Liverpool’s Metro Mayor talks of his ambition to ‘kick doors open’ to drive further investment
Liverpool’s metro mayor, Steve Rotheram, says he will “kick doors open” to drive further inward investment for the region and that the city cannot just depend on its historical legacies.
Speaking to TheBusinessDesk.com, Rotheram, who has held the position since May 2017, said: “They say Rome wasn’t built in a day but they didn’t report to me! I am impatient for change. We have opportunities for transformational change here across the city region.”
Rotheram said that the legacy of Liverpool, including the Beatles and its football clubs, had seen the city’s growth boost in the past but that the region couldn’t simply rely on this.
“Because of its legacies, Liverpool did used to have doors open for it. Now I am here to kick doors open. In some ways this is about going back to the future. We want to be leading the way in the fourth industrial revolution. That means having improved digital connectivity, ports that are connected and have the capability to move more freight and sustainable power sources.
“We will see further investment by making those services – those aspirations – become reality.”
Liverpool City Region has seen major funding boosts from central government since the devolution agreement. This has included £134m from the transforming cities fund and more than £30m for adult education.
There has also been indications that the City Region will gets its share of the £28m housing fund.
“We need to do more. Not just to catch up with the cities in the UK ahead of us; we need to compete globally and ensure Liverpool is again a global brand. We will deliver that through transformational projects,” he added.
Rotheram said that digital connectivity was key and that a fibre optic link between the region and North America would spearhead that, with the region becoming well-known for its data analytics capabilities. He added that the energy produced by the River Mersey project would also be a catalyst for productivity and growth.
“This makes us and attractive place as a city region for businesses in the future,” said Rotheram.
He added that a major £460m investment in rail across the region and the ability to move freight from the ports in Liverpool east towards Yorkshire – a journey that currently takes nine hours from the region to deliver imported biomass to Drax in Yorkshire – was also essential.
Acting Chief Executive for the Liverpool City Region Combined Authority, Frank Rogers, added: “We have commissioned an independent economic study around improvements for the west to east connectivity and it would add £20bn GVA to the City Region and it would cost less than £5bn to deliver that.”
Rogers said the region was ‘evolving’ due to the devolved powers and budget it now held. “We can’t do it alone and in the last ten months we have set out a long-term strategic approach to put Liverpool City Region where it needs to be.”
He added that skills was at the “top of the agenda” for the region, with the lowest level 3 NVQ attainment levels recorded in the region that needed to change for the future growth. “They are the staff of the future. We want to see interventions earlier,” added Rogers.