Liverpool must act quickly to prevent civil service jobs going to Manchester

LIVERPOOL must “get its act together” to attract civil service jobs heading to the North West after plans were revealed for Manchester to become the “Whitehall of the North”.

The Government is working on plans to create a super campus in Manchester city centre to house 5,000 civil servants from across the region and attract the proposed relocation of Whitehall Departments.

Liverpool has long cherished a major influx of civil service jobs from the capital but could now be left languishing behind.

Walton MP Peter Kilfoyle said Manchester had been able to attract investment at Liverpool’s expense over the years because of the absence of competition from city leaders. He said: “This is a signal that we need to start some kind of campaign that Liverpool is considered. I notice that once again Manchester Council has got its act together.

“We have got to get in there and lobby quickly, we need to make ministers aware that there is a far more cost effective offer here.

“I shall be writing formally to the council about this, and I will be pressing for a meeting with ministers.”

His fellow Labour MP, Liverpool Riverside’s Louise Ellman, blamed Liverpool council for not being proactive enough.

But deputy council leader Cllr Flo Clucas defended the local authority and said: “The Government needs to be a little more savvy about how the North West is treated and not see it as Manchester-centric.

“I would have hoped that Merseyside, in particular, given the work we have been doing, would be getting government departments. We have the land, we have the housing, we have the people and four universities.

“I think they should look to places like Liverpool, instead of finding the most expensive solution all the time.”

The revelation Manchester is in line to attract more government investment is likely to generate resentment in Liverpool.

It follows the huge investment in the relocation of BBC departments to the Media City complex at Salford Quays.

The Manchester region has already been granted greater devolution powers than the Liverpool city region because its plans were further advanced.

It is believed the Government thinks it makes economic sense to bring jobs together in a single location that could act as an “anchor” for more civil servants.

The campus has been earmarked for a derelict site near Piccadilly Station and would have around 700,000 sq ft of office space.

Government departments are said to have agreed to jointly fund a feasibility study, due by autumn.

Northern Irish developer Ashley Moore, who is behind plans for one of Liverpool’s biggest office blocks in Pall Mall, said he believes the city can offer a cheaper alternative.

He said: “We have submitted plans for a 250,000 sq ft Grade A office development at Pall Mall, and there is also provision within the commercial district master plan for a similar quantity of new office accommodation behind Mercury Court.

“We already have enough space to accommodate this relocation and I am absolutely certain it would be a substantially cheaper option than beginning a complex site assemble and site clearance process with a cumbersome and expensive PFI procurement process.

“The people of Liverpool want to see equity and fairness in the way the two cities are treated by government, and many of them will feel the Liverpool case should be given equal consideration before any final decision is taken.

“I am sure our elected politicians and regeneration agencies will be fighting the city’s corner and we will certainly be putting all our energy and effort into helping to secure these jobs for Liverpool.”

The row comes after the revelation that Liverpool was in the running to attract 2,500 jobs from the relocation of part of the Ministry of Justice.

Louise Ellman, Liverpool Riverside MP, said: “The question has to be ‘why is Liverpool Council not pursuing this?’

“If Manchester secures this project, it will be because their council took the initiative and they work as a team.

“Liverpool Council needs to be more open and proactive.”

Frank McKenna, of business lobby group Downtown Liverpool in Business, said: “This is a further example of how far we are behind our neighbours down the M62. We may have improved during the past decade, but we are still playing catch up, which is why DLIB has been calling for better co-ordination across the agencies in Merseyside.”