People across Merseyside have expressed dismay at the plan to raise more funds for the Liverpool City Region Combined Authority but the DIB boss says the extra cash is vital. Tony McDonough reports
Liverpool business leader Frank McKenna is backing city region Metro Mayor Steve Rotheram’s plans for a new levy to raise an extra £7.6m from Council Tax-payers.
People across Merseyside have expressed dismay at the plan to raise more funds for the Liverpool City Region Combined Authority, the devolution body headed by Mr Rotheram that covers Liverpool, Wirral, Sefton, Knowsley, St Helens and Halton.
Many city region residents took to social media to oppose the levy saying that too many people were already struggling to make ends meet. In particular, people in Liverpool asked why we needed to fund both an elected mayor in the city and a Metro Mayor.
Mr Rotherham said an appeal to central Government for more funding had fallen on deaf ears and insisted the extra money would amount to no more than 32p a week that the combined authority was delivering “real benefits” for everyone.
And Mr McKenna, chief executive of Liverpool-based business membership and lobby organisation Downtown in Business, backed Mr Rotheram saying devolution can make a real difference to peoples’ lives if it is given the proper resources.
He explained: “It is right that our mayor uses his tax-raising powers to boost the resources available to him to deliver his key priorities. Those priorities all have a direct impact on business growth and job creation and I hope that the wider business community support Steve Rotheram in this move.”
In previous budgets the mayor has resisted implementing a precept on behalf of the Liverpool city region Combined Authority while last year West Midland mayor Andy Street was blocked by council leaders from his region from introducing such a tax.
Mr McKenna added: “It is no good giving someone a badge, only to deny them the tools to get on and do the job. I understand that Steve Rotheram has expressed his frustration at austerity and the impact that has had on local services.
“I appreciate his political rationale for doing so, but if devolution is to progress and become an established part of our future governance model, then implementing a tax for the plans the mayor’s office has is an essential part of that process.
“I would urge his political colleagues on the Combined Authority to support this move, and equally encourage businesses from across the city region to get behind the move.”
The mayors key policy pledges include investment in skills, digital connectivity and transport.”