Grunewald: City region must not become ‘Liverpool-centric’

Council leader Barrie Grunewald is considering standing for the role of Liverpool city region

Council leader Barrie Grunewald is considering standing for the role of Liverpool city region

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Council leader Barrie Grunewald has warned the new city region must not become “Liverpool-centric”.

Speaking to the St Helens Reporter, Coun Grunewald, who is considering whether to join the race to become the Liverpool City Region’s first mayor, said some contenders believed Liverpool was the “be all and end all”.

Wavertree MP Luciana Berger is also tipped to stand for the job

Wavertree MP Luciana Berger is also tipped to stand for the job

Many will consider his remarks to be a swipe at Liverpool mayor Joe Anderson, with whom Coun Grunewald had a public spate over the arrangements for the Merseyside combined authority.

He was speaking to the Reporter ahead of the opening of nomination of the Labour Party candidate on May 23.

“Certainly, there are a couple of other candidates who get that and by contrast there are some who are fully focussed on Liverpool and I don’t think that good for St Helens or the rest of the region,” Coun Grunewald told the St Helens Reporter.

He said: “The name ‘Liverpool city region’ was given by the government but I think we have to careful this doesn’t become ‘Liverpool-centric’, that Liverpool doesn’t become the ‘be all and end all’.

Certainly, there are a couple of other candidates who get that and by contrast there are some who fully focussed on Liverpool and I don’t think that good for St Helens

Council leader Barrie Grunewald

“There are other boroughs and they have something to contribute and they have to get something out of the deal.”

Coun Grunewald said he was considering running after being urged to stand by trade unionists and other Labour Party figures.

“I have been approached by a number of people urging me to throw my hat into the ring, which is very flattering and I will be giving that due consideration over the weekend,” he said.

“It’s been playing on my mind because I have a lot of unfinished business in St Helens. I laid out a programme of action at full council of things I want to see done in St Helens, but this is also a new role and there is a lot in this new role that can be done for St Helens.

“Yes, I have been luke warm (about devolution) but perhaps because of that I’m better placed to take up the role of city region mayor.”

Responding to concerns devolved powers might benefit Liverpool at the expense of other borough, he said: “Some people might think that and I can understand that but there is a very good reason why Liverpool is in the name.

“Liverpool is a name known worldwide. If you go across Europe there are places where St Helens is known because of the rugby and the glass-making.

“But perhaps that is not the case with other areas, such as Knowsley and Halton. Liverpool, by contrast, is known worldwide.”

Others considering standing include Wavertree MP Luciana Berger and Walton MP Steve Rotheram.

The new job will have power over housing, education, transport and investment.

Coun Grunewald famously had a spate with the Liverpool mayor after starting a crucial vote without Joe Anderson because he was late for the meeting ... then locking the doors preventing the tardy Anderson from entering the meeting room.