Government Commissioners exit City Council following three-year intervention

The Government’s Commissioner-led intervention at Liverpool City Council has now ended.

Last month, after three years of Government intervention in Liverpool, the Government Commissioners published their final report on the council’s improvement journey.

They concluded that it is “a well-governed, improving organisation, with ambitious leaders who are committed to long term change”, and recommended that Commissioners should conclude their role on June 9.

The council had already taken back responsibility for Finance, Highways and Transport in March, and the majority of senior appointments in January.

To ensure a continued focus on improvement, the council will now establish an Improvement Board.

Mike Cunningham, previously the lead Commissioner, has agreed to be its independent chair.

The board is expected to run until March 2025, to provide further assurance that recent improvements are sustained.

Statutory directions were not formally issued in the limited time available before the dissolution of Parliament following the announcement of next month’s General Election.

The council will, nevertheless, establish the board on a non-statutory basis, to support further improvements to its governance, financial management and service delivery.

The board will be advisory, with all decision-making powers now transferred to the council. The council expects a new Secretary of State to be advised by the independent chair on progress, after the election.

Liverpool City Council Chief Executive, Andrew Lewis, said: “This is a significant milestone for the council and the city, and the result of a great deal of commitment and hard work from councillors, staff and our partners.

“The council is committed to continuing our journey of improvement beyond the period of government intervention, to create the outstanding council that the people of Liverpool have the right to expect. There is still much more work to do, but we can be proud that recent progress has been sufficient to enable this important step forward.”

He added: “I want to thank Mike Cunningham and the other Commissioners for the dedication they have shown to Liverpool over the last three years, and welcome Mike as the independent chair of our new Improvement Board.”

Mike Cunningham said: “Our time as Commissioners at Liverpool City Council has now come to an end.

“The possibility of any further Best Value intervention is a decision for the government that will be elected on 4 July.

“In the meantime, I am pleased to be able to continue to provide support to LCC’s ongoing improvement journey as the independent chair of LCC’s new Improvement Board.”

More details of the Improvement Board, its membership and work programme will be published soon.

The Commissioners took control of the authority in June 2021, following publication of the Max Caller report in March that year into how the council was being run after the arrest of five people, including the then elected mayor Joe Anderson, linked to Merseyside Police’s Operation Aloft investigations.