Metro Mayor candidates call for Liverpool and Manchester to work together more closely

VIDEO: Steve Rotheram and Andy Burnham said the two cities can become the ‘engine room at the heart of the Northern Powerhouse’.

Metro Mayor candidates Steve Rotheram, left, and Andy Burnham, right, with John Lewis, chief executive of SOG
Metro Mayor candidates Steve Rotheram, left, and Andy Burnham, right, with John Lewis, managing director of SOG

Liverpool and Manchester must “cast aside age-old rivalries” to work together for the good of the North West region.

That was the message from Labour MPs Steve Rotheram and Andy Burnham who are standing as Metro Mayors for the Liverpool city region and Greater Manchester, respectively.

Echoing calls that have previously been made by Liverpool Mayor Joe Anderson and Sir Howard Bernstein, chief executive of Manchester City Council, both said the two cities can become the “engine room at the heart of the Northern Powerhouse”.

‘Common interest’

Mr Rotherham, the MP for Walton, and Mr Burnham were speaking at a conference on the devolution of power to big city regions at Runcorn’s Heath Business and Technical Park.

“This is where Andy and I can make devolution work jointly for our two great city regions – and beyond – as we set aside tribal differences to campaign on issues that are in the common interest of the whole North West,” said Mr Rotherham.

Click to watch a video with scenes from the event

“Too many policy ideas are progressed through the prism of what London and the South East needs.

“I want us to make decisions locally – to address local concerns – and challenge inter-regional inequality.”

Pro-business

Mr Rotheram is Parliamentary Private Secretary to left wing Labour Leader Jeremy Corbyn and there is concern among some in the private sector that, under Corbyn, the party may be perceived as anti-business and scare off inward investors.

Seeking to dispel that impression, Mr Rotheram added: “I am on public record as saying I want to be the most business-friendly Metro Mayor possible.

“But I’ll be pro-business – and pro-worker.”

And he pledged to set up a Liverpool City Regional Renewable Energy Company to harness the River Mersey and use offshore tidal energy to power homes, funded through a public/private sector partnership.

Industrial capital

Mr Burnham, the MP for Leigh, said that Liverpool and Manchester working together can turn the North West into the nation’s industrial capital.

He explained: “We need a new partnership that has got to be based on long-term commitment to making the North West the industrial capital,” the former Shadow Home Secretary told an audience of more than 100 business leaders.

“For too long, the voice of the North West of England has been drowned out by London and Scotland.

“The two great City Regions will always be fierce competitors, but where it’s right, businesses do want to see us working together for the good of our region.

“This is becoming more important if we are to help the North West region rise to challenge of Brexit.”

Round table discussion at the Heath Business & Technical Park in Runcorn
Round table discussion at the Heath Business & Technical Park in Runcorn

There was also a round table discussion as part of the event and participants included Everton FC chief executive, Robert Elstone, chief operating officer of Liverpool FC, Andy Hughes, and the operations director of Manchester United’s Foundation, John Eades.

The discussion was chaired by John Lewis, managing director of SOG Group which developed The Heath, also included senior executives from Biotech Energy Services, Cammell Laird, Mexichem, Peel Ports, United Utilities and Liverpool and Sefton Chambers of Commerce.

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