Cases start to fall in Liverpool; and the plan for the city in 10 years time
We look at the Local Plan, approved by the city council this weekend, plus the rest of the weekly briefing
Dear readers — today’s edition of The Post looks at the Liverpool Local Plan, which sets out the vision for new developments in the city over the next ten years as the city’s population and workforce are expected to grow. Our analysis asks how realistic these promises are. We also have the latest Covid-19 data, some recommended long reads, things to do over the next week and an extract from a members-only story by author James Corbett.
But first, some exciting news: The Post was mentioned in Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism’s annual report into the state of journalism as an example of a business model that could be followed elsewhere. The report also suggests reader-focused start ups like The Post could grow in coming years. Reuters is an Oxford University think tank that publishes research exploring the future of journalism and it’s an encouraging sign that they’re looking to us as a promising model. You can read that piece here.
Our weekend read was about Len McCluskey, the former union boss who spoke to Joshi about the Caller report and his upbringing in Liverpool. Read that piece here. We will be doing more political reporting in the coming months — if you have any ideas of stories and people we should be covering, hit reply to this newsletter or email email@example.com.
This week’s weather 🌤
Cases | The case rate for the Liverpool City Region is 2,343, up 1.7% from the previous week, compared to England’s, which is 1,716.5, up 5.8%. Last week, we reported that cases had risen by 87% from the previous week, so we’re seeing a massive change in the trend this week. The other good news is that cases are starting to fall in Liverpool, where the case rate is 2,094.2, down 2% from the previous week. Cases are highest in Knowsley and the Wirral, around 2,900, and lowest in Sefton, around 2,500. See the graphic below.
Hospitalisations | There was a rise in hospital admissions of Covid-19 patients last week, but critical patient numbers remain lower than numbers we’ve seen before. The number of Covid-19 patients in hospital was 615 on 4th January, up from 324 the previous week — remember this includes patients who have had a positive test but are in hospital for something else. The number of Covid-19 patients on mechanical ventilation was 26, up from 21 the previous week.
Vaccinations | 72% of eligible people in the Liverpool City Region have now had two doses of a Covid-19 vaccine, and 51.6% of people have had three doses. 29.5% of under 50s have had three doses, compared with 80.3% of over 50s. The Wirral and Sefton have given out the most booster shots, around 60%, and booster uptake is slowest in Liverpool and Knowsley, about 40%. See the graphic below.
The big story: The vision for Liverpool in 10 years time
Top line: The Liverpool Local Plan has been approved by the city council’s cabinet, which plans to fund and complete new developments across the city in the next 10-15 years. The plan is an agreement between the combined authority and the local authorities of Liverpool, the Wirral, Knowsley, Sefton, Halton and St Helens and sets out the strategy for using the £30 million a year funding allocation over 30 years, agreed under the 2015 devolution deal, as well as securing investment from developers.
The vision: The city centre is the focus for investment in retail, leisure, tourism and cultural centres, with outlying districts the primary focus for investment in community centres, shops and services that meet local communities’ needs. Here’s what the Echo reported: “The Local Plan will also enforce various area-based masterplans in the Baltic Triangle, Ten Streets, the Commercial District, the Cavern Quarter and the Upper Central area of the city centre. A Tall Buildings Supplementary Planning Document (SPD) — which includes a revised policy taking into account the sensitivity of key views, and a Public Realm Strategy SPD will be brought forward to supplement the plan.”
Here’s what the Local Plan says about what Liverpool will look like in 10 years time:
By 2033 Liverpool will be a sustainable, vibrant and distinctive and inclusive global city at the heart of the City Region. Fairness and inclusivity will be at the heart of the City’s growth. Development opportunities will have been maximised to create an economically prosperous city with sustainable communities and an outstanding and high quality natural and built environment.
Plans for the city could include:
An average level of housing growth of 1,737 more dwellings per year, as per the housing requirement for at least 34,780 net additional dwellings 2013-2033.
A £1bn expansion of Paddington Village in the Knowledge Quarter for a science, technology, education and health space.
Continued growth of Liverpool John Lennon Airport, which experienced 694% passenger growth between 1995 and 2014, compared to a UK increase of 84%, to maximise Liverpool’s tourism economy.
20 parks and green spaces will be protected from further housing and other developments.
The provision of permanent Gypsy and Traveller sites in each of the six local authorities by 2033.
Mayor of Liverpool Joanne Anderson said: “An important part of our work will be talking to landowners, developers and partner organisations to make sure they understand the new policy requirements in the Local Plan, and deliver positive outcomes on the ground for Liverpool’s communities.”
The plan has been met with support from Liverpool-based architecture practice Falconer Chester Hall, who told BusinessNews:
Economic growth and population growth go hand-in-hand and the plan deals with both comprehensively. The job now is to utilise the council’s capacity to facilitate investment to help the new plan hit the ground running. The area masterplans will be particularly helpful in guiding our work for clients at the early, conceptual stages.The devil is always in the detail, but with a pro-development, proactive local authority Liverpool’s economy should be able to push on.
But the scale of the challenge is huge. Liverpool’s economy only grew 4.5% between 2010-15, compared to the city region’s rate of 9.3% and the UK rate of 19%. Liverpool is also ranked 3rd nationally in health deprivation and disability, and 5th nationally with regards to income and employment deprivation.
Other local news in brief
New data for the sale of Liverpool council land to Flanagan Building and Maintenance Services for £1 found that the same land was valued at £1.6m three years later. The land on Park Street in Dingle was sold in 2016 as part of a larger package of disposals across the city and bought by a housing association to build homes for low-income families. Read more.
Firms across the North West reported their 10th consecutive month of growth in December, but momentum is slowing, Tony McDonough reports in Liverpool Business News. The report is published by NatWest North West Business Activity Index, which measures the monthly output of manufacturing and service sectors. The slowdown in momentum mirrors the trend seen across the UK, but the rate of growth in the North West was weakest in this 10-month sequence and slightly below the national average. Read more.
Wirral Council have brought forward plans to close their £27m budget gap, including a proposal to permanently close and demolish Woodchurch Leisure Centre on Bridge Road, to make room for growth in outdoor leisure provision. It is predicted this will save £402k. The council says it is legally obliged to close their budget gap or risk government intervention. Read more.
There’s new hope for Patient A, a 24-year-old autistic man from West Derby who was revealed to be living in almost total confinement in Cheadle Royal Hospital in a Sunday Times investigation last week. The investigation detailed his detainment under the Mental Health Act and seeing his mother once a week, who passes him a takeaway pizza through a hatch on the door. This week, social workers have been house hunting and a council source confirmed partners were working together to “secure the best possible outcome”. Chief executive of the Priory Group, Rebekah Cresswell, the private clinic who run the hospital, visited Patient A and hopes to speak with the family. Read more.
Home of the week
This is an amazing 9-bedroom period property in Woolton, which is on the market for £2 million. It has a pool, jacuzzi, sauna and bar, and it’s set within secluded grounds.
🗣 South Liverpool Debating Society meet at Keith’s Wine Bar on Lark Lane every Thursday at 7pm for informal and friendly debate. Everyone is welcome and it’s a free event. This week, they’re discussing young people’s issues. More info here.
🎙 There’s a good interview on the Irish History Podcast with Teresa Hill, who talks about growing up black and Irish in ‘60s and ‘70s Liverpool, how the Troubles impacted her and how common sectarianism was in society. Listen here.
🍺 If you’re skipping Dry January, independent brewers Top Rope Brewing have a great range of full-flavoured craft beers brewed locally in north Liverpool. Shop the range here.
🍸 We also recommend this gin tasting session at Turncoat Bar and Pizza in the Albert Docks this Saturday evening. You’ll learn about the process of producing gin, and there will be antipasti meats and cheese boards to accompany the samples. It’s £20 per head — book here.
🎨 We recommend seeing Chila Kumari Burman’s Riot Series, the latest free exhibition at the Tate and a printmaking series exploring the idea of conflict. We particularly liked the piece If There is No Struggle, There is No Progress — Uprisings, a black, white and red monoprint which superimposes different images and lettering in response to the Toxteth riots. More info here.
🏞 There are some great online exhibitions on Open Eye Gallery’s website, including the photography exhibition Youth Culture by students at Whitby High School. It’s filled with beautiful evocative shots that touch on young people’s relationships with technology, pandemic anxiety and loneliness. Enter the exhibition here.
Our favourite reads
A feature in The Observer explores the story of the family of George Devine, actor and founder of the Royal Court theatre, finding a trophy taken from the body of a Japanese soldier among his possessions from the second world war. The discovery prompted a three year search for answers, and a hunt for the soldier’s family. “The item was a Japanese flag inscribed with good luck messages by the soldier’s relatives, neighbours and community figures. Yosegaki hinomaru were carried into battle by their recipients, and were believed to hold the owner’s spirit. Who did this flag belong to, and how did it end up in Devine’s suitcase?”
In this moving obituary in The Economist to the model April Ashley, who died last week aged 86, we learn about her Liverpool upbringing, her complex relationship with the tabloids and her craving to belong. “Twice in the Merchant Navy she took too many pills, but still not enough; once she was fished from the mucky Mersey. The psychiatrists told her to go away and be gay, but she insisted she was not: she was a heterosexual woman. Nor was she trapped in a man’s body, because she felt that her body, save that one part, was a woman’s too.”
The confusing event of a never-seen-before explosion in 2018 may finally have an explanation thanks to observations of X-rays from the blast. In this New Scientist article, Leah Crane discusses the unusual aspects of the supernova, which was 10 to 100 times brighter than usual supernovae. The new findings reveal it was probably a massive star which blew up 195 million light years away, leaving behind a dense neutron star or a black hole. Daniel Perley at Liverpool John Moores University recalls the moment they saw the cosmic event: “We watch stars explode all the time — supernovae are very common now, and there are lots of what are ultimately fairly minor differences — but it’s really rare that you look at something and just say, ‘I have no idea what this is’.”
There’s a fascinating article in the American news outlet Vox about the early studies of Covid-19 and how bad science might have clouded our understanding of treating the virus. Andrew Hill, from the University of Liverpool, conducted meta-analysis that initially found positive results for the ivermectin drug. He then conducted a second analysis using his own raw data, which found much worse results for the drug, casting doubt on the reliability of the first study. Andrew Hill said: “I’ve been working in this field for 30 years and I have not seen anything like this. I’ve never seen people make data up. People dying before the study even started. Databases duplicated and cut and pasted.”
Photo of the week
Liverpool emerging through the fog, by Geoff Drake.
Book of the week
In The Outsiders, James Corbett writes about the interwoven lives of three people and the events that shaped their lives in Liverpool and elsewhere. The book was recently shortlisted for the Portico Prize and last week James wrote an essay for us about the process of writing it and taking stock of Liverpool’s past. Read an extract below — and subscribe to read the full piece.
‘So are you saying the fans are to blame?’ asked a voice off camera.
Christopher continued: ‘The police certainly aren’t to blame, because if the fans will do what the police are asking them to do, there wouldn’t be any problem because people would be orderly. And if people were orderly, they wouldn’t have these problems. You can’t push all those people if people are orderly. It’s just not possible unless you know a way that I don’t.’
‘The fucking lying bastard,’ shouted a Scouse accent from the other side of the bar.
‘Police lies!’ shouted another.”
These exact words were spoken by a police officer on the day of the disaster and repeated by Christopher, a former friend of Paul turned spin doctor, in the book. They are a sort of blood libel on the people of our city, and have informed a false narrative of what happened that persists to this day.
In the book, these words are eventually turned back on Christopher a generation later, and he is cast away in disgrace. No such happy ending exists in real life. The police officers who lied and covered up their critical mistakes that awful day walk as free men.
In the week in which The Outsiders was published in May a trial against two former officers and a solicitor accused of perverting the course of justice was thrown out by a judge on a technicality. Margaret Aspinall, whose teenage son, James, was killed in the disaster and who chaired the Hillsborough Family Support Group, called the outcome a “cover-up over a cover-up.” If I wasn’t so cynical I would have said it was incredible, but that exact plotline had been anticipated by my novel.
Some things you just can’t make up. Everything changes, and yet nothing does at all.
Letters from readers
People are wanting something different, to read stories that are more positive than all the negative news which they are swamped with from news sources like that of the Liverpool Echo, be different than the others and report about new and exciting things which is what we all want right now. All the very best, Joe Cousineau
A great read about the Peter Kavanagh’s landlady (‘Meet the landlady of one of Liverpool’s best pubs’), the pub I've taken all Liverpool visitors to so far! It's one of many interesting articles in new-ish newspaper, The Post, which is worth supporting, Diane Cunningham
It’s wonderful reconnecting with Liverpool stories via Robin Brown’s writing in The Post — this is another corker (‘Meet the landlady of one of Liverpool’s best pubs’), Tom Sperlinger
Started reading The Post because I’m moving back over that way soon. Really enjoying it, Keris Stainton