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THE GOVERNANCE OF THE CITY OF LIVERPOOL - OUTCOME OF PUBLIC CONSULTATION - PLUS COMMENT FROM NLGN

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Public consultation into the future governance of Liverpool has found that there is strong support for keeping the ...
Public consultation into the future governance of Liverpool has found that there is strong support for keeping the current model of a leader and cabinet. Responses to the consultation document, 'Your Council, Your Choice' which was delivered to 220,000 homes in the city, were as follows:
Option ADirectly Elected Mayor and Cabinet 632 (29%)
Option BCouncil Leader and Cabinet1,217 (55%)
Option CDirectly Elected Mayor and Council 359 (16%)
Manager
Non Votes 72
The 2,280 responses represents 1 per cent of the number of documents distributed and less than 1 per cent of the total population of the city.
In comparison to similar consultation exercises conducted in other cities or boroughs, Liverpool received a good response. Birmingham distributed 500,000 documents and got 420 responses, Manchester 63,500 documents with 956 responses, Leeds 320,000 - 679, Sefton 118,000 - 400.
The report will be considered on Thursday by the council's governance review group. The public consultation used a range of techniques in accordance with guidance outlined in 'The New Council Constitution Local Government Act 2000 Guidance to English Local Authorities' and the 14 principles for consultation set by the Local Government Association.
These included:
* production of a document outlining all the options entitled, 'Your Council Your Choice'. This was distributed to every household in the city and copies were also made available at local public access points. The document had a free post tear off slip to be returned to Liverpool Direct for residents to express their opinion about the options.
* a public question time, chaired by local radio presenter Roger Phillips, which was also promoted in the local media.
* a document circulated to over 400 local businesses and key organisations, including the Chamber of Commerce, the Federation of British Industry and the Federation of Small Businesses
* Meetings were held with representatives of the Liverpool Democracy Commission
* information was circulated at the council's local area committees
* a meeting was arranged for all local community groups in the city
* a presentation to the Schools Parliament and an article in the schools bulletins
* seminars for all elected members
* use of the council's website to inform staff and enable visitors to the site to register their preference
* an article in the April issue of the council's City Magazine distributed to every household in the city
* 300 posters circulated to more than 200 public reception and access points in the City ie libraries, sports centres, one stop shops etc
* information circulated to local partnerships established within the city
* a questionnaire was produced and circulated to representatives of Liverpool?s Citizens Panel
* focus groups were established from representatives of the panel
* translated information was sent directly to community leaders to distribute within their organisations
* A document was also circulated to over 400 businesses - three responses were received, all in favour of the council leader and cabinet option
A survey was also carried out of Liverpool Citizens? Panel. In total 1,015 questionnaires were returned out of a possible 2,447, giving an overall response rate of 41.4%. An 'Elected Mayor and Cabinet' was favoured by 22.7%, with a 'Cabinet and Leader' favoured by 22.1%. An 'Elected Mayor and Council Manager' was favoured by 10.3%.
A series of focus groups were also held. These indicated seven respondents in favour of Option A, 16 respondents in favour of Option B and 0 in favour of Option C.
Any recommendation from the meeting of the governance sub committee will be considered at a future meeting of the city council prior to submission to the secretary of state before the end of June.
Note: The Local Government Act 2000 requires local authorities to draw up proposals for executive arrangements and send a copy to the secretary of state. The statutory guidance is that authorities should at least have sent proposals by the end of June 2001. The arrangements should then be implemented as soon as reasonably practicable but no later than May/June 2002.
* Commenting on the outcome of the local consultation exercise on the future governance of the city, John Williams, executive director of the New Local Government Network said:
'The jury is firmly out on the future governance of Liverpool. As unscientific a return as 1% of distributed questionnaires is, 45% of the households who did respond evidently favour a model that includes a directly elected mayor. Government guidance on such results is clear. Local people should be offered a real chance to express their preference, through an objective referendum held under proper electoral circumstances'.
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