Heseltine Institute Working Paper Series - Voices and echoes: The story of Liverpool's regeneration

The purpose of this series of working papers is to enable actors who were centrally involved in Liverpool’s reversal in fortunes from the 1980s to give voice to their perspective on the city and the journey it has been on.

Our intention is to layer formal published scholarship in this area with a richer texture of more personal insights and viewpoints from those who were quite literally working at the front line during this period.

Working Paper One - Doom and gloom... and then a 'BOOM'

In this first paper, Geoffrey Piper provides insights into the life and times of BOOM, a private sector led organisation which sought to mobilise business support to address the ailing fortunes of the city-region’s economy. Of course business coalitions or as US Sociologists Logan and Molotch refer to them “Growth Machines”, comprising local banks, land/property owners, utility companies and media outlets have been shown to play a critical and pro-active role in selling cities and cultivating civic pride in US cities. But in EU cities, and especially UK cities, city based business coalitions have tended to be less politically organised – or so the thesis goes.

In this paper we see how in Liverpool’s case, against the backdrop of a city which Michael Parkinson famously described as being ‘on the brink’, business actors did indeed play a role in shaping local economic development visions and agendas. Only in a different way than their peers in the US at the same time. This paper fields insights into the character of public-private partnerships and the mobilisation of business interests and resources in the city at a critical moment in its switch from deindustrialisation and decline. It also facilitates insights into policy mobilities – from where Liverpool secured ideas and how Liverpool stamped these imports with its own imprimatur.

We thank Geoffrey Piper for penning this first paper and providing a narrative marked by passion, verve and honesty.

We welcome submissions from other key stakeholders/actors/activists who have played a role in the story of the city’s recovery (of whatever political persuasion, and from private, public, and third sector perspectives) and who feel they have a personal but informative account to offer. Clearly, recovery is an ongoing process and much work remains to be done. But we are interested here particularly in the voices of people who participated in the life of the city in the 1980s, 1990s and early noughties.