Down to business at the second Liverpool City Region Combined Authority meeting

Published on: Tuesday, 17-June-2014

The Liverpool City Region Combined Authority was formally established two months ago and at its second meeting on Friday (13 June) members received updates on a range of initiatives and potential investments being developed to improve the economy and employment opportunities across the City Region.

The meeting commenced with the AGM, where Cllr Phil Davies was appointed the Chair and Cllr Ron Round the Vice Chair.

Following the AGM, members were updated on the local growth fund and the £250m plans over the next six years.  A funding bid for £111m has been submitted to Government, which is targeted on two priority areas – Liverpool City Centre and the creation of circa 20,000 new jobs and Freight and Logistics Hub creating a further 20,000 jobs.

The City Region’s long-term rail strategy was discussed.  This will ensure the rail networks meet the needs of the Liverpool City Region over the next 30 years. A set of 12 rail packages have been identified by Merseytravel including enhancements to the Wrexham-Bidston line and development of the Halton Curve to connect the Liverpool City Region with Cheshire and North Wales.  The strategy also reflects other key programmes already in development such as electrification of the lines between Liverpool and Manchester which will allow for faster journeys.

Two major projects have potentially significant impacts on the rail network within the Liverpool City Region - High Speed 2 (HS2) and the Superport.  The integration of the HS2 into the overall network is an important element and parts of the long-term rail strategy address the capacity issues which will impact on the capacity of the local rail network. 

Considerable work continues to be carried out in getting the Liverpool City Region the most benefit from HS2.  Initial figures from a draft economic benefits study commissioned by Merseytravel and the Local Enterprise Partnership suggests a direct high-speed link could generate an economic benefit of up £8.3bn (£550m a year), supporting around 14,000 jobs, and with wider regeneration linked to the scheme having the potential to create an additional 12,000.  The City Region is also working positively with others across the North of England, both in articulating the need for HS2 and the benefits it can bring to the region, and in identifying the wider transport improvements necessary across the north of the country to ensure that the maximum economic value is derived from the construction of HS2.

An update was also received on plans for Rail Devolution, which will allow for more local control and influence over rail services that operate to and from Lime Street across the north to get a better deal for passengers.  Merseytravel, on behalf of the Combined Authority, is working with other transport authorities in the north and Department for Transport on the decentralisation of, specification, letting and management of rail franchises currently held by Northern and First TransPennine Express.

Members were also updated on the initiatives being delivered to tackle youth unemployment across the region, helping young people become ‘job ready’, ensuring education and training providers align their courses to the needs of future skills / employer priorities and the forthcoming Skills Show Experience this week, where 5,000 young people across the region will find out about the range of career opportunities available in the region. Issues were raised on the extent and use of zero hours contracts, and an update on this will be brought to a future meeting.

Cllr Phil Davies, Chair of the Liverpool City Region Combined Authority, said “I am privileged to Chair the Liverpool City Region Combined Authority.  This is an important body in attracting investment and jobs into the City Region.  Our second meeting demonstrated our focus in getting down to business and focussing on those strategic projects that will bring widespread economic benefit to the whole Liverpool City Region.”

The meeting on 13 June was webcast and can be viewed at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ptc22aZyHwU