Original shortlist for national HQ and two smaller hubs has been whittled down to Birmingham, Greater Manchester and Leeds – a decision that has angered Joe Anderson. Tony McDonough reports
Channel 4 has been branded “hypocritical” by Liverpool Mayor Joe Anderson after the city was rejected as a possible location for the broadcaster’s new national headquarters.
Liverpool was up against Bristol, Cardiff, Glasgow, Greater Manchester, Leeds and the West Midlands for the main headquarters, employing 300 people, or one of the smaller hubs. But that list has now been whittled down to Birmingham, Greater Manchester and Leeds. A decision will be made in the autumn.
Mr Anderson could not hide his anger at the decision and also hit out at the Government for its lack of investment in transport infrastructure in Merseyside. He said one of the reasons give for rejecting Liverpool was the lack of good connectivity.
The Mayor had joined forces with Liverpool City Region Metro Mayor Steve Rotheram to champion the city’s bid to bring the broadcaster and 300 of its staff to Merseyside, saying Channel 4 would “find a soulmate in Liverpool”.
Local MPs, business people, MPs and colleges and universities across Merseyside all backed the bid.
Mr Anderson said: ““Today’s decision by Channel 4 is disappointing and hypocritical. Their values are supposed to be about adding value, creating jobs, opportunities and growth, rather than choosing locations where the BBC or ITV are already.
“This was a chance for them to be truly vibrant and assist parts of the UK that need it the most. And they forgot those values. The city’s plans for developing its flourishing TV and Film sector remain on track, not least in creating one of Europe’s biggest studios at the former Littlewoods site.
‘Force for good’
“This bid has been a force for good as it has helped serve to strengthen relationships between the education and creative sectors and forge new partnerships which will serve Liverpool well over the coming years and decades. I would also like to thank everyone who worked on the bid and all those who supported it so enthusiastically.
“One of Channel 4’s reasons for not choosing Liverpool was due to connectivity issues which is a welcome confirmation, from a London-based organisation, of the damage a sustained lack of investment in the region’s infrastructure has done to our city by the failure of successive governments to listen to our fears and concerns.
“I have now written to the Minister for Transport to demand a meeting to address this issue. The current transport policy for the north is negatively impacting on the fortunes of cities like Liverpool and the potential to grow its economy, which will be even more important to the UK economy post-Brexit.
“In light of the billions being invested to better connect London, it is time Westminster and Whitehall wake up to the realities of overlooking the north and how it is limiting the future growth of UK plc.”
A strong early favourite for the new HQ was Birmingham with the city’s Conservative Mayor Andy Street saying he was confident his city would “get the nod”.
Liverpool has a strong history with Channel 4. When it first went on air in November 1982 one of the first programmes to be broadcast was long-running Scouse soap Brookside, which for several years was one of its top-rated shows. Brookside creator Phil Redmond was one of the biggest advocates for bringing Channel 4 to Liverpool.