14 July 2017
Why devolution really does matter
My two biggest challenges over the next three years will be to convince people that devolution really does matter, and that the idea and identity of Liverpool City Region makes sense.
Firstly, we need to understand that the concept of a City Region is not just something invented by people in Whitehall or town halls, but is something rooted in everyday life. Very few people in our area live their lives in only one of our boroughs. Whether we are going to work, returning home, visiting hospital, shopping, eating out, accessing culture or going to the beach or park; we’re crossing boundaries.
Whether we define it as a City Region, or just the place where we live, we’re increasingly connected and the lines on maps are becoming more and more blurred.
Of course, we’re not looking to ignore or devalue local identities. One of the great strengths of our area is its diversity. We’re rightly proud of our towns and villages and their distinctive identities and histories, but we also understand and value the things we have in common.
City Regions are also extremely important to our future economy. We live in one of the most unbalanced countries in Europe with far too much power and wealth concentrated in London and the South East. Growing our City Regions is the only way we are going to rebalance our economy and spread wealth and opportunity.
It’s in City Regions – big urban areas with a critical mass of assets and infrastructure - that businesses can grow, jobs can be created and technological innovation can be nurtured. Thriving City Regions make more successful and prosperous nations.
For Liverpool City Region, this means coming together and realizing that we can be more successful in attracting investment, developing skills and supporting business when we co-operate than we can when we compete against each other. It means making policy that works for everybody, like having a high quality and affordable transport system that makes sure opportunities created in one part of our region can be accessed by people living in every other part.
Devolution and the creation of a Mayoral Combined Authority gives us the chance to think and plan across boundaries, to pool our resources, and make use of extra money and powers from Government for our mutual benefit.
As your first directly elected Metro Mayor, my job is to provide the leadership and vision we need to make the most of this opportunity, but it’s also to be accountable and accessible. For too long too many big decisions about our lives, our public services and our infrastructure needs were taken by people too far away by people who didn’t know or care about our region.
Bringing big decisions closer to home and making them on the basis of what matters most to people living here is what devolution is about. It’s common sense and it really does matter.