A chance recent hearing of Lord Peter Smith the hugely respected Leader of the Greater Manchester Local Authorities reminded me about the challenge that Merseyside/City Region faces.
Lord Smith is a Labour Party politician whom I came across when I was Leader of Sefton Council and representing our Borough at Regional forums. He is a man of considerable stature, is quietly spoken and someone you can easily talk to; an impressive man.
The fact that he leads what is probably the most effective group of local authorities in England at getting support from Governments of any colour should be a lesson to the sadly dysfunctional local authorities on Merseyside.
The chance hearing of Lord Smith was on Radio 4 where he was being interviewed about the latest deal his group of authorities had done this time with the Coalition Government. And you can bet it was a good deal for Greater Manchester and the Government and was all about inward investment into their sub-regional economy.
Not once did Peter Smith have a go at the Government during the interview so it is reasonably obvious why he gets as good a hearing from the Coalition as he did from Blair’s lot.
Sadly, Merseyside suffers from too many petty-fogging disputes and internal Labour Party rivalries and I have blogged before about how our Transport Authority has seemingly been at the heart of damaging internal Merseyside disputes such as the infamous Merseytram debacle. But Labour leads 4 out of the 5 Merseyside Authorities now so it will have to get its act together just like Manchester did many years ago otherwise crumbs off the table will be just about all that comes our way. But the thing about Greater Manchester is that their local authorities work together for the common good come what may despite them being under differing political control. Yes, I am sure they have their moments but unlike Merseyside’s spats it seems that Greater Manchester does its dirty washing behind closed doors and the public front is always united.
Maybe without Peter Smith they would not be so good at it but whatever their formula for political success across the political spectrum is it’s a formula that Merseyside desperately needs to emulate.