Well, the Liverpool City Region Mayoral election is over, and the overwhelming favourite won. What a surprise. So what next? Mayor wars? Does our new metro mayor have any qualifications in cat herding? (I bet that wasn't on the application form).
Anyway, congratulations to Steve Rotheram on his victory. Let's hope he proves to be as successful as all of us locals require.
I have watched every single minute of every Liverpool City Region Combined Authority monthly public meeting since it was formally established on 1 April 2014. (My, don't things take a long time in the UK.) Now obviously I deserve a medal for this because, as you would expect, these meetings are mostly boring, and some of the members are mumblers, which can be difficult. However, it has to be said that they are always positive and collaborative in tone, and they are mostly played out in public. The fact that the political members of the Combined Authority are all Labour obviously helps in this regard (a lesson for the Parliamentary Labour Party perhaps). So it is hoped that it will be relatively easy for Labour mayor Rotheram to slot into the new role.
But first, all present must work out how not to step on each other’s toes. The Liverpool Echo once published a picture of the elected leaders of the six constituent Councils of Liverpool City Region, each of which have equal power within the Combined Authority. They are, in alphabetical order:
- City of Liverpool mayor Joe Anderson;
- Wirral council leader Phil Davies;
- St Helens council leader Barrie Grunewald;
- Sefton council leader Ian Maher;
- Knowsley council leader Andy Moorhead; and
- Halton council leader Rob Polhill.
Liverpool City Region Mayor Steve Rotheram will work with these six men to take forward his strategic plan. He will have powers over a £900m 30 year investment fund, education and skills, housing, planning, and transport, and will work on a plan to integrate health and social care.
These seven men will have enormous responsibility and power to affect the lives of everyone in Liverpool City Region. They can help to make this area massively successful again – if they work together selflessly, a new golden age beckons.
We have all the fantastic attributes required for that – that is why such a large conurbation evolved here in the first place – and nothing has changed as far as the natural elements are concerned. There is evidence for the extent of our human capabilities, too. Mark Carney, the Governor of the Bank of England, reminded us in his Roscoe Lecture at Liverpool John Moores University on 5 December 2016 that:
"[In] the middle of the 19th century, Liverpool was in the midst of a golden age; its Custom House was the national Exchequer’s biggest source of revenue."
The stars are aligning for us again, with the likes of the recent expansion of the Panama Canal, and the corresponding £400m expansion of the Port of Liverpool, at Liverpool2, to cater for world's largest mega container ships. There are many other big projects already going on here, too.
Post Brexit and Trump, politicians can no longer glibly declare that Liverpool is on the wrong side of the country, when in fact we have always been physically located in the centre of the UK. Liverpool already handles 45 per cent of all transatlantic cargo. It was also the home of one of the first American Consulates on foreign soil, established in 1790. Here’s a recent picture of the building:
Image: John S. Turner/Wikimedia Commons.
We just have to hope that our magnificent seven do not start acting like cowboys but instead concentrate on successfully working together for the mutual benefit of us all. We are all Liverpolitans now.
Incidentally, people around here are predicting that it is likely, come June, that the most politically influential “one of us”, to quote Mayor Rotheram's election slogan, won’t be the mayor of the Liverpool City Region at all. Rather, it’ll be a Liverpool-born Conservative Cabinet Minister. More on this next month.
Dave Mail has declared himself CityMetric's new Liverpool City Region correspondent. He will be updating us on the brave new world of Liverpool City Region every month in “E-mail from Liverpool City Region”.