Three horses dead at Aintree and 118 protestors arrested. What’s the future of the Grand National?
Plus: The pub from hell hits the city centre
Dear readers — happy Monday, we’ve nearly bloody done it. I awoke this morning like a kid on Christmas hoping for the best possible present in his stocking: 1,000 paying subscribers at The Post. Unfortunately, it wasn’t quite to be. We remain dangling tantalisingly on 999. Please, somebody, do the honours. You will go down in Liverpool history as the 1,000th member of the finest journalistic institution ever to be founded on the banks of the Mersey. Just hit that button below and then email to introduce yourself.
Today's edition is as jam-packed as ever. It includes…
Chaos at the Grand National, with three horses killed at Aintree and 118 protestors arrested
New plans to house asylum seekers on the Mersey and an atrocity of a pub hitting the city centre
A new magazine launches on the Wirral, edited by one of our own, David Lloyd
At the weekend we asked the elusive question: whatever happened to Matthew Smith? Smith, creator of the iconic Manic Miner video game, became a programmer-cum-rock star in the 80s, but seemingly dropped off the map, leading many to speculate on where he ended up. “Thanks, this really brought back a lot of memories. I’ve often thought of Matthew,” wrote one commenter. “Moving article. I hope Matthew is happy wherever he's living,” said another.
Last week paying members received a Thursday cracker, as Jessica Bradley investigated the murky world of door-to-door sales, where Liverpool businessmen are getting rich while leaving a trail of disgruntled ex-employees in their wake. “Superb article once again getting story's the echo can only dream about,” were the words of one happy commenter. You’ll need to sign up to read that one, but here’s a taster:
“‘Like the lion is the King of the Jungle, Roar Ambition aims to be king of the sales world,’” states the Facebook page of Roar Ambition, one of the most high profile companies in this free-wheeling sector. Set up in 2018 by business graduate Jamie Talbot, who, according to his LinkedIn, “aspires to be self made like Richard Branson and Simon Cowell’”.
Editor’s note: Reaching 1000 members will be an incredible achievement for us, and testament to the desire for an upheaval in local journalism. For too long this region has been failed by nonsense clickbait, poorly researched work and a lack of interest in scrutinising the powerful. We’ve been publishing a full schedule of articles for not much longer than a year and to see the growth of this project in that time has been really exciting. A huge thank you to all those who have signed up as paying members. If you want to join their ranks and help start the long march to 2000, hit the button below.
This week’s weather
Monday ☁️ Light cloud and a gentle breeze with highs of 15°C
Tuesday ☀️ Sunny and a moderate breeze with highs of 15°C
Wednesday ⛅ Sunny intervals and a moderate breeze with highs of 15°C
Thursday ⛅ Sunny intervals and a moderate breeze with highs of 13°C
Friday 🌦️ Light rain showers and a moderate breeze with highs of 13°C
Weekend 🌦️ Sunny intervals with a moderate breeze and light rain showers. Highs of 14°C
This week’s weather forecast is sourced from BBC Weather and it’s for Liverpool.
The big story: Chaos and controversy at the Grand National… again
Top line: The Grand National festival at Aintree this weekend saw three horses die and 118 animal rights protestors arrested in chaotic scenes. Campaign group Animal Rising staged a protest which saw the world’s most famous steeplechase delayed for 14 minutes, and reopened the debate around the ethics of jump racing.
Context: The protest — during which Animal Rising members used ladders to scale the fences and evade security — came just minutes before Hill Sixteen became the third horse to die in three days at the Aintree meet after falling at the first fence. He was shot following unrecoverable injuries.
Dark Raven, a six-year-old horse, had already been put down following the Turners Mersey Novices' Hurdle, and Envoye Special died on day one in the Foxhunters' Chase.
The death toll was one down on last year’s four. Since 2000, the Aintree meet — which lasts for three days each year — has seen 62 horses die.
The protest has stolen the headlines.. Here’s what went down:
Two protestors fixed themselves to a jump with glue and lock-on devices as others poured onto the tracks.
118 people were arrested, though 42 have since been de-arrested, leaving more than 60 in police custody.
The race was delayed for 14 minutes, with Hill Sixteen’s trainer blaming the protestors for creating a frenzied atmosphere that startled his horse, ultimately causing it to make a mistake and obtain unrecoverable injuries.
Animal Rising is an offshoot of the well-known climate activism group Extinction Rebellion, which campaigns against animal suffering and mistreatment. They use direct-action tactics, such as blocking meat and dairy aisles in supermarkets (in 2019, 400 activists blockaded the London’s Smithfield meat market for 18 hours). The group opposes industrial animal farming and fishing, calling the industries destroyers of “ecosystems and lives”.
The group (formerly known as Animal Rebellion) had already been in the headlines in the build up to the Grand National after an investigation by the Mail on Sunday uncovered their plans to sabotage the race by using ladders and bolt cutters to storm security fences. The Mail claimed that had it not been for their work alerting Merseyside Police to a possible protest, the entire race may have been called off.
Animal Rising pointed out that 50 horses have died this year alone at UK horse racing events and said that “horrific, heartbreaking deaths” were the “inevitable consequence of exploiting these animals for entertainment”. In a piece in The Guardian, the group’s Alex Lockwood had this to say:
“These deaths are par for this course, and for racing events overall. The horse racing authorities and betting industry defend slow incremental ‘welfare’ improvements, and yet horses continue to die with awful regularity: 50 so far on the tracks in 2023. On average, a horse dies every other day on the tracks, over jumps and on the flat.”
The British Horseracing Authority argues that the overall rate of fatal injuries in racing has dropped by around a third, from 0.3% to 0.21%, in the last 20 years. They described the protesters as “reckless”.
Bottom line: The spectacle of this year’s Grand National — one of chaos — will have had the desired effect of Animal Rising. As a result of their protest, many people across the country are now discussing the cruelty of horses routinely being put down at races because of broken legs and broken necks. Racing lovers don’t like to think about it, but killing horses as a result of injuries sustained over the jumps is inherent to the sport. If the protests grow in strength in future years, it will become more and more difficult to put on the race.
Your Post briefing
Asylum seekers could be housed on the River Mersey, with the Home Office in talks with Peel Ports over possible sites. Peel, who last year provided a berth for a cruise ship to accommodate Ukrainian migrants in Glasgow, refused to confirm or deny the plans, but the news follows the announcement of a first vessel for asylum seekers near Weymouth, Dorset, to house around 500 people. The Dorset vessel is owned by Liverpool-based Bibby Marine and has housed asylum seekers all over Europe, once described as an “oppressive environment” while in use in Holland (though it has since been renovated). Peel’s Wirral Docks is thought to be a more likely option than Liverpool, as the location is more sheltered. According to the Telegraph, the government is looking for a site to house 2000 asylum seekers. If you know more about this story, please get in touch with email@example.com.
The ill-fated St Anne’s Gardens development scheme in north Liverpool continues to stall. The scheme — now defined by mounds of rubble and collapsed hoardings — was meant to provide 300 homes and was backed by Robbie Fowler, whose face appeared in corporate brochures. Reservation fees were taken from prospective buyers, with prices ranging from £90,000 to £190,000. The Green Party candidate for Everton at the upcoming local council elections — Kevin Robinson-Hale — tells us it is the latest in a string of failed developments in the area, following on from Project Jennifer and Fox Street Village, the latter of which continues to rot and has seen investors lose large sums of money. He adds: “We need affordable housing for the community, not more of the same”.
“Is this really real, or just some AI generated vision to infuriate everyone? Cos that's one step down from a war crime,” was one tweeter’s reaction to The Futurist, the new city centre pub on Paradise St, replacing its iconic predecessor The Beehive. Not to put our thumbs too firmly on the scale, but what exactly is going on here? The Beehive was an institution, with its retro vibe charming if incongruous amid the slick and modern Liverpool ONE. The Echo reported: “with a traditional frontage and oodles of retro charm, the pub is a reminder of times gone by but after its revamp, it will be brought firmly into the 21st century.” If the 21st century means a bland grey paint job and even blander red lettering, then they’ve done a fine job of it. We won’t be including a picture of the new-look pub because we value the aesthetics of this newsletter, but have a look here.
And finally, rescue dogs with disabilities have been enjoying days out at the beach in Formby. Non-profit Dogs 4 Rescue — who have a sanctuary in Manchester — take in dogs who have sustained injuries across Europe, like Lakia from Bulgaria who was shot, or Bran from Spain who was hit by a car. Dogs 4 Rescue said they “focus on what they can do, rather than what they can't” and that the disabled dogs were experiencing the seaside for the very first time. There’s a short video of the trip here, and it’s beautiful.
Home of the week
Cottage-y and storied looking on the outside, sleek and modern on the inside. Pick up a slice of leafy suburban life in Woolton for £300,000, in walking distance from a wealth of wine bars, bistros and John Lennon’s childhood home. It has two bedrooms, an open plan lounge/diner kitchen with quartz worktops and a contemporary four piece bathroom with a free-standing tub.
🌵If you’re fed up with us banging on about Croxteth Park’s now-saved collection of botanical plants (for those out of the loop — here are parts one, two and three of the saga) then why not listen to someone who really knows what they’re talking about? The Athenaeum is hosting a talk on Thursday setting out why the plants are so important to our city. Head along.
🍺 Also on Thursday, the Bombed Out Church’s annual beer festival arrives in a haze of IPAs, real ales and street food vendors. Whether you’re the sort of person who can identify individual hops with a single swig or a more causal drinker, it’s worth a look. Get tickets here.
🇺🇦 A few dates for the diary as part of Eurovision’s ‘pres’: a 24-strong programme of arts, culture, dance and joy starting at the beginning of May. 19 of the events are collaborations between UK and Ukrainian artists. Here’s the full list.
🗞️ David Lloyd — who you’ll remember from wonderful Post features like this and this — has launched a new magazine for Wirral: Left Bank. While Left Bank’s gain is very much our loss, we’ll be gracious enough to point you in the direction of their website, which is here, and contains tons of vivid human stories and beautiful reads detailing life on the other side of the river. You can also pick it up for free at various locations.
Our favourite reads
“Look, if you’re breaking in, and you come across Scousers, you’re probably on the right track,” according to this Vice piece about the secret WhatsApp groups where festival-loving vagabonds plot to break into Glastonbury. Apparently, Scousers are the stars of this clandestine movement, “Guardian angels” not only well schooled in the dark arts, but equally happy to share their methods with fresh-faced ticketless hopefuls. From the infamous band of eight Scousers “who helped other lone Glasto stragglers find a way to storm the super-fence”, to the use of Telescopic ladders and homemade grapple hooks, it’s a far more sophisticated endeavour than you might expect, and a fantastic read too.
And here’s a taster of what you can expect from Left Bank, the new Wirral magazine who poached our galactico (we kid). David Lloyd writes brilliantly about the people to whom life across the Mersey means having it all, a rebellious and energetic place where creativity is thriving, far more than just a coastal retreat for retirees kicking their feet up. “We are not the other anything. An overspill, a counterweight, a second fiddle,” he writes. “Perspective is everything. And right now, from where I’m standing, there is nowhere else in the world but here.”
And some listening for you if you’re all prosed out. Councillor Maria Toolan talks to Liverpolitan’s Paul Bryan about her fallout from the Liverpool Labour party in this podcast episode. It makes fascinating listening, especially for those who have already read our interview with Toolan in which she talked about spurious complaints allegedly launched against her by colleagues in an attempt to force her out of the party and a sexual harassment case against a fellow councillor as yet unresolved. “I got to the point, I wouldn’t want to open my emails, I used to feel sick, I used to feel physically sick,” she says.
If you want to tell us about a story or give us some information, please email 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 with confidence and sensitivity.
We’d like to speak to anyone who has worked within (or has knowledge of) Sefton Council’s Children’s Services department for a piece we’ve had in the works for a few months. Any insights at all would be greatly appreciated — email email@example.com.
We’d also like to speak to anyone living in north Liverpool — especially close to the docks — who has experienced issues with air pollution for a feature at the weekend. If this is you, do get in touch.
Letters from readers
To be honest, I have little to no interest in the world of gaming etc! But the article, like all The Post articles, is so well written that I was gripped like it was a fascinating novel unfolding, I couldn't put it down! Wow! Matthew Smith wherever you are, well done and thank you for your contribution to the Gaming world. Hope you're happy and peaceful, ‘He designed a cult video game, then its sequel... then he disappeared’, Rosey Edwards
I’ve obviously heard of Manic Miner and jet set Willy being an 80’s child, but had no idea about their Merseyside origins. That’s the problem with us, we don’t publicise ourselves enough! If it was any other city they’d be shouting it from the rooftops! But make no mistake, this region is still great! The Grand National, Eurovision and the Golf Open Championship all in one year! Shout it from the [f***ing] rooftops!! ‘He designed a cult video game, then its sequel... then he disappeared’, Kev