Liverpool City Council
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Liverpool City Council

Coordinates: 53°24?25.9?N 2°59?30?W / 53.407194°N 2.99167°W / 53.407194; -2.99167

Liverpool City Council
Lord Mayor of Liverpool
Cllr Anna Rothery, Labour
since September 2019
Mayor of Liverpool
Wendy Simon (Acting), Labour
since 10 December 2020
Deputy Mayor of Liverpool
Cllr Lynnie Hinnigan
Cllr Gary Millar
Cllr Wendy Simon, Labour
Leader of the Opposition
Cllr Richard Kemp CBE, Liberal Democrat
Chief executive
Tony Reeves
since 13 July 2018
SeatsElected mayor
90 councillors[1]
Liverpool City Council composition
Political groups
Administration (72)
  Labour (72)
Other Parties (18)
  Liberal Democrats (10)
  Green (4)
  Liberal (3)
  Independent (1)
Joint committees
Liverpool City Region Combined Authority
Length of term
4 years
Last election
2 May 2019
Next election
6 May 2021
Meeting place
Town Hall Liverpool council chamber.jpg
Liverpool Town Hall
Dale Street
L2 2DH

Liverpool City Council is the governing body for the city of Liverpool in Merseyside, England. It consists of 90 councillors, three for each of the city's 30 wards.

The council is currently controlled by the Labour Party and is led by Mayor Joe Anderson. It is a constituent council of Liverpool City Region Combined Authority.[2]



Liverpool has been a town since 1207 when it was granted its first charter by King John. It has had a town corporation (the Corporation of Liverpool) since before the 19th century, and this was one of the corporations reformed by the Municipal Corporations Act 1835. The corporation created a police force in 1836.

Liverpool was granted city status in 1880. When local government was reformed in 1888 under the Local Government Act 1888 it was one of the cities to become a county borough, and thus independent of Lancashire. This situation persisted until 1974 with the Local Government Act 1972 when due to urban expansion and the accretion of a large metropolitan area, the city was made a metropolitan district of the metropolitan county of Merseyside. This saw the old corporation nomenclature abolished and the council reconstituted as Liverpool City Council.

In 1835 Liverpool expanded into the village of Everton and then the township of Kirkdale in the 1860s. In 1895 Wavertree, Walton and parts of Toxteth and West Derby were incorporated into the city. Fazakerley (1904) and Gateacre (1913) followed, then the rest of West Derby known as West Derby Rural in 1928 and finally Speke in 1932.

In 1986 the council of Merseyside was abolished and its functions devolved to its districts, but the county still legally exists. Liverpool has never been a district council under Lancashire County Council.

Liberal followed by Militant-dominated Labour

In the late 1970s the City was run by the Liberal Party under Sir Trevor Jones. As part of their plans, a cost-cutting exercise was drawn up, to reduce the council's costs by 25%. In 1979 the Conservative Party won the General Election. The new government intended to cut council spending but Liverpool City Council successfully negotiated an exception from this, on the grounds that they were already following government policy and cutting 25%.

During the 1980s, the Trotskyist Militant group gained control of Liverpool's Labour Party and the council, and attempted to challenge the national government on several issues including refusing to set a budget in 1985. The council then adopted a 'deficit budget' in which spending exceeded income, causing a financial crisis. The leadership of the Labour Party was drawn into the controversy, culminating with Neil Kinnock's speech to the Party Conference in 1985, denouncing Liverpool City Council without explicitly naming it. Derek Hatton, councillor for Netherley ward and Deputy Leader of the Council, shouted "lies" at the platform, and Eric Heffer, MP for Liverpool Walton constituency, left the conference platform.[3]

The Labour Party ultimately succeeded in expelling members of Militant, and Hatton himself was expelled from the Labour Party in June 1986.[4]


  • 1998 The Liberal Democrats win control of Liverpool City Council, led by Councillor Mike Storey
  • 2001 Paradise Project is unveiled as a plan to transform Chavasse Park in the city centre with creation of new retail complex - to be called Liverpool ONE.
  • 2003 Liverpool win the UK nomination of European Capital of Culture for 2008.
  • 2004 Liverpool's waterfront and parts of the city centre are given World Heritage status.
  • 2005 Liverpool Culture Company is established to deliver city's 800th anniversary in 2007 and European Capital of Culture in 2008.
  • 2005 in November Lib Dem leader of the Council Mike Storey resigns after eight years following accusations of plotting to try to engineer departure of Council's Chief Executive, Sir David Henshaw.
  • 2005 Cllr Storey was replaced as leader by Warren Bradley. Sir David Henshaw retired and was replaced as chief executive by Colin Hilton.
  • 2005 Liverpool City Council issue a formal apology for the flooding of Capel Celyn, near Bala, North Wales. The community was destroyed and the land flooded to create Llyn Celyn in 1965. The reservoir was solely created to supply water to Liverpool and Wirral.
  • 2007 Council owned St George's Hall reopens after £23m restoration programme.
  • 2007 Liverpool celebrates 800th anniversary on 28 August.
  • 2007 Council owned Liverpool Cruise Terminal is opened.
  • 2008 Liverpool officially launches its year as European Capital of Culture on 11 January with a "people's party" outside St George's Hall, attended by more than 40,000 people. On 12 January the Liverpool Echo Arena, which is owned by the council, was officially opened with a concert featuring Liverpool music bands past and present.
  • 2008 Council awarded 1 star by Audit Commission.
  • 2008 Liberal Democrats lose overall control of the city on 1 May in local elections, however a midnight defection of an Independent (Former Labour) Councillor gives them a majority of 1.
  • 2008 Green Party take the second seat in St Michael's ward, becoming a recognisable "group" on the council.
  • 2009 The council announces a major shake up of middle management.[5]


  • 2010 The Labour party win control of the council for the first time in 12 years, with Councillor Joe Anderson becoming the new council leader[6]
  • 2010 The Liverpool Schools Investment Programme (LSIP) was created in response to UK government scrapping Building Schools for the Future. £180m was invested over an eight-year period, transforming 22 of the city's primary and secondary schools - including 15 new builds.
  • 2011 The Labour Party's Jake Morrison, aged 18, defeats Lord Mike Storey after 38 years service[7]
  • 2012 The Labour Party's Joe Anderson was elected as the first Mayor for Liverpool on a three-year term.
  • 2013 Council owned Liverpool Central Library reopens after £50m renovation.
  • 2015 Joe Anderson was re-elected as Mayor of Liverpool on a five-year term.
  • 2015 Joe Anderson instructs city council lawyers to help him launch legal proceedings against Chesterfield High School after it terminated his £4,500 per year role. The council spent £90,000 of public money on the case, described by the tribunal judge as a 'private' matter.[8][9]
  • 2016 Council established Paddington Village - a £1bn development site to attract world-class scientific research and tech firms in the city's Knowledge Quarter. The Royal College of Physicians announced it will base its Northern HQ in Paddington Village.
  • 2016 Joe Anderson announced intention to run for Labour nomination for Metro Mayor of Liverpool City Region. Steve Rotheram, Walton MP, was nominated.
  • 2017 Joe Anderson announced intention to run for Labour nomination to be MP for Walton. Dan Carden was nominated.
  • 2017 Council lead city's bid to host 2022 Commonwealth Games. UK Government chose Birmingham to host games.
  • 2017 Council announced a new cruise terminal is to be situated in Liverpool Waters, with an estimated opening set for 2021-22.
  • 2017 Chief executive Ged Fitzgerald arrested on suspicion of conspiracy to pervert the course of justice and witness intimidation.[10]
  • 2018 Council established an "ethical housing company", called Foundations, to deliver 10,000 new homes over the next decade.
  • 2018 Liverpool bid to be new Headquarters for Channel 4. The city is shortlisted but Leeds is chosen.
  • 2018 Labour lose 3 seats to the Liberal Democrats. In wake of the election result, Assistant Mayor Councillor Nick Small was sacked. Deputy Mayor Councillor Ann O'Byrne resigned in protest. Councillor Wendy Simon was appointed Deputy Mayor.
  • 2019 Labour lose 2 seats to the Liberal Democrats and 1 to Liberal Party. As polls close Councillor Ann O'Byrne, Deputy Leader of the Group posts motion to rescind directly elected Mayoral model. Motion is not voted at party AGM, but party agrees to host a review of the structure. Councillor O'Byrne loses vote to remain as Deputy Leader, which is won by Councillor Wendy Simon.
  • 2019 Liverpool City Council is chosen as the UK's No1 event organiser - and the only council to feature in World's top 30 list of the EventEx Awards.
  • 2019 Labour Councillor Paul Kenyon resigns his Picton (ward) seat citing Jeremy Corbyn's failure to adequately deal with abuse directed towards him by party members and to protect Wavertree MP Luciana Berger from anti-Semitic abuse [11][12]
  • 2019 Labour Councillor Dave Cummings is suspended by the Labour Party for making sexist comments about Labour MEP Theresa Griffin.[13] He is later convicted of criminal damage, but refuses to resign his position.[14]
  • 2019 Council's head of regeneration, Nick Kavanagh, and director of property developer Elliot Group, Elliot Lawless, arrested by Merseyside Police for a number of alleged offences including conspiracy to defraud, misconduct in public office and bribery. Their arrests were later quashed after a High Court review. Neither man was charged.[15][16]
  • 2020 It is reported the city council's public accounts since 2015 have not been certified by auditors due to the 'ongoing complex police investigation' involving the council's former chief executive.[17]
  • 2020 Labour Councillor Sam Gorst is suspended by the Labour Party for inappropriate conduct on social media.[18] The vocal Jeremy Corbyn supporter had been involved in previous allegations of antisemitism.[19]
  • 2020 Nick Kavanagh is re-arrested for alleged bribery-related offences, together with four others, regarding alleged preferential sale of several sites in Liverpool city centre to Elliot Group.[20][21][15][22]
  • 2020 Joe Anderson, Liverpool city's mayor, arrested on suspicion of conspiracy to commit bribery and witness intimidation as part of a police investigation into the award of construction contracts in Liverpool.[23]

Arrest of council chief executive

In May 2017, Gerard ('Ged') Fitzgerald, then the council's chief executive, and three others were arrested by Lancashire Police on suspicion of conspiracy to pervert the course of justice and witness intimidation. It followed investigations into financial irregularities relating to 'One Connect', a partnership between Lancashire County Council and British Telecom (BT) set up during Fitzgerald's tenure as Lancashire council chief executive. Lancashire county council had aborted a procurement exercise relating to the potential outsourcing of Lancashire county council's vehicle fleet to British Telecom, an action that was investigated in 2013 by a firm of solicitors, DAC Beachcroft and later the police.[24]

One of the others arrested at the time was Geoffrey Driver, then Lancashire council leader and leader of its Conservative party group. The warrants for the men's arrests stated that evidence had been gathered that between 2013 and 2015 Mr. Driver in collusion with the three others had been "involved in activity directed toward a number of principal witnesses ... which was clearly designed to intimidate, belittle and undermine them both professionally and, crucially, as witnesses in the investigation". The witnesses reportedly included four people who held Lancashire county council roles, including as treasurer, auditor and as a councillor.[24]

In September 2017, it was reported Fitzgerald had been suspended, following a Liverpool council disciplinary panel meeting.[25] In December 2017 Fitzgerald applied for a judicial review of his arrest, but in April 2018 the High Court refused. In its judgment, the court said one ground for refusing his application was that the scope of an earlier investigation by Lancashire police - dubbed Operation Sheridan - that had led to his arrest had "widened to include alleged criminality within Liverpool City Council and the Merseyside Pension Fund (MPF)".[24][26] In May 2018 Fitzgerald resigned from his Liverpool city council role with immediate effect. He remained on police bail.[27]

The High Court judgment was critical of the 2017 application for arrest warrants presented by D.C. Fishwick of Lancashire Police, which "ran to 29 pages with another 27 pages of appendices" and was described as "not easy to summarise ... presented as it was ... as an impenetrable, discursive mass lacking a discernible sense of order. Understandably, the police are concerned to comply with their duty as to disclosure; but the answer to that obligation does not lie in simply "throwing" material at the Court in the manner in which it was done in this case". The Lancashire police investigation into the financial irregularities started in 2013 and was reported to have cost in excess of £2m by May 2017.[28]

Lancashire county council's 'One Connect' was reportedly similar to 'Liverpool Direct', a partnership set up between Liverpool city council and BT, which was later bought out entirely by the council.[10] David McElhinney, who was one of the men arrested in May 2017, had been chief executive of both Liverpool and Lancashire council's joint ventures with BT at various times.[24]

In August 2018 a case file of evidence gathered on Mr Fitzgerald and two other ex-council executives was handed to the Crown Prosecution Service.

In June 2020 it was reported Liverpool city council's accounts since 2015 had not been signed off by its auditors, Grant Thornton, on account of the 'complex ongoing police investigation'. The Crown Prosecution Service said the file was still being considered. Lancashire Police declined to comment.[17]

Lord Mayor

The Lord Mayor of Liverpool is the first citizen and chosen representative of the city, acting as a focal point for the community as well as promoting the city. This is a different role to that of the "Mayor of Liverpool". The Lord Mayor's main responsibilities include meeting delegates from twinned cities, chairing council meetings and representing the city. The Lord Mayor of Liverpool is always a serving councillor, elected by the full council at its Annual General Meeting held each May, and serve for a term of one year: the current Lord Mayor is Councillor Anna Rothery.[29]

For a list of past Lord Mayors of the city see Lord Mayors of Liverpool.

Council Wards

Liverpool is split into 30 separate wards for elections. These are the wards since the 2004 local elections.[30]

Between 1953-1973 the wards of Liverpool City Council were Abercromby, Aigburth, Allerton, Anfield, Arundel, Breckfield, Broadgreen, Central, Childwall, Church, Clubmoor, County, Croxteth, Dingle, Dovecot, Everton, Fairfield, Fazakerley, Gillmoss, Granby, Kensington, Low Hill, Melrose, Netherfield, Old Swan, Picton, Pirrie, Princess Park, St Domingo, St James, St Mary's, St Michaels, Smithdown, Speke, Sandhills, Tuebrook, Vauxhall, Warbreck, Westminster, Woolton. Each ward returned 3 councillors and was represented by an Alderman, bringing to the total number of representatives on the City Council to 120.

In 1973, the whole council was reconstituted and the number of wards was reduced to 33. Each ward elected three councillors, and the aldermanic system was abolished.

Political makeup

Elections are usually by thirds, in three of every four years. 2004 saw new boundaries and a reduction in the number of councillors from 99 to 90, so all seats were contested.

In March 2007, Labour gained a seat from the Liberal Democrats in a by-election in Speke Garston ward. In the May 2007 council elections, the Liberal Democrats lost 4 seats to Labour, leaving the council make-up as Liberal Democrats 51, Labour 35, Liberals 3 and Greens 1.

Labour then won the second by-election in Warbreck ward in September 2007.

In May 2010, the Labour Party, led by Joe Anderson, gained control of the council for the first time in 12 years.[31] In May 2011, Labour increased their majority on the Council making 11 gains.

At the May 2012 elections, Labour won 27 seats and the Liberal Democrats, Green Party and Liberals 1 each. This made the composition of the Council 72 Labour (after one Councillor became an independent), 9 Liberal Democrat (after defection to the Labour party), 3 Liberal, 2 green and 2 independents.

In the May 2014 elections, the Labour party won 27 seats, the Green party won 2 seats, and the Liberal party won 1 seat. This made the composition of the Council for 2014/15: 78 Labour, 4 Green, 3 Liberal Democrat, 3 Liberal, and 2 independent.

Year Labour Lib Dems Liberal Green Other Refs
2018 75 8 2 4 1
75 7 2 4 2
76 7 2 4 1
79 4 2 4 1
2016 80 4 2 4 -
2015 81 2 2 4 1 [32]
2014 78 3 3 4 2 [33]
2012 72 10 3 2 1 [34]
2011 62 22 3 2 1 [35]
2010 48 37 3 2 - [36]
2008 39 45 3 2 1 [37]
2007 35 51 3 1 0 [38]
2006 30 56 3 1 - [39]
2004 27 60 3 0 - [40]
2003 31 63 3 0 2 [41]


In the 19th and early 20th Century, the council was run by the Conservatives, whose policies were responsible for Liverpool leading the way in many areas of social reform, for example, the provision of the first council-housing in Europe. Liverpool was one of the last cities in the UK in which the Labour Party gained control, which occurred in 1955. The Conservatives were able to briefly regain control in 1961, until 1963, and again in 1967 until 1972.[42]

The council has switched numerous times between Liberal Democrats control and Labour control since its reconstitution in 1974, with two periods of no overall control.[43]

Leaders and Control

Name Years Control
Archibald Salvidge 1890-1929 Conservative
Thomas White 1929-1938
Alfred Shennan 1938-1955
Jack Braddock 1955-1961 Labour
Maxwell Entwistle 1961-1963 Conservative
Jack Braddock May-November 1963 Labour
Bill Sefton 1963-1967 Labour
Harold Macdonald Steward 1967-1972 Conservative
Bill Sefton 1972-1974 Labour
Cyril Carr 1974-1975 No Overall Control
Bill Smyth 1975-1976
John Hamilton 1976-1978
Eddie Roderick 1977 (May-June)
Trevor Jones 1978-1983
John Hamilton 1983-1987 Labour
Tony Byrne 1986-1987
Trevor Jones 1987 (March-May) Liberal
Harry Rimmer 1987 (May-October) Labour
Keva Coombes 1987-1990
Harry Rimmer 1990-1992
1992-1996 No Overall Control
Frank Prendergast 1996-1998 Labour
Mike Storey 1998-2005 Liberal Democrats
Warren Bradley 2005-2010
Joe Anderson 2010-2012 Labour

Directly elected Mayors (2012-present)

Name Political party Start of term End of term
Joe Anderson Labour 4 May 2012 Incumbent

Allegations against, or criticism of, council officers

Bribery allegations involving Nick Kavanagh and Elliot Lawless

On 18 December 2019, Nick Kavanagh, Liverpool council's then regeneration chief and Elliot Lawless, head of property development company Elliot Group, were arrested by Merseyside Police on suspicion of a number of alleged offences including conspiracy to defraud, misconduct in public office and bribery, reported the Liverpool Echo newspaper.[16] The charges related to "the sale of council land and building property" in the "Georgian quarter and Toxteth" and the allegation that "Mr Lawless was able to secure two sites on an 'improperly preferential basis'", according to a consent order obtained in a High Court application by the newspaper.[20]

Both were reportedly released on bail in March 2020.[15] No charges were brought against them and their arrest warrants were quashed, with the police reportedly citing "technical difficulties".[44] Mr Lawless had applied for a High Court review of the arrests, which found in April 2020 that a search of Mr Lawless' home shortly before his arrest had been unlawful.[15] The proceedings were reportedly "concluded by consent" between Merseyside Police and Mr Lawless. However, a police statement noted an investigation would continue and that it retained £337,342.00 and EUR10,442.10 in cash seized from property and vehicles connected to Mr Lawless under the Proceeds of Crime Act, and "copies of exhibits seized" at the time of the arrests.[44] Mr Lawless denies any wrong-doing. Mr Kavanagh has reportedly not spoken publicly since his arrest.[21] On 11 May 2020, the Echo reported Liverpool council had suspended Mr. Kavanagh.[20]

On 3 September 2020, Mr. Kavanagh was reportedly re-arrested on suspicion of conspiracy to commit bribery, together with four others.[22][15]

On 7 September 2020, Merseyside Police was granted permission to retain the cash seized in December 2019 for a further 90 days, the third such successful extension request.[45]

Council lawyers costs - Joe Anderson employment tribunal

In April 2015, Liverpool Echo reported Mayor Joe Anderson had instructed Liverpool City Council lawyers to assist him in a legal dispute he was bringing against Chesterfield High School for unfair dismissal. The school had dismissed Anderson after he had not worked at the school for two years. The council spent over £89,500 from public funds to support Anderson's application to the employment tribunal over two and a half years. The initial tribunal found the school was within its rights to terminate Anderson's contract, however they had not followed the correct procedure to do so. Anderson appealed against the finding but lost.[8][9]

Arrest of Joe Anderson on suspicion of bribery and witness intimidation

On 5 December 2020 Joe Anderson was arrested on suspicion of conspiracy to commit bribery and witness intimidation, as part of a police investigation, dubbed Operation Aloft, into alleged fraud in the award of construction contracts in the Liverpool city area. Four other men were also arrested. It it is not clear whether the arrests were related to the council bribery allegations involving Nick Kavanagh and Elliot Lawless (see above). Anderson said he had been interviewed for over six hours by police and bailed to return in a month. The Labour Party suspended Anderson on news of his arrest. Liverpool City Council said it would not comment on matters relating to an individual.[46][47]



  1. ^
  2. ^ "Proposal to establish a combined authority for Greater Merseyside" (PDF). Department for Communities and Local Government. November 2013. Retrieved 2013.
  3. ^ James Naughtie "Labour in Bournemouth: Kinnock rounds on left's militants", The Guardian, 2 October 1985
  4. ^ "1986: Labour expels Militant Hatton", BBC On This Day, 12 June
  5. ^ Waddington, Marc (30 January 2009). "Liverpool Council: We'll cut back on big money". Liverpool Echo. Retrieved 2009.
  6. ^ "Labour sweeps to power in Liverpool after 12 years of Lib Dem rule". Liverpool Echo. Retrieved 2010.
  7. ^ "Teenage Labour candidate beats ex-Lib Dem Leader". BBC News. 6 May 2011. Retrieved 2011.
  8. ^ a b "Liverpool Echo - 15 Apr 2015".
  9. ^ a b "Liverpool Echo - 7 Sep 2015".
  10. ^ a b "Liverpool council chief executive Ged Fitzgerald arrested". Liverpool Echo. 22 May 2017. Retrieved 2017.
  11. ^
  12. ^
  13. ^
  14. ^
  15. ^ a b c d e "Place North West - 3 Sep 2020".
  16. ^ a b "Liverpool Echo - 19 Dec 2019".
  17. ^ a b "Liverpool Echo - 28 Jun 2020".
  18. ^
  19. ^
  20. ^ a b c "Liverpool Echo - 11 May 2020".
  21. ^ a b "Liverpool Echo - 23 Sep 2020".
  22. ^ a b "The Business Desk - 3 Sep 2020".
  23. ^ "BBC News - 5 Dec 2020".
  24. ^ a b c d "High Court - Queens Bench - [2018] EWHC 804 (Admin)".
  25. ^ "BBC News - Sep 2017".
  26. ^ "John Brace - Wirral Council Blog".
  27. ^ "Liverpool Echo - 14 May 2018".
  28. ^ "Liverpool Echo - 22 May 2017".
  29. ^ "Liverpool CC - Councillors and Cttes Lists".
  30. ^ "Ward profiles". Liverpool City Council. Archived from the original on 1 March 2006.
  31. ^ "Labour win Liverpool Council for first time in 12 years". BBC News. 7 May 2010. Retrieved 2010.
  32. ^ "Political Composition - 2014/2015". Retrieved 2015.
  33. ^ "Political Composition - 2014/2015". BBC. Retrieved 2014.
  34. ^ "Liverpool Local elections 2012". BBC. Retrieved 2014.
  35. ^ "Liverpool Local elections 2011". BBC. Retrieved 2014.
  36. ^ "Liverpool Local elections 2010". BBC. Retrieved 2014.
  37. ^ "Liverpool Local elections 2008". BBC. Retrieved 2014.
  38. ^ "Liverpool Local elections 2007". BBC. Retrieved 2014.
  39. ^ "Liverpool Local elections 2006". BBC. Retrieved 2014.
  40. ^ "Liverpool Local elections 2004". BBC. Retrieved 2014.
  41. ^ "Liverpool Local elections 2003". BBC. Retrieved 2014.
  42. ^ Jeffery, David (1 August 2017). "The strange death of Tory Liverpool: Conservative electoral decline in Liverpool, 1945-1996". British Politics. 12 (3): 386-407. doi:10.1057/s41293-016-0032-6. ISSN 1746-918X.
  43. ^ "BBC NEWS, Election 2006, Liverpool". BBC News. Retrieved 2010.
  44. ^ a b Private Eye, Issue 1521, p.20
  45. ^ "Liverpool Echo - 23 Sep 2020".
  46. ^ "The Guardian - 5 Dec 2020".
  47. ^ "BBC News - 5 Dec 2020".

External links

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