The Liverpool City Region has the opportunity to create a “real force for good” by strengthening ties with cross border partners in Wales and Ireland according to the area’s Metro Mayor.
Steve Rotherham said the North West, North Wales and Ireland can create a collective “powerhouse” by forging lasting partnerships as he joined with ministers and officials for a meeting on how the three areas can strengthen their economic and cultural ties. Mr Rotheram alongside Andy Burnham – Mayor of Greater Manchester – met with First Minister of Wales Mark Drakeford and Lesley Griffiths MS, Minister for North Wales for a series of engagements and discussions on how to develop cross border relationships.
With Counsel General of Ireland, Denise McQuade, the panel held a press conference in Venue Cymru, Llandudno, outlining how they would look to move forward together. Mr Rotheram said the visit to North Wales built on the trip to Ireland he and Mr Burnham took in March last year and represented an opportunity to work more closely with the Welsh Government.
Acknowledging Liverpool’s cultural role as “the second capital of North Wales,” Mr Rotheram said officials’ eyes had been opened to the possibilities of collaborative work, through industries like advanced manufacturing and technology. The Metro Mayor said work on this scale between the North West and North Wales had never been done before and said it is “the right time because devolution is much more embedded in the Liverpool City Region.”
He said there is a “maturity” to relationships held in the region and it now had the opportunity to be more outward looking. Strengthening the links between the partner areas could create a “genuine force for good,” according to the Metro Mayor, which was something he felt the rest of the UK could learn from.
First Minister Mr Drakeford said more than 200,000 pass from North Wales into the Liverpool City Region and wider North West region every day and it was vital to work with partners in England to harness the “combined power” available economically. Mayor of Greater Manchester Mr Burnham said all parties had agreed to work together on securing improved transport services which are “just not good enough for people in this area.”
Acknowledging his and Mr Rotheram’s move away from Parliament to their city regions, he said it had been a “joint decision” for them both to amplify the voice of the North. Mr Rotheram said the working future ahead could act as a starting point to “develop skills so we can align better.”
Image: (L-R) Andy Burnham, Mark Drakeford, and Steve Rotheram