Three years of government intervention at Liverpool Council comes to an end

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Back in 2021, the government appointed commissioners to oversee Liverpool City Council.

Commissioner-led government intervention at Liverpool Council has ended after three years.

Back in 2021, the government appointed commissioners to oversee Liverpool City Council (LCC), following investigations into former Mayor, Joe Anderson, and his involvement in building contracts. Following the local authority’s later energy contract blunder - which costed an estimated £10m and impacted the energy costs of local schools and the fire service - it was decided that ministers would take full control of governance, recruitment and finances.

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The Government stepped in and took effective full control of the council, following the publication of a second commissioners’ report into the local authority in 2022. Written in June 2022 and released two months later, The Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities, recommended that the Government take control of the council, with an advisory panel formed. Aiming to develop a long-term plan to guide Liverpool Council out of the government intervention, the panel was chaired by Liverpool City Region Mayor, Steve Rotheram.

Now, the Government commissioners have concluded their intervention in Liverpool. Last month, after three years of intervention, the commissioners published their final report on the council’s improvement journey.  They concluded that it is ‘a well-governed, improving organisation, with ambitious leaders who are committed to long term change’, and recommended that Commissioners should conclude their role on 9 June. The council had already taken back responsibility for Finance, Highways and Transport in March, and the majority of senior appointments in January.

Liverpool Pier Head, Cunard Building. Image: coward_lion - stock.adobe.comLiverpool Pier Head, Cunard Building. Image: coward_lion - stock.adobe.com
Liverpool Pier Head, Cunard Building. Image: coward_lion - stock.adobe.com | coward_lion - stock.adobe.com

To ensure a continued focus on improvement, the council will now establish an Improvement Board, chaired by Mike Cunningham CBE QPM – previously the lead Commissioner. The board is expected to run until March 2025, to provide further assurance that recent improvements are sustained. 

Liverpool City Council Chief Executive, Andrew Lewis, said: “This is a significant milestone for the council and the city, and the result of a great deal of commitment and hard work from Councillors, staff and our partners.

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“The Council is committed to continuing our journey of improvement beyond the period of government intervention, to create the outstanding council that the people of Liverpool have the right to expect.  There is still much more work to do, but we can be proud that recent progress has been sufficient to enable this important step forward. 

“I want to thank Mike Cunningham and the other Commissioners for the dedication they have shown to Liverpool over the last three years, and welcome Mike as the independent chair of our new Improvement Board.”

Mike Cunningham said: “Our time as Commissioners at Liverpool City Council has now come to an end. The possibility of any further Best Value intervention is a decision for the government that will be elected on 4 July. In the meantime, I am pleased to be able to continue to provide support to LCC’s ongoing improvement journey as the independent chair of LCC’s new Improvement Board.”

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