I picked up the local rag to see what it classed as news of the day. Amongst the usual tabloid mix of “human interest”, sport and crime, one item caught my eye. It was a typical piece of public relations spiel on behalf of Peel. Apparently, this monster of Merseyside is to seek the views of Merseysiders on its latest notion of a high skyscraper in Princes Dock. No mention, of course, about the possible effect of their proposal on Liverpool’s listing as a world heritage site. Why would they mention it given the antediluvian Liverpool mayor’s expressed contempt for UNESCO’s view of the city?
Even more alarming is the conspiracy of silence on Peel’s latest disaster. A huge sink-hole has appeared on the site of the new container terminal. This adds to the ongoing strife with poorly served drivers at the docks who are afforded no facilities automatically provided elsewhere. Yet the sink-hole is of a different order. After all, there was an investment in the project from the European Union alone of £185 million. One would think this mess would merit some comment, at least locally. Sefton Council? Nothing reported. Local MP? Nothing reported. Local media? A paragraph in one edition of the Echo then deafening silence. A journalist from a national broadsheet contacted me, expressing his frustration at his inability to elicit ANY response from ANYONE in authority on the matter.
We cannot be surprised at this – no one locally will do or say anything to upset Peel, the local alpha exploiters. This tax-dodging, asset-stripping organisation blithely promises the earth but delivers relatively little, repeatedly fooling local authorities with their spin. Receiving a fortune in public subsidy, they seem accountable to no-one, but disproportionately influential with our local authority leaders. Peel’s influence shines through in the many decisions favouring them agreed by those leaders.
Of course, leaders are not alone in kow-towing (or worse) to developers – including those of the “fly-by-night” kind. Liverpool’s planners are about to recommend the sale to Redrow of 13 acres of prime green space at Calderstones Park. Redrow wish to build over 50 luxury houses thereon, at prices of £500,000.This option will hardly help those on our bulging housing lists, but it is guaranteed to enrage local residents and community groups.
Similar controversies are bubbling away in all of the local authorities within the city-region, as councillors are led, either by their leaders or council officers, into perilous political waters. Everyone recognises the difficult dilemmas facing councils at this time; but there are fights best avoided. Builders and developers (who are given far too much access) do not give a toss. Profit is their only interest, not local people.
Whilst there appears to be ample green space in five of the local authority areas, Liverpool is the exception. Recent independent research using satellite mapping, has quantified the green space within the United Kingdom’s ten largest cities. Edinburgh came out top with green space covering 49.2% of its area. Liverpool was bottom, with a mere 16.4%. Therein lies a tale!