This week we have released the Budget proposals for Liverpool City Council which will see the City forced into making another £156m of cuts, on top of the £176m cuts we have made over the last three years.
Now we face the most difficult part – delivering on our proposals. Many of the choices we have to make will be hard for some prople to accept, and I understand that but the fact is we have more going out than is coming. Our only option is to prioritise and unfortunately, after already dealing with three years of serve cuts from this Lib-Dem/Tory government, we are finding ourselves prioritising the priorities.
Let me be clear. I did not get into politics or become Mayor of my City to make these cuts or take services away from people. I take absolutely no comfort or pleasure from having to implement these devastating cuts. I get zero personal gain from any decisions made. I was, however, elected Mayor to lead the City forward and make the right decisions to secure our future. I will always do what is best for this City. I will not play politics.
Of course, there will be some people who don’t have the best interests of the city at heart, and we have already heard from some of them. Lib Dem leader Richard Kemp took to the airwaves this morning to criticise us for not making enough savings. This is despite the fact it is his party in Government slashing our funding. Clearly he has no shame. Let me put this as clearly as possible – by 2017 we will have 56% less money than we did in 2010.
Anyone who thinks we can deliver all the services, leisure centres, libraries and adult care we used to just by making savings shouldn’t be trusted with the keys to their own car, never mind the keys to the city.
I was back in the office this morning – like every other mornig – to discuss how we engage with the people of Liverpool on the difficult decisions we have to make. My cabinet colleagues and I will always be honest and transparent about what we are doing and will engage with the public. We have nothing to hide and we want everybody to understand why we are having to make these decisions.
I couldn’t have asked for a better response from staff, public and unions alike. I would like to put on record my thanks to everyone for their understanding and the way they have risen to the challenge of doing more with less.
There is no doubt that this is a very difficult time for our City. A lot of people will be upset and angry at the cuts being forced upon us and it is to those people that I say – we will get through this. It will not be easy but united we will get through it together.
I was elected as Mayor to steer us through the good times as well as the bad. Although the cuts are devastating us, we have a lot to look forward to and I for one am excited about the future of this City. The best days lay ahead for Liverpool. We may have been knocked to our knees but I can assure you, we will pull ourselves back up and we will stand taller than ever.