Frank McKenna, boss of Downtown in Business, answers Joe Anderson’s plea for the business community to support his bid to secure more cash from the Government. Tony McDonough reports
A leading voice in Liverpool’s business community says the Government must end the “unfair burden’ of austerity that has seen vital services in the city cut to the bone.
On Wednesday, Liverpool Mayor Joe Anderson called on business and civic leaders in the city to back his call for more cash from the Government. Over the past decade the city council has seen its budget slashed by £600m – with a further £21m of cuts on the way.
Speaking at a forum organised by business lobby group, Downtown in Business (DIB), at Liverpool John Lennon Airport, Mr Anderson said: Austerity has had a massive impact on our city. The fact is that we have endured huge cuts while other places down south have not been hit nearly as hard. It is both unfair and unsustainable.”
He was backed by DIB chief executive Frank McKenna, who added: “We will certainly be getting behind the mayors’ campaign for fair funding for Liverpool. He is right to say that the city had has to endure an unfair burden during a decade of austerity.
“Given the Government’s narrative about austerity coming to an end, it is right that we should be opening a dialogue with them to persuade them of the case for a ‘levelling up’ in terms of local government settlement here.”
Mr Anderson claimed his ‘invest to earn’ strategy had seen the creation of 4,500 new businesses as well as the development of the Knowledge Quarter and ongoing regeneration of the waterfront. This has helped mitigate some of the cuts but he added the city was still in a desperate situation and said “enough is enough”.
“The budget from 21/22 being proposed would see the council having barely enough to provide statutory services, let alone anything else. That is not where an ambitious city needs to be and I will be writing to major stakeholders and influencers across the city to join me in engaging with the government to have a constructive dialogue and make our case.”
Last year, one of Liverpool’s leading academics and experts in urban regeneration, Professor Michael Parkinson, warned that the city’s finances were now in a worse state than during the Thatcherite and Militant era of the 1980s.