Downtown in Business wrapped up their 2023 events programme with DiB CEO and Group Chair, Frank McKenna in conversation with Leader of Liverpool City Council, Liam Robinson and Metro Mayor for Liverpool City Region, Steve Rotheram at the Pullman Hotel on the iconic Liverpool waterfront.
Kicking off with a look to the political landscape on a national level, Liam commented that ‘it had the feelings of an end of term government with Ministers almost positioning themselves to be leader of the opposition rather than fighting to win the next general election.’ With the country currently being in cost-of-living crisis he added ‘we need a serious government, with a serious plan.’
On a local level, it was highlighted that there is plenty to be optimistic about with over £1bn’s worth of development going on at Liverpool Waters but the city is still very much going on a journey, with it being highlighted that although the planning department has been given more resource and is acting in a far more professional manner, there is still improvements to be made.
Steve highlighted the spatial development strategy would be crucial in ensuring joined up thinking on future developments with placemaking being key to this.
No one would argue that Liverpool’s brand was strong on an international stage, but it was agreed that a step change was needed. Health, Life Sciences and Tech would be at the forefront of this adding real social value in doing so with the city region leading with this at next year’s MIPIM.
On investment zones, Steve highlighted that there were 10,000’s of jobs up for grabs with AI being a potential game changer. ‘We have 214km of fibre underground, so after six years the digital infrastructure is now there, and we have to capitalise’.
On transport, HS2 was highlighted as another example of the UK showing of a lack of real commitment to long term infrastructure projects. ‘When other countries get on and deliver, we simply don’t. Forty five percent of exports and imports to and from the US go through Liverpool, with most of the freight ending up on the road. If we’re ever going to tackle congestion and the climate crisis, we need to get more of this onto the rail network’.
Steve added that connectivity within the city region was performing relatively well but on an intercity level, it was no where near good enough and the current government plans for Lime Street Station and the connection from West to East could not be delivered successfully with the current proposals.