Downtown Liverpool celebrated its eighth anniversary last night – on the same day that the city unveiled its first elected mayor.
When I established DLIB back in 2004, the primary campaigning objective was to have an elected mayor for Liverpool. Not only was it seen as a way of offering us a more transparent and dynamic civic leadership, but it would mean a politician being in charge of the city on a full-time basis.
Though only two short years ago, it seems almost ludicrous now that Liverpool’s leader was also a full time fire fighter as recently as 2010. Before that Mike Story, who achieved some impressive results as city boss, combined the leader role with a head teacher’s position. It was a madness that ended when Joe Anderson’s Labour Party took control of the council in 2010, and he delivered on his promise to devote the time that the job not only deserved but demanded.
I am delighted that Joe has now been given the mandate to continue the momentum that he has built during his two year tenure as elected mayor, in particular an opportunity to forge even stronger partnerships with the private sector, and carry on promoting brand Liverpool on the national and international stage.
Downtown’s ambitions are less about world domination, and more about providing an independent private sector voice for the city’s business community. I think it is fair to say that we have earned the reputation as the most likely business organisation to ‘tell it like it is’. The former Chief Executive of the Northwest Development Agency Steve Broomhead didn’t tag us ‘the business club with attitude’ for nothing.
However, I hope that during the past eight years, any criticisms we have made have been constructive, and where appropriate accompanied by alternative approaches or solutions.
We have scored some impressive successes and been part of several exciting initiatives. No tall buildings policy to hinder development, unswerving support for Peel’s Liverpool Water’s project, the Liverpool Embassy in London, a private sector representative on the council’s cabinet, and adding balance to the over influential heritage lobby in debates about regeneration are among the achievements that stand out for me.
The weekly TFI, sexy networking, the ‘Livercool’ awards and more recently the publication of a regular member’s magazine, have added some much needed fun and optimism during a period of prolonged challenge.
We have, of course, now established the Downtown brand in two other places, Lancashire and Manchester, with a third, Leeds, being planned this September.
When I first decided to start my own business, my old friend and mentor, Len Collinson, told me to make sure I enjoyed whatever it was I was going to do. I can say without hesitation that I love Downtown, and I love my job. If having a front row seat at the region’s best business events, being involved with some leading politicians, decision makers and policy discussions, and being surrounded by a fabulous team of people wasn’t enough, DLIB also ‘facilitated’ my first meeting with a very talented young entrepreneur, Victoria Brown, who became my wife in December last year. Now, if that isn’t delivery, I don’t know what is!