The election of Labour’s Joe Anderson as Liverpool’s first directly elected mayor has been met with a mixed reaction from the profession
The former Leader of Liverpool City Council, who became the most powerful politician in England outside London after landing 57 per cent of the vote last night (3 May), has pledged to deliver 5,000 new homes and 12 new schools during his four-year term.
Daniel Smith of Liverpool-based McHugh Stoppard Architecture said: ‘Anderson has a lot of work to do to convince the people of Liverpool that a elected mayor is the way forward for the city, considering that they were bypassed in voting for a mayor or not.
‘And is he the best man for the job? Is he a Boris? I don’t think so and some could argue that’s a good thing. But Anderson was the only suitable choice, out of what was a poor selection of candidates and a poor campaign which did not engage with the people.’
But Anderson’s victory came as voters in nine other UK cities, including Manchester, Bradford, Coventry and Birmingham, rejected plans to replace local council cabinets with directly elected mayors.
Anderson was the only suitable choice, out of what was a poor selection of candidates
Speaking about Anderson’s win, Mushtaq Saleri of Liverpool-based Studio Three Architects added: ‘This seemed more of a formality than a close run election.
‘It will be interesting to see what powers the mayor will exercise and compare outcomes to Manchester - which seems to have thrown out the idea. Let’s hope the decision not to hold a referendum on a mayor ultimately pays dividends for the city and not party politics.’
Brain Hatton, who has taught at the Architectural Association and at Liverpool John Moores University, added: ‘Suppose [London Mayor’s] Boris Johnson was Mayor of only Inner London boroughs north of the Thames, and you’ll have an idea of Anderson’s situation on one side of the Mersey. The Liverpool of which he is the underpowered mayor has about 460,000 citizens; Greater Liverpool, at the same radius of 16 miles as Greater London, has 2 million. That is bigger than Hamburg’s 1.8 million; yet Hamburg, like smaller Bremen, is a State within the German Federal Republic.
‘Britain needs a federal system based on city-states, each with at least 1.5 million citizens.’
However Adam Hall of Falconer Chester Hall Architects was more optimistic about the incoming elected mayor which will trigger an additional £130million of central government cash handed to Liverpool. He said: ‘Anderson’s victory as Liverpool’s first elected mayor is a positive boost for the Liverpool economy. He has already proved, in his time as leader of the city council, that he is passionate about job creation, is committed to building new schools and homes and understands that regeneration is a valuable tool for increasing commercial activity.
‘This is all good news for the local construction industry and architects working in the city.’
Just over 100,000 voted in Liverpool’s mayoral election, a turnout of only 31.2 per cent. Second place went to independent candidate Liam Fogarty, a fomer BBC journalist, who had pledged to challenge Peel Holding’s ‘soulless’ £5.5 billion Liverpool Waters scheme.
Nick Howe, managing director of architectural visualisers Uniform: ‘In terms of the housing, jobs and schools promises, I welcome the election of Joe Anderson. His backing of the Wirral as well as Liverpool Waters schemes is a massive step in the right direction.
But personally, I would have preferred the election of an independent mayor to remove any of the party politics that will undoubtedly play a part.
‘It’s also worth noting that Liverpool has a very large reliance on public sector jobs and need to drive the private sector. We need to focus on attracting and growing quality businesses, this will have the biggest impact on our industry in terms of creating opportunities.’
Maggie Mullan, partner at Austin-Smith: Lord, Liverpool Studio, said: ‘Anderson’s candidacy shone above the competition not only because of his record for delivery but above all for his heartfelt commitment to taking Liverpool forward into a new era.
This is a win for Liverpool in no uncertain terms
I am excited and inspired by the prospects presented by [the new mayor]. The Mayoral Development Zones will kick start the local economy with pace and consistency, and will be for the benefit of all Liverpool’s residents and businesses. We will be the city held up as the model for 21st century economic, commercial and social regeneration.
‘This is a win for Liverpool in no uncertain terms.’
Peter Buchan of Ryder Architecture: ‘Our city regions need clear strong leadership and recognisable champions. The current system has, with a few notable exceptions, singularly failed to produce them. The key test will be can an elected mayor work constructively with established local government. The rest of the country seems to have voted with an astonishing degree of apathy to retain the status quo. Good luck to Liverpool. I hope this drives them to achieve even greater things.’
Lindsey Ashworth, director of developer Peel: ‘We’ve been working with Anderson since he was shadow leader of the Council because his potential to do great things for Liverpool was recognised even then.
Nobody expects instant results but with Anderson as mayor Liverpool will be taken into a higher league quicker
Since he became leader we have continued to work with him on our projects in the Liverpool region and he has been instrumental in making progress. Being elected mayor was a natural step for Joe and well deserved.
‘Nobody expects instant results these days but with Joe as mayor Liverpool will be taken into a higher league quicker. Liverpool can now become an even more dynamic city than it already is.’
Reaction: Liverpool's first elected mayor splits opinion