Buses, apprenticeships and school standards need to be ‘top priority’ for new Metro Mayor

Think Tank Centre for Cities makes its recommendations on what the Liverpool City Region Metro Mayor should tackle first following May’s election. Tony McDonough reports.

Skills and education need to be top priority for the new Metro Mayor, says Centre for Cities
Skills and education need to be top priority for the new Metro Mayor, says Centre for Cities

Transforming the bus network, apprenticeships and school standards are the three key issues Liverpool city region’s new Metro Mayor needs to tackle immediately after May’s election, a leading think tank says.

Centre for Cities today sets out its analysis of the policy areas where the new mayor can “hit the ground running”.

Candidates so far

The Metro Mayor election takes place on May 4 and so far four candidates have entered the race.

Clear favourite is Labour candidate Steve Rotheram, currently the MP for Walton in Liverpool.

The Conservatives has put up Merseyside businessman Tony Caldeira, Carl Cashman will run for the Liberal Democrats and Tom Crone for the Green Party.

Policy priorities

Centre for Cities has identified the following key policy areas they believe the new mayor should focus on:

  • Transform the local bus network. Centre for Cities says this would enable people across the city region to have better access to jobs and opportunities. It says a good start would be to integrate the routes run by different bus providers, to make the system easier to use and ensure that different routes don’t clash.
  • Increase the number of “quality” apprenticeships. The think tank says Merseyside has a higher than average share of adult residents with no formal qualifications. One way to tackle that problem is to make more high-level apprenticeships.
  • Address below-average school standards. The analysis has identified low skill levels as the single biggest obstacle to boosting wages and jobs in the city region. It lags below the national average. Addressing poor performing schools will be critical in tackling this issue, its says, and should be a long-term priority for the new mayor.

‘Quick policy win’

Alexandra Jones, chief executive of Centre for Cities, said: “Liverpool’s Metro Mayor will face many challenges when they take office, including acting on their campaign pledges, preparing the city-region for Brexit, and establishing the new mayoral office.

“To make a success of the role, it’s vital that the mayor acts quickly to address the biggest issues that the city region faces.”

“The Centre for Cities analysis includes one ‘quick policy win’ to set the tone for the mayor’s time in office, along with two long-term strategic priorities for the city-region.”

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