Liverpool City Region Mayor Steve Rotherham has been in town to back Labour’s call for “hope not hypocrisy” in Southport’s Dukes Ward by-election.

The message is the central theme of Labour’s candidate, Frank Hanley, who says that the town has directly suffered because the Liberal Democrats and Conservatives in government have devasted Sefton Council’s budget by agreeing to £200m in cuts, so far.

“You only have to look around to see how those cuts have affected our town and local services. It’s a crushing amount and the effects are plain to see. Sefton needs better funding, our town needs better funding, we need progress. Yet John Pugh while MP voted for those cuts, Ann Pearmain as a Tory activist, supported them. Now they stand for the council they undermined and now attack and criticise.”

This justifies the hypocrisy charge says the Labour hopeful, who is a former local government Head of Services in Bradford :

“Take the Lord St tarmac issue, when the council is being forced to reorganise children’s centres because of the cuts, can nearly half a million pounds extra for red tarmac really be justified? Both Mr Pugh and Mrs Pearmain supported the cuts but instead of accepting any responsibility for the tough choices that have to be made, they jump up and down in protest. That is hypocrisy in my book.”

“To add a further generous dollop of hypocrisy, neither the Tory nor Lib-Dem groups in Sefton Council actually opposed the decision when it was discussed and passed back in April. Only once it appeared in the local press months later did they start their complaints. We need to work for the good of our town not indulge in these petty political games. Southport deserves better than that.”

It’s a message that LCR Mayor Steve Rotheram believes has real merit:

“We want Southport to progress and the Combined Authority is all about bringing all parts of the region together for the benefit of us all. Southport is an important element in that but it needs a spirit of cooperation not confrontation to make it work. Frank has extensive experience in local government and community relations and his approach is very much about bringing all elements of the community together to achieve success. He’d be a real asset to the town if elected.”

Dukes Ward candidate Mr Hanley says Southport needs change:

“Southport and Dukes are being sold short by hard-faced men and women who are not interested in Southport’s progress, only their own progress in Southport. That has to stop. We need Labour councillors here who will work for the good of the town and who will fight austerity and fight for better funding. We need to build not bluster. We need hope, not hypocrisy.”