With £200m of EU structural funding on the way, the Liverpool City Region won’t wait for Westminster to sort itself out over Brexit.
So Joe Anderson, mayor of Liverpool and chair of the city region’s combined authority, says he’s ready to go direct to Brussels to keep that £200m coming – if Westminster can’t commit.
But “Mayor Joe” won’t let Westminster off easy.
“The referendum on the UK’s membership of the European Union has created a great deal of uncertainty about how our city region responds to the challenges created by the result.
“We will meet with government and call on them to commit to replace EU funding and meet their obligations towards our devolution deal and devolve the funds to the city region level,” he said.
But if the government wavers, “Mayor Joe” says the region won’t wait three months for the stability that a new prime minister should bring.
“So we are determined to provide it ourselves.
“I am starting a programme of post-referendum summits which will bring together the key stakeholders from the business, civic and political communities. This is so we can make our own assessment of how the referendum will affect us, how we can agree to respond in unison and put in place actions to support each other.
“For example, we will meet with government and call on them to commit to replace EU funding and meet their obligations towards our devolution deal and devolve the funds to the city region level.
“But I also intend to open up our own lines of communication with Brussels, working with our MEPs to set up meetings and do everything I can to shape whatever transitional arrangements there may be to maximise the benefit for our Liverpool City Region,” he said.
The region was due to benefit from a commitment of over £200m of EU structural funds over the next few years while many organisations would also have been bidding for other EU programmes such as those for connectivity and innovation.
These monies fund job creating projects in the city region and when combined with other sources mean that over £400m of investment is potentially at risk.
One direct impact already acknowledged hits the approximately 2,100 jobs that would have been created, over 2,100 new business startups, over 6,700 business assists and over 57,000 people who would have been helped in total by the structural funds programme.