Rod Holmes, chairman of tourism board and economic advice agency The Mersey Partnership, is still confident Peel's plans to spend £100m on the Post-Panamax terminal at Seaforth will happen.
Holmes, ex-Grosvenor projects director responsible for delivering the £1bn Liverpool One regeneration scheme, was speaking at the signing of the second and final phase of the Liverpool City Region Multi Area Agreement at the Liverpool Tate this afternoon.
John Healey, Minister of State for Housing and Planning, Phil Woolas, Minister for the North West, and Cllr Tony McDermott, deputy chair of the Liverpool City Region Cabinet, joined Holmes to sign the final phase of the Multi Area Agreement held within the conference suite at Liverpool Tate.
Holmes believes Peel's plans to build the Post-Panamax terminal big enough for the new generation of ships, wider than the original Panama canal, would make a significant contribution to the City Region's SuperPort economic priority.
He said: "Peel has said that they are still going to go-ahead with the Post-Panamax facilities. They are and will remain part of City Region, working on the SuperPort, not just with the Post-Panamax scheme, but on their other ports along the estuary and their airport, of course, and so on. They are very much involved in our sub-regional working arm on SuperPort."
Peel remains tightlipped about a start date despite gaining planning consent two years ago and seemingly is prepared to start on site at Port Salford earlier than Liverpool.
The Multi Area Agreement between the six local authorities of Halton, Knowsley, Liverpool, St Helens, Sefton, Wirral, and the Government represents the next stage in city region working.
The Multi Area Agreement aims at helping the Liverpool City Region to continue to compete for jobs and investment and create a thriving international City Region.
This will be delivered through four transformational actions:
- Culture and the Visitor Economy
- Liverpool SuperPort
- Low Carbon Economy
- Knowledge Economy
Holmes reiterated that the aim of the Liverpool SuperPort economic priority is to make it a global destination and logistics hub.
He added: "It's about working our assets like the whole maritime quarter assets much harder by making sure we, the public and private sectors, work together and with various local authorities so that we can get more action, more business, more wealth and job creation out of that sector."
By capitalising on these economic opportunities, those involved in the agreement believe there is significant potential for Liverpool City Region to narrow the economic productivity gap with the rest of the UK.
Delivering the transformational actions will also mean:
- Investment of £110m to 2012 in tourism events and infrastructure supporting local businesses and creating jobs
- Increasing the current 9,000 people directly employed in the environmental technologies sector by 6,000 to 15,000 by 2015
- Positioning Liverpool City Region as an international region of knowledge and science renowned for its creativity and innovation
These actions will then be supported by activities which are hoped to reduce 'worklessness' and increase skill levels through the following aims:
- Reducing the number of workless people in the City Region by some 81,000
- Turning around the decline in house building and ensure that 3,800 homes are completed per year by the end of 2012
- Increasing the rate we tackle poor quality housing by 20% each year by 2012
- Helping an extra 2,000 workless people a year get back into work by providing public transport services that link jobs with disadvantaged residential areas
- Using a Smarter Choices programme to support the Low Carbon economic priority through a transport network that reduces carbon dioxide emissions and tackles climate change
- Supporting SuperPort by improving access to the Port and Liverpool John Lennon Airport
On 12 January 2009 the six local authorities and partners signed the first phase of the Multi Area Agreement in Downing Street, formally committing the region to work together to help safeguard local jobs, improve the skills of people and support business.
This partnership, led by Knowsley Council, has helped 32,655 people from benefits and into work during 2008-09, and created 100 City Region apprentices in sectors identified as key for growth.
Cllr Ron Round, leader of Knowsley Council and chair of the Liverpool City Region Cabinet, who could not attend the signing due to other commitments, said in a statement: "The document we are signing today further cements the support that we have from the Government to make a real difference in the Liverpool City Region.
"I welcome this commitment to closer working which I believe sweeps away unnecessary bureaucracy in our collective efforts to securing sustainable economic growth for the people of this region."
Holmes, who represents the private sector on the City Region cabinet, added: "We have already shown that we can work together at the City Regional level. Central Government is now committed to recognise the decisions we take about City Region priorities."