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The Laz Word....from Larry Neild

Was last week's Policy Exchange report right about anything? Are we guilty of shooting the messenger? So many questions...

Published on August 18th 2008.


The Laz Word....from Larry Neild

SO, have you bought your cheap-rate one-way ticket to London, hoping to see if the pavements are paved with jobs and opportunity?

The authors of the Policy Exchange report, suggesting we should throw in the towel and accept Liverpool is a dying city, have earned a Scouse fatwa, one, Tim Leunig, even receiving death threats after his personal email address was published by local media.

What should Policy Exchange have suggested? Rather than overcrowd the South East, it should have called for major Government departments to relocate to the regions. I don’t mean back-office functions, but full departments

In typical, knee-jerk reaction, the response was to rubbish the whole report because of one, albeit outrageous, suggestion.

On the day the report appeared, the Government’s unemployment report was also published, though it hardly made headline news.

Much of the billions of pounds invested in Liverpool has been concentrated in the city centre, part of Riverside Constituency.

The figures show unemployment in Riverside is over 13 percent, and the level of working-age people in Riverside described as “economically inactive” is 40 percent. That’s almost double the level of the “economically inactive” across the country. Around 5.6 percent of people in Liverpool are on benefits, but, worryingly, the rate among men is eight percent. The UK claimant count is 2.3 percent and in the North West just over 2.6 percent. That gives a measure of the mountain still to climb.

So has the Policy Exchange got it right when it says regeneration in Liverpool hasn’t worked? Or is Council Leader Warren Bradley correct by saying Liverpool has the fasting growing economy of any UK city?Both are correct.

Although Liverpool’s economy is the fastest growing, it comes from such a

low starting point (we are almost at the foot of the table) that we’ll be playing catch-up for years.

But is regeneration happening at all? Of course it is. Look at Liverpool One and the arena. I haven’t seen the city so busy for years.

We continue to lag behind our rivals because other major cities are also undergoing a renaissance.

Liverpool should concentrate on what it is, rather than aspire to be something it isn’t.

We should position ourselves as the cultural capital of the North West, meanwhile attracting an industry, such as financial services, to take advantage of cheaper office space.

Let's pose this question: We read how grants and investment have created or protected thousands of jobs. How many major companies from the UK or from abroad have relocated to Liverpool in recent years?

How much has been spent trying to lure companies that seemingly don’t want to come here, and why don’t they want to come?

Bodies such as The Mersey Partnership and Liverpool Vision are working non-stop to make sure we move forward.

In the city centre, though, I see high quality office space begging for occupants. I see shiny new space taken by firms who have merely vacated their old offices around the corner, bringing no real added benefit to the city. So what should Policy Exchange have suggested? Rather than overcrowd the already bursting-at-the-seams South East, it should have called for major government departments to relocate to the regions. I don’t mean back-office functions, but full departments.

If the Department of Communities and Local Government was based in Liverpool it would bring kudos and respect, and a trail of allied services, consultancies, etc. It would lead to a proper direct air link to London and better rail services. Other cities such as Bradford would house other departments. It would send out the message England doesn’t end at the M25.Instead many of us moan about a report most haven’t read, wanting – in some cases – to kill the authors because of one bit we heard but didn’t like. We can shoot the messenger, but we ignore the message at our peril.

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

London RoadAugust 18th 2008.

is a Scouse Fatwah something to do with Pete Wylie?

AnonymousAugust 18th 2008.

Recent firms opening in NorthWest include HMRC call centre in Queens Dock 2006.The building was already built and occupied though so maybe planned from start. What it did do was allow unemployed workers like myself to apply for work in a city where if you have no contacts you basically don't work. I worked for over 20 years in London with no problems getting work. returned after the death of my Dad and have struggled to get work in education or anything else for no good reason. I want to work and applied for over 100 jobs;interestingly the only ones I've got have been with new companies opening in the city.Make your own assumptions from that but its been my experience.

catch 22August 18th 2008.

Have to agree with Laz here, one of the conclusions in the report was silly and probably intended to generate headlines. However much of what the report suggested was really good, changing the way elections are run in cities so that we don't get a de-facto one party state that doesn't ever face being removed, increasing both accountability and responsibilty for decision making in councillors so that the people know if they've screwed up and can boot them out but also so that the chance to actually be able to do something attracts talent into councils rather than the 3rd rate, related to each other no hopers that we currently have. Liverpools regeneration is in part real, but it is also in part just a cheap veneer and the reason for that is in no small part due to the fact that there is no overall vision behind it. Bradley and co are merely trying to ape other cities which preversly means that they make it easier for people like the reports authors to suggest that there isn't much point to the city.

DigAugust 18th 2008.

It would have been better to ignore Tim Leunig and his septic think tank. Instead now we are rolling out the red carpet and supplying an all expenses paid jolly up for Leunig and his crew. When they get back to their crime ridden, overpopulated, congested, dirty city in the south east do we expect them to apologise for their initial statement and sing our praises to the world? I think not. We know our true worth. If some no mark doesn't then so what? I hope somebody from London council reads my comnments. I might a free jolly up too. I wouldn't take the offer up if it were offered though. I think London is a horrible place.

Tricky WooAugust 18th 2008.

I think it is appalling that the Liverpool Echo printed this man's email address in the middle of their hysterical coverage. Cowardly and nasty.

Lard StreetAugust 18th 2008.

Are you saying that Mr. Wylie has an arse as big as Liverpool? Liverpool is a famous port; it is no surprise that the fiercely patriotic Walton Warbler might also wish to be portly...

DigAugust 18th 2008.

It's not just Liverpool that has the huge problems, it's nationwide. I'm just offended and disappointed we gave that pillock the time of day and the publicity he clearly aimed for. He must have thought 'Ha Ha Liverpool... Hook, line and sinker'.

catch 22August 18th 2008.

Dig, ignoring the statement is as poh faced as the mumpets chucking about death threats.Fact is Liverpool has some huge problems and as Larry points out all we're managing to do is narrow the gap between the city and its competitors by tiny amounts. We really do need to ask why? why has the £ billions created more jobs, why is our city still judged the least sustainable of the UKs largest 20, why do we lag behind in new business starts or graduate retention? Whinning the Londons crap (its not and we look stupid everytime we say it) and that all those that criticise us are soft southners doesn't help us. Some of our problems are whitehalls fault thats true, the UK is far to centralised and the provinces suffer. But some of our failures are own and that includes our mindnumbling bad leaders, apathetics electorates that allow them to be bad, pretty poor civil society that makes the city the capital of litter throwing and jumping red lights! This is an amazing city I truly belive that but surely I'm not the only one that looks at the city and is dissapointed not with the raw materials, certainly not with the amazing mercantile heritage but with the f**ked up, half baked, intellectualy and morally week efforts being past off as regeneration here. And to put it context I'd consider myself as at least a marginal insider in large number of those regeneration projects.

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