Right of Reply: Mike Storey

The leader of Liverpool Council answers reports that his city's population is set to decline
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THERE ARE lies, damned lies and statistics. And then there are statistics about Liverpool. According to the Office for National Statistics, Liverpool's population is going to decline by 8.5 per cent over the next 20 years, while thousands of Scousers head off to booming Cambridgeshire.

Well, it is the panto season and pantomimes are based on fairy tales...

What the Government's number crunchers appear to have done is look at trends over the last 20 years and assume the same thing is going to happen in the next 20. If the statisticians had got their noses out of their columns of figures and looked at what is really happening in Liverpool, they would have seen an entirely different picture.

The population exodus which undoubtedly happened during the past 30 years has now stopped. Some of the reasons for this are obvious - we no longer have people moving to new towns and the demolition of old blocks is over.

But other reasons might not be so obvious. We are reversing the trend where people leave Liverpool to look for work. While huge job losses are being announced elsewhere in the country, Liverpool has had a successful year in attracting industry.

At the start of the year, Ford announced that they were building the new baby Jaguar here, at Halewood, and Capital Bank, AXA Direct and others are also investing in Liverpool.

The city centre is enjoying a renaissance. There is a vibrant night- life and fine sporting and cultural heritage. In 2007 Liverpool will celebrate its 800th birthday. We are confident we will do so as the European City of Culture. We have a vision of a thriving, optimistic city, achieved without the loss of population misguided forecasters predict.