Green Proposals Would Have Stopped Liverpool Library Closures – A Response to Mayor Joe Anderson 09/08/14

The mayor is angry that the Greens are thinking of better ways to do things for the city and making a point of talking about them in public. We wonder if the mayor has lost his memory before writing this defensive piece regarding his and the Labour group’s decision regarding the Liverpool Library closures, where closing 11 out of the 18 libraries are being considered. If the mayor had taken some more time to consider, he may have recalled our credible proposals to stop their closure over the course of the year. Perhaps then he could have produced something more plausible.

He begins with the erroneous claim that our plans wouldn’t raise enough money to prevent library closures. He clearly fails to recall our second amendment to this years budget, where the text reads:

“There are two revenue lines allocated for direction by councillors and by the Mayor for optional, discretionary projects – Mayoral Neighbourhood Fund £1.24m and Leader’s Fund £1m.  Those funds should be reduced to £404k and £202k, representing a reduction to approximately one third and one fifth of their budgets, respectively.  Those levels should be maintained for 2015/16 and 2016/17.

The consequent saving of £1.634m should be used to stop any library closures in Liverpool.”

This would have generated over £3m over the two years, more than enough to maintain the libraries budget. We ensured that our amendments were fully checked by council finance, showing our plans were absolutely viable.

The Mayor then accuses us of planning to “use the same fund to re-instate the Bus Lanes, stop any cuts to Voluntary Sector, stop cuts to Adult Social Care, stop cuts to Children’s Services, use it to employ extra staff to clean our streets, use it to repair our roads, use it to stop us selling off a piece of land next to Sefton Park and any other thing you could imagine.”

This is simply untrue. A deliberate lie. We did propose continuing to fund adult day care centres, all of which are being closed. However we called for a council tax rise to pay for that. The rest is just fabricated.

The mayor continues “The stupidity of the Green Party is breath taking, however, the more they comment on important issues in our City the more they are exposed as the opportunists that they are, with little or no knowledge of real life and the financial difficulties that we face.”

Its a shame he resorts to name calling and spreading falsehoods on this important issue.

To be fair to the mayor, he is correct when he describes the terrible financial challenges facing this city. The cuts are devastating and the result of an uncaring economically illiterate government. I agree with him also that the projects funded by these discretionary funds do amazing things. It is a cruel choice to have to make, but we are campaigning to save the libraries because when they are gone it will be difficult and expensive to reinstate them, and they represent something very important to most people in this city.

I just wish it was possible to believe his last paragraph:

“One thing I can guarantee is that every decision we make is in the best interest of the city and will be made in the fairest way possible to manage our very difficult financial situation. We will always protect as our people as much as we can, with no gimmicks – just the truth.”

Written by Cllr Tom Crone