Liverpool has grown so much in a matter of years. Much of that growth is thanks to Liverpool’s first elected mayor, Joe Anderson. The former Merchant Seaman’s life has been intertwined with both politics and the sea, but his heart firmly belongs to the people and city of Liverpool.
2015 was a fantastic year for city, which just seemed to improve each and every day. There were so many wonderful events, opportunities and development projects that emerged, thanks to Liverpool City Council. We therefore have chosen to highlight the 25 amazing things Joe Anderson done for Liverpool in 2015.
1. Homeowners Step onto the Property Ladder for Just £1
Stepping onto the property ladder is never easy, but Joe Anderson made the process a whole lot simpler for those who dream of owning their own home. To regenerate homes that have lain empty and boarded up for a number of years, the mayor made a bold decision to sell houses for just £1.
With first time buyers struggling to enter the housing market, and with empty properties taking their toll on the council’s tax income, the mayor developed the successful Homes for a Pound scheme – which aligned with his commitment to utilise empty properties when he became Leader of the Council in 2010.
The 2015 Homes for a Pound scheme followed the 2013 pilot scheme, which included 20 houses across Edge Hill and Toxteth. To ensure property developers could not purchase the houses to make a quick profit, the council set a few ground rules to ensure the homes went to first time buyers.
Those looking to buy a £1 property had to be a first time buyer that lived or worked in Liverpool, and also had to live in the property for a minimum of five years before they could sell or lease their home. Homeowners also had one year to develop the property to a high standard before it officially become their home. The council are committed to bringing 4,000 properties back into use, which will allow people to have access to their own home, regardless of their budget.
2. Appointed to Lead the City’s Super Cabinet
In December 2015, Joe Anderson was unanimously appointed to lead the region’s “super cabinet” by other council leaders on the Liverpool City Region Combined Authority. The mayor will therefore prepare for the “metro mayor” election in May 2017, in addition to further negotiations with the UK government to devolve many powers to the city region.
As metro chair, Joe Anderson will lead the super cabinet, who are made up of council leaders from Sefton, St Helens, Wirral, Knowsley and Halton, who will each have key roles in economic development, housing, health and transport. He has stated his sole aim is to make things better for the people he represents, as the devolvement will allow the region to shape its own destiny. The appointment will make Joe Anderson a strong Labour candidate in 2017.
3. Innovative Invest to Earn Strategy
It was announced in December 2015 that the mayor’s Invest to Earn strategy is generating £3 million per year, and has created 1,600 new jobs whilst attracting £150 million of additional funding. The Invest to Earn strategy has led to the purchase and refurbishment of the historic Cunard Building, the £61 million investment in the new Exhibition Centre Liverpool and the four star Pullman hotel, and the £14 million acquisition of Finch Farm Training Ground. The council is passionate about investing in projects that will offer a significant benefit to the city, with the money generated being reinvested into essential services.
4. £80m Improvement Programme for Liverpool’s Roads
Liverpool city council announced an £80 million improvement programme to improve the city’s perilous roads, which they aim to complete within 5 years. Just some of the areas that will benefit from the improvement programme are the East Lancs Road, Walton Hall Avenue, Scotland Road, Smithdown Road & Allerton Road, County Road/Walton Road, plus many more.
Whilst the improvements are bound to cause disruption, the necessary work will make the streets of Liverpool much safer. The funding will come from capital receipts, external funding from utility companies and borrowing, as the council are unable to repair the roads with the annual funding they receive from the central government.
5. Stonebridge Cross Development
Liverpool City Council announced plans to regenerate Stonebridge Cross in Croxteth for future development, with the hope of attracting new business whilst ensuring the area provides residents with a wonderful place to live.
The council plan to create a new access road to open up Stonebridge Cross, which is the largest development plot in the city, as it has planning permission for over one million square foot of warehousing and distribution floor space. Not only will this result in significant business investment, but it will provide multiple job opportunities for locals.
6. Tarmacademy Construction Training Centre
In partnership with Kings Construction, Liverpool City Council announced plans to create a new £2.5 million Tarmacademy training centre, which will train 1,000 unemployed young people to become road builders within the next five years.
The new centre is expected to be created in the dockland area, and will also feature an asphalt plant that will be operated by asphalt company Cemex. The new plant would mean there would no longer be a need to transport raw materials to the company’s base in Manchester, which will greatly benefit the environment whilst ensuring the materials are road ready onsite, rather than transporting the materials to Manchester before returning to Liverpool.
7. Commitment to Keeping the Bombed Out Church in Public Ownership
Last year, Joe Anderson pledged his commitment to ensuring St Luke’s Church (the Bombed Out Church) remains in public ownership, after asking for views on how to best preserve the church. The council has gone on to state they will consider “the most appropriate way to secure a viable long-term future for St Luke’s”.
Liverpool adores the Grade II* listed building, which is a standing monument of the Liverpool Blitz and a memorial to those who were lost in WWII. The council’s pledge to keep the church in public ownership will ensure the building maintains its unique character.
8. Rebuilt 12 Schools as Part of a £169m Scheme
Liverpool’s children are the city’s future, which is why Joe Anderson wants to give young people the best start in life with a fantastic education. As a result, Liverpool City Council has refurbished twelve schools between 2013 to 2015, and they plan to refurbish another four by 2017. Just some of the schools refurbished in 2015 include Holly Lodge Girls College, St Francis Xavier’s College, St Hilda’s High School and Northway Primary School.
9. Liverpool Construction Projects Top £1 Billion
In November 2015, Mayor Joe Anderson stated “Liverpool’s best days are still head” – after the city’s construction projects topped £1 billion. The investment is a testament to the city’s growth in the last five years, and similar growth is expected this year. The 2015 schemes included the £429 million development of Royal Liverpool Hospital, £237 million development of Alder Hey Hospital and the £156 million Anfield development. The mayor is now encouraging further investment into Liverpool, saying “on behalf on my city, you are always welcome to come and talk to me and my team”.
10. Plans to Merge Liverpool’s Two Biggest Hospitals
The people of Liverpool are the heart of all Joe Anderson’s plans for the city, which he has backed calls to merge two of our biggest hospitals. The directors of the Royal Liverpool University Hospital and Aintree Hospital are now considering become a single organisation, and Joe Anderson has stated he has always encouraged a stronger collaboration and is in favour of a merger, which he believes would offer a higher standard of healthcare for patients.
11. With Love from Liverpool
Joe Anderson was the man behind the fundraising concert With Love From Liverpool, which took place on 19th September 2015. All profits made from the event were donated to the British Red Cross to support their ongoing efforts to aid war refugees.
The concert featured plenty of local talent who were happy to take to the stage to raise money for the charity, including MiC Lowry, Cast, Space, The Farm, OMD, John Power, The Icicle Works, plus many more. With Love from Liverpool was also hosted by Liverpool comedian John Bishop.
12. Plans to Become a Third Party Investor in Liverpool John Lennon Airport
In order to improve the facilities at Liverpool John Lennon Airport, the council may become a third party investor in its development. Liverpool City Council may therefore enter into a joint venture with two companies, with the hope of investing in the airport to make a significant return on their investment. Joe Anderson believes investment in the airport is in the city’s best interest, as it will create more jobs, boost economic growth and could allow for significant expansion.
13. Littlewoods Film Studios
In September 2015, the Liverpool Council cabinet approved a proposal for a £25 million film studio on Edge Lane, which will be named Littlewoods Studios Liverpool. The new film studio will ensure Liverpool can meet the growing demand for film and production facilities, as the city missed out on a potential of £20 million due to a lack of capacity between 2014-2015. Littlewoods Film Studio will also result in the creation 0f 900 full time jobs, with 1,500 jobs during the development of the scheme.
14. Lobbies to Ban Racist Marches
When National Action announced they would hold a White Man March in Liverpool last August, Joe Anderson made his feelings very clear, calling for free speech curbs should any group attempt to “threaten, intimidate and hurt the community”. Undeterred by Joe’s comments, the protest went ahead, but National Action soon received a shock when passionate Scousers drove the organisation out of the city.
Joe Anderson praised Liverpudlians for standing up to the protesters, and stated he would continue to lobby the UK government for powers to ban any march that incited hatred. He also went on to say, “Liverpool is a vibrant, multi-cultural city, and we utterly reject the message of fascist groups who want to come to our city and spread their vile and hateful message.”
15. Offered Shelter to 100 Refugees Fleeing Syria
On 16th September 2015, Joe Anderson put forward a proposal to offer shelter to 100 refugees fleeing the Syrian crisis. He stated that failing to help Syrian refugees was not an option, and encouraged other local authorities to follow his lead. The mayor believes the British government failed in their duty to respond to the crisis, as well as providing support to the refugees fleeing persecution, saying every international, national and local politician has a responsibility to step up and alleviate the suffering of refugees.
16. Lime Street Station Upgrade for 2017 – 2018
Work will begin on Lime Street Station in 2017 or 2018 as part of a new £1bn investment in the north of England’s railways. The station is expected to be closed for up to two months to allow the city to accommodate modern trains in the future. The improved layout will maximise train access, improve flexibility and enable longer trains to stop at the station. Lime Street will therefore be able to welcome an increased number of passengers every year.
Joe Anderson commented: “We have to expand as the city grows and upgrade the station. It’s long overdue. We want a city centre train station that represents the ambitions of Liverpool and can accommodate modern trains. It will be well and truly planned, but there is no question it has to be done.”
17. Plans for a New Railway Station Near the City Centre
In order to provide better connectivity to and from Liverpool, Joe Anderson announced plans to potentially create a new rail station at the former Archbishop Blanch school site within two years. With essential improvement work planned for Lime Street Station, the mayor believes the city must plan ahead for the future, as the city continues to grow along with its economy.
18. Personally Removed Cones Off Liverpool Streets
Last August, Joe Anderson apologised for traffic cones that were unnecessarily blocking the city’s roads, and personally removed 40 cones and two signs at the Prescott Road and Green Lane junction, stating “this was not the first time I have had to do this”. Back in 2010, the mayor got stuck in to remove 30 traffic cones that caused gridlock in Dale Street, much to the delight of frustrated motorists.
19. Provided 10 Houses to Help Homelessness
Liverpool was recently identified as the best performing city when dealing with homelessness, alongside Leicester. Following the city’s strong track record, Liverpool city council made the announcement they would provide Progressive Lifestyle Solutions (PLS), a social enterprise, with 10 houses to help those in need rebuild their lives. PLS will then refurbish the properties and work closely with those who are homeless, developing the skills they need to live independently.
20. One Magnificent City
Liverpool City Council and Culture Liverpool offered seven weeks of exciting events in 2015 in the form of One Magnificent City (OMC), which was a celebration of Liverpool’s maritime history and transatlantic links. 1.6 million visitors headed into Liverpool city centre to see the Three Queens, attend the much-loved LightNight and to enjoy the Transatlantic 175 weekend (T175), and more. One Magnificent City, which ran from Friday 15th May to Sunday 5th July, attracted over 300,000 people to Liverpool One, with an economic benefit that was in the tens of millions.
21. The International Mersey River Festival
Joe Anderson backed and supported the development of the 100 Club, which has a vision to catapult The International Mersey River Festival, which was part of OMC. The 100 Club Mayoral Initiative provides the opportunity for private sector organisations to become part of the popular event that attracts thousands of people to the three day event, and is a celebration of the city’s maritime history.
In June 2015, The International Mersey River Festival attracted 400,000 people to Liverpool’s waterfront, which offered three live music stages with performances from Sam Bailey, Kym Marsh, DJ Craig Charles, Collabro and Rebecca Ferguson, as well as street entertainment, air displays, a raft race and the first ever Northern Boat Show.
22. Liverpool Council Buy the Festival Garden Site
Liverpool’s Festival Gardens site could soon be transformed into a “world class cultural destination”, as Liverpool City Council announced in June that it had bought the land, which could become a new open space for the public. Joe Anderson hopes the site could soon host a variety of music, public art and theatre events. The mayor also believes the area could also become a vibrant outdoor classroom for local children, as well as creating high quality houses from council tax revenue.
23. Hopes to Restore Liverpool to New York Cunard Link
Liverpool has a wonderful maritime heritage that has defined the city’s culture and history. In order to continue the city’s seafaring legacy, Joe Anderson has great ambitions to restore Cunard’s cruise ship link between Liverpool and New York. The move would align with the increased demand from US cruise passengers who wish to travel to Liverpool.
24. Integral to Liverpool’s Resurgence
Joe has been instrumental in the resurgence of Liverpool’s development, at a time when most cities have struggled to regain their momentum from before the property crash. This is due to Joe ensuring his planning team have his backing to push through as many developments as they can – which in turn takes dereliction from our streets, creates much needed jobs and, above all, creates much-needed funds through our rating system to meet the uphill task of filling the funding void left by central government.
25. Key Role in the Inauguration of Liverpool
With Liverpool being the larger of the 6 councils, Mayor Joe Anderson has been integral in the inauguration of the Liverpool City region, which brings together St Helens, Wirral, Halton, Sefton, Knowsley and Liverpool – this new authority will have governance over the entire region, which has a combined population of 1.5 million people.
You only have to look around the city to see the wonderful work taking place each and every day. 2015 was a fantastic year for our magnificent city, and we cannot wait to see what 2016 brings.