Steve Rotheram’s plans include a multi-billion pound Mersey barrage and linking a transatlantic internet cable to the Hartree supercomputer to offer superfast digital connectivity. Tony McDonough reports
Digital connectivity, a barrage across the Mersey, a “skills revolution” and tackling homelessness are among a major 10-point policy blitz unveiled today by Liverpool City Metro Mayor Steve Rotheram.
Mr Rotheram, who was elected to the post in May, said the policy initiatives were designed to deliver “transformational change”.
Focusing on the need to grasp the opportunities of the so called Fourth Industrial Revolution, the Metro Mayor said the city region had a unique set of assets, including the UK’s most powerful super-computer at Daresbury, cutting-edge research facilities and a cluster of fast-growing digital businesses.
The 10 policy announcements are:
- Appointment of Brent Cheshire, former UK chair on renewable energy giant Dong Energy who, over the next 12 months, will put together a business case for a multi-billion pound barrage across the Mersey.
- Connecting the transatlantic Hibernian Link internet cable that comes ashore at Southport to the Hartree supercomputer at Daresbury to guarantee very home, business, university, school and public building world class digital connectivity.
- Create a unified and properly resourced agency to capitalise on Liverpool’s positive global brand and providing “one front door” for all those seeking to invest and do business here.
- Deliver a skills revolution by lobbying the Government so that the underspend from the National Apprenticeship Levy will be spent locally to roll-out degree-level apprenticeships.
- Build 25,000 affordable new homes by 2022 to tackle the housing shortage and work with Government to fund a trail-blazing Housing First approach to homelessness.
- Adopt a brownfield-first approach to new housing development by publishing the first ever City Region Brown Field Register, and lobbying the Chancellor to give the area a Stamp-Duty holiday.
- Backing up the £460m investment in new rolling stock for Merseyrail by exploring how devolution powers and bus regulation can be best used to create a fully integrated public transport system.
- Make access to public transport more streamlined and customer-friendly by rebranding and remodelling the current Walrus card.
- Making cross-river transport and movement easier and more affordable by delivering on an election pledge to create a more affordable Fast Tag for Mersey Tunnel users, and announcing the commissioning of the design for a new state of the art Mersey Ferry.
- Setting out the city region’s future devolution ambitions and begin discussion about how to integrate fire and rescue, waste disposal and powers of the Police and Crime Commissioner into a future Combined Authority Structure.
Mr Rotheram said: “If trains, docks and canals made us the gateway to the First Industrial Revolution, then world-class connectivity and a plentiful supply of predictable renewable energy can make us the digital gateway to the Fourth.
“Faster speed, greater capacity and green energy will not only enable us to grow our own digital and technology sectors, it will make us a magnet for investment for global companies wanting the best connections and a carbon neutral energy solution.”
Mr Rotheram heads up the seven-strong Combined Authority cabinet which also includes the six leaders of Liverpool, Wirral, Sefton, Knowsley, St Helens and Halton.