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It takes two to quango

Larry Neild on the proposed forced marriage between Liverpool Vision and The Mersey Partnership

Written by . Published on October 24th 2011.

It takes two to quango

PETER McGovern’s famous ballad talks of Liverpool as a place where if you want a cathedral we’ve got one to spare.

In Liverpool we’ve other things to spare. There are two big  football clubs, though which one would be regarded as spare depends on your colours.

'There is not one coordinating body whose
task is to tell the world why it should come
to Liverpool,' they say in a finger-wagging way

We also, it seems, have a few quangos and local agencies to spare, if the Batman and Robin of  Merseyside’s regeneration, Michael Heseltine and Terry Leahy are to be believed.

In the Mersey Carta AD 2011 – my name for their report not theirs – they refer to the overlap between Liverpool Vision  and the Mersey Partnership.

Getting the go-ahead for the two bodies to join in unholy matrimony could be harder than convincing Liverpool and Everton fans what everybody else knows – a joint city football stadium is the perfect answer.

Liverpool Vision is a city council-owned, arms-length company with its own  board and structure charged with promoting Liverpool as a place to do business.

The Mersey Partnership is a body run by its members, the private sector, promoting tourism and inward investment across the "Liverpool City Region".  Its domain spreads to Wirral, Knowsley, Sefton, St Helens and Halton.

In any marriage, much depends on who becomes the dominant force. Merseyside has always suffered from a sense of civic tribalism something that has not  affected areas such as Greater Manchester.

And we have paid dearly for this tribalism. It is hard to see how Wirral or Sefton particularly would climb into bed with a Liverpool dominated body. Never mind bricking up the tunnels, they’d be barricading Dunnings Bridge Road in Bootle. Maybe St Helens would block the East Lancs.

Yet Liverpool as a brand name is global, more so even than Manchester, Birmingham and Leeds, and the renaissance of the city has been the perfect antidote to negativism about the one-time delinquent port.

Hezza and Tex go further, talking of a Liverpool metro-mayor and a super city region spreading its influence to West Lancashire, Warrington, Cheshire. Ellesmere Port and even nudging into North Wales. It would create an urban region with a population of 2.3m, matching the biggest metropolitan areas outside London.

The two men talk of the recent past when Liverpool became almost a symbol of urban blight, something that in turn nurtured a "Balkanised" attitude by some in local government, with surrounding areas cutting ties with Liverpool which they considered tainted. It fuelled competition by Liverpool’s neighbours for jobs and housing, rather than reap the rewards of collaboration.

Maybe the arrival, soon of a new LEP (Local Enterprise Partnership), probably headed by Peel Holdings chief Robert Hough, could be the catalyst to bring together Vision and  TMP in what may still be a forced marriage.

Pnw__1315471792_Its_Liverpool_Artwork1Liverpool Vision's
It's Liverpool campaign
The expertise and resources of Vision and TMP should be harnessed within a single city regional body responsible for inward investment, tourism and strategic  economy planning.

Although the six council leaders are working like never before, say the duo, there is no statutory framework. There isn’t even a single document drawing together the remarkable strengths of the city region.

“There is not one coordinating body whose task is to tell the world why it should come to Liverpool,” they say in a finger-wagging way. They even want the six chambers of commerce to merge into one (been there, done that, failed).

In the brave new world of coalition politics, the funeral of the popular NWDA (Northwest Regional Development Agency), the arrival of LEPS (Local Enterprise Partnerships in sub-regions), Liverpool and its hissing cousins have got to party together, or be left out in the economic cold.

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Craig HitchenOctober 24th 2011.

Wouldn't it be nice to do away with all of these self serving public sector employees and make things and sell things and say things for ourselves. Get rid of them, and everyone working in PR. You are all pointless

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