Downtown Liverpool in Business returned with their ‘live’ events programme on Wednesday 19th August at the Hilton Hotel.
The lunch event was the first since lockdown in March and the subject for the afternoon was transport. The discussion was led by John Irving, the CEO of Liverpool John Lennon Airport, Andy Heath the CEO of Merseyrail, Matt Davies, director of Stagecoach, Merseyside and South Lancashire and chair of the transport committee, Cllr Liam Robinson.
The four speakers highlighted the challenges they have faced over the past few months, the new ways of working and plans and aspirations for the future. Both Merseyrail and Stagecoach highlighted their disappointment in governments messaging around the use of public transport and stressed it was now critical that government, on a national and local level with the help of the business community, send a clear message to the public that it is safe, clean and green to get back on board and into city centres.
John Irving, CEO of John Lennon Airport emphasized the lack of support for the aviation industry from central government and without the support of the combined authority, the airport would be in a far worse place. “We have lost our three busiest months of the year in which we usually have 1.8 million passengers come through the airport. With last-minute quarantine rules being implemented on numerous countries with no communication from government, it has added huge strain on our business. We anticipate the remainder of the year will be a struggle for the airport but being a regional airport, we are very confident we can kick on in 2021 and return the level of growth we have enjoyed over the past few years.”
Cllr Liam Robinson added; “The past few months have again highlighted the need for more devolution at a local level. We have shown in the work we have been doing with the transport sector that a more local and integrated approach works far better than the one size fits all approach from central government.”
Downtown in Business CEO and Group Chairman, Frank McKenna, commented; “I am not sure anyone had anticipated the length of time COVID19 would impact on us, but the transport sector, particularly the aviation industry has been hit hard. It is great to hear the partnership Liverpool John Lennon Airport and the Combined Authority have implemented as it is a huge asset to the city and wider city region.
“After months of online events, I am delighted to back meeting with our members. To enjoy lunch at the fantastic Hilton Hotel and catch up face to face with friends and peers whilst discussing key subjects that impact our businesses and cities is what Downtown is all about. We have plenty more events planned throughout autumn and winter and with the support of our members we aim to get the business community and city centres thriving again.”