2022 disappointment should be a spur, not a regret

Posted by Paul Cherpeau

Chief Executive

Fri 08th, Sep

The announcement of Birmingham’s successful nomination as the UK’s location for the 2022 Commonwealth Games will be a disappointment for many in Liverpool, but it’s certainly not a cataclysmic setback. It should, however, focus the attention on the important times ahead for our business community.

It was perhaps appropriate that whilst the news of the outcome broke via Twitter, I joined the launch of the Institute for Civil Engineer’s ‘Delivering a Northern Infrastructure Strategy’, where the fundamental priorities for the North’s economy were detailed and proposals for a Council of the North were re-asserted.

As with the multitude of other studies undertaken in recent times, the lack of infrastructure investment in the North vis a vis the national average, the disturbing skills shortage and lack of connectivity between Northern conurbations, remains clearly demonstrable and quantifiable through the detailed studies undertaken.

Yet, there must be a political will to enable the delivery of transformational programmes to avoid such studies becoming doorstops. The devolution deal struck with Government must be built upon and the status of the Metro Mayor must be elevated to the figurehead role it was intended to be. This requires resources, power and mandate. We will never know whether the 2022 bid could have been improved with a Metro Mayor leading like in Birmingham (recognising the colour of his political allegiance), but we now require an ‘all or nothing’ position concerning the Metro Mayor model – the halfway house position cannot achieve the longer-term objectives.

So, whilst the failure to land 2022 is a shame, perhaps it will focus the attention on the ‘big stuff’ that is coming down the tracks – additional port access for freight movement in Liverpool, investment in transport and digital infrastructure and investment in a fundamental shift in skills delivery.

These objectives are perhaps more valuable to our business and economic prospects over the longer term. The business voice is a key element in the formulation of strategic and operational plans, as is collaboration between the regions in the North to agglomerate its economic strength and create the strong environment for business that is required for longer term prosperity.

So if 2022 lacks the short term boost of a fortnight’s sporting competition, let us aspire for a greater focus on what our region needs for longer term benefit and ensure we use the result as a spur to get on and do it.

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