Is Liverpool really poorer than Manchester? It depends how you count

The Mersey Gateway Bridge, which links Runcorn to Widnes. Image: Getty.

Back in September 2017 I compared some statistics for Liverpool and Leeds – after first resizing Liverpool to give it the same physical area as Leeds, so as to make for a fairer comparison. Using my chosen metrics, Liverpool won out fairly substantially.

This exercise was quite popular, and yielded interesting results, so I have decided to revisit the theme this month. This time I have chosen to focus on three different versions of Liverpool. I’ve also included statistics for Greater Manchester, as a reference point.

Here are the three versions of Liverpool I’ve chosen, ranked in my preferred order:

1. The true metropolitan area which I’ll call “Greater Liverpool”, which I defined and described here. That consists of nine English local authority areas (Cheshire West and Chester, Halton, Knowsley, Liverpool, St Helens, Sefton, Warrington, West Lancashire, Wirral), plus two in north Wales (Flintshire and Wrexham). 

2. The stunted official Liverpool City Region. That consists of just six of the English local authority areas: Halton, Knowsley, Liverpool, St Helens, Sefton, Wirral;  

3. And, purely for completeness, the City of Liverpool single local authority area. This, while being the core component, is not the whole story as far as economic discussion is concerned. 

My own view is that the Greater Liverpool metropolitan area represents the true independent functional economic area around here. On this point I concur with this seminal 2011 report titled ”Rebalancing Britain: Policy or slogan? Liverpool City Region – Building on its Strengths”, written by Lord Heseltine and Sir Terry Leahy. All of the statistics referenced in this article were sourced directly from the Office for National Statistics.

So, what do the statistics show for the first three versions of Liverpool, mentioned above? To give these numbers some context I’ve also included the figures for Greater Manchester – that is, the 10 English local authority areas of Bolton, Bury, Manchester, Oldham, Rochdale, Salford, Stockport, Tameside, Trafford, Wigan.

As can be seen, when Greater Manchester is compared to the Greater Liverpool metropolitan area, their economic performance is very similar. Indeed, the truly remarkable discovery from this exercise is that the GVA per head of Greater Liverpool and the GVA per head of Greater Manchester came out exactly the same, at £21,626.

Incidentally, if a combined road and railway crossing was built across the River Dee between the Wirral peninsula and North Wales, as shown on the map above, it would, for example, bring Rhyl to within a half hour journey time of Liverpool city centre. It’d also be likely to have a very positive impact on the Denbighshire and Conwy local authority areas’ economies, by bringing them directly into the Greater Liverpool metropolis. 

The map shows two potential locations for a River Dee crossing. Option A, between West Kirby and Talacre, is about eight miles in total; and option B, between Heswall and Holywell, is about 10 miles in total. Both options connect to the M53 and into the existing eight lanes of road tunnels; and to the Liverpool Underground railway tunnel, under the River Mersey directly into Liverpool city centre.

While we’re at it, the River Dee is one of eight sites that have been identified as optimum for a tidal barrage in the UK. Here’s a video of one at work in France: 

 

Such a development would also complement the proposed Swansea Bay Tidal Lagoon project in South Wales

To take account of such a development, I’ve also calculated the numbers for a greater, Greater Liverpool  which includes the Denbighshire and Conwy local authority areas. That increases the GVA and population substantially, whilst reducing the GVA per head figure:

 

One last thing. If, because of a national border, only the nine local English local authority areas’ statistics had been included in the Greater Liverpool figures, then Greater Liverpool’s GVA per head for 2015 would have increased to £21,667. That’s actually higher than Greater Manchester’s £21,626. Would that have made the headlines, do you think?

Dave Mail is 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’ and he is on twitter @davemail2017.


 

 
 
 
 

How getting a dog made me hate London less

A dog called Martha. Image: Jamie Ross.

I never have been anything but a staunch hater of London. Growing up in what a friend from Chicago called “a forest reserve”, my entire life has been split between a suburban one in a leafy town near Dayton, Ohio and an urban one, spent in stupidly pretty, and still fairly leafy, Edinburgh. I moved to London for a hot second in 2016, hated my job as well as my surroundings, and left, pretty much immediately.

And then, almost two years later, I was offered my current role at the New Statesman, and I packed up my shit and dragged my reluctant boyfriend with me to do it all over again. I sort of enjoyed my summer in London – but I felt strongly that living in the city would never feel like anything other than a necessary evil.

I live in – this is your moment to laugh and call me a posh prick – Notting Hill. It’s a decent location, has more trees and parks than other parts of the city, and, most importantly, is the closest I could get to replicating my old neighbourhood of Stockbridge in Edinburgh, which I loved dearly. But even this isn’t enough to entirely counteract the fact my physical surroundings, on my commute to the office by the Temple, made me feel constantly claustrophobic and stressed. London is cold and unfriendly, compared to many parts of this country, and it is filthy – not in a snobby, prissy, precious fuckhead way, but in a “My life expectancy has probably dropped by three years breathing in this polluted air and stepping on broken glass” way. For my first few months in London, in the middle of the heat wave, walking the streets was like walking through an endless sludge: this was not a city I liked nor one I, really, wanted to live in.

Until I got a puppy.

The one condition my boyfriend imposed when he agreed to trudge down to London with me was that we find a flat where our letting agreement said that we could have dog. So, three months after our move, we got Martha, a twelve-week-old black cockapoo.

Getting her changed our lives in a lot of ways. It’s made it impossible for us to leave the house without having a human being on attendance to watch her like a hawk. It means I now have to wake up at 6:45am every day, weekends included, so that she can take a shit. She has improved our lives remarkably - I mean, we have a living floof doing sweet and adorable shit in our house – but she has changed things a lot.

And the thing I least expected this goddam dog to change has been the way has made me feel more integrated into this godforsaken city: she’s made me appreciate London, even with its downsides.

Actually, something else happened, without which I don’t think my point of view would have changed. Almost immediately after getting Martha – and I mean, like, within hours – I contracted a disgusting cold. The day after that cold cleared up, I got violent conjunctivitis, like the disgusting seven-year-old I am, which took a week to get over.

These two illnesses, combined, lasted around two weeks, so I was trapped at home for roughly seven days of the ten I would normally have been at work. That meant I was around to relieve the puppy burden from my home-working boyfriend.

I was tasked with dragging my puss-filled eyes out to let our dog have a run around, and to get her to piss every couple of hours. This new responsibility forced me to explore the neighbourhood that, for the three months previous, I had generally ignored. What I thought was the worst timing known to man was, not to exaggerate, life-changing. I’m not sure I would have come to this realisation about my new home had it not happened.

 
 
 
 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Another great day at the park! Pic by fellow small creature @esther.dominy.

A post shared by Martha The Dog (@heythereitsmartha) on

Happy City by Charles Montgomery is a book all about how urban planning can make or break our wellbeing – what commutes, cars, bikes, and greenspace do to our mental health. One portion of the book is spent debunking the idea that the sheer amount of greenspace in an area is what makes us happy. Montgomery argues that it’s actually the regularity of greenspace that makes a real difference – it’s not just how much grass and trees there is in the city you live in, but how often you get to see it.


Pre-Martha, my exposure to grass amounted to the occasional lunch in a garden and a visit to Hyde Park once or twice a month. But within a matter of days of getting a dog, I learned that I had not one, not two, not three, but five (five!) piss locations within five (again: five!) minutes of my house. Some were suitable for little more than the aforementioned – but others gave her enough room to run after sticks, leaves, tennis balls, and, her favourite, other dogs, so that she’d be pleasantly exhausted for the rest of the day. What I originally thought was just an expanse of buildings and pavement stretching from my flat to Hyde Park was actually filled with pockets of green spaces that made this trash-laden hell-hole feel a lot less oppressive.

Spending time at parks where other dogs also go to piss meant I started to make relationships with other dog-owners too. For the first time in any place I’ve lived in outside of my home town, I actually started to meet my neighbours, and learn about things that were happening in my neighbourhood, that I would never otherwise never known about. I now know Tiggy, Rex, Bubba, and Charlie, as well as their respective owners. I also know about good pubs, family-run restaurants, and free events that are far better than the deeply average, pretentious brunch place recommended to me by The Culture Trip. My neighbourhood has feeling like a dead space between Tesco, my bus stop, and the tube, to a place I can see as a respite from the rest of this stressful city, full of people I know and new places I’d have otherwise not thought twice about.

 
 
 
 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Me and some new friends from the other day! Hoping for some more social time this weekend 

A post shared by Martha The Dog (@heythereitsmartha) on

And taking her out at the same time every day, around the 7am mark, means we then almost always run into the same people. A very sweet kid walks to school around the same time and always smiles at her. We see the same woman with her dog, who always greets Martha with aggressive barking, ultimately ending in a congenial ass sniff. We let her jump up at the incredibly patient builders doing construction on a building at the end of our street.

This morning ritual, seeing my neighbourhood when it’s not rammed with tourists but is quiet and reserved for people who live or work nearby, has become a way to decompress at the start of every day. And as a woman, being up and out when it’s often dark, but seeing people I now recognise, means my neighbourhood has become less intimidating. For the first time in London, I feel safe and comfortable even late at night.

Beyond the confines of my neighbourhood, Martha has made me see London, not for what it does for me, but for what it provides for her. Never have I ever had such an appreciation for London’s public transport system than when I got my dog, who wears a big stupid grin at all times when riding the bus. (Her internal monologue honestly appears to be an endless loop of, “ALL OF THIS STUFF WOW MORE STUFF OH GOD REALLY COULD THERE ACTUALLY BE MORE STUFF HELLO EVERYONE HI OH HI WOULD YOU LIKE TO PET MY HEAD?”)

Even long journeys are now a delight, because watching your puppy be amazed, fascinated, and happy at all times, eventually passing out from exhaustion at all the energy expended, is incredibly heart-warming. Faced from the bus, London, even at its busiest, feels far better with my dog than on my own: her pure, unadulterated excitement is enough to make holding a wild animal on a packed motor vehicle worthwhile.

 
 
 
 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

dad taught me love • dad taught me patience • dad taught me pain

A post shared by Martha The Dog (@heythereitsmartha) on

I’m almost certain I will never love London. I don’t think I will ever feel charmed enough by the charming parts to outweigh the onslaught of the, often, literal shit it brings with it. Not everything about having a dog in London is great, of course: there is trash everywhere, trash I used to pass nonchalantly but now have to heave my dog away from in case she eats a used condom or even another dog’s shit. And, obviously, living in a city is probably never great for an animal compared to, say, a suburb or the countryside.

But through my dog I’ve learned what’s actually around me, not just what I narrowly perceive on my begrudging walk to work. Doing that has made London feel a lot less like my own personal hell. Slowly, Martha is making London like some kind of twisted, imperfect, home for me.

Sarah Manavis is the digital culture and tech writer at the New Statesman. She tweets as @sarahmanavis.

Martha Ross-Manavis is small and cute dog. You can follow her on Instagram at @heythereitsmartha.