A children's charity boss has announced plans to stand as an independent candidate in Liverpool's upcoming mayoral elections.
Stephen Yip said "it's time to let the light in" on a council which has become mired in scandal and chaos.
The founder of city children's charity KIND, which is based in the Georgian Quarter, today revealed to the ECHO his intentions to stand ahead of May's vote, saying he wants to "press the reset button" on how the city is run.
Stephen, 66, who has managed his charity, KIND, which helps disadvantaged children across the city, for the past 46 years, says if elected he would call on councillors "to put political persuasions second and the city first" to work together on Liverpool's recovery, both economic and reputational.
In a statement confirming his plans to stand, Stephen condemned the damage to the city's reputation brought about by ongoing criminal investigations and recent arrests, including that of current mayor Joe Anderson, as part of probes into city developments.
He said: "Recent events have brought embarrassment and disgrace to our city.
"We desperately need real leadership – the kind that reaches out and brings people together. Times are tough. Austerity and Covid-19 have both taken a heavy toll on our city. More struggles lie ahead.
"Liverpool needs unity, now more than ever. But you can’t have unity without trust. And trust in our city leaders has been shattered."
He says it's time for "radical change, fresh ideas and people from outside the existing city council to fix what’s clearly broken."
Referring to the current chaos within Liverpool Labour over a shambolic mayoral candidate selection process which may yet result in attempts by the ruling Labour group to remove the role altogether ahead of the election, Stephen, a one-time party member who left over the Iraq war, says he believes it's clear that local politics has to move beyond party loyalty.
Speaking to the ECHO as he launched his campaign, Stephen said: "The city's broken at the moment and we've got to press the reset button and try again.
"I'm standing as an independent candidate and I bring no party political baggage with me. I am not reporting to anyone apart from the people of Liverpool.
"I'd say that parties here have been tainted and there is the question of trust, but I do think there are enough good people within the council to put political persuasions second and the city first."
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Stephen says he has been receiving calls by Labour candidates who are saying they will support him and may even stand as independents, although has refused to give names.
He said: "There are candidates out there who are saying to me we don't know how Labour will address these issues we are facing as they haven't yet.
"It's now summed up with Labour saying let's abolish the mayoral role. Why not do that when Joe was arrested? I'm not enamoured with the role of mayor and if there was the demand to abolish it I wouldn't stand in the way, but what Labour are doing now, is they're trying to take the ball away if someone gets close to the goal."
While Stephen, who says he would not take the full mayoral salary if elected, is inexperienced at council politics and is yet to declare his manifesto or reveal details of his policies, he says he does have a clear "vision of a pathway out of the crisis Liverpool is facing."
He said: "It's a once in a lifetime opportunity to change the way we operate and the way politics operate in this city. We need a politics that is honest, transparent and accountable.
"I'm not a politician and I'm not going to make snap policy decisions. I don't know yet what's going on with the finances so I can't say we'll spend millions on this or that - we need to look at the finances first and listen to what people tell us.
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"We will get a good cabinet of the same mind, work with council officers, the chief executive, sit together to see how to solve the problems the city is facing."
Stephen says he is keen to address the reputational damage brought about by the multitude of stalled development schemes which have blighted the city over recent years, some of which have been the subject of ongoing police investigations.
He said: "We need to see how we salvage our reputation internally and internationally, and we will do that, because we will say as a council we will sort out the problems that have caused this.
"We will address the issues and sort them out and if that means external people and looking at legality then so be it. There has to be accountability and transparency.
"We will welcome investors and developers who are open and transparent and make it clear we do not want and will not have cowboys. The city has suffered enough - you only have to look at the empty sites."
Another area Stephen says he's determined to tackle is the poverty faced by many families across the city, something he understands only too well through his own experiences growing up in Liverpool, as well as his work with KIND.
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He said: "We've just packed 150 crisis food hampers. I'm fully aware of the problems the city faces for the poorest members here which badly needs to be addressed, I've worked for more than 40 years with children and families in need.
"When I was a kid, I grew up with my dad, who was a Chinese seafarer, and my mum who was from Liverpool and my ten siblings in Chinatown. We didn't know it, but we grew up poor. At Christmas we got a hamper at the door, I thought we'd won the school raffle.
"It was only years later, when I was at Quarry Bank School and on the community action committee did I twig that those hampers we received, they were relief hampers.
"That was the situation my own family was facing, and when I set up KIND we decided to do our own Christmas hampers, which we give out to families every year - I understand the problems families face around poverty in this city.
"We need to show there is more to life, that it can be different and better. As a city we should be looking at how we can best help these families and individuals in need, it is one of my top priorities.
"I don't have all the answers but there is a pathway out of this. We're not going to sort it out in six months and we can't do this on our own, it will all need to be a group effort. It's time to let the light in at the council, work together and clean up this mess."