Next week business and council chiefs from across the North will meet to demand a fair transport deal for our region. The summit, backed by Downtown in Business, comes in the wake of a watering down of government pledges on connectivity for the Northern Powerhouse (NP) and the simultaneous approval of Crossrail 2 for London.
We’ll see what the response is from ministers. They’ll need to bear in mind that the Conservative conference is in Manchester this autumn and the issue could be an embarrassing one, if not resolved.
But there is another decision to be taken shortly which will indicate whether the NP is still a priority for the government or if the Midlands Engine is to be favoured in the future. The question before ministers is whether to back Birmingham or Liverpool as the UK’s nominee to host the 2022 Commonwealth Games.
The Liverpool bid has brought rivals together like never before. Everton’s proposed new ground at Bramley Moore Dock would host the athletics, Anfield would stage the rugby sevens. Manchester’s velodrome would be the venue for the cycling. Wayne Rooney, who has played in both cities, has just announced his support for the bid which it is hoped will accelerate a billion pounds of investment in the north docks area and 12,000 jobs.
Liverpool would be a great venue for the Games with other venues like St George’s Hall and the ACC Arena also being used. The North West has already staged one of the most successful Commonwealth Games in Manchester in 2002 and ministers should show confidence in our region again.
This is especially the case as bid chairman Brian Barwick and Mayor Joe Anderson have responded to a crisis following the withdrawal of Durban earlier this year. Liverpool originally intended to bid for 2026. Let’s hope doubts over the city’s ability to deliver to the shorter deadline won’t scupper the bid. Particular focus will be on the ability to deliver Everton’s new stadium. That saga has been dragging on for most of this century.
Birmingham already has a stadium which is the home of UK athletics and claims it is 95% ready to host the games although it does not have an Olympic size swimming pool.
Certainty about facilities being ready on time are important, but so are politics. Conservative Andy Street was recently elected as Mayor of the Birmingham City Region and will be expecting the backing of his government in this important decision.
But as the Liverpool Echo said recently “Birmingham? As the Capital of HS2 and so close to the gold-paved streets of London, they don’t need any further help.”
TRUMP’S WINK TO THE NAZIS.
I wrote a couple of weeks ago that the Trump family could rule America till 2033. Now I wonder if Donald Trump will last the year. The laughable clown has now become sinister. There is a difference between fully armed Nazis and Anti-Nazi protesters reacting unwisely to provocation. Trump either doesn’t understand this or regards the far right as part of his blue-collar coalition.
He is alienating the business community although the turmoil doesn’t seem to be affecting the markets. If it does, the cry for Vice President Pence to steady the ship will grow, although such a transition would be fraught with danger particularly after the scenes in Charlottesville.
Follow me @JimHancockUK