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Heseltine Institute: Five key areas of focus for Metro Mayor Steve Rotheram

The University of Liverpool’s Heseltine Institute for Public Policy and Practice  has identified five priority areas for the Liverpool City Region and its Metro Mayor Steve Rotheram.

The institute’s new report suggests a focus on enhancing the region’s standing as a destination for students and graduates as well as harnessing the power of the River Mersey.

‘An Agenda for Liverpool City Region’ also recommends effort should be placed on:

  • Developing an industrial strategy for the Liverpool City Region
  • Meeting the challenge presented by deprivation
  • Developing a strategy for regeneration of town centre retail

To address the first priority area – developing an industrial strategy – the report says the region is “extremely well-placed” to leverage the government’s £1 billion Industrial Challenge Research Fund.

The report also makes the point that this work would be enhanced by further research on the economic geography of the North West’s urban corridor between Liverpool and Manchester, as part of a new “progressive phase” between the two great cities of the region.

Dr Alex Lord, author of the report, says: “In commissioning this work there was a very clear intention by the Heseltine Institute to support local policy makers through doing what our universities are best at: producing new data and intelligence and conducting primary research.

“We hope that the findings presented meet this challenge and provide policy makers with a new body of evidence on the key questions that confront the Liverpool City Region (LCR).”

The report finds that the proportion of students from LCR who choose to stay and study is relatively high, but there is still work to do on enhancing the profile of the city region as an attractor of graduate level employees post-graduation.

To address this, the report recommends the creation of a City Regional Strategy on Graduate Attraction and Retention, comprising all stakeholders, and with a “clear set of goals” to deliver the highly-skilled workforce the region needs.

Dr Paul Redmond, University of Liverpool’s director of student experience and enhancement, adds: “We know from our own students that the LCR is a highly attractive place to study and work. But so too are many other UK regions.

“What’s needed locally are more graduate-level opportunities so that ambitious and highly skilled graduates are encouraged to remain in the region to develop their careers.

With regards to retail, the report identifies areas where facilities outperform other UK offers, but also notes that some town and district centres have experienced significant retail decline, with an attendant effect on sense of place.

Perhaps the biggest opportunity presented by the report is the harnessing of the River Mersey for renewable energy generation. But it notes that, unlike other UK and world estuarial cities, there is no governance structure in place to manage the asset.