An investigation by Labour into what went wrong at Liverpool City Council has got underway. A review panel will look into major issues that were highlighted in the Caller report and make recommendations.
The damning Government inspection report found multiple failures at the local authority including the awarding of “dubious contracts”, a lack of record-keeping and “an environment of intimidation” in one of its main departments.
Former minister David Hanson has been asked to lead Labour's inquiry into the issues arising from the report on failings in the city, which led to Government commissioners being sent to Liverpool to oversee key departments.
Former Leader of Leeds City Council, Judith Blake, has been asked by the Party to assist, and report findings and recommendations by 1 July.
David Hanson said: "Our priority is putting the people of Liverpool first. This great city deserves a response from the Labour Party locally and nationally into the recommendations made by Max Caller.
"Labour is committed to playing our part in tackling the problems set out in this report. We want to get to the bottom of what has gone wrong and help to put it right.
“The panel will not be providing a running commentary on its work, prior to sending its report to the Party.”
Judith Blake, Baroness Blake of Leeds, said: "We are looking forward to meeting people from across the party in Liverpool in the coming weeks. We are inviting submissions from party members in Liverpool City Region.
"We have agreed a timetable and process for the inquiry and we have asked Lord Roy Kennedy to support our work."
The panel’s remit includes:
Assessing the Caller report and investigating any failings in governance, oversight and scrutiny relating to the Labour Party in Liverpool
Taking any appropriate steps to protect and promote the integrity and effectiveness of Labour in Liverpool, and determining what action is required to protect the public interest and electoral processes
Considering what support and guidance the Labour group in Liverpool might need to deliver the reforms required
Assessing whether any of the Party’s rules, procedures and codes of conduct have been breached and supporting any work done by the Party to enforce these
Making recommendations about the Party’s organisation, structures, rules and procedures to prevent any repeat of the issues raised
What’s it all about?
The Government inspection was prompted by the ‘significant connection’ between Liverpool City Council and an ongoing police investigation. Elected Mayor Joe Anderson was arrested on suspicion of conspiracy to commit bribery and witness intimidation in December 2020. His arrest alongside four other men is part of Operation Aloft, an investigation into building and development contracts in Liverpool. Mr Anderson maintains he is innocent and has been released on bail.
It came after the council's Director of Regeneration Nick Kavanagh was arrested as part of the same Merseyside Police investigation in December 2019. He is suspected of conspiracy to defraud and misconduct in a public office but has never been charged.