Mayors Joe Anderson and Steve Rotheram dismiss claims of rift

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Joe Anderson and Steve Rotheram
Image caption,
Joe Anderson and Steve Rotheram deny any breakdown in communications.

Claims of a rift in the relationship between Liverpool mayor Joe Anderson and metropolitan mayor Steve Rotheram have been dismissed by the two men.

Opposition councillors claimed the pair were "not co-operating" after Mr Anderson decided to stop attending Combined Authority cabinet meetings.

Liberal Democrat leader Richard Kemp accused them of "behaving like seven-year-olds in the school playground".

Mr Anderson said he had a "fantastic" relationship with Mr Rotheram.

Mr Rotheram said there was "a very strong determination" on all sides to "grasp the devolution opportunity for the benefit of all our communities".

Former Liverpool Walton MP Mr Rotheram was elected metro mayor for the Liverpool City Region earlier this year.

Mr Anderson also ran for the newly-created post and later said he was "heartbroken" at the result.

Image source, PA
Image caption,
Liverpool mayor Joe Anderson failed in a bid to become mayor for the Liverpool City Region

Mr Anderson said his decision to stop attending Combined Authority cabinet meetings was to focus on an increased workload, adding that his deputy Ann O'Byrne would attend in his place.

However, Mr Kemp said he was "distressed" that the two mayors were apparently "just not cooperating for whatever reason".

He accused them of showing a "lack of commitment" to devolution in the region.

A Liberal Democrat motion at a Liverpool City Council meeting called on Mr Anderson to "fully commit to working on and with the Liverpool City Region cabinet, and to reinstate the staff that he has withdrawn from the City Region's operations to ensure that it is able to carry out its strategic functions on behalf of the people of Liverpool".

The motion was rejected by the majority Labour council.

Mr Rotheram said: "Mayor Joe Anderson has made a massive contribution to the transformation of Liverpool and the evolution of our devolution deal.

"We are immensely fortunate to have a leader with his experience and skills within the city region, and our working relationship will be one of the key foundations of our future success."