Sefton Council – will it be buying more shopping centers in the Borough?

Bootle New Strand shopping centre

In what can only be seen as a surprise move last year Sefton Council splashed out over £30m of public money to buy The Strand Shopping Centre in Bootle, a move that shocked many in these times of austerity for local authorities.

But it seems that buying shopping centres is quite the fashion for local councils these days as the article below details from the BBC website:-

www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-46625912

I’m the first to say that I’m highly sceptical of such moves by cash-strapped councils – it’s a massive gamble that could go horribly wrong. I had not realised that Wigan Council had purchased The Galleries but having walked around it’s all but deserted upper floor before Christmas you really do wonder what that council can do to bring back the lost retail outlets.

Of course, Sefton Council’s previous big move into retail property development was to take on the rebuild and running of Southport Indoor Market a few years back. This was another hugely controversial investment which I and others on the Council at the time opposed.

But as Sefton and indeed other councils are now firmly into retail property development will this mean other shopping centres locally will be snapped up at lowish prices using borrowed public money? Makes you wonder, especially when private sector owners seem to struggle to find the resources to upgrade down at heel shopping centres such as Maghull Square.

I’m not advocating that Sefton buys up more retail property, because I think it has too much risk attached to it, but if the Council’s Labour rulers really do think that acquiring shopping centres is the next big thing for municipal socialism why stop at Southport Market and Bootle Strand?

Thanks to both Roy Connell and Keith Page for the leads to this posting

Bootle – Pugh lambasts Council over yet more money public being thrown at Strand Shopping Center

Bootle New Strand shopping centre

Following the recent news that Sefton Council intends to throw another £3m+ of public money at the Strand Shopping Center in Bootle the Leader of the opposition on the Council, Cllr. John Pugh has this to say:-

“Having burdened us with £32 M pounds of debt buying the asset, Sefton Council wants to spend another £3.I million pounds this year on their new toy to enable councillors to play “shops”.

The council should concentrate on its day job and stop pretending it’s a player in the risky retail market.

The fact that a year after the purchase of the Strand, it’s having to fix the roof shows how far its out of its depth.

We were told extensive checks were made prior to purchase. Looking at the roof might have been a good idea!

This is embarrassing for the council and wasting the money of hard-pressed, council tax payers.”

Bootle – Sefton’s Monopoly Money

Rear view of Bootle New Strand shopping centre

If your Council was strapped for cash and was having big trouble funding vital community services would you speculatively spend what we have been told amounts to £32.5m buying a shopping center, seemingly via off-shore companies and borrow the money to do it? Well most probably you wouldn’t but it’s exactly what Labour-run Sefton Council did in Bootle in 2017

This is of course not a new story but even with the passing of a few months since the purchase it still beggars belief. Whilst Labour refuse to reveal how much the Strand officially cost, newspapers have reported the deal at £32.5m.

But the big question, amongst many that the Labour-run Council refuse to answer, is why buy the Strand Shopping Centre. Why not Maghull Square Shopping Centre, Central 12 Shopping Centre in Southport, a retail park in Aintree etc. etc.

We all know that because of on-line spending retail is not doing well these days and the trend is likely to continue towards more on-line and less retail shop spending. So why is buying a shopping centre in Bootle, which has been troubled by lowering footfall and empty shop units, a good deal for the Borough? Indeed, would the admittedly rather down at heel Maghull Square shopping centre have been a better bet for a speculative purchase as it has not suffered the large number of vacant units that the Strand has since the recession hit us?

You see the stated reason for purchasing the Strand is to bring in rental income that will both pay off the massive loan taken out on the shopping centre, pay for maintenance and future investment in the property and leave money to spare to help run essential public services.

There are huge areas on the Strand that you can no longer access where shop units used to be and a walk downstairs to the lower retail area reveals many vacant shop units. So again I ask the question, if gaining a return to fund Council services was the real objective why not pick a shopping centre in the Borough that is thriving or at least performing better than the Strand is? But then again why buy a retail development at all, aren’t there better property investments around?

Frankly, the purchase of the Strand still does not add up and if, as seems likely, the removal of thousands of civil servants from Bootle and into Liverpool has the predicted big reduction in footfall where will the Labour Party hide its face then?

Bootle – Howitzer your day?

Defending Bootle from.....

The army were out with artillery next to Bootle’s soon and very sadly to be closing M&S store last week but what were they doing, defending or indeed attacking? A few possibilities:-

* Were they there to ‘advise’ protestors about the dangers of trying to stop M&S from closing?

* Were they there (at Sefton Council’s behest?) to fire a salute to Bootle’s very own UKIP national leader in waiting Paul Nuttall?

* Were they there to take pot-shots at joy riders on scrambler bikes who seem to like riding through the Strand shopping centre malls?

* Were they there at the behest of Bootle Labour Party as they try to defend a visiting Jeremy Corbyn from Labour’s civil war?

Or was the show of military power simply about recruiting local youngsters for the Army?

The photo is amongst my Flickr shots at:-

www.flickr.com/photos/86659476@N07/

Bootle and indeed elsewhere – Pollution Concerns

I have posted about pollution issues/concerns a number of times previously on this blog site but it is worth remembering that such concerns go back a while. Have a look at this excellent Bootle mural.

It is on a former railway tunnel which is now a pedestrian walkway under Merseyrail’s New Strand Station. I have published photos of many of the other murals in this tunnel on this site and on my Flickr site in recent times.

rsz_bootle_pollution_mural

Click on the photo to enlarge it.

The photo above is amongst those on my Flickr site at:-
www.flickr.com/photos/86659476@N07/

World War 1 in Bootle

I have previously posted photo’s of the wall-art in the former railway tunnel of Bootle’s Langton Dock Branch which is now a pedestrian walkway under the present Bootle New Strand Station. See link below:-

tonyrobertson.mycouncillor.org.uk/2014/05/09/the-bootle-gas-works-branch-railwaylangton-dock-branch-midland-railway/

This is the last of my shots of the wall-art but considering it is the 100 anniversary of the start of WW1 in 2014 I thought it appropriate to give this final shot the individual consideration that it deserves.

rsz_wallart_on_former_railway_tunnel_-_bootle_4

This photo is amongst my Flickr shots at:-
www.flickr.com/photos/86659476@N07/