The Liberal Democrats recently passed a motion laying the foundations to tackle “supermajority problem councils”, such as Manchester’s one-party state, at their Autumn conference in Brighton.
The motion called for Single Transferable Vote at all local elections and for all council meetings to be streamed live on the internet. This was a recent source of great controversy in Manchester when leader Richard Leese twice banned opposition questions about a councillor under police investigation and the live streaming was mysteriously pulled off air.
The ‘Power for People and Communities’ motion also gave councillors the right to hold service providers to account, strengthen transparency and planning rules and abolish Police and Crime Commissioners.
In 2014, Manchester Council fell into a complete one-party state with every one of the 96 councillors held by Labour, with many branding it ‘unhealthy’. Liberal Democrats have since made a comeback with former Manchester Withington MP John Leech leading the opposition.
The policy passed at the conference in Brighton will strengthen scrutiny on councils like Manchester, disabling them from becoming a one-party state and ensuring council meetings are always publicly viewable.
Liberal Democrat Communities Spokesperson Greg Stanton said:
“Manchester is a textbook case of what happens when a party gets a super majority elected under an outdated electoral system; opposition questions are banned, live-streams mysteriously stop working, contractors are not held to account, decisions made behind closed doors and everyone passes the buck.
“I’m delighted this motion has passed and will lay the foundation to tackling supermajority problem councils like Manchester.”
In a recent damning report that exposes the crisis at the top of policing, elected police and crime commissioners were reportedly described as “bleeding hopeless”, “not that bright”, abusive and politically driven.