Professor Alex Singleton joins new Liverpool town centre commission

Alex Singleton, Professor of Geographic Information Science, has been appointed to the newly-formed Liverpool town centre commission set up by Steve Rotheram, the Metro Mayor of the Liverpool City Region.

The independent commission is aimed at creating a vision for 17 town centres to ensure their “prosperous and sustainable long-term future”.

The Town Centres Commission is chaired by Sarah Longlands, director at think-tank IPPR North and comprises 12 members from across the public and private sectors including Professor Singleton.

It will focus on producing a report exploring topics such as, how town centres can support a sense of place and belonging across Liverpool City Region; how policy decisions on planning, environment and infrastructure can best support town centres; how town centres can operate as a hub for business and society, and how town centres can manage change to remain sustainable in the long-term .

The report will also set out specific recommendations for 17 town centres: Liverpool City Centre; Widnes; Runcorn; Halton Lea; Huyton; Kirkby; Prescot; Southport; Bootle; St Helens; Earlestown; Birkenhead; Liscard; Heswall; Moreton; New Brighton, and West Kirby.

The report is expected to be published in September.  The commission met for the first time on 27 February and will meet on a broadly monthly basis between now until September.

Professor Singleton, who is Deputy Director of the ESRC Consumer Data Research Centre (CDRC) and is member of the Geographic Data Science Lab will bring his expertise in retail data analytics and Geographic Information Science to the commission.

On his appointment, Professor Singleton said: “The town centre commission represents a fantastic opportunity to empower the local stakeholders of these town centre communities with new insights aiming to support improvements to their social, economic and environmental conditions. ”

Steve Rotheram said: “There has been a renewed focus on towns following December’s general election, and with good reason. Our economy, both regionally and nationally, will not thrive unless success is shared between our cities and our towns. This is something I have been acutely aware of.

“We are bringing together experts from a range of sectors to help us find sustainable solutions to the challenges we face. I want this commission to help us safeguard the future of our town centres to ensure they remain at the heart of our communities for generations to come.”

In addition to Professor Singleton, the commission’s other members are:
• Bronwen Rapley, chief executive of Onward Homes
• Claire McColgan, director of Culture Liverpool
• Cllr Pam Thomas from Liverpool City Council
• Dan Davies, chief executive of Rockpoint Leisure
• John Csizmadia, relationship director of Lloyds Banking Group
• Kim Cooper, senior town planner at Arup
• Laura Pye, director of National Museums Liverpool
• Liam Kelly, chief executive at Make CIC
• Phil McCabe, development manager for Merseyside, West Cheshire and Wigan at the Federation of Small Businesses
• Sarah Taylor, executive director of Sefton Council
• Vidhya Alakeson, chief executive of Power to Change

Liverpool City Region Combined Authority has commissioned IPPR North to act as a secretariat for the commission, and will undertake research, analysis, stakeholder interviews and community engagement as part of its role.

Sarah Longlands said: “For too long, town centres have been on the edge of the debate about the North’s economy, now is the time to listen to our communities and businesses and work with them to build a better future in the places that matter to them.”