New trains for the Merseyrail network, ultra-fast broadband, and investment in science and technology will help Liverpool city region move past the COVID crisis, says Metro Mayor. Tony McDonough reports
Nine investment projects worth more than a combined £500m will drive the Liverpool city region’s recovery beyond the coronavirus crisis, Metro Mayor Steve Rotheram says.
Mr Rotheram has identified the nine projects, which all began or accelerated last year, as having a high strategic value and can help restore the city region’s momentum. Prior to the COVID-19 epidemic, the city region’s economy was growing by 3.5% a year.
He highlighted examples of key investments and projects in transport, digital infrastructure, advanced manufacturing, skills and culture. And he also referred to the importance of longer-term strategic projects and the essential requirement for substantial Government support.
“Over the last ten years, our business base has also grown faster than national rates, with real strengths in; retail, culture and visitor economy, health and infectious disease control, advanced manufacturing and high-performance computing,” said Mr Rotheram.
“Looking back at last year shows that we have been continuing this progress across the city region and in our key sectors. With funding available to us because of devolution, we invested more than £180m last year in strategic schemes to continue to grow our economy for the benefit of all residents in our city region.”
The nine projects, included in the newly-published Liverpool City Region Combined Authority 2019-20 Annual Review, are:
- New trains for the Merseyrail network – costing £460m, the 52-strong new train fleet is being tested on the network and its estimated they will offer a £70m economic boost to the city region.
- Manufacturing Technology Centre (MTC) – A £15m funding package for the world-leading MTC was approved in October. Now established in the Liverpool Science Park, the MTC bridges the gap between university-based research and industry.
- Ultrafast Digital Connectivity – The city region-wide project to install 220km of ultrafast digital infrastructure got underway in January. The project will connects across all six city region boroughs to the Hartree supercomputer in Halton.
- 600km cycling and walking network – Work started last autumn on the first stage of what was then a £16m project to create 600km of new and upgraded cycling and walking routes. Just last month the Metro Mayor announced that this investment was to increase to over £30m.
- Shakespeare North Playhouse – A £10.55m investment in the Shakespeare North Playhouse in Prescott, Knowsley. This iconic project will celebrate Knowsley’s links with Elizabethan drama and Shakespeare himself.
- Eureka Mersey! Children’s Museum – A £6.6m investment approved in July is supporting the creation of the Eureka! Mersey visitor attraction at Seacombe Ferry Terminal, creating a £12m world-class visitor attraction for six to 14-year-olds, with an additional area dedicated to 0-5 year olds.
- Runcorn Station Quarter – An £18.2m scheme to transform access to Runcorn Station and regenerate the vicinity of the station, the first stage of this programme will deliver a transport hub that links the station to Runcorn Town Centre.
- Moss Nook, St Helens – Moss Nook is a large, complex brownfield site, historically used for mining and a number of industrial processes and £2m, will be used to support the remediation and infrastructure work necessary for development of up to 900 homes.
- Adult education and skills – The Combined Authority has been ensuring that the city region’s colleges have the buildings and equipment they need through the Skills Capital Fund, which has distributed £16m in the last year alone.