Liverpool joins key UK devolution talks

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Liverpool city centre. Photo: Ida Husøy

Liverpool city centre. Photo: Ida Husøy

Liverpool is among the 10 cities in the UK  calling for more power over local devolution, as leaders gather for a key conference on the issue.

A meeting is taking place today in Glasgow where representatives are attending – with Liverpool being classed as one of 10 ‘core’ cities wanting more control over taxes and public spending to boost growth, and to compete with the south east of the country.

The nine cities alongside Liverpool include the conference hosts, plus Bristol, Birmingham, Cardiff, Leeds, Manchester, Newcastle, Nottingham and Sheffield, which are all thought to contribute to a quarter of the combined economic output of the UK.

City leaders will be given a ‘freedom charter’ which will set out the powers helping to reach the cities’ potential economic growth to help encourage growth, attract investment and with the potential to generate an estimated extra £222bn and 1.3m jobs for the UK by 2030.

In order for increased devolution to become a success, the idea of having a ‘Metro Mayor’- a figure for the whole region of Merseyside – was put forward. However, Halton and Knowsley Councils voted unanimously against the decision at a meeting, stating that there was “no public support” for a metro mayor and devolved powers should instead be handed to existing institutions.

Due to the disagreements between the local authorities, Liverpool Mayor Joe Anderson claims that it is now a loss to the region. He said: “The issue of a metro mayor was raised by me because it was an opportunity – now it’s a missed opportunity.”

Paul Cherpeau, the head of business engagement in communications at the Liverpool Chamber of Commerce, told JMU Journalism: “It’s a pity that the debate over devolution for Merseyside is dominated by reports of infighting between politicians. Instead, the focus should be on the huge opportunity that these proposed changes will create.”

Mr Cherpeau added: “A devolved Merseyside city region would gain control hundreds of millions of pounds of public spending on business support, housing, health and social care, skills, transport, and getting the economically inactive back into work.”

Think tank ResPublica, the devolution agency, will oversee the forward-sharing of power to the country’s Core Cities within 100 days of the formation of the next parliament.

About Josie O'Sullivan, JMU Journalism