The Liverpool ’08 Capital of Culture project is in chaos – this isn’t new news. They’ve only just appointed a new Chief Exec for the Liverpool Culture Company, many projects are in free-fall and events might not happen as described recently in the Guardian and here. Plus, there’s no guarantee that the political mess left by last year’s spat between ex-Chief Exec David Henshaw and ex-Leader Mike Storey will be resolved.
Such mismanagement just leads to a political and administrative vacuum at the heart of the project. Last year, businesses tried to fill the commercial vacuum by announcing a rival logo to show support, and the Liverpool Culture Company are trying hard to regenerate some momentum and interest with thier ambassador scheme.
Amidst this mess, is there a role for other neighbouring authorities to help fill the gap?
Liverpool is not just that area covered by Liverpool City Council. Local Government Minister David Milliband has been promoting the idea of city regions which would see other neighbouring authorities take part in the strategic decision making covering all their areas. There is surely a role for those authorities within easy commuting distance to take an active role in the Capital of Culture scheme, and it fits with what the Government is calling for.
West Lancashire should be looking to see how it can exploit the obvious advantages of Liverpool being the Capital of Culture. If Liverpool is unable to cope with the project in isolation then it’s time for other, smaller, authorities to fill the gap. We don’t have the money that is being poured into Liverpool, but we have facilities that we can take advantage of.
Tourism could be encouraged in our many charming villages, Ormskirk and the beacon. We could organise a series of artistic and cultural events through the year in 2008 to compliment those larger events in Liverpool – and working with the Liverpool Culture Company – we could promote West Lancashire as an ideal place to stay for tourists: close to the city, but a short journey from the Lakes and many of the other tourist attractions of the North West.
Skelmersdale centre, even without a major redevelopment, has ample space and resources to host events. And why not promote Skem as a place to visit?
Nothing that we could do would be on the scale of that in the city centre, but there is an opportunity for us, and other neighbouring councils, to take the initiative and build a city region of culture.