Liverpool at the end of the 1970s was a city on the edge – not just geographically but economically and socially. Deindustrialisation, depopulation and decay had eaten away at the urban fabric so severely that national politicians discussed letting Liverpool die.
Michael Heseltine, Secretary of State for the Environment in the 1979 Conservative Government, saw it differently. Ignoring the obituaries, he kickstarted a lasting process of regeneration, his tools including a development corporation to encourage investment and an extensive public programme of decontamination and land reclamation. But his experience also convinced him of the value of local decision-making. The future of Liverpool, he believed, lay with Liverpudlians, whose energy and strategic vision were the key to lasting prosperity.
Now, forty years on, Lord Heseltine returns to a vibrant, confident Liverpool to reflect on the roots of his belief in the power of devolution.