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Government / Local politics

“Batman and Robin”: Could Steve Rotheram and Andy Burnham been the superheroes the north west needs?

What has Liverpool City Region mayor Steven Rotheram been up to so far? Well, on his first day he made a joke about Kenny Dalglish and invited Theresa May to visit the region for chips.

Rumour has it that Rotheram and Greater Manchester mayor Andy Burnham are best mates. How so, I hear you ask? Well, they are both Liverpolitans for a start, both Labour Party members and both football fans – albeit, one supports Liverpool and the other Everton. On a more serious note, they were brothers in arms in their quest to expose the shocking miscarriage of justice that followed the Hillsborough tragedy.

The two mayors seem to be acting as a tag-team. One of their first major initiatives was to cleverly cement a rebrand of HS3 to “Crossrail for the North”, inviting direct comparisons with Greater London’s Crossrail 2. They also demanded that Crossrail for the North be prioritised, linking Liverpool to Manchester, Sheffield and Leeds via a new high speed railway.

It’s interesting, then, that the recent Tory manifesto specifically referenced “Northern Powerhouse Rail” (yet another name for it), but did not mention Crossrail 2. Sadly, though, it did not make it into the Queen’s Speech. 

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In other words, it appears that the Liverpolitans are organising. And our new super heroes Burnham and Rotheram (Batman and Robin, anyone?) are preparing to battle on behalf of Gotham (centred on Liverpool City Region, obviously), with their old adversaries the Tories.

Mayor Rotheram has also given his full backing to Liverpool’s bid to host the 2022 Commonwealth Games. In March this honour was removed from Durban, in South Africa, because the city did not meeting the criteria to host the games. An emergency replacement has since been sought, with Liverpool and Birmingham now appearing on our country’s official shortlist of suitable candidates. Here is Liverpool’s bid logo: 

The Liverpool City Region has a rich sporting heritage, which is second to none. Later this month, the Open Golf Championship will return to the region’s Royal Birkdale; it was last held here as recently as 2014, at the Royal Liverpool Golf Club on the Wirral peninsula.

We also host, amongst many other things: the internationally popular Grand National, known as the world’s greatest steeplechase; two world class football clubs in Everton and Liverpool; world class Rugby League in St Helens and Widnes; and, the Clipper Round the World Yacht Race, this year and next. We even hosted Formula 1 Grand Prix in the days of Stirling Moss and Fangio, pictured here.

Image: Getty.

I would like to see our Commonwealth Games offer having a strong focus on Liverpool City Region’s over 80 miles of coastline, much of it golden beaches, to showcase one of the region’s most impressive but most overlooked attributes.

Here is an example of one of our many beaches. It shows Antony Gormley’s ‘Another Place’, a poignant modern art installation celebrating migration at Crosby beach, just four miles and six stops on the Liverpool Underground from Liverpool city centre. The photo looks towards Liverpool Bay, with Wales in the background:

Image: Chris Howells/Wikimedia Commons.

 

Imagine a Beach Volleyball tournament being staged amidst such a fabulous modern art installation, and with the monumental Port of Liverpool cranes immediately adjacent. We could take full advantage of our natural assets to host other sports, too: canoeing; road cycling; mountain bike cycling; open water swimming; rowing;sailing; and triathlon, a sport which Liverpool already has a strong history of hosting.

We already have a lot of different venues for a lot of different, and with more to come: a new Everton stadium, designed by American architect Dan Meis, is planned for Bramley Moore Dock in Liverpool’s epic UNESCO World Heritage Site docklands. Throw in the fact that Liverpool is actually more centrally located within the UK than Birmingham, and everything is falling nicely into place for us.


However, a significant fly in the ointment may be that the West Midlands, whatever that is (apparently it includes Birmingham), has just elected a Tory metro mayor…

Incidentally, does a UK government partnership between the Conservative Party and the Democratic Unionist Party mean that austerity will now end in Northern Ireland, but will continue in the Liverpool City Region? Conveniently, Liverpool City Region and Northern Ireland have similarly sized populations, so it would be interesting if someone with the appropriate skills could monitor and compare any central government largesse between the two regions. I was shocked to read that the Northern Ireland Renewable Heat Incentive scandal could cost UK taxpayers £400m.

One last thing. The new Alstom train modernisation facility, which is the largest in the UK, opened in Widnes, in the Liverpool City Region’s own Halton, on 29 June. Just to keep the train fans interested.

Dave Mail has declared himself CityMetric’s new Liverpool City Region correspondent. He will be updating us on the brave new world of Liverpool City Region every month in “E-mail from Liverpool City Region”.
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