Mersey Maritime Chief Executive, Chris Shirling-Rooke, has responded to the publication of the government’s Levelling-Up White Paper which was unveiled by the Secretary of State for Levelling-Up, Housing and Communities, the Rt Hon Michael Gove MP on Wednesday 02 February 2022. The paper sets out a vision to ‘transform the UK by spreading opportunity and prosperity to all parts of it’ themes which resonate strongly with the work of a regional cluster organisation such as Mersey Maritime.
Commenting, Mr Shirling-Rooke, said:
“Mersey Maritime has long championed the needs, aspirations and opportunities that coastal communities represent both for the regional economy in which we sit and indeed the nation as a whole. We welcome the publication of this much anticipated flagship government policy paper but we’d like to see it go further and to put coastal areas at its heart. To be truly meaningful and transformational, levelling-up can’t just be about a narrow north/south or urban/rural perspective.
“We know that our coastal towns and cities are amongst the most deprived communities across the country and that the life chances of people who live in them can often be considerably worse than in other areas. Young people often don’t see the coast as being somewhere where they can get the best possible start in life, secure a great job and contribute to the regional economy by living and working there in the long term. It doesn’t have to be that way.
“We also know that the maritime industry represents a considerable opportunity to help transform coastal communities and that’s a huge and important part of the work that Mersey Maritime is engaged in. This isn’t just a fine principle; it’s embedded in fact. The latest figures we have show that the industry supports 52,000 jobs regionally, contributes over £4billion to the economy and has some of the best paid and productive workers of any sector.
“That’s why we’d like to see greater emphasis from the government on the need to respond to the unique challenges faced by the coast but with an understanding that there is an industry ready and waiting to help lead the change we all want to see.
“Mersey Maritime was proud to play it’s part in the publication of a Coastal Powerhouse Manifesto, launched at London International Shipping Week last September, in collaboration with our key partners, Maritime UK and a range of others. This practical and oven-ready paper sets out how we can grow the maritime sector in coastal economies and realise the ambition that the Levelling-Up White Paper aspires towards.
“The white paper gives a nod to the power of industry-led regional cluster organisations coming together to champion a specific agenda in a particular area that is entirely focused on driving growth, creating jobs and delivering the regeneration opportunities that our coastal areas so desperately need. That work is at the heart of what Mersey Maritime does and of the vision we roll out around the coast of the United Kingdom in partnership with the Department for Transport and Maritime UK. We stand ready to propel this agenda forward in the months and years ahead and to help unleash the potential we know exists in our region and right around the whole coast of our country.”
Read more about the Coastal Powerhouse Manifesto HERE