Leahy: Britain undersells its regional cities

Sir Terry Leahy explains in the Telegraph why he believes that the UK’s regional cities are being undersold and remain hidden in London’s shadow. He says that if we are to rebalance the economy then we need to get better at articulating our strengths and demonstrating the unique opportunities of doing business in British cities. He adds that most of the UK’s regional cities are well equipped with talent and capital but what are the missing is the boldness and belief to unlock potential and capitalise on the growth opportunity.

The Daily Telegraph, Business, Page: 2 (27th May)

– But Liverpool undermines itself

Well yes, but in Liverpool/Merseyside the big problem is appalling political leadership with Labour Council Leaders at war with each other as to whom is going to be the local top dog. I saw it first hand when I was Leader of Sefton Council – then it was all about trying to unseat the Labour Chairman of Merseytravel. Now it’s a damaging row about which Labour Council Leader/Elected Mayor is going to be top dog. It’s gone on for years on Merseyside and Labour’s factionalism has been to the obvious gain of Greater Manchester just down the East Lancs Road/M62.

With thanks to the LGiU

Thank you message from Manchester

www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-merseyside-26853149

In the light of yet more internal Liverpool City Region squabbling amongst our 6 Labour Council Leaders a voice from down the East Lancashire may be heard saying:-

Thanks for making a right old mess of things over there in the Liverpool City Region; we can’t tell you how much we appreciate it.

Your squabbles mean more investment for us as Governments of any colour continue to laugh and despair in equal measure at your inability to get along with each other and construct a common front to take your City Region forward.

We have benefited from your infighting over many years and now have a tram system second to none in England because the last Labour Government pulled the plug on funding for Merseytram as a consequence of your dysfunctional local government Merseyside family.

Please keep up the good work; we are relying on you to continue to muck things up for Merseyside, despite Mr Heseltine trying to help you, so that Greater Manchester gets the investment that Governments will not give you. We are counting on you remember and thanks once again.

Best wishes

The Leaders and residents of Greater Manchester.

Oh how I wish this this was a political joke but sadly Labour continues to take Liverpool City Region in differing directions all at the same time. If Labour’s Merseyside bosses really think that taking legal action against each other will benefit the Liverpool City Region then I don’t know which planet they are living on!

Liverpool/Merseyside Combined Authority – ‘you couldn’t make this up!’

www.liverpoolecho.co.uk/news/liverpool-news/liverpool-mayor-joe-anderson-consult-6905085

The Liverpool Echo has the story.

Even I did not think things could get as bad as this despite my previous postings on the matter. The sad implication is that despite the disputes of past between Labour Leaders across Merseyside lessons have not been learned about why a united front to promote and back Greater Liverpool, or whatever you wish to call this sub-regional area, is vital. It’s as though because Greater Manchester is successful by being ‘united’ Merseyside refuses to united because it will look like we are copying the Mancs!

The 6 Labour Leaders should hang their heads in shame; they have not represented us they have shunted us into a siding.

As Cllr. Nigel Ashton said to me, ‘you couldn’t make this up’.

Sefton’s budget meeting was not all bad news – a glimmer of hope re. Combined Authority

As well as the big party political bust up between the ruling Labour Party and us opposition Lib Dems over Labour’s budget for the Council last Thursday there was another matter on the Council agenda of importance.

I have commented before on the recently created Combined Authority for Merseyside, why Sefton Lib Dems would not support its setting up and subsequently the ridiculous farce because the 6 Merseyside Labour Council Leaders, who are responsible for setting it up, can’t even agree what to call it!

The report before Sefton Council last Thursday was at face value a technical one all about constitutional type issues for this new body but we saw an opportunity to try to make a significant move for the betterment of this flawed project. Our move was to propose an additional clause which read as follows:-

Commits Sefton Council to positively lead an exploration of all the realistic options to expand the Combined Authority to encompass those areas of Lancashire and Cheshire that are presently not a part of the Combined Authority but may aspire to such.

No one was more surprised than me, as the mover of this amendment, when the Labour Leader got to his feet and agreed with me! In Merseyside Labour’s horizons are usually very low but it seems that light has penetrated Labour’s darkness on this matter.

There are two important reasons why Merseyside has been seen to be and indeed has been dysfunctional and unsuccessful in terms of its local governance. Firstly, its Labour-run Councils over the years have not got on or even had a common agenda – fighting like ferrets in a sack comes to mind! I saw some of this at first hand when I was Leader of Sefton and there were then 2 other Lib Dem Council Leaders from St Helens and Liverpool Councils. I think it fair to say that we 3 Lib Dem Council Leaders often used to wonder if Labour had any other agenda than trying to unseat the Labour Chairman of Merseytravel because that issue did the rounds so many times. Most of all this was symptomatic of Labour’s long-standing Merseyside internal rivalries.

But the other problem is that Merseyside is far too small. It does not represent the real travel to work area of Liverpool with places such as West Lancashire and Ellesmere Port being outside of the governance structure. A glance across at Greater Manchester shows you how right that balance can be and how wrong Merseyside has always been since it’s creation in 1974.

Greater Manchester has virtually always displayed a public face of a common agenda and in doing so it has been successful. Merseyside has never had a common agenda and the consequences have been failure. Greater Manchester is clearly a governance area that makes sense and which encompasses the vast majority of Manchester’s travel to work area. Merseyside is too small and it does not represent Liverpool’s travel to work area.

Maybe a small step was made last Thursday to address the geographical problem, I certainly hope so. Whether Labour can sort out the generations of infighting across Merseyside is quite another!

Only on Merseyside could its leaders look so dysfunctional!

www.liverpoolecho.co.uk/news/liverpool-news/merseyside-super-council-called-halton-6719391

The Liverpool Echo has the story.

You could not make this up! And down the East Lancashire Road in another place, where the Councils do get on, the investment will continue to made by Governments (of whatever colour) and their council leaders will be having a good old chuckle at this latest example of self inflicted Greater Liverpool embarrassment.