My Place | North Liverpool

North Liverpool could be something special, writes Shelagh McNerney. It’s time for the city to start looking to the future instead of attempting to restore the past.

A much-respected Manchester colleague once said to me that my problem was that I was having a love affair with Liverpool and I really needed to move on. Maybe true, but you know how things go full circle.

In 1983, when my home city was on its knees, I left with a slightly joyous howl of “get me out of here” to study town planning in London.

Those last 37 years encapsulate a Liverpool metamorphosis story that is well rehearsed in books and political commentaries. Maybe none quite so comprehensively and warmly written as Professor Michael Parkinson’s ‘Liverpool: Beyond the Brink’.

A few weeks ago, I had the enormous pleasure of spending time talking with Professor Parkinson and reflecting on the city, his book, continuing work and North Liverpool in particular. It is the relative absence of North Liverpool from that recent Liverpool story that occupied our conversation.

North Liverpool was my dad’s place therefore it’s my place. I’ve inherited it.

Like many tens of thousands of residents existing in 20th century Everton, Anfield and Kirkdale, history ensured my dad escaped to a posh council house and a useful job in an aerospace factory. All of social and economic history is here.

The de-population, de-industrialisation and degradation of North Liverpool took place over half a century and more. As we move into another 21st century decade, its time to fundamentally address its future again. This is not about trying to restore the past. The past was desperate destitution, disease and poverty.

I am also not suggesting there is nothing good going on at all now. There are many community projects and amazing investments are underway but they are not enough on their own. Liverpool Waters, two football clubs and the Port are pieces of an incomplete jigsaw. We also have no picture on the box and to extend the metaphor who actually has the pieces?

I can hear professional colleagues taking a deep breath now, saying: ‘It can’t be done’, ‘too big’, ‘the market isn’t interested’, ‘too many landowners’, ‘too much history’, ‘maybe stretch some arty uses into falling down buildings?’ I can hear others suggesting that we don’t need another vision nor big plan and only small moves are possible.

I don’t buy this. As long as the gap in expectations remains so wide for North Liverpool, then the city as a whole cannot completely move on. Indeed, social and economic deprivation statistics reveal a growing gap within the city. Professor Parkinson calls this “a stain on the city’s conscience”

In 2010, I worked on the North Liverpool and South Sefton Strategic Regeneration Framework – what a mouthful. Just as the recession kicked in, the coalition government went hard on austerity and Liverpool went bold with a directly elected mayor. The often-quoted Simon Rattle comes to mind: “Liverpool – the constantly offside city”. So in the great tradition of being offside, in these tumultuous times, don’t delay.

Back in 2010, it was suggested:“North Liverpool should and could be a series of special residential neighbourhoods and business districts; 21st century sustainable residential suburbs, contained between the city core and Crosby, offering a mix of housing, new and old, large and small with neighborhood services and facilities within walking distance”.

Ideas for re-population, re-industrialisation and new housing at scale – and some height – needsdto bring people and all the key institutions round the table for a reconstituted collaboration.

After all, Liverpool knows how to do this and, what is good for North Liverpool is good for the city. Growth is not a dirty word – it can be built.

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No mention of the 10 streets project. The “new” Baltic Triangle, as well as housing development.

By Deep Thinker

Couldn’t agree more Shelagh. The big challenge is who is going to shake things up? This council hasn’t got what it takes, and small seems all they’re capable of.

The area suffers from low education standards, high unemployment, low life expectancy and low life expectations, and so the cycle continues. It will take a massive enterprise (not simply a stadium!) to break that.

But when people in those circumstances continue to support the politicians that should be responsible for fixing that, it’s not hard to imagine there is no real political appetite to change that.

North Liverpool has intense potential, but whoever sets out to change things physically needs to transform educational attainment and teach people once more to question, choose and expect.

Despite this, the people still keep voting Labour in numbers and there is no incentive for the politicians to upset those dynamics.

You sound like the sort of borough leader Liverpool could really do with.

By Mike

Could be a real focus for the Combined Authority to get its well-funded teeth into

By Fangs

I grew up in North Liverpool, Everton – and I tell people where I am from and I am proud of it – despite the inverted snobbery that comes not from outside Liverpool but from ‘South Liverpool’ often parts of Liverpool that are actually far worse than Everton or Anfield etc.. Because of the perception! There are a lot of proud hard working people in the communities of Everton/ Anfield/ Scotland Road and it truly is not where you live its how you live! And we lived well! I totally disagree with what Mike has said below – that the people are of low education and low life expectancy – and if this statement is completely true – then how does he expect them to vote any differently – until they have had this investment and education put into them to turn them into the ‘floating voter’ that benefits society? Just as people who have gone to Eton or Harrow will probably vote conservative as that is what they have been brought up on.

And as Sheelagh says in her piece – her dad moved away. Isn’t this what happens Mike? Those who do get educated move up and on and out? I am guilty of it too. What is the council doing to make them stay – because that is what is needed. When Redrow are trying to build on Calderstones there is quite rightly uproar from the local residents made up of all kinds of professionals from solicitors to planners who give up their spare time to protect their community and green space. When they built on part of Everton Park – it just happened. These areas need help. Do we not need to really invest in north Liverpool starting on the ground? Does North Liverpool have anything like the consortium that did the lads and girls clubs in Bolton and Salford (made up of Warburton, Langtree, Bruntwood) as we desperately need youth clubs which aren’t going to come from the council, better teachers, kids to see there are decent jobs and good role models. All Everton has is the China Street play centre – which was there when I was little and has about the same amount of stuff and St Peter’s Church youth club. There needs to be more.

It isn’t just North Liverpool that votes Labour – Woolton and Gateacre has predominantly been so – with the comment you could put a pig in a rosette and it would be voted in!

As for the regeneration of Great Homer Street Market – this hasn’t really had the market traders in mind – just Sainsbury.

It needs money and people to give their time. Something that I would be prepared to do – and perhaps calling on the likes of Sheelagh and other successful sons and daughters of the North of Liverpool to go back and help out and do……………………..

By Lizzy Baggot

With respect Shelagh, being someone who is older, seen more and lived more throughout Liverpool, what you are missing here in the north of Liverpool is Sefton MBC. The single entity that drags the area back…..or is it down? You are correct much more can be done, but it wont be, simply because Sefton MBC has no interest than in collecting Council Tax to pay its officers, thats its raison d’etre. It has done nothing for the people or area.Crosby has been dead on its knees for 40 years, the recent development has lead to more retailers/traders leaving than coming in; Waterloo is boozetown, Bootle is forgotton about, and they dont even know Seaforth or Litherland exist. If you want to change the north of Liverpool one needs to change Sefton MBC; otherwise nothing will happen. Its not a political issue, they are not interested. I have watched them do nothing for over 40 years. They couldnt get Broom Cross Road / Switch Island right==five times!!! You may say thats Central Gov, but Sefton wont invest in the area.
Slightly further south, but still north, at least some efforts are being made, with 10 Streets, Bramley Moore – Trafalgar Dock regeneration area; but you still need a sustainable use for the Sugar Silo and Tobacco Warehouse

By Billy

We need someone with a vision with bright ideas and somebody who cares for Liverpool and you sound just the right person because them down south don’t care for Liverpool just like past tory governments

By David wockenforth

Shelagh, sadly I feel you are deluded. I moved away and returned, sort of by accident to Sefton. At first I thought it was delightful and refreshing to be back North living in Crosby. However, after over 12 months of exhausting effort to find a good job, am now commuting to Manchester. The ignorance, sexism and lack of ambition scream at me daily. I have a new neighbour who boasts about what she ‘makes’ on benefits whilst finding the cash for ridiculous lip filler…I cant wait to leave am really disappointed that this part of the North West is still so entrenched.

By Michelle

I agree, I moved down South in 1984 , I’m from Bootle and grew up in Litherland which was a very nice and green place once so it’s sad to see its decline to what it is now.
Though there’s still some nice areas of Litherland , Bootle seems to have suffered more, it seems that everything is concentrated on the Liverpool city centre aimed at tourism which in turn has made Liverpool lose its essence and character of how it once was.
Bootle and other neighbouring areas need investment as they too are part of the big picture of Liverpool as opposed to just the city itself and it’s never ending references to the Beatles etc.

By John Cooke

Shameless angling for a job. North Liverpool was decimated by road programmes of the 60s and never recovered. Amazing the regen money that’s poured through Council, Vision and other bodies all focused on the easy wins not North Liverpool. The area needs a 20 year plan.

By John Smith

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