Letter from Washington

Regular readers of my blog will know that I am currently in Washington as part of a review I am undertaking of UCLG the World local government body. As part of this I have had meetings with council leaders and mayors from across America. I also had very interesting discussions at the World Bank yesterday.

I won’t go into the discussions relating to the World body not because they are private but because I don’t think it would be interesting and my thoughts are far fork complete as the work has only just begun.

My thoughts however are much more advanced on what we can do to promote our city in this Country of enterprise.

Almost without exception when I have done the UCLG business the people I am talking to turn the conversation to Liverpool. They want to know what the opportunities are for the development of partnerships with the councils and thence the businesses of Liverpool. They do not know a lot about Liverpool and they haven’t looked in detail at what we do and could do BUT they have a universally positive view of our city and clearly see the potential of our city coming just behind that of London. We have a major opportunity to create links with people who know not the detail but the brand. That brand might be based on the Beatles and ‘soccer’ but it gives us a unique advantage. In fact the recent Open golf has opened another brand advantage as this has clearly been placed in this golf mad country in association with Liverpool.

I have spoken to Mayors and Leaders from Boston, Houston, Madison and North Carolina all of whom want to move to a next stage in a relationship with our city region. Not all these contacts will come off because there may be no synergy between Greater Liverpool and North Carolina. But clearly there are things we may be able to do with Boston and Houston not least because of the strength of our university sector and their research acumen.

I was also able to talk to the Ambassador who advises President Obama on trade matters. We were able to talk about conurbation to conurbation activity and what help the US governments and UK government could give to councils wishing to develop this sort of links. I spoke to him about the concerns that many of us have about TTIP especially as it applies to our National Health Service. He was a little surprised to be a boosted by a UK delegate at a US Mayors conference,

What are the next steps for the contacts I have made?

Well in 2 weeks I have a meeting with Liverpool Vision about other matters and will take then a briefing about these contacts and what I think we could do with each of them these seem to be two ian areas of activity:

1. Get them to participate in IFB 2016. This Business Festival was very effective in 2014 and this time we have more time to talk to participants and get them involved.

2. To arrange appropriately constructed visits from their city region to ours and vice versa. When I brought the High Commissioner of Mozambique to Liverpool he met business, civic and educational leaders. It was great that in 2 days he was able to meet so many people that gave him positive proposals as to a way forward. That is what we could do with any incoming delegation with the very positive support already offered of UKTI, the Chamber of Commerce and the Liverpool City Region LEP.

This applies not only to councils but also to the World Bank who saw the opportunities for a major involvement given the range of people who came to the 2014 event.

It’s great to be on the road promoting my city. As a councillor I believe that all Councillors should actively promote our city and its opportunities at all possible occasions. I have been given great opportunities to undertake that promotion have the national and international profile that has accrued to me over 30+ years as a councillor. The enthusiasm with which our city is mentioned and greeted is absolutely marvellous. This is something we can all build on. Interestingly not one person I spoke too was aware that we have a Liverpool office in the States. I have to question what that office is doing when so many leaders were present in Washington with so much potential business but there was no official Liverpool presence. We are missing big tricks here.

I am knackered but elated. I am really feeling the time difference as I started e-mailing at 4 in the morning here. After being delayed for 24 hours getting here there is a minimum three hour delay in me getting home. DON’T LET ANYONE ACCUSE ME OF BEING ON A JOLLY!!

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About richardkemp

Leader of the Liberal Democrats in Liverpool. UK representative on UCLG Finance Committee, Executive Bureau and World Council. Deputy Chair and Lib Dem Spokesperon on the LGA Community Wellbeing Board. Married to the lovely Cllr Erica Kemp CBE with three children and three grandchildren.
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One Response to Letter from Washington

  1. Thinkbrands says:

    As a local businessman in Liverpool, it’s refreshing to hear of proactive steps being taken to promote the city as in the past we have seemed prone to missing a trick in one way or another. Recently that seemed to be being addressed, thank you!

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