Liverpool mayoral select committee highlights: "You could get better interest rates off Wonga.com"
LIVERPOOL Mayor Joe Anderson clashed with campaigners over the suggestion the city should defy central government and set an illegal budget.
The Labour leader hit out at a series of questions from campaigner Sue Ferguson at tonight's mayoral select committee about the logistics of setting an illegal budget, as the council grapples with axing £32m from the coming financial year's budget.
Half the city's libraries will close, social care is being hit, and £1m of funding for the warden service for sheltered accommodation will be cut, and eventually the youth and play service budget will be reduced by a third from £3.2m to £2.1m.
Tonight it was announced a further £109m of cuts will have to be found by 2017.
Glen Fletcher from Calder Kids, which provides play activities for disabled children, pleaded with the council to help it move to being self-sufficient.
The service receives just over £100,000-a-year in vital funding from the council (which is likely to fall in coming years). The Mayor said he will do all he can.
Liverpool hit the headlines in 1985 when 49 Labour councillors refused to set a legal budget, and 47 were eventually barred from office for five years.
Ms Ferguson pressed the council for answers about the logistics of doing the same today.
Due to changes in local authority rules if the council did the same today government officials would take over the town hall and impose a legal budget.
Mayor Anderson said: "Not a single of the 90 councillors will set an illegal budget. I do get told 'set an illegal' but that is by a tiny tiny minority, it does not represent the views of the vast majority of people in this city."
Ms Ferguson said campaigners wanted councillors to refuse to implement the cuts.
"I am not aware what would happen to councillors if they considered voting against the budget as they are entitled to."
Mayor Anderson grew increasingly animated in his responses to Ms Ferguson.
"Your view of the world is that there will some knight in shining armour coming to rescue us from Whitehall," he added. "You are living in a dream world."
He said the militant council of the 1980s had damaged the city's reputation and left it with a toxic financial legacy.
"You could get better interest rates off Wonga.com [than the militant council got on loans it took out].
"You could ask me 12 times a week, and the answer would always be the same. With the greatest of respect let us get on with doing the job of running the city."