A damning report into the ‘dysfunctional culture’ at Liverpool City Council has rocked the city but, in an upbeat message, Downtown in Business CEO Frank McKenna insists Liverpool remains on an upward trajectory
Back in 2010, I interviewed Michael Heseltine at a Downtown in Business event.
He reflected on his time in the city during the 1980s. One of his memories was of phoning the Chamber of Commerce and having to leave an answerphone message. He joked that 20 years later, he was still waiting for a call back.
The point he was making was that during that decade, there was no business community in Liverpool, and certainly no private sector voices that felt positively engaged with the city or its decision-makers. Despite the damning findings of the government report released yesterday, the idea that we are in danger of going ‘back to the future’ are a long way off the mark.
Indeed, the outcome and recommendations of the report, allows the city council to reset. It does so with an ability to work in partnership with a much stronger private sector stakeholder group, and one that has confidence in Liverpool’s future.
The investment in and development of Paddington Village and the Knowledge Quarter; the proposed Bramley Moore Dock project; and the awarding of Freeport status are just some of the opportunities and highlights that we can look forward to in the near future.
We must also acknowledge that the chief executive Tony Reeves and his team have, as recognised by the report, already started the process of reform and renewal that is necessary.
Part of what Tony has done so positively is forge strong links with business groups across the city, including DIB. We look forward to continuing working in a positive and constructive fashion with him, his team, and the commissioners moving forward.
I remain optimistic for our city’s future. We are well placed to emerge strongly from the COVID crisis, and we also have a Combined Authority and City Region Mayor that has developed strong proposals and strategies to contribute to that recovery.
Hopefully, we will be able to get together in a series of ‘live’ events to discuss how we can all contribute to the next stage of Liverpool’s growth journey in the coming months and years.