Metro Mayor launches Town Centres Commission

STEVE Rotheram, Metro Mayor of the Liverpool City Region, has launched an independent Town Centres Commission to ensure that the city region’s town centres have a prosperous and sustainable long-term future.

Made up of 13 individuals with experience across a broad range of sectors, the Liverpool City Region Town Centres Commission will meet regularly until September 2020.

The Commission will produce a final report setting out a vision for prosperous town centres in the Liverpool City Region, along with recommendations for how that can be achieved.

The Commission is independent and will be chaired by Sarah Longlands, Director of IPPR North. IPPR North has also been commissioned by the Combined Authority to act as a secretariat for the Commission.

Speaking about the new Commission, Metro Mayor Steve Rotheram said: “There has been a renewed focus on towns following December’s general election – and with good reason. Our economy, both regionally and nationally, will not thrive unless success is shared between our cities and our towns. This is something I have been acutely aware of.

“When I was elected in 2017, I promised that no borough would be left behind. That’s why I established a £6m fund to help revitalise high streets in every part of our region. It’s why I’ve helped our local councils in their efforts to regenerate town centres, such as the £15m of support we’ve offered to Knowsley Council for Kirkby and it’s why I have established this commission.

“We are bringing together experts from a range of sectors to help us find sustainable solutions to the challenges we face. I want this commission to help us safeguard the future of our town centres to ensure that they remain at the heart of our communities for generations to come.”

Sarah Longlands, Director, IPPR North and Independent Chair of the Liverpool City Region Town Centres Commission, said:

“Historically, town centres have been important for local communities, offering people a place to shop, access services and to celebrate.  They are more than just streets and shop fronts but often represent an area’s history and identity. 

“At IPPR North we are delighted to welcome the establishment of the Liverpool City Region Town Centres Commission as a means to support the changing role of town centres now and in the future.   For too long, town centres have been on the edge of the debate about the North’s economy, now is the time to listen to our communities and businesses and work with them to build a better future in the places that matter to them.”

It is proposed that the commission will use the following four policy areas as a core focus for its work:

  • How do town centres support a sense of place and belonging in Liverpool City Region?
  • How can policy decisions on the environment, planning, and infrastructure best support our town centres?
  • How can town centres operate as a hub for business and civil society in the longer term?
  • How can town centres manage change to play a role in the future?

Commissioners have been selected to reflect a broad range of experiences and perspectives. All Commissioners serve in an individual capacity. The Commissioners are:

Alex Singleton, Professor of Geographic Information Science, University of Liverpool

Bronwen Rapley, Chief Executive, Onward Homes

Claire McColgan MBE, Director, Culture Liverpool

Cllr Pam Thomas, Councillor, Liverpool City Council

Dan Davies, CEO, Rockpoint Leisure

John Csizmadia, Lloyds Banking Group

Kim Cooper, Senior Town Planner, @ideasforliverpool (Arup)

Laura Pye, Director, National Museums Liverpool

Liam Kelly, Chief Executive Officer, Make CIC

Phil McCabe, Federation of Small Businesses

Sarah Taylor, Executive Director, Sefton Council

Sarah Longlands, Director, IPPR North (Chair)

Vidhya Alakeson, Chief Executive, Power to Change

In addition to the meetings of the Commission, throughout its life IPPR North will undertake desk-based research, qualitative and quantitative analysis, stakeholder interviews and other forms of community engagement in the Liverpool City Region.

17 town centres from across Liverpool City Region’s 6 constituent authorities have been identified for focus:

  • Liverpool City Centre
  • Widnes Town Centre
  • Runcorn Town Centre
  • Halton Lea Town Centre
  • Huyton Town Centre
  • Kirkby Town Centre
  • Prescot Town Centre
  • Southport Town Centre
  • Bootle Town Centre
  • St Helens Town Centre
  • Earlestown Town Centre
  • Birkenhead Town Centre
  • Liscard (Wallasey) Town Centre
  • Heswall Town Centre
  • Moreton Town Centre
  • New Brighton Town Centre
  • West Kirby Town Centre