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'Failing' Liverpool highlighted at Labour spring conference

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Communities and local government secretary Hazel Blears used her opening speech at Labour’s spring conference at the weekend to slam poor-performing Liverpool City Council.

Addressing a room full of Labour councillors and activists at the weekend, she highlighted Liverpool as a prime example of a poorly-run Liberal Democrat council.

“Look at Liberal Democrat-run Liverpool, officially the worst council in Britain,” she said. “The Lib Dems have run it into the ground, and soon they'll be coming cap in hand to the Labour government to bail them out of bankruptcy. The people of Liverpool deserve better.”

Elsewhere at the conference, cabinet office minister Ed Miliband and health secretary Alan Johnson both talked of the need to make public services more accountable to local people. However neither gave details of how this could be achieved.

Miliband speech
Johnson speech

Sir Jeremy Beecham, leader of the Labour group at the Local Government Association , paid tribute to Ms Blears and her predecessor Ruth Kelly for “helping to develop local and multi-area agreements [and] reducing the burden of regulation and targets”. Read Sir Jeremy's full speech in Resources, bottom right.

However, with the event being used as an opportunity to rally the party’s base, the majority of ministers’ focus was on the London mayoral elections where Ken Livingstone is facing a strong challenge from the Conservative candidate Boris Johnson.

Liverpool hits back

In response, Liverpool leader Warren Bradley (Lib Dem) said: “Liverpool has been transformed over the past decade. Under Labour, Liverpool was a basket case that levied the highest council tax in the land for the worst services. Today, the city is European Capital of Culture, with some of the best education, environment and social services in the country - according to the Audit Commission.

"The government could learn a few lessons from Liverpool in delivering sound finances, a balanced budget and protecting the most vulnerable. No other council has kept council tax increases as low as Liverpool over the past ten years - despite receiving some of the worst grant settlements from the government, which this year cost our residents a massive£8m.”

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