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The Laz word.....on Liverpool Vision

Plans to bring expensive quango under council control. Good idea or what?

Published on October 13th 2010.


The Laz word.....on Liverpool Vision

SHOULD we start organising a wake for Liverpool Vision, or should we prepare to dance on its grave?

A confidential report suggests the regeneration agency based in Old Hall Street should be taken back into the bosom of the civic machinery.

The argument is there’s duplication of costs and duties, and maybe it’s a bit of an expensive luxury at a time when money is tight.

City Council leader Joe Anderson says he looking at ways of saving money, and doing thinks better.

There are currently over 70 different “business units” within the city council but, with the review under way, this could be cut to around 25.

Just a few years ago, Warren Bradley, then leader of the Lib-Dem controlled council, ordered a bonfire of the quangos, lamenting that the council had to “talk” to over 80 of them.

The big three – Liverpool Land, Business Liverpool and Liverpool Vision – were merged into one, embracing the name Liverpool Vision.

Liverpool Land had emerged as a successor to the Speke Garston Development Company which had successfully transformed the South Liverpool corridor. The hope was it would replicate that success across the city.

Business Liverpool was a partnership between the council, Chamber of Commerce and the business world – and one of its big projects was to open a “One Stop Shop” for businesses. The shop-front approach was eventually scrapped.

Liverpool Vision was the country’s first city centre regeneration agency that started its life as the City Centre Partnership.

It was the CCP that laid the foundation stones for what was to eventually become Liverpool One.

Indeed the creation of Liverpool Vision was critical to the success of Grosvenor’s redevelopment of the city centre in what was to become Europe’s biggest retail redevelopment valued at around £1bn.

As an arm’s length agency (85 per cent funded by the council), Liverpool Vision does not hold any meetings in public, nor does it publish minutes or agendas. It does produce annual reports and other occasional strategic documents.

Otherwise it communicates its activities via media releases. So like many quangos and unelected agencies, it is viewed as undemocratic.

Councillors do sit on the board of directors, so there is some level of public accountability.

So would its absorption into the city’s civic machine be a good move for Liverpool?

Probably not. In these challenging times when Liverpool needs to preserve and protect as many jobs as possible, while creating new opportunities, we need an agency with the boldness and audaciousness to grab those opportunities, free from the shackles of a civic machine.

The reason? Once the Northwest Regional Development Agency goes, we will more than ever need a city agency staffed by “scouts” working apart from the civic cavalry, willing to pioneer new approaches without fear of being damned as wasteful.

Because that is what Greater Manchester will do, and, with its overpowering population, it will seek to dominate the North West.

I’m not sure an in-house regeneration department will have the ability or the authority to run rings around Manchester.

Talk to the business community in Liverpool and they will often groan at their experiences with the council. That may well be unfair, but nevertheless that’s how it comes across.

The best hope for Liverpool in Skint UK, is to have a body with the entrepreneurial flair to go out and drag businesses, kicking and screaming if necessary, into Liverpool.

Liverpool Vision should be given a life span of two or three years, under its newly arrived CEO, Max Steinberg, to deliver. And if it fails, then it should not be absorbed into the council, it should be scrapped altogether.

Larry Neild

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

Shanghai ShirleyOctober 11th 2010.

What your Mr Nield says makes a lot of sense. But Liverpool Vision will be judged by the success of Liverpool's expensive jamboree at World Expo in China. The propaganda machine, saying how wonderfully successful is the Liverpool Pavilion (Liverpool doesn't have a pavilion by the way - they are exhibiting in a themed pavilion)

Shanghai ShirleyOctober 11th 2010.

(sorry pressed send button by mistake)
What your Mr Nield says makes a lot of sense. But Liverpool Vision will be judged by the success of Liverpool's expensive jamboree at World Expo in China. The propaganda machine, saying how wonderfully successful is the Liverpool Pavilion (Liverpool doesn't have a pavilion by the way - they are exhibiting in a themed pavilion, is working in full overdrive. Indeed the propagandarists would give the PRC regime a run for its yuan.
We are promised loads of Chinese investment in Liverpool, shed loads of business opportunities, millions of pounds into Liverpool's economy.
Next year's report on the massive success of Liverpool at Expo has probably already been published, in the same way the Chinese Communist regime already know next year's election results.
What we really need is a truly independent assessment of the success of Expo. No doubt there will be a contingent of local media shipped out to Shanghai, filing fullsome reports on how wonderful it all is.
Will we ever get to the real truth about Liverpool at Expo and whether it has been worthwhile or a waste of money. Doubt it , somehow.

AnonymousOctober 11th 2010.

World Expo? Liverpool's been there, done that. There was an international expo in Liverpool opened by Queen Victoria in May 1886. Wonder if the Chinese had a pavilion there. Check this out for details http://1886le.ftldesign.com/

AnonymousOctober 12th 2010.

Liverpool suffers from a chronic condition that has held us back for many years. Look at the council, departments, the outside agencies, the quangos, the partnerships. It's more or less the same people just swirling around and around. It seems if you can break the code to get onto that roundabout you are made for life. Many people had hoped Labour would switch off the roundabout and attract new people, but the same names are still there doing that swirling.

Furious TaxpayerOctober 12th 2010.

Wasn´t Liverpool Vision the bunch that wanted to ruin Liverpool´s waterfront by using European money intended for poor people to build a stadium for the multi-millionaires of Everton football club?

People who opposed this ridiculous idea received death threats! Fortunately the good sense of our Labour M.E.P.s put a stop to this lunacy.

It takes two to quangoOctober 17th 2010.

Should have gone to Specsavers.

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