Wednesday, 19 December 2007



According to the Daily Post Jason is in the process of getting a pay off, at the expense of Liverpool tax payers.
Bradley and Storeyteller are under investigation yet again!

See below for Daily Post report

Council duo face investigation as culture chief departs.

standards board

EMBATTLED Liverpool Council leader Warren Bradley is to be investigated by the Standards Board over allegations he asked officers if they had information he could use about Culture Company boss Jason Harborow.

The news comes just hours after the Liverpool Daily Post revealed that Mr Harborow, who has had a difficult relationship with council leader Cllr Bradley, was set to leave the culture company with a £200,000 pay off.

The Standards Board investigation was prompted after the Daily Post revealed that Cllr Bradley held a secret meeting with Leee Forde, the former city events manager who was one of the main people to be blamed for the Mathew Street fiasco.

Previous council leader Mike Storey, who was present at the meeting, will also be investigated. The Standards Bord will be looking to see if they broke the councillor code of conduct and if their actions brought their office into disrepute.

It comes as the departure of Culture Company chief executive Mr Harborow is expected to be ratified today – just 12 days before the start of Capital of Culture year. Council chief executive Colin Hilton will ask an Appointments Panel for permission to broker a deal with Mr Harborow’s lawyers which is likely to cost tax-payers a pay-off of around £200,000.

It is understood Mr Harborow’s legal team have told the council his position was made “untenable” by Cllrs Bradley and Storey.

Cllr Bradley has publicly criticised Mr Harborow in the fall-out from the cancellation of this year’s Mathew Street Festival.

The pair both sit on the panel, but are likely to be barred from the meeting when the deal with Mr Harborow is raised.

It is believed the council’s external solicitor will tell the meeting why it would be in their best interests to reach a deal.

Cllrs Storey and Bradley face being disqualified from office for up to five years if the Standards Board finds they have broken the councillors’ Code of Conduct and refers the matter for adjudication. Last night they declined to comment.

An investigation would be Cllr Storey’s second in the space of three years. A previous case centred on allegations he encouraged former council spin doctor Matt Finnegan “to undermine” then chief executive Sir David Henshaw.

In November, 2005, he was found guilty of bringing his office into disrepute, losing the leadership of the council as a result.

Mr Harborow earns £150,000 for his role at the Culture Company and as executive director of Culture, Media, and Sport at the city council.

It is thought the deal is worth around £200,000, and would see Mr Harborow technically stay in employment for a few more weeks.

Acting chief executive Kris Donaldson, operations director Bernice Law and chairman of the Culture Company board Bryan Gray are likely to assume Mr Harborow’s responsibilities.

Last night, a source said: “The council have taken legal advice and been advised they should make a settlement with Jason Harborow.

“There is a meeting tomorrow and the chief executive will ask for per-mission to enter into negotiations with Jason Harborow’s legal team.”

Mr Harborow returned to work at Millennium House on December 4, after eight weeks off sick, but has not been back since, although he has still been carrying out work.

The problems between him and senior councillors became known after the high-profile cancellation of the Mathew Street Festival.

In August, Cllr Bradley demanded, in an email to Mr Hilton, that Mr Harborow be relieved of his duties.

In November, after the release of the Mathew Street report, which cleared Mr Harborow, Cllr Bradley criticised the culture leader in an interview with the Daily Post.

When asked if Mr Harborow should resign, he said: “There has got to be some responsibility should-ered by senior management.” He also said problems with Mathew Street had arisen because of a lack of communication. Asked if he was referring to Mr Harborow, he said: “Absolutely. If there was a breakdown in communication, the chief executive of the Culture Company should have been aware.”

Last week, Cllr Bradley requested the email requesting Mr Harborow be relieved of his duties be sent out to the council’s 90 elected members.

Last night, Labour leader Cllr Joe Anderson said: “I expect the Standards Board to look seriously at my complaint. I believe the only conclusion they can come to is that this sorry saga needs to be investigated. Not just for Liverpool’s reputation, but because it appears it could have financial implications for the city.”

A city council spokesman: “We do not discuss publicly any private and confidential matters concerning individual employees.”

JASON HARBOROW joined the Liverpool Culture Company in February 2004 in the role of tourism director.

The 37-year-old was brought in after his experience as commercial general manager for the Manchester Commonwealth Games.

He quickly rose to become one of the top figures at Liverpool city council.

Last year he was appointed as the Culture Company’s chief executive.

He secured some major events for the Capital of Culture celebrations including the MTV awards and the Liverpool Nativity. But his style did not please all in the city, and many movers and shakers have privately questioned the way he operated.

Originally from Chorley Mr Harborow cut his teeth in local government at Chorley Council and Wigan Council.


Saturday, 15 December 2007



below is report from the daily post, the only local paper that reports what is actually going on in the City.

Will our crown jewels be sold to pay for the event?

see below

Labour MPs vow to fight for more culture cash

LIVERPOOL’S Labour MPs have pledged to do all they can to help the city council plug a £20m black hole in next year’s Capital of Culture finances.

It comes after four of the city’s five MPs joined Labour opposition leader Joe Anderson in meeting council leader Warren Bradley yesterday afternoon to discuss how to solve the problem.

The city council now hopes to convince the Government to allow it to raise the required money by selling off land and buildings or allow it to re- mortgage council property –buildings, under a process known as capitalisation.

Cllr Bradley and council chief executive Colin Hilton have met ministers and government officials on numerous occasions to lobby for the right to break current financial rules.

But so far the Government has not agreed to budge.

It is understood the MPs’ support could prove vital in convincing the Government to allow the council to break fiscal rules that do not allow capital sales to be used for ongoing revenue expenses.

Last night, after the meeting, Liverpool Garston MP Maria Eagle said: “It was useful, I think. In the sense that it’s quite clear that Capital of Culture is going ahead full strength.

“They are preparing a great programme, I think Phil Redmond and Bryan Gray are getting to grips that side of things. It’s apparent, and the council have admitted it, that they have some financial difficulties.”

Ms, Eagle, who is justice minister, said the MPs asked detailed questions about the state of the finances.

“We want to make sure Capital of Culture and 2008 is a great success for the city, it needs to be for the city and for the country.”

“We are going to do what we can to help on this problem that they have got themselves into.

She said rules were there for a reason, so careful consideration would have to be given to the matter.

Riverside MP Louise Ellman, Walton MP Peter Kilfoyle, and Wavertree MP Jane Kennedy were also present at the meeting.

Cllr Anderson said: “The MPs and I have committed ourselves to do everything we can. From my point of view I was glad that the council admitted that it had not prepared its funding for 2008.

“We can either cancel 2008, which is not a course of action I suggest we take.

“Therefore, I will be trying to support the council by persuading the Government to get ourselves out of this mess.”

A council spokesman said: “The meeting was a very positive discussion about how the city’s MPs could assist the council in resolving funding issues for the next financial year.

“It was a very fruitful and useful discussion and a further meeting is planned in January.”

Friday, 14 December 2007

Warren Bradley Lies to Daily Post and get's his arse publically kicked

Warren Bradley has been shown in a variety of ways, that he lied about a secret meeting at his home with Lee Forde.

This it is claimed by lee, was an attempt to get him on side to get rid of Jason Harrowboy.

Bradley has well and truley been caught out and has dug a hole of deciet and lies, he has given so many versions of the event that it is hard to establish if he really knows what the truth is?
Below is the Daily Post's comment in responce to Bradley going public in council chambers, where he claimed the Daily Post were the one's telling lies!

The Daily Post to many Liverpool readers is one of the only local newspapers that actually are not in the pockets of Liberal Democrats, they report the news as they find it.

Bradley has, in going public about his complaint, brought out a powerful enemy.
Political bloggers such as myself and Tony Parrish, will have a field day on this one and now have a new ally to assist in getting the truth out to the people of Liverpool.


Comment: We stand by our version of events

Liverpool Daily Post

LIVERPOOL council leader Warren Bradley last night chose to make public a very private issue he has raised with the Liverpool Daily Post.

He chose the forum of the council chamber to reveal that he has complained to this newspaper about our coverage of the secret meeting that he held at his home with the city’s former events chief, Lee Forde.

We accept that his words came in response to a written question from the Labour opposition, but he could have dealt with the issue without his overt and unfair criticism of our journalism.

Cllr Bradley has written two private and confidential letters to the Liverpool Daily Post, insisting that he had never denied to our reporter that this meeting took place. He demanded that we publish a retraction, and suggested that he would pursue a complaint to the Press Complaints Commission unless we did so.

He also said that he would no longer take telephone calls from our journalists, and would only provide written quotes at his convenience in the future.

Last night, Cllr Bradley saw fit to take this issue into the public arena, and we are only too happy to respond in kind.

For the record, our reporter spoke to Cllr Bradley at 6pm on the evening of November 29 this year. We have a verbatim shorthand note of that conversation, which would be admissible in any court in the land.

Cllr Bradley was asked by our reporter about his meeting with Mr Forde, and replied: "Which meeting?"

Our reporter then told him that he was referring to a meeting at Cllr Bradley’s home on November 18. Cllr Bradley’s unambiguous response was: "I never had a meeting with him."

We have pointed this out in a private letter to Cllr Bradley in response to his two letters to us.

Cllr Bradley’s recollection of his conversation with our reporter is quite clearly different, but, unlike us, he does not have a verbatim record to rely upon.

Cllr Bradley is under huge political pressure at the moment, and perhaps it is understandable if his recollection of every detail is not all it might be. Followers of the Mathew Street controversy will recall that Cllr Bradley claimed to have told city chief executive Colin Hilton about the meeting with Lee Forde "in the first couple of days after the meeting". Mr Hilton has made it abundantly clear in a letter to council Labour group leader Joe Anderson that he has no recollection of any such conversation.

In the circumstances, however, it is regrettable in the extreme that Cllr Bradley has sought to publicly challenge the Daily Post, in such a high-profile way, on what was a perfectly fair and accurate report of his two interviews with us.

We will not be issuing any retraction of the articles we have published, and nor will we be deterred from continuing to report on this issue of considerable public interest in the future.

Thursday, 13 December 2007

Warren Bradley Whimpers as Liberal Democrats prepare him for the Sacrificial Roast at the Christmas Dinner 2007

Warren Bradley has once again opened his mouth in protest at being caught out having secret liaisons with Lee Forde.

He has publicly lied and lied again over this issue, to such an extent that the Liberal Democrats of Liverpool find him to be an embarrassment and make plans to remove him from office.

Lee Forde has prepared his fight well, he has documentation that Warren and Co cannot shred away from existence.

Bradley has been stupid in following Mike Storey's road into corruption, he gets the blame for Storey's mistakes.

Mike Storey has remained very quiet on the subject of meeting with Lee Forde.

Lee Forde has provided more evidence showing that Mike Storey was behind the cut in budget for Mathew Street Festival, which led to the cancellation of all the outside events booked for the Mathew Street Birthday of Liverpool Edition 2007.
See below for latest revelations thanks to Liverpool Subculture


The following emails between Councillor Storey and Jason Harborow illustrate the rising tensions between the two over budgets, but also that Councillor Bradley; the Lord Mayor, Councillor Paul Clark; and Mr Hilton were also all aware of the problems faced by Mathew Street in March 2007.

-----Original Message-----

From: Fogarty, Sandra On Behalf Of Harborow, Jason
Sent: 12 March 2007 11:39
To: Storey, Mike
Cc: Bradley, Warren (Leader of the City Council); Hilton, Colin (Chief Executive); Green, Chris; Forde, Lee

Subject: Son et Lumiere - Mathew Street Festival

Dear Mike
I understand that a meeting took place between yourself, Warren, Colin and Chris Green on 21st February. At that meeting the Son et Lumiere was discussed and also Mathew Street Festival. As you are aware, the planning for one off events for 2007 took place in the second half of last year. At that time the Son et Lumiere event was not being considered. Following a request to look at this a more accurate budget was produced highlighting that £160k would be required to deliver the event, we were asked to look at the budget to see if this could be found and to increase the budget for the pageant and square activities on the 28th August.
Following a thorough review of the budget I regret to inform you that it is impossible to find this budget without looking to reduce the budget for the fireworks on 28th August, however, this would undoubtedly create a serious PR issue if a decent display did not take place.
I felt it was important to inform you of this as soon as possible.

In relation to Mathew Street Festival, there are other issues which I will highlight as soon as discussions with my colleagues are concluded. These do include serious logistical issues around the closing of major roads and the utilisation of space not normally used for Mathew Street Festival, these issues of course do not have an impact on the event taking place but may have on the duration.

I will provide this information as soon as possible.
Best Regards
Jason Harborow
Chief Executive

-----Original Message-----
From: Storey, Mike
To: Harborow, Jason
Cc: Bradley, Warren (Leader of the City Council); Clark, Paul; Hilton, Colin(Chief Executive)
Sent: Mon Mar 12 17:11:47 2007

Subject: RE: Son et Lumiere - Mathew Street Festival


Not happy about this. wondered why nobody was talking to me about this!
Amazing how we can fin £50,000 for Summer pops in Sefton and other non essential items yet the opportunity for Liverpool folk to celebrate the opening of St Georges Hall is pushed out. Would want to meet up tomorrow morning to discuss this and to go through the Budgets to find the money. This will happen


-----Original Message-----

From: Harborow, Jason
Sent: 12 March 2007 20:18
To: Storey, Mike
Cc: Bradley, Warren (Leader of the City Council); Clark, Paul; Hilton, Colin(Chief Executive); Green, Chris; Molyneux, Lorraine

Subject: Re: Son et Lumiere - Mathew Street Festival

Thank you for your note.
I am afraid I am not available tomorrow but chris green is.

The issue is we don't have this type of budget without cutting other events, which chris has already propised to you. Chris will contact you tomorrow to discuss

Best regards

Jason Harborow
Chief Executive

So Storey and the Harbarrowboy were at each other's throats in March 2007, in the familiar Liverpool battle for power between councillors and officers.

Storey wanted one thing - his Son et Lumiere pet project - without any notice and without any money being identified to pay for it.

And the Harbarrowboy was refusing to let him have it.

The scene was set....Storey's pet project would eventually get the £100,000 it needed, while the Harbarrowboy would then, in petty revenge, slash the Mathew Street budget by £100,000. The games people play with public money....

And of course that £100,000 budget cut then triggered the entire Mathew Street fiasco.

Monday, 3 December 2007



Crisis looms over leader's secret meetings

Mathew Street Warren Bradley

THE chief executive of Liverpool City Council last night appeared to question the explanation given by the authority’s leader, Warren Bradley, about a secret meeting with a former council official.

Colin Hilton said he was unaware Cllr Bradley, who denies any wrongdoing, had met at his home with the city’s ex-events manager, Lee Forde, and former council leader Cllr Mike Storey on November 18.

The Daily Post exclusively revealed on Saturday how the meeting took place just two days after the publication of the Mathew Street Report, which in part blamed Mr Forde for its cancellation in August.

On Friday night, Cllr Bradley told the Daily Post he had informed Mr Hilton and senior Culture Company staff in the “first couple of days after the meeting” about some “startling things” that had arisen in the Wavertree rendezvous on Sunday, November 18.

But, in a leaked letter, obtained by the Daily Post, from Mr Hilton to Labour leader Cllr Joe Anderson, the chief executive said he was unaware of the meeting.

Mr Hilton said he was also unaware of any of the inform-ation about the meeting that Mr Forde had set out in a dossier, which has now been sent to the Standards Board for England for investigation.

When originally approached last week, Cllr Bradley denied meeting Mr Forde, but on Friday night admitted meeting him at his home. The three sat and drank Peroni lager in a meeting that lasted around two hours.

Cllr Bradley and Mr Forde disagree about who requested the meeting.

Cllr Bradley has strenuously denied any wrongdoing, and said that Mr Forde said he had information, and he felt it was incumbent on him to hear what Mr Forde had to say with a witness present.

Mr Hilton wrote: “I can confirm that I was totally unaware that Lee Forde had met with Cllr Bradley and Cllr Storey, let alone any of the information contained in the account of that meeting set out in the dossier.

“Over the intervening period between the date of that meeting, which I understand Cllr Bradley now accepts did occur, and our discussion on Friday, I only had one enquiry in relation to Lee Forde from the leader, who asked me to establish with legal services whether Mr Forde had made a formal offer to settle his industrial tribunal case.”

Last night, Cllr Anderson said: “It’s amazing that this is the second time that Cllr Bradley’s and Mr Hilton’s version of events has clashed.”

The Mathew Street report highlighted a “difference in recollection” between Mr Hilton and Cllr Bradley over who knew what and when about problems with the festival.

“I think this whole episode really questions whether this council has lost its moral compass,” added Cllr Anderson.

“It leaves serious questions to be asked about whether the Lib-Dems are fit to govern.

“I think we have got a serious credibility issue now with both Cllrs Bradley and Storey.

“Coming so close to Capital of Culture, I think both men have to stand down for the good of the city. I hope the Liberal Democrats move decisively to remove the two men.”

Cllr Bradley did not respond to a request for comment on the matter last night.


Colin Hilton's letter > > >

THE man behind a bid to get an elected mayor for Liverpool last night called for council leader Warren Bradley to give answers to some “serious” questions over the secret meeting.

Liam Fogarty, chairman of, said: “I thought I’d seen it all when it came to council shenanigans in Liverpool.

“But these latest revelations in the Liverpool Daily Post simply beggar belief.

“The official report published on November 16 was supposed to be the council’s definitive version of the Mathew Street debacle, its final word.

“Yet, just hours after unveiling it to a sceptical public, Cllr Bradley effectively disowned the report in his astonishing e-mail overture to event organiser Lee Forde, one of those singled out for blame.”

This information revealed today in the Daily Post is quite different to Bradley's version of events in the previous days issue of the Post, see below for this report and decide for yourself?

Regardless of a persons political alliance, it is unacceptable that a person proven to be a compulsive liar and utter buffoon, should not be allowed to continue to rule Liverpool!

If we as the people of Liverpool, the people who suffer lack of decent housing, the people who have found local services no longer exist, the people who pay the wages of ALL council employees and Local Councillors, Warren Bradley and his puppeteer Mike Storey, if we accept the corruption and fail to shout out then they will continue to lie to us all and smurk with contempt at the people of Liverpool.

Below is a copy of the actual emails sent to Lee Forde, from Warren Bradley, courtesy of City of the Dead.

The emails clearly show that it was indeed Warren Bradley, who requested the meeting.
Bradley has made claim to various text messages and other emails he claims that Lee Forde sent to him, however, unlike Forde, he cannot provide any evidence for these claims.

The emails:

-----Original Message-----

From: []

Sent: 17 November 2007 13:49

To: leeforde

Subject: Re: FW: Capacity issues>


Really need to speak to you, to discuss the next steps. I am as pissed off as you, I really do think we need to get together to talk?


-----Original Message-----

From: []

Sent: 17 November 2007 13:50

To: leeforde

Subject: Re: FW: Capacity issues>


Really need to speak to you, to discuss the next steps. I am as pissed off as you, I really do think we need to get together to talk?


-----Original Message-----

From: []

Sent: 17 November 2007 13:52

To: leeforde

Subject: Re: FW: Capacity issues


Really need to talk to you and discuss the next steps. I am as pissed off as you regarding this whole episode, and how the report can finger people and not others?





Liverpool subculture blog spot has hosted a statement from Lee Forde, on his version of events of the Wavertree meeting.

Friday, November 30, 2007


MATHEW ST scapegoat Lee Forde has blown the whistle on a conspiracy by Fireman Bradley and Storeyteller to oust bungling Culture chief Jason Harbarrowboy.

Forde has compiled an astonishingly detailed and shocking dossier which reveals how:
  • Bradley emailed Forde a day after the Mathew Street report was published

  • After blaming Forde for the Mathew St debacle, a desperate Bradley had the gall to then beg him for a meeting to discuss 'next steps'

  • Bradley disowned his council's own offical Mathew Street report - after supporting it publicly

  • At a secret meeting on Sunday in Bradley's home in Wavertree, the council leader was joined by partner in crime, former council leader Mike Storey.

  • The pair of politicians then begged an astonished Forde to hand over to them confidential documents and emails to help them get rid of the Harbarrowboy!

  • A shocked and horrified Forde decided to expose the pathetic pair for their dishonest, unscrupulous and immoral plotting.

The Forde dossier - which runs to 15 extremely readable and gripping pages - has now been deposited with the Daily Post and the Liverpool Echo, whose heavily censored versions you will be able to read tomorrow (if you can be arsed, eds).

But the full, glorious text of the dossier is now being reproduced here in yet another World Exclusive for the Liverpool subCulture blog.

And, we can reveal, Labour Leader Joe Anderson has already reported Bradley and Storey to the Standards Board and demanded a full-scale investigation into their plot and their shocking behaviour. We believe the Lib Dem pair have shown, in their disgusting treatment of Forde and their attempt to manipulate him for their own ends, that they are unfit to govern the great city of Liverpool.

Lee Forde, on the other hand, has consistently shown tremendous strength of character, a formidable determination to clear his name and admirable honesty, principle and integrity.

The Harbarrowboy of course, may take temporary comfort from Bradley and Storey being shopped trying to do him in. But, rest assured dear readers, the Harbarrowboy's days are well and truly numbered - and will be over very quickly indeed.

Bradley's 'pissed-off' emails to Forde can be found on a separate post on the aptly-named City of the Dead blog.

Liverpool deserves better - why Lee Forde blew the whistle on Bradley and Storey is on your left.

Part 2 of the 15-page report, which includes new email evidence about Mathew Street, will follow shortly (well, we need a glass or two of bubbly first to celebrate, eds)

So pull up a seat, settle down and read, in Lee Forde's own words, how the city of Liverpool's Lib Dem leadership are a couple of lying, cheating, dishonest bastards....

The Background

“Out of the blue on Sunday afternoon (November 18th), I received five separate e-mails from Councillor Warren Bradley, leader of Liverpool city council.
The emails, virtually identical, had all been sent on Saturday in the space of three minutes from his private email address. Each of the emails asked for a meeting with me regarding the Mathew Street report which had been published two days earlier.
I was absolutely stunned by this approach from the Leader of the Council - the last time I had seen him was two days before, as he gave numerous interviews to the press, radio and TV in support of the findings of the city council’s report into Mathew Street. I had not expected to ever hear again from someone who had publicly condemned me so unfairly.
I was still extremely angry both about the publication of the council report and the Leader of the Council’s own comments in support of the report, which had questioned both my professionalism and my integrity. I had been blamed for the cancellation of the Festival – even though I was innocent.
Since Friday, I had been attacked by the full weight of the council machine, which had deployed considerable staff and resources to try and trash my reputation.
Its report was a complete whitewash and a disgraceful cover-up of the true circumstances which had lead to the decision by the Culture Company chief executive, Jason Harborow and city council chief executive Colin Hilton to cancel the Mathew Street festival in early August 2007, almost three months after I had submitted my resignation as Events Manager with the city council.
I had done all within my power over a period of almost a year previously to repeatedly notify my superiors in the Culture Company of the problems in staging the Mathew Street festival in 2007, as a result of the loss of the Pier Head and big cuts in funding.
I knew too that Councillor Bradley had been aware of these difficulties and my strenuous attempts to try and save the Festival. This information was noticeably absent from the council report, which had taken almost three months to produce and which had been drastically amended at the Leader of the Council’s insistence.
As a former employee, I was a convenient scapegoat, while the real culprits escaped.
Once my shock and surprise at seeing the emails had subsided on the Sunday afternoon, I agreed to Councillor Bradley’s invitation to meet, although I informed a number of people in advance. I decided that I had nothing to lose from a meeting - I wanted to find out what ‘next steps’ referred to and what his motive was.
I also intended to use the opportunity to press my case for the council’s report to be retracted and for me to be given a public apology.
Through text messages, I arranged with Councillor Bradley to go to his home on Sunday evening.
Ironically, the first and last time I had been to his home was in early August, when he had asked me to put together a rescue plan for the cancelled Mathew Street Festival, while I was serving my notice.” (See later emails)

The Meeting

Date: Sunday 18th November, 2007 - two days after the publication of the city council’s Mathew Street Report.
Venue: Councillor Warren Bradley’s home in Wavertree.
Present: Lee Forde, former Events manager, Liverpool Culture Company; Councillor Warren Bradley, Leader of Liverpool city council; Councillor Mike Storey, Executive Member for Regeneration and Liverpool’s 800th Birthday celebrations.

“I arrived at Councillor Bradley’s house, slightly later than we had arranged, at about 8.20pm on 18th November. I must have been a bit agitated because I had got lost several times and had to phone him to get directions. I was feeling very nervous – I did not know what to expect, or what I was walking into.
I was greeted at the front door by Councillor Bradley who shook my hand, called me ‘mate’ and ushered me inside. He thanked me for coming and offered me a drink – tea, coffee or a beer. I told him I would feel better with a beer and he fetched me a bottle of Peroni.
When he returned, he told me he had also invited Councillor Storey to attend and asked if I “was alright with that?” I told him I had nothing to hide.
Councillor Bradley explained that his wife Pauline had already gone to fetch Councillor Storey in their car.
At this stage, although outwardly calm, I was confused and completely gob-smacked at the turn of events. I could not fathom Councillor Bradley’s motive for the meeting. Nor did he immediately explain the purpose of the meeting.
While my mind raced, I could not help observe to myself that the Leader of the Council had not yet had the good grace to apologise for his role in the publication of a biased council report which had caused me, my family, my friends and colleagues so much personal upset by trying to damage my professional reputation and integrity.
Councillor Bradley then asked me how I was and mentioned that he had ‘felt sorry’ for me on Friday when, as he was giving interviews to the media at Liverpool Town Hall, he had seen me standing outside.
I had been trying to defend my reputation and integrity to the media after he had helped attack them. Councillor Bradley said he really ‘felt’ for me. This was the closest he ever came to apologising for his conduct and for the council’s report.
Just as Councillor Bradley began to explain how ‘disappointed’ he was with the report’s findings – although he had not expressed this to the media at the time - Councillor Storey arrived.
Councillor Bradley invited Councillor Storey to join us in having a beer and left the room to fetch a bottle. I and other colleagues had been told that the two men had fallen out some months before, but they appeared to be on good terms. While Councillor Bradley was out of the room, Councillor Storey asked me how I was. I told him, with some understatement, that “I have felt better” and how disappointed I had been with the council’s report.
Councillor Bradley returned and explained to Councillor Storey that he had invited me around to discuss the report’s findings, as he was unhappy with them.
Again, I wondered why he had not expressed this unhappiness to the media when he had the opportunity?
Councillor Storey (now in terrified hiding below, eds) volunteered that he had spoken to me recently and understood that I still wanted to be involved in events in Liverpool. I was not sure of the relevance of this observation.
Councillor Storey then observed that it was “ironic” that I had been attacked in the council’s report as “Lee was responsible for transforming Mathew Street from a disorganised event to a national Festival.”
Councillor Bradley immediately agreed and observed that he felt the report identified the wrong people as being responsible for the cancellation of the Festival.
I was very angry. I told him that I felt the council’s report was “full of lies”, fatally flawed and fundamentally wrong. I had been scape-goated even though I had been a loyal servant of the city, had never played any political games and had done everything to the best of my ability.
Councillor Bradley asked me why I thought the event had been cancelled.
I thought this was a bizarre question for the Leader of the Council to suddenly ask - his own council had spent three months investigating what had happened and had just published its findings! To me, it showed he had no confidence in the report and was now effectively dis-owning it. This came too late for me of course - I had been publicly attacked by his council on Friday.
I told him that the Festival had been cancelled because of poor management by senior officers of the Culture Company who had failed to replace me when I had resigned three months earlier. They had never taken Mathew St seriously and didn’t realise the value of the event and how much people in Liverpool felt about it.
I also informed Councillor Bradley that, on at least two previous occasions, Culture Company Operations Director, Chris Green had told me and members of my Events team that he would be pleased if Mathew Street was cancelled as he could use the budget elsewhere.
I told Councillor Bradley that I had been shocked when I first heard Mathew Street had been cancelled. I had not expected it.
I reminded him that at his request in early August, I had tried to put together a rescue plan to get Mathew Street back on track but that the Chief Executive of the city council, Colin Hilton had abruptly refused to allow me to go ahead. I still did not understand why he had done this.
I pointed out the obvious - that far from being responsible for the cancellation of Mathew Street - I was the one who had done all in my power to try and save it.
I told him that I had been placed in ‘an impossible situation’ because of the battle between Culture Company chief exec, Jason Harborow and Councillor Storey over funding.
I was the ‘piggy in the middle’. There had been an attempt to ‘strip the budgets out’ – reduce the funding for Mathew Street - to prevent Councilllor Storey from getting what he wanted.
I also reminded both men that I had been replaced at meetings by Mr Harborow and that the Culture Company Steering Group regularly arranged pre-meetings in order, it seemed to me, to ensure only certain information was passed to Councillor Storey.
I said that during April, while trying to sort out the problems with Mathew St, I had also been producing the major Son et Lumiere event to celebrate Liverpool’s 8ooth birthday. This was a week-long event which Councillors Bradley and Storey had both wanted and which had forced an extremely damaging £100,000 cut in the Mathew St budget. Councillor Bradley asked me how many tickets had been sold for the Son et Lumiere shows. It had been a virtual sell-out - two shows a night for seven days, attracting between 5-6,000 people. Councillor Bradley asked where the proceeds had gone from ticket sales. I was surprised that he apparently did not know the established procedure for Culture Company ticket sales.
I explained that the tickets, which were priced at £2.50 each, had been sold through the 08 Place and Liverpool Direct (LDL). Originally LDL had wanted to charge the Culture Company an administration fee, per ticket, of £2.70. In other words, the cost of admin would have been higher than the ticket price itself.
The Culture Company had therefore agreed that LDL could take all the proceeds from ticket sales as their admin fee. Both Councillor Bradley and Councillor Storey appeared genuinely shocked. I was astonished that they appeared so out of touch and ignorant of what was going on.
Councillor Bradley then asked me if I had any information that would prove senior people in the Culture Company were involved in events leading up to the cancellation of Mathew Street.
He said: “Is there anything you can get us, to get rid of Harborow? To get him out? He must have been involved in it - although the report exonerates him.”
Councillor Bradley also asked if I could access Mr Harborow’s leave records – I assumed that he believed Mr Harborow was taking more holidays than he was entitled to.
I told Councillor Bradley that I had given a huge amount of information - in the form of emails and other documents - to the council’s inquiry, which had been ignored.
I had compiled a dossier as part of my claim for constructive dismissal which was now with my legal advisor. It would come out in public when a hearing took place.
I explained that I was also currently in negotiations with the council, through ACAS. If an out of court settlement was reached, the documents might be made available. I was non-committal about this – I needed to think it through – but told them I would consult my solicitor.
As I sat in Councillor Bradley’s living room sipping my beer, I remember being completely astonished that, two days after the council had tried to destroy my own reputation, the Leader of the Council and the former Leader of the Council were now trying to involve me in a conspiracy to remove the chief executive of the Culture Company.
I was shocked that such underhand dealings could go on. It seemed to be political skulduggery of the worst kind. I have never been involved in anything remotely like this at all before. Something was clearly seriously wrong and I felt extremely uncomfortable. I felt as though my integrity was being compromised and that undue pressure for information was now being placed upon me by people who had already once tried to destroy my reputation.
I did not have an axe to grind with anyone – I had resigned because I did not believe that Mathew Street could be delivered safely for the allocated budget and that the public were being put at risk. Now I was being drawn into something else - a conspiracy. I felt I was being used to try and get rid of someone and that there was a good chance that, if their plan ever went wrong, I would again be hung out to dry as the perpetrator. Neither Councillor Bradley nor Storey had been truthful and honest with me before – after Mathew St was cancelled, Councillor Bradley told me he was going to ensure that the council report would not blame me. He had not kept that promise, even though I had tried to rescue Mathew St.
On reflection now, I believe they must have both thought I was a complete ‘sucker’ and soft touch and that they could drag me into their conspiracy to get rid of Jason Harborow.
But at the time, I was a bit bewildered, totally confused and had extremely mixed emotions - I must have been in a state of profound shock.
Councillor Bradley then questioned me about a number of matters concerning Mr Harborow and Mathew Street and also asked what I knew about a company called Solutions and if Jason Harborow was involved with them.
I told him that Mr Harborow had told me that ‘Solutions’ – a merchandising company - were friends of his and that he had worked with them in the past.
I told the councillors that Solutions were now a preferred supplier to the city council. This meant that we had to use their services, even if we could get the same or similar goods cheaper from elsewhere – there was a general understanding about this within the Culture Company.
Councillor Storey remarked: “It’s just like Liverpool Direct.” I understood him to mean by this that he thought it was a corrupt or suspect arrangement, although I personally do not know of any evidence for this.
I finally agreed that I would look and see if I had any other documentation about Mr Harborow. I left the meeting after almost two hours and we tentatively agreed to meet again.
The following morning, Monday 19th November, I telephoned Councillor Bradley and informed him that I had consulted legal advice and was unable to release any documents to anyone unless and until my case was satisfactorily settled.
I the undersigned, Lee Forde, declare this to be a true and faithful account of my meeting on Sunday November 18th, 2007 with Liverpool Council leader Cllr Warren Bradley and Regeneration leader Cllr Mike Storey.

Wednesday, 21 November 2007



Since the publication of the report 15th November 2007, public opinion has been showing a belief, that the whole report is a whitewash.

The blame has been laid well and truly at the doors of Mr Forde and Mr Green.

The report however has numerous contradictions and blatant omissions of the truth.

See below for copy of official report.

You can have your say by writing to the council, writing to the papers, writing to your councilors, signing the 2 petitions on line debating the truth behind this disgraceful affair in Liverpool's history.

If we allow them to lie to us, they will continue to lie and treat the Liverpool people with utter contempt.

On line petitions

Lee Forde is being made the scapegoat of the festival scandal petition

Is the Mathew Street report a whitewash?

Mathew Street festival

The report into the Mathew Street ‘fiasco’ still left many unhappy. Alan Weston reports

THE 11th-hour cancellation of the outdoor element of the Mathew Street festival was generally reckoned to be one of the biggest PR disasters in Liverpool’s history.

But the way the much-delayed report into the fiasco was handled has come a close second for some.

Following a lengthy investigation, the original report was changed after concerns over alleged “inaccuracies” were raised by council leader Warren Bradley.

This in turn led to accusations from council opposition leader Joe Anderson that the report – event-ually made public at the end of last week – was a “political cover-up,” and to demands to release the controversial first draft.

In the event, blame for the embar-rassing collapse of the festival, one of the key events in the city’s 800th birthday year, was laid principally at the door of two senior officials at the Culture Company. Both have since left their jobs, meaning there will be no disciplinary inquiry.

Cllr Warren Bradley, council chief executive Colin Hilton and Culture Company chief executive Jason Harborow largely escaped censure in the 30-plus page report. But the report into the cancellation of the outdoor stages of the festival high-lighted “serious mismanagement” in the Culture Company.

It blames former operations director Chris Green and events manager Lee Forde for not realising or not communicating the serious-ness of the problems affecting the festival to their superiors. Mr Forde has already defended his actions.

Cllr Bradley has never considered resigning but said lessons needed to be learned.

The Daily Post asks: Was the Mathew Street festival report a whitewash?

* OUR planned debate on airport-style security at our stations has been held over.

YES: The Case For - Inside job leaves everyone waiting for answers

by Liam Fogarty, chair of

SCRAPPING the outdoor festival hurt Liverpool badly. This report adds insult to injury – it’s an insult to our intelligence.

On August 10, Cllr Bradley ordered an inquiry into the Mathew Street fiasco. Asked who he thought was to blame, he said, "It’s down to officers who are paid through the public purse to deliver events."

Having pre-empted the verdict, Cllr Bradley got the outcome he must have prayed for. But the rest of us are right to be sceptical. The report lacks credibility.

We deserved a truly independent inquiry. Instead, we got an inside job.

This council is happy to pay huge sums to outsiders for spin and good PR. Yet, faced with a PR disaster of its own making, it opted for an internal investigation. No wonder Liverpudlians aren’t convinced.

Whatever mistakes Messrs Forde and Green may have made, to see more senior figures escape criticism simply beggars belief.

In Parliament, ministers are responsible for the mistakes their civil servants make. The consequences can be career-ending. It may not be fair, but it goes with the territory.

But in Liverpool, responsibility is something you dodge, not something you take. The report confirms that nobody was in charge as Mathew Street unravelled. Remember, this is not some school fete we’re talking about.

It is a huge, international showcase for Liverpool. If the threat to such an event didn’t show up prominently on our civic leaders’ radar, it ought to have done.

Mathew Street exposed Liverpool’s crippling lack of leadership. The festival needed someone to take the reins and take the rap.

Cllr Bradley’s lack of support for Culture Company chief Jason Harborow is telling. The bookies will give you long odds on Mr Harborow seeing out his contract.

Predictable calls for us all to "move on" ahead of 2008 just don’t wash. Our key arts institutions won’t let us down. Great events will take place. But the city’s decision-makers can’t simply shrug off the Mathew Street debacle.

"Lessons must be learnt," say the report’s sponsors. Too right. Liverpool’s seat-of-the-pants style of management is no way to run a great city. Internal enquiries can never restore public trust in the Council. And without real, accountable leadership, Liverpool will always be just a headline away from the next fiasco.

A meaningful apology from those who claim to lead our city is the least we deserve.

NO: The Case against - Liverpool can shake the world by working together

by Cllr Mike Storey, executive member for regeneration at Liverpool City Council

THE Mathew Street Festival should never have been allowed to get to the position it did, because of health and safety concerns, which brought about the cancellation of the outdoor stages.

I have to say I find it slightly galling to see Labour councillors huffing and puffing; remember in the ’90s, when the Labour council refused to give any money to the Mathew Street Festival and wanted to charge the organisers for the licences.

It was left to the new Liberal Democrat council to save the Festival and year on year, we have seen the Festival grow and expand to become the internationally acclaimed event it is today.

It is this poor behaviour that must stick in the throat of those who have organised the event, with the very same politicians never thanking the officers publicly for their incredible work.

Political point scoring to them is more important than real concern and support.

The Mathew Street report into the reasons for the cancellation is not in my mind a whitewash, but it is extremely vague in certain areas, crucially around important factual information. It is very easy to blame others, and I find it sad that those very same officers who have worked tirelessly, morning noon and night, have become the focus of everybody’s attention, instead of the process and procedures which allowed the situation to arise.

I feel certain subjects within the report received too much coverage at the expense of quite fundamental information:

Why did the report not question the overall senior management of the Capital of Culture Company?

What is the point of having a highly-paid management team to have overall responsibility for staff and events, if there is a lack of internal control, which was clearly identified within the re- port?

Why was the budget for 2007 realigned and events cancelled with no information being dis- seminated about these decisions, either to the elected members, Board members or the chief executive of the City Council?

Whitewash no, lessons learned, yes.

The time has come to move on, there is a new team in the Culture Company who have a record of delivering change. Liverpool has an opportunity to shake the world; the team working in unison will ensure that happens.


send your views to the Daily Post?

Forde comes out fighting
“I've been made a scapegoat,” says the city's former events manager as the Mathew Street Festival report is finally released. Read it in full, here....

by Angie Sammons

One of the two people to be blamed for the cancellation of the Mathew Street Festival today came out fighting by turning up outside Liverpool Town Hall - supported by the city council's former spin doctor - as journalists packed the building to hear the findings of the long awaited report into the shambles.

Lee Forde, the Liverpool Culture Company's former events manager, who spoke exclusively to Liverpool Confidential at the end of August to reveal why had quit his post (click here) was flanked by Matt Finnegan who today announced that he is acting as Mr Forde's unpaid press representative.

Lee Forde outside the Town Hall

The Mathew Street report, which has been beset by delays in publishing for various legal reasons, cites Mr Forde and his former line manager, Operations Director Chris Green (who has also since left the Culture Company) for either not realising or not communicating the seriousness of the problems affecting the MSF to their superiors, and says that both would have been subjected to disciplinary action had they still been in post.

However, Mr Forde claims to be in possession of a thick dossier of emails, many of which, he says, indicate that senior council members and officials were made aware of potential operational concerns as far back as February.

And as the city council officials and its leader, Warren Bradley, fielded questions from the local media inside the Town Hall, Mr Forde told us outside: “I haven't had the advantage of reading the report in any form, and I haven't had the opportunity to edit, or alter it in any way during the last three months, but it now seems clear that the city council is trying to use me as a scapegoat.”

Mr Forde went on: “I did the best within my power and within the reporting structure to make people aware - at the highest possible level - of the issues we were continually raising. To pretend otherwise is a travesty of the truth.

“There was a serious battle over funding for the birthday year celebrations between the Culture Company and senior councillors - sadly Mathew Street Festival lost out. I did not want people to become the physical casualties of that battle.”

“Both my staff and I repeatedly warned there were serious problems of public safety and funding over Mathew Street, but nothing was effectively done even after I resigned. I have no intention of hiding away – I have done nothing wrong and nor have my team. I ran Mathew Street successfully for five years and my team won awards for their work.

“We were proud to work for the city. But I am ashamed now of what the city council has done. They know exactly who was responsible for the cancellation of the Mathew Street festival.”

Mr Finnegan, the city's former media chief who resigned from his £65,000-a year-post after an 18-month suspension during the well documented David Henshaw-Mike Storey feud, said: “I worked with Lee for six years, he always struck me as one of the most professional of the council's employees and had the utmost integrity.

“I do not like seeing people hung out to dry and made a scapegoat for something that was not their fault and not their responsibility.

“ I believe him when he says that he repeatedly told people what the problems were with Mathew Street and the danger to public safety. The responsibility for cancelling the event doesn't lie with him but with much more senior people in the Culture Company and the city council. Of course they won't come out and defend their reputation, but Lee has to do it and I am here to help him."

Warren Bradley: "A fully open and transparent investigation"

Mr Finnegan added: “There are very serious issues at stake here. This is not the last you are going to hear of this. I think there will be more stuff that will emerge over time because it's about the way that the city is being run and it's about the future of Capital of Culture.”

In a statement, Councillor Warren Bradley said: “I promised a fully open and transparent investigation into the cancellation of the outdoor stages and I am pleased that the report has now been published for everyone to read.”

Read the report in full, here....

IF LINK TO REPORT DOES NOT OPEN FROM HERE GO TO liverpool confidential for full details.

Friday, 16 November 2007

Mathew Street Festival Coverup Revealed


HomeNewsLiverpool News

REVEALED: How Mathew Street fiasco began a year ago

Mathew Street festival

A long-awaited report into the Mathew Street fiasco today lifted the lid on what went wrong in the months leading up to the event’s shock cancellation on safety grounds just weeks before it was due to take place.

As the Daily Post revealed today, event manager Lee Forde and Culture Company operations director Chris Green are blamed.

Both would have faced disciplinary action if they had not already resigned.

But the chain of events appears to have started in February when council leader Warren Bradley and regeneration boss councillor Mike Storey took money from the festival’s budget to help pay for a son et lumiere show and enhanced 800th birthday celebrations

Opposition councillors today branded the report a “political cover-up” saying officers no longer employed by the council were being used as scapegoats.

The report says:

  • £400,000 was allocated for this year’s festival, £200,000 less than the cost of the 2006 event, after council leaders diverted funds.
  • Mr Forde blamed staffing and budget issues for not making progress with the festival plan but a definite budget was not agreed with Mr Green at an early stage.
  • Early warning signs that Mr Forde’s work was not up to scratch were not identified or acted on by Mr Green.
  • Mr Green did not act quickly enough to replace Mr Forde when he handed in his notice on June 4 even though he was due to quit the Culture Company days before the Mathew Street Festival.
  • Council chief executive Colin Hilton and Culture Company chief executive Jason Harborow were not told of the police’s concerns and the work needed to hold the event until July 11.
  • Mr Hilton says he told Cllr Bradley of police concerns before he went on holiday on July 21 although the council leader disputes this.

The report reveals it was “widely known” in November 2006 that the Pier Head - previously the main stage site - was no longer available.

But the problems with this year’s festival appear to have stemmed from an un-minuted meeting on February 21 – attended by Warren Bradley, Mike Storey, council chief executive Colin Hilton and Chris Green.

Evidence suggests “Chris Green proposed either cancelling the Mathew Street Festival altogether or holding it as a one-day event (with five stages) in order to produce some of the savings required to fund the son et lumiere and birthday celebrations”.

Mr Green’s recollection is that the suggestion was rejected by Cllr Bradley who said it “had to be held over three days”.

Cllr Bradley’s recollection is that he and Cllr Storey agreed a two-day festival could be held.

The report says: “With previous year’s costs at £600,000 Lee Forde put in a budget proposal of £600,000 for Mathew Street festival but received an initial allocation of £500,000.

“The councillors’ subsequent requirement that it was run as a two to three day event and then Cllr Storey’s insistence in March that an unfunded event be funded by savings being made from the festival and 800th birthday fireworks display budgets rather reduced the ability to deliver the festival to the scale required by councillors.”

It adds: “Cllr Storey insisted upon the funding of the son et lumiere event in the knowledge that such funding would result in a reduction of the funds available for the 800th birthday fireworks display and the Mathew Street festival.”

“Chris Green updated Cllr Bradley and Cllr Storey separately in May with a relatively detailed outline of the proposal.

“No evidence of any further communication to members of issues and concerns with the festival was found.”

But the budget changes were not properly discussed between Mr Forde and Mr Green.

The report says: “Without this revised budget Mr Forde claims that he could not proceed with planning the event by way of completion of the event document.

“Given the seniority of Lee Forde it is reasonable to expect that he would bring this issue to Chris Green as an example of one of the budget issues Chris Green had asked to be told about.

“At the same time Chris Green should have ensured that Lee Forde had clear information as to what his budget was and to what extent, if any, it could be exceeded.”

The report then alleges Mr Forde had “clear instructions” from the police and councillors by mid- April of what was expected but “failed to progress the plans”.

It says: “It is around May that one would expect the pace of the planning to increase, but instead it seems to have slowed down.

“Lee Forde used the budget issues as a reason for not progressing the plans, but he failed to communicate this to Chris Green, who could reasonably expect Lee Forde to have been finalising the plans.

“At the same time, given Cllr Bradley and Cllr Storey’s requirements, which Chris Green was fully aware of, one would expect Chris Green to be taking a more active role in planning for the event.

“He failed to do this and Lee Forde was left largely to his own devices.”

The report speaks of “early warning signs” that Mr Forde was “not fully focused and committed to delivering a successful Mathew Street festival”.

It says: “Chris Green failed to act on those signs even after Lee Forde resigned on June 4. “Chris Green took too long in starting the recruitment process for a replacement and should have been more decisive with Lee Forde immediately following his resignation.”

The report reveals that as early as May 2007 police were concerned enough to be considering commissioning an “independent inspection”.

But Chris Green suggested they did not proceed because the Culture Company “already used an independent safety adviser for Mathew Street”.

The cancellation could even have been avoided if action had been taken in early June, the report claims, and work requested by the police on June 5 had been done.

It says: “It was a month later when Chris Green started to appreciate the amount of work to be done. His failure to get a replacement event manager appointed, adequately resourced and briefed in time was a significant factor that led to the eventual cancellation.”

Lack of communication between Mr Forde and Mr Green is criticised by the report.

It says: “It was not until July 4 that Chris Green was fully aware of the significant amount of work to be done and the level of concern the other agencies, predominantly the police, had about the festival. He should have been aware of those problems far earlier and alerted Jason Harborow, but he failed to do so.”

Mr Hilton and Mr Harborow found out about police concerns on July 11 and took “appropriate action based partially on information given to them by Chris Green at the time”.

In late July, consultants Capita Symonds were commissioned to look at safety plans for the event amid police and Culture Company concerns.

They recommended delaying the event by six months, effectively forcing its cancellation.

The report says: “Allegedly, Colin Hilton alerted Cllr Bradley about the police concerns and that officers were taking action to deal with them before Cllr Bradley went on holiday on July 21.

“At this stage, Colin Hilton understood the concerns were not of a degree that could not be dealt with or that subsequently might force a cancellation. Cllr Bradley’s recollection of this differs.”

The report ends by saying Mr Green and Mr Ford would both face disciplinary investigations if they had not both resigned from the council already.

It also recommends the Culture Company’s communications process is reviewed “as a matter of urgency”.




Council leader Warren Bradley said that some individual councillors’ behaviour was “appalling” and not fitting of a democratic society.




Roger: This is not a good report for us is it Warren?
Fireman:Well Roger we’ve got to put it into perspective really haven’t we and remember where Liverpool was and that’s not thinking back 10 years. Liverpool has come an awful long way. The people of Liverpool were asking for lower Council Tax and the Liberal Democrats have delivered that and they also wanted better services and you look at the services that are now delivered by Liverpool City Council. If we look at the most vulnerable either elderly or the Children’s Services the social care we are now delivering at a level that Liverpool has never delivered before. We also look at the bread and butter your schools, your sports centres, your libraries, One Stop Shops in communities, our parks, we’ve got 13 green flag parks. It’s like a new home to me when you get an old dilapidated derelict building you’ve got to bring it up to a standard and I think Liverpool City Council under the Liberal Democrats have certainly done that and I am certain if we did a survey of people in the City do you want Liverpool City Council to sit on £20m worth of reserves or do you want the City Council delivering front line services that affect the most vulnerable and people’s lives in the City. I think that they would vote with their feet and say that we support the policies of Liverpool City Council. We’ve got to look at the financial regulations put in by Government and if you want my opinion about this Roger it is purely political.
Roger: Well come on, you know the Audit Commission is not a political body
Fireman: Well with respect Roger and I would beg to differ on that
Roger: Well how can it be a political, it’s an independent organisation?
Fireman: We can say everything is independent to a certain extent but you know you look at what we’ve got at the moment in Liverpool and we’re delivering top quality services.
Roger: But the problem with this is that you’ve got an overall score rating of 2 which was adequate performance into 05, overall score in 06 was 2 which is adequate performance.
This year it is down to 1 below minimum requirements inadequate performance.
Fireman: Based around financial regulations…
Roger: Yes I’m talking about the financial…..
Fireman: Laid down by government. I mean that’s what you’ve got to remember. Don’t try and muddy the waters and say oh this is about Liverpool City Council and their overall performance. It’s not. You look at the issue that we’ve done about achievements. Liverpool scoring 3-4 on achievement at the moment through the Audit Commission.
Roger: I didn’t know that.
(EDs: Pitiful, just pitiful.)
Fireman: And we do seem to always go to the negatives when we’re looking for something like this.
Roger: The District Auditor was pretty negative about you wasn’t he and…
Fireman: No, I have got to say Roger I would love to have £50m in reserves. I would also love not to have to put additions of £7m into adult social care and £2-3m into children’s social care. The facts are we have got to do that because of the pressures that are on Liverpool at the moment.
Roger: So are other Councils….
Fireman: I’m not willing as Leader of this Council to take away care to the most vulnerable to allow it to sit in reserve. I am not willing to do that and I will go to the stake on that the people of the City. Liverpool now is only one of a handful of Councils up and down the country that is providing moderate care to the most vulnerable people in the City. Now to give people an idea of what moderate care is that is home care. These people who’ve got no family to support them and require a visit in the morning or a visit in the evening to make sure they’re ok to help them to take the pills, to make sure that they’ve got the food. Most Councils up and down this country have removed that care. Liverpool City Council is still allowing our most vulnerable people our sort of care. Now is that wrong, is that wrong?
Roger: Now no one would argue that’s wrong but everyone. But many people are affected by housing. Housing is really poor isn’t it. I mean you are so poor you’ve had to hand it over to a different group to run it.
Fireman: Well with respect Roger, with respect, you’ve got to know what the Housing Corporation have done and in partnership with the Government again it’s easy to say it’s the Council, in partnership with the Government we’ve tackled head on through the Pathfinder areas of the inner core of the City some of the housing inefficiencies of the City. That hasn’t happened over the last five years that’s happened over 30 or 40 years. The problems in Norris Green in housing were prevalent 30 or 40 years ago and weren’t tackled. As an Authority we’ve challenged what wasn’t tackled and we’ve challenged it head on and I opened a couple of weeks ago with Flo Clucas and Marilyn Fielding with Cobalt Housing the first phase of Norris Green. We’ve transformed that area and its got houses for sale and social housing in Norris Green that people are seeking to live in now. We’ve got in a core Edge Hill, Kensington, Kirkdale the same issues that have been there for 30 or 40 years that we’re tackling now hand in hand with the Government. I’m not taking the credit for it and the Government isn’t. We’ve got a schools’ programme that is second to none. Liverpool’s young people are now achieving at the national average. I want it higher than national average to give new opportunity but again I’ll say I’m not going to suit accountants’ financial regulations in London and leave £millions sitting in reserve while we have still got the challenges Liverpool has got and I think people you know.
Roger: Do you think it was a mistake to keep Council Tax down or freeze it over the past few years?
Fireman: Well isn’t it ironic Roger how last week John Healey said how Liverpool is charging £101 a head...
Roger: Because its inefficiencies….
Fireman: Well we have taken £150m worth of inefficiencies out of our budget over the last 10 years. We’ve kept Council tax down which is exactly what Government policy is and is exactly what John Healey is saying. Councillor Joe Anderson is saying something completely different to the people of Liverpool that he will put taxes up to build reserves to put in reserve well again this administration this Lib Dem administration is not going to tax for the sake of taxing to leave money sitting in reserve. We will build up the reserves over a period of years and then we will be able to tackle some of the other issues that we’ve got to do. We recognise the health inequalities. To improve health inequalities we’ve got to have a real stable economy offering real opportunity and raising the aspirations in them poorer communities. You cannot do that leaving millions and millions of pounds laying in reserves and this administration will continue the robust financial management that we’ve done. We’ll carry on delivering…
Roger: If it was that robust we wouldn’t have this problem of £20m overdrawn on Capital of Culture.
Fireman: Roger, lets put things into hindsight. We are still delivering front line services. We are still…
Roger: It’s about £20m overall that we’re short this year – now that’s not robust management
Fireman: But Roger we are going through a budget setting process. Every Local Authority up and down the country is in the same process as us. I remember reading about Wirral being £50m short. Other Local Authorities. I meet the core city leaders who are £40-£50m short exactly the same as Liverpool . And let’s not forget I haven’t come on here to knock the Government I’ve come on here to say that I believe we’ve got a robust financial programme in place that is going to deal with the shortfall. We’ve delivered year on year but I’ll say again I am not going to allow millions and millions of pounds to lay in reserve. Cut front line services to the most vulnerable and then say that’s acceptable. Nor as Leader of this Council am I going to allow Council Tax to go through the roof again which will drive the inability to bring further investment into this City. While the Lib Dems have been in control we’ve brought Council Tax down, we’ve brought renewed confidence and we’ve brought real investment that will bring opportunities to the most vulnerable and I think that is the most important and I think the people of this City will stand full square with us on that. I’m proud of what we’ve delivered in this City over the last 10 years and Capital of Culture is part of that."