Liverpool's mayor Joe Anderson has been arrested on suspicion of conspiracy to commit bribery and witness intimidation.
Anderson has been an outspoken supporter of a controversial licensing scheme in the city, which saw the Labour controlled council in a war or words with Boris Johnson’s government.
Shortly before Christmas 2019, Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick turned down an application from Liverpool council to extend its then-existing licensing regime, which would have seen the city’s licensing go on until 2025. It would have applied to all its 55,000 private rented properties.
Several months of dispute with the government meant the licensing regime expired and the city had no scheme at all.
The government is now thought to be considering a revised scheme, involving licensing for 45,000 properties.
Mayor Anderson called the original licensing regime ”life saving” and claimed the council had “a moral obligation” to tens of thousands of renters who had been helped over the previous five years.
He said at the end of the expired scheme there were 51,764 property licences in force, issued to 10,074 licence holders, and the council had conducted over 34,000 compliance checks of properties. It identified 65 per cent not fully compliant with licence conditions at first visit.
The authority’s officers discovered what the council described as a “staggering” 3,375 incidents of the most serious category 1 and 2 hazards across 1,971 inspections. These ranged from fire safety hazards to damp and mould, disrepair and excess cold issues.
However, over the weekend it was revealed that Anderson and four others were held as part of an investigation into the awarding of building contracts in the city.
The BBC reports that a year-long police probe called Operation Aloft focussed on a number of property developers.
Liverpool City Council says it is co-operating with Merseyside Police.