Mr Merseyside makes play for power source

DAVID HELLIER

Called "Mr Merseyside" in Liverpool, it is little surprise that Sir Desmond Pitcher is reportedly behind North West Water's approach for Norweb, the besieged electricity company.

As well as being chair of North West Water, Sir Desmond, who yesterday was determined not to comment on the approach, is chairman of the Merseyside Development Corporation and is deputy chairman of Everton Football Club. Until 1993 he was chief executive of the Liverpool-based Littlewoods organisation.

Born in the working-class Old Swan suburb of Liverpool, Sir Desmond's earlier worked lengthy spells at British Leyland and Plessey. He is now one of Britain's regional barons; these include Sir John Hall in the North East, the Richardson twins in the Midlands and Sir Owen Oyston, also in the North West. These men are omnipotent in their local business communities.

Sir Desmond's oft-stated passion for Merseyside has not stopped him accumulating a number of local critics.

Apart from the "fat cat businessman running a utility" type - he earns pounds 325,000 at North West Water and used to take home nearer pounds 1m at Littlewoods - he has also aroused criticism for the commercial failure of a 1992 Merseyside gala concert he helped to organise, which resulted in many local suppliers not being paid.

Asked whether he considered himself a committed Merseysider, Sir Desmond said: "I'm a bit surprised at so-called informed statements from some directions. I fought like hell to save the Leyland factory and I lost. I fought for the Plessey factory in Edge Lane and won. I think I can say that most people recognise me as the person who revived the fortunes of Littlewoods. I've created 14,5000 jobs with the Merseyside Development Corporation. I was born and bred within the sound of the cathedral bells."

However, Sir Desmond's no-nonsense approach - one source described him as a cold-hearted accountant - has made a name for himself in the local business community.

Those he has fallen out with include Sir Michael Edwardes at British Leyland, Michael Julien and John Clements at Littlewoods and Bob Thian, the former chief executive of North West Water who left the company six months after Sir Desmond became its chairman in April 1993.

At Littlewoods he fell out with a faction of the family that own the company, which felt he had not consulted them enough on executive decisions.

Sir Desmond was knighted in June 1992 for his efforts in regenerating Merseyside, though this has not stopped him being sensitive about his public image. Both at Littlewoods and at North West Water he has employed a public relations company, Lynne Franks, to look after his personal image.

It has been suggested that he sees the approach to Norweb as the obvious way for him to save a north-western utility company from falling into the hands of a foreign competitor. When he became chairman of North West Water in November 1993 he is reported to have said: "It's the largest company in the North West. It was a natural for me."

No doubt he assumes that it is natural for him to want his company to grow even more dominant in the local community.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

Recruitment Genius: Compliance Manager

£40000 - £60000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Compliance Manager is require...

SThree: Talent Acquisition Consultant

£22500 - £27000 per annum + OTE £45K: SThree: Since our inception in 1986, STh...

Recruitment Genius: Experienced Financial Advisers and Paraplanners

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This extremely successful and well-established...

Guru Careers: FX Trader / Risk Manager

Competitive with monthly bonus: Guru Careers: We are seeking an experienced FX...

Day In a Page

Seifeddine Rezgui: What motivated a shy student to kill 38 holidaymakers in Tunisia?

Making of a killer

What motivated a shy student to kill 38 holidaymakers in Tunisia?
UK Heatwave: Temperatures on the tube are going to exceed the legal limit for transporting cattle

Just when you thought your commute couldn't get any worse...

Heatwave will see temperatures on the Tube exceed legal limit for transporting cattle
Exclusive - The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: Swapping Bucharest for London

The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

Meet the man who swapped Romania for the UK in a bid to provide for his family, only to discover that the home he left behind wasn't quite what it seemed
Katy Perry prevented from buying California convent for $14.5m after nuns sell to local businesswoman instead

No grace of God for Katy Perry as sisters act to stop her buying convent

Archdiocese sues nuns who turned down star’s $14.5m because they don’t approve of her
Ajmer: The ancient Indian metropolis chosen to be a 'smart city' where residents would just be happy to have power and running water

Residents just want water and power in a city chosen to be a ‘smart’ metropolis

The Indian Government has launched an ambitious plan to transform 100 of its crumbling cities
Michael Fassbender in 'Macbeth': The Scottish play on film, from Welles to Cheggers

Something wicked?

Films of Macbeth don’t always end well - just ask Orson Welles... and Keith Chegwin
10 best sun creams for body

10 best sun creams for body

Make sure you’re protected from head to toe in the heatwave
Women's World Cup 2015: How England's semi-final success could do wonders for both sexes

There is more than a shiny trophy to be won by England’s World Cup women

The success of the decidedly non-famous females wearing the Three Lions could do wonders for a ‘man’s game’ riddled with excess, cynicism and greed
How to stop an asteroid hitting Earth: Would people co-operate to face down a global peril?

How to stop an asteroid hitting Earth

Would people cooperate to face a global peril?
Just one day to find €1.6bn: Greece edges nearer euro exit

One day to find €1.6bn

Greece is edging inexorably towards an exit from the euro
New 'Iron Man' augmented reality technology could help surgeons and firefighters, say scientists

'Iron Man' augmented reality technology could become reality

Holographic projections would provide extra information on objects in a person's visual field in real time
Sugary drinks 'are killing 184,000 adults around the world every year'

Sugary drinks are killing 184,000 adults around the world every year

The drinks that should be eliminated from people's diets
Pride of Place: Historians map out untold LGBT histories of locations throughout UK

Historians map out untold LGBT histories

Public are being asked to help improve the map
Lionel, Patti, Burt and The Who rock Glasto

Lionel, Patti, Burt and The Who rock Glasto

This was the year of 24-carat Golden Oldies
Paris Fashion Week

Paris Fashion Week

Thom Browne's scarecrows offer a rare beacon in commercial offerings