Don't blame older Liverpudlians for the city's massive vaccination gap
Plus the rest of our weekly briefing
Dear readers — we hope you had a lovely weekend. Today’s briefing is a bit later than usual, but it’s absolutely packed with stories, photos, good reads and fantastic recommendations. Plus we have an interesting data update about who is holding back Liverpool’s vaccination push.
A warm welcome to the latest Post readers who joined us this morning and over the last week. There are now nearly 3000 readers on the list and it’s great to see such a positive response to a new type of journalism on Merseyside. As always, if you like this newsletter please do forward it to a friend or share it on social media.
If you’re a new reader you might want to read some of our previous stories. You’ll find our recent journalism about the revival of Smithdown Road, what goes on inside Merseyside eviction courts and a night out with Liverpool’s freshers here.
Get in touch: If you want to tell us about a story or pass on some information, please email email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org. We are always happy to speak to people off-the-record in the first instance, and we will treat your information in confidence and with sensitivity.
This week’s weather
Liverpool’s vaccination gap
Top line: As our Covid-19 dashboard below shows, the case rate across the Liverpool City Region has been pretty flat since August, but it’s now rising a bit: 406.2, up 14.2% from last week, compared to England’s 435.6, up 21.2%.
Local picture: In the week ending 14 October, case rates — which are new cases per 100,000 residents in a week — were highest in Halton, around 600, and St Helens, around 500. Case rates were lowest in Sefton, around 300, and Liverpool, about 200.
Don’t forget, on our dashboard the numbers along the top are case rates (calculated over a week) and the graph shows new cases per 100,000 residents, which is calculated daily.
The hospitals data: In the week ending 12 October, there were 30 Covid-19 patients in critical care in hospitals across the city region, which is up from 22 the previous week but at the same level we saw through August and September. The number of Covid-19 patients in hospital minus critical care was 168, down from 201. Click here to see all those numbers.
This afternoon the city region mayor Steve Rotheram tweeted jubilantly about passing one million second doses. “LIVERPOOL CITY REGION REACHES ONE MILLION SECOND DOSES,” he said, accompanied by two party popper emojis.
But in fact, the figures are nothing to celebrate. 1,006,720 people have had two doses of a Covid-19 vaccine in the Liverpool City Region, or 68.7% of those eligible, compared with 78.5% across England. A big part of the problem is very low vaccination rates in the city of Liverpool, where only 60.2% of eligible people have been double jabbed. Not very impressive for a city that’s building a “world leading Pandemic Institute”…
Analysis: What’s causing that gap between Liverpool and the national vaccination rate? Some have suggested a socio-economic explanation, but if that were the main factor we might expect to see much lower uptake across all age groups. In fact, as you can see quite clearly in our graph below, vaccine uptake among older residents in Liverpool has mostly kept pace with the national figures, whereas younger age groups are way behind.
For example, 91.7% of 70-74 year olds in Liverpool have had two doses, compared to 93.6 across the country, a gap of just 1.9 percentage points.
However, only 43.3% of 25-39 year olds have been doubled jabbed in Liverpool, compared to 56.4% of that age group nationally, a huge gap of 13.1 percentage points.
You can the graph on Twitter here.
Merseyside news in brief
A judge at Liverpool Crown Court said the sexual abuse of two altar boys was “swept under the carpet” by the Catholic Church. Father Thomas MacCarte groomed two boys and bribed them with alcohol and money before forcing sexual encounters. When a parent complained, MacCarte was moved on to Scotland. The judge said: “Those threats and the imbalance in the relationship between you and them bought their silence and meant that they felt unable to pursue any complaint against you.” MacCarte was found guilty and jailed for four years. Read more.
The Echo has been forced to publish a correction after accusing the Labour party leader of breaking a promise to never speak to the Sun newspaper. The story was one of many published by the Echo about Keir Starmer’s decision to write a piece for the right-wing tabloid. Now a retraction has been appended to the original Echo story, which says: “A previous version of this article reported that Keir Starmer had broken a promise to never speak to the tabloid The S*n. This is untrue. In fact, Keir Starmer had said that he would not speak to The Sun during his Labour leadership election. We are happy to clarify this.”
In what is being described as a boost for northern manufacturing, the first all-electric vehicle assembly site in Europe is coming to Merseyside as part of Ford’s £230m investment in their Halewood Plant. The leader of Knowsley Council said: “In bidding for this prestigious contract, it is clear that the team at Ford in Halewood have proven their credentials and shown that British manufacturing can still compete with the best across Europe – despite the very real challenges posed by Brexit.” In 1963, the first Ford Anglia rolled off the production line at the Halewood Plant. Read more.
A police watchdog found bodycams did not capture the moment a woman was shot by Merseyside police as she approached with a knife, due to low battery life on the cameras. The use of force was concluded to be “necessary and proportionate” and the woman is in hospital recovering from her injuries. Read more.
A fraud investigation into two developments in Liverpool — North Point Pall Mall and New Chinatown — has ended after “insufficient evidence” was found to support a prosecution. Both developments are still yet to be built and investors have been asked to come forward if they’ve lost money. Read more.
The historic Epstein Theatre on Hanover Street is under new management, continuing its tradition as a variety theatre with a mixed programme, Liverpool Confidential reports. It’s been described as “the theatre that refuses to die” after seeing off multiple threats of closure. Read more.
🎨 Art | There’s a new exhibition starting Wednesday at the Tate featuring the work of the painter Lucy McKenzie, who explores themes like the representation of women in sport and musical subcultures using various techniques, including Trompe-l'œil painting. More info here.
🎉 Festival | Beyond the Fringe, a free family-friendly festival starts this weekend in the city centre. It’s hosted in the home of Liverpool’s eighteenth century performance routes — namely Williamson Square and Clayton Square — and there’s a variety of performances from musicians, acrobats, jugglers and magicians. More info here.
🕺 Dance | Blackfest have a live theatre performance tomorrow night at Unity Theatre from hip hop group Borderline Funk, which includes a dance workshop just before. It’s based on the theme of protest and the preview says: “Everyone has the right to express themselves and be respected and we’ve all experienced times in the past when we’ve felt it was hard to have our voices heard.” Book here.
✨ City lights | A River of Light trail across the waterfront will be lighting up the city from this Friday and it looks like a beautiful way to enjoy the wintery evenings. It features 12 immersive installations and runs for 17 nights. Details here.
🎸 Gig | The up-and-coming singer Natalie McCool is playing at Future Yard this Thursday. She received songwriting lessons from Paul McCartney and a Bido Lito! review of her style says: “Underneath the bouncy drums and vibrant synths, the lyrics home in on this massive ‘fuck off’ McCool speaks of, the feeling towards someone you want to forget.” More info here.
🦔 Nature trail | If you’re at a loose end this weekend, there’s a free hedgehog trail at Speke Hall which involves a slightly muddy walk and views of the autumnal gardens. Wellies recommended. Details here.
🎃 Pumpkin picking | Claremont Farm in Bebington have pumpkin picking sessions every day from 10 until 4. Pumpkins are £1 per kilogram and there’s a cafe on site and a small fair throughout half term. More info here.
🏛 History | There’s a fascinating new exhibition at The Lutyens Crypt, the four vast neo-classical halls buried under the Metropolitan Cathedral, exploring the story of its architecture and the people behind its construction. More info here.
🎙 Podcast | It’s worth listening to this episode of The Northern Agenda Podcast, where Steve Rotheram talks about his friendship with Andy Burnham and levelling up. “We try to look at those things and put aside in all honesty some of the more Mickey Mouse tribalism that has far too often stifled the fact that if we work together, we're the size of Scotland, that's how big the prize is for us.” Listen here.
🎟 Fayre | The Elizabethan Fayre is returning to Prescot this Saturday on a smaller scale but with a lovely selection of traditional activities, including face painting, candle making and a storytelling event where lifelong locals will tell their stories of growing up in Prescot. Details here.
Here are a few stories we are working on at the moment — if you have some expertise or insight to offer, please hit reply to this newsletter or email email@example.com:
A story about life at Igbo House in Toxteth, including the parties, the nightlife and shared culture.
The people who knew and loved Peggie Lynch, who was recently honoured in this beautiful Guardian obituary.
Mollie is speaking to small construction firms and builders who worked on some of the unfinished sites around the city. Please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Plus: We’re profiling the Liverpool Philharmonic’s new conductor Domingo Hindoyan. If you’re a fan of the orchestra and have views about its direction, please get in touch to email@example.com.
Post from the past
We love this post by Angies Liverpool, a quiet photo of a popular apartment block in the 1980s. One comment underneath reads:
We lived in the flat under that as students in ‘84. Phone box round the corner was like our office for calls to girlfriends and parents. The floor was black and white tiles and had a built in bar. Brilliant place.
Our favourite reads
In the New Yorker, Paul McCartney shows a softer side. He discusses loss, fame, his Liverpool upbringing, his relationship with John Lennon, and the enduring legacy of his death. “Although Paul grew up in Liverpool on a working-class housing estate, he went to a good secondary school where he caught the bug for literature from his teacher Alan Durband, who had studied with F. R. Leavis at Cambridge. But, after a ‘pretty idyllic’ childhood, his mother’s death cast a pall over the house that lasted for many months. Paul could hear ‘this sort of muffled sobbing coming from the next room, and the only person in that room was your dad.’”
The Face published a great piece back in March about anti-lockdown rhetoric in Liverpool, and the Scouse phenomenon of searching for deeper cosmic meaning in events. “I caught up with one such coach, the self-dubbed ‘Scouse Guru’ Martin Bone, who didn’t hesitate in diagnosing why. ‘People these days are anxious,’ he told me. ‘Right now more than ever. They’re longing for some form of connection, to feel part of something bigger than themselves.’ That belonging can now be found online, amid a cornucopia of memes and quotes, star-sign readings and adverts for crystals and CBD oil. But like everywhere else, Liverpool has become a more politicised place, turbo-charged by the pervasiveness of social media and its capacity to misinform.”
It’s worth revisiting this great New York Times piece about John Dalby, a marine risk manager from the Wirral with an “eerie resemblance to Bill Clinton” who recaptured pirated ships and spent time in a Nigerian prison. “We operate under the same lack of rules as the pirates. So they're just getting hoisted by their own petard.” In a more recent interview with the Echo, Dalby said: “You need common sense and be able to have a good understanding of the situation — what is the ship, where is it going, who is going to gain from it. You have to be faster and better than the other people.”
This was a prescient piece by Robin Brown in Liverpool Underlined about the fight for Bixteth Street Gardens. Reading it now, it tells us about the mood of the city before the gardens were replaced for redevelopment, and the campaigners’ anxiety about losing the green space. As of now, The Pall Mall development is currently stalled. “The lack of a planning application has led campaigners to fear a limbo period between remediation works and before development starts. They argue that Brexit, public pressure or a sudden development in the fortunes of the developers could mean that Bixteth Gardens is destroyed without any prospect of redevelopment — ‘the worst of both worlds,’ says Mandy.”
And we liked this obituary to Greta Tomlinson, an illustrator who drew the artwork for the Dan Dare comic strip in the cult magazine Eagle from her office in Southport. “The glamorous scientist, whose features closely resembled Tomlinson’s, first appeared in the fifth Dan Dare story. ‘She was possibly the first strong female scientist character to appear in any cartoon-strip. Twenty per cent of the readers were girls and I do like to think I might have inspired girls to go for different studies,’ said Tomlinson.”
Book of the week
We enjoyed The First Time Lauren Pailing Died by Liverpool-born writer and journalist Alyson Rudd, a time-slip story set in a quaint Cheshire village which touches on themes of grief, loss and romance.
It ought to have been a place simmering with social tension and envy, but The Willows was nestled in aspirational Cheshire and, as the years rolled by, the residents socialised with ease. Every Christmas morning, the Harpers in the grandest house welcomed them all, even the family at No. 2 with their boisterous twin boys who fought each other from the moment they woke to the moment they fell, exhausted, asleep, for sherry and mince pies.
The First Time Lauren Pailing Died is available to buy here.
Letters from readers
Good luck with your new venture. People are bored of the Echo being a B&M and Primark cheerleader. We want real news. News that matters both good and bad. Good luck. Matt
Bravo! To my embarrassment I hadn't heard of this but I've just signed up. Lee
Looking forward to reading more of your writing. Laura