Merseytravel in crisis: Ex-Tory leader calls for Labour chairman Mark Dowd to resign
In happier times: Cllr Chris Blakeley, Bart Schmeink, ex-Merseyrail chief executive, Cllr Mark Dowd and Merseytravel ex-chief executive Neil Scales.
The former leader of the Conservatives on Merseytravel Chris Blakeley has now added his voice to those calling for Labour chairman Mark Dowd to resign.
Cllr Blakeley, who recently stood down as Tory leader on the transport authority, has become the latest player to publicly demand Cllr Dowd's head.
Here is his statement in full:
As the former Conservative Group Leader on Merseyside Integrated Transport Authority (Merseytravel), only standing down from that role on the 21st May, I have watched with interest the developments that have taken place with regard to the ITA and the position of the Chairman, Cllr Mark Dowd.
When Councillor Hanson joined the Authority two or three years ago it was like a breath of fresh air, with someone who wanted to challenge the status quo and bring change to the controlling group on the Authority. Please don't misunderstand me, Joe and I have had our differences of opinion both publicly and in private, however I do have the utmost admiration for his tenacity, integrity and honesty in trying to always achieve and deliver the best for the Authority, its employees and the people of Merseyside.
Cllr Hanson was charged by the authority to deliver change in Committee Structure, and look at all governance issues including the role of the Passenger Transport Executive, he set about these tasks with absolute inclusivity, not just with me as Conservative group leader but with my whole group and I am aware he did the same with the Liberal Democrat group, we could all feel the wind of change and we all embraced it, or so I thought? Now it appears that Cllr Hanson's work is dismissed as being a piece of work of 'anonymous nonsense' by the Chairman of the Authority.
My view on this is simple, having read the full report and seeing the District Auditors email response, it is clear that errors in governance have been made over a number of years, and while I accept some progress has been made in trying to address these, there are still many hurdles to overcome, however unless and until these errors in governance are recognised then the process or rectifying them all cannot begin.
Clearly Labour Councillors Joe Hanson, Alan Dean, Liam Robinson, Marlene Quinn, Mary Rasmussen, Joanne Calvert, Pauline Walton, and Andy Bowden, along with Conservative Councillor Les Rowlands and Liberal Democrat Councillor John Dodd have recognised that there are issues to be resolved and are prepared to work together to deal with the issues of governance in order deliver services that the people of Merseyside can be proud of.
With 10 of the 18 Councillors, representing all three parties, calling for Cllr Dowd to resign, I fail to see how he can stay in position. Surely one person is not bigger than the team? My fear if he does not step down is that the organisation, despite having great staff, will lack strong political leadership and will inevitably spiral into decline. I really do think that for the sake of the organisation and the people of Merseyside that the Chairman should do the honourable thing and step down to allow Merseytravel to deal with the problems it faces and become a truly world class organisation.