Minister asked to investigate gagging order on Liverpool Labour councillors
Local government minister Andrew Stunell has been asked to investigate an order to Labour councillors in Liverpool not raise council shortcomings in public unless they get the permission of senior party members or city mayor Joe Anderson.
Deputy leader of the Liverpool Liberal Democrats Tom Morrison has written to Mr Stunnell following revelations on Dale Street Associates.
In his letter he states: "I am writing to you to register my concerns about a blatant disregard for local scrutiny taking place at Liverpool City Council.
"Below is a leaked email from the Labour Group Chief Whip Alan Dean, in which he has explicitly instructed and forbidden members of the Labour Group from raising concerns about the Council's performance or policies at any council meeting without the prior permission of the Elected Mayor or Cabinet Member.
"Not only does this stifle democracy and wholly undermine the scrutiny process but it demonstrates a hierarchy of something in Liverpool which places the residents of Liverpool and their needs below the internal party workings of the Liverpool Labour Group.
"I would be interested in your thoughts on this situation. I know you have been working hard to devolve power through the Localism Act to residents to put them at the forefront of local determination yet my concern in Liverpool is that this is currently stifled by party political meddling."
City solicitor Jeanette McLoughlin has also been asked by Cllr Morrison to advise on Cllr Dean's email.
"The email shows the Labour Group have pre meetings prior to the Select Committee where they are given clear direction on what they can scrutinise and what they cannot.
"According to that email the Labour Select Committee Chairs act on behalf of the Mayor and the Cabinet Member so how can they possibly be in a position to 'hold them to account' let alone scrutinise decisions they make or policies they want to implement."