The official boundaries of the city of Liverpool are far too small – and it matters

Liverpool from Everton Park. Image: Getty.

In April I made the case for a bigger Liverpool City Region (let’s call it Greater Liverpool to avoid confusion). This month, I’ve decided to return to one of my favourite subjects: size.

The City of Liverpool local authority has an area of 112km2. The City of Leeds local authority area is 552 km2 – nearly five times as big.

Does this matter? Yes. In fact, when you consider the fact High Speed 2 is projected to serve the latter and not the former, it seems to matter a very great deal.

The base level for a lot of statistical analysis of city regions is local authority area or borough. These are then sometimes combined with neighbouring boroughs to produce statistics for pseudo-conurbations; the resulting statistics are then often used by central government to allocate resources. (All of the statistics referenced in this article were sourced directly from the Office for National Statistics.)

So the fact Leeds is bigger means it has a massive in-built advantage over other, less generously defined, cities, even if the latter are more contiguously urban. Indeed, the City of Leeds local authority area actually includes not only large rural areas, but also towns which are not physically part of the Leeds contiguous urban area at all.  

So what do the statistics tell us about the cities of Liverpool and Leeds in their current forms?

The easiest way to even things up, to help us to compare like with like, is to add neighbouring boroughs to Liverpool, until it’s the same size as Leeds.

Then we can revise and compare the above numbers again and get a truer picture of the relative performance of each place. 

The City of Liverpool is 112km2; Wirral Metropolitan Borough is 157km2; Knowsley MB is 87km2; St Helens MB is 136km2; Halton is 79km2. That is a total of 571km2.

The combined statistics for this pseudo-Liverpool – which is actually the official Liverpool City Region, minus the Metropolitan Borough of Sefton – are as follows:

The resulting numbers show that this pseudo-Liverpool local authority area is of a similar physical size to the City of Leeds, and has a much better GVA and a much larger population. That suggests that Liverpool deserves at least the same amount of investment and opportunity as Leeds. It goes someway to proving the old adage, popularised by Mark Twain, that: “there are lies, damned lies and statistics”. 

Unfortunately, misleading statistics can have a profoundly negative impact on the life opportunities of enormous numbers of people. So why doesn’t central government try to do something to level the playing field? Perhaps it could treat the area served by the Liverpool Underground, centred on Liverpool city centre, as a single city for statistical purposes – and use that when making its investment decisions.

For example, here is a map with a 20 mile radius circle drawn around Liverpool Town Hall. It looks uncannily like Greater Liverpool as referenced above and, indeed, correlates rather well with map of the Liverpool underground:

This pseudo-Liverpool would be the largest Core Cities local authority area in the UK, with the largest population, making this newly identified pseudo-Liverpool local authority area the UK’s most significant city after the four capital cities. So, bring on the appropriate level of central government largesse and respect, I say – not to mention the avalanche of inward investment.

For completeness, here are the physical sizes of all of the UK Core Cities local authority areas in ascending order of size. The obvious question is: why are the Yorkshire ones so generously allocated?

  • Nottingham – 75km2
  • Bristol – 110 km2
  • Liverpool – 112km2
  • Newcastle – 114km2
  • Manchester – 116km2
  • Cardiff – 142km2
  • Glasgow – 175km2
  • Birmingham – 268km2
    Sheffield – 368km2
  • Leeds – 552km2

Incidentally, as forecast in June, HM Revenue & Customs has now signed a 25 year lease for India Buildings in Liverpool city centre, to be used as one of its 13 national hubs. Now all we need is for many thousands more Civil Service jobs to be moved to the eminently suitable Liverpool city centre, and we will be well on our way to becoming a new London.

Let’s hope Liverpolitan Northern Powerhouse Minister Jake Berry gives them a big nudge in our direction.

Dave Mail has declared himself CityMetric’s Liverpool City Region correspondent. He will be updating us on the brave new world of Liverpool City Region, mostly monthly, in ‘E-mail from Liverpool City Region’.

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Here are the seven most extreme plants we’ve so far discovered

Artist's impression of Kepler-47. Image: NASA.

Scientists recently discovered the hottest planet ever found – with a surface temperature greater than some stars.

As the hunt for planets outside our own solar system continues, we have discovered many other worlds with extreme features. And the ongoing exploration of our own solar system has revealed some pretty weird contenders, too. Here are seven of the most extreme.

The hottest

How hot a planet gets depends primarily on how close it is to its host star – and on how hot that star burns. In our own solar system, Mercury is the closest planet to the sun at a mean distance of 57,910,000km. Temperatures on its dayside reach about 430°C, while the sun itself has a surface temperature of 5,500°C.

But stars more massive than the sun burn hotter. The star HD 195689 – also known as KELT-9 – is 2.5 times more massive than the sun and has a surface temperature of almost 10,000°C. Its planet, KELT-9b, is much closer to its host star than Mercury is to the sun.

Though we cannot measure the exact distance from afar, it circles its host star every 1.5 days (Mercury’s orbit takes 88 days). This results in a whopping 4300°C – which is hotter than many of the stars with a lower mass than our sun. The rocky planet Mercury would be a molten droplet of lava at this temperature. KELT-9b, however, is a Jupiter-type gas giant. It is shrivelling away as the molecules in its atmosphere are breaking down to their constituent atoms – and burning off.

The coldest

At a temperature of just 50 degrees above absolute zero – -223°C – OGLE-2005-BLG-390Lb snatches the title of the coldest planet. At about 5.5 times the Earth’s mass it is likely to be a rocky planet too. Though not too distant from its host star, at an orbit that would put it somewhere between Mars and Jupiter in our solar system, its host star is a low mass, cool star known as a red dwarf.

Freezing but Earth-like: ESO OGLE BLG Lb. Image: ESO/creative commons.

The planet is popularly referred to as Hoth in reference to an icy planet in the Star Wars franchise. Contrary to its fictional counterpart, however, it won’t be able to sustain much of an atmosphere (nor life, for that matter). This because most of its gases will be frozen solid – adding to the snow on the surface.

The biggest

If a planet can be as hot as a star, what then makes the difference between stars and planets? Stars are so much more massive than planets that they are ignited by fusion processes as a result of the huge gravitational forces in their cores. Common stars like our sun burn by fusing hydrogen into helium.

But there is a form of star called a brown dwarf, which are big enough to start some fusion processes but not large enough to sustain them. Planet DENIS-P J082303.1-491201 b with the equally unpronounceable alias 2MASS J08230313-4912012 b has 28.5 times the mass of Jupiter – making it the most massive planet listed in NASA’s exoplanet archive. It is so massive that it is debated whether it still is a planet (it would be a Jupiter-class gas giant) or whether it should actually be classified as a brown dwarf star. Ironically, its host star is a confirmed brown dwarf itself.

The smallest

Just slightly larger than our moon and smaller than Mercury, Kepler-37b is the smallest exoplanet yet discovered. A rocky world, it is closer to its host star than Mercury is to the sun. That means the planet is too hot to support liquid water and hence life on its surface.

The oldest

PSR B1620-26 b, at 12.7bn years, is the oldest known planet. A gas giant 2.5 times the mass of Jupiter it has been seemingly around forever. Our universe at 13.8bn years is only a billion years older.

Artist’s impression of the biggest planet known. Image: NASA and G. Bacon (STScI).

PSR B1620-26 b has two host stars rotating around each other – and it has outseen the lives of both. These are a neutron star and a white dwarf, which are what is left when a star has burned all its fuel and exploded in a supernova. However, as it formed so early in the universe’s history, it probably doesn’t have enough of the heavy elements such as carbon and oxygen (which formed later) needed for life to evolve.


The youngest

The planetary system V830 Tauri is only 2m years old. The host star has the same mass as our sun but twice the radius, which means it has not fully contracted into its final shape yet. The planet – a gas giant with three quarters the mass of Jupiter – is likewise probably still growing. That means it is acquiring more mass by frequently colliding with other planetary bodies like asteroids in its path – making it an unsafe place to be.

The worst weather

Because exoplanets are too far away for us to be able to observe any weather patterns we have to turn our eyes back to our solar system. If you have seen the giant swirling hurricanes photographed by the Juno spacecraft flying over Jupiter’s poles, the largest planet in our solar system is certainly a good contender.

However, the title goes to Venus. A planet the same size of Earth, it is shrouded in clouds of sulfuric acid.

The ConversationThe atmosphere moves around the planet much faster than the planet rotates, with winds reaching hurricane speeds of 360km/h. Double-eyed cyclones are sustained above each pole. Its atmosphere is almost 100 times denser than Earth’s and made up of over 95 per cent carbon dioxide.

The resulting greenhouse effect creates hellish temperatures of at least 462°C on the surface, which is actually hotter than Mercury. Though bone-dry and hostile to life, the heat may explain why Venus has fewer volcanoes than Earth.

Christian Schroeder is a lecturer in environmental science and planetary exploration at the University of Stirling.

This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.