I was delighted to be part of the Lord Mayor’s party to visit Liverpool on 25 February. The Lord Mayor’s year includes many visits overseas but also a growing number of regional visits to those UK cities that are closely involved with the Financial and Professional Services sector. I know well how connected Liverpool is. The legal firm that I first joined as an articled clerk, then known as Alsop Stevens Batesons & Co, was a Liverpool/London firm, in that order. The business started in Liverpool in the mid-19th century and came to London in 1954. The work of the firm was rooted in the maritime and insurance world with some major banking clients as well. That same mix of maritime and wealth management is strong in Liverpool today. The visit provided a great insight into that sector and into the education and research being carried out at the University of Liverpool and the innovation and growth happening on a major scale.
Any Mayoral visit hopes to meet the main leaders of the City and we were pleased to have meetings with the Metro Mayor of the Liverpool City Region, Steve Rotheram and the Civic Lord Mayor, Councillor Mary Rasmussen. Mayor Steve was keen to talk about the digital connectivity of the Liverpool area which would be a real driver for the region. Further links with London and potential private financing of new businesses and innovation could build a positive partnership. The Lord Mayor showed us the Town Hall which was built just 10 years after the City's Mansion House. It is not surprising that Liverpool's Georgian architecture has been much lauded.
Our day started on the Waterside and coffee with Stephen Cowperthwaite of Avison Young and a member of the Professional Liverpool Board. He was very upbeat about the positive developments in the city including the Spine - said to be the UK's healthiest building. We were lucky enough to visit this landmark later in the day and see the accommodation that the Royal College of Physicians has taken as a second location outside London. Such a good choice with the Knowledge Quarter burgeoning with medical and pharma occupiers. The new Pandemic Institute is a global first and will stand alongside the work of iiCON, the infection innovation consortium, that we visited. This is led by Professor Janet Hemingway of the Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine. We were shown state of the art facilities and learned about their development of products that will help reduce the burden of disease worldwide.
The University of Liverpool was also a key partner and we could see the benefit of this campus site in the centre of the City and the Knowledge Quarter. The Stephenson Institute for Renewable Energy was very much my interest and the science research here is just the sort of innovation needed to be financed to help mitigate rising carbon emissions. Solar power and a more efficient way of collecting and transmitting this with the possible use of perovskite solar cells was one lesson I learned ( hoping that I got the science right in this case).
I do not want to miss mentioning our visit to the Tate Liverpool to see an amazing range of works that included a hill village built of couscous and wallpaper paste as well as an image of our own City’s London Bridge in Arizona. The Tate has a significant outreach programme that clearly helps to build community links and provides education, job experience and employment.
Liverpool struck me as a very cohesive City, confident of their way forward and with strong leadership and aims.