1st Mersey Tunnel 80th Birthday – Queensway


The BBC has the story – see link above. The 80th anniversary of the opening of the Queensway tunnel is being marked.

Merseytravel produced a booklet about both Tunnels about 10 years ago. This is the front page of it.

Merseytravel produced a booklet about both Tunnels about 10 years ago. This is the front page.

The 2.13 mile (3.4 km) tunnel linking Liverpool and Birkenhead was opened by King George V on 18 July 1934.

Another page from the Merseytravel booklet gives  some fascinating facts about the Queensway Tunnel

Another page from the Merseytravel booklet gives some fascinating facts about the Queensway Tunnel. Click to enlarge

It was the first road tunnel under the River Mersey and took almost nine years to build.

This reminded me of the 2nd Tunnel being opened in 1971 when I walked through it with my parents gathering autographs of the people who worked on it. Here are a couple of interesting photos of that event:-

This is the front page of the booklet produced to celebrate  of the opening of Kingsway Tunnel

This is the front page of the booklet produced to celebrate of the opening of Kingsway Tunnel

These are the tickets my family were given when we walked through the new (2nd) Tunnel in 1971

These are the tickets my family were given when we walked through the new (2nd) Tunnel in 1971

Labour – devolution and trust (of Labour Council Leaders)

On devolution

Hilary Benn, the Shadow Local Government Secretary, has said a Labour Government would give councils more freedom but austerity would continue.

The fact that Labour now seems very keen on the long-held Liberal policy of devolving power from Whitehall is often spoken off these days but the fascinating words here are that ‘austerity would continue’. A common sense remark of course but its not the message that Labour delivers locally, indeed if you believed Labour’s local utterances you would think that the election of a Labour government would end austerity and reverse all the cuts in public expenditure. Saying one thing nationally but quite another at a local level.

Labour must trust [its own] local leaders

A group Labour council leaders, including Cllr Lib Peck of Lambeth Council, Cllr Jim McMahon of Oldham Council and Cllr Sharon Taylor of Stevenage BC, have written in the Guardian recently that the Labour party needs to trust its local leaders. The leaders urge the Labour party to share power and work with them to deliver the future that communities want.

This is very much linked to the potential devolution of power from Westminster. The problem is that Labour does not trust its own local leaders and has not done for many years.

Saving pubs at risk of closure – Priory, Aintree & Cabbage – All in Bootle

CAMRA and the Local Government Information Unit recently collaborated on a report that found 28 UK pubs are closing every week. Public Houses: how councils and governments can save pubs also found that, since January 2012, at least 208 have been converted into supermarkets. CAMRA/LGiU cite the ease by which, under the Town and Country Planning Act (1995), drinking establishments can be converted into retail outlets without the approval of the local planning authority. While noting that “there is no magic bullet” to saving pubs, the report found that article 4 of the 1995 act, putting “change of use” of a building under the control of the local authority, has been used with some success, as has the Localism Act (2011), which enables communities to designate public houses as assets of community value.

Campaigners outside the Priory Pub trying to save it.

Campaigners outside the Priory Pub trying to save it.

This briefing from the Local Government Information Unit (LGiU) popped up only a couple of days after Sefton Council’s Planning Committee had dealt with and indeed rejected unanimously a planning application to build flats on the site of the Priory Pub in Litherland.

I have posted about the campaign to save this pub before at:-


and at:-


The Planning Officers wanted the Planning Committee to agree to the application to build flats on the site but the answer from the Committee was a very clear NO! But why was that? Well it comes down to the kind of issues being put forward by CAMRA and the LGiU and the fact that we on the Planning Committee felt it was right to give a higher priority to the separate(ish) but related process that is presently ongoing for the campaigners to try to buy the site and reopen it as a pub.

Time is not on the campaigners side as the owner may decide to demolish the pub anyway. Couple that to the fact that lead and slates have been stripped from part of the roof by thieves and it is clearly a big ask. BUT, we backed the localism agenda against the planning application. Whether this will have a good outcome I don’t know but we have given the opportunity for that to happen I hope.

Cabbage Inn

Cabbage Inn

I mentioned the Aintree Pub in one of my previous postings but of course the Cabbage Inn in Netherton has also bitten the dust in recent times. All 3 pubs are within a couple of miles of each other and there will be others closing as well in Bootle and across the UK.

McCartney – Remembering Capital of Culture 2008


The recent story (see link above) about Paul McCartney re-starting his USA tour, on the BBC web site, reminded me of when Jen and I went to see him perform at Liverpool’s Anfield Football Ground as part of the 2008 European Capital of Culture celebrations in the City.

I took this photo during the concert:-


Those were great days indeed for the City of Liverpool. Gaining the European Capital of Culture award for 2008 marked a big turn around in its fortunes after years of decline as a major UK port. So much has changed since then, with cruise liners returning to the port and Liverpool being a hugely popular tourist destination in its own right these days.

And the McCartney concert? Jen and I had a great time sat in a world famous stadium being used on that occasion for something very much nothing to do with football.

The photo above is amongst my Flickr shots at:-

Mm, Labour as decentralisers – this would be huge leap of faith in my book

Labour would transfer £30bn of funding from central to local government to “begin reversing a century of centralisation”, Ed Miliband has said. Discussing the plans, Mr Miliband said that they were not about “big spending” but rather “big reform”. Meanwhile, Ed Balls added that the party had “big ideas” about devolution of powers, long-term infrastructure spending and manufacturing. He said Labour wanted to introduce “more devolution of power to our cities and our county regions, more devolution of housing spending, job spend, skills and business support”.

As carried by Yorkshire Post, newspaper and BBC News

This is one of those situations where I hope an opposition party really does mean what it says but history would urge great caution because Labour are by their very socialist nature centralisers of power. But even if the leopard really is contemplating changing its spots will Labour do it via the appalling route of City Region all-powerful Mayors. If so then all we will have is power being decentralised from Westminster only for it be re-centralised at a sub-regional level in the hands of one person.

With thanks to the LGiU for the lead to this story.

Nyman’s Hillsborough Symphony


A fascinating tribute. The BBC has the story of yesterday’s first performance, see link above.

Stop Press:-

Here is a report of the concert from Iain Brodie Brown