Fox Street Village burns. Just like everyone said it would
Plus: Auf Wiedersehen, Jürgen — Liverpool braces for the departure of a legend
Dear readers — we’re sure you’ve heard the bombshell news that Jürgen Klopp will leave Liverpool in May. Tributes the city over are surely in preparation: a possible statue of Klopp at Anfield, a certain boom for business in the city’s tattoo parlours and lots of little Baby Jürgens showing up at the Royal Liverpool Hospital over the next nine months among them.
Over the weekend, our readers were treated to a wonderful piece by Ophira Gottlieb about Kitty’s in Everton — a laundrette that got a lot of you reminiscing in the comments. Here’s what some of you had to say:
“Lovely piece. Brought back memories of Steble Street wash house and swimming baths. Always used to pop into the wash house cafe run by Mrs Bowen after a (usually chilly) swim.” Scouselark
“Well written and interesting – my thanks! I'm reminded of my own childhood growing up in Old Swan before we had mains 'lecky installed. I often went with my mother to the wash-house on Edge Lane,” Paul McDermott
🚨 We’re now offering prizes for referrals! As we announced last week, we’ve launched a new scheme for our readers that offers rewards for inviting friends to read The Post. Refer three friends to get a month's membership for free, or shoot for the moon and get ten people on board to grab a lovely (and very exclusive) Post tote bag. Give it a try here — just share your unique link with friends or on social media and watch as you climb up our leaderboard.
Coming up: Paying Post members will be treated to an Abi/Lisa collab tomorrow, catching up with the folk who moved into Liverpool’s £1 houses. Then David Lloyd asks what Sports Direct moving into the iconic Compton House means for our city centre (clearly our readers think it means disaster: “Sports Direct in the old M&S building... *shudders in horror*” was one comment last week). And at the weekend, Matt O’Donoghue goes deeper into the fire on Fox Street — a scandal he has been drawing attention to for years.
📖 We’ve had an influx of new members join us over the weekend from Jack’s Sunday appeal, so to those newbies — welcome! For those of you still on our free list, why not become a paying member today? It costs just £7 a month and you’ll get an extra eight editions of great reporting, political analysis and cultural writing each month, and access to our members-only events. On top of those juicy extras, our paying members also allow us to carry on publishing lots of free stories for people who are less able to afford it, providing a key public service on Merseyside. Click the button below to join the gang.
This week’s weather
Tuesday 🌬️ Drizzle and a gentle breeze with highs of 8°C
Wednesday 🌬️ Light rain with a fresh breeze with highs of 11°C
Thursday 🌧️ Sunny with a gentle breeze with highs of 11°C
Friday ☀️ Sunny with a moderate breeze with highs of 13°C
Weekend 🌧️ Light rain and a moderate breeze with highs of 12°C
This week’s weather forecast is sourced from BBC Weather and it’s for Liverpool.
The big story: Fox Street Village burns. Just like campaigners said it would
Top line: Enormous plumes of smoke rose above Liverpool on Saturday after a fire broke out at the disused Fox Street Village development in Vauxhall. It’s a site that campaigners and journalists have been warning about for more than half a decade.
What happened: At 2.18pm on Saturday, firefighters were called to Fox Street in Vauxhall. A major incident was soon declared — with fears that the building would collapse. The area was evacuated, and the smoke was visible as far as Wirral. Which must have livened things up for them. It took 12 fire engines until around 5pm to put out the blaze.
One local resident, speaking to the BBC, said it was "the biggest fire I have seen in Liverpool". The Echo reported that “debris and ash fell onto St Anne Street and Great Homer Street.”
Long overdue: According to campaigners, Fox Street Village has long-since been an accident waiting to happen. In particular, the investigative journalist Matt O’Donoghue published a series of articles digging into the situation for Granada Reports as far back as 2018. His work uncovered that the developers had failed to pay substantial Section 106 payments of £500,000 to Liverpool City Council (money paid by developers to benefit communities) and more significantly still, that the building (where some people were then living) was a huge fire risk.
In a 2019 video entitled Why are people still living in one of the city's 'most dangerous buildings'?, O’Donoghue commented on the failure of the scheme:
“The proposal said Fox Street Village would contribute to the regeneration of this area. Instead, this naked wooden structure is ugly, unfinished and a fire risk”.
Also in 2019, a report to the council said that “any fire will spread quickly and possibly unnoticed”, such was the poor quality of the building. An evacuation of the site was ordered. It was even suggested at one stage that the scheme be demolished due to breaches of planning control regulations. In 2022 local activist Kevin Robinson-Hale appeared in the Echo saying it was “disgusting” that the scheme had been left to rot.
Speaking to BBC Radio Merseyside, Everton’s Labour councillor Jane Corbett called the management of the situation “appalling”, noting that it had been “handed from developer to developer". Meanwhile the scheme’s original investors remain caught up in legal battles, many having lost tens of thousands of pounds.
Merseyside Police say preliminary inquiries are underway to investigate the cause of the fire. While it is too early to know for certain, the fact that the building was disused suggests arson is a likely possibility. The police said:
“CCTV is being examined and potential witnesses spoken to in order to ensure any investigative opportunities are not missed. It should be stressed that these inquiries are being carried out as a precaution and that no cause has yet been established.
Bottom line: Coming up this weekend The Post will publish a piece from Matt O’Donoghue looking into his five-year battle to shed light on the Fox Street situation. It’s a story — in his eyes — that symbolises everything that has failed in UK housing. If you have any insights you can share with us to develop this story, email email@example.com.
It’s Independent Venue Week! And you know what that means — a plethora of fantastic live performances from bands and artists hosted in the city region for seven days straight. Here’s two events you might catch The Post team at this week:
🎸 The Hoosiers take to the stage at the Jacaranda on Friday for an intimate performance of their latest album, Confidence. It’s their first release in nearly a decade, so we expect it to be packed to the rafters. The Zutons also return to showcase their new material at Future Yard on Saturday.
🎵 But if indie throwbacks aren’t quite your thing, The Quarry will be home to some more local talent on Thursday as part of Gals Who Gig. Expect performances from Mersey Wylie, Christy Bellis, Bella Wright and Sophia Criddle. Find out more about Independent Venue Week in Liverpool here.
🎨 Head to Experiment 625 this Wednesday for a Drink and Draw workshop led by Liverpool-based illustrator Lo Tierney. All art materials are provided for the session, with attendees encouraged to take their work home at the end. It starts at 7pm — grab a ticket here.
😂 One for those in Wirral — HOP is hosting a Bliss Comedy event on Wednesday with performances from Jane Postlethwaite, Lizzie Norm and a selection of other local comics. The event is hosted by Mary Cross, a local comedian and writer nominated for the Funny Women Awards 2023. Grab a ticket while you can.
Your Post briefing
The city was in mourning over the weekend (well, half of it was) after Friday’s bombshell news that Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp will step down at the end of the season. “Worse than when the Queen died,” was the assessment of one Liverpool fan in The Athletic, while various others — from Steve Rotheram to LeBron James — hailed a legend. Klopp himself was teary-eyed as the Kop serenaded him at the start of Saturday's match. Even his teeth somehow looked less shiny. "Being an honourable Scouser is one of the best things I could have achieved in my life,” he said.
On the grapevine: Is Wirral Waters starting to sink? Our sources have expressed increasing concern over the borough’s massive regeneration plans. We covered the postponement of the £25 million Maritime Knowledge Hub plans last week, the latest in a series of blows after the abandonment of the ambitious plans for a new home for Birkenhead market and the transport museum plans being paused. If you’ve got any information about the development, don’t hesitate to reach out at firstname.lastname@example.org.
There’s more drama at The Athenaeum, the prestigious city-centre private member’s club we investigated before Christmas after claims the club had overlooked the flagrant racism of a member, who was accused of a series of incidents including “giving a Nazi salute and saying ‘Zeig Heile’”. Now, one of the members who spoke to us for that story, Phillip Merry, has been threatened with expulsion from the club for “bringing [its] name into disrepute”. It appears that the club, who told us at the time the issue had been fully investigated internally, are now digging their heels in further and going after whistleblowers.
Scouse Swifties: As Klopp leaves, get ready for Red (Taylor’s Version) as Taylor Swift is set to take over Anfield for three nights (almost beating Dalglish’s second tenure as boss) this June. Swift’s star has reached such a degree that a special task force has been set up by Liverpool City Council in preparation for her three sold-out-in-a-nanosecond gigs, which even has its own codename: Taylor Town. Transport plans are top of the list, as well, hopefully, as getting our local councillors up to speed with Swift’s back-catalogue, to ensure a smooth welcome.
The Sunday Times has revealed “backdoor routes” being used by British universities, the University of Liverpool included, to bring in high fee-paying overseas students despite their lower grades. Take an economics degree: the paper revealed that the entry requirements for a UK student at the University of Liverpool would be AAB on average, whereas for an overseas student on a foundation course this was as low as DDD. The reason for this is obvious — do the maths. Many UK universities are cash-strapped and desperate for the substantially higher fees paid by overseas students. According to the Times’ Jonathan Calvert in a revealing X (Twitter) thread, “one official laughed when describing the backdoor routes offered to wealthy overseas students. ‘If you can take the lift, why go through the hardest route.’”
If you want to tell us about a story or give us some information, please email email@example.com. We are always happy to speak to people off the record in the first instance, and we will treat your information with confidence and sensitivity.
We’re writing a story about the Big Help Project and want to speak to people that may have been helped by the charity, or worked for it. Please email firstname.lastname@example.org — we’re eager to hear from you!
A forgotten tale revisited in this wonderful Guardian piece. Back in 1967, a community centre in Garston set about organising a celebrity football match, aiming (almost ludicrously) high with an invite to legendary Hungarian footballer Ferenc Puskas. Lo and behold, the centre soon received a letter back. “All I wait is you send me plane ticket,” it read. “The night before the game we entertained him for dinner at the Adelphi Hotel,” one of the organisers said. “Puskas said he wished he’d brought some souvenirs from Real Madrid…The following day, when he got out of his car outside the ground, he handed me a parcel, and this parcel was full of badges and other souvenirs…I couldn’t believe that it had been possible.”
Not quite a recommended read but still well worth your time this week. In this short video documentary, the NY Times explores the lives of Mary, Sylvia, Pam and Val — the founding members of the city’s rock band The Liverbirds (and we’re not talking about Nerys Hughes and Polly James). While perhaps not as famous as Liverpool’s other Fab Four, these women transformed the city’s music scene and were affectionately dubbed “the female Beatles” by Hamburg’s Star Club back in the 60s.
Home of the week
This one gave us a little bit of decor envy. A three bedroom detached house in St Helens, this home has been decked out with sleek wooden floors and a cosy living and dining area, complete with a cream tiled bathroom. Yet the real showstopper is in the garden — a sheltered decking area acts as the perfect solace from this week’s rainy weather. Take the full tour here.
Letters from readers
The music industry is littered with chancers and sharks. But also with charismatic producers and promoters who make the careers of their charges. The challenge for any band or artist is to tell the difference – and perhaps the difference is sometimes just luck, ‘Jacaranda Records wanted to ‘change the industry’. How did it go so wrong?‘, Mick Kelly
Thank you for this well crafted story revolving around the retelling of one of Liverpool's finest females – Kitty Wilkinson. You captured the sense of community togetherness which a space dedicated to a mundane everyday chore can engender, ‘My beautiful laundrette’, Steve Settle