‘I’m incredibly proud of what we have achieved’ – Metro Mayor welcomes Combined Authority Annual Review
Mayor Steve Rotheram has spoken of his ambition and optimism for Liverpool City Region’s future as an Annual Review underlined the Combined Authority’s major achievements during the last year.
From large-scale regeneration projects to new trains, adult education, skills training, infrastructure, equalities, tackling the climate crisis and Bafta awards, the Combined Authority kept the city region moving and delivered opportunity and success during the last year.
And with the help of partners, longer term investments such as Shakespeare North Playhouse also came to fruition.
Activity was guided by the Corporate Plan’s key themes of creating a fairer, stronger, cleaner, connected and vibrant city region – with no-one left behind.
Mayor Rotheram said: “In such turbulent times, it’s vital we create opportunities for residents to reach their potential and lead healthy, happy and fulfilled lives.
“The decisions we’ve taken have helped to transform people’s lives now and opportunities in the future.
“That work has already led to the creation of 10,000 jobs and 7,000 apprenticeships for local people. But I still want to do much, much more.”
READ MORE ABOUT HOW LIVERPOOL CITY REGION COMBINED AUTHORITY IS ENRICHING COMMUNITIES & CREATING OPPORTUNITIES: Full Annual Report 2021/22.
The review highlights moves towards a London-style transport system – including delivery of the first train in a new £500m publicly-owned fleet, successful battery train trials, station upgrades and work starting on the new Headbolt Lane station. The authority also took a major step towards public control of buses and there were significant developments in active travel, ticketing and upgrading ferry facilities.
A £2 adult single fare was introduced for bus travel and the young person MyTicket was frozen at £2.20 for the next three years. Development of the city region’s state-of-the-art hydrogen bus fleet is also well under way – with the first vehicles set to arrive later this year.
The city region secured a further £710m of transport funding from the Government and work is well underway across the city region to deliver a 212km gigabit-capable full-fibre network.
A £150m Covid Recovery Fund was announced in May last year and an outline Freeport business plan was accepted. The 45 square kilometre Freeport development is expected to attract £800m investment and 14,000 jobs. The city region’s first Innovation Prospectus showcased its world-leading strengths in infection control, materials chemistry, AI solutions and emerging net-zero and maritime technology.
The Prospectus presents a plan to supercharge the city region’s innovation powerhouse credentials and showcases more than £12bn of public sector and private investment opportunities including Mersey Tidal, Hynet and the Freeport. Achieving the city region’s 5% R&D target by 2030 is forecast to deliver an estimated 44,000 jobs and £41.7bn to the local economy.
To support innovation, a further £3.2m was awarded to the £10.5m LYVA Labs project to turn great ideas into businesses, and a £2.24m High Growth Innovation Fund was launched.
Up to £15m will be invested in the city region’s biggest regeneration project in more than a decade, as Everton develop their new stadium at Bramley-Moore Dock, and trips to Ireland and Korea were undertaken to increase international trade, investment and cooperation.
A social value framework was produced that embeds giving something back to the community into all authority activities including awarding contracts and commissioning work.
The Combined Authority took important steps towards ensuring a fairer city region. Providing opportunities through training and adult education were high on the list of priorities. A £9.4m expansion of the award-winning Be More skills hub was announced as a key part of the Mayor’s Youth Guarantee. The goal is to help 1,500 employers train 10,000 people and includes funding to fill immediate skills gaps. A Skills Action Plan was also produced and £8.1m was secured to deliver Skills Bootcamps.
The Adult Education budget supported 30,000 learners with more than half female and over a fifth from Black, Asian and ethnic minority backgrounds, with a similar proportion reporting a disability, learning difficulty or health issue.
The Households Into Work scheme continued to help hundreds of long-term unemployed residents and the pilot Housing First programme continued to provide homes and support for homeless people.
Work is well under way to delivering a £3.2m Race Equality programme and a new Equality Strategy was published aimed at tackling all forms of discrimination.
November’s COP 26 climate conference focussed global attention on the climate crisis – with the Liverpool City Region showcasing local initiatives at the Glasgow event. It was followed by publication of the city region’s Pathway to Net Zero document which outlined the changes needed to reach the 2040 target – and the work already taking place.
Development work continued on the Mersey Tidal Power Project and Hynet was one of two carbon capture, usage and storage schemes chosen by the Government for further development.
The Combined Authority has secured almost £60m to make properties of low-income households more energy efficient. Almost 1,000 have been retrofitted to date.
Construction work started on Glass Futures in St Helens which seeks to decarbonise the energy intensive glass industry.
The £500,000 Community Environment Fund delivered wildflowers, lambs, bees and many more local projects and was so successful it’s back for a second year.
Liverpool City Region’s vibrant culture, creative, visitor and hospitality sectors were offered far-reaching support during the pandemic. The benefits of those interventions became apparent over the year – along with the dividends of high-profile, longer-term investments.
Borough of Culture passed from Halton to Knowsley which this month celebrated the opening of the Shakespeare North Playhouse in Prescot – a scheme backed with £10.55m from the Combined Authority, which also invested nearly £10m upgrading the town’s transport links.
Eureka! Science + Discovery at Seacombe Ferry Terminal is set to become a major new attraction for young people this Autumn following a £6.6m Combined Authority Investment.
The Combined Authority invested £12.8m into Kirkby Town Centre’s ambitious redevelopment – which has delivered a new superstore and leisure facilities over the year with more to come. The Mayor’s £6m Town Centre Fund also helped revitalise local centres, enriching lives and creating opportunities.
£1.8m from the authority is helping Sefton Council redevelop Bootle Strand shopping centre and the Canalside and the £45m Brownfield Land Fund is helping prepare previously developed land for the construction of thousands of new homes.
The music, film and TV industries received special support during the pandemic. The £2m LCR Film Production Fund directly supported six high-quality TV programmes – including Time and Help which each picked up two top Bafta Awards. The fund generated hundreds of much-needed jobs and millions of pounds of income to the pandemic-hit city region economy. A further £1m has been committed to the fund.
Liverpool City Region’s ambitions to become the ‘Hollywood of the North’ were also strengthened with the opening of the Combined Authority-backed Depot film and TV studios in Liverpool.