A tale of one city

Omega, the distribution park on the M62, has sprung out of the ground in little more than a year.

Sun 25th, Jan

Omega, the distribution park on the M62, has sprung out of the ground in little more than a year.

Driving past and seeing the huge sheds gleaming in the winter sun, I can’t help thinking how Liverpool and Manchester are being dawn closer together into a single metropolis.

Talk of city region devolution and One North also suggests a blurring of the lines between cities which have, until now, maintained strong and separate identities.

The idea is to combine the various attributes of the Northern cities to create a single powerhouse that can counterbalance London’s domination of the UK economy. 

It’s a worthwhile aim and we support it, but it’s worth pondering over the implications of it coming to pass. For example, would every city benefit in equal measure or would there be winners and losers?

Although many professional firms have concentrated their North West operations in Manchester over the past couple of decades, several still have a big Liverpool presence, notably the major law firms.

Would the drive towards a single northern powerhouse make them feel obliged to concentrate all their resources in one place? And might Liverpool and Leeds lose out to Manchester as a result?

It’s certainly a possibility but it doesn’t necessarily have to work out that way. To prevent it, Liverpool must have a vision of what it can bring to the Northern Powerhouse that other places cannot.

In fact, that vision – and the distinctive attributes which underpin it – will be all the more important as cities merge into a single economic unit.

It’s easy to think of some things Liverpool has that Manchester doesn’t: car manufacturing, a port capable of handling post-Panamax vessels (when Liverpool 2 opens later this year), and the Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine.

What else would you put in the list? Tell me by leaving a comment below.

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