Thursday, 2 June 2011

Jam tomorrow?

Tony McGann who has led the Eldonians for 30 years often criticises long term strategies with the phrase. "Jam tomorrow, it's always Jam tomorrow." For Tony, promises of economic progress and the transformation of the lives of the local community can't wait until tomorrow. The people have been waiting too long.

I used to echo this sentiment regularly to a former Regeneration Director at Liverpool City Council in the early part of the new century by telling him we had strategies coming out of our ears. What I and my constituents in the Vauxhall Ward ( pre Kirkdale days) wanted was the physical transformation of their area and the creation of new employment opportunities and in the words of political activists throughout the ages, "When do we want it? NOW"

Yet if I want to drive back to see my mother in Gateshead it helps that in times past someone has built a strategic road network including fast highways , signposted the roads and produced maps to help me find the way. The strategic road network does not get me to Gateshead. What gets me to Gateshead is jumping behind the wheel, starting the engine, releasing the handbrake and driving along those roads, following those signs and keeping going until I reach the end of the journey and see my mother's smiling face. I may not get there by lunchtime and I may have to be happy to stop somewhere near Leeds on my way to where I am going. If I take a wrong turning I may have to change direction and if I break down I may have to utilise the services of the man from the AA. My strategy is generally fairly simple for getting there: Down the M62 turn left at the M1 Straight up the A1(M): Past the Angel of the North , and head west through the Team Valley, past the Metro and into Blaydon. That strategy is imprinted on my brain. It is not what gets me to Blaydon but without it I might end up going in circles round Halifax.

And so tomorrow we launch the North Liverpool Strategic Regeneration Framework. This is the map. We know where we want to get to and we know at least part of the route. It will take some time to get to where we want to be and we may have to mark our progress by various milestones along the journey. But if we don't get in our vehicle with a determination to get there and start the engine, the map will be as useless as the information contained in the Domesday Book.

Everton Park
So determinedly Liverpool City Council and its partners throughout North Liverpool and South Sefton will drive the delivery of Liverpool Waters, the development of low carbon businesses and the transformation of  Everton Park. We will  integrate new approaches to neighbourhood management and restructure the housing market to retain existing residents and attract new ones. We will encourage the expansion of the port facilities to create new jobs and attract inward investment. Through Project Jennifer we will deliver modern retail facilities into the area. As Cabinet Member for Regeneration I am relying on people like Max Steinberg of Liverpool Vision and Nick Kavanagh, my Director of Regeneration to deliver all of this.

Max Steinberg

Our first milestone will be to produce the delivery plan and carry out the actions over the next three years that will convince my good friend Mr McGann and all the people and businesses in North Liverpool that it is not "jam tomorrow" but something real, lasting and transformational for an area of the city that has been for too long neglected.