Dear Mr Lewis
Following your exchange in Parliament yesterday with Liverpool Walton MP Steve Rotheram, I was appalled that you chose to refer to me in connection with a series of untrue and damaging statements about the city’s finances. I would remind you that you’ve been invited several times to see for yourself Liverpool’s finances, instead I am disappointed that you seem to be hiding behind tabloid level ‘analysis’.
I demand an apology from you for the lies you have misled the House with and which have damaged my, and the city’s, reputation.
I refer to your comment that I spent ‘£2m on Beatles Memorabilia which is now worth £300,000.’ Liverpool City Council has incurred no such expenditure. I think you may actually be referring to the ‘Beatles Story’ which is owned by Merseytravel, not the city council. Unless you have prematurely revealed that the government has plans to transfer transport responsibilities to the Mayor, it is a lie and I demand that you retract this statement in Parliament. I am absolutely disgusted at your behaviour in relation to this issue.
You made a series of other inaccurate claims in your ill-informed response:
– £136m of reserves – the city’s reserves are currently £115m which is held for very specific purposes ie pooling money with Health to jointly fund projects over that span financial years. This is considered good practice and is in fact a policy initiative of your government The council’s budget meeting on Wednesday will reduce our reserves position to £37m, representing around 5% of our total net budget which complies with the minimum amount your government tells us to hold.
– Collecting uncollected council tax costs every tax-paying household £500 – Liverpool collects 96% of council tax, comparable to UK core cities and represents top quartile performance of all local authorities. However Liverpool chooses to pursue all outstanding debts rather than write off and thereby massage the figures. Last year, the city recovered £8m of historic council tax and £300,000 poll tax debt.
– Liverpool spends a quarter of its net budget on cultural events – Liverpool last year spent 0.2% of its net budget on cultural events which contributed £10.6m into the local economy.
– Liverpool spends £650 a day on a Labour spin-doctor – This is not true. The city council has no politically funded posts which support the work of the Labour party.
– Liverpool spent money on a £90,000 car – This is unbelievable and incapable of substantiation. The city has not spent anywhere near such amount on any vehicle. It never has and never will.
I would reiterate that your statement has no basis of truth and I demand that you apologise. I do hope you don’t choose to hide behind parliamentary privilege, the fact is you got it wrong and I expect you to have the grace to admit that and to rectify it. Of course if you are able to provide evidence to substantiate any of your claims I’d be pleased to receive it, but I expect that this will not be the case.
The fact is the city council is this week being asked to make cuts of £156m, on top of the £176m over the past 3 years, which will result in the removal of essential services to some of the most disadvantaged and vulnerable residents of the city. You appear content however to brush this off by engaging in ridiculous political posturing in response to a serious question from the MP, which reflects the contempt in which you and your government hold the people of this city.
I look forward to receiving your response.
Mayor of Liverpool