The year might not be finishing as many of us had wished, with the reminder that the pandemic is not over, but we still remain in a stronger position than we were as this year began. Liverpool has faced many struggles and challenges in the past year, but as we reflect in the last few weeks of the year, we have to admit we have also had much to smile about.

If 2020 threw up every card we held in the air, this was the year we began to think about the order we would like them to resettle. At the height of the pandemic, we had talked about returning stronger and building back better. As the economy and city began to reopen in Spring, as we began to meet with each other again, that rhetoric had to turn into action. What did we, do we, want Liverpool to look like in the future?

At Liverpool BID, that meant reflecting on how we could offer more support to more of the city centre. The new, expanded BID Area we had proposed was both ambitious and challenging. The new Culture & Commerce BID, replacing the Commercial District BID Area, now extends from the River Mersey and the ACC and Convention Centre up to William Brown Street at St George’s Quarter. After the successful ballot, it is bringing an extra £7m of investment into the city centre, to further make Liverpool a place for business to thrive.

One of Liverpool’s strengths, we have said consistently, is its mixed-use economy. Reflected in that title of Culture & Commerce, Liverpool’s economy is not reliant on one single sector, one sole industry. Instead, its vibrancy and resilience comes from the interconnectedness of its different sectors. This year, we unveiled our BID Champions, from Commerce, Culture, Hospitality and Retail. By hearing voices and representation from these different sectors, as we were looking for support and championing business we could hone our approach to focus on specific needs.

Businesses have continued to need support this year, and as government restrictions eased, it became apparent that a sudden stop in the financial help given to businesses would create more issues for local economies. Instead, we lobbied for the tapered end that would help businesses in every sector respond in real time to the changes the pandemic has forced on both day-to-day life and our economy.

The summer and autumn months led to wider conversations about the safety and welcome within our city centre. We have been working with partners including LCR Pride, Homotopia and others to ensure our city centre is a place that everyone feels is for them. This work will continue into 2022 as we support the “You’re Safe Here” campaign. We are examining ways in which we can enhance our public realm, ways in which we can ensure it makes people feel safe while also helping to reduce the opportunity for antisocial behaviour. Our city centre is for everyone.

We ended Q3 feeling positive with strong economic data, solid footfall and plans for the festive season. A new variant has brought new restrictions and we cannot forget that, once again, the sector being hit hardest is our hospitality and cultural sector, making up our vibrant visitor economy. Q4 is the most significant time of year for many businesses, where they make almost 50% of their annual income. We continue to apply pressure for support. After surviving, and in many cases thriving, in 2021, we cannot allow any business to be more worried about 2022 than any year that has come before it. We need to remember that it’s Liverpool’s forward thinking and entrepreneurial spirit that have brought our city together and helped us bounce back stronger and quicker than most cities in the UK.

We do not know what the coming weeks hold, yet for many of us, our motto for 2021 has been to focus on recovery. We are living with a virus and impact will continue to be felt. We have to embrace flexibility but also agility. It is time for us to navigate a new world and to do it with confidence and the desire to shape it so that it works for everyone.

Bill Addy
Chief Executive
Liverpool BID Company