A baptism of flora: Carl Cashman at the centre of ‘no mow’ debate
The new Lib Dem leader provoked anger among environmentalists. But was it really deserved?
Dear readers — an explosive argument over grass verges might not sound like Hollywood material, but that’s exactly what we were treated to over the weekend. In starring roles: new local Lib Dem leader Carl Cashman and TV naturalist Chris Packham. Cashman was critical of the council’s new policy of no longer trimming back verges around the city, claiming it was a penny-pinching exercise, rather than a way to improve biodiversity. After he posted a video airing his thoughts all hell broke loose, including an intervention from TV naturalist Packham.
We’ll be unpacking that drama, as well as treating you to the usual smorgasbord of key headlines, cultural recommendations and much more.
At the weekend we published the story of a woman in Speke who accused one of Liverpool’s biggest social housing providers, Torus, of failing to intervene when a neighbour allegedly made her life hell. It was probably one of the strangest and saddest pieces we’ve reported so far, a story of impenetrable bureaucracy and the elusiveness of journalistic certainty. If you haven’t read it yet, do go ahead and catch up via the link.
“What a strange and sad story Jack, you’ll probably never get to the bottom of it… However, the bureaucracy and frustration she experienced probably didn’t help,” read one comment. “Beautiful piece by Jack, poignant on so many levels,” read another. And also: “Great post Jack. Reminds me of one of those ambiguous endings you get in the films of Iranian film director Abbas Kiarostami.”
Last week paying members received two fantastic stories. On Tuesday, an interview with author Daniel Knowles, a one-man crusader against the automobile industry, who believes that our reliance on the car is stifling our cities. The piece drew support and backlash in equal measure in the comments, but it was fascinating to watch the debate play out. Then on Thursday Abi explored the mystery of the Ukrainian Meadow on a former Churchill Way flyover site (a site with quite the history of questionable decision-making), and found out why wildflowers have been leaving some residents in a huff. To read those pieces, as well as every edition of the Post (that’s 16 a month for £7), do consider signing up as a member if you haven’t already.
This week’s weather
Monday ⛈️ Thundery showers and a moderate breeze with highs of 19°C
Tuesday ⛈️ Thundery showers and a gentle breeze with highs of 19°C
Wednesday 🌦️ Light rain showers and a moderate breeze with highs of 18°C
Thursday 🌦️ Light rain showers and a moderate breeze with highs of 18°C
Friday 🌧️ Light rain and a gentle breeze with highs of 19°C
Weekend 🌦️ Light rain showers and a moderate breeze with highs of 19°C
This week’s weather forecast is sourced from BBC Weather and it’s for Liverpool.
The big story: A baptism of flora: Carl Cashman faces backlash in ‘no mow’ debate
Top line: New Liverpool Lib Dem leader Carl Cashman provoked a flurry of backlash over the weekend after posting a video of himself criticising the council’s new “no mow” policy on Twitter. Hundreds of replies accused him of misunderstanding the policy’s environmental benefits and a well-known TV naturalist got stuck in. But was the backlash fair?
So what happened? Liverpool City Council has recently changed its policy on grass-cutting. Thrilling stuff, you’ll agree. The council intends to trim back cutting programmes — if you’ll excuse the pun — by up to 50% in certain areas, allowing grass verges to grow long. They argue this will reap environmental benefits; greater biodiversity and the growth of attractive wildflowers, improved carbon capture and a positive impact on flooding (particularly relevant in the context of the flash floods that hit Liverpool over the weekend). Others have said that this policy is merely to do with cuts, and that the “biodiversity” argument is a means of spinning the fact that Liverpool can no longer afford to keep its verges tidy.
And so at the weekend, Carl Cashman — who recently took over from Richard Kemp as the leader of the local Lib Dems — posted a video in which he criticised the ‘no mow’ policy, saying that residents had complained about their unattractive new verges, and claiming the change was entirely financially motivated.
Why does this matter? The attention this drew, with hundreds of tweets, was huge. There was an intervention from TV naturalist Chris Packham, who said Cashman had “embarrassed himself” before adding: "Please do some research and please try and be on the same planet as those of us trying to patch up paradise and please show some empathy for all the life thriving in that modest patch of grass”.
Meanwhile a number of Labour councillors piled in, including culture cabinet member Harry Doyle, who said: "I suppose the lack of Tories in Liverpool means the Liverpool Lib Dems have to step in their shoes.”
Others wondered whether the intensity of interest over a hyper-local debate about grass verges was overblown. “This is typical of the micro perspective and the general pointlessness of our local politics,” said Jon Egan, who previously worked for Labour under Steve Rotheram, but is an outspoken critic of the local party. One counterpoint to Egan’s view would be that even small local things like this contribute to the general feel of the city, and to whether it appears well-maintained, which in turn generates a sense of whether a city is an attractive place to live or invest.
In the end Cashman deleted his video. Talking to the Echo, he said that he actually supports the policy, and did so when he was a councillor in Knowsley, but that there shouldn’t be a blanket approach. “Some areas it’s very appropriate, some areas it isn’t,” he said. He then went on to criticise the opportunism of the Labour backlash:
"The point I was making was that the purpose for adopting this policy is not to promote biodiversity, it is to save the council money because of Labour’s mismanagement of the council’s finances.”
Bottom line: It would be fair to say that, in the grand scheme of issues facing Liverpool, this one doesn’t rank too highly, although it does connect with something that is important: Liverpool’s environmental targets. And it also appears Cashman’s original comments were misinterpreted — at least by some. What is a shame is that he felt the need to take down the original video, citing the abusiveness of many of the replies. When an argument about mowing grass descends into that level of vitriol, something has gone wrong.
Your Post briefing
The man who shot Elle Edwards outside a Wirral pub on Christmas Eve has been jailed for life. Connor Chapman, 23, was found guilty of murder at Liverpool Crown Court, after shooting Ms Edwards outside the Lighthouse pub in Wallasey during an attack on a gang member from a rival estate, the result of a longstanding feud between the Woodchurch estate, where Chapman resided, and the Beechwood. Chapman had been waiting outside the Lighthouse pub, armed with a submachine gun, for Beechwood gang members Kieran Salkfeld and Jake Duffy to appear. Ms Edwards was outside having a cigarette when the shooting occurred and was killed during the attack, in which Duffy and Salkfeld were seriously injured. Chapman will serve a minimum of 48 years in prison.
Wirral artist Brigitte Jurack has unveiled a new sculpture outside Liverpool Parish Church as part of a collaboration between Liverpool Business Improvement District (BID) and dot-art gallery. The sculpture, which depicts a boy holding a carnation, is meant to encourage people to reflect on the current conflict in Ukraine. Brigitte said she was “honoured” to have her work displayed at the church, adding: “The contemporary hooded boy is at the threshold to adolescence, a time of turmoil and uncertainty”. Previous art displayed on the plinth outside the church include Gail Dooley’s Tidal Shame and Tony Heaton’s Gold Lame.
£22,000 worth of vapes have been seized in Liverpool in a joint operation between the council and Merseyside Police. Over 1,800 vapes were taken from premises across the city for failing to comply with licensing regulations — including the requirement to state the strength of nicotine in each device. Police have now warned shop owners that there will be further raids over the summer to combat illegal sales.
An update in the battle of the Breastaurant: Hooters has made another appeal to keep its controversial signs outside the venue on Water Street, opting to reduce the size of the signs in a bid to win over Liverpool City Council. The council has previously opposed the signage outside Hooters, denying planning permission in April for a pair of illuminated two-metre tall signs. Now, managing director Rachel Moss has submitted a request for two 1.5 metresigns instead, stating: “it presents a muted and appropriate advertisement for the building”. City Centre North councillor Nick Small took to Twitter to express his annoyance at the planning application, writing: “I have formally objected...again. Albert Einstein: The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.”
🍔 Enjoy a range of food, drink and crafts this weekend at Formby Food, Drink and Music Festival. Held at Duke Street Park, the event starts at 11am on Saturday with a range of chef demos, competitions, magic shows and live music until 6pm on Sunday. Admission is free — find out more here.
🎭 Head to Shakespeare North Playhouse this Wednesday for Women Aren’t Funny: a stand-up show hosted by some of the most sought-after female comics in the north west. The show is hosted by Scouse comedian and Hot Water regular Kay Nicholson, with tickets and details available here.
🎵 On Saturday, the UK’s biggest reggaeton party is heading to Blush Roof Garden for an afternoon of music and dance. Enjoy iconic tracks from Daddy Yankee, J Balvin and Maluma, with tickets available here. The event runs from 3pm until 8pm, with the last entry at 5pm.
🖊️ Indie-pop legends The Pigeon Detectives head to the Jacaranda on Wednesday for a show and signing to promote their sixth studio album, TV Show. Doors open at 7pm with the band performing at 8pm — find out more about the event here.
Home of the week
This six bedroom Victorian home in Southport is on the market for £550,000. The property has bright bay windows flooding the home with natural light, and an outhouse building with both power and water. What’s more? It has a high-efficency boiler. What more could you want? Find out more here.
Our favourite reads
“On 22 February 2019, a new centre for victims of domestic violence opened in Birkenhead to honour the memory of Paul Lavelle, a fanatical Everton supporter who had been a long suffering, silent victim of abuse”. It’s not the sort of red-carpet event a celebrity craving favourable press would usually be drawn to, but it is the sort of place you’ll find Neville Southall — once the best goalkeeper in the world — delivering a poignant, heartfelt message. This tribute to Southall, a man who played 751 games for Everton, in These Football Times is an absolute treat for Blues seeking a journey down memory lane to brighten up their Monday.
‘Street’ photographer Tom Wood has had big shows around the globe, in Moscow, France and China, but until now never in Liverpool. Wood’s new exhibition at the Walker Art Gallery, a celebration of a half-century of work entitled Photie Man, has been a huge success. Kenn Taylor reviewed it for The Post (paying members can read that here) last month, finding a wealth of images that never feel po-faced or overly sentimental, but rather reflect the strength and dignity of their subjects. Now, Taylor’s spoken to the man himself for Another Mag, talking about what it means to be categorised as a working-class artist, and why his photographs have been creating connections for 50 years.
Former Interpol target number one, Curtis Warren, was back under arrest last week, just months after his release at the end of last year. Back in 2013, when Warren — one of the world’s most high profile drug dealers — was staring down the barrel of a decade in jail if he didn’t pay a £198 million confiscation order, the Guardian’s Helen Pidd went to meet him, in what was his first-ever interview. It’s a revealing piece, especially when Warren proudly proclaims himself to be anti-drugs, patrolling the prison corridors and cutting out usage, to the thanks of wardens. "’Yeah, believe it or not,’ he says. Why? ‘It's just not good, is it? Bloody hell, I've never had a cigarette in my life, or a drink. I've never tasted alcohol or anything. No interest.’"
Letters from readers
Liverpool will need £16 Billion, not £16 Million to get a half decent transport infrastructure. Even then I doubt I would ever be in a position to give up on a car, and I would envy the ability of others to do so. I have not worked in Liverpool for what must be coming on for 20 years…I am an IT consultant and for the last two decades I have had to look to Manchester and Warrington for work. Liverpool is incapable to attracting Information Technology in any worthwhile way. It is way outside of our comfort zone of shops and service industry, ‘Bad Carma: One man’s quest to break our auto-dependency’, Paul O’Donnell
Beautiful piece by Jack, poignant on so many levels... the powerlessness of tenants, the real suffering of Karen, her worried friends and even the 'mismatch' of the next door neighbour with his anti social crimes. Best of all, a sensitive unravelling of a search for truth, and how honest journalism can only try its best, ‘The final year of Karen Bell’s life’, Natalie