A new Mayor for the city region

Posted by Jenny Stewart

Chief Executive of Liverpool & Sefton Chambers of Commerce

Fri 05th, May

One down and one to go - elections that is.

We offer our congratulations to Labour’s Steve Rotheram, who has been elected as Liverpool City Region’s first Metro Mayor.

As existing MP for Walton who was born and bred in the city, Steve knows the region’s strengths - and the challenges we face.

It is also encouraging that he has experience of running a business, so is familiar with the issues our entrepreneurs and wealth-creators face on a daily basis.

Key areas

Earlier this year, the influential think tank, Centre for Cities, identified three key areas on which the new mayor can “hit the ground running”.

The same priorities have been identified over some time, training, school standards and transport infrastructure, by business and civic leaders. 

Skills gap

The training and skills gap is holding back companies across the UK, and particularly here in our own city region. They are a barrier to increasing productivity.  As identified in our latest Quarterly Economic Survey, firms are still being held back by a shortage of skilled people.

We need more high-level apprenticeships as a matter of urgency and I hope the new city region Mayor makes this a top priority.

Schools standards

We also know that standards in our schools are below average in some parts of our region.

Late last year, Heather Duggan, headteacher at Archbishop Blanch in Liverpool, spoke at one of the chamber's breakfast networking events.

She said: “We are trying to teach some young people who, when they first arrive in the school, don’t even know how to use a knife and fork… just getting them to a point where they leave us with qualifications is a huge achievement.”

Heather’s revelation stirred a shocked response with a number of people in the room. It is clear that raising educational standards also needs to be at the top of the agenda.

Getting around 

Thriving cities require connectivity and at the chamber we have long championed this issue.

Not only do we need national and international connections - access to HS2, an air link with Heathrow - we also need drastic improvements in the northern transport system, a Crossrail for the North. 

The Connectivity of the cities of the north will drive demand, stimulate jobs and grow the economy. Right now as we look towards exiting the European Union we have the opportunity to press ahead with vital infrastructure investments. The north needs to pull its weight to make the UK a strong trading partner. We need to take the steps to re-balance the economy, so that our northern powerhouse becomes reality. 

There's a big job on. It will take grit and determination and a city region which pulls together. In the words of George Osborne at the British Chambers of Commerce Conference "we have the makings of a revolution" let's own it. 

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