Some recent thoughts from Veteran Commentator Larry Nield

That quiet liverpool plan

Larry Neild on a new marketing plan for Liverpool. Hang on didn’t we have one of these the other day?

WITHOUT so much as a ticker-tape welcome, cheerleaders or Uncle Sam razzmatzz, Liverpool today announced its latest bid for global stardom.

Ambitious plans, revealed by mayoral favourite Joe Anderson (note – other people are also standing) would see an Ellis Island-style centre celebrating emigration and a good ol’ bag of happenings to attract millions of Americans to visit the place where their ancestors left these shores for the New World.

As 90 per cent of Americans don’t even have passports maybe most are content on seeing not where they departed from, but where they arrived.

It’s a pity the low-key announcement was timed to be overshadowed by the Manchester Budget.

Yes while officials in Liverpool were busy selectively spilling the beans, Chancellor Goerge Osborne was spelling out exactly what’s in store for uncrowned capital of the North along the East Lancs with a massive £1.2bn deal.

“We are working with our great cities to devolve decision making powers and this week we are striking a ground breaking deal with Manchester to support £1.2bn worth of infrastructure in that city,” declared the Rt Hon Member for Tatton, where many of Manchester’s rich and famous reside.

Then there’s the Northern Hub project that will see (quoting the Chancellor, again) electric trains linking Manchester to Preston, Blackpool, Sheffield and Bradford.

Liverpool benefits as a Trans Pennine route is also being electrified.

Manchester is also one of 10 of the nation’s biggest cities to win a slice of a £100m pot of gold to develop a super fast super highway broadband.

Liverpool, technically bigger than Manchester, was completely left out.

Liverpool did get a mention in Osborne’s hour long speech.

“Chinese investment is pouring into an enterprise zone in Liverpool,” he told cheering MPs.

Pouring? That’s slightly over-duck egging the pudding. Chinese investors are sniffing around the place but as yet there is little to show in Liverpool for our bi-lateral relationships with the most populous nation on the planet.

Just days after celebrating 1,000 new jobs at the Jaguar Land Rover plant at Halewood, comes the news of a £1.8bn deal that will see JLR and Chinese car maker Chery launching a joint venture company to establish a car production operation in China, close to Liverpool’s twin city of Shanghai.

The new Liverpool shopping list is part of a new “Marketing Liverpool” quango established as part of Liverpool Vision.

Recently the doors finally closed on Liverpool City Council’s main city centre tourism office, the 08 Place in Whitechapel.

Visitors arriving at Lime Street station are now greeted with a mobile stand offering information, and those making for the 08 Place, unaware of its closure, are directed to the tourism office deep inside the Albert Dock complex.

Just days ago Robert Hough, the new chairman of the Liverpool City Region Local Enterprise Partnership, was quizzed about the promotion and marketing of the area as a tourism destination.

The Mersey Partnership, which for some years, has had the task of marketing the city region’s tourism offer, has now been consumed as part of the new LEP.

Hough said the question of promoting tourism was yet to be decided. So if the new LEP continues with the role of promoting and marketing Liverpool City Region, and Liverpool, through Vision, has established its own marketing and tourism arm, won’t that be seen by some as conflict or duplication?

This is what Robert Hough said today in response to the launch of Marketing Liverpool: “Collaboration and collective ambition during the last decade has helped re-position Liverpool and the wider region as an attractive investment location and visitor destination with visitor appeal. The city’s unique brand has never been stronger and the Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) will build on what’s been achieved already.

“Major events help generate positive profile, and marketing them effectively shifts outdated perceptions. Together, without duplication of effort or waste of resources, the LEP and its stakeholders must continue this vital work.”

Tribalism has been rife across Merseyside for years. Wirral still mourns its departure from Cheshire, Southport has been desperate to be adopted by Mother Lancashire and St Helens sees itself as more woolyback than Scouse.

And while district rivalry can be good, more and more commentators point to the 10 districts of Manchester working in closer harmony – and reaping the rich rewards. And if they do wrangle, it’s usually behind closed doors.

Manchester’s latest £1.2bn award from Cameron is not dependant on it having an elected mayor. Yet just weeks ago we in Liverpool were being warned we’d lose a comapratively dwarf-sized £130m pot of Government dosh unless we skipped a democratic referendum and went straight for a mayoral vote in May.

On Friday, March 23, the formal notice of Mayoral election in Liverpool will be published, with an election taking place for the mayor on May 3.

On the same day the people of Manchester will be asked if it wants an elected mayor or to stick with the current leader and cabinet model.

About richardkemp

Leader of the Liberal Democrats in Liverpool. Deputy Chair and Lib Dem Spokesperson on the LGA Community Wellbeing Board. Married to the lovely Cllr Erica Kemp CBE with three children and four grandchildren.
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