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'Liverpool should have been Greater'

Lord David Alton reflects on a missed opportunity called Merseyside

Written by . Published on March 26th 2014.

'Liverpool should have been Greater'

APRIL Fool’s Day seems the perfect occasion for the inaugural meeting of the new combined authority spanning Liverpool and its five near neighbours. 

This is a once-in-a-lifetime chance for Liverpool, Wirral, Sefton, St Helens, Knowsley and little old Halton (Widnes and Runcorn) to use its combined energies to take on the world. 

While Greater Manchester capitalised on a name that immediately told everyone in the world where it was, we were not to be known as Greater Liverpool, but as Merseyside

Yet the official name of the new body, placing each district in alphabetical order, is still with us.  Of course it ought to be known as, it must be known as the Liverpool Area Combined Authority. 

And what’s more it should be chaired by the elected mayor of Liverpool, who, at this time, is Joe Anderson. 

It should also have a Liverpool base, not move around the area like a travelling circus so as not to offend one another. 

Perhaps one of the redundant mobile libraries could be used to create a council-chamber-on-wheels. 

The squabbling over the actual name, the reluctance to appoint Mayor Anderson as chair, illustrates a major problem. 

The rivalry between the districts that has for far too long been an impediment to progress remains. 

If some people, including some decision makers, in the five neighbouring areas don’t get it, we are in for a long haul.  Love or loathe Liverpool, and it really is a most loveable place when you get to know it,  Liverpool as a name is a world brand. 

You can go to the furthest points on this planet and people will have heard of Liverpool. 

You can go to some not so far away places in England and they would struggle to pinpoint the likes of Knowsley and Sefton on a map. 

This week the battle of the name reached the lofty heights of the House of Lords, with former city council leader Mike Storey, now Lord Storey, and former Liverpool MP David Alton, adding their peer pressure. 

This is what Lord Storey had to say: “The notion of trying to market and get external investment into the Liverpool region using the citation “Halton, Knowsley, Liverpool, St Helens, Sefton and Wirral”, would be rather difficult." 

Lord Alton, referring to his long time friendship with Mike Storey, told the Lords: “It is a great pleasure to follow Lord Storey, not least because in the 1970 general election, what seems like a million years ago now, we were both students and friends, and I sent him out on his first election-day experience. 

“Sad to say, he returned later that day minus the wheels of his car. I thought that that might put him off politics for the rest of his life, but it did not do so.  

He went on: “Whatever else might be said in its favour, the title, “Halton, Knowsley, Liverpool, St Helens, Sefton and Wirral Combined Authority”, hardly trips off the tongue. This nine-word title is not just clumsy, it is a missed opportunity. This is not just about nomenclature or that ugly word “branding”, which has been used today. 

“In the early 1970s when Merseyside County Council was established, it puzzled me then that while Greater Manchester capitalised on a name that immediately told everyone in the world where it was, we were not to be known as Greater Liverpool, but as Merseyside. 

“It was a decision based on petty rivalries and parochialism, rather than on what was in the best interests or the common good. That lost opportunity weakened Liverpool and actually played into the hands of some of those who were agitating against the city and were exploiting some of the problems in the community during the 1980s, disfiguring Liverpool’s reputation. 

Lord-David-AltonLord David Alton“Liverpool is at the very heart of the conurbation, and if a body’s heart is not well cared for, all the other organs will fail, too. During the past two decades the regeneration of Liverpool has become a sine qua non for the regeneration of surrounding boroughs. That success story is something that everyone in the six boroughs should be proud of and celebrate. 

 “In 1207, King John gave Liverpool its Royal Charter. Since then, there never has been a time in which Liverpool has not been the engine room for the region” 

“The new authority needs to be instantaneously recognisable. It needs a name that carries clout. It needs a name that exudes confidence and strength. People might mistakenly ask, “What’s in a name?”. “Everything” is the answer. A tongue-twisting piece of gobbledegook is no substitute for a name that would command immediate recognition. “ 

So despite the logic and the common sense the smart money is on the new authority being called The Halton…etc…etc..” chaired by anyone except the Mayor of Liverpool.  Let’s hope the April Fools don’t win the day.

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16 comments so far, continue the conversation, write a comment.

Judith PattersonMarch 26th 2014.

stay true to being english and Liverpool.

1 Response: Reply To This...
John BradleyMarch 26th 2014.

I'm sorry to inform you Ms Patterson but you have failed this Turing test.

AnonymousMarch 26th 2014.


AnonymousMarch 26th 2014.

Perhaps we've missed the boat already. Everything worth having has been bagged by Greater Manchester. Jim Bowen for Chair of the Combined Thingy, just so he can say, Let's See what you could have had.

Prof. ChucklebuttyMarch 27th 2014.

Joe Anderson could learn a thing or two from David Alton's time on the council. Hardly a week went by those days without a Liberal Focus Newsletter showing Cllr Alton up a stepladder pointing at a broken street light and looking concerned. Much as I like Joe, he doesn't quite manage the concerned look and Tasker's don't have any strong enough ladders.

3 Responses: Reply To This...
John BradleyMarch 28th 2014.

Modern politicians are just not as good at feigning concern as they once were.

Barry Stuart-HargreavesMarch 28th 2014.

According to the Oldham Echo Uncle Joe wants to demolish the Futurist in Lime Street.

John BradleyMarch 28th 2014.

What's left of it. www.youtube.com/watch…

Mr. CobbledickMarch 28th 2014.

LIVERPOLITANIA - There. What's wrong with that?

3 Responses: Reply To This...
Prof. ChucklebuttyMarch 28th 2014.

I liked the Echo's recent suggestion for the region "Scousers, Wools or Worse" That seems to cover everyone. I am sure we could all unite behind that.

Mr. CobbledickMarch 28th 2014.

There's nothing worse than a professional scouser, unless it's one who isn't even from Liverpool. The Echo is a perfect example.

AnonymousMarch 30th 2014.

Billy Butler is another

AnonymousMarch 30th 2014.


AnonymousMarch 30th 2014.

Really? I thought Billy was born in Liverpool, just like me. Ramsey Campbell

1 Response: Reply To This...
John BradleyMarch 30th 2014.

Welsh, which is still better than being the King of the SCallies Pete Price. en.wikipedia.org/…/Billy_Butler_%28DJ%29…

Beryl MillsApril 6th 2014.

A rose by any other name would still smell as sweet..... so Liverpool, Liverpool, and let's stay united as best we can! What do we all want we want yeah yeah yeah and Billys great love his show and his knowledge of music is fab., so there!

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