Liverpool Council’s chief executive has pledged to work “much more closely with business” in a bid to move the city on from the Max Caller report, which last month uncovered shocking revelations into how the city has been managed.
Tony Reeves acknowledged the council had been “through the ringer in recent times” – referring to Mr Caller’s findings into property, regeneration and highways procurement at the authority, which led to Whitehall commissioners being sent to the city.
Speaking at the Good Business Festival on Wednesday – which saw hundreds of people not social distance or wear masks as part of the Government’s events pilot – he was asked if the council’s priorities had changed after Covid.
Referring to the council’s plan for wellbeing and inclusive growth, first published in March 2018, Mr Reeves said while that long-term project is the same – “the means of getting there have fundamentally changed”.
Mr Reeves told the ‘Changing Business For Good Event’: “To be brutally and honest, and I might as well be, because everybody knows, the council has been through the wringer over recent times.
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“The status quo is not an option for us, we need change very, very rapidly and we need to re-earn the trust and respect of not just the people of Liverpool, but all our stakeholders including business.
“So I think that puts us very much on the front foot, and despite the difficulties – and I’m not in any way playing those down – I want to use that challenge to us as a way to turn it into an opportunity.”
He said while lots of councils and businesses will now be trying to get back “to where they were before”, that was not an option for the local authority.
He added: “[Post-pandemic], lots of places will be trying to get back to where they were before – but we can’t.
“We need to really move on and have something forward-looking, and I think the world has changed and I think we’ve changed
“This is a great opportunity for us to position the council much more closely to business and we’ve worked hard on that over the last 12 months.”
Pledging more collaborative work with business across different sectors over the coming months and years, he added: “We’ve done a lot of listening and responding to Covid, and I think that’s been seen for example, in how the hospitality sector has reopened twice in Liverpool – and done it better in fact than a lot of other places.
“I do think the way in which we work will be fundamentally different going forward.”