Labour appoints ex-minister David Hanson to lead Liverpool council review

Sienna Rodgers

The Labour Party has appointed former government minister David Hanson, a Labour MP until the 2019 general election, to lead the party’s own review of alleged wrongdoing at Liverpool City Council, LabourList can reveal.

The government confirmed last week that commissioners will oversee parts of the Labour-held local authority after a report by Max Caller found “multiple apparent failures by Liverpool City Council in complying with its best-value duty”.

Minister Robert Jenrick said the report observed a failure in due process across planning and regeneration, scrutiny across highways, proper process on property management, poor governance and an “overall environment of intimidation”.

Steve Reed, the Shadow Communities and Local Government Secretary, responded by telling the House of Commons that Labour accepted “in full” the findings of the report into Liverpool council and would establish its own review.

“The Labour Party intends to appoint a senior figure to lead a review and reassure the people of Liverpool that the Labour Party takes these concerns seriously and will take action against anyone in our ranks who is involved in wrongdoing,” he said.

LabourList understands that work on Labour’s Liverpool Council review will begin next week, and it is expected to report in three months. David Hanson will lead it, helped by Labour peer and former Leeds Council leader Judith Blake.

A Labour spokesperson said: “Labour has appointed former minister David Hanson to lead its review of the issues raised by the Caller report into Liverpool City Council. He will be assisted by Judith Blake, the former leader of Leeds Council.

“Our priority is the people of Liverpool. We will do whatever it takes to tackle the problems set out in the report. And we pay tribute to the vast majority of hard-working, decent and honest people working at the council and as elected officials whose dedication will help to pull us through this difficult time.”

Hanson was born and brought up in Liverpool. He was a councillor and council leader in the 1980s, and he was first elected as Labour MP for Delyn in 1992, serving as justice minister, then security, counter-terrorism, crime and policing minister.

Hanson was a shadow minister under Ed Miliband, first in Labour’s Treasury team and later as immigration minister. He left parliament in 2019, when the Delyn seat was lost to the Tories, and was knighted the following year for political service.

Judith Blake was the first woman to become leader of Leeds Council. She has worked as a councillor since 1996, was awarded a CBE in 2017 and nominated for a peerage by Keir Starmer last year. Her daughter is Olivia Blake, MP for Sheffield Hallam.

The pair, whose names were agreed by Labour’s national executive committee (NEC) officers today, will look into the long-term issues set out in the Caller Report. The party has said it wants to show commitment to tackling the problems identified.

Incumbent directly-elected Liverpool mayor Joe Anderson, who denies any wrongdoing, was arrested in December on suspicion of conspiracy to commit bribery and witness intimidation. He stepped aside from the post soon afterwards.

Labour today announced that Joanne Anderson – not related to Joe Anderson – will be its candidate in the mayoral election on May 6th. She is a Liverpool councillor, first elected in 2019, and will be the city’s first female and first Black leader if elected.

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