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Issue:- 9 February  2012

Liverpool to have Mayoral Model

COUNCILLORS have voted to change Liverpool City Councilís constitution and elect a mayor for the city. The decision will see elections for a mayor take place on 3 May 2012 alongside local government elections. The mayor will take up his or her responsibilities on 7 May 2012. The mayor will be a powerful and influential voice for the city, locally, nationally and internationally. He or she will provide leadership, especially by building the confidence of investors and directing new resources to economic priorities. The vote follows the negotiation of a new "city deal" with central government that will see new powers devolved to the city and the creation of a single investment fund of new and existing public and private money, initially worth £130 million but with the potential to grow from £500m to £1 billion. The deal is not dependent on the city having a mayor, but central government has given a clear signal that moving to a mayoral model will provide the accountability it needs before the funds and new powers are handed over. The vote, at an extraordinary council meeting, was passed by 62 votes to 3, with 12 abstentions. The next step will be the formal notice of election, to be published no later than Tuesday, 27 March. Nominations will close at noon on Wednesday, 4 April 2012. The elected mayor will be in power for a period of four years and will select their cabinet from the cityís 90 councillors. The council will continue to deliver statutory and frontline services. Its 90 elected members will also fulfil a formal scrutiny role of the mayorís activities.

The city deal:-

1. The deal will create a single investment pot of public and private funds, initially worth £130m, but with the potential to grow from £500m to £1bn. The initial pot will include £75 million of new money from government;

2. Among the mayorís new powers and responsibilities under the deal would be:-

The establishment of the first Mayoral Development Corporation outside London, supported by a Local Finance for Growth package. This includes:-

A new Enterprise Zone for North Liverpool and the Central Business District which would offer incentives for companies to set up business in Liverpool and encourage existing city-based business to grow;

The potential to capture the entire benefit of any growth in business rates from the Enterprise Zone for use in five other key economic areas of the city; North Liverpool, the Knowledge Quarter in the city centre, Stonebridge Cross, the Eastern Approaches and Speke-Garston (referred to as Mayoral Development Zones);

Acting as the chair of a new investment board which would bring together all of the Cityís assets such as land, commercial and residential buildings including assets formerly owned by the North West Development Agency (NWDA);

Developing a new approach to welfare reform in Liverpool which includes investment in specific skills which match the jobs that are available in the city.

Electing a mayor is an option that has been open to Liverpool City Council since the Local Government Act 2000, but the city deal makes moving to this model a priority for the first time following the negotiation with central government for additional powers and control of resources.

Read more the details of the city deal click here.

Timetable for change:-

7 February 2012 - Liverpool City Council voted to alter constitution and move to mayoral model.

27 March 2012 - Deadline for publication of Notice of Election.

4 April 2012, noon - Nominations for mayor close.

3 May 2012 - Mayoral and local government elections take place.

7 May 2012 - Elected Mayor assumes office.

23 May 2012 - City Council annual general meeting.

Email us now to news24@southportreporter.com and let us your views on this move by Liverpool City Council. Do you agree or disagree?

Council urges staff to volunteer

A new initiative is giving big hearted council staff the chance to leave their workplaces, get out into communities and help change lives.  The city council is giving its staff the freedom to carry out voluntary work which improves peopleís lives and makes local neighbourhoods better places to live.

The councilís new Employee Volunteering Scheme has been launched. It aims to create a city council volunteer army by allowing staff to apply for up to five days additional paid leave a year, either in the form of a single working week or five individual days, spread throughout the year.  It could be for a community clean-up, to decorate a youth club or a care home, or to assist an elderly or disabled person; anything which benefits local people and the wider community.

The scheme aims to enhance the city councilís involvement in the community, while giving employees the opportunity to broaden their horizons and develop new skills. Cabinet Member for Housing and Community Safety, Councillor Ann OíByrne, has been instrumental in driving forward the introduction of the scheme.

Ann OíByrne said:- "We know a number of our staff already give up their time during evenings and weekends for the good of the community; and at the same time, many are keen to volunteer, but canít find the time. We hope this scheme will make a real difference, by encouraging lots more staff to volunteer, while enabling those who already volunteer to do even more. Itís vital that the city council supports the charitable work of our staff, because we recognise the important contribution this work makes to the wider community. Itís also a great way for us to invest in the development of our staff, giving them valuable skills and experience, as well as the opportunity to meet new people and explore new challenges."

The scheme has got off to a great start, with the first batch of council officers already taking advantage of it. Veronica Mannix, a council finance officer, is a Marie Curie volunteer who spends a minimum of three hours a week visiting people with terminal cancer in their homes, providing company, advice and a listening ear. The scheme has given Veronica more flexibility to carry out her role. 

Ann OíByrne said:- "I can now undertake some daytime visits rather than relying on evenings and weekends, which in turn has helped the people I visit who often spend more time alone mid-week."

Licensing officer Karl Lloyd volunteers with Liverpool West Derby Sea Cadets, one of 400 units making up the UKís largest maritime youth charity. 2 evenings a week, he trains young cadets in nautical skills and helps them achieve their Duke of Edinburgh Award. He has just used his five additional days leave to take a group, who had never ventured out of the city before, to Weymouth. 

Karl said:- "It is fantastic to have the backing of your employer to go out and do something like this."

Community cohesion development officer Gosia McKane is using her time to increase the work she does with community organisation, Merseyside Polonia. Gosia, who is originally from Poland, founded Polonia in 2009, to strengthen the bonds between the cityís Polish population and other local communities. The new scheme means she has more time to spend on the future development of the organisation. 

Gosia said:- "My experience of coming to Liverpool has been very positive. I want other Polish people to feel that too. Itís a great city that they can be an active member of. Iím really happy to have this extra time to volunteer and make a difference in the community."

The Employee Volunteering Scheme aims to support an increased take up of volunteering by council staff, and encourage them to continue volunteering in their own time outside the scheme. All those who take part need to provide evidence of how their work will directly assist the community, and the developmental benefits they will gain from their work.  The scheme is open to all council employees who have completed their probationary period with the authority, except for teachers, school-based staff and secondary's.

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