Ban the bangers: Is it time for a rethink of firework night?
Fly-tippers love it. Dogs hate it. Calls for a ban grow louder and louder
Dear readers — enjoy bonfire night? The pretty colours lighting up the sky? Well, not everyone does. One Labour councillor recently claimed the night has been “hijacked” by organised gangs of fly-tippers, while many believe we should knock it on the head for the sake of our beloved dogs. Today’s Big Story unpacks all of that. It’s a banger…
At the weekend, Leo Hardwick returned from a Post hiatus with a grisly murder tale from late 1940s Liverpool. A belated Halloween treat, if you will. It was the story of George Kelly, dubbed the ‘Little Ceasar of Lime Street’ for his wannabe gangster get-up and criminal connections, who was charged with a double murder that shook the city to its core. But did the police get the right guy?
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Last week paying members received two great editions of The Post. On Tuesday, Sophie met up with Deborah Morgan, an author whose epiphany in her 40s (she wanted to write!) has blessed us with a pair of novels that beautifully depict a Liverpudlian underbelly of shoplifting, tenements, and corporal punishment, but also of joy and hope.
Our Thursday exclusive — that Eurovision had a surprisingly negligible effect on trade for city centre business, a meagre 3% boost — provoked a great debate. Some felt we were being too harsh, others said the piece exposed the tendency of local authorities to overhype such events (even when they’ve been a great success). Keep the comments coming, even if you think we’re being miserly…we can take it!
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This week’s weather
Tuesday 🌧️ Light rain and a moderate breeze with highs of 11°C
Wednesday 🌧️ Light rain and a moderate breeze with highs of 11°C
Thursday 🌦️ Light rain showers and a moderate breeze with highs of 10°C
Friday 🌧️ Light rain and a gentle breeze with highs of 11°C
Weekend 🌧️ Light rain and a gentle breeze with highs of 12°C
This week’s weather forecast is sourced from BBC Weather and it’s for Liverpool.
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Ban the bangers: Is it time for a rethink of firework night?
Top Line: Last week Liverpool City Council cabinet member Laura Robertson-Collins blogged about how annual Bonfire Night celebrations in Liverpool had become a “curse” for local communities. She claimed “organised gangs” were carrying out fly-tipping on an “industrial scale” in the run up to November 5 while building unofficial bonfires. And she isn’t the only one who has a problem with firework night.
Context: Merseyside — as well as elsewhere — has a long history of the community bonfire. The Echo reported last week on the important role of the communal bonfire for Guy Fawkes nights of yore, bringing people together to build pyres and effigies, with celebrations continuing into the night. But times have changed, and the danger of bonfires and fireworks have become more significant parts of the conversation.
Moreover, animal welfare charities have been calling for a change in the rules around fireworks due to the impact of the noise on pets and livestock. Mental health charities also warn of impacts on those suffering PTSD and other conditions of repeated flashes and loud noises during the weeks surrounding the event. With other options available — including ‘quiet’ fireworks, light shows, and even drone displays, perhaps the time is coming to put the gunpowder away?
Alongside the change in general attitude, many local authorities — which used to run official bonfires and fireworks displays — have long since stopped them altogether amid cuts. In some cases, like Liverpool’s River of Light festivities, the old flame-driven events have been replaced with less pyrotechnic displays.
Operation Banger: As part of a joint initiative to tackle the problem of antisocial behaviour surrounding Bonfire Night, Operation Banger (a wonderfully named council-led operation) recovered over 55 tons of waste from sites across the city in the days leading up to the celebration. There were reports of council officers having to leave the sites of some of these unofficial pyres amid concerns for their safety, later returning with police officers in tow before dismantling the structures.
Where is all the rubbish coming from? Most of the dispersal zones put in place ahead of Bonfire Night had been focused in Sefton. The problems of fly-tipping in parts of the borough — where residents and litter-picking groups often speak of the mounds repeatedly dumped in alleyways — are well documented.
An FOI submitted by the local Green group earlier this year revealed Sefton council’s lack of action on the issue, with just five fines for fly-tipping in a five year period according to an Echo report. The situation is exacerbated by lack of free bulky waste removal in the borough according to Green campaigner Neil Doolin. The Sefton revelations prompted an apology of sorts from the council leadership, with cabinet member Paulette Lappin later telling councillors the local authority needed to “do better’ to tackle the issue.
The stats: A similar picture was reported in Liverpool in August, when the council was named as one of the lowest performing areas for tackling fly-tipping in the country, with just one fixed penalty notice issued in 2021-22, despite nearly 20,000 reports of fly-tipping across the city.
Merseyside Police today heralded Operation Banger a success with reports of anti-social behaviour down 26% compared to last year. Meanwhile calls to ban fireworks — that other mainstay of Bonfire Night — appear to be growing louder year on year, including calls in the Echo for an outright ban on sales except during a defined period around Bonfire Night.
What are your views? Are you pro-banger? Or happy to see bonfire night chucked on the bonfire? Let us know in the comments down below.
Your Post briefing
Abdelkadar Hammad, a transplant surgeon from Liverpool, described the “absolute chaos” of crossing into Egypt after being stuck in Gaza. Hammad was on a bus with 54 others for five hours before the group got the go-ahead to cross. His son Salim spoke to BBC North West Tonight, describing the “overriding relief,” of the situation. "We really didn't dare to hope that he was finally going to get out,” he said. Approximately 200 British nationals are believed to be in Gaza.
On the grapevine: The Post has heard that the remediation work for the Littlewoods film studio project, led by Manchester-based property developers Capital & Centric, has once again been pushed back (this time to ‘Winter 2023’). The continued delays to the project, which was once tipped to transform Liverpool into “the Hollywood of the North”, have caused ongoing frustration for all involved, but in June there appeared to be progress after eight years, with a public consultation initiated and new plans outlined. As we wrote at the time, “if the stars do align though, the Littlewoods redevelopment has the chance to be transformative,” but any developments and promises ought to be met with “scepticism”. A scepticism that — so far — continues to be well-founded.
Liverpool’s Colombian winger Luis Diaz has pleaded with the National Liberation Army (ELN) — a left-wing guerrilla group in his native country — to release his father from kidnapping. Both of Diaz’s parents were taken at gun-point just over a week ago, though his mother has since been freed. His father, Luis Manuel Díaz, remains in the captivity of the ELN, Colombia’s main remaining active guerrilla group. After scoring a late equaliser at Luton Town at the weekend, Diaz lifted his shirt to reveal the message, in Spanish: “freedom for papa”. In a statement shortly after the match, he said: "My mother, my brothers and I are desperate, anxious and have no words to describe what we are feeling.”
Everybody’s favourite hotel of horrors, the Adelphi, was hit with a double whammy last week. At the start of the week its operator, Britannia — who own more than 60 properties across the country — retained its crown by being voted the UK’s worst hotel chain for the 11th year in a row (according to a Which? survey of more than 500 respondents). Then to cap things off, the Adelphi was handed a Level One food hygiene rating, the second-lowest possible score. But despite the scorn (of the public, the food hygiene inspectors, the hotel inspectors and indeed us — our all-time most read piece is David Lloyd’s Adelphi visit, featuring a blood-stained shower curtain, a faulty keycard, and a concierge threatening to key someone’s car) Britannia have just posted their best ever profits. So someone’s smiling, at least.
Home of the week
Welcome to “The Dairy”, a three bed barn conversion near Halewood selling for £375,000. An assortment of restored farming equipment is placed around the site and in the home to recall the property’s history. Like the feature fireplace, serving a very different purpose to its old one: cool storage space for milk urns. Take a look.
📖 Acclaimed Liverpool writer Jeff Young heads to the Reader Bookshop on Saturday in support of his memoir: Ghost Town. He will be in conversation with Warwick University Associate Professor Maria Barrett — tickets are available here.
🎥 On Wednesday, enjoy a special screening of Our Kid — a new film directed by Sean Cronin and written by Daniel P. Lewis — at the Plaza Community Cinema. The film follows 12-year-old Laura Reilly, who wants to play for Liverpool FC when she grows up. Buy a ticket here.
🛍️ The Mystical Moon Makers Market heads to the Adelphi this Saturday with a plethora of whimsical trinkets and hand-made items up for grabs. The event runs from 10am to 4pm — find out more here.
🍄 On Thursday head to Royden Park for a four-hour workshop with a foraging expert. The session will teach attendees how to find and identify wild ingredients, from fungi and flowers to fruit and vegetables. Find out more here.
Our favourite reads
First in the queue at HMV on Friday morning last week to buy the Beatles latest and last record, more than five decades after the band broke up, was John Lennon. “He has the passport to prove it too. “I started queueing at 8am Thursday,” Lennon tells The Guardian in this lovely piece by Dave Simpson chatting to Beatles fans about the release of Now and Then. What’s more, he’s “wearing the same round sunglasses and ‘New York City’ T-shirt as his legendary namesake”. Alongside Ringo Starr, Paul McCartney recently finished the track using AI technology to isolate Lennon’s (the original, that is) voice from the recording he had. “I was determined to be first,” says Lennon (not the original).
Our brand new sister publication in Birmingham, The Dispatch, published a wonderful piece on Saturday about the sale of a local newspaper, and the ramifications that it may have on its town. Keen Post readers will know this is a drum we bang a lot, about the decline of local news in the UK (some say too much!), but rarely have we seen the issue so skillfully distilled as in this piece. Nor have we seen it so well put what these local institutions once meant. “It was where you’d send your announcements about births, marriages and funerals, but it’s also what you’d use on the kitchen table when your kid was doing their painting project”. Have a read.
Letters from readers
The value of Eurovision isn't counted in bar till receipts. Under previous crass leadership it would have been, but this is a rare occasion where the council actually got this right. Firstly, the UK's capital of music wasn't even in the running. We put the BBC and government straight on that. Our international reach was leveraged well. Enthusiasm from abroad was in fact central to waking national powers up to our very existence, ‘Exclusive: Eurovision boost in Liverpool? Spending data shows a negligible impact on city centre businesses’, Mark
An excellent read. Reminds me of another miscarriage of justice in relation to the death penalty. Timothy Evans was hanged for a murder committed by the serial killer, John Christie. It may help relatives, but of what use is a posthumous pardon? As an “old girl” of Belvedere myself, immensely proud of Rose Heilbron, ‘Hanging 'The Little Caesar of Lime Street'’, Jane Tyndall