Six Liverpool councillors suspended for planning to vote against Labour’s budget cuts

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Alan Gibbons, No to cuts

‘refuse to vote for cuts.’

Six Liverpool Labour councillors who signalled their intention to vote against the Labour Party’s budget plans that brought in cuts to the city have been suspended.

Councillors are Alan Gibbons, Lindsay Melia, Alison Clarke, Alfie Hincks, Rona Heron and Joanne Calvert, had planned to vote against cuts that would have had an adverse effect on the lives of the people in Liverpool

All six were unhappy with the planned budget, which includes cuts to social care budgets, a Council Tax rise of up to 2.99% and a new £40 annual green bin charge.

They stated they were prepared to face ‘severe disciplinary action’ from Labour if they voted against the key budget motion – which could see them kicked out of the party altogether.

A note sent to councillors explained that the move means the group are not allowed to attend party or group meetings, but at this point they have not lost the Labour group whip.

If, as they have announced, the group go ahead and vote against the Labour budget tomorrow, it seems likely that they will lose the party whip and have to sit as independent councillors.

If all six lose the Labour whip, they would join three former Labour councillors Sam Gorst, Anna Rothery and Sarah Morton in sitting as independents.

If this were to happen, the grouping would need a further four members to overtake the 12 Liberal Democrat councillors and become the official opposition to Labour.

In a statement released to the ECHO earlier today, five of the Labour councillors planning to vote against their party’s budget said ‘we will not vote for cuts.’

The statement said: “As a matter of personal conscience and political judgement, we have come to the decision that we have no choice but to vote against this year’s Liverpool City Council budget on March 2.

“We have supported attempts to draw up proposals that would amount to a no-cuts alternative. All these efforts have been rejected. The main elements of the budget are largely unchanged since the beginning of the consultation process.”

They added: “We are prepared to accept the consequences of our decision. We were not elected to make life harder for the people we represent.”

In a statement, the group said: “As a matter of personal conscience and political judgement, we have come to the decision that we have no choice but to vote against this year’s Liverpool City Council budget on March 2.

“We have supported attempts to draw up proposals that would amount to a no-cuts alternative. All these efforts have been rejected. The main elements of the budget are largely unchanged since the beginning of the consultation process.”

Labour has now suspended all six councillors.

It is understood the party acted after the group of councillors revealed their plans through the ECHO.

A Labour party spokesperson said: “Liverpool is facing unprecedented challenges following the covid pandemic and 12 years of devastating Conservative cuts.

“The people of Liverpool expect leadership and the Labour council is set to make some tough decisions. Labour’s decisions make sure that the most vulnerable are shielded from Conservative government cuts.

“Given the reality of what our city faces, now is not the time to lose focus on what matters to the people of Liverpool.”

The crunch budget vote will take place from 5pm on Wednesday in Liverpool Town Hall.

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