Downtown Liverpool host Joe Anderson at Economy Forum

Last night Joe Anderson officially unveiled plans for ‘city deal’ to Liverpool's business community

Merseyside’s leading business network, Downtown Liverpool in Business (DLIB) held its first Economy Forum of 2012 last night, with guest speaker Liverpool City Council Leader Joe Anderson.

Joe Anderson used  the event as his first opportunity to publicly explain the implications of the new ‘city deal’ he has negotiated with the coalition government and what new powers, resources and responsibilities will be for the city’s first elected mayor in May.

Frank McKenna, Chairman of Downtown Liverpool in Business said: "It was fantastic to welcome Joe Anderson to speak to the business community about the implications an elected mayor will have on the city, and how the £130m of additional funding negotiated through the city deal will be spent.

“Downtown Liverpool in Business has supported the idea of an elected mayor for Liverpool since our inception in 2004, so this is an exciting time. I believe an elected mayor will be hugely significant for Liverpool and can really take the city to the next level."

During the forum, held at the Radisson hotel on Old Hall Street, Joe Anderson defended his controversial decision not to have a public referendum on the issue of an elected mayor, saying that the funding that will be made available by adopting the model was a "game changer for Liverpool”.

As part of the negotiated deal, five ‘mayoral zones’ and one ‘enterprise zone’ will be created throughout the city to help incentivise businesses to grow and stay in Liverpool. Areas where Anderson said he expected to see significant job creation included hospitality, tourism and construction. New schools and homes to meet the demand of the council’s oversubscribed housing list will also be built as a result of the mayoral capital fund and subsequent investment.

He said: "I think it's clear that local government funding will never be the same again so cities have to do things differently. They have to be entrepreneurial, take big opportunities and make bold decisions – that's how we're going to survive and move forward, and create business growth.

"In all honesty, yes, I would have liked a referendum, I'm a democrat after all. But there is £1billion of very real opportunity and growth for us. In May, I would have gone out and asked people to support it and I believe people would have 110 per cent backed it. The decision is a game changer, and will make a very real difference. I'm passionate about this deal and it was the right thing to do. It isn’t about me - it’s about our city and our future.”

He continued, "The main aim for me is very simple; we need to create more economic growth and create jobs, and the business community can play a massive role in helping us shape things. In essence, we have to work together and can plan together for a brighter future for our city. This isn't toytown politics. This has the potential to turn this city into one of the best, not just in the UK but in Europe, and globally. That is my goal."

The DLIB Economy Forum also included presentations from Liverpool Vision on the forthcoming Global Entrepreneurship Congress which is being held in Liverpool in March, offering local businesses the opportunity to find out more about what will be going on during the event, and how they can get involved.