Tories could be running Liverpool for the first time since the 1960s next week with reports the Conservative government is likely to send in commissioners to take over the city council following corruption allegations.
An investigation by Max Caller, a local government inspector, is expected to be made public next week.
Inspectors were sent in by Robert Jenrick, the Local Government Secretary, in December following the arrest of five men including the city’s elected mayor, Labour’s Joe Anderson, who was held on suspicion of conspiracy to commit bribery and witness intimidation.
None of those arrested have been charged, with a Merseyside Police investigation into building and development contracts in the city, ongoing.
Mr Anderson, 63, denies any wrongdoing.
It is only the fourth time commissioners have been sent in to run a local authority and never before on the scale of taking over a city the size of Liverpool.
But Whitehall commissioners could now be set to run the city’s day-to-day operations, according to The Sunday Telegraph.
Liverpool has become a byword for anti-Tory sentiment, the city’s last Conservative MP was 38 years ago and last Conservative councillor lost his seat 23 years ago.
Councillor Richard Kemp, leader of the Liberal Democrats on the council, said: “It’s ironic that the Tories may end up remotely running Liverpool 25 years after the last Tory left the Council.”
Writing on Twitter he added: “The end of a decade of an uncontrolled and dogmatic left wing council will certainly be greater control over our affairs by a Tory Government.”
Liverpool city centre has seen a huge surge of investment in building developments in the last decade.
The focus of Mr Caller’s investigation is on property management, regeneration, highways, contracts and planning at the council over the past five years.
Mr Jenrick is expected to make a statement to Parliament this week that will spell out the findings in the report and what action he intends to take next.
The Labour Party’s selection to replace Mr Anderson in the forthcoming local elections has also run into trouble as the three original candidates were later told by the party not to apply and the selection process re-opened.
Legal action to force the party to re-open the process failed in the courts.
A spokeswoman for the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government spokesperson said: “The Secretary of State has received the independent best value inspection team’s report.
“This is being considered carefully and next steps will be set out shortly.”