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When two become one

Larry Neild on the idea that Liverpool and Manchester should merge into a single supercity

Written by . Published on February 26th 2014.


When two become one
 

THEY are separated by a de-militarised zone known as the East Lancs Road. In a Battle of Edge Hill they’d build barricades with cobbles at both ends. In a word, Liverpool and Manchester are rivals. 

The rivalry goes back a long way – in the American Civil War, Liverpool stuck up for the Confederates. Manchester sided with the Yankees, and has the statue to prove it. 

Jim O'neillJim O'NeillSo a suggestion from an economic guru will come as a shock – Manchester and Liverpool should merge. “Manpool”, with a population approaching 6m, would be big and powerful enough to compete with London and other mega cities around the world. 

The idea comes as Liverpool and its five neighbours suffer a bout of tunnel vision over the name for a new super authority to fly for the flag for the Liverpool City Region. 

Instead of simply using a world-brand name such as, err, Liverpool, the Mersey cousins want to be known as Haltonknowsleyliverpoolseftonst
helenswirralcombinedauthoritysillybuggersgogogoch. 


J
And while the prospects of Liverpudlian and Mancunian politicians happily sharing the power base may seem as likely as the Ship Canal freezing over, the prospects of us all becoming Manpolitans makes economic sense, say promoters of the idea. 

Richard LeeseSir Richard LeeseThe notion of a mega city stretching from the Mersey to the Irwell emerged at a conference in Manchester, organised by the City Growth Commission. 

The commission, chaired by macro-economist Jim O’Neill, is an independent inquiry aimed at trying to boost urban growth in the UK’s major cities. It is running for just 12 months and plans to publish recommendations in October to influence the political debate in the build-up to the 2015 General Election. 

The Manchester pow-wow was the first hearing during which evidence is being sought at gatherings in a number of cities around the country.  

O’Neill, who came up with the acronym BRIC to highlight the fast emerging world economics of Brazil, Russia, India and China, has devoted more than three decades examining the changing state of the world’s economies. Now he has turned his attention to how economic growth in the UK can be boosted. 

London and the South East dominate the UK’s economic performance, whereas in China, Germany and the US, large urban areas help fuel their economic strengths. 

The City Growth Commission believes if more urban areas showed stronger growth, it would help boost the national economy’s rate of growth. The answer could be concentrating efforts on 15 of the largest metro regions, based on the reality from around the world showing the biggest urban areas matter most when it comes to unleashing a step-change in economic activity. 

In that respect Greater Manchester just isn’t big enough, prompting O’Neill to pose the prospect at the Manchester hearing of thinking the unthinkable: the notion of "ManPool", where Liverpool and Manchester bring together their populations and resources to create a metropolis in the north. 

Joe Anderson %281%29Joe Anderson OBE It is easy to see where O’Neill is coming from when metro areas across the world are examined. Even London with its 14m inhabitants ranks only 18th place, Tokyo topping the league table with around 33m people. 

Britain’s second biggest metro sprawl, Birmingham, with about 3.8m, is virtually a village compared to dozens of metro city areas around the world. 

Is the idea of mega city regions in the UK is a step too far, even though it makes economic sense? Who would be at the helm? Joe Anderson or Sir Richard Leese? 

Maybe there's an alternative suggestion. How about reviving the NWDA (North West Development Agency)?

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

AnonymousFebruary 26th 2014.

It's a stupid idea that hasn't been thought through. This would obviously invovle major excavations costing thousands of pounds and take many yearsto complete.

SaladDazeFebruary 26th 2014.

Why not just call it Westminster Peel Duke Holdings and be done with it?

Dane JerzoneFebruary 26th 2014.

I once saw something similar on Thunderbirds. The building being moved was too heavy and the ground collapsed causing a major disaster.

1 Response: Reply To This...
AnonymousFebruary 26th 2014.

Love it!

Colonel BogeyFebruary 26th 2014.

Will there be an improvement to the train services to Manchester?

Philip CoppellFebruary 26th 2014.

Slow news day?

AnonymousFebruary 26th 2014.

Brilliant idea and let's put David Moyes and John Bradley in joint charge.

3 Responses: Reply To This...
John BradleyFebruary 26th 2014.

Far better than having No-Mark like you in charge.

AnonymousFebruary 26th 2014.

Losing yer touch JB, pull it back lad

AnonymousFebruary 26th 2014.

Hey now! don't mock JB he was in the Echo once!

scouse690February 26th 2014.

I can't believe that this drivvle was even reported by Larry Neild! and that LC accepted it!

2 Responses: Reply To This...
Flat Earth SocietyFebruary 27th 2014.

Just heard this on Radio Merseyside this morning, 24 hours after the event, where they seemed to be taking the notion seriously. It's an interesting idea and it would only be the thick insular scouser who can't see any further than the end of his nose that would suggest otherwise. Far from being "drivvle" (please) it's worth consideration. It's a big world out there and judging by their continued economic success the Mancs obviously know that. Maybe that's why the summit was held there and not here, huh?

AnonymousMarch 3rd 2014.

Good enough for BBC to spend 5 mins on tonight and now it's trendiing on twitter.

scouse690February 26th 2014.

As to Ged Gibbons? Where is he, why has he disappeared, and what exactly did he ever do? For that matter....what does BID do???, other than produce emails and FB announcements, that only concern themselves....take a look at their latest "whats on in Liverpool"....you would think that we were all dead!! Who pays for "BID"??....I hope it's not "we" Liverpool taxpayers! Or coming out of "allowances" in Mayor Joes coffers i.e ours!!

AnonymousFebruary 27th 2014.

I wouldn't describe this piece as drivel. Although I agree the concept of Liverpool and Manchester 'merging' seems most unlikely, if not impossible, surely Mr O Neill was making the valid point that around the world it is the mega cities leaving the rest behind when it comes to economic activity. Put simply, he was saying of the provincial cities of the UK want to play catch up, maybe they need to at least examine the stark facts. As we will without doubt refuse to do so, we risk being left even further behind. One could suppose the message from the conference held in Manchester by Mr O'Neill's commission is: don't say we didn't warn you. We really are a region of village people.

1 Response: Reply To This...
Bill MajorFebruary 27th 2014.

agreed, the fuss over the name for a greater Liverpool authority illustrates this. which of us has ever heard of Halton, even those who live in it. High speed lines, modern trains linking the two cities might be a start. but such realism seems a long way away.Sadly I fear that ,my home town is likely to be left behind Manchester if past history is anything to go by.

Bill MajorFebruary 27th 2014.

The foolishness of the Liverpool alternative......Seftonbootlelivpoolwirral etc shows how hard it would be to even think of a name. It is probably not helped by the Echo providing a murder mugging rape drug bust on every page, this may or may not help their sales but I'm sure it doesn't help anyone living outside the Liverpool boundary. Apart from the fact that half of the criminals live outside that boundary, as do half of the crimes, it ruins the chances of the only serious name for a greater Liverpool authority....''The Greater Liverpool Authority'' Some years ago there was a proposal from a well respected architect, I think, Will Alsop (?) to create an urban authority stretching from Liverpool to Leeds or even Hull! Think about that? What is wrong with Greater Merseyside? That's a world wide brand too?

Flat Earth SocietyFebruary 27th 2014.

It's a good idea. A metropolis is nothing new and that is exactly what this would be. One's got the brains (or certainly the tenacity), one's got the looks, let's make lots of money, as the Pet Shop Boys once sung.

1 Response: Reply To This...
AristarchusFebruary 28th 2014.

Sang.

AnonymousMarch 3rd 2014.

Hey Livconf! BBC North West Tonight have just completely plagiarised this article, even down to using The Spice Girls video When Two Become One. I hope you're on a commission from these highly paid producers passing ideas off as their own!

AnonymousMarch 4th 2014.

All Liverpool City Region Authorities agreed upon a name, it is there on their application document: "Liverpool City Region". It is the DCLG that first came back with Greater Merseyside as the name and then when the consultees objected that they wanted a name with Liverpool in it (again on record) imposed the weird acronym. Why this BS 'controversy' has been stoked up by Joe Anderson is an interesting question. And what is Frank McKenna's interest in all this. The LAs all appear to have done nothing wrong and agreed right from the start to a sensible name the government refused to accept. As it did also to Sheffield, Leeds and the North East, saddling these too with inferior alteratives (West Yorks and another two alphabet soups). Go see the documents if you don't believe me: www.gov.uk/…/proposal-to-establish-a-combined-authority-for-greater-merseyside…. Larry Nield is a journalist - I really shouldn't have to be doing this job for him.

1 Response: Reply To This...
AnonymousMarch 4th 2014.

Just one problem, you are talking about a completely different story, this is about Liverpool and Manchester theoreticsally comboning. You are thinking of the separate article on the Greater Liverpool combined authority with the silly name. Easy mistake for a novice to make at 12.51 am, but I suppose that's why we have journalists

AnonymousMarch 4th 2014.

^I quote: "The idea comes as Liverpool and its five neighbours suffer a bout of tunnel vision over the name for a new super authority to fly for the flag for the Liverpool City Region. Instead of simply using a world-brand name such as, err, Liverpool, the Mersey cousins want to be known as Haltonknowsleyliverpoolseftonst helenswirralcombinedauthoritysillybuggersgogogoch." Brush up on your reading skills. As for 'Manpool', Jim O'Neill although originally from near Manchester and 'hates Liverpool' according to his interview in the Observer on Sunday admits to among other things not having hear of the Northern Hub railway project, basically he's living and worked professional in London whole live and know little about Manchester let alone Liverpool. It is of course a silly idea. Although better links between cities in the north and genuine cooperation between cities for their mutual benefit when it makes sense should be welcome.

1 Response: Reply To This...
Flat Earth SocietyMarch 4th 2014.

It's a great idea. Stop being so insular

AnonymousMarch 4th 2014.

^You like Manpool? Stop being so insular. Liverpool should merge with Oulu in Finland and be Liverpoulu.

1 Response: Reply To This...
Flat Earth SocietyMarch 4th 2014.

Sorry, I should have said don't be so insular and superficial. The name matters little, it's the ideology.

AnonymousMarch 4th 2014.

^Sorry, I should have said don't be so insular and narrow minded. Why should only two cities in south Lancashire merge. Liverpool should merge with Dublin, Halifax NS and Boston. If we are to create nonsense combined cites, at least make one that is quite varied and interesting.

1 Response: Reply To This...
AnonymousMarch 4th 2014.

Read the article

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