DOWD UNDER PRESSURE
Mark Dowd, the man who makes the trains run on time across Merseyside, could be facing the end of his long stint as Chair of Merseytravel.
Transport sources suggest that the challenge may come from within Cllr Dowd’s own Labour party and even more controversially may come from the Liverpool Labour Group.
Any move by the city to take over the chair is likely to be viewed warily by outer boroughs that have jealously guarded key posts on the city region wide bodies that control waste, fire, police and travel.
Apart from Cllr Dowd (Sefton), the chair of the Police Authority Bill Weightman comes from Knowsley as does Cllr Tony Newman who chairs the Fire Authority. Meanwhile the Recycling and Waste Authority is headed up by the appropriately named Cllr Joe De Asha from St Helens. I hear Liverpool could be targeting his post as well. That won’t go down well with the St Helens Council leader Marie Rimmer whose relations with Mayor Joe are said to be poor.
Fears of these attempted Liverpool takeovers have been heightened by the election of Joe Anderson as mayor. He believes the post should cover the city region and may get government backing as he slowly tries to widen his influence.
Cllr Dowd may be vulnerable because a local newspaper has given extensive coverage to a report by the District Auditor questioning how millions of pounds had been spent by Merseytravel on consultants without the contracts being put out to tender.
Tory Wirral MP Esther McVey and Lib Dem peer Lord Mike Storey have now called for an investigation.
Mark Dowd, a man well used to the rough and tumble of Merseyside politics has hit back saying the District Auditor had found no substance in most of the claims and where there needed to be improvement, this was being done.
The problem for Cllr Dowd is that the District Auditor’s findings follow a highly critical report on the governance of Merseytravel under Mark Dowd by fellow Labour councillors. Perhaps this paves the way for a takeover bid at the annual meeting next month.
CHESHIRE ON THE MARCH
Manchester and Liverpool better watch out. Cheshire is tired of being depicted as the home of footballers wives and the famous cheese.
With poverty still a major problem in our big cities, it is often tempting to look at the lush acres to the south and think the county hasn’t any problems.
Liverpool, Manchester and to some extent Lancashire have been successful in drawing attention to their problems and getting investment.
Cheshire missed out on an enterprise zone although the ones in Liverpool, Daresbury and Manchester Airport are right on its borders.
Now the drive is on to get the whole of Cheshire as well as Warrington working together. At an impressive Westminster Day in the House of Commons a positive message was sent out drawing attention to the economic advantages of business locating in the county.
The Chancellor and Tatton MP George Osborne came along on his birthday. Pete Waterman (a member of the Cheshire and Warrington Local Enterprise Partnership) gave a rousing speech in support of HS2 and a room near Westminster Hall was set aside for admiring parliamentarians to sample Cheshire fare.