Analysis Breaking Exclusive

Exclusive: Liverpool mayoral selection ballots delayed. Party sources say candidates will be re-interviewed, with one topic the O’Byrne car park cash concerns

Worry among supporters of left candidate that concerns about rival may be used by party as opportunity to undermine

Left to right: Cllrs Anna Rothery, Wendy Simon and Ann O’Byrne

The selection process to choose Labour’s mayoral candidate in Liverpool has been delayed after the party decided to re-interview the three candidates. Ballots to allow local Labour members to choose their preferred representative were due to land on doormats this morning, but have not been sent pending re-interviews on Friday.

The SKWAWKBOX understands from party sources that one of the reasons for the delay – and one of the topics to be brought up on Friday – is Cllr Ann O’Byrne’s involvement with the ‘Beautiful Ideas Company’ (BICo) car-parking and loan/investment business.

Serious concerns were raised in a 2018 report to the city council about BICo’s cash transactions, investments, loans and accounting, including:

  • a sum of £20,000 authorised by a right-wing councillor when he was a director of the company and O’Byrne was an adviser – which was used to employ O’Byrne’s daughter
  • unreceipted cash transactions into and out of the company
  • a cash-only car park surprisingly reported as far from full on match days, despite being one of the closest to the city’s two main football stadiums
  • investments and loans to companies that then rapidly ceased trading
  • conflicts of interest as cash went to companies with close links to BICo directors
  • no checks on cash expenses and improper accounting

BICo also reportedly spent £241,000 on ‘admin’.

Two of the city’s more notoriously right-wing Labour councillors were closely involved with BICo at the same time as Cllr O’Byrne, with one authorising all the businesses loans and investments and the other, like O’Byrne, acting as an adviser to the BICo board.

Despite their political position and O’Byrne’s pitch to the left of the party, both councillors are reportedly involved in O’Byrne’s campaign. SKWAWKBOX covered these concerns almost two weeks ago and contacted Cllr O’Byrne for comment, but despite a promise that she would call back to discuss the issues the call was never returned. An intermediary who then made contact subsequently declared himself unable to provide answers, except that he was sure that O’Byrne had nothing to hide.

SKWAWKBOX has again tried to reach Cllr O’Byrne today to ask about the party’s reported intention to raise these issues with her on Friday and to ask whether she would now finally put a comment on the record. She had not responded by the time of publication.

Supporters of left-wing candidate Anna Rothery – whose strong campaign, local popularity and endorsements by former party leader Jeremy Corbyn, the Unite union and a string of other high-profile figures from the left of the movement appear to have taken her rivals by surprise – fear that the national party will nonetheless try to use the delay and repeated interview process to undermine Rothery, even as they address the unresolved questions about O’Byrne’s BICo involvement.

The third prospective candidate in the all-woman shortlist for the Labour candidacy is Wendy Simon, who as deputy mayor to Joe Anderson became the city’s acting mayor when he stepped down after his arrest on suspicion of conspiracy to commit bribery and witness intimidation.

A government investigation into the council’s financial dealings is expected to be released before the city’s residents vote in a new mayor. Labour has now begun to email members advising that ballots will be received on Monday 22 February. The emails do not explain the delay.

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  1. Sounds like the right wing have got their dirty fingers in the pie again.Maybe the election of Rothery will stop the stampede of the establishment Labour right wing.?

    1. Maybe the election of Rothery will stop the stampede of the establishment Labour right wing.

      It’s a nice notion.

      Never gonna happen, though. All’s that sinecures like mayor’s are, are inveiglements into careerist politics and corruption at worst, unnecessary beuracracy at worst …yes, at worst as well.

      I see no point in the position; the public aren’t asked if they wanted it. Fat joe potato head and chums only took it to get the central government bung… Cui bono?

      Well £90k went on Fatboy’s PRIVATE legal expenses.. there’s a clue. It most definitely hasn’t been the locals.

      1. It’s a nice little number. Chains, chauffeurs with hats, exes- polish, dry cleaning, tooth whitener (works wonders on gold), scissors and aides. Is Mac the Hat standing for his own party? Mind the bricks. Out of interest, isn’t this one for Corner of the Yard? It does pong a little bit but I have no legal training so it’s probably all quite normal in local government.

  2. And just as a reminder to right wing and left wing,Socialists don’t like to see elections..stage managed or rigged.We have seen too much of it this past few years and I personally don’t tolerate that type of political manoeuvre.I saw enough of that from the sharp suited Lawyer “Tony Blair..the knight…stop it..!

  3. My team Bolton wanderers won last night 3..2. With only eleven minutes left they scored 2 goals and one home goal.How would you feel if your team despite struggling this last few years,resorted to rigging and fixing a football match…dissapointed?…..disgusted?…or would you leave?..Thats how I feel about socialism.I don’t want to see us resorting to fixing an election campaign and at the moment I am feeling disillusioned and apalled at the way we are seeing the Lawyers are running rings around the socialist movement..not Labour they are too far gone and that battle was lost..By the way Bolton wanderers may have dropped from the premier league,but decent people who took over the bankrupt club have rebuilt on public awareness and working with the local community…thats a lesson for all of us be honest and don’t sink to the levels of the establishment Labour party and rig the system..We are a union of the working-class and we can do better than this?

    1. Joseph
      Its your club and your party, decent people will take over your party very soon then its something we were all taught from a very young age in history
      Never Again

  4. I only have one problem with Anna Rothery: at a recent Labour event in favour of free speach she asked for Esther Giles not to be platformed because according to Anna Rothery, Esther is transphobic.
    I happen to support trans sisters right to self id. However, I don’t consider sisters that see problems with self id transphobes but rather as having a different opinion.and in need of persuasion.
    The heavy tactics of Anna Rothery don’t seat well with me, she needs to reflect and apologise. Esther Giles is presently suspended from the Party because as a Secretary of her CLP, she allowed motions supporting Corbyn and critical of Starmer and Evans to be debated and passed.
    The cheek of Anna Rothery to insist that unless Esther wasn’t allow to speak, she would not speak at the even. I don’t know if Ms Rothery appreciates the irony of her denying Esther her freedom of speech.

    1. Maria
      Agree, I dont see the issue as a red line but something that we are working our way through but at the moment where we agree to disagree
      Truth be told I dont know the answer

    2. And for the record i voted for Esther Giles and look forward to her becoming our Treasurer and ultimately General Secretary

    3. Good one. What nice people they all are. Just imagine if they had some power? Local government is a sewer.

    1. Joseph – You’re the one trying to undermine Labour’s electoral prospects.


    The Labour Party is re-opening applications for its Liverpool mayoral candidate.

    The shock move comes after days of silence and confusion regarding the selection process.
    Three candidates had already been shortlisted to replace Joe Anderson as the party’s candidate for the forthcoming mayoral elections.

    They were Acting Mayor Wendy Simon, former Deputy Mayor Ann O’Byrne and current Lord Mayor Anna Rothery.

    But last week in a surprise move, with ballots expected to be delivered and voting to begin, the process was suddenly suspended and all three candidates were re-interviewed on Friday.
    Those candidates heard nothing back from the party over the weekend, with frustrations growing about the party’s handling of the situation.
    And today an email to members states that Labour is taking the unprecedented move of re-opening the whole application process.
    The email states: “The role of Liverpool Mayor is a high profile and hugely important figure. The people of Liverpool deserve a Labour Mayor and the Labour Party needs to select the right candidate who can deliver an election win, stand up against the Conservatives, lead Liverpool out of the coronavirus crisis and fight for the regeneration and the resources that the city desperately needs.
    “After careful consideration, the Labour Party has determined that applications for the position should be re-opened in order to allow the Liverpool Labour membership to choose from an alternative shortlist of candidates.”

    A revised timetable has now been put in place, which will run as follows:
    • Nominations to be received by noon on Thursday 25 February
    • Interviews conducted on Monday 1 March
    • Ballots distributed on Monday 8 March
    • Ballots close at noon on Monday 29 March

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