Liverpool's mayor tries to reassure investors following 'well-documented issues'
Plus: the latest Covid-19 data, our recommended reads and things to do
Dear readers — welcome to the latest edition of The Post. This one is a briefing-style newsletter, with the latest Covid-19 numbers across Merseyside, some great reading recommendations and a round-up of local news. Plus: we have seven fantastic Post Picks — things to do in the next couple of weeks.
We’re now dropping into your inbox every week as we ramp up for our full launch. Next month we will open up our paid memberships for those who wish to subscribe — Post members will receive our journalism four times a week and will support our growth as we build a team of high-quality writers and editors.
Over the weekend we published a fascinating story by Finn Oldfield, which was our first collaboration with The Bureau of Investigative Journalism. The piece takes you inside the court hearings where rental evictions take place and shows how the pandemic has impacted people’s lives. If you missed that piece, click below to read it.
A big signing: Robin Brown, who wrote our recent piece about the revival of Smithdown Road, is coming on board as The Post’s Editor-at-Large. Robin was one of the co-founders of Seven Streets and was one of the brains behind the Liverpool Long Reads site. He has also written for the New Statesman magazine and has lived in the city for more than 20 years. His next Post piece will be about the new £27m Shakespeare theatre in Prescot.
‘Bringing quality journalism to Merseyside’
We’re delighted to have received an endorsement from Michael Unger, the legendary former editor of the Liverpool Daily Post, the Liverpool Echo and the Manchester Evening News. He writes:
It’s really good news that The Post will be bringing quality journalism to Merseyside.
The media has gone through massive Internet-based change in the past few years which has allowed The Post and its sister website The Mill in Manchester to launch and to thrive.
Too often today’s traditional newspapers follow a clickbait philosophy merely to stay in existence: this leads to trivial stories and the unchecked publication of press releases. There is now so little ‘real’ journalism with the reporter stuck to his or her desk making sure they’ve hit their target of five stories a day.
The Post will be different. Stories and features that have had real time spent on them and stories and features that will make a difference.
Michael edited the Daily Post in the late 1970s and early 1980s, before moving to the Echo and then the MEN. He has also served as a director of the Guardian Media Group and now lives on Merseyside. He’s perhaps best known for entering Strangeways prison to negotiate with inmates during the country’s worst-ever prison riot in 1990, which he recently wrote about for our sister publication The Mill.
Get in touch: If you want to tell us about a story or pass on some information, please email firstname.lastname@example.org or 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.
This week’s weather
The case rate for Liverpool is 265.8, down 12.1% from last week, compared with England’s 336.6, down 2.2%. The rate across the city region is 313.4, down 2.4%. Cases are highest in Sefton and St Helens, around 400. The lowest infection rates are in the Wirral and Liverpool, about 300. See our graphic below.
Hospitalisations are falling across Liverpool. In the week ending 29 September, there were 30 Covid-19 patients in critical care, compared with 31 the previous week. The number of Covid-19 patients in hospital minus critical care was 261, down from 311.
On vaccinations, we don’t have any new data since our last briefing. As of 21 September, 984,220 people across the Liverpool City Region had received two doses of a Covid-19 vaccine. 78% of people in St Helens are double jabbed, compared to 61% in Liverpool.
The big story: Liverpool’s ‘next chapter’
Top line: On Tuesday, Liverpool City Council hosted “a major event about Liverpool's next chapter.” We weren’t invited to the presentation, but it’s available to watch online.
The big message: We’ve learned our lessons. The city mayor Joanne Anderson said the council is “trying to turn the page” on the scandals of the recent past. With property investors, developers and architects in the room, the leadership was saying: spend your money here, you can trust us now.
Key context: Earlier this year, Max Caller, author of a damning government report into the council’s conduct, said that developers had often been put off from investing in the city because “conversations with the council caused them to doubt decisions would be made fairly and objectively,” reported the property website Place North West. Caller told the site: “Developers believed there was little point in bidding for sites because the [procurement] process led by Liverpool City Council would not be fair.”
On Tuesday, Anderson said that her cabinet had decided that “this is an opportunity to rethink what’s happened.” She told the “next chapter” presentation:
You’re all aware that as a council we’ve gone through a really hard time and we’re going through a difficult time. We are trying to turn the page on what is some well-documented issues we’ve had and we’re on the way on our improvement journey but we’ve still got a way to go.
New regeneration chief Mark Bousfield said: “What we won’t support of course is fractional investment or unsustainable development. And I’ll just pause there to say we recognise that housing has been a challenge. We know that.”
The crux of it: The council wants property companies to know that the council doesn’t see them as competition or a threat. Council chief exec Tony Reeves said:
I’m really clear in advice to the mayor and others that that’s a strong indication of market failure if the council thinks it has to be the biggest developer in the city. Mark [Bousfield] has already talked about our role in [being a] facilitator. I think that’s absolutely right.”
Reeves added that he was picking up “new investment confidence in the city.”
Coming up: The councillors are resting their hopes on three “key” projects in the development pipeline — a redevelopment of Kings Dock, Paddington Village in the Knowledge Quarter, and the new film studios in Fairfield. If they can get these over the line, Reeves said they can “really start moving forward” and “that can be a catalyst for other things to happen”.
Other local news in brief
Merseyside Police have defended their decision to shoot a white deer spotted on a Bootle street last week. Animal welfare experts urged officers to let the deer find its own way home. After several failed attempts to tranquilise the deer, an officer pulled the trigger “to protect motorists, cyclists and pedestrians”. Read more.
The decision to let grass grow on Hoylake beach is proving controversial on the Wirral. The council stopped spraying the beach with chemicals that prevent grass from growing for the conservation of natural habitats. Local residents and businesses say the loss of sand has put off visitors. Read more.
A Moreton man is the latest arrest in a national investigation into the use of encrypted mobile devices, or Encrochat, used primarily by organised crime members. John Hassall, 23, was charged for conspiracy to supply cocaine and importation of cannabis. Read more.
The cause of death of a baby boy whose body was found on a golf course in Bebington in January remains unknown, after extensive examinations and appeals for information. A coroner said it was unknown if the child was born alive or stillborn. He was buried in a private ceremony in May. Read more.
Our favourite reads
We loved this piece in the Guardian about a coal mining themed walk on an app, which takes you through the landscape and industrial heritage of St Helens. “Ex terra lucem. Light from the ground. St Helens has the finest motto in England. It evokes the town’s long mining history, its world-leading glass industry — which used, as well as coal-fired furnaces, the fireclays beneath the coal measures — and, now that so many of our working-class heroes have passed on, the illumination to be gleaned from communing with wise ancestors.”
This rich and colourful piece in the New York Times describes a visit to a Liverpool University lecture theatre, where a new masters course in studying the heritage and legacy of The Beatles has begun. “Throughout the course, students would have to stop being simply Beatles fans and start thinking about the group from new perspectives, she added. ‘Nobody wants or needs a degree where people are sitting around listening to ‘Rubber Soul’ debating lyrics,’ she said. ‘That’s what you do in the pub.’”
What motivates someone to run marathons? A long article in BBC Future suggests that running may dilute the memory of pain and build mental resilience. “I am often asked whether running a marathon after all this time becomes easier,” says Liverpool runner Andy Glen, who has completed 176 marathons in 42 different countries. “The simple answer is no. The last six miles are just as challenging as they were when I ran my first.”
A travel piece in The Telegraph describes the cinematic quality and glamour of Liverpool and asks whether we can be the ‘Hollywood of the North’, after news of a film studio opening in Kensington. “The wide, American-style freeway that shoots past the Three Graces buildings, the epic stretches of old dockland that yawn on for miles past the rejuvenated Albert Dock, plus the olive-coloured vastness of the River Mersey itself, which can feel as wide as the Mississippi in places, give Liverpool an often elegiac film set feeling.”
Liverpool Long Reads published this great article about Scouse identity, which is well worth reading if you didn’t read it when it came out. Laura Brown argues the myth of exceptionalism in the media is holding Liverpool back. “Liverpool has fought for the privilege to be able to define itself outside of external influence. This is not a bad thing, and let us not read it as criticism. But, Liverpool’s defiance needs to be self-aware and it needs to be rooted in authenticity. Exceptionalism only works if you know what makes you special, and it actually sets you apart. And, crucially, that you keep investing in it.”
Post from the past
Sex historians Whores of Yore posted this newspaper cutting from 1866, detailing what happened the day over a hundred barrels of rum washed ashore in New Brighton. A later report in the Liverpool Mercury, which began in 1811 and merged with the Liverpool Daily Post in 1904, wrote:
People had been so long in the habit of going on the shore, when there was a wreck, and picking up anything they could, thinking they had a right to it, that it had led to a great deal of immorality and improper conduct. People saving wrecked property ought to be more liberally treated by the authorities, and the duties of persons with regard to such property ought to be better published… Lately the inhabitants had much improved in their morals with regard to the right in wrecked property.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org:
A piece focusing on Bootle and the social problems holding it back.
People who have met up with old neighbours and friends after being reunited in local Facebook groups. Mollie (email@example.com) is doing this one.
The lives of sex workers on Sheil Road, and the history of Liverpool’s red-light districts.
🎉 Festival | Catch the final night of celebrations at BlackFest on Saturday, with a night of music, poetry and spoken word performances at Philharmonic Hall, with performances from the Wavertree Gospel Choir and Girls Don’t Sync, a female DJ collective. Book tickets here.
🎺 Jazz | A jazz rendition of Fleetwood Mac’s ‘Rumours’ is playing this Saturday at Future Yard, Birkenhead, performed by Belgrave House Band, popular Leeds musicians who have previously played sold-out shows reimagining the music of Amy Winehouse and Lauryn Hill. Book here.
🎨 Exhibition | The Picturehouse in Ropewalks is showing a guided tour of the V&A’s Alice in Wonderland exhibition on Thursday 14 October, which “explores how Alice has become an enduring icon, influencing successive generations and inspiring creativity in fashion, film, photography and on the stage.” Book here.
🌳 Rave | There’s an electronic rave at the Baltic Triangle Saturday 16 October and it’s all for a good cause. For every ticket sold, the DJs will be planting a tree in Scotland, and any remaining profit will be donated to the World Land Trust towards protecting the planet’s most vulnerable ecosystems. Get your tickets here.
🎙 Talk | Liverpool Arabic Festival is hosting a free online talk next Wednesday which will focus on “the perspective of the climate crisis through the eyes of refugees and people under threat of displacement”. Register here.
🎭 Comedy | Last few tickets remaining to see Jonathan Pie at the Philharmonic Hall on Monday, which has been described as “smart, sharp, and angry”. He offers his take on fake news and the post-pandemic world. Book here.
🌴 Palm house | And there’s a free talk at Sefton Park Palm House by local historian Laurence Westgaph, who is discussing Liverpool sculptures and their relationship with the slave trade, with the aim to “reflect the whole story”. Book here.
Book of the week
We loved this account of a fascinating Liverpool family who ran The Royal Hotel on Lime Street in the early 1900s, the decades-long changes they lived through, and the nostalgic details of their everyday lives and relationships.
As Mother paused to drink her tea, Mabel looked around the large kitchen. The windows looked out at the back of the hotel onto the alley between the hotel and Lime Street railway station. The room was bright and cheerful. The family had their meals at the large wooden table, except for special days such as Christmas when they used the dining table in the parlour. The kitchen was painted in green and cream. In the corner was a large Welsh dresser. It was made of dark wood. On hooks hung copper pans and there were heavy china dishes on the shelves
The Royal Hotel is available to pre-order here.
Letters from readers
Absolutely desperately need some quality journalism in Liverpool. We don’t want sugar-coated news, but authentic, honest, fair news without the sensationalisation. The way news used to be! Lisa
I'm super excited about The Post and I have been religiously reading every article when they land in my inbox. Alice
Exciting new entry in my collection of newsletters to look out for, very excited for @liverpoolpost. Borislava
Just a quick email to congratulate all involved in The Post — a much-needed outlet for local news and opinion. It takes a lot of work to produce something as good as this and all power to you. Mike