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Liverchester/Manpool? The Curious Case of the Lack of Intra-Urban Leadership in the Twin Cities of the North-West

European Public Leadership in Crisis?

ISBN: 978-1-78350-901-0, eISBN: 978-1-78350-902-7

Publication date: 18 October 2014



This is a paper about the soft and hard drivers for English sub-national governance. It posits that the recurrence of claims for inter-urban linkages across the two distinct conurbations of the North-West of England have been bedevilled by entrenched differences in the leadership cultures of the city-regions.


It contrasts the highly localised forms of ‘soft power’ – or the ways in which leaders mobilise brands, plans and strategies to tell stories about place – arguing that there is a considerable divergence between the way that this symbolic capital has been deployed within and across the two city-regions. Whilst this is striking it is still true that ‘Hard powers’ – fiscal, legislative or regulatory mechanisms – are elusive for both Manchester and Liverpool notwithstanding recent moves towards combined authorities for both places. The only model of English urban governance with statutory powers covering transport, economic development and planning is located in Greater London, a legacy of the post-RDA institutional landscape in England.


This paper argues that it would be extraordinary if forms of leadership capable of meaningfully connecting the two cities cannot be found but that this must be seen within a sclerotic English context where there is a huge disconnect between desirable form and functions of urban governance, and the effect this has on regional economic performance. It concludes that local government austerity has had a negative effect on the sort of ‘soft power innovations’ necessary in both cities and that rhetorics of English localism have provided neither a propitious context for inter- nor intra-urban governance innovation.


This paper seeks to describe some of the ways in which collaborations within the city-regions of Manchester and Liverpool have been achieved, making the case that there have been divergent governance experiments which may hamper the aspiration for extensions beyond their border and for intra-urban leadership and governance which combines the two great cities and their areas of influence.



Headlam, N. (2014), "Liverchester/Manpool? The Curious Case of the Lack of Intra-Urban Leadership in the Twin Cities of the North-West", European Public Leadership in Crisis? (Critical Perspectives on International Public Sector Management, Vol. 3), Emerald Group Publishing Limited, Bingley, pp. 47-61.



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