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'WE MUST AGREE TO FIGHT CRISIS TOGETHER'.

A LEADING Liverpool politician today urged the city's two main party leaders to set aside their differences to tackle a looming financial crisis at the council.

The intervention of Cllr Richard Kemp, who is the Liberal Democrat leader at the Local Government Association (LGA), follows last week's revelation that Liverpool faces a budget black hole of more than pounds 90m in the next five years.

Tough decisions will need to be made if the "wholesale cuts" in front line services are to be avoided, Cllr Kemp has warned.

"Traditionally we will face this by having a big row at council, blaming each other and the Government and the Americans and Uncle Tom Cobley and all," he said in a letter to council leader Warren Bradley and Labour leader Joe Anderson.

"If we are to protect the services needed by the people and communities that need them most we need to set aside party politics and work together to make the partnerships really work," he added.

Last week the city's treasurer Robert Corbett warned councillors that by 2017 the council could have a deficit of pounds 122m.

Mr Corbett warned that "the city's spending aspirations will need to be significantly constrained and reduced" in future years, heralding the need for "imaginative solutions, bold decision-making and strategic leadership".

Cllr Kemp states in his letter: "We only need to look at the Government's budget books to see that even at the best we will be coping with revenue budgets for all public services cut by 10% in real terms over the next four years.

"This could be the best position we are in - finances could be even worse depending on how much the Government is borrowing.

"If we are to find further real savings they need to be made in the public sector as a whole.

"I hope though

CALL: Richard that the big fight will not be Lib-Dem against Labour but the Council against bureaucracy, silos and inefficiency throughout the public sector.

"It doesn't matter who wins the next General Election, it doesn't matter who wins the next local election because we will have to deal with reductions in income of up to 10% in real ter ms.

"That is a bigger enemy than each other."

Cllr Kemp . COMMENT: PAGE 10

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CALL: Cllr Richard Kemp
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Publication:Liverpool Echo (Liverpool, England)
Date:Aug 12, 2009
Words:385
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