Another local death from a dangerous dog - will this one be the tipping point?
After a new spate of attacks and a death in Sefton, some leaders want the American Bully XL to be added to the banned list
Dear readers — a new cohort of freshers are descending on Liverpool this week as they prepare to begin their adult lives, but as you’ll already know, nothing in this city could be fresh-er than The Post’s Monday briefing. Apologies for that, onwards…
Post first-timer Matthew Hughes’s “brutal, well written demolition” (in the words of one Post-reader) of Liverpool City Council’s foray into the murky world of blockchain in 2018 went down a storm. If you didn't catch that piece we’d recommend catching up here — it’s got everything from the exotic (threatened Peruvian forests) to the more run of the mill (if, that is, you regard thousands of pounds disappearing down the drain as business as usual for a local authority). Here were a few of the comments:
“Well that’s a surprise! Rogue companies set up under the guise of ‘tackling climate change’ and Liverpool Council investing in them without due diligence!”
“A great piece! It's frustrating this story wasn't met with more scepticism by the press back in 2018.”
“Liverpool City Council presents 'The Poseidon Adventure', watch in amazement as the good ship 'SS Taxpayers money' ventures forth on a perilous journey beyond the Andes.”
🚨 We’re still accepting applications for a new staff writer at The Post — please apply by Sunday 24 September or tell friends who might be interested in the role. We would love to hear from amazing journalists from across the region — including people from diverse backgrounds who might not think they have the connections or confidence to secure a role in this industry. Finding that person — young or old, experienced or new to the game — is our number one priority at the moment, and we would be extremely grateful for any help in tracking them down. The company we are part of, Mill Media Co, is also hiring two senior positions in Manchester — one editorial and one commercial.
Editor’s note: Coming up on the Post in the next few weeks we’ve got three pieces that have been in the works for quite a while, and have been real labours of love. We’ll have to stay coy on the details for now but keep your eyes peeled. We’re also closing in on the 1200 paying members mark; can 15 or so more of you haul yourselves over the line? Can we get a big Monday push? You’ll get eight extra editions monthly and will become part of our mission to revolutionise local news in the UK, shifting the focus away from clickbait towards quality, nuance and care. It costs just £1.25 a week.
Now, on with the edition. Today’s big story returns to a topic we covered back in March after a shocking spate of incidents. A 40-year-old woman died last week, a month after being attacked by two Rottweilers on Park Lane West, refocusing attention on Merseyside’s status as the worst region in the country for dangerous dog attacks. We’ll be asking: what more can be done before more lives are lost?
This week’s weather
Monday 🌧️ Light rain and a gentle breeze with highs of 19°C
Tuesday 🌧️ Light rain and a gentle breeze with highs of 17°C
Wednesday 🌤️ Sunny intervals and a gentle breeze with highs of 19°C
Thursday 🌧️ Light rain and a gentle breeze with highs of 18°C
Friday 🌦️ Light rain showers and a gentle breeze with highs of 19°C
Weekend 🌦️ Light rain showers and a gentle breeze with highs of 17°C
This week’s weather forecast is sourced from BBC Weather and it’s for Liverpool.
Daniel and Jack are looking into whether Liverpool’s north/south divide is uniquely stark among UK cities. If you’ve got an interesting take or opinion regarding Liverpool’s economic disparities, email email@example.com.
We’re writing about antisocial behaviour in Garston, specifically around the village hall. Email Abi firstname.lastname@example.org to find out more on this one.
The big story: All bite, no bark: Should we be raising our voices about dangerous dogs?
Top line: A woman from Netherton has died a month after suffering a brutal dog attack on Park Lane West, reopening the ongoing argument over dangerous dogs. Why are they so popular across Merseyside?
Recap: We looked into this situation a few months ago, when we published the piece On the front line of Merseyside’s dog attack crisis. It was clear from the data that while there are a number of dog attack hotspots across the UK, Merseyside — in particular Knowsley — really stands out.
“Merseyside bears the grim distinction of being one of the worst regions in the country for getting mauled by a dog. Last year, the NHS ranked the local authorities with the highest annual dog bite admissions: among the top five, Knowsley is first and St Helens is fifth (Middlesborough, Wakefield, and Redcar & Cleveland come second, third, and fourth)...In addition, every day, a child is treated in the Alder Hey for a dog attack, according to Dr Christian Duncan, a plastic surgeon at the hospital.”
When we were researching that piece we requested some NHS data. Unfortunately we didn’t get it back in time for publication then, but we’ve got it now. According to the most recent data, there has been a total of 485 recorded dog attacks in Merseyside in 2022-2023 — though that's almost certainly an underestimate, as they're still waiting for two months of data to come through.
New incidents: Four prominent recent incidents have brought dog attacks back onto the local news agenda:
A man was arrested after his Pit Bull mauled a three-year-old girl in Kirkby, leaving her with “serious but not life-threatening” injuries, that required treatment at Alder Hey Children’s Hospital
A three-year-old boy was left with "significant injuries to his cheek and nose" after being bitten on the face Huntaway Cross breed in Wirral
A seven-year-old girl was taken to hospital with injuries to her head and legs after a “horrific” attack – not caused by a banned breed – in Wallasey
A 40-year-old woman who was initially treated at hospital and discharged after she was bitten on the legs and arms by two Rottweiler dogs on Park Lane West last month, has collapsed in her home and died. The primary cause of death was a pulmonary embolism.
Pit bulls have been illegal in the UK since 1991, which is why the Kirkby man whose dog attacked a three-year-old girl has been arrested. But not all big dogs are banned. Some, like the American Bully XL, are actually becoming more and more popular. This is the breed that attacked the 7-year-old girl in Wallasey, as well as the one responsible for “chewing a man’s arm” in Gateacre in July, leaving him with “massive injuries” and putting him in hospital. That dog was seized by Merseyside Police and destroyed, but despite the Bully XL breed being accountable for more than half of the fatal dog attacks in the UK last year, there are still a few thousand legally-owned Bullies in the country. These recent attacks have prompted senior government figures, including Home Secretary Suella Braverman, to call for them to be banned.
Things have become so bad that in July Merseyside Police launched a campaign called Take the Lead, urging dog owners to keep their pets on leads and warning people not to approach animals that aren’t theirs. It was noted that, in the decade between 1998 and 2018, roughly 5% of national hospital admissions in relation to dog bites occurred in Merseyside.
Your Post briefing
You might remember our piece on the crisis at the Eldonian Village back in January, when we investigated how the assets of the once-heralded social housing community had been sold off to mysterious overseas companies, sometimes for as little as £1. Well, the drama has shown no signs of letting up. A proposal to build 75 homes on the site of the village’s former sports centre — the Elaine Norris — has turned into a two year planning debate, with applicant Kersh Worral Commercial challenging Liverpool City Council’s decision to defer a decision on the bid until a site visit can be undertaken. Kersh Worral — a limited company that appears to have no website, is the registered business name of a local surveyor, and has been permanently ‘dormant’ according to Companies House — is angry at a lack of progress on their proposal. And now there’s more. Our sources on the village have reported vans fly-tipping waste material on the site’s bowling green over the weekend. That’s the same bowling green now owned by a company incorporated in the British Virgin Islands. Will anyone intervene to stop one of Liverpool’s most historic communities being torn apart?
Housing secretary Michael Gove has written a letter to a Merseyside housing association after a tenant was left “on the verge of a nervous breakdown” due to damp. Livv Housing — a housing association based in Prescott — was first made aware of the issue in 2019, but delayed repairs to the property for four years. In July, the firm was ordered to pay £3,000 in compensation to the tenant, and have since said they have made changes to how damp issues are reported. In a letter to Livv Housing, Mr Gove said the housing association failed to provide the level of service expected, adding that the state of the home "severely impacted" the tenant’s mental health.
Liverpool City Council is one of just 17 organisations being praised for their climate solutions this year, reaching the finals of the 2023 Ashden Awards. The council’s £3.2 million URBAN Green Up programme — a scheme creating new green corridors across Liverpool — is one of just two finalists in the Local Nature Recovery category, from a total of 240 organisations applying across the awards this year. The range of projects delivered so far as part of the URBAN Green Up scheme include three different types of vertical green walls, a pollinator roof, water retention ponds and Liverpool’s first urban rain garden (see that here).
A woman in Walton has moved out of her home after it was vandalised with racist and xenophobic graffiti — including the phrases “No more immigrants” and “No p***s”. Originally from Georgia, the mum-of-three (who wishes to remain anonymous) was in the process of decorating her new home on Graylands Road when the insults were spray painted onto the front of the house and her windows smashed. The police are currently investigating the incident as a hate crime.
Home of the week
This three bedroom Victorian home in Southport is on the market for £260,000. The garden is a real showstopper; with a bar, summer house and plenty of outdoor seating to enjoy the rest of the September sunshine. Take a look here.
🥃 Liverpool Whisky Festival kicks off this Saturday from 12pm at The Crypt with masterclasses, exhibitions and a whole host of tasting opportunities on the cards. There are only two slots — the afternoon or evening — so book soon to avoid disappointment. Find out more here.
⛵ Head to the Liverpool Watersports Centre on Tuesday for a free dragon boat paddling session. In just under an hour, a teacher will guide you through the basics of paddling a dragon boat — a large canoe style boat fit for around 20 people — while you enjoy being out on the water in the Liverpool Docks. Find out more here.
🎨 Coffee shop 92 Degrees is hosting a life drawing class on Tuesday, with basic materials provided for the session. It starts at 7.15pm — sign up here.
🎵 Cancer charity Maggie’s is hosting a one-day festival at Brimstage Maze on Saturday with a range of games, food stalls and a tombola to raise money for the charity. The event starts at 11am — get a ticket here.
Our favourite reads
After the government's latest bout of gaffes, Sir Keir Starmer and Labour’s path to government looks as clear as ever, but how might they actually run the country? According to the New Statesman, we can get a pretty good gauge of things by looking to Labour-run councils, Liverpool included. Steve Rotheram for example, metro mayor Liverpool City Region, has said that he and his team exemplify “what Labour can do in power”. Whether or not that bodes well for the nation at large, it’s a comparison that’s sure to provoke furiously divided opinions.
“Liverpool must pay greater heed to what is valuable or risk swamping the quality it does ‘possess in a sea of disposable superficiality,’” writes art historian Ed Williams for Liverpolitan in an exploration of the city’s public realm art. It’s a harsh read, with Williams arguing against what he sees as the “more is more” strategy the city is pursuing, in which the non-stop commissioning of public artworks devalues the genuinely special ones already in place, making Liverpool’s “capital of culture” status appear somewhat meaningless. “The casual observer could be excused for concluding that Liverpool is a city where public art comes to die, discarded and left as litter like so many broken domestic appliances”.
“Lucy Letby sat with her parents in a meeting with senior managers at the Countess of Chester Hospital, where she worked, waiting patiently for an apology.” Behind a paywall, but well worth a read for Sunday Times subscribers. The inside story — drawing on hundreds of files and with remarkable detail — tells how hospital bosses took Lucy Letby’s side when doctors at her hospital warned that she might be a killer. Not only was the now-convicted serial killer backed, and her accusers admonished, but she was also supported through a master’s degree and found a role in a top hospital.
Letters from readers
A great piece! It's frustrating this story wasn't met with more scepticism by the press back in 2018. "Public sector body seduced by snake oil/monorail salesman" is a tale as old as the hills but nowhere seems to do it with as much gusto as Liverpool (see also: the Bold St "nudge" crossing, the zip wire, living walls that die, ‘Liverpool was going to become the world’s first ‘carbon positive’ city. What went wrong?’, thewilk
The Poseidon Adventure. Someone was definitely having a laugh. Reminds me of Rhyl Council buying the doomed Sky Tower for 1 million off Glasgow Council, they put it up, it needed 400,000 worth of work, and cost 30,000 to take down. All it did was allow you to see Liverpool from Rhyl. Which if you were on holiday from Liverpool in Rhyl was a bit pointless, ‘Liverpool was going to become the world’s first ‘carbon positive’ city. What went wrong?’, MS