Liverpool council vote to scrap role of elected city mayor - going against public poll

The position of Mayor of Liverpool will be axed following the May 2023 local elections.

Liverpool City Council have opted to scrap the position of elected city mayor despite the public voting to keep the role.

At a town hall meeting on Wednesday night, councillors voted by a majority of 51 to 18 to axe the role following the May 2023 local elections and return to a council leader and cabinet executive model.

The move follows a public consultation that revealed Liverpudlians wanted to keep the mayor, however only 4% of residents responded to the poll.

Current mayor Joanne Anderson was elected in May last year on a campaign based on scrapping the position.

“If selected and elected as Mayor of Liverpool, I will actively campaign to give myself the boot!” she said. “The people of our city deserve the final say in a referendum on the mayoral model, but I will vote to scrap the position.”

Liverpool Mayor Joanne Anderson. Image: AFP via Getty Images

The role was brought back to the city in 2012 and there have been two Labour mayors over the last decade, with Joe Anderson preceeding Joanne Anderson.

The ruling Labour Party has been campaigning to change the system, but the final vote to do so was not greeted with universal approval at the town hall.

Liberal Democrats council leader Steve Radford, who ran for mayor in 2021, said Labour were ‘taking the micky’ out of voters, who had put the leader and cabinet model option at the bottom of their wanted list.

"You are saying we are going to vote for the least popular option and after asking the people of the city, we don’t give a damn what they think," he added.

Of the 11,519 people who responded to the governance poll, 40.9% wanted to keep the role of mayor, 32.9% preferred a committee model and only 23.6% opted for council leader.

‘Huge challenges’ ahead for council

On Monday the chief executive of Liverpool City Council stepped down with immediate effect after four years in post.

In a statement, Tony Reeves, who has seen many changes and controversies at the council since taking on the role, expressed sadness about leaving and said that ‘huge challenges’ still remained.

Tony Reeves was CEO for four years. Image: Liverpool City Council

He resigns with the local authority being overseen by government commissioners following a damning report into some of the council’s practices.

In early December 2020, former mayor Joe Anderson was one of five men arrested as part of an investigation by police which included allegations of corruption at the council. All those arrested denied the allegations.

Government commissioners were installed at the council last year following results of the Best Value Inspection report, led by Max Caller, which found failures in the organisation.

The council praised Mr Reeves for responding positively to the Best Value Inspection and providing leadership through the COVID-19 pandemic.

Mr Reeves said he was "immensely proud" of his achievements as chief executive but some critics celebrated his departure from the local authority.

Councillor Sam Gorst tweeted: “The CEO down and only the mayor to go. Bring on May 2023. Change is coming.”