Kirkby has a Morrisons. Can it find a soul?
The deprived town has gone from having three Labour councillors to three Independents in quick succession as residents feel they’ve been left behind
Dear members — in recent weeks we’ve been paying visits to some of the more deprived areas of the city region, starting with Vauxhall, then Bootle and now Kirkby. It’s become an unintentional kind of mini-series and there has been a fair amount of overlap between the three; big promises going undelivered, a feeling that a once-existent community has been lost and a sense of being left behind. Kirkby has seen some investment in the past few years though, but there’s a long way to go yet.
Our Thursday edition is a members-only affair, but those on our free list will be able to read the top of the email, and should join up as members now if they want to read the rest, support our work and get all our high-quality reporting in their inbox every week. We recently passed the 650 members mark and we’re pushing hard towards 1000, when we will be financially sustainable and able to look at hiring a new staff member, allowing us to carry out more investigative reporting.
Your Post briefing
The Welsh National Opera has cut Liverpool from its touring destinations after its Arts Council funding dropped by 35%, according to the BBC. The company is based in Cardiff and tours Wales extensively, as well as seven regions of England. Director Aiden Lang called the decision “regrettable,” saying that there was “no option but to make cost savings.” The announcement comes as a further blow to Opera in the North West, after controversy surrounding a proposal to move the English National Opera to Manchester, which has been reported on by our sister publication The Mill.
Wirral Council has launched a consultation into two green transport schemes that aim to improve cycle and walking access in Birkenhead. The first creates landscaped green spaces and new pedestrian crossings on part of Price Street, aiming to create a quieter and less car-dominated environment. The second looks to create almost a kilometre of walking and cycle infrastructure along Birkenhead Road between Seacombe Promenade and Wirral Waters.
Ahead of Eurovision’s arrival in Liverpool next May, Culture Liverpool has put out a call for artists, creatives, performers and musicians to participate in a cultural festival. They’re looking for artists from the city region or Ukraine by 12th December to give £2000 of initial funding to develop proposals. Mayor Joanne Anderson said that “launching the culture commissions call-out is a huge milestone in our planning process,” adding that the city “thrives on creativity and is willing to push boundaries, so we are excited to unleash the potential of artists from across the world."
🎶 What’s better than bombs? Food. On Friday, night of live music rasing money for charity Food Not Bombs — who are helping to tackle the cost of living crisis — will be held at the Kazimier Gardens. Post Punk duo Pleasure Island are the headliners. BBC Radio 6 DJ Tommy Robinson (not that one) thinks they’re great. It’s £5 for entry.
🗣️ Spoken word poetry comes hand in hand with Bangali food and culture courtesy of Jubeda Khatun at Bootle library. At Chopping Club you can make authentic zam raw fruit chutney and bombay mix, then you get to eat it whilst Jubeda reads poems about her history and roots. More information here.
😂 Free comedy at the Royal Court Theatre on Thursday. The Comedy Trust and Down Syndrome Liverpool have teamed up alongside adults with Down Syndrome for Down Right Hilarious. You’ll need to be quick, tickets aren’t available for much longer.
By Jack Walton and Edward Haynes
The video opens on upbeat house music, it's lit with a buttery filter, casting everything in the same light you remember the best days of summer in. A knife chops a red onion. The camera pans over a sumptuous-looking brownie. Where am I? Kirkby Town Centre, a pop up bubble tells you: MULTI-MILLION POUND RETAIL DEVELOPMENT. Okay, what do you get for that? A Morrisons superstore and some drive-thru restaurants; KFC and Taco Bell.
If you’re thinking that a town must have little to boast about for a new Morrisons to be considered a highlight of its recent history, you’d sadly be correct. Kirkby in Knowsley had made it to about 40 years without a major store, which seems odd for a town with a population of over 40,000. Nonetheless, it was billed as a step in the right direction.
Knowsley is a weirdly cobbled borough at the best of times. It’s hard not to imagine the electoral boundary committee carving it up as some kind of grand in-joke; a tall, thin strip of farmland — not even two miles wide at the waist — towns dropped here and there with scanty historical or meaningful connections to one another.
But if the borough at large is a bit of a Mr Potato Head, then Kirkby is a mutant limb protruding from its vegetable scalp. It sits right at the top of Knowsley, looking up longingly at West Lancashire, perhaps its more natural home.