The council has declared a homeless ‘emergency’ — but is it doing enough?
A political row has been brewing over who is to blame
Dear readers — welcome to this week’s briefing, which includes a political challenge in Garston, a faux pas from Merseyside Police, and our big story: is the council doing enough to tackle homelessness in Liverpool?
At the weekend, Lisa published a fantastic piece about the rats of Page Moss — notorious rodents terrorising residents and evading capture in Knowsley. “Reports date back years detailing horror stories: rats flying out of people’s car exhausts, rodents camping out in newly laid decking, children being bitten in the middle of the night — these ‘rats the size of cats’ have been terrorising residents.”
It’s a great read, and follows Green campaigner John Carine on his plight to bring an end to the rats’ reign of terror.
Last week, Post members were treated to two fantastic pieces. On Tuesday, Jack published a riveting feature about the four men who claim they invented The Beatles tourism industry in Liverpool — with one rather unhappy about the legacy left behind. Then on Thursday, Abi and Lisa teamed up to tackle the topic of Merseyrail — uncovering delays, cancellations and a transport committee kept in the dark over major decisions.
Editor’s note: Both of those stories are for members only, so if you’re not signed up then you’re missing out. We had a fantastic growth spurt over the weekend with nearly 15 new members joining us (hello there!), but we’re still 11 paid subscribers short of hitting our November target. If you want an extra eight doses of high-quality local journalism every month, including expert political analysis, great culture writing, and incisive investigative reporting, help us hit our target by clicking the button below.
Two years ago, we published a piece looking at a conflict unfolding on Hoylake Beach. Since then there have been numerous developments — including a visit from the Conservatives’ deputy chairman Lee Anderson, and rumoured Banksy artworks sprayed across the village. Know any more about this story? Please email Abi on firstname.lastname@example.org.
We’re looking to speak to people about their experiences working with Sefton Council’s children’s services. Please contact Lisa on email@example.com.
This week’s weather
Tuesday ☀️ Misty and light winds with highs of 6°C
Wednesday ☁️ Light cloud and winds with highs of 4°C
Thursday ☁️ Sunny intervals with a gentle breeze with highs of 4°C
Friday 🌦️ Sunny intervals with a gentle breeze with highs of 4°C
Saturday 🌧️ Light rain and a gentle breeze with highs of 6°C
This week’s weather forecast is sourced from BBC Weather and it’s for Liverpool.
We love this map of Liverpool from almost 200 years ago — this section shows the docks and the city’s tallest buildings, which are mostly churches. Click here to see the zoomed-out version, which one of our longtime members is selling in her online shop (starting at £12). That’s the first part of your Christmas shopping sorted. Seen any other great local gifts we should be sharing? Let us know.
The big story: Is the council doing enough to tackle homelessness?
Top line: Liverpool’s council leader Liam Robinson has declared a homelessness “emergency” — a growing crisis that is stretching the local authority’s finances to the limits.
Context: The headlines have been building for weeks, and so has the political row as the council claims the government isn’t doing enough and local opposition parties claim the council needs to do more.
The causes: Council leaders say a rise in homelessness in the city is being caused by a range of factors, including:
The ongoing cost of living crisis
Housing market pressures
The continued impact of the pandemic
Issues around benefit support
Government requests to provide accommodation for refugees
Spiralling costs: The situation has led to a huge increase in costs to the council of housing people in temporary accommodation — a jump from £250k in 2018 to a projected £19m by the end of this financial year.
Government help: The council says it has a number of immediate and more long-term strategies to tackle the issue, but it needs more central government support to help meet its responsibility to house people.
Without this, Liverpool could see costs soar once again next year to around £26m.
How big is the problem in Liverpool? A recent council report said seven out of 1000 people in Liverpool present as homeless. In a city with a population of 484,000, that works out at around 3,400 people with nowhere to live. This makes for a stark comparison with Camden — with figures sitting at just two in every 1000 people registered homeless.
Posting on X today, cabinet member for housing Sarah Doyle said the latest homelessness figures had been “unprecedented”, with 1677 people reaching out for support in October alone.
What is the council doing? Much of the council’s spend in tackling homelessness has been directed into the most expensive of accommodation types — B&Bs, with figures rising year on year as the council struggles to find alternatives to fill the gaps.
The council says it has a number of plans in place to reduce reliance on temporary accommodation. These include a range of short- and long-term strategies:
The development of a new framework for accommodation provision
Increased use of private sector landlords
Tackling the housing backlog
Refurbishing empty council-owned buildings
Buying up homes
A new council housing strategy, set to be published next year
What has been the reaction? Amid the growing furore about the city’s homelessness crisis, Liberal Democrat opposition leader Carl Cashman has called on the council to table a special meeting before Christmas to deal with the crisis.
Meanwhile, Doyle has been criticising the government’s response — or lack of it — while the council continues to struggle with demand, stating earlier today:
“Temperatures are dropping, local services are overwhelmed and still no response from government.”
Know more about this story? Email firstname.lastname@example.org.
📖 International best-selling author Rob Parsons heads to King’s Church in Wirral on Wednesday for an inspirational talk about escaping imposter syndrome and finding positivity. The event starts at 7.30pm — buy a ticket here.
🎤 On Saturday, catch a live performance from pop icon Sophie Ellis-Bextor at the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic. The event starts at 7.30pm — grab a ticket here.
🎨 Enjoy an evening of wine, food and crafting at Chamber 36 on Smithdown Road on Thursday for their ceramic Christmas bauble decorating class. Included in the ticket price are three small plates, a glass of wine and all the crafting materials needed to make a festive decoration. Find out more here.
🧱 For a family day out, head to MerseyMade on Paradise Street in Liverpool ONE on Saturday for a LEGO animation session teaching the basics of stop-motion. All participants who take part in the session will have their finished video uploaded onto YouTube, and receive a pin badge and certificate for taking part. Find out more here.
Your Post briefing
The Liverpool Community Independents have unveiled plans to challenge Garston and Halewood Labour MP Maria Eagle at the next General Election, after she abstained from a Commons vote calling for a ceasefire in Gaza. The independent party has already seen some success in council elections in recent months, with the group’s leader Alan Gibbons taking a seat in Orrell Park earlier this year, alongside Garston councillors Lucy Williams and Sam Gorst. Speaking last week, Gibbons said the decision to fight Eagle, who serves on Labour’s Front Bench as a Shadow Defence Minister, for the seat was a “historical necessity” after the abstention. A crowdfunder has already been launched with a target of £15,000 to create a campaign fund for the seat.
An intervention programme on the Wirral has contributed towards a huge drop in young people entering the criminal justice system, according to new data. Wirral's Youth Justice Service — which is funded through the Violence Reduction Partnership — runs workshops for school pupils, educating them about the age of criminal responsibility and County Lines. According to figures published by Wirral Council, this programme has led to a 26% drop in young people offending between 2021 and 2022 — the highest reduction on Merseyside. More than 4,000 young people have taken part in the scheme so far.
Merseyside Police found themselves in hot water last week after posting a tweet mocking someone for stealing a sandwich. “Theft of any nature will not be tolerated in our city,” the tweet read. “We have this morning arrested a male on suspicion of the theft of this delicious warm chicken baguette." The post was viewed more than 60,000 times before homelessness charity The Big Help weighed in, criticising the police for making “a spectacle of someone's desperation".
Wirral taxis fares are set to become the highest on Merseyside with drop-offs to Liverpool set to cost an extra £5. The new tariffs are being brought in after hackney carriage drivers complained of a loss of earnings from getting stuck in traffic between Liverpool and Wirral. "If the traffic's bad, it can take an hour to get back," Gary Gregory, representing around 85 drivers for the Unite trade union, said. “We can't work in Liverpool, we can't pick anybody else up, so that's been factored in to pay for that lost time." Fares will also increase over shorter distances, and will be the highest in the Liverpool City Region, Ellesmere Port and Neston.
Our favourite reads
A shocking read from The Guardian explaining how King Charles used assets claimed from the dead in Merseyside (and across the North West) to pay for the renovation of his private estates. The piece details the stories of several individuals — all of whom died without any family members to leave their assets to — and the strange loophole in English law that saw their possessions given to the king and Prince William. “I think it’s a disgrace, to be honest,” one acquaintance of a man who died in Liverpool — and whose assets were used by the king to fund renovations — said. “I was never aware of his personal circumstances as regards family and next of kin. It sticks in the throat a bit to see his funds being used in this way.”
This lovely book review from the New York Times delves into the life of Mal Evans: a roadie and confidant for The Beatles during the 60s and 70s. “He was with the band almost from the beginning — first as a bouncer at the Cavern Club in Liverpool, and then as their driver, roadie and general guy Friday — and all the way to the very bitter end,” writes reviewer Alexandra Jacobs. Yet despite Evans’ unrivalled dedication to the Fab Four, he didn’t even receive an obituary when he died in 1976 — leaving behind half-finished pages of a memoir now revived by author Kenneth Womack. “He is here dusted off and given a proper salute, a place on the groaning shelf of Beatles books. Though tellingly, even if by accident, his name is left off the spine.”
Home of the week
This characterful two bedroom end terrace in Knotty Ash is on the market for £150,000. It has a lounge with a log burner, a newly fitted kitchen and a cottage garden. Find out more here.
Letters from readers
Oh Lisa, well done, my skin is crawling. You’re braver than me to investigate this issue. How absolutely horrendous for residents and an absolute disgrace by the council. I’m sure if the actual councillors lived in the affected areas something would be done. ‘Rats! Everywhere! ‘Will anything ever be done about them?’, Carolyn Thorton
Everything is relative. We moved back to Merseyside last year after two decades in rural places where there was zero public transport. Consequently I couldn’t be happier with Merseyrail. So it takes time for new stock to bed in? New stock is better than no stock. ‘A political rush’: Were Merseyrail’s new trains ready to hit the tracks?’, Rob Schofield