Metro Mayor's blog

21st September

Whether it’s football; rugby, boxing or gymnastics, I think many people in our area, irrespective of their sporting loyalties, expect to be competing at the top of their respective league tables.

As a City Region we are blessed with some outstanding assets - world-class universities, highly successful businesses and above all an abundance of talented and creative people. But, paradoxically, we are facing some very big challenges, highlighted in the recent State of The City Region report.

Across a whole range of economic league tables, including educational attainment; skills, the number of businesses and people in work, we are in the relegation zone – and my job is to change that.

Devolution is our chance to set new levels of ambition and achievement.

I want a high skill, high value economy that creates more businesses, attracts greater levels of investment, develops more entrepreneurs, files more patents - and is more productive and prosperous.

I was recently invited to a Global Mayors gathering in New York under the auspices of Harvard University and former Mayor Bloomberg. It was a chance to share experience and learn from Mayors from cities across the world, delivering transformational change in their cities.

The lessons were clear. Successful cities have inspiring visions and focused leadership. They have clear priorities and can unite politicians, business and communities behind agreed objectives and a shared vision.

One of the most remarkable stories came from the Mayor of Chattanooga - a place that had become a by-word for post-industrial decline. Big ambitions, clear goals and dedicated leadership have turned, what broadcaster Walter Cronkite described as America’s dirtiest city, into a municipal gigabit city.

We know why we’re here, and how our history as the gateway to the first industrial revolution made us the place we are. But what’s our future story?

Without a clear and credible purpose, places decline. Tourism and culture have helped fuelled waterfront and city centre regeneration, but they cannot sustain the future prosperity for all our 1.5 million people.

Next month I am re-joining Mayor Bloomberg at an international conference, paid for by Bloomberg Philanthropies, to look at how small and medium-sized cities carve out their place in the world.    

If our historic prosperity was built on connections – transport, commerce and innovation – I believe future connectivity is the way in which we can punch above our weight on the national and international stage.

It’s why the expansion of our port is vitally important in a post-Brexit world, and it’s why I have been campaigning to make sure Government delivers Cross Rail for the North before it builds London’s Cross Rail 2.

But our biggest challenge, and opportunity, is digital connectivity. We can boast genuinely world-class digital assets - including the UK’s most sophisticated super-computer at Daresbury. And we have cutting edge research facilities like Sensor City and The Materials Innovation Centre in Liverpool which are joint ventures with industry and our universities.

We have a cluster of trailblazing digital and tech companies developing new applications in areas like Virtual Reality and Big Data analysis.

But we need to knit things together at a strategic level so we harness this potential by becoming the most digitally connected City Region in the UK, with a super-fast fibre spine connecting every community and every business in every borough, and connected to the wider world through the trans-Atlantic Hibernia cable which reaches the UK mainland at Southport.

We need to be exploiting our coastal location, our bracing micro-climate and the River Mersey to become self- sufficient in green renewable energy to become Britain’s energy coast.

We need big projects with transformational impact. If docks, trains and canals were the foundations for the First Industrial Revolution then digital connectivity and renewable energy are the platform for the Fourth. They are the Holy Grail for business looking for cities with the right skills, infrastructure and assets.

So this is the message I am taking to the Paris Conference. We are competing against some of the major regions of the world, but we have big ambitions. We’re proud and passionate about our history and confident and optimistic about our future.

To contact me, please either call me on 0151 330 1467 or CLICK HERE to send me an email.

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.

To contact me, please either call me on 0151 330 1467 or CLICK HERE to send me an email.