brainwashed middle class automatons. It's not for me to remind our leaders that according to the Local Government Improvement Programme task force report on Liverpool it was stated quote. The team are concerned that the implications of major changes are not being thought through sufficiently. For example, the move to a changed structure of political management with a cabinet has been agreed for implementation on May the 18th 1999.
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Who cares about the poor?
I often wonder if our leaders really know what is happening in Liverpool? Do they for instance know that according to the Liverpool City Council's Anti Poverty Unit two thirds of Liverpool's population and over half of Merseyside population as a whole are living either in or on the fringes of poverty? These very figures were presented to the European Commission when Merseyside applied for Objective One funding, £635million with another £844 million to come in the year 2,000. Do they also know that Merseyside gross domestic product is now 3% lower than when we received the first round of Objective One funding, or do they really care? It's interesting to note that our sanitized local media hardly ever report these facts. It's also interesting to note that when Merseyside received this money these sad and dreadful depravation factors were quickly demoted and conveniently thrown into the abyss of silence by our illustrious, ever suffering at the hands of the elected councillors, mainly middle class, high salaried, unaccountable, incompetent council officers
If central government and our middle class city leaders continue in their blindness pertaining to the terrible depravation and social exclusion factors that exist within our major cities they will create a recipe for future social unrest.
No hope and no way out:
I wonder if our illustrious leaders would come on a tour with me around Liverpool's deprived council estates and see with their own eyes the terrible condition that the residents have to live in? Witness the marauding teenagers who ride around on mountain bikes looking for parked vehicles to brake into. Socially excluded teenagers who stand on street corners shouting abuse at middle aged men and women, who dare not retaliate for fear of reprisals and intimidation. It would be interesting to see how these teenagers would react if Lord David Alton tried to bestow the virtues of good citizenship on them.
Its simple just eradicate poverty:
Lord Alton quoted in his Echo article figures about excessive criminality amongst our teenagers (is this surprising when they are being forced to live in such poverty and social exclusion) but he didn't give a clear answer of what should be done. It's fine to talk about good citizenship, but being a person who actually lives amongst these pauperised teenagers I can only say one thing to Lord Alton give us enough money to live on and eradicate poverty. He knows as well as I do that the eradication of poverty is possible. But is he like the rest of his middle class counterparts? Does he see things from a middle class perspective? Is he constitutionally incapable of seeing things as they actually are? Sadly our city leaders have become so far removed from what's actually happening in our pauperised communities that they are quite beyond reasoning with.
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The Tribune Newspaper:
The deputy editor of the Tribune newspaper John Bleven wrote the following article on the 11th of June 1999. He died suddenly of a heart attack shortly after writing the article The Tribune represents the voice of the dwindling left in New Labour. It’s also interesting to note that George Orwell the prolific writer on social injustice and poverty was once the editor of this same paper.
Only weeks before Mr Bleven (who was from Liverpool) died, Alex Mc Fadden Chairman of the TUC for the North of England and Chairman of the Merseyside Socialist Labour Party had invited Mr Bleven to speak about the bellow subject at the SLP's monthly meeting, which was held at the Bluecoat Chambers in the Liverpool City Centre.
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An elected mayor and cabinet:
Quote from the Tribune: It is essential to ask where the real power would lie in such a system. Would councillors outside the Cabinet become simply lobby fodder? The creation of a Cabinet would leave too much of the real power in the hands of too Few. It would make some more equal to others. Those members allowed into the inner sanctum would be turned into an elite. Not many people know about the New Local Government Network, a body close to the Labour leadership, which is currently receiving heavy flack for suggesting that the Government should impose directly elected mayors on major urban areas without first holding a referendum. The network was set up in 1996 by founder members including Labour peer Steve Bassam, Professor Gerry Stoker (expert on Mayorships and recently interviewed by the Liverpool Democracy Commission) and North Tyneside council leader Rita Stringfellow, who stood unsuccessfully in last years elections for Labour's National Executive Committee. Its executive members include Labour's former local government head, Abeigail Melville, who is a Lambeth councillor, is on Labour's panel of candidates for the Greater London Assembly and works as a political consultant for lobbying firm LLM.
Denies Reed, director of Local Government Information Unit, in a letter to the Local Government Chronicle, pointed out that among the networks proposals is a suggestion that local governments no longer needs to raise money, own assets or borrow directly. "Who on earth does the New Local Government Network represent?” asked Mr Reed. "When will the network poll its supporters to discover how many share these eccentric and reductionist views?"
In a related development, Mr Sullivan has joined with Make Votes Count, Unison assistant general secretary Keith Sonnet, Liverpool Liberal Democrat council leader Mike Storey and other leading local government figures in calling for a debate on introducing proportional representation for local elections.
Tribune has already documented the links between Make Votes Count and LLM, which has been hired by the organisation "to offer advice on media relations.
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The Democracy Commission's final report and recommendations:
After nine months of investigation and deliberation John Egan, along with the help of many people, produced a final report based on the findings of the commission. This report was very professional, but on careful scrutiny the report contains recommendations that are more favourable to New Labours front bench modernises. These final recommendations were put together by the Democracy Commission's 14 elitist members and a report was presented to the New Labour Government in London on Monday the 8th of November 1999.
The Citizens Jury
If you read the report, which has been skilfully compiled, you will see on page 72 appendix 4 a Citizen Jury was created. Their task was to forecast and describe a model of how the city 's political structure should look in the future. Each member of the jury was given a briefing pack which described how the Government is suggesting that councils, following discussions with the public, modernise their political management structures. This means that the way Liverpool City Council and other public bodies currently run may have to change, ready for the 21st Century. Some suggestions have included having a directly elected mayor for councils as they do in America, or having a cabinet system, where senior councillors make all the decisions and other councillors 'scrutinise' the decisions they've made. It was the Jurors job to listen to evidence about these issues, ask questions, talk about it and finally reach conclusions on how these political structures could be changed for the better.
The appendix goes on to describe the jurors preferred modal of mayorship and gives their recommendations.
The Citizen's Jury recommendations:
· A directly elected mayor.
· That a referendum for a directly elected mayor can be triggered by just one percent (as opposed to the Government's preferred five percent) of an areas population.
· Area committees be established in all 33 wards in Liverpool.
· A cabinet of 12 members the maximum of which should be ten 'political' councillors and at least two of whom should be 'citizens' councillors.
· The ten 'political' councillors would be full time paid for by the council.
· The two 'citizens' councillors would receive remuneration from the area committees
· Full council, rather than the directly elected mayor would appoint cabinet members.
· The full council will be made up of a maximum of 66 'poetical' councillors and 33 'citizens' councillors.
The above number of councillors was recommended as a maximum but it was considered that it may be appropriate for fewer members overall. I wonder if the Democracy Commission had some involvement in persuading the Citizens Jury to include this recommendation in their verdict? Its interesting to note that conveniently situated in the back few pages (appendix 7) of the final report it is stated (in minuscule hard to read text) that the Citizens Jury were supported by expert facilitators. This will further substantiate the fact that members of the Democracy Commission were controlling the Citizen's Jury's output and decision making.
· The full council's remit would be to vote on policy decisions and scrutinise the executive.
· It was proposed that area committees set out and undertake the selection process of 'citizens' councillors.
· 'Citizen councillors would have the same voting rights as 'political' councillors.
· An independent scrutiny committee.
· The committee should have strong powers, unlike the existing 'ombudsman' system.
· Local elections should take place every four years, with the 'political' councillors, the 'citizens' councillors and the mayor being elected at the same time.
The Citizens Jury were extremely disappointed that councillor Mike Storey, the leader of Liverpool City Council had to cancel giving evidence to the jury and that he was unable to attend at an alternative time. It was felt important that he should have given evidence.
Concern was also shown with regard to both the Liverpool Echo/Daily Post's quantitative survey and their coverage of the jury process. In relation to the former it was felt that the survey could have been skewed (one sided) due to editorial interference. (Editor of the Liverpool Echo John Grifith is a member of the Democracy Commission). Coverage of the jury's proceedings, during the course of the event, was felt to be inaccurate because they overemphasised the directly elected mayor modal.
Keen to be further involved
· The jurors are very keen to stress their desire to be both kept informed of the Commissions decisions and where possible further involved in the consultation process.
· It should be noted that the jurors felt that three days was not quite enough time to reach detailed recommendations. An extra day, it was felt would have helped them conclude with more substantial recommendations.
A veil of silence
As can be observed the Citizen's Jury verdict and recommendations are quite substantial and include 99 'political' and 'citizens' councillors, although reference was given to a possible reduction of councillors (this proposal was probably suggested to the jury by commission members) many of the present councillors feel that if Liverpool is to have a mayor and cabinet there should be 99 councillors rather than the 25 recommended by the Democracy Commission. Hardly anything has been mentioned in the Liverpool Echo about the Citizens Jury, its as if they never existed.
One also has to inquire as to why the Citizen's Jury verdict and recommendations where demoted to page 72 and 73 of the 78 page report? No mention is made (except briefly on page 26) in the reports main text appertaining to the Citizen's Jury or its recommendations. Yet the first 11 pages of the report were devoted to the Democracy Commissions recommendations. In fact the Democracy Commission recommendations are mentioned throughout the reports entirety. Its quite obvious that the Citizen's Jury verdict and recommendation where not taken seriously. Was the Citizens Jury only set up as a PR exercise?
Who are the people who sat on the Citizens Jury?
One can not find out how many or who the people were that sat on the Citizens Jury, when asked, the Democracy Commission said, their identities are confidential and not available, yet in appendix 6 the names and addresses of commission witnesses who presented oral evidence at the commission's public hearing sessions were included. The witness’s home addresses were not included in the report, but their institutions and agencies were named. If the Citizen's Jury names are being withheld, why are all 63 of the whiteness to the commission being named?
The Democracy Commission's recommendations:
· An elected mayor. Term of office four years, with a salary of at least £100,000 per year.
· The mayor will have a cabinet/executive team of 10, all of whom he will appoint himself.
· Instead of the 99 councillors there will be 25 , all of whom must first undergo professional and personal development training i.e. 'Brainwashing.'
· 25 Neighbourhood Councils (talk shops) to be established with the usual trophies, handshakes and photos in the local press.
Of course there was a sea of information in the official report to back up these brief recommendations. When one takes a close look at the above recommendations it becomes quite evident that they are the recommendations that would be preferred by New Labours front bench modernises. They would involve fewer councillor, which would have invariably made it easier for Central Government to exert more control over the City Council, especially if the mayor is a Blairite, which he more than likely would have been. One only has to look at what happed in London in connection with the Ken Livingston fiasco and how Tony Blair is pulled out all the ace cards to stop Mr Livingston from becoming mayor. It becomes quite evident even to the casual observer that New Labour want control over local government. What better a way to exert control, simply get rid of most of the councillors and replace them with a hand full of sycophantic toddies.
The witnesses to the commission
As already mentioned the Democracy Commission's report contained in appendix 6 the names and organisations of 63 witnesses to the commission. These people presented evidence at the commissions public hearing session. Most of these people are careerists and have good jobs within the city centre or within their communities. Its well known amongst the ordinary folk that most of these people, as well as being New Labour members, are part of the problem in Liverpool. They are well entrenched within their particular jobs and will close ranks on anyone who tries to give a different point of view to theirs. It’s also well known amongst community activists and political activists that many of theses people are a law unto themselves. There is no accountability amongst them and they seem to be able to do as they wish. This is given more authenticity by the fact that the Democracy Commission will not give the names of the ordinary people who sat on the Citizens Jury. In effect these witnesses are people who like to have their names bandied about in official reports as it gives them more profile.
The Local Government Network:
Its interesting to note that the final Democracy Commission's report was printed by the LGN which has been connected with Make Votes Count.
The day after the report was presented to local government, and the Echo's response:
The Liverpool Echo reported on the 9th of November 1999 one day after the Democracy Commission's report was presented to Central Government:
· Liverpool will be on the verge of a town hall revolution if the Labour Party backs radical proposals for a shake -up in local government.
· London has already decided to elect its first ever mayor and Liverpool could be the second city in the UK to do likewise
· According to backers of the reforms, the move will project the city as a 21st century place to live (Here again we have the Liverpool Echo practising the art of emotive subterfuge. Who would want to live in Liverpool? Especially with the band of toadies that are running the show)
· The council chambers currently echoes to the shouts of 99 councillors. Most would go to make way for a streamlined chamber with 25 ward councillors and 10 citywide councillors.
· But, while the need for change is recognised there is, say some, a need for caution. Here we examine both sides.
Yes says John Griffith editor of the Liverpool Echo and member of the Democracy Commission.
Below is John Griffiths view:
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Every one knows the old saying 'if it aint broke, don't fix it.' And can anyone seriously argue that local democracy in this country has not broken down? Look at the voting figures in the local elections. Look at the level of interest and understanding. Look at the antiquated structures that range from council wards that nobody understands, to council chamber language seemingly designed to actually prevent anyone from outside the system to understand what is going on.
Consider, too, the evidence of a Liverpool Echo-backed market research project conducted to all the accepted statistical standards. (Only 402 people were involved in this survey). It showed 72% cannot even name their local councillor (what's so unique about this? Probably the same percentage of people could not name their local MP) while 63% would be in favour of an elected mayor in the city.
Why? I don't know. But what I do know, having spent nine months listening to people of Liverpool as a member of the Democracy Commission, is that there is widespread agreement that an elected mayor supported by fewer councillors (but these were not the recommendations of the Citizen Jury) and a system of neighbourhood councils would kick start a new level of interest and engagement in local government in Liverpool. They were among the main recommendations we made in our report published yesterday and they immediately prompted a spirited row (I was. involved in that row). Good. We want to encourage a widespread debate on our recommendations, and I am delighted to see it get underway. (Again there is no mention of the Citizen's Jury recommendations).
I hope the Liverpool Echo plays a full part in it, and pledge that our news coverage of the issue will not be influenced by my personnel views.
(Surely Mr Grifffith is aware of the fact that the Citizens Jury in appendix 4 of the report voiced their concerns in regard to, quote: Concerns were shown in regard to both the Liverpool Echo/Daily post quantitative survey and their coverage of the Citizens Jury process. In relation to the former it was felt that the survey could have been skewed (one sided) due to EDITORIAL INTERFERENCE! Coverage of the jury's proceedings during the course of the event was felt to be INACCURATE because they over emphasised the directly elected mayor modal. Comments Mike Lane).
In any event, if I understand the government's position properly, it would be impossible to introduce an elected mayor without a referendum giving the people a clear chance to pass their verdict on the idea. This is how it should be, which is why I hope we will all try to consider both sides of the argument with an open mind.
(I find the above assertion quite comical when one takes into account the Liverpool Echo's past history of presenting the news. Its no secret that Liverpool Echo sales have fallen significantly over the years, one wonders if this is because they continually indulge the art of subterfuge? Maybe the people of Merseyside are not as ignorant as the Echo seems to think they are. Comments Mike Lane).
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Mr Griffith goes on to say: I know that many people argue that an elected mayor would have too much power, which could be open to abuse. But I believe the good sense of the voters, plus a system of open accountability and scrutiny would prevent that. Others point to what is happening in London and claim that the political parties would try and hijack the system.
My answer to this is. Let them try, and let the people of Liverpool have the final say in the ballot boxes. (And of course with a little help from the persuasive Liverpool Echo Comments Mike Lane).
After all, what is happening in London right now is that the question of who might rule our capital city, and what he or she might do, is coming out of the committee rooms and into the public arena. Isn't that how it should be in a democratic system?
Echo Editor is promoted:
Shortly after this article was printed John Griffith was promoted to Managing Director of the Huddersfield Examiner. (Some councillors say this was a demotion rather than a promotion). The Liverpool Echo serves a population of nearly 1.5 million people. The Huddersfield Examiner covers a population of only 119, 000 people.
No says Larry Neild local government reporter:
Below is Larry Neild's view:
Since the days of Queen Victoria, our local councillors have steadfastly attended to civic affairs through committees, sub committees and council meetings. Those meetings have reflected life in the city , the good times and the bad times, political sea saws, in fighting and intrigue. The carved benches of the council are steeped in history. But as we approach the 21st century, is it time to move on?
A Democracy Commission has recommended that Liverpool should have an elected mayor. We already have a Lord Mayor who acts as the civic head of this great city . We have a leader who is chosen by member of his own party. (except for Labour leader Gidieon Ben-Tovim who was selected in a different way). Those same party members can sack him or dispatch him to the back benches. It is a similar system to that at Westminster. We do not elect a prime minister, we elect members of parliament who choose the person to lead them.
An elected mayor for Liverpool would be a powerful man. Yes, man, because statistics from around the world show that very few women are elevated to the position such as elected mayor.
Polls show that the vast majority of people are in favour of such a job. But would people be as enthusiastic if they realised, for instance, that in France at least six elected mayors are either in prison or under investigation by fraud police for allegations of corruption? Would people be in favour if they considered the consequences of allowing a powerful supremo to hand top jobs to outsiders? It could lead to cronyism and nepotism. There would we are assured be checks and balances and scrutiny. But if we happened to have a 'bad' mayor, we would have to wait for four years to replace him.
The ruling Liberal Democrats have already started the process of change with a cabinet style executive committee and area committees to give more of a neighbourhood voice to local government. The party admits it is still on a learning curve, but already there are clear signs that modifications are needed. Cabinet members decide on policy, and it is hard for people at grass roots level to change that policy once it has been cast in stone.
The shake up in London is already a shambles, prompting some commentators to wonder whether Tony Blair will cool to the idea of elected mayor anywhere. The system of local government can be improved and can become more efficient, particularly with the wonders of new technology.
Liverpool was founded as a township by King John in 1207 and it was in the 1800s before the city had a Lord Mayor. So why not wait a while and observe what happens in London before taking the plunge.
(The above article by Larry Neild makes more sense than John Griffith's article. But still no mention is made of the Citizen's Jury recommendations. I find this very disturbing. When one takes into account the publicity that this issue has had and is still having, there is no mention of the Citizen's Jury recommendations whatsoever.
By chance I bumped in to Larry at the Liverpool Echo Office and asked him why nothing had been reported about the Citizen's Jury verdict in the Echo? He said maybe because it is a boring subject. Comments Mike Lane).
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Eleven days after the Democracy Commission's report was presented to local government it was reported in the Liverpool Echo 17 November 1999 that the government today paved the way for Liverpool to get an elected mayor. A Local Government reform bill was among a package of 28 bills included in to days Queens speech. It will allow Liverpool to have a referendum on the issue if it is proposed by the City Council or more than 5% of the local electorate present a petition to the government. This means that Liverpool could expect a referendum by as early as next year (2,000).
The city 's Labour leader Gidieon Ben-Tovim today demanded that such a referendum on a elected mayor should take place as soon as possible.'
(If you take a close look at the proceeding passage you will see that the journalist Keith Gladdis has deliberately been emotive in the way he has presented this passage, for instance the reader would assume that Mr Ben-Tovim ordered a referendum as the word demanded means, according to the dictionary, to ask as giving an order. This emotive portrayal of news is always prevalent in the Liverpool Echo, especially when it concerns an issue that they feel strongly about. The above statement will also give authenticity to the fact that the Echo, which for a long time supported the Liberal Democrats, is working hand in glove with BBC Radio Merseyside proclaiming the validity of the Democracy Commission together with its carefully conjured up proposals. This is partly because both are under the influence of New Labour. Trinity International Holdings, which owns the Echo recently bought the Daily Mirror, which provided full support for New Labour in the last general election. Comments Mike Lane).
What the proceeding Echo passage should have said was:
Of course the middle class, careerist, Blairite city 's Labour leader Gideon Ben -Tovim today demanded that such a referendum on a elected mayor should take place as soon as possible.'
The Echo article further went on to say: He, that is Mr Ben-Tovim, said: "I am delighted a local government bill has been included in the Queen's speech and (of course he would be) Liverpool must act quickly to benefit. The Liverpool Democracy Commission (the Democracy Commission's headquarters are situated in the Liverpool University where Mr Ben-Tovim works as a lecturer in sociology) has recommended the city gets an elected mayor and we should let the people decide as soon as possible. I will be calling a motion before the council to get the process moving as soon as possible."
On the 24th of November at the full council meeting in the town hall only 25 of Liverpool’s 99 councillors voted "yes" for an elected mayor. The councillors that voted yes tried to sideline the debate by wasting as much time as possible, hoping they could force a quick vote near the end of the meeting when most of the councillors had gone home. It seems that Liverpool's New Labour Party will stoop to any tricks, even if it means forcing an elected mayor on to the people of Liverpool. Some opposition councillors feel that New Labour has designed a premeditated campaign of connivance so as to help New Labour councillors back into power through the back door. Mike Storey urged caution exclaiming that he was going to call back the Local Government Improvement Team to further look at the running of the City Council.
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The Local Government Task Force Report:
At the beginning of 1999 it was reported in the Liverpool Echo quote: Trouble-shooters have been called in to help Liverpool City Council improve its services. A team from the Local Government Association Improvement and Development Agency will begin work in Liverpool on the 8th March. The Echo article went to great lengths to make it look like the Task Force was casually invited in by council leader Mike Storey and the then chief executive Peter Bounds, when in effect the council was in a dreadful state and Mr Bounds and the former Labour administration were largely responsible for this. (No administration likes to admit they made a bad choice in picking their chief executive). This fact was further established by the Task Force's damning report and summery. The Task Force used my guide to help them. They sent a letter thanking me for the guide. (Echo articles available).
The old chief executive leaves in a blaze of glory:
The new Chief Executive replaced Peter Bounds, who took early retirement and left in a blaze of glory, with a golden handshake of £250,000. Council leader Mike Storey said, "He leaves the council in a much stronger and healthier state than when he arrived." (Echo Oct 1999). Well what can one say about this statement? Its as if our leaders are re-enacting a scene from Monty Pythons Flying Circus. Here we have a chief executive who along with council leader Mike Storey invited a team of troubleshooters into the city to sort out the problems connected with the city council. As already mentioned the team from the Local Government Association's Improvement and Development Agency produced a damning report on the way in which the council was being run. Yet Mike Storey has the nerve to lavish praise on the former Chief Executive who was largely responsible for it. It beggars belief.
The Local Government Task Force reports findings:
When one reads this report, which does not really give the whole truthful picture, one should be taken aback by the absolute incompetence connected with the Liverpool City Councils administration. Putting the elected members to one side; one marvels at the behaviour of the extremely high salaried council officers. Its quite obvious that this report was written in such a way as to give the impression that the elected members are the bad guys. Granted some of the elected members are awful, but the council officers certainly take some beating. The Task Force told Liverpool it had major weaknesses. They said a sea of change was needed if it was to have any hope of achieving the challenging modernising agenda set by the government.
The main concerns were:
· Weak or non-existent corporate management structures for key strategic issues due to chronic departmentalism, and an ineffective chief executive's management team.
· Excessive committees, task groups and working parties.
· Hostility and distrust between elected members and senior officers, and interference from members.
· Failure to produce effective corporate plans on major policy initiatives.
· Poor communications, especially internally.
· Poor quality, high cost services.
· Disengagement from local people's real needs and interests.
More power to the unaccountable council officers:
The new Liberal Democrats leader Mike Storey and his cabinet of 11 trusted yes men, have now given council officers the power to make major decisions without consulting the elected members. (Liverpool Echo 1999). This is bound to make the already unaccountable behaviour of the council officers much worse.
Incompetence and unaccountability:
If one carefully reads local press cuttings one will observe the extraordinary behaviour of the city 's administration. People have marvelled at the incompetence of our City Council, especially the council officers. Journalists have told me that there's nothing new about this, its happening in all our major city 's. I find this very hard to believe. Surely no city can have an administration as unaccountable and incompetent as Liverpool.
Scandal after scandal:
Nearly every month a scandal of one description or another is reported in the Liverpool Echo. The people of Liverpool are now quite unshockable. Even as I write this report another Liverpool council officer has been condemned by the elected members. (Echo Oct 28 1999). This time it concerns the secret plans to extend the Liverpool Football Club to create a 55,000 seater stadium. Apparently councillors want to know why ex-city chief executive Peter Bounds ordered plans to demolish terraced streets around the stadium to be prepared without telling them. Of course the new chief executive David Henshaw has ordered a major inquiry into the why the episode was handled. The article goes on to say how the former incompetent chief executive Peter Bounds and his council officers kept the plans secret. Of course the council officer Bob Pointing pleads his innocence, saying: "I have done nothing to be ashamed of. I do not like to work in secrecy but I was told it was a confidential report." How does the saying go? I was only acting on orders. Here is another example of the why in which the spineless council officers do as they are told, even if it is underhanded. Needless to say it will be covered up and no one will even be reprimanded.
The new Chief Executive:
The new Chief Executive David Henshaw, who will be earning £130,000 a year. Amazingly the Liverpool City Council's ruling Lib Dem leaders paid £75,000 to a London agency to search for a replacement for the former Chief Executive Peter Bounds, but the job was given to Knowsley Council boss Dave Henshaw. (Knowsley is a £1.30p 15 minutes bus drive from Liverpool). The minority opposition Liberal group wrote to the Ombudsman claiming that the £75,000 headhuters fee was an utter waste of money. (Echo 1999).
The sky's the limit for Liverpool's senior council officers:
Mr Henshaw (nicknamed the hatchet man from Knowsley) has now decided to pay senior officers £110,000 per year when he has restructured the council. (Echo 1999). He has stated that heads will roll amongst senior council officers, but everyone knows that most of the same old faces will still be around earning between £50 to £80,000 per year. Rumour has it that most of these people are freemasons and freemasons look after each other. Its rather perverse to watch how these people dole out fantastic salaries amongst each other, as though it were monopoly money, when two thirds of the households in Liverpool and over half of Merseyside as a whole, live either in poverty or on the margins of poverty. If there is a heaven on earth, surely these people are living in it.
The final show down:
The year came to a close with the final show down. The Daily Post reported on the 4th of December 1999 that: Six of the ten top executive officers in Liverpool City council have now quit. Three more announced that they had applied for early retirement and they are getting it.
The three latest are director of resources Phil Kelly, better known as the City Treasurer, housing chief Mike Maunder and assistant chief executive Allan Chape. Between them they have 50 years experience. The longest serving of the three Mr Chape, has worked for the council since 1968. Mr Kelly started in the treasury department in the 1980's and Mr Maunders joined in 1991. Their applications to leave under the early retirement scheme, announced last week, were agreed yesterday at a meeting of councillors.
Only a day before the above report political reporter Larry Neild wrote in the Liverpool Echo: Three bosses announced today that they are quitting their town hall jobs in Liverpool. And their departure package could cost the ratepayers £750,000 it was claimed this afternoon.
Earlier this week new chief executive David Henshaw announced a package aimed at giving all council employees over 50 the opportunity to go. A panel of councillors was set up just weeks ago to discuss and decide departure arrangements for top town hall bosses - and all six politicians were told that the details and figures were NOT to be revealed. But opposition councillors claim that the cost will amount to at least £750,000 - and could be even higher. One veteran Labour councillor commented: "It has already cost a similar amount for the early retirement of chief executive Peter Bounds, transportation director John Liddle and education director Frank Gogley. "This latest batch of early retirements at the top will cost at least the same amount. Each individual will get a golden hand shake, then the council will meet their pension contributions until the normal retirement age. One of the officers retiring Phil kelly, is only 50, which will mean that the council will pay their own contributions and Mr Kelly's until his normal retirement age.
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It was reported in the Liverpool echo 11 Sep 1999 that a CITY schools boss who took early
retirement after a damning report is back again - as a consultant on a reputed £300 a day. The return of Anton Florek has left opposition councillors fuming and sparked a vote of no confidence from town hall workers. Mr Florek was one of the five heads of services within the education directorate, in charge of pupil and student services. Four of the five heads announced last month that they were to take early retirement rather than apply for new jobs in a shake up of the directorate. It follows a damning report by the education standards watchdog Ofsted and later a task force into Liverpool's education services. Director Frank Cogley was the first to quit followed weeks later by his four deputies.
Labours education spokesman Cllr Joe Anderson said: "I find it unbelievable that days after a senior officer leaves the authority on early retirement with a pension he should be back working as a consultant.
Cllr George Knibb, leader of Liverpool's Labour group, said: "Employing somebody for £300 a day as a consultant after they have left the council's employment is outrageous." Education welfare officers held an emergency union meeting to discuss the matter.
Council union spokesman Roy Gladon said: "The education welfare officers are absolutely innocent." Liberal Democrat Richard Marbrow, education select committee chairman said: "Mr Florek has been retained for a short period because there was some work that needed to be completed and he was the best person to finish that work. "it was for a very short period."
So firmly entrenched were these senior officers that it will eventually cost the council millions of pounds to get shut of them all. Its hard to believe that the above golden hand shakes were even allowed, but when it comes to council officers in Liverpool anything goes.
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The city 's elected members and MP's:
Liverpool has 99 elected members.
Merseyside has 16 MP's, 5 of which cover Liverpool. 2 of Liverpool's MP's hold ministerial position. Jane Kennedy and Peter Kilfoyle. Before they were MP's both of these people were union officials and witch hunter's of the left in the days of Militant. They were also former confidante's of Neil Kinock. Peter Kilfoyle’s book published in 2000 describes his activities during the Militant era.
Eric Heffer former MP:
The former left wing MP Eric Heffer, now deceased, wrote about the mid 1980s and early 1990s in his book 'Never A Yes Man:'
Bellow is an extract from his book:
When Eric Heffer decided to retire he was not happy with what happened, he said: "Unfortunately, all was not plain sailing. The regional officer of the Labour Party, Peter Kilfoyle, told me he intended to stand. Although unhappy about this, I said little at the time. But, after thinking it over, and coming to the realisation that it was unprecedented for a regional officer to stand for a seat, I raised it with the NEC. I am afraid this caused a furore. Peter Kilfoye's friends in the CLP thought I was interfering with the selection process. This was not so. I simply felt it unfair for a regional officer to use the advantage of that position to get a seat, especially one who has acted on behalf of the NEC to carry out the reorganisation and purges of the party membership on Merseyside. The NEC discussed my letter and agreed that the rules would have to be changed so it would not happen again. however, as no rules had been broken, they ruled that this time it was permissible. Kilfoyle was selected, but only just. As someone remarked, "He has received his sweets." His selection is a recipe for future conflict. My agent, Laura Kirton, backed Kilfoyle and has turned against the Militant supporters, many of whose ideas she supported in the past. It is all very sad but there was nothing I could do." ('Never A Yes Man' Eric Heffer 1991).
In the 1980's Peter Kilfoyle was referred to as one of Neil Kinnock's political policeman. Mr Kilfoyle was involved in attempts to remove Terry Fields the left wing MP for Broadgreen. Terry Fields was the only MP that drew a workers wage. The money that was left over from his MP's salary he gave away. Eventually Terry Fields was removed and former union official Jane Kennedy took his seat. It was written in the book “Liverpool A City That Dared To Fight” that the unacceptable face of the Labour Party was shown not by the left but by the actions of the right's appointed official in Liverpool, Peter Kilfoyle. He once walked into the District Labour Party office and ripped a phone from the wall, a sign of desperate and of brutal methods that the right wing were prepared to employ against the left.
Neil Kinnock once held an election rally in Kirkby. People said it was like trying to get out of Colditz. Labour party officials aided by lines of police turned away local party members. Peter Kilfoyle was on the door pointing out undesirables, with the comment, "He is one of the comrades." One blindman, the local leader of the blind and disabled was dragged across the road by at least six policemen for trying to get near the door. Yet even amongst the hand picked audience there were protests. After the meeting according to his biographer, Michael Leapman, Kinnock drove to the Derby Lodge at Huyton, the smartest hotel in the area, where he and his team from London were staying. He drank at the bar with Jack Straw and some of the key campaign workers. The next day he disclosed how, at the Derby Lodge, the night before, he had his first disappointing encounter with a Jacuzzi. Kinnock and his entourage were as remote from the working people of Knowsley North and Liverpool as it was possible to be. (Extracts from 'A City That Dared to Fight' 1988). Much has been written in this book about the treacherous behaviour of Peter Kilfoyle and Jane Kennedy, both former union officials.
Big house, and their all interconnected:
Peter Kilfoyle now lives in Sandfield Park, a prosperous Liverpool suburb. The estimated value of his house is well over £200,000. Rumour has it that he bought the house of Peter Hynd, proprietor of the Neptune Group, another property developer who has his fingers in the Objective One ERDF pie. There are a host of these property developers who are all connected with the city council and the government's Regional Development Agency. They are also connected with the new Vision for Liverpool agency.
A Liverpool Echo reporter wrote a rather servile favourable article on Monday January 31st 2000. The article droned on about MP Kilfoyle who cares nothing for his constituents
What has Mr Kilfoyle achieved in his constituency? Absolutely nothing. It is still one of the most run down, poorest communities in the city .
Mr Kilfoyle claims that he wishes to spend more time in his constituency. What a joke! Anyone with a once of common sense knows that he has left his ministerial position primarily because he could not get on with the old boys brigade in the Ministry of Defence. Some also felt that he had his eye on becoming the elected mayor of Liverpool.
Lets take a look at what he earned as a junior minister, probably somewhere in the region of £74,000 per year. If he becomes the elected mayor of Liverpool he will earn around £100,000 per year. Is it any wonder that he has given up his ministerial job? I would have done the same if I was a careerist conniver like him.
Kilfoyle is now banging the poor working class drum and claiming he is a critical friend of Labours front bench. The truth is that the resourceful Mr Kilfoyle probably vacated his ministerial post to run for elected mayor. What better a way for control freak Blair to keep a tight lid on Merseyside, a region that has always been perceived by central government as a political hot bed? Kilfoyle makes no secret of the fact that he wishes to further the idea of regionalisation, which is pro Europe. He would also like to see an end to the five boroughs of Merseyside and have a mayor that represents the whole of the region. Surely this would help Labour gain complete control of the region.
One of Liverpool's MP's Bob Wareing was suspended by New Labour for allegedly taking cash from Serbia, which he strenuously denied. The Liverpool Echo reported that Serbian warlords paid £6,000 to a business he set up. Labour bosses were horrified that one of their MP's should have links with people who have been accused of committing acts of genocide. Moves were immediately made to suspend Mr Wareing after it was discovered that he had failed to declare payments he received through the company. Mr Wareing who was at the time chairman of the all party British Yugoslav parliamentary group has made many visits to the troubled province. Mr Wareing attracted Tony Blairs anger in 1995 when he held talks with Serbian war Lords Radovan karadzic and General Radco Mladic. Other Labour MP's accused him of using his privileged parliamentary position to defend Serbian politicians who they claimed had been involved in genocide and ethnic cleansing. Mr Wareing stated that he had returned the money, but a failure to declare a payment or donation is a serious offence in Westminster. Mr Wareing eventually apologised and is still an MP. Rumour has it that the BBC Radio Merseyside chat show host Roger Phillips was once after Bobs job. Bob Wareing has been ostracised by Millbank Towers and moves have been made to deselect him. (Echo June/Oct 1999. Articles available)
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The property developers:
There are over 50 property developers in the Liverpool Yellow pages alone. Amongst some of the big players are English Partnerships, Urban Splash, Neptune Developments, and the Beetham Organisation.
Peter Hynd who runs Neptune Developments also used to have a business called Hynd Construction. As well as other projects Neptune are currently in partnership with the Swallow Hotel chain and both have plans to install another hotel in the former terminal at Liverpool Airport in 2000. (The Speke Airport hotel has been completed and is now in operation).
The Swallow has 38 three, four and five star hotels, including the Liverpool City Centre Queens Square hotel which is paying its unskilled staff not much more than the minimum wage It cost £15m to build the Swallow Hotel. Neptune Developments paid £10.4m. English Partnerships and Objective One provided £4.6m. This means Neptune a private company was given £4.6m funding. The Swallow chain has now been taken over by the pubs and breweries group Whitbread who announced on Nov. 22 1999 that they had reached a deal to buy the Swallow Group for £578m. The Swallow name has now been changed the Marriott. This doesn't necessary mean that Whitbread's will buy the Queens Square hotel outright, but will own a percentage of it. Government Office for the North West, English Partnerships and the Regional Development Agency say, if properties go up substantially in value, over a certain period of time, then there will be claw back of funding. Another firm also known as Neptune something or other along with the original Neptune Developments and Whitbread now have part ownership. So it stands to reason that Neptune will not want to sell the hotel, especially if their is a possibility of ERDF funding claw back. Neptune will probably sit on this hotel for years to come. Its all so complicated that no one can seem to get to the bottom of it all.
The Beetham Organisation:
The Beetham Organisation are currently involved in the proposed 480ft sky scraper which will be built on the site of Liverpool's former St Pauls Eye Hospital in Old Hall Street. The building will be known as NW Point. The main tenants of this building will be another hotel chain called Radison who own a chain of more than 100 hotels across the world many of them providing five star luxury. It is believed that the hotel part of the structure will occupy eight floors.
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The people who do the real work live in poverty:
It was recently reported in the Liverpool Echo that a bonus scheme, which paid £33,000 a year to, a Liverpool council pavement flagger is to end. (Echo 1999). Apparently a storekeeper and certain road maintenance worker were earning in excess of £33,000 per year. The Echo’s chief investigative reporter wrote this article. The reporter also managed to obtain a photograph of the unfortunate paver John McNamee smiling as he wiped his hands with a piece of cloth. This particular shot was obviously used to make it look like he was laughing all the way to the bank. The article went on to say: The pay review comes after an Echo enquiry revealed that flagger John McNamee earned more than £33,000 in one year due to a bonus scheme. What the reporter did not say was that Mr McNamee never earned this wage every year. Another thing the reporter failed to mention was how hard these men work and how highly skilled they actually are. When one takes a close look at what these road maintenance workers do one is immediately taken aback by the level of skill they actually possess. These men work extremely hard and as well as laying paving stones they have many other skills, such as, tar macadam laying, the installation and erecting of bus stop shelters, crash barriers, lamp posts, the laying of Kerbing stones, the handling of heavy pneumatic equipment, the driving and controlling of heavy duty plant. The Echo reporter then for some reason known only to himself (probably to obtain a negative reaction from the reader) compared their wages with the salary of a doctor, quote: John McNamee earned more than £33,000 in one year due to the bonus scheme. His wages equalled those of a junior doctor. I wonder if this same reporter knows that the men who work in this extremely physical profession are likely to develop arthritis, backs problems, chest disorders and heart disease, due to the fact that they are constantly lifting heavy objects. But what does the reporter care, he has probably never completed a hard days physical labour in his life. So often the skilled men in Great Britain such as joiners, carpenters, bricklayers, plasterers, plumbers, road maintenance workers, and jobbers are criticised and downgraded by people who earn their living through writing. Who said the pen was mightier than the sword? It would certainly seem that way if one took seriously what was written in the Liverpool Echo.
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Its one rule for the middle classes and one for the working classes:
Above is a classical example of how a probable middle class journalist, who works for a right wing newspaper perceives things. As far as he is concerned a man who works with his hands should earn a pittance. It matters little that it takes many years for a man to become proficient as a road maintenance worker, or that his skills are in demand. The only thing that seems important to the reporter is why should men like this be allowed to earn the wage of a middle class junior doctor. The fact that the same journalist even has the temerity to compare the wages of these highly skilled men with those of a junior doctor shows that his storey is obviously designed to turn people against the road maintenance worker, and it further confirms the levels to which the British media will sink when it comes to castigating the working classes. Why for example did the Echo not compare the road workers salary with that of the Chief executive (£130,000 per year) or the many incompetent council officers that earn in excess of £88,000 per year. Its quite obvious that this storey was deigned to pave the way for the forthcoming privatisation of all public services, including road maintenance.
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The Public Sector:
So politically uneducated are the British working class that many of them don't even know what the words Public Sector mean. They don't for instance know that Public Sector actually means they, in effect, own it. What did Jesus Christ say as he hung dying from the cross? Forgive them Father for they know not what they do. How true this is, especially appertaining to the way in which the British public are so easily swayed by the connivance's of careerist MP's such as Maria Eagle who along with BBC Radio Merseyside's chat show personality Roger Phillips managed to persuade them to sign over their council houses to social landlords such as South Liverpool Housing (as they did in the Speke/Garston council house stock transfer,) who are in effect private landlords. Its well known amongst union officials that there was a relentless campaign by the previous Conservative Government to completely decimate the public sector. Who would have thought that a Labour Government would have carried on with what a Conservative Government began and actually speed the process up? It may take some years to materialise, but eventually the rents of these social landlords acquisitions will treble. Taking the poor people of this country back to a Victorian era when working class people spent most, of their meagre income on extortionate rents.
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New Labour's local former leader Gideon Ben-Tovim:
Mr Ben-Tovim is a successful middle class sociology lecturer at Liverpool University. He is also the councillor for the Toxteth Granby area and a member of Liverpool's Black Caucus. In his formative political years Mr Ben-Tovim studied the communist ideology.
Interesting to note that the Democracy Commission's office was situated in the Department of Sociology at Liverpool University. Also interesting to note is that Mr Ben-Tovim was elected by one man one vote (it would be interesting to know how those votes were put together) so as to oust former leader Frank Prendergast, who has been ostracised by Millbank Towers. Gideon Ben-Tovim tried to oust Frank Prendergast in May of 1997, but the former shipyard worker saw off his challenge and was re-elected, using the old method, in which the parties elected members choose their leader. (Mr Ben-Tovim has now been replaced (2002) as Labour leader by councillor Joe Anderson).
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A middle class re-emergence:
Its common knowledge amongst back bench and former Labour councillors that New Labour wants to replace its working class councillors with better educated, (preferably) middle class ones. At present there is a purge going on within the party. Press cuttings are available which will illustrate to the reader that there seems to be an asserted attempt to oust many of Labours old councillors, especially ones who have sided with Frank Prendergast, who is considered by party moderisers at Millbank Towers to be old Labour. A Task Force team was set up by New Labours NEC to secure the most talented councillors for Labour in Liverpool. (Echo Oct 1999)
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Big brother is gagging you:
It was reported in the Liverpool Echo Nov 16 1999 that a new gagging order has been placed on Labour councillors in Liverpool. They have been warned that they face sanctions if they speak to the local press without first getting the go ahead from party bosses. One veteran Labour councillor stormed: "We have really been put in our place and from now on the spin doctors will be taking over."
The new move comes weeks after the ECHO criticised the Labour Party for banning councillors from commenting on local issues. The 27 labour councillors have each received a letter from executive member Cllr Malcolm Kennedy. (Former husband of New Labour MP Jane Kennedy and middle class). He tells them that a new protocol, approved by Labour's executive board, is aimed at maximising positive coverage of the party. Councillors are told that if they want to make statements they must first consult group leader Gideon Ben-Tovim or the group spokesman on specific issues. Before sending press release to the media they have first to fax it to party managers.
"Where advice concerns consistency with party policy or where a clear instruction is given, the advice must be complied with. In the event of any disagreement the group leader will make the final decision," says the protocol.
Ward councillors have also been told not to comment on general council policy. They must tell the media to contact group officials. Councillors have also been told not to make unattributable comments to the media - such as those in this article - on council policy or the internal concerns of the party.
Another Labour councillor said: "In many cases now we dare not allow our names to be used because we would be punished. It is not a case of being disloyal, but we are increasingly being managed by spin doctors."
Cllr Kennedy said: "The memo we have issued to our group members merely reflects normal party practice. People have a responsibility to an organisation they belong to and we are reminding them of that fact."
Since the gagging order a number of Labour councillors have spoken to the Echo - on the basis that their names are withheld.
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Labour's oldest councillor quits:
It was reported in the Liverpool Echo Dec 7th 1999 that ex Lord Mayor Paul Orr, Liverpool's longest serving councillor, to day quit the labour Party on the day the Prime Minister arrived on a morale boosting visit. The 83 year old veteran wrote a stinging letter to Tony Blair accusing him of 'Out Thatchering Thatcher.' He accuses the premier of establishing a 'clone factor' churning out automaton councillors.
Cllr Orr's resignation after more than half a century's membership comes just days after another ex Lord Mayor, Margaret Clark, wrote to No 10 and quit Labour. Cllr Orr, a father of 12 who represents the Vauxhall Ward will continue to serve in the council chamber as an independent until next May when his term of office comes to an end.
He wrote to Mr Blair: "You have managed to achieve what Derek Hatton and the Militants failed to do. Your party has demoralised the electorate in this city , never, I'm afraid to re-group." And he warns that the, "bulldog British will fight to bite the hand that attempts to muzzle them - first Liverpool, then Sheffield, what price Birmingham next."
Cllr Orr said: "This is a very sad day for me. I am leaving a party I joined 50 odd years ago, full of hope that I could help the working class people.
"Now we are ruled by spin doctors. I believe that next May Labour will lose a further 10 seats in Liverpool and will eventually disappear from the local scene, just like the Conservatives. When I first became a councillor in 1956 they ruled the council, and now they do not have a single councillor. "What Mr Blair fails to realise is that Labour's downfall in this city coincided with the arrival of him and New Labour."
The above articles further confirm the fact that New Labour's front bench of careerist modernises have now managed to create and influence local government Labour leaders and bestow their ideology of control freakisim on to them.
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Gideon Ben-Tovim was and probaly still is involved with the new and recent Liverpool Vision, the city centre regeneration company. He sat alongside Mike Storey, the new chief executive and former chairman of George Wimpey plc Joe Dwyer who is the chairman of Liverpool Vision.
In the early stages of his career Joe Dwyer was involved in, and helped build the high rise blocks of flats that are still blots on Liverpool's landscape. Did you know that architects under the baton of right wing Labour councils and the Tory-Liberal coalition of the 1970s and early 1980s, had created a housing nightmare in Liverpool. In 1952 the Architect's journal published a feature suggesting a two mile ring of twenty-storey tower blocks surrounding the city centre. Three years earlier, Bessie Braddock had argued against the construction of the barrack - like buildings for working - class people. This did not prevent her husband and councillors influenced by her ideas from proceeding to build these barrack like tower blocks.
People prefer houses:
In the early 1950's a newspaper survey' not surprisingly, found that 96% of those on the councils waiting list preferred houses rather than flats. Nevertheless, encouraged by successive national governments who gave greater subsidies for flats than for building houses, the nightmares of Cantral Farm and Kirkby were thrown up in this period. Thus in the early 1980's on one estate in a tower block built by the unit Camus method, an inspection found that of the 272 external panels on each block and 90 balcony frames, there was something wrong with every unit. It actually became cheaper to knock down these tower blocks and start again rather than repair them. ( Extract from The City That Dared to Fight 1988 ).
Ben-Tovim expresses his anger:
So incensed by what he perceived to be a negative article written about Joe Dwyer in the Liverpool Echo Gideon Ben-Tovim wrote an angry letter to the paper complaining about the articles content. The letter read:
LIVERPOOL Vision, the new city centre regeneration company of which I have been appointed a member, was given a high profile launch in the Royal Liver Building on Wednesday June 30, 1999.
Liverpool Vision puts our city in the vanguard of urban regeneration initiatives, putting into action the ideas of the New Labour Government's Urban Task Force within days of the publication of Lord Richard Roger's report.
How disappointed I was at the tone of your piece in that evening's ECHO. Instead of welcoming the Liverpool Vision initiative and the backing it is receiving from the government, city council, public and private sector, you chose to run an article reporting that Joe Dwyer, the new chairman of Liverpool Vision, helped build the now discredited tower blocks of the 1960s in the early part of his career. This was a most unfair association. It would have been more appropriate to welcome the fact that someone of Joe Dwyer's calibre, as retiring chairman of a firm such as Wimpy, feels such commitment to his home city that he volunteered to lead Liverpool Vision free of charge.
The Echo is usually the first to challenge those who run Liverpool down. I fail to see how you can reconcile this stance with the negative piece that you ran on such a positive initiative for our city.
Shortly after this letter the, in the pockets of New Labour, Echo printed another full page storey about Joe Dwyer, but this time multitudes of accolades were thrown his way. Never have I seen such a display of sycophantic toadyism behaviour by a newspaper.
Hundreds of millions of pounds:
This Vision agency will be given the go ahead to spend hundreds of millions of pounds on planners and architects. It was reported in the Liverpool Business Weekly (Oct 13/1999) that the final short list of consortia who will compete to redesign 400 hectors of Liverpool City Centre has been drawn up. I wonder who the builders will be, probably Joe Dwyer's previous employee George Wimpy followed up by a host of consultancies. The Liverpool Vision was established in June 1999 in response to millionaire architect Lord Roger's Urban Renaissance report for the government, which highlights the need to revive the city centres. Vision is headed by Irishman Lyth Bunni (who eventually resigned) who presides over the board of representatives from the regeneration funding body English Partnerships, the North West Development Agency, Liverpool City Council, and private business. Its quite obvious from reading this article that there will be many “Fat Cat” regeneration bodies involved in, and trying to, get their fingers into this regeneration pot.
Vision say that they will pick a citizens panel which will be comprised of 50 ordinary citizens who will, Vision claims, be responsible for overlooking plans and being involved in the process of agreeing to their implementation. (These Citizens are now the in things in regeneration areas and it is quit astonishing how easy it is to manipulate them). I wonder who will be responsible for picking these people? The panel will probably consist of hand picked yes men who are probably unaware of the wider picture, and will only serve as a PR stunt. (These Panels were eventually started, but as time went by they dwindled. Now there are just a hand full of people, mostly middle class, who are left and, although they have on many occasions complained about the behaviour of Vision they have never had any coverage in the Liverpool Echo. There is a culture of silence surrounding the existence and protestations of these people who are still, although in a beleaguered and reduced way, involved with Vision).
It was reported in the Liverpool Echo (Oct 27 1999) that the heart of Liverpool is to be targeted for a 20 year regeneration. Liverpool City centre is set to become the focus of a 20 year regeneration of Merseyside and the North West. Hundreds of millions of Objective One money will be used to achieve this. It matters little that hardly any of this money is going into the poor Pathway Partnership areas, as our city leaders have convinced themselves of the so called trickle down effect. They believe that its like a doughnut, if you put all the jam in the middle then the people on the peripheries will benefit. Of cause in reality this never happens. What really happens is the rich get richer and the poor get poorer and no funding of any significance goes into the poor run down areas. I wonder how many statues and monuments the Vision agency will erect?
The main consortium is finally chosen:
It was reported in the Liverpool Daily Post Dec 17 1999 that an American company which helped transform Boston City centre and waterfront, last night outlined ambitious plans to transform Liverpool City centre. Skidmore Owings and Merrill (SOM) will be responsible for redesigning the city for the next century.
Regeneration agency, Liverpool Vision, made the appointment of consortium led by the company following a detailed evaluation of 36 bids from around the world. SOM has been responsible for revolutionising centres in Boston, Bilbao and closer to home the landscape design at Canary Wharf. The company also played a big part in developing and planning sites at Expo 98 in Lisbon and the Barcelona Olympics. Now it will help revitalise 400 hectares of the Liverpool City centre.
Layth Bunni chief executive of Liverpool Vision, said: "SOM was selected because it has a wealth of experience and knowledge of key issues. Over the next three months, it will develop a strategy for the city centre. A team will be put in place to make sure that strategy is managed responsibly." Liverpool Vision wants SOM's resulting plans to combine vision with practical implementation and measurable milestones.
All proposals will be rigorously tested to confirm their suitability for Liverpool to ensure they directly benefit Merseyside and the region. (I have heard these promises before).
Among SOM's forthcoming tasks will be to bring the cultural quarter surrounding St Georges Hall further into contact with the centre. It will also have to find ways to enliven the Pier Head area.
Last night SOM director, Roger Kallman, spelt out his vision for Liverpool: "There is a great history and legacy of shipping in Liverpool. Wouldn't it be great to bring people back and make the city a destination? Liverpool is a fantastic place for people to come and visit," said Mr Kallman. "Its very early days but we hope to draw on the experience and ideas from some of our other projects and see if they can be imported to Liverpool."
In Boston, SOM was responsible for the Rowes Wharf development. It came up with plans to develop the revolutionary transport links on water - ensuring that people arriving at Boston Airport could be in the city centre in just seven minutes. The company also produced plans for hotels, housing and retail developments, which now link Boston City centre with the waterfront area. It has also been involved in major sports arenas and conference facilities and the landscape design of centres.
Mr Kallman said: "Some of the ideas already used in our other projects could be imported and used in Liverpool. We would certainly look at the possibility of having a sports, concert or conference site in Liverpool. We see tremendous possibilities in Liverpool. For the Pier Head we can look at variations of ideas we've already used or look at different ideas altogether."
Mr Kallman said he hoped his team would produce detailed plans for Liverpool by the end of June or July. (These plans have now been completed and as expected they cost millions).
Included in the team is Manchester based landscape architects Gilespies, (Gillespies are now involved, from 2002, in the regeneration plans for the Kensington New Deal for Communities initiative) transport consultancy MVA, finance experts at EC Harris and property advisor Jones Lang Lasalle. Honor Chapman completes the team.
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The purloining of £500m from Merseyside's 37 pauperised communities:
As has already been mentioned throughout this document, the 37 pauperised communities on Merseyside have seen hardly any of the first £635m Objective One which came to an end 1999. Government Office for Merseyside says that all this money, although not spent, has been allocated. The second round of Objective One funding, some £844m, over £3 billion when match funded came into Merseyside January 2000.
The Liverpool Daily Post and Echo along with Radio Merseyside and the Echo's cable Channel One have been incessantly falling over themselves to provide the favourable spin in connection with £500m of the money to be taken from the £844m and invested in the Liverpool City Centre.
Liverpool Daily Post Jan 28/2000 quote: Liverpool will today face the task of persuading Merseyside's four other local authorities to back its plan for a £500m revamp of the city centre.
City leaders want the neighbouring boroughs to approve the use of a large slice of the Objective One funding for the city centre regeneration plan. These plans will incorporate the building of office blocks, hotels, financial zone and walkways. Of course the careerist council leader Mike Storey and his acolytes are all for this. It matters little that the people who the money was originally sent to help have been pushed out of the way and a preposterous city centre architectural renaissance is taking place.
The political correspondent of the Daily Post wrote an article on Saturday, January 29/200 which again concerned the hijacking of £500m Objective One funding by the city centre's business Mafia, largely encouraged by the council’s executive members and senior council officers, money that was sent to reach the most disadvantaged in our run down communities.
I could not help but notice that James Ross, the mouth-piece of the Moores family, was pictured in the article. This man is popping up all over the place. As has already been mentioned in this document. Mr Ross is involved with so many official bodies that its hard to understand how he even gets the time to run the Littlewoods shopping chain. Lets again take a close look at what he has been, and still is involved with.
1 The now defunct hilarious Democracy Commission.
2 The North West Regional Development Agency.
3 The Chamber of Commerce
Again, as has already been mentioned the Moores family are the second richest family in the North West, having an estimated fortune of well over £1.5 Billion.
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How many billionaires are there in the world?
Did you know that ten years ago the world had 147 dollar billionaires. That number has now risen to 447. These billionaires have a combined wealth equivalent to the annual income of half of the worlds population. We must consider also what the World Health Organisation says about the health of the world. One fifth of the worlds children live in poverty, one third of the worlds children are under-nourished, and one half of the world's population lacks access to essential drugs. Each year, 12 million children under five die, and 95% of them die from poverty related illness, more than half a million mothers die in childbirth, and more than 1 million babies die of tetanus. What contributions have globalisation and free trade made to solving these problems? The theory that wealth trickles down and the richer Bill Gates gets, the richer people in Asia will get, is one of the most ludicrous illusions that could possibly be imagined. The one thing that globalisation has done is to make multinational companies more powerful than countries.
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The Rope Walks City Centre Partnership fraud investigation:
What puzzles me about the Liverpool Echo is the way in which it published a storey on the January 26, 2000 saying how the beleaguered Rope Walks is under investigation for fraud. Apart from a couple of articles in the Daily Post we have heard nothing about this issue since. More about the Rope Walks fraud issue can be observed open the Liverpool Echo’s web site, page: http://icliverpool.icnetwork.co.uk/0100news/0100regionalnews/page.cfm?objectid=11379951&method=full
Yet there has been article after article in the same newspaper reporting on the advantages of high-jacking most of the Objective One funding from the poor communities and giving it to city centre elitist agencies which consists of people like James Ross, Graham Thelwell Jones at the Chamber of Commerce and the Vision for Liverpool Partnership, run by Joe Dwyer who helped Jack Braddock build the hideous high rise nightmares that are still blots on Liverpool's landscape to this very day. But who cares anyway these powerful city centre elitists will do as it wish, unchallenged and without any accountability, spurred along with help by faithful, right wing, spin doctoring Echo journalists. So this is what these people foresee as the guiding light for Merseyside, a city centre filled with expensive luxury flats, student accommodation, shopping centres, bars, night clubs and lets not forget the multitude of expensive coffee shops, all places were most of Merseyside’s pauperised residents cannot afford to go. The Liverpool city centre will eventually become a place that is out of bounds for over 45% of Merseyside's pauperised population.
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The £500m city centre plan is finally pushed through:
I visited the venue in which the following article talks about. It was held in the International Business Management Centre, Europa Boulevard, Birkenhead, Liverpool.
The buildings security guard told me that less than 100 people attended this private, totally unpublicised meeting. Even though the Liverpool media knew about this meeting, not a word was written or broadcasted by the regions newspapers or radio stations.
Is this democracy? Less than a hundred people, behind closed doors making decisions that will affect the lives of 1.5 million people?
The final decision:
It was reported in the Liverpool Echo Feb. 4th 2000 quote: Liverpool City council this afternoon won backing from its Merseyside neighbours for a £500m city facelift.
The agreement was reached just before a deadline for submission to the European Compassion as part of an Objective One strategy that will bring £2.2bn to Merseyside over the next five years.
Liverpool council leader Mike Storey said he was delighted with the backing given by the leaders of Sefton, Knowsley, St Helens and Wirral councils. He said: "Its good news for Merseyside and means that we can now see the city centre taking off."
But Jim Knight, leader of Knowsley council, said he felt Liverpool had acted like a big brother bullying its smaller neighbours. He said: "We reached agreement which has given Liverpool what it wants but I feel the way it has been handled could be detrimental to future relations."
The idea has been greeted with mixed reaction around Merseyside, ranging from hostility to grudging support.
For Liverpool to win backing for its £500m action plan, the other councils have had to give up some (or most) of their share of the cash.
Council leader Mike Storey said: "The whole of the sub-region will improve
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New Deal for who? This article was written at the initial stages of the NDC project much has now changed
The proceeding article was written at the initial stages of the Kensington NDC, which has now been in operation for over two years. There is so many staff involved that it is impossible to find out how many. The new deal team as they are called are now based in a recently built £1.4 million building called the “Job Bank”. There is a new Chief executive of the initiative and the community is now totally in the dark as to what is going on. These regeneration initives are very hard to keep up with and are constantly in a state of change as the regeneration administrators do everything within their power to deflect meaningful community participation and interest. For more recent information log onto www.whistleblower.nstemp.com but such is the nature of the subterfuge and stealthfull way in which the New Deal administrators operate even this web site cannot keep up with them.
The latest illusion to be sprung on the good people of Liverpool's Kensington area is the £62m NEW DEAL FOR COMMUNITIES. Boundary lines have been drawn around half of Kensington. This boundary encapsulates 4,200 households in which 13,667 people live. A so called Regeneration Team of 5 extremely well paid pen pushers have been seconded from their jobs at the Liverpool Council, Riverside Housing (now a private landlord) and various other agencies to help administer the money. No body knows who drew up the boundaries and it seems to matter little that half of Kensington has been left out. But who cares? Communities are being divided and a hand full of people are making decisions behind closed doors, with no fear of contradiction and absolutely no accountability.
The 5 members of the Regeneration Team are based in the Housing and Consumer Services Directorate which is situated on Prescott Road, Kensington. Its interesting to note that Riverside Housing has two of its former staff in the team. On the 19th of January an evening meeting was held in the Devonshire Hotel Edge Lane. As per-usual the Regeneration Team stayed in the background whilst so called community council members fronted the meeting, which consisted of just over 100 people. As is a common feature of these meetings the audience were told at the beginning that only five minutes would be given to questions and answers at the end of the meeting. When people in the audience objected to this, various stooges who are involved with Parks Partnership stood up and shouted them down. As a result of this premeditated, prearranged agenda many home owners, who had come to see if they could get grants for much needed renovations, were kept in the dark. Many people complained that the housing associations were getting grants for their properties, (especially for the installation of double glazing) when ordinary house owners can’t get a penny.
The Liverpool City Council along with the regions rich elitist businessmen call the shots. They are the major players. The community only gets the crumbs from their table. These people care nothing about the community, their primary purpose is to get their hands on the communities money.
Then their are the consultants and public relations experts (such as John Egan and Roger Phillips) who are there to cleverly persuade people to do what they want them to do. In fact a whole army of so called experts will soon converge onto Kensington. This isn’t the first time money of this magnitude has come into an area. Other areas have had similar funding. But at the end of the day it always disappears down a black hole. They will tell the people that many jobs will be created. They should take no notice to these hollow promises. They said that by the end of 1999 25,000 jobs would be created through European Objective One funding. But only 16,000 mostly low paid jobs have been created, and this figure is questionable.
The Regeneration Team along with Parks Partnership, the self appointed voice of the community, and who are about to merge with another Partnership, say they are committed to democracy and community participation. But are they? Lets take a close look at what Parks Partnership have achieved over the last 4 or 5 years of their existence. It costs over £200,000 a year to run this so called Pathway Partnership
1. We're still waiting for the elusive Sports Centre to be built. The positive rhetoric about this scheme has gone on for years.
2. The renovation of Kensington Library.
3. The forthcoming £1.5m Job Bank building were staff, (Employment Links are involved with this scheme) as well as being on fantastic salaries, will help advise pauperised residents on issues such as filling in job applications and such like. (This building is now completed)
4. Whatever other projects have got of the ground, have only been on a small scale, and as such have had hardly any impact on the 40,000 residents that Parks Partnership claim to cover.
Remember the £62 New Deal comes from central government, it has nothing to do with European Objective One funding. You may ask: “Can New Deal be used as match funding to draw down Objective One funding sources?” There was a question mark hanging over this issue, (especially when one takes into account the fact that the city centre Mafiosi wants all the money it can lay its hands on) but the Regeneration Team say that it can.
Even if New Deal can be used as match funding it will surely slow the process of spending the New Deal money down to a snails pace, and an army of highly paid regeneration and grant application experts will need to be called in to fill out the bizarrely complicated grant application forms. Its truly a nightmare, seemingly created to put as many people from the prosperous suburbs into well paid jobs. These suburbanite administrators mainly work on contract, and as such flitter from one scheme to the next.
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THE MAJOR PLAYERS:
The major players are situated in the city centre. They are absolutely unapproachable government quangos, whose leaders sit in ivory towers. They are sinister and faceless, and their so-called monitoring committee's are mainly comprised of hand picked yes men. Then there are the property developers of which a whole chapter could be written.
Bellow is a list of just some of them:
1. Merseyside TEC and Business Links
2. Employment Links. This agency cost millions of pounds of SRB challenge fund to set up, yet only advertises low paid jobs, a task which could easily be handled by the many Job Centres across Merseyside. (This agency has now ceased to exist)
3. The Chamber of Commerce
4. Government office for Merseyside
5. A Vision for Liverpool Partnership
6. Rope Walks (presently under investigation for Fraud)
7. The North West Regional Development Agency. And so it goes on and on
8. The host of property developers
As you can see from the above list a whole industry of upper and middle class administrative bodies has been set up to oversee one of the most corrupt schemes ever to grace a city.
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The Queens Square development:
The city centre Queens Square project, which incorporates the Swallow Hotel, (the Swallow has now changed hands and is called the Marriott Hotel) a host of shops, a bus terminus and a huge ugly car park adjacent to the ugly out of place Swallow Hotel. There is another agency involved in this city centre regeneration nightmare called Rope Walks. This agency has had such a large turnover of disillusioned and angry senior management that it is sometimes hard to believe how it has survived. (Echo article available). As well as the Swallow Hotel, which received millions of pounds Objective One ERDF funding, there is the Crown Plaza Hotel, which also received Objective One ERDF funding. This hotel overlooks the river Mersey. The staff who work in these hotels and the car park co-exist on the starvation wage of £3.60 to £4 per hour and the unions know about this. If you read the Liverpool Merseyside Economic Assessment Document that was handed to the European Commission it states: the Objective One programme is primarily to help reach the most disadvantaged people who live in the poor communities. The Liverpool City Council also states in its varied documentation that it is committed to promoting prosperity for the people of Merseyside. Surely £4 per hour is not a wage that is conducive with eradicating poverty. Most of the jobs that GONW say have been created through the Objective One programme are probably low paid.
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Lib-Dem Council Leader Mike Storey and the Walton Group property developer:
An astonishing statement by the Present Lib-Dem Leader Mike Storey was made to the Lord Mayor at the September 1999 full council meeting. When one reads this statement one will see on its last page that Mr Storey casts aspersions at a man called Tony Jennings, former caretaker leader of Liverpool’s Labour Party, accusing him of being a known associate of Derek Hatton and having advised the Walton Group on matters connected with public relations.
The Walton Group:
There has been a somewhat asserted campaign by the Liverpool Echo to discredit Bill Davies and the Walton Group. Whether this is justified is here nor there, but one certainly has to take into account whether the Walton Group has stepped on someone's toes at the Democracy Commission. The Walton Group was given the Chavasse Park site because Liverpool City Council Officers messed the project up. (Press articles about the Walton Group available).
The MP's reaction:
It was reported in the Liverpool echo (Oct 15/1999) that MP and careerist Blair's babe Maria Eagle called for an enquiry into the Chavasse Park fiasco, although unlike her counterpart Riverside MP Louise Ellman she referred to the debacle, if that's what it was, as the Chavasse Park dream. How sickening it is to watch this bunch of sycophantic careerist MP's grovelling around each other, after all, it stands to reason that Miss Eagle should be on good terms with her two female Liverpool counterparts as MP and Blair's babe Louise Ellman now shares her Liverpool City centre office with former witch hunter of the left and supper Blair's babe Jane Kennedy, recently promoted to a ministerial position. Of course all three of Liverpool's female MP's have jumped on the Chevasse Park bandwagon, and along with the right wing Echo, they are bleeding the issue for what ever brownie points they can get to put in their careerist hand bags. The one good thing about Maria Eagle's Echo article is, she further authenticates the incompetent behaviour of our illustrious council officers. The Echo article concludes with Ms Eagle a member of the powerful public accounts committee, said: "We need to know who is to blame for the city losing out on such an impressive project. From what was said by the judge at the High Court it seems councillors have been let down by their officers. The city quite rightly expects to get a professional service from its officers, and this kind of blunder is unacceptable." So here we have a careerist, sycophantic, Blair's babe, actually admitting that the sacrosanct council officers are in effect incompetent
What is the Chavasse Park Media factory?
From the little I can find out, the Chavasse Park media factory would have been, primarily an office block that would have accommodated firms that dealt with ICT. The universities would probably have incorporated training for media students, but it's well known that the majority of its students and workers would have come from the middle class suburbs, so its of no great loss to the city 's working class majority.
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The infamous China trip and the Liberal Democrat leader:
Obviously blinded by monetary greed, on October 18, 1999 a delegation of town hall officials, headed by Liberal Democrat council leader Mike Storey signed a twining agreement in Shanghai's imposing City Hall. The delegation consisted of Mike Storey, the new Chief Executive David Henshaw, Lord Mayor Joe Devaney and the Echo's trusted political reporter Larry Neild. Interesting to note that Larry Neild once lived in China. Liverpool is now the twin city of Shanghai. This was done without the people of Liverpool's consent and the council officer, a member of the councils Economic Development Unit, who was responsible for organising this trip, Mr Tony Oneil is a member of Amnesty International. I wonder if Mr Oniel is aware of the fact that China has one of the worst humane rights records in the world? Surely he must know that on June 3-4, 1989 the People's Liberation Army brutally crushed prodemocracy supporters, killing hundreds of supporters, and injuring another 10,000, and arresting hundreds of students and workers. Following the violence, the government conducted widespread arrests, summery trials, executions, banned the foreign press and strictly controlled the Chinese press. Although similar protests had been quelled by the government since the mid 1980s, the extremely violent suppression of the Tiananmen Square protest caused widespread international condemnation of the Chinese government. (Microsoft Encarta 1998).
China's humane rights record:
· One of the worst humane rights records in the world
· Over 1 million political prisoners
· Over 1500 people executed in the last twelve months.
· Torture, using electric shock
· Over 60 crimes are punishable by death, many of them petty
· 241 Tiananmen Square prodemocracy protesters still held in prison
· The 10 year old Panchen Lama, heir to the Deli Lama is held in prison
· The 1989 killing of hundreds of prodemocracy supporters in the Tiananmen Square
· 10,000 prodemocracy supporters injured in the protest
· Widespread arrests, summary trials and executions of prodemocracy supporter
· The continued occupation of Tibet and the suppression of its people.
Above is just some of the atrocities that the Chinese government are responsible for, but the list could continue add infinite.
What I find very disturbing about this visit is the fact that Mike Storey is constantly quoted by the Echo as being a man who is a stringent supporter of democracy. For instance he recently said in the Liverpool Echo that he was delighted at the Liverpool Echo's survey on behalf of the Liverpool Democracy Commission. Here we have a leader who is a member of the Liberal Democrats twining the city of Liverpool with a city that is part of a totalitarian country that has no democracy. How hypocritical!
The Liverpool Echo's involvement:
Those who aim to give the public what the public wants begin by under-estimating the public taste [and] end by debauching it.
This trip was undertaken after the September full council meeting at the Liverpool Town Hall. As already mentioned the Liverpool Echo sent it's political correspondent Larry Nield to report on the trip. Nearly every night the Liverpool Echo portrayed the most distasteful and embarrassing storeys as though blind to the horrors that exist in China. Never once was there any mention about Chinas human rights record and its suppression of democracy. Nor was there any mention of the fact that Richard Griffith the editor of the Liverpool Echo is a member of the Liverpool Democracy Commission.
The Liverpool Echo practices the art of subterfuge:
Not content with ignoring the Chinese humane rights record the Liverpool Echo even tried to make little of the Daily Telegraph's claim that Prince Charles had boycotted a banquet that was held in the Chinese embassy. For two days running, (Oct 22 to Oct 23 1999) the Telegraph reported extensively on the Chinese President Jiang Zemin's visit to London. It was quite clear from the contents of the articles that the Telegraph was trying to present the prodemocracy campaigner point of view. The article speaks about the relationship between Prince Charles and Chris Pattern and how the two men, who together handed Hong Kong back to the Chinese in 1997, are on friendly terms and share a low regard for the Chinese regime. An Echo reporter who probably got wind of this report printed a small article that was obviously designed to denigrate the Telegraph's report. The article stated: Royal officials today quashed reports that the Prince of Wales snubbed the Chinese president by boycotting a state banquet and then went on as, the echo does, to give what could be construed as credible excuses to back there article up. It maters little to the Echo that the well respected Daily Telegraph had written two feature stories saying the opposite to them, they seemed only interested in the fact that Liverpool was now twinned with Shanghai. The Liverpool Echo is a strange paper, most of the time it is well over to the right, but sometimes it is capable of reporting the news in a very honest and professional manner; yet even when it does this, its usually because some weeks further down the line it will spring something on the unsuspecting people of Merseyside, usually something that the city centre middle class elite want on the agenda. Yes, premeditation plays a big part in the way the Liverpool Echo presents its stories..
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Derek Hatton and the Militant Tendency syndrome:
When things go badly wrong in the Liverpool City Council (as they often do) they always drag up the past. "Its Derek Hatton and the Militant Tendencies fault." Granted the Militant Tendency made some terrible decisions, and played right into the hands of the right wing press. As a result of this they gave that same gutter press the ammunition that culminated in giving Liverpool the bad name it has today. Lets not forget that this happened nearly fifteen years ago. When are the present council administration going to stop referring to Derek Hatton as if he were some dark spectre that forever hangs, ominously, over the city of Liverpool.
Derek Hatton now works for Talk Radio in London. He has his own three hour daily chat show. Talk boss and former Sun editor Kelvin Makenzie signed Hatton from Century Radio. (Echo 1999) Rumour has it that he is seriously considering moving his family up to London.
The Harlot of Fleet Street!
Kelvin Makenzie was the editor of sun newspaper at the time of the Hillsborough disaster. (The Sun is owned by the notorious Rupert Murdoch) Makenzie came from a solidly middle class family and was educated at an elite grammar school in Dulwich. His behaviour in the Falklands war with headlines like "GOTCHA" which gloated over the sinking of the cruiser Belgrano with more than 1,200 young conscripted sailors on board, is infamous. But he will forever be remembered, especially in Liverpool, for his hideous portrayal of the 1989 Hillborough disaster. Makenzie managed to convince himself that the disaster was caused by Liverpool football hooligans. He alone, and against the utter consternation of his journalists decided to write the most evil lies ever to be printed in a British newspaper. He accused fans of picking the pockets of victims, urinating on the brave cops, beating up a PC who was giving the kiss of life. The storey described how drunken Liverpool fans viciously attacked rescue workers as they tried to revive victims. How fireman, police officers and ambulance crews were punched kicked and urinated upon. A dead girl was abused, and fans, said an unnamed policeman, were openly urinating on us and the bodies of the dead. It is said that a collective shudder ran trough the sun's office when Macenzie ordered the printing of these lies. (Extracts from John Pilger's book Hidden Agendas 1998). The sun newspaper is known as the Harlot of Fleet Street. Even to this day, more than 10 years after the disaster, the paper hardly sells in Liverpool.
Is it any wonder that people are leaving Merseyside in their droves?
It was reported by the Liverpool Echo that thousands of people will be leaving Liverpool and Merseyside for the more prosperous South East, according to a study by the office for National Statistics. They will quit Merseyside for better job opportunities and higher incomes during the first two decades of the Millennium.
The report on the population of England predicts that the South East is due for a massive surge in population by 2021, while old industrial heartland's like Merseyside and the North East will see their population decline.
The rise in the South east is forecast to be 12.8 % from 7.9 million in 1996 to 8.9 million in 2021. Merseyside will be the worst hit, losing 10% of its population over 25 years the report predicts. (Liverpool Echo 1999. Article available).
Of course the report immediately came under attack by the city 's political leaders, who seem to have their heads buried in the sand when it come to facing up to reality. They seem quite convinced that the European Objective One funding that they are completely messing up will pull the region out of the mire, and they can give many convincing arguments as to how they will achieve this impossible task.
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The many agencies and official bodies:
So numerous are the agencies and official local government bodies that it would be unrealistic and quite impossible to try and contain them all in this small document. It is hoped the reader will come to see how bureaucratic and nonsensical the present system is. It is also hoped that the reader will be able to observe the fact that there are countless numbers of predominately middle class people involved in the process of actually doing nothing and getting paid fantastic salaries for doing so.
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One of Dr Boland’s research papers:
URBAN GOVERNANCE AND ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT:
A CRITIQUE OF MERSEYSIDE AND OBJECTIVE 1 STATUS, 1994-1999
Dr PHILIP BOLAND
DEPARTMENT OF CITY AND REGIONAL PLANNING
KING EDWARD VII AVENUE
Tel: +44 (0)29 2087 5275
Fax: +44 (0)29 2087 4845
Paper for the Regional Studies Association International Conference
‘EU Regional Policy: Progress, Problems and Prospects’
14-15 September 2000
In recent years there has been an accelerating academic interest in the coherence of European regional policy, particularly in relation to the local application of Structural Funds. In tandem there has also been an increasing importance attached to the governance of regions and localities. This paper fuses these two sets of debates in critically examining European Objective One support for Merseyside in the UK. Merseyside was an Objective 1 region for the 1994-1999 programming period, and this paper traces some of the fundamental fault lines in the design and delivery of its Single Programming Document – the strategy and resource framework accompanying Structural Funding. It therefore provides some instructive lessons for the 2000-2006 UK-based Objective 1 regions: Merseyside (receiving its second tranche of support) and the new recipients of Cornwall and Scilly, South Yorkshire and West Wales and the Valleys.
URBAN GOVERNANCE AND ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT:
A CRITIQUE OF MERSEYSIDE AND OBJECTIVE 1 STATUS, 1994-1999
31st December 1999 marked the official conclusion of Merseyside’s first round of Structural Funding support as an Objective 1, economically lagging, region within the European Union (EU). The availability of some £1.6 billion in ‘matched’ aid between 1994-1999 provided policymakers with a significant opportunity to tackle economic and social decline, and thence lay the basis for regional development and employment creation. This paper provides a critical appraisal of Objective 1 on Merseyside, particularly in relation to the design and delivery of its Single Programming Document (SPD), the economic strategy and policy and resource framework accompanying European monies. It also provides some instructive lessons for Merseyside, and the new United Kingdom (UK) Objective 1 regions of Cornwall and Scilly, South Yorkshire and West Wales and the Valleys, as they enter the next tranche of Objective 1 funding for the 2000-2006 programming period.
CONTEXTUALISING THE EMPIRICAL ANALYSIS
The interface between urban governance and economic development
This paper draws upon the governance literature (see, for example, Boland, 1998, 1999a, 2000; Harvey, 1989; Jeffery, 1997a; Jessop, 1995, 1997; Lloyd and Meegan, 1996; Mayer, 1994; Painter and Goodwin, 1995; Peck and Tickell, 1994; Pierre, 1998; Rhodes, 1995). Quite whether these, admittedly eclectic, writings comprise a consistent and watertight theory is open to debate (see Keating, 1998). However, the common theme running through this scholarly material, and thereby the theoretical binding agent for this paper, concerns an analysis of the interrelationships between the plethora of actors - public, quasi-public, private, voluntary and community - participating in the design and delivery of economic policy. Or alternatively, the interface between urban governance and economic development. Another important conceptual mapping component is the contention that the process of governance is played out at many spatial resolutions, from the heights of the macro international stage down to the micro community level: so-called ‘multi-level’ governance (see Bullman, 1997; Jeffery, 1997b; Marks, 1997; see also Jessop, 1995). In recent years the notion of governance has become an almost ubiquitous term in academic discourse, sometimes used quite loosely and lacking theoretical rigour (for some valuable explications see Harvey, 1989, p. 6; Mayer, 1994, p. 322; Rhodes, 1995, pp. 1-2; Stoker, 1998, pp. 34-35). Interestingly, it has also become a staple ingredient in the verbal diet, along with globalisation, competitiveness, networking, innovation etc., that too often spews from the rhetoric of government-, media- and institution-speak.
European Structural Funds and contested multi-level governance
The Maastricht Treaty on European Union (1993) upgraded the importance of EU regional policy, and placed economic and social cohesion as one of its primary objectives (CEC, 1994a, 1994b, 1997). European regional policy is driven by the belief that social and economic disparities between regions of the Union are excessively divergent which necessities corrective remedial action by the European Commission (EC), primarily through the disbursement of its Structural Funds (Michie and Fitzgerald, 1997, p. 14; Turok and Bachtler, 1997, p. 5). An indication of their importance is that the Structural Fund budget has increased substantially in recent years, from 43.8 billion ECU over 1988-1993 to some 141 billion ECU for the 1994-1999 programming period. Some 70% of which were allocated to Objective 1 regions, those peripheral or lagging regions - examples in the UK were Merseyside (England), the Highland and Islands (Scotland) and Northern Ireland. Receipt of financial assistance from the EC is not unproblematic, however, for it has been demonstrated that there exist fundamental “institutional tensions between European, national and local bodies, and the impact of new partnerships on local development”, which has led many to question the ‘coherence’ of EU regional policy (Bachtler and Turok, 1997a, p. 1). This has directed academic attention to focus on the local impact of the Structural Funds, in particular on how policies supported by the EC are developed and implemented within a regional and local context.
In the UK the relationships between the plethora of actors engaged in implementing Structural Funding are often conflictual. There is strong evidence that during 1994-1999 this had important impacts on the design and delivery of many, if not all, recipient regions’ SPDs (see Lloyd and Meegan, 1996; Roberts and Hart, 1997). One major problem stems from the fact that both the EC and UK Government have strong regional footholds, the former as the provider of the resources, the latter as the main regional animateur (Carvel, 1994, p. 6; Michie and Fitzgerald, 1997, p. 19). This meant that spatial scale of contestedness shifted downwards to those regions receiving support, whom were faced with the difficulty of preparing the strategy and delivery mechanisms for their SPDs while having to reconcile “the conflicting ideas and instructions emanating from Brussels and Whitehall” (Lloyd and Meegan, 1996, p. 58). This is an example of what has been referred to as the problematic ‘local reach’ of the Structural Funds. It is important to note that this tension occurred in many Member States of the Union, often lapsing into “suspicion, friction and even conflict between governments and the Commission” (Turok and Bachtler, 1997, p. 7).
Agreeing an SPD into place involves detailed negotiations between the EC, relevant Government departments and regional actors that can become protracted, tense and even acrimonious. A significant product of this process was that in the lead up to the 1994-1999 programming period many UK SPDs became subjected to “a substantial degree of policy iteration and that a number changes were made to the content of the policy agendas” (Roberts and Hart, 1997, p. 205). This arose from the fact that the (then) UK Government advocated a more flexible approach to economic development with administrative mechanisms aimed at delivering policy and spending resources efficiently, thus indicating its ambivalence, if not antipathy, towards regional plans and regional governance structures which were key objectives of the EC. This is the first tier of what has been referred to as contested multi-level governance: “a multi-layered battle for control over policy direction and resource distribution” (Boland, 1999b, p. 788).
These are important contextual issues surrounding the impact of European Structural Funds in the UK. This paper now moves on to examine Merseyside’s recent experience of Structural Funding, in the form of Objective 1 status, with particular reference to the design and the delivery of the region’s SPD.
THE EVOLUTION OF MERSEYSIDE'S SPD
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The designation of Objective 1 status
In recent decades Merseyside has frequently been used as a laboratory where various treatments for the ailments of economic, social and urban decline have been tested. By the late 1980s it was evident that the neo-Liberal supply-side panacea had failed to cure the cancer of unemployment, poverty and exclusion (see Boland, 1998, pp. 70-105, Meegan, 1989). In 1989 the region, stung by reductions in domestic regeneration resources and encouraged by the Thatcher Government, began exploring the possibility of accessing European Structural Funds and was duly granted Objective 2 status as a declining industrial region. Three years later Merseyside ‘progressed’ to an Objective 1 region and gained access to the highest priority under Structural Fund support for depressed regions. Interestingly, the transition to Objective 1 status caused some anxiety both locally and nationally. Despite a large hike in access to funding the granting of Objective 1 status was viewed by certain local figures as presenting a distinctly negative image of Merseyside; the perception was that this could discourage firms from investing and so threaten the prospects for economic development (Boland, Mannin and Wallace, 1995). A similar note of caution was voiced by the (then) Regional Policy Commissioner, Bruce Millan, who pointed out that: “Getting Objective One status is in a sense a double-edged sword. It acknowledges that things have gone badly wrong in the past - and that can be accounted a negative signal to the rest of the world” (cited in Carvel, 1994, p. 4).
The UK Government has also been accused of adopting an ambivalent attitude. For some it was ‘politically sensitive’ for a Conservative Government to actively promote a privileged position for Merseyside in the EU, particularly in light of the raft of (failed) policies it had promoted during the 1980s and early 1990s (Boland, Mannin and Wallace, 1995). Others went further and charged the Government with being somewhat ‘embarrassed’ by the extent of the economic and social decline of Merseyside (Carvel, 1993). In time, however, the UK Government came to support Merseyside’s case and mobilised its officials within the Commission to have Objective 1 awarded. Some may (rightly) cynically argue that this was merely part of a wider ploy to snatch some money back from our European partners to offset the UK’s net contributions to the Commission, a constant bone of contention during the Thatcher years.
Preparing and negotiating the SPD
The Commission encourages local authorities to cooperate with their partners to prepare regional development strategies (i.e. SPDs) to provide a backcloth for European funding (Martin and Pearce, 1993). It was during the preparation and negotiation phases for Merseyside’s SPD that the ideological debates between the UK Government and the EC took root, and so began to affect its future shape and content. This problem was further compromised by the fact that many local stakeholders were in tune with the EC, while the UK Government was heard to be singing from a rather different song sheet (Lloyd and Meegan, 1996, p. 74). This was a very difficult situation from which to formulate an appropriate economic strategy.
In support of Merseyside’s case for Objective 1 status the regional partnership, consisting of the Merseyside Task Force (representing the Government), the five local authorities and other (carefully selected) regional partners, produced a regional conversion plan (the first stage in progression to an SPD) for the Commission prior to the release of the funds. The thrust of this document, referred to as Merseyside 2000, was to reduce the economic and social disparities between Merseyside and the rest of the EU by reducing unemployment and increasing GDP towards the EU averages (MTF, 1993). However, it was commonly accepted that it had set itself some dubious, over-ambitious and unattainable economic targets. Commissioner Bruce Millan reflected the sense of unease when he went on record as saying: “I think, if anything, the Merseyside 2000 plan was over enthusiastic about what might be achievable” (cited in Carvel, 1994, p. 4).
When Member States submit regional conversion plans to the Commission they are then “subjected to independent scrutiny and then negotiated line-by-line with the Commission prior to revision” (Turok and Bachtler, 1997, p. 6). When Merseyside 2000 was submitted to the EC in November 1993 it met with what has been (rather euphemistically) described as a ‘guarded cynicism’ (Boland, Mannin and Wallace, 1995). Peter Lloyd and Richard Meegan at the Department of Geography, University of Liverpool, undertook the subsequent independent scrutiny of Merseyside 2000. The general critique was as follows (see Lloyd and Meegan, 1994; see also Fazey, 1994). Firstly, it was heavily influenced by the UK view of regional development policy. Secondly, it would have involved the funding of projects that were not dissimilar to those that had previously proved fruitless in delivering economic growth. And thirdly, it did not contain a coherent analysis of the regional economy and was not a genuine strategic regional plan. The fundamental criticism was therefore that it lacked originality and innovative policies.
Timescales are revealing in relation to European issues. Merseyside was designated Objective 1 in July 1993 and Merseyside 2000 was submitted to the EC in November of the same year, but it was not until July of the following year that the SPD was finally agreed and ratified. The reason for this delay was the often heated discussions conducted between EC officers, the Government Office for Merseyside (GOM) and Department of Trade and Industry officials, which were set against the backdrop of the differing perspectives of regional development policy referred to earlier. A source from Merseyside’s Objective 1 Secretariat offered the following insightful reflection into these deliberations. It was acknowledged that the UK Government and the EC had contrasting views on both social and economic policy, and the important, if not difficult, role for the GOM involved weaving itself between these competing ideologies in order to negotiate the SPD into place. It was accepted that the GOM acts along national policy priorities and so it was important to ensure that what was agreed in the final SPD did not clash with or contradict national policy.
The GOM therefore became a strategic governance structure through which the UK Government could dictate the nature of the SPD so that it conformed to national policy priorities. Interestingly, such practices also occurred in other regions of the UK, such as Scotland, Yorkshire and Humberside, West Midlands and the South West (see Roberts and Hart, 1997, pp. 204-207). Returning to Merseyside, the contested debates at a national-European level about the nature of regional development policy were shifted down the spatial scale to the region. The effect was that the design of the region’s SPD was subjected to some major revisions and a protracted delay – the first publicly available copy of the SPD did not emerge until early 1995. An important postscript here is that during this lag time the GOM had been inundated with a substantial number of project bids as the mechanics of resource allocation rapidly took priority.
The compromise SPD: all sides can declare themselves as winners
The finally agreed SPD represented a ‘compromise’ between the EC and UK Government views on regional development policy (Boland, 1998, p. 129, 1999a, pp. 649-650, 1999b, p. 789, 2000, p. 220; Carvel, 1994, p. 6; Lloyd and Meegan, 1996, p. 65-70). It maintained the supply-side measures and the strategic objectives of the original document (allied to the UK view), but it also incorporated a series of ‘drivers for change’ providing the ‘dynamic forces’ from which local economic development would emerge. It emphasised social as well as economic development, reflecting the EC policy on social exclusion, not something the UK Government would have normally attached special attention. The EC also claimed credit for refining the ERDF measures to deal with business support rather than road building or water authority investment as initially intended, for modifying the original training measures and reducing the amount of monies allocated to the ESF by 10% to 37%. This clearly shows that Merseyside, like other UK regions, did not escape the policy changes that are indicative of negotiating an SPD.
The SPD satisfied the principal protagonists with both sides managing to secure concessions from the other, which led one observer to rather wryly opine: “a compromise in which all sides can declare themselves to be winners” (Carvel, 1994, p. 6). It is quite plausible that a compromise was the only realistic outcome given the degree of policy divergence surrounding the negotiation process; for according to one informed respondent it is inevitable you get a ‘balance’ between the Member State and the EC. A senior source from the Objective 1 Secretariat offered a different interpretation of the SPD. Rather than being a compromise, it was perceived to be both ‘focused and flexible’ in the sense that it had a set of focused economic drivers, but within them there was a certain degree of flexibility in terms of project applications. Government officers in the region regarded this as being a very positive feature in the SPD, which worked efficiently in allocating resources.
Underpinning Merseyside’s SPD were five economic ‘drivers of change’: inward investment and large companies, local small companies, knowledge-based industries, culture, media and leisure industries and human resources. These were intended to provide the stimulus to economic development and “break the cycle of slow growth and even stagnation that has affected the region” (CEC, 1994c, p. 22). To completely close the economic gap between Merseyside and the EU would require two remarkable economic activity rates to be set in motion. Firstly, an increase in GDP of approximately 5% above the EU average. Secondly, an increase of employment growth of 8,400 jobs for the five year timescale of the strategy. Many respondents acknowledged that these objectives were wildly optimistic and it was extremely unlikely that the end of 1999, particularly given the severity of the region’s socio-economic malaise would meet them. Cambridge Econometrics, however, did forecast that with the introduction of Objective 1 Merseyside would benefit from a 3% (real terms) increase in regional GDP, and a net increase of 25,000 jobs by 1999 (CEC, 1994c, p. 23). The fact that Merseyside is to receive a second helping of Objective 1 support raises serious doubts on these targets (see Conclusions).
Roberts and Hart (1997, pp. 199-204) contend that once UK SPDs emerged from the ‘Whitehall washing machine’ their policy content shared a common degree of standardisation and uniformity, lacking genuine local input and innovative policies. Moreover, Lloyd and Meegan (1996, p. 78) argue that they were not regional plans, rather they were “carefully redefined to meet the UK Government’s own national agenda for a flexible market driven response to regional need”. This is particularly true of Merseyside’s SPD. Firstly, its five economic drivers are almost identical to those of other UK SPDs. Secondly, there is no rigorous analysis of the regional economy or regional dynamics; in fact, it allocates only one page to economic and social indicators, but fails to account for how these problems arose or specific solutions to them. This adds weight to claims that it was not a coherent regional plan. However, the shining beacon in terms of innovative policy is Pathways to Integration, Merseyside’s Community Economic Development (CED) priority that is based on cultivating a bottom-up – people-led – approach to local economic development (see Boland, 1998, pp. 156-179, pp. 180-227, 1999c; CEC, 1994c, pp. 125-129, 1996).
This section has demonstrated how the conflictual debates between the UK Government and the EC over economic policy adversely affected the design of Merseyside’s SPD. Moreover, the process of contested governance has also impacted upon the delivery of the SPD, particularly in terms of the power relations within the regional partnership and the mechanics of resource allocation.
THE IMPLEMENTATION OF MERSEYSIDE’S SPD
The regional partnership: asymmetric power relations
Regional partnerships form the focal point for the delivery of European Structural Funds. They are intended to involve all actors engaged in economic development and urban regeneration, and ought not to be dominated by one or more participants. It is argued, however, that during the 1994-1999 programming period the structure of economic governance in the UK was characterised by the centralisation of power and control in Whitehall and Westminster, and a lack of effective regional governance structures (Lloyd and Meegan, 1996, pp. 78-82; Martin, 1997, p. 52; Roberts and Hart, 1997, p. 200, p. 212). The creation of ten integrated Government Offices (GOs) in the English regions in April 1994 played a critical role in this process. In combining the previously separate regional offices of Environment, Employment, Transport and Trade and Industry their (official) remit was to provide a more coherent co-ordination in policy implementation (Hogwood, 1995; Mawson et al., 1995). In effect they became key regional governance structures through which Central Government could effect leverage over the application of European and domestic regeneration funding. This lent life to “a growing concern that the introduction of integrated regional offices in England represents an attempt by Whitehall to seize the vacant regional ground” (Martin, 1997, p. 65). A related debate subsequently erupted over the power and privilege conferred on the un-elected Senior Regional Directors who head the GOs. These Government appointed officials were compared to district commissioners of the British Empire, Roman pro-consuls, French prefects and viceroys, while their control over spending led many to question their accountability and discretionary powers (Foster, 1995). Indeed, one Merseyside MP, Peter Kilfoyle, criticised the secrecy and lack of accountability of the GOM in distributing funds: “The system seems to be running secretively, with grants of up to £3.8m awarded without any elected representative considering the application” (cited in Foster 1995, p. 9).
The regional partnership on Merseyside, as in other regions, has been characterised by ‘asymmetries of power’ (Boland, 1998, pp. 133-135, 1999a, p. 651, 1999b, p. 790; Lloyd and Meegan, 1996, p. 73). It has been dominated by the big players, with the GOM at the helm, ably supported by the five local authorities, the three Training and Enterprise Councils (TECs), the privatised utilities and local quasi-public agencies. While there has been a limited, if not minimal, role for the marginal players, such as the private, voluntary and community sectors, trades unions and other social partners. Local MPs voiced their misgivings at the lack of effective social partner involvement on the floor of the House of Commons (Hansard, 1995, p. 884). In the UK the problem of unequal power relations arises from differential access to knowledge, expertise and resources – ‘knowledge is power’. The big players have the necessary expertise and resources at their disposal which, combined with a familiarity with EC funding under previous programmes, represented a significant advantage over the marginal players, who concomitantly lacked the ‘capacity to act’ (Lloyd and Meegan, 1996, pp. 73-75; Roberts and Hart, 1997, p. 203). This quickly translated into a powerful role for the big players in the EC policy and resource machinery. On Merseyside these asymmetric power relations created an unhealthy environment for the effective delivery of the SPD, for it has been handicapped by the dominance of a small clique of actors who have effectively monopolised the process. This breeds conflict and suspicion, which has been particularly evident in the Knowsley Borough of Merseyside (see Boland, 1999c). Moreover, the lack of any substantive input from the marginal players denies the delivery of the SPD a valuable source of information and energy.
Once again these trends are not unique to Merseyside, but were a common feature in many UK regions (Lloyd and Meegan, 1996; Martin, 1997; Roberts and Hart, 1997). This, along with concerns over the size and elected (political) membership of Monitoring Committees and Technical Panels (which oversee the bidding process for funding), indicates the “restricted scope and narrow membership of regional partnerships” (Roberts and Hart, 1997, p. 200). There are therefore concerns that in many areas of the UK “the commitment of agencies to genuine local partnerships is either absent or fragile” and that “local agencies still have relatively little influence over decisions which determine the overall distribution of funding” (Martin, 1997, p. 52). However, a senior source from Merseyside’s Objective 1 Secretariat confirmed that local trades unions are now involved in the Objective 1 process and are represented on the both Technical Panels and the Monitoring Committee. In addition, they have also been involved in the Steering Groups working on the design of the new SPD. This is evidence that some progress is being made toward inclusivity on Merseyside.
Resource allocation: a row of pigs with their snouts in the trough
The determining factor for local agencies seeking involvement in European initiatives is to establish a seat at the funding table (Martin, 1997, p. 53; Roberts and Hart, 1997, p. 199, p. 211). As with other European related issues, Merseyside provides a revealing case study of these processes in action. There is powerful evidence to show that the Objective 1 resource allocation process has been dominated by ‘professional money chasing’ and the ‘principle of take’ (Boland, 1998, p. 233, 1999a, p. 651, pp. 656-657, 1999b, p. 790; Lloyd and Meegan, 1996, p. 74). One respondent vividly encapsulated the mentality of the bidders: “Take what we can get this year and hope that we can get the same or more next year” (Interview, 1996). Brauner (1996, p. 12) alludes to a more crude, if not accurate, animalistic analogy to describe the funding arrangements: “A row of pigs with their snouts in the trough”. The pot of £1.6 billion sent local partners into a feeding frenzy as they scrabbled among themselves for a share of the spoils. This was particularly true in terms of the Pathways to Integration initiative in the Knowsley Borough of Merseyside, which had the negative effect of shrouding the CED initiative in deep controversy (see Boland, 1998, pp. 180-227, 1999c). Acknowledgement of the existence of this debilitating practice was not limited to the academic and media fraternity; for it was recognised by the Objective 1 Secretariat itself. One senior figure accepted that the problems centred on “who is going to control the grant, not how it is going to be delivered. It was mayhem in the first two years, and an awful lot of opportunities have been wasted” (cited in Barnett, 1996, p. 9, original emphasis).
What is clear from the Merseyside case is that resource allocation is driven less by need and competency and more by positions of power and the ability to generate matched funding. The desire to draw down and spend the money became the modus operandi for local stakeholders, while adherence to an agreed local economic development strategy and/or a regional partnership came a poor second. The commitment to partnership was conveniently cast aside; maybe it was illusory to begin with, as the mechanics of accessing funding took priority. One senior local respondent conceded that whilst the official feedback on the partnership principle during the 1994-1999 programming period was favourable, the reality was that as soon as competition for funding kicked in individual priorities took precedence. There are grave concerns that this has had wider implications for the effective delivery of Objective 1 on Merseyside:
“In the face of fiscal stringency and the micro-motives of each individual partner the imperative of take has rendered the programme anti-innovative and exclusionary. While higher order debates continue around issues of regional planning versus market forces or a Europe of the regions versus national sovereignty, on Merseyside these now take second place to more pragmatic concerns in attempting to solicit bids, process them and organise spend against a tight timetable” (Lloyd and Meegan, 1996, pp. 74-75, original emphasis).
As a means to caricature the situation on Merseyside the analogy of the law of the jungle is appropriate. Use of the following metaphor is an attempt to crystallise the process that has been taking place. The dominant predatory felines (public and quasi-public sector agencies) rule as they carefully prowl and meticulously observe their prey (EC resources). When the opportune time arrives they attack and firmly fix their sharpened teeth and razor-like claws into the helpless beast. They then gorge themselves on a prolonged feast, while their ravenous rival competitors (private, community and trades unions sectors and civil society) wait impatiently to feed on the carcass that remains. While not arguing that such a natural law exists on Merseyside, the comparison is useful in depicting how the dominant actors are able to use their strength and power to obtain the lion’s share of EC funding, while others are left to pick upon the scraps left behind.
The debate over additionality
There is another contentious caveat to European funding – additionality, which has historically complicated the delivery of EC Structural Funds in UK regions. It can usefully be defined as “genuine additional economic impact and an equivalent increase in the total value of official aid” (Welfare and Beaumont, 1993, p. 183). Following the 1988 reform of the Structural Funds a series of principles were introduced to enhance the effective implementation of European regional policy. One of the most important has been the additionality principle which sought to ensure that Members States’ spending matched European spending and “that EU funds should not be used as a substitute for funds from national sources”, i.e. net additionality (Michie and Fitzgerald, 1997, p. 19). The problem lies in different concepts of additionality. The EC adheres to the ‘net additionality’ concept per region. In contrast, the (then) UK Government plunged into the murky waters of ‘global’ public expenditure accounts to reveal that recipient regions were ‘better off’ with EC funding compared to previous funding regimes (Boland, Mannin and Wallace, 1995, pp. 698-699; Lloyd and Meegan, 1996, p. 77; Martin, 1997, p. 53).
The debate over additionality led many UK regions to voice concern that EC resources would in reality not constitute net additional funds. In their research on English Objective 1 and 2 regions, Lloyd and Meegan (1996, p. 77, original emphasis) reported that “many regional bodies believe that a substantial proportion of the regional funds have been captured by the GOs to support national spend”. This is further evidence of the pivotal role played by the GOs in relation to the funding and management of the Structural Funds in UK regions. The source of the problem rests on the fact that effective control over the allocation of the Structural Funds lies with the GOs, who also disburse national regeneration funding. This made it difficult to decipher where the resources for one strategy ended and another began, and so the distinction between UK and EC programmes became unnecessarily and confusingly obfuscated. It is argued that this generated serious ex-post evaluation difficulties for the Commission, particularly in terms of ascertaining the real economic impact of Structural Fund intervention. According to Martin (1997, p. 53) this “made it almost impossible for the Commission to determine baseline expenditure levels against which the increases resulting from its assistance can be judged”. In short, European money is supposed to represent a net gain; but sceptics have shown that this has been paralleled by cuts in capital allocations in national policies and programmes, thus negating the overall benefit (Welfare and Beaumont, 1993). The GOs have therefore been a key conduit for Central Government in terms of resource distribution; they allow the allocation of Structural Funds to be abused.
Returning to Merseyside, concern was raised that the UK Government was effectively ‘clawing back’ Objective 1 funds, and in Objective 2 regions, to compensate for its net contributions to the EC (Boland, Mannin and Wallace, 1995, pp. 698-699; Lloyd and Meegan, 1996, p. 74). Interestingly, this was not a new practice because under previous EC funding regimes for Merseyside projects were supported that would have proceeded without European money. Furthermore, during the negotiation for the SPD there was some suspicion within the Commission that the UK Government was intending to use Objective 1 funds to pay for training schemes that were already underway (Carvel, 1994, p. 5). Again the problem rests on two different interpretations of additionality which, according to one informed respondent, are equally valid. The local community group perception was that the ESF would be used to provide new courses for local people. In contrast, the training provider view was that additionality did not mean a completely new course, rather it was the same course with an extra number of students or an extended timescale. This has created some very serious problems in Knowsley where there is a deep sense of suspicion, cynicism and conflict over the use of the ESF by local training providers, and more importantly the entire CED project (see Boland, 1998, pp. 212-217; 1999c, pp. 224-225). Indeed, the additionality debate raised so much local controversy that Knowsley Council sought advice from the EC Regional Policy Commissioner, Mrs Monica Wulf-Mathies. On a regional level there were rumours that the Commission had threatened to withhold Objective 1 monies from Merseyside, which took nearly a year for a settlement to be reached. There still remains a significant degree of local controversy raging over additionality.
This section has commented upon how the problem of contested governance had a negative impact on the delivery of Merseyside’s SPD. It now moves on to offer more general critical conclusions on the Merseyside experience of Objective 1 status, particularly on the economic impact of the policies and the lessons for the next programming period.
This paper has shown that Merseyside in particular, and other UK recipient regions, are instructive examples where the “regionalised approach to economic development has been a source of particular difficulty” (Turok and Bachtler, 1997, p. 7). It has revealed that there are important lessons to be learned from the Merseyside experience of Objective 1 status. More generally, it provides a valuable input into wider debates concerning the ‘coherence’ of European regional policy (see Bachtler and Turok, 1997b). In demonstrating the problems that can occur during the design and delivery of an SPD, Merseyside is a highly relevant case study for other regions currently embarking on their Objective1 journeys, such as Cornwall and Scilly, South Yorkshire and West Wales and the Valleys (see Boland, 1999d). Quite whether the new Regional Development Agencies (RDAs) in the English regions, the Scottish Parliament and the Welsh Assembly will transform the nature of economic governance, decision making and inclusivity is an important future research agenda (see Bentley and Gibney, 2000).
Assessing the economic impact of Objective 1
Objective 1, 1994-1999, was an attempt to improve Merseyside’s performance on key economic indices, e.g. unemployment, economic activity and inactivity and GDP. At the time of writing, however, latest Government statistics raise some serious questions marks over the economic success of Objective 1; moreover, it is argued that “they paint a familiarly disturbing picture” (Boland, 1999b, p. 791). Firstly, the latest (seasonally adjusted) unemployment figures reveal that Merseyside still has the highest unemployment rate of any county in the UK, a figure of 8.5% that remains double the UK average of 4.2% (ONS, 1999a). An unemployment rate of 11.9% for the Borough of Knowsley represents the fourth highest unemployment rate for any local authority area in the UK. Secondly, Merseyside has the highest economic inactivity rate in the UK, with 31.2% of the working population not participating in the labour market compared to 21.4% for the UK. The corollary is that Merseyside has the lowest economic activity rate in the UK with only 68.8% of the working population active in the labour market, set against 78.6% for the UK (ONS, 1999b). More alarming is the fact that the between 1996 and 1999 the economic activity rate for the UK remained constant around 79%; however, the corresponding figures for Merseyside show that during the same period economic activity fell from 71% to 68.8%. Conversely, the economic inactivity rate for Merseyside increased from 29% to 31.2%, a rise of 2.2%, while the figure for the UK hovered around 21% (MLM, 1997; ONS, 1999b). In other parts of the UK this has been referred to as ‘hidden unemployment’, where in areas with poor employment prospects people purposefully disengage themselves from the formal labour market (Beatty and Fothergill, 1998, pp. 128-130; MacKay, 1997, p. 7). Thirdly, the fact that Merseyside is to benefit from a second round of Objective 1 support indicates that regional GDP has not progressed beyond 75% of the EU average, the eligibility criteria for Objective 1. In fact, the latest Eurostat figures reveal that Merseyside’s GDP per capita is currently 72% of the EU average. At the time of designation in 1993 it was 73%, so in effect regional GDP performance is moving away and not towards the EU average as Cambridge Econometrics forecast in the SPD.
Consequently, what has Objective 1 achieved on Merseyside? One informed respondent reported that there would be no underspend from the previous programme; claiming that all the money – some £1.6 billion – has been committed. Yet the economic indices cited above clearly illustrate that unemployment, economic activity and inactivity and GDP remain deeply problematic and entrenched problems on Merseyside, despite five years of Objective 1. Admittedly, it will take time for some projects to come to fruition and thence deliver their economic impact. However, the fact that economic inactivity is rising on Merseyside must rank as an extremely alarming indicator. It shows that local people, particularly the young cohort, are deciding to remove themselves from the formal labour market. Merseyside has some powerful informal labour markets and the danger is that they may be providing the ‘job’ opportunities that the formal labour market has failed to generate (Boland, 1998, pp. 82-84). This is a very worrying trend and something that the next instalment of Objective 1 needs to address as a matter of urgency.
Implications for the 2000-2006 programming period
This paper has argued that contested governance, a process that has negatively affected the design and delivery of the region’s SPD, has undermined Merseyside’s Objective 1 programme. In terms of the design of the SPD the fundamental problem is that it is not a true regional plan, but a compromise that lacks innovative policies; while the delivery of the SPD has been dominated by asymmetries of power, money chasing and a lack of capacity to act among the marginal partners. To address these problems the next Objective 1 programme would need to progress towards designing a strategic regional plan, establishing a stronger commitment to partnership that is underpinned by genuine inclusivity and a more equitable and effective allocation of resources. A more inclusive partnership based approach is required that is driven by proper dialogue and discussion, mutual idea sharing and a wider exchanging of views and experiences from the previous programme. It would also be worthwhile placing less emphasis on the standard neo-liberal-inspired supply-side policies, encapsulated in the trickle-down approach, and instead design more locally-specific measures which are aimed at stimulating aggregate demand and job creation and increasing social inclusion, for instance, Pathways to Integration.
According to a senior local civil servant what needs to be different in the next programme is a more qualitative framework for assessing the impacts of the projects. This could involve a monitoring system that tracked individual beneficiaries and convassed their views on the qualitative, as opposed to purely quantitative, impact of projects. This would be a particularly useful introduction into the evaluation of the Pathways to Integration related initiatives, and ought to focus on the need to improve local capacity building among civil society. This qualitative approach would help engender a more critical and reflective analysis of the achievements, or otherwise, of the previous programme. It would also provide a clear evaluation of how things can be done differently and identify improvements for the next programme. One respondent claimed that what was unique about the Merseyside case, particularly within a European context, was the degree of ‘ownership’ of the programme and knowledge of the strategy. Partners wanted to ‘own’ the programme, that ‘everyone owned it’ rather than a small clique. Quite whether those marginal players in the outer estates of Merseyside would accept this interpretation Merseyside is debatable.
The new SPD was submitted to the Commission in late 1999. The early informal indications are that it is generally satisfactory, but that certain parts of it may need revising. The Secretariat awaits further detailed feedback. What is striking about the 2000-2006 SPD is that it is a mammoth document, amounting to some 350 pages which massively dwarfs it predecessor by nearly 200 pages. It would seem that Merseyside has learned some of the lessons from the previous preparation process and produced a more definitive regional development strategy. An interesting footnote is that the West Wales and the Valleys’ SPD has received a less positive response through the publication of a critical 40 page response from the Commission. It is argued that the Welsh SPD was a poorly prepared document – a ‘hotchpotch’ of unconnected ‘wish-lists’ - that requires fundamental revisions (Lovering, 2000). This would suggest that Wales may not have taken on board, and responded to, some of the important lessons that have been extrapolated from Merseyside (Boland, 1999d). In conclusion, the new century promises some very interesting times not only for Merseyside, but also the new Objective 1 regions of Cornwall, Yorkshire and Humberside and West Wales and the Valleys. The key question is can they deliver real and decent employment opportunities for those most marginalised and disadvantaged in society; i.e. can they succeed in including the excluded?
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REPORT BY COMMUNITY ACTIVIST ROBIN MORRITT
Progress Report on Kensington Regeneration:
A Community Perspective on the Delivery of New Deal for Communities in Liverpool
The delivery of New Deal for Communities in Liverpool has been entrusted to an organisation known as “Kensington Regeneration”, the misleading title adopted by a department of Liverpool City Council.
The policies being pursued by “Kensington Regeneration” are
· inappropriate to New Deal for Communities
· not supported by the community
· damaging to the interests of the more vulnerable people in the community.
Democratic society does not entrust policy making to professional administrators. Policy making is a matter for politicians, the enactment of policy is the purpose of the civil servant.
“Kensington Regeneration” has detached itself from political control by national government, local government, and the community; Government Office is ineffective. Policymaking is in the province of civil servants. The follies of “Kensington Regeneration” emanate from that state of affairs.
Liverpool City Council has pursued a consistent strategy for dealing with Kensington since the beginning of the NDC process. The intentions of New Deal for Communities have been set aside.
The City Council dictated the selection of Kensington for reasons other than its suitability as an NDC candidate. It exaggerated the problems of the area, with the exception of a high murder rate which was a coincidental aberration at that time. The reason for selecting Kensington was that it occupies a particularly desirable location close to the city centre, and it presents a high profile and bottleneck to traffic passing along the main routes into the city centre.
The strategy for dealing with Kensington has been consistently applied since the start of the process. The City Council and partner organisations set out to gain control of the funds, silence the community, and embark on a programme of road widening, demolition and rebuilding.
The solution to the social and economic problems is to permanently remove a substantial section of the lower classes, and sell new build properties which will improve the economic standing of the area.
In alliance with the local housing association, the plan accesses public and private funding, and also takes advantage of inside information to crystallize the losses of local homeowners through compulsory purchasing, opening the prospect of future capital gains.
“Kensington Regeneration” is a pure City Council operation interested in beautification and property speculation. Regeneration is only a process of statistical manipulation. The community is seen as a plot of land rather than a group of people living there and Liverpool City Council will sacrifice the life chances of the most vulnerable members of the community to achieve its aim.
The Power Structure in Kensington NDC:
Liverpool City Council appointed the shadow steering group in order to gain government approval for a phase 1b submission. After the submission was approved in May 1999, the City Council was free to resume control.
Members of the community have been given positions and have been told they are important. They have been misled.
Numerically the community has been represented in important positions as follows:
NDC Phase Group Title Community Other
Phase 1: Steering Group 1 15
Phase 1b: Shadow Steering Group 2 14
Phase 2: “Board of Directors”Board of Directors 50 113
The increase in numerical representation for the community has occurred after the City Council acquired accountable body status and management control. This was achieved without the involvement of the community, as it is well known the community would object strongly to such a monopoly of power.
The organisation structure for the main participants highlights the weakness of the bodies where community representation exists. Government Office and the local Housing Association, Riverside, have been left out of the diagram but have significant roles behind the scenes. Government Office have monitored the dissatisfaction of the community at Forums, but appear to support the City Council. Riverside will become the monopoly social housing provider for the area although the community has voiced strident objections to their involvement.
Organisation of the Main Local Bodies in NDC:
Liverpool City Council
Liverpool City Council has its own agenda for New Deal for Communities. The Mission statement set in 1998 during phase 1 is still being used: “To make Kensington a location of choice for people and business”. The Mission is a good fit with the current strategy, but completely irrelevant to true NDC objectives.
“Board of Directors”:
The “Board of Directors” is used to justify the claim that “Kensington Regeneration” has community support. This body carries the weight concomitant with a phoney title.
As City Council employees, the staff of “Kensington Regeneration” will pursue the agenda of their employer. Local government provides highly lucrative career paths.
The importance of Kensington Regeneration lies in its being the independent title holder of the name under which the City Council operates a department that takes on the appearance of being a community based organisation. Kensington Regeneration refuses to comply with its statutory obligations to divulge information about its members or Directors. The Directors have a vested interest, none are members of the community and their conduct should be transparent.
Kensington Regeneration is a shell, having no assets, which makes it is easy to persuade people it is of no importance.
“Kensington Regeneration is currently being registered as a Charitable Company limited by guarantee, able to carry out regeneration works, including owning and improving properties. The Board of the company will include locals residents…”
March 2000 phase 2 submission, page 51
Social Exclusion and Power in Kensington NDC:
Unequal partnership has benefits and dangers for individuals in the community. To support powerful partners in regeneration can be very rewarding. To oppose them can and does have negative consequences, potentially serious, certainly intimidating.
Members of the community are selected for privileged positions through a system of patronage, ultimately controlled from City Hall. They find themselves in the company of wealthy and powerful individuals, who have all the self-assurance one associates with rank. These cultivated, elegant and refined people are charming and seem dedicatedly concerned for the welfare of the community.
The community member is transported from a deprived environment into a world of motivation and team building, lavish dinners and weekend breaks at otherwise unaffordable hotels.
Community members grow to like and trust their patrons. Then Kensington Regeneration does not need to be transparent or to comply with the provisions of the Companies Act, and the Housing Association can buy a stake in the scheme in return for investing its negative equity in the community.
Suspicions are met with the affirmation of leadership, commonly expressed as the leaders being “really nice people”.
The environment of “Kensington Regeneration” does not permit questioning. People who ask questions are excluded.
Individuals and businesses especially are anxious not to offend the combined weight of the institutions included in the partnership arrangement. The combination of City Council and Riverside Housing Association is particularly intimidating for tenants.
No copies of the Housing Plan were made available, even after it had been officially adopted, to the very few people who would want them. This is normal in the Kensington NDC process, and defines the attitude towards people who want to understand what is going on.
“Kensington Regeneration” posed the question “Do you agree with our proposed approach of good communications, effective management and community planning?”. (Twenty five per cent of the respondents completely agreed with this.)
Asking more penetrating questions invites on the enquirer the humiliation of being refused without explanation. There is no complaints procedure or opportunity for a second opinion.
It is not the intention of this report to dwell on the housing plan, but to draw attention to the lack of community involvement in the process in general and the reasons for that. Intimidation is inherently important in the housing plan because the roof over peoples’ heads is under threat.
Community involvement is not wanted by the City Council, and never has been, except to justify decisions that were determined by senior council officers and their partners in the early stages of the process.
Liverpool City Council coordinates secrecy, deception, enticement and intimidation to control the process.
Government Office have observed public meetings. Demonstrations of community disapproval have not carried weight.
The close relationship of the City Council with the Housing Associations is disturbing. The process of secondment is used to manipulate programmes like NDC.
The community has strong objections to the City Council Officer culture, and that of the main RSL in the area, Riverside. Despite this, the Council was able to take control of NDC through the process of patronage and partnership.
The partnership arrangement and employment mobility between the RSL, the embryonic “Kensington Regeneration” and Kensington Regeneration proper is shown in the diagram, below. When the City Council was forced to step back from its ownership of the scheme in phase 1, the Shadow Steering Group of phase 1b was offered the services of the Divisional Director of Riverside Housing Association as Chief Executive of the NDC programme. The reaction of the community was swift and strong when the Divisional Director was presented at a public meeting. But the appointment stood. On completion of her secondment with “Kensington Regeneration”, the Riverside Divisional Director took a senior post with the council. Subsequently, the former Divisional Director of Riverside, now a council officer, was appointed Company Secretary of the real Kensington Regeneration, another key position kept out of the public eye. And it so happens that the current Divisional Director of Riverside is a former council officer as well, albeit some years ago.
A recent bid by the Liver Housing Association to award its outgoing Chief Executive a bonus of £900,000 was subsequently reduced to £300,000, but it serves to illustrate the level of rewards that the senior staff of the RSLs anticipate. The mobility of senior staff between the City Council and the RSLs is disturbing for schemes such as NDC.
Taken at face value, Riverside Housing Association was quickly deployed to take over the Chief Executive role at “Kensington Regeneration”, and the purpose was to acquire control over the NDC public funds on behalf of the City Council. The otherwise insecure position of an employee taking secondment is balanced by the level of service they provide for both the City Council and their former employer.
Similar considerations apply to the selection of Liverpool City Council to take over the accountable body status and management function. The community was not invited to express its view about the choice of Liverpool City Council for these positions. It was stated that there was no choice but to accept the City Council for accountable body status owing to its VAT status. No mention was ever made of the City Council taking the management function as it was intended that the community would believe that “Kensington Regeneration” was a separate entity.
The City Council is in control of the scheme, and Riverside will have the social housing monopoly in its portfolio through a local subsidiary.
For this to be held up as an example of community involvement and engagement, it is the most perverse outcome.
A Step in the Right Direction:
New Deal for Communities is an innovative and humane initiative. There is no reason to believe that the community would not support it.
When the public servant acquires mastery over the public, then the community is in trouble. The process of demolishing 2,012 homes and removing non-conforming businesses is better described as social cleansing and economic vandalism than tackling social exclusion and economic regeneration.
This has been achieved by restricting information and overwhelming and silencing community opinion.
A step in the right direction would be to persuade Government Office and Liverpool City Council that the community has a right to expression of opinion, independent of interpretation by vested interest.
In a community awash with public funds under the mastery of public employees and their partners, the independent community voice must be supported financially.
Members of the community will provide the ideas, the energy, creativity and dynamism, but lack an appropriate level of financial resources. If the community is allowed freedom of expression, there is a chance the City Council, the RSL, and the Directors of Kensington Regeneration will lose the Housing Plan. The potential rewards are such that “Kensington Regeneration” will stamp out genuine community participation if it is allowed the chance, and it will be difficult to persuade them to adopt a different approach.
Timeline of Events November 1998 to April 2001
The DETR publishes the NDC “Guidance for Pathfinder Applicants”.
Liverpool City Council submits a New Deal for Communities proposal, Phase 1, on behalf of an area known as Kensington NDC.
One local resident was involved at this stage.
The government informally rejects the phase 1 proposal, but invited a resubmission (phase 1b) and provided £50,000 to finance it.
The New Deal for Communities initiative is re-launched at public meetings in the Kensington area.
A sixteen member shadow steering group assumes control from Liverpool City Council. There is one member of the community on the shadow steering group.
Monthly public forums are started.
Four Focus Groups are formed.
Correspondence from government ministers and Government Office formally reject the phase 1 bid, invite a resubmission and express an interest in:
1 Involvement of the community.
2 The proposed local regeneration company.
3 The accountable body.
Ministers pay particular attention to the full and active involvement of the community, genuine partnership, genuine involvement and empowerment of the local community, and express the hope that the proposed local regeneration company can be firmed up along with the choice of accountable body.
A nearby firm of consultants are contracted to raise NDC awareness of the scheme and engage the community.
A second member of the community joins the shadow steering group.
The divisional director of the local housing association is appointed as Chief Executive of “Kensington Regeneration” and presented as a fait accompli to a public forum of around 100 people who voice their strong objections.
The consultants hold events, collect opinion via questionnaires, and canvas for support. Four hundred and thirty six members of the community fill in and return forms expressing their interest in participating in the scheme.
The phase 1b submission is presented to forum as a fait accompli for approval. Forum voices its strong objections at having no opportunity to view the proposals prior to submission, but is told to vote for the proposal or lose fifty million pounds.
The submission stated that the Kensington Regeneration had been formed, and it was a charity. This was not true.
The work of the Focus Groups was not included in the revised submission. Nobody was allowed a full copy of the submission, except for two display copies in an office. The community had engaged with the consultants not the process. Not even the focus groups had been able to communicate with the steering group. Legally, the Kensington Regeneration company did not in fact exist.
The government approved the submission at the end of May.
The arrangement with the consultants was terminated. The 436 applications from members of the community to join the scheme were never collected by “Kensington Regeneration”. The pretence of engaging the community was over.
The pretence that there was a real Kensington Regeneration was maintained until November 1999, when a member of the community contacted Companies House and threatened to expose “Kensington Regeneration”.
Nevertheless, “Kensington Regeneration” continued referring to the advisors as a “Board of Directors”.
The Focus Groups were cut off from contact with the “Board” for several months.
The focus groups were told they were being disbanded in favour of citizens panels, but the citizens panels were not formed until well after phase 2 was completed. The closure of the Focus Groups was completed in January.
The phase 2 bid was submitted and the community did not know what was in it.
Copies were made available retrospectively.
Government partially approved the bid - £30,000,000 was granted. The government wanted more information about the proposed housing intentions.
In the following months, the citizens panels were formed and an attempt was made by consultants to “train” the members.
The communications strategy was to use public exhibitions, where a series of vague, often conflicting, ideas and attractive architects’ drawings were used to canvas opinion via questionnaires.
The citizens panels were not informed or involved in the evolution of the Housing Plan proposals from the ideas stage to concrete proposal.
The Housing Plan was submitted to government and gained approval.
The working up of the Housing Plan took place in other City Council departments than “Kensington Regeneration”. The only community members privy to information about the evolution of the actualité were the appointees on the “Board of Directors”, subjected to the permanent restrictions of collective responsibility and confidentiality imposed by the City Council.
The interpretation of the community’s view of the housing proposals has been in the province of “Kensington Regeneration”, who use the feedback from the earlier exhibitions of vague ideas and attractive architects’ drawings as the basis of their claims for widespread support.
Even after government approval of the Housing Plan was gained, copies of the Housing Plan were not available for members of the community to take away to read. Until, that is, after one copy went missing and the community was alerted to its contents.
The contents of the actual Housing Plan are little known in the community. There is no reason to assume it is supported. “Kensington Regeneration” put forward both the following assertions on behalf of the community just twelve months apart.
“Some properties will be demolished during the reshaping of Kensington, and although this will not be on a wide scale…”From the Delivery Plan (phase 2 submission) – March 2000, p. 32
Acquisitions & Demolitioni) Dwellings demolished 2012From the Housing Delivery Proposal (phase 2 re-submission) – March 2001, p. 77
Contact the author for further information:
Robin Morritt94, Gladstone Road, Edge Hill, Liverpool. L7 1QQ