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Liverpool ‘obvious choice’ for Green Bank, says Heseltine

Michael Heseltine, a former Conservative cabinet minister, has said that the planned Green Investment Bank should be located in Liverpool.

Heseltine, a prominent figure in the governments of Margaret Thatcher and John Major, has teamed up with former Tesco chief Terry Leahy to compile the report, “Rebalancing Britain: policy or slogan?”

The report, requested by Prime Minister David Cameron, investigates the potential for growth and investment in the Liverpool area in the next 10-20 years.

It says science and innovation, especially the life sciences, are important drivers in the region’s growth and argues that the government’s planned green investment bank should be located there:

“There are many candidates but Liverpool’s banking history and current success in sectors such as wealth management and insurance makes it an obvious choice,” reads the report.

It estimates that the region has outstripped UK growth since 2000 and has “significant opportunity” to develop further.

However, for the area to reach its full potential, it argues, the government should undertake a “major devolution of responsibility” to local government.

Liverpool’s real contribution, say the authors, could be in reducing the “over dependence on the UK economy on London and the South East”.

The report says that success is likely to come through the area’s already strong fields, including the life sciences—which account for over 57,000 jobs—and advanced manufacturing. Other key areas cited are renewable energy, the creative industries, tourism, and port expansion.

Another development that could drive growth is the proposed bio-innovation centre at the Royal Liverpool Hospital, which the authors say should get “immediate priority”.

The centre, they say, will provide space for growth, a proof-of-concept lab, and a business support centre and incubator.

In addition, the government should support the Daresbury Science and Innovation Campus in Cheshire for “major scientific infrastructure projects and choose it as the ideal location for the next generation of science infrastructure”.

This would be a way to re-focus investment in science outside south-east England, say the authors.

“We are dismayed but not surprised that national investment in world-class scientific infrastructure has, over a period of decades, been skewed so systematically and comprehensively towards the South East of England,” reads the report.