Merseyside to become biggest UK low carbon economy

September 21st, 2009

clouds2Liverpool City-Region Councils have gained further freedoms and powers to work together to create jobs by transforming the tourism and low carbon economy in the region, announced Housing and Planning Minister John Healey in Liverpool today.

Councils increasingly need to join forces across their borders to mastermind regional solutions for getting more people back in to work, raising skills levels, increasing and improving local housing or developing new transport links. The Government is helping local authorities to organise this devolved work formally through new Multi-Area Agreements (MAAs).

The new second stage of the agreement sees Liverpool, Knowsley, St Helens, Wirral, Sefton, Halton councils undertaking four key actions to drive economic growth:

transforming the tourism and culture 
transport links
creating a low carbon economy
creating a knowledge economy

The deal with central government agrees a single blueprint for the Liverpool City-Region to become energy self sufficient and make Merseyside one of the premier short break European holiday destinations.

Today’s pact builds on the employment and skills MAA signed by the Prime Minister in January and demonstrates the partnership’s commitment to tackling the economic challenges faced in all sectors of the city region.

John Healey said:

“People live and work across different council boundaries so it is right that local authorities work together. By co-ordinating on the pressing issues their areas face, councils can deliver better services and offer taxpayers better value for money.

“Merseyside’s latest agreement will give councils new powers to decide how to drive forward a new low carbon economy that also helps beat the downturn by creating 6,000 new green jobs.

“They have also decided to take responsibility for deciding how to improve the tourism sector further so Liverpool becomes one of the most popular destinations in Europe by directing their spending and support where it is most needed.

“By joining forces through MAAs, councils will also avoid unnecessary duplication helping to ensure that taxpayers’ money is being worked as hard as possible in the current climate.”

Regional Minister for the North West, Phil Woolas said:

“Liverpool is once again emerging as a world class city. The city region is absolutely crucial to the North West as it’s one of the economic powerhouses of the region. Over recent years its economic performance has been impressive, outstripping both regional and national rates.

“Today’s signing confirms the determination of all the partners to work with each other and with the Government and its agencies in the Region, to build on its successes and deliver its vision to benefit local people, the region and UK plc.”

Following intensive discussions with local business and central Government the Merseyside partnership has pledged to deliver real change, including the following:

The low carbon pledge – sees councils setting goals to become energy self sufficient and a net energy exporter by 2030 with the aim of becoming the biggest low carbon goods and services city-region economy in UK. As part of this partners aim to increase the current 9,000 people directly employed in the environmental technologies sector to 15,000 by 2015
The culture and tourism pledge will see councils aiming to make Liverpool one of Europe’s top 20 favourite places to visit, building on the success of the city’s year as European Capital of Culture in 2008. Already Liverpool has over 4m overnight visitors a year. An additional £110m will be invested in tourism events and infrastructure supporting local businesses and creating jobs
The transport pledge will see councils take responsibility for developing the Liverpool Superport to become a global destination and logistics hub. The Smarter Choices programme will support the Low Carbon Economy through a transport network that reduces carbon dioxide emissions and tackles climate change
The MAA also includes ambitions to position Liverpool City Region as an international region of knowledge and science renowned for its creativity and innovation.
To demonstrate the local nature of MAAs ministers are signing agreements regionally. Last week three other MAAs covering North Kent, West Midlands and West of England were signed and in the coming weeks the Fylde Coast and the Olympic host boroughs are expected to be signed also. This will take the number of council agreements to fifteen – covering more than one hundred councils.

Over the last decade, the Government has increasingly strengthened the powers councils have as part of progressive devolution from Whitehall to the town hall. For example, councils now have three-year funding settlements, greater flexibility on how they spend money and fewer targets.

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