Steve Rotheram has set out his ambitious vision for the future underscored by ten major new policy pledges. Describing the devolution process as a journey not a destination, he said that the Leaders of the region’s six districts had not created a Combined Authority merely to access relatively modest additional resources, but to deliver transformational change.
Setting out the need for a step change in ambition and economic performance, he announced the appointment of highly respected industry leader, Brent Cheshire, until recently UK Chair of Dong Energy, as the man who will spearhead plans to harness the power of the River Mersey. His initial task over the next 12 months will be to establish the core business case for the multi-billion renewable energy project.
Steve Rotheram said:
“I am delighted that Brent has agreed to lead this project. It has been debated and discussed for over three decades. Devolution finally gives us the opportunity to deliver a project of this scale, and Brent provides us with the expertise, experience and leadership capability to turn vision into reality.”
Brent Cheshire said:
“I am pleased to accept the Steve’s invitation to head up the special purpose vehicle that will take this project forward. This is a hugely exciting and ambitious vision with the potential to impact massively on the City Region’s long-term economic prospects. Liverpool City Region has delivered world-changing engineering projects in the past, so if it can be done anywhere it can be done here.”
Focussing on the need to grasp the opportunities of the Fourth Industrial Revolution, the Metro Mayor, said the City Region has a unique set of assets, including the UK’s most powerful super-computer at Daresbury, cutting-edge research facilities and a cluster of digital businesses growing faster than Inner London.
To fulfil and accelerate their potential he announced the launch of a six month study to make Liverpool City Region the UK’s most digitally connected region in the UK, by connecting directly to the GTT Trans-Atlantic cable that lands in the UK at Southport, and creating a region-wide fibre spine to guarantee every home, business, university, school and public building the best and fastest possible connectivity.
Steve Rotheram said:
“If trains, docks and canals made us the gateway to the First Industrial Revolution, then world-class connectivity and a plentiful supply of predictable renewable energy can make us the digital gateway to the Fourth. Faster speed, greater capacity and green energy will not only enable us to grow our own digital and technology sectors, it will make us a magnet for investment for global companies wanting the best connections and a carbon neutral energy solution.”
Amongst a series of other radical policy pledges, the Metro Mayor announced:
- Plans to create a unified and properly resourced agency to capitalise on Liverpool’s positive global brand, marketing the City Region internationally and providing one front door for all those seeking to invest and do business here.
- A pledge to deliver a skills revolution by lobbying the government so that the underspend from the National Apprenticeship Levy will be spent locally to roll-out degree-level apprenticeships and create a single UCAS-style city region-wide portal for apprentices.
- A major initiative to tackle the City Region housing shortage by building 25,000 new homes before 2022 in the right places and with a variety of types and tenures to ensure everyone has access to a decent and affordable home.
- Tackle homelessness by working with government to fund a trail-blazing Housing First approach to make sure new homes are made available to those in greatest need as quickly as possible end the scandal of rough sleeping in Liverpool City Region.
- Adopt a brownfield first approach to new housing development by publishing the first ever City Region Brown Field Register, and lobbying the Chancellor to give the area a Stamp-Duty holiday with funds being recycled into remediating brownfield, making them available for new homes.
- Backing up the £460 million investment in new rolling stock for Merseyrail by exploring how devolution powers and bus regulation can be best used to create a fully integrated public transport system for a dynamic and growing City Region.
- Make access to public transport more streamlined and customer-friendly by rebranding and remodelling the current Walrus card to make the City Region a UK exemplar for smart ticketing and new payment technologies.
- Making cross-river transport and movement easier and more affordable by delivering on an election pledge to create a more affordable Fast Tag for Mersey Tunnel users, and announcing the commissioning of the design for a new state of the art Mersey Ferry.
- Setting out the City Region’s future devolution ambitions and begin discussion about how the City Region might to integrate Fire and Rescue, Waste Disposal and powers of the Police and Crime Commissioner into a future Combines Authority Structure..
Explaining that devolution was an opportunity that we simply could not afford to squander, Steve Rotheram said:
“The simple argument for devolution is that local people who are locally accountable know better than Whitehall what our area needs, but it is also about recognising that in an increasingly competitive and changing world, six districts with a population of 1.5 million can be more successful and stronger together.”