Liverpool’s famous bucket fountain still needs to be saved

I blogged about this back in February and my posting from then is accessible via the link below:-

tonyrobertson.mycouncillor.org.uk/2019/02/09/liverpools-bucket-fountain-move-proposal-sparks-protests/

But whilst time has marched on the potential to remove the bucket fountain still looms large. My understanding of the present situation is this:-

Despite the fountain now being Grade 11 listed a developer is continuing to discuss its relocation with Liverpool City Council. It’s important to say that the viewing platforms are included in the listing and it’s difficult to see how those concrete platforms could be ‘removed’ without them being demolished.

There is no public appetite for this proposal, and the vast majority of people would prefer it to stay in Beetham Plaza. Whilst the fountain itself wasn’t designed for the plaza the platforms actually were, and clearly the fountain can be enjoyed more both visually and aurally because of its location in a small enclosed space. And of course the links with the slave trade and the commemorative plaque on one of the platforms are a very very important reason for the choice of location.

There are so many reasons why the fountain should stay on the plaza, and it’s hard to see a reason for even attempting to remove it other than the developer’s wish to replace it with a hotel, and it’s disappointing that the council are seemingly not listening to the to protests from local people.

If you’ve not already signed the petition (see link below) in support of the campaign to keep the fountain in its present location then please do so now:-

www.change.org/p/liverpool-city-council-save-the-bucket-fountain

My thanks to Sheila Lane for the update on this continuing campaign

What’s going on within the Labour Party – The Merseyside Bellwether

Yes of course Momentum is tightening its grip but on Merseyside, as it’s doing across the Labour Party, but they are known as Militant to Scousers. But let’s look beyond the headlines, the questions being are Momentum becoming more Militant or are Militant gaining Momentum?

It seems as though some on Merseyside are now looking back at the 1980’s with very rose tinted spectacles on. It was not a good time for Liverpool but Militant made it worse with their political posturing and false hope. Yes it was some 30 years ago so many who want to celebrate the return of the far left will not have had any experience of that era. Indeed, their knowledge of it will have come from those who do remember it or those who were a part of it.

Well it seems things are starting to repeat themselves as more moderate Labour councillors start to walk away, defect or suffer deselection in Liverpool. Here’s a recent Liverpool Echo story on the matter:-

www.liverpoolecho.co.uk/news/liverpool-news/sitting-liverpool-labour-councillors-out-15241026

I also understand that some Labour MP’s on Merseyside may not be all that comfortable, especially those with longer memories. By the way don’t get too carried away with Frank Field MP resigning the Labour Whip. His case is more of a unique nature because of his support for Brexit, which seems to go beyond that of even the Labour Leadership in Westminster and that takes some doing.

A good starting point for anyone wishing to get their heads around Liverpool City Council or the Labour Party on Merseyside is to visit the blog site of former Labour MP for Walton Constituency Peter Kilfoyle. If you remember he was Neil Kinnock’s man in Liverpool when Militant were being driven out of the Labour Party.

The Lib Dem Group Leader on Liverpool City Council, Cllr. Richard Kemp, is another blogger on the local political scene who lived through the Militant era, in his case as a Liverpool City Councillor. Both of these men have the scars and knowledge of how Liverpool, from the management of public services perspective, simply fell apart at the seams under Militant. Neither have rose tinted spectacles I might add.

So is Liverpool really slipping back towards the political mismanagement of the 1980’s? At face value it seems to be doing just that. Labour in the City is already riven with splits of both a political and personal nature. That you will oft hear of a Labour faction calling another Labour faction ‘a gang of Tories’ or words that effect says it all does it not?

From a wider perspective my feeling is that Liverpool has always been a tough place to govern and that everyone who has tried to do it has eventually ended up with burnt fingers. Maybe this is not unusual for a large city council? In my years as Leader of neighbouring Sefton Council (and these coincided with good years for the City of Liverpool) you often got the impression that the City Council was pretty much on the edge and that power struggles within it were always about to erupt. But despite this underlying instability within the City Council it still wanted to be the boss on Merseyside and it got very frustrated with the surrounding Borough’s that were often less than keen on whatever its latest initiative was.

That Merseyside politics has traditionally been seen as dysfunctional by governments of all colours over the past 30 to 40 years is a given but to me the City Council and its inability to be at peace with itself, let alone with it’s family of local government neighbours in the now called ‘City Region’ is at the heart of these difficulties.

My guess is that Liverpool City will always be a political melting pot which attracts those with both radical (I use that word in its widest terms not just in the Liberal sense) and off the usual scale views. It will also pull in those who want power because they feel that their vision for the City is the right one whether it sends the City to hell in a hand cart or not and it’s the Labour Party that they usually subscribe to.

Should Liverpool end up is some politically dark places again under Labour then the reality is that few will be surprised. Oh and one last point, on becoming leader of Sefton Council I was asked by a senior officer, somewhat tongue in cheek obviously, ‘what’s your most important task as leader of the council?’ I thought about it but before I could answer I was advised it was to keep Sefton out of the Rotten Boroughs column of Private Eye. As a reader of Private Eye I wonder whether the leading lights on Liverpool City Council have in recent times been advised the very opposite to me?

Oh and as a PS, here’s another Liverpool Echo article. The state of the Labour Party must be a factor is this ‘walk away’ too don’t you think:-

www.liverpoolecho.co.uk/news/liverpool-news/leader-wirral-council-makes-surprise-15289031

Liverpool – Former Labour councillor joins Lib Dems

The Liverpool Echo has the story on its web site – see link below:-

www.liverpoolecho.co.uk/news/liverpool-news/liverpool-councillor-who-quit-labour-15135059

Extract from article – “I think Labour have got really complacent in Liverpool and we need councillors to hold them to account.”

Liverpool – Are the days of City’s ‘Spare Mayor’ numbered?

www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-merseyside-44793164

The BBC has the story on its web site – see link above

Since the election of a Liverpool City Region Mayor in 2017 there’s been talk about whether Liverpool City needs an elected Mayor as well. You could say that the City now has 3 Mayors, 2 directly elected and 1 ceremonial, that’s one too many for some folk and it’s the City’s elected Mayoral post that is being put froward for abolition to help save money for the cash strapped council.

Can’t say that I have ever supported any elected Mayor anywhere, in my view these posts concentrate too much power in the hands of one person and their imposition on local government (by David Cameron) has been both costly and unnecessary. So in my view Liverpool City Council should take the plunge and abolish its own elected Mayoral post.

Liverpool – Oops you can’t do this on a Listed Building without consent!

Ceiling of banqueting suite Cunard Building, Liverpool

www.liverpoolecho.co.uk/news/liverpool-news/huge-banner-been-put-up-14870304.amp?__twitter_impression=true

The Liverpool Echo has the story on its Twitter page – see link above

You have to laugh as Liverpool City Council are (like all other local authorities) the people whose job it is to regulate what can and can’t be done on a Listed Building! The Cunard Building is Grade II* Listed. They need ‘Listed Building Consent’ from er, Liverpool City Council’s Planning Dept. but because they did not apply for it the banner has to come down.

You could not make this up………

Sefton Borough – Do Labour really want to merge it with Knowsley and Liverpool Councils?

Sefton Council Logo

www.liverpoolecho.co.uk/news/liverpool-news/joe-anderson-open-liverpool-merging-14756310

The Liverpool Echo has the story on its web site – see link above

In times when it looked just about possible that the Borough of Sefton could be split up I recall that Bootle Labour Party were seemingly of the view that merging Bootle in with Liverpool City Council was akin to them all being captured by the enemy. They certainly seemed to view the prospect with more than a little spluttering into their coffee so to speak.

Now it seems that some Labour folk are saying Knowsley Borough may not be viable in the future (I seem to recall that was a phrase used to describe West Lancs Borough not that long ago) and Joe Anderson suggesting that merging Liverpool with either or both Knowsley/Sefton is worth considering.

The church of St. Helen in Sefton Village, This village gave the name to Sefton Borough.

Sefton certainly is a muddle of communities with few common interests and there can be little doubt that it was somehow cobbled together by the Local Government Boundary Commission in 1974 to suit some purpose but no one is quite sure what that purpose was. Unloved would be a good way to describe Sefton Borough. I have blogged about this before and here’s a link to that previous posting dated March 2015:-

tonyrobertson.mycouncillor.org.uk/2015/03/28/borough-of-sefton-what-a-mixture-of-diverse-communities-that-have-little-common-with-each-other/

Of course Labour-run Sefton has now got rid of its Area Committees (mentioned in the March 2015 posting) as they have acted to centralise power in Bootle Town Hall once again.

Sefton Borough artwork recognising the year the Borough was created.

So having rehearsed that history, how on earth would merging Sefton with either or both Knowsley Borough and/or Liverpool City help empower Sefton’s diverse communities – Answer it wouldn’t, indeed it would most probably place the decision making power base even further away in Liverpool.

The other question is why do some Labour folks in Knowsley and Liverpool want to merge their councils areas with Sefton Borough. Is it just a bigger is better approach to local government?

The talk of mergers is probably little more than that but of course we Liberals need to be on our guard as we are very much opposed to the big is beautiful approach to local government because we are decentralisers by nature and instinct. Creating a huge Merseyside Council taking in Knowsley, Liverpool and Sefton would achieve what? A Liberal view is that it would be more remote, less in touch with the needs of individual communities and pretty much impossible for residents to hold to account. In reality we need smaller councils with far less highly paid officials running them.

With thanks to Roy Connell for the lead to this posting