Report urges Mersey Metro Mayor Steve Rotheram to focus on five key policy areas

Heseltine Institute for Public Policy and Practice has published a report, An Agenda for Liverpool City Region, which identifies what the priorities need to be if we are to accelerate growth. Tony McDonough reports

Harnessing the power of the Mersey is key to Liverpool city region growth, says the report

 

Academics from the University of Liverpool have identified five key areas of the economy they say Liverpool City Region Metro Mayor Steve Rotheram needs to focus on.

The university’s Heseltine Institute for Public Policy and Practice has published a new report, An Agenda for Liverpool City Region, which identifies what the priorities need to be if we are to accelerate growth.

Its study comes in the same week as analysis from accountancy firm EY forecast that Manchester would achieve GVA growth of 2.4% a year until 2020 – the highest in the UK and leaving Liverpool way behind on just 1.4% a year.

The five priorities identified by the Heseltine Institute are:

  • Developing an industrial strategy for the Liverpool City Region
  • Meeting the challenge presented by deprivation
  • Harnessing the power of the River Mersey
  • Enhancing the city region’s standing as a destination for students and graduates
  • Developing a strategy for regeneration of town centre retail

Mr Rotheram has already addressed more than one of these issues in recent statements. He is particularly keen on a Mersey Barrage scheme which could power 200,000 homes.

Meet the challenge

Report author Dr Alex Lord said: “In commissioning this work there was a very clear intention by the Heseltine Institute to support local policy makers through doing what our universities are best at – producing new data and intelligence and conducting primary research. 

“We hope that the findings presented meet this challenge and provide policy makers with a new body of evidence on the key questions that confront the Liverpool city region.”

To address the first priority area, the report says the region is “extremely well-placed” to leverage the Government’s £1bn Industrial Challenge Research Fund and should do so through the development of its own industrial strategy.

Urban corridor

The report also makes the point that this work would be enhanced by further research on the economic geography of the North West’s urban corridor between Liverpool and Manchester, as part of a new “progressive phase” between the two cities of the region.

Liverpool City Region Metro Mayor Steve Rotheram

 

On the long-standing issue of deprivation, the report shows that “the character of poverty experienced in one part of the city is often qualitatively different to that experienced in another”.

It suggests the development of a new breed of spatially targeted policies, as well as further input from universities to understand “in a fine-grained way” and address “in a concerted fashion” deprivation in its different forms across the region.

Graduate retention

The report finds that the proportion of students from LCR who choose to stay and study in Liverpool is relatively high, but there is still work to do on enhancing the profile of the city region as an attractor of graduate level employees post-graduation.

To address this, the report recommends the creation of a City Regional Strategy on Graduate Attraction and Retention, comprising all stakeholders, and with a “clear set of goals” to deliver the highly-skilled workforce the region needs.

Dr Paul Redmond, the University of Liverpool’s director of student experience and enhancement, said: “What’s needed locally are more graduate-level opportunities so that ambitious and highly-skilled graduates are encouraged to remain in the region to develop their careers.”

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