LIVERPOOL leaders are involved in a high-stakes waiting game to find out if £75m of their City Deal with the Government will be given the go-ahead.
Whitehall chiefs are “considering the council’s business case”, the finalised version of which was submitted in September, followed by a presentation to Whitehall earlier this month.
Following on from the disappointment of being knocked back for a £52m Regional Growth Fund (RGF) bid – exclusively revealed by The Post last week – city officials hope the projects they have suggested the £75m should be spent on will be given the seal of approval.
The new Exhibition Hall extension to the Arena and Convention Centre at Kings Dock is one of the major projects awaiting support.
The bid also includes £25m to develop Homes and Communities Agency assets including the derelict Littlewoods Building, on Edge Lane, Pall Mall and the Liverpool Innovation Park.
Improvements to a new Enterprise Zone will enable the council to retain business rates for 25 years and target rate relief on buildings and sites in the commercial district and north of the city centre to attract businesses.
If not approved, the council will have to bid again, which opposition leaders said would put them at a disadvantage.
They fear other cities – which did not chose to have an elected mayor – could steal the march on Liverpool if their City Deal bids are stronger.
In July, Liverpool think-tank ExUrbe claimed the city was “misled” by the council into adopting the elected mayor model over claims it was linked to the first £130m City Deal with Whitehall, although that has always been denied.
The council last night insisted there was no danger of Liverpool missing out on the money completely. However, a rejected bid could slow progress.
Despite the £52m RGF setback, the council has already secured £25m from the same fund as part of the City Deal to improve the Enterprise Zone in the North Docks.
Liverpool deputy mayor Cllr Paul Brant said he hoped that would be a good omen for the remainder of the cash linked to the deal.
Cllr Brant said: “Liverpool has been able to steal a march on other cities by being first out of the traps and reaching the first City Deal with government. Without this money, the city would not have been able to press ahead with projects such as the new Exhibition Hall on the Kings Dock, which will generate significant jobs and tourism.