Liverpool City Council chief executive steps down

Tony Reeves

Liverpool City Council chief executive, Tony Reeves, has decided to step down from his role with immediate effect, the council has announced.

He has spent four years as chief executive, during which time, the council said, he has overseen a period of significant transition for the organisation, including providing leadership to the city through the COVID-19 pandemic.

Under his leadership, the council also responded to the Best Value Inspection led by government inspector Max Caller which resulted in the appointment of government commissioners to certain sections of the authority last June over concerns about their running by the Labour leadership.

The City Plan and the Council Plan were developed, as was a plan for making improvements across the council.

Tony Reeves said: “I’m sad to be leaving Liverpool City Council but I want to take this opportunity to thank everyone who has supported me over the past four years, in what has been exceptional times for the council and the city.

“It has been the privilege of a lifetime to have been chief executive of an organisation that does so much tremendous work for such a fantastic city and its amazing people.

“I’m immensely proud of the progress that has been made in Liverpool since I arrived – from reorganising the council and setting out its improvement plan – to the city’s tackling of COVID-19, when we led the country in community testing and piloting events, to establishing the world’s first pandemic institute.”

He added: “Throughout this time Liverpool showed its true spirit of togetherness and its ability to innovate and overcome immense difficulties and the city is so much stronger for that experience.

“Huge challenges still remain, not least economically, but the foundations for growth are well placed from the Knowledge Quarter and our thriving life sciences sector, to our creative industries and booming TV and Film offer.

“The redevelopments at our two famous football clubs also present a unique opportunity for the north of the city, to create thriving new communities and I look forward to seeing them establish and flourish.”

He said: “The people of Liverpool deserve a council that delivers great services. That is a difficult and complex journey but it has begun and those with the honour of leading the next chapter have a great opportunity to make some long-lasting improvements, and I wish them all the success in the world.

“Yes, there will be setbacks, but I’m confident a solid platform is now in place to ensure the council can support the ambition for Liverpool to realise its full potential.”

Following the former Bradford Council chief executive’s announcement, Mayor of Liverpool, Joanne Anderson, said: “I want to thank Tony for his work over the past four years, in particular helping Liverpool City Council to navigate some difficult waters.

“I wish Tony well in the next stage of his career. Myself and the cabinet look forward to working with new leadership on continuing our improvement journey and ensuring the council delivers for the people of Liverpool.”

The Government commissioners are set to publish their second report into Liverpool City Council’s running, and it is understood this could lead to an increase in their powers, which may have undermined Mr Reeves’ position.

Reacting to the news, ReSet Liverpool, a non-party campaign co-founded by former Liverpool Mayoral independent candidates Stephen Yip and Liam Fogarty, said it illustrates the council is “all at sea”.

Stephen Yip said: “Just when you think the chaos and dysfunction at the council could not get any worse, it finds itself without a chief executive. We can now add Mr. Reeves’ exit to the litany of revelations and resignations that has turned the council into a laughing stock and an embarrassment to our city.”

Liam Fogarty said: “Mayor Joanne Anderson has thanked Mr Reeves for helping ‘to navigate difficult waters’. In truth, the council is all at sea.

“The idea that these people should decide for themselves how Liverpool should be run in future is ludicrous. It becomes more obvious each day that Liverpool needs a radical re-set, starting with the promised referendum on our future governance model.”

Bill Addy, CEO of Liverpool BID Company, said: “The private sector should not, and does not, have a say in the running of a democratically elected local authority, yet we would urge stability and security. Recovery is not taken for granted. We are not out of the woods yet. Liverpool has to be seen as a viable for investors, a place they can trust to do business.

“We would urge the commissioners not to treat the city as a closed door, but to recognise that Liverpool is strongest when it works together.”

He added: “Communication is vital. The culture of Liverpool is one of collaboration, of pooling knowledge and resources. That is a key strength and it is one we have had to hone. The city cannot be left to drift with big decisions to be made by business, across all sectors, and investors.”

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