'It's The Cut's, Stupid'

It will not be an easy journey, it will be an extremely rocky road with very hard decisions having to be made and at times it may seem impossible but, in the words of the late and great Nelson Mandela, an inspiration to many, including me, "Everything seems impossible until it is done".

To paraphrase the famous President Clinton line and use it to describe the financial situation we are in locally, I want to address those on the left and right who wish to blame the Council, or me, for the financial decisions we are making in Liverpool - cuts to services, sale of land and the likes of fortnightly bin collections. If I offend anyone by the word stupid above, I'm sorry, but if you believe it is either the Council's or my fault then you are.

Left or right you're both wrong.

Let's start with those on the right who say we can still save more - we need to remind them that we have already had £176 million worth of cuts in the last three years. What we have done is tried to run our City using the values of fairness that the people of our City want. But still, we have lost 1600 jobs; we have reduced the management of the Council, scrapped bonuses and reduced services all of which has helped make massive savings. To those who say we can do more, we are trying everything possible, but there is nowhere else to find so called 'fat'. Everything we now cut will be more painful than ever before and most services will be either halted or reduced.

These cuts came in the form of a reduction in the Local Government Grant from Central Government. In other words - words which crystallise the ignorance on both sides - we have less money than we used to. People need to understand 76% of the money we spend annually comes from Westminster. If they choose to cut the grant by 52%, we simply haven't got it to spend - it really is that simple. How can we be accused of cutting what we haven't got?

Instead, we will have to find new ways of doing things, new ways of operating services and in some cases deciding whether we can even continue to run some services. That will not be easy but we will do it.

For those on the far left who say defy the cuts, stand up against the government, don't take no for an answer - I am telling you now, I will not pass an illegal budget. That is not the way that I work and that is not the way this City works. It does not work and it has never worked in the past. If I was to listen to them, if I was to defy the Government, pass an illegal budget and spit in their face, it will be one of the worst decisions that anyone could make for the City of Liverpool.

The result would be far from that rebellious, and almost romantic, idea that the far left possess. There would be no happily ever after, living in a haven of local people, working in local shops for local people. The truth is that the Government will shut us down, claim our buildings, claim our books and bring auditors in, people with no regard to the city or its people and close, cut and destroy everything in sight until they have their money back. The City would be back in the 80s with all our hard work completely undone. I will not allow that to happen.

The left, along with the hypocritical Greens and the Lib Dems want us back in the 80's; they don't want us to move forward. They say they want the best for the City but then are against innovative and cost saving ideas which are good for the economy such as the Liverpool International Music Festival. It is impossible for any of these so called politicians to speak for the City of Liverpool when they unashamedly will stand in the way of it moving forward.

The next round of cuts will mean that, despite our best efforts, we will lose a catastrophic amount of funding from the government and we will be left with some of the most difficult decisions this City has ever had to make.

If we want to keep hold of services, if we want to host events. If we want to spend money on our young people, on our old people, on cleaner and greener communities then we have to generate the funding to do it. We have to be resilient; we have to be innovative and imaginative in what we do. We have to look at strategic investment, what we spend and how we invest it. How we use our borrowing strengths and reserves and we need to do it in a way that stimulates investment and acts as a lever to draw in private sector funding, creating new business and creating jobs. That is the most important thing for me as Mayor.

Our people are being let down by the Government and in turn we are having to cut their services and hurt them directly. It is not fair and it is not right.

Whether you agree with me or whether you don't, the fact of the matter is clear to me, the financial landscape on how we are funded and how we operate has changed for ever. There will be no cavalry charging over the proverbial hill to rescue Liverpool or any other City for that matter, so we have to fundamentally and radically look at how we fund, cut and save.

Liverpool has come a long way, we have become known as a city with real vision and real ambition. A city ready to punch above its weight, a city hungry for success, a city ready to make bold decisions. What we regard as our challenges can actually become good opportunities if we are willing to keep an open mind, think differently and be prepared to do things differently.

When you are brought down to your knees, you have two options. You can either roll over and die or you can rise up and stand strong. It is at times like these when we are given the chance to look at things differently, breakdown old thinking and create a determination to embrace a culture of innovation.

I will continue to find new ways of moving away from dependency to become a more sufficient City and enable us to be more entrepreneurial, using our strengths to our advantage. It is up to us as a City and me as Mayor to lead by example, pick ourselves up off the ground and continue to strive forward no matter what is thrown at us.

Let's remember that we have already steered Liverpool through £176m worth of cuts and we are still standing.

I will make the right decisions and I will make the right decisions for the City of Liverpool. We will continue to stand our ground against the Government and against the cuts in the face of austerity.

It will not be an easy journey, it will be an extremely rocky road with very hard decisions having to be made and at times it may seem impossible but, in the words of the late and great Nelson Mandela, an inspiration to many, including me, "Everything seems impossible until it is done".


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