Liverpool City Council faces significant challenge, Michael Gove warns

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Liverpool City Council was criticised for its failures in a report earlier this year

A backlog of planning applications is constraining development in Liverpool, the housing secretary has warned.

Michael Gove said the council faced a "significant challenge ahead of them" to provide the services that residents in the city deserve.

It comes after government-appointed commissioners published their first report into the council's progress.

In the document, it outlined how the council was at the "beginning of a long improvement journey".

Liverpool City Council have been approached for comment.

The local authority has been under scrutiny since the arrest of five men, including the former Liverpool mayor Joe Anderson.

It follows an investigation by Merseyside Police into allegations of fraud, bribery, corruption and misconduct in public office linked to building and development contracts in the city.

Mr Anderson, who denies any wrongdoing and has not been charged, subsequently stepped down from his role as the city's mayor.

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Following the allegations, the government announced an investigation into the council's planning, highways, regeneration and property management departments.

Mr Jenrick told parliament in March that inspectors found "multiple apparent failures" which meant he had to act and sent in commissioners to oversee an improvement plan over the next three years.

Following the publication of the report, Mr Gove, the Secretary for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities, said he was pleased to "hear about the steps the council have taken to expose and stop wrong-doing".

"It is vital for Liverpool's transformation that a clear line is drawn between the council of the past and the council of the future," he added.

"The commissioners recognise the hard work, ambition, and determination of the mayor and her cabinet, as well as the corporate leadership team."

He added that the commissioners had shared their concerns about the "council's financial resilience" and welcomed a review by the Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accountancy, which was expected to be completed before Christmas.

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