The Liverpool Echo has today online made outrageous claims, claims they knew to be false and without foundation, printed without a shred of evidence and totally reliant on the lies of a Political Party, namely the Liberal Democrats.
The lies printed in the Echo are about the street cleansing service within our City. The allegation is that I have deliberately targeted extra staff and resources into areas within the City for political gain. This is not something said in a leaflet, this is reported in the Liverpool Echo – a so called neutral paper – two days before an election.
Let me explain why you may have seen extra activity around our City from Amey staff, those who are responsible for street cleansing. Eleven months ago we entered into a new arrangement for street cleansing with Amey. Since that time their performance has been quite frankly, and to put it mildly, unacceptable. I allowed for a period of transition because they were a new company. But the standard of the service was and remains extremely poor. Yes, we have lost staff because of the cuts, but the service provided falls below what we had agreed and expected.
So, three months ago I convened a meeting and warned Amey I needed to see visible improvements. I am sorry to say that the slight improvement was not good enough. I again, three weeks ago, urgently demanded an improvement and threatened to end the contract – a statement of fact, not a bluff. Whilst this remains the case today, in fairness to them they have responded by bringing in extra staff and putting on extra shifts across the whole City including working overtime and weekends.
Neither I nor any officers of this Council have directed the Amey staff where to go or what areas to go to. It is for Amey management to direct their staff to where they have failed, which quite frankly is the whole City.
The claim by the Liberal Democrats I can accept because we are all used to their lies and smears, but it is totally unacceptable for a so called balanced newspaper to print without investigation or taking the time to talk to me direct. The Echo claim a Council worker said it, but they don’t name them and of course Amey staff are not Council workers. The fact is they can’t name them because they don’t exist and the whole story is untrue.
Let me be clear – I accept responsibility for the poor state of our streets, there are no excuses.
The improvements to the service and the extra activity you can see are happening because I have demanded them. They will continue up to and after the Election – that I can promise you – or I will end the contract.
The Echo have reported, in my view, a very serious allegation against me, one which I do not take lightly. The claim that I have abused my power in such a way is totally unfounded and unacceptable. I am seeking advice on this. To claim this two days before an election – well, you judge for yourselves.