Will we ever set foot on Southport Pier again?
Plus: A weekend of music at Pier Head
Dear readers — welcome to our Monday briefing, we hope you had a wonderful weekend.
Southport Pier has stood strong for 160 years, welcoming tourists from across the world. But last year Sefton Council was forced to close the historic landmark after safety concerns arose around its “rotten” wooden decking. Repair work was initially projected to cost £3 million, but a recent assessment of the structure has revealed the restoration costs will now climb to a whopping £13 million. Today we ask: is it over for the pier?
We hope you enjoyed Jack’s fantastic interview with director Chris Bernard — the man behind one of Liverpool’s greatest rom-coms, Letter to Brezhnev. If you missed that one, do catch up below. Here’s what people said:
“A wonderful piece that tops the increasing flow of great stuff from The Post. 7 quid is starting to look like the bargain of the decade!”
“Another brilliant piece of writing, so many memories brought back.”
“Brilliant read and will definitely watch the film again this weekend.”
Last week paying Post members received two wonderful articles. On Tuesday, Jack published a superb interview with inner city vicar Neville Black — read that here. One Post member replied: “I love these reports. Since I took a subscription my lunchtime is now spent reading The Post and being anti-social to those around me!” The second members’ edition was from our data reporter Daniel Timms, who investigated the ins and outs of Liverpool’s freeport and whether we should welcome it. “Are freeports, in fact, a cover for lowering worker standards?” he asks. “Some dockworkers in Liverpool are nervous. Industrial relations in the sector are already tense, following recent strike action over pay.”
Editor’s note: It was great to see how many of you appreciated Daniel’s freeport story. Stories like that are fundamental in helping people understand important issues in our city, but they take a lot of time and effort to produce. Daniel spends hours poring over spreadsheets and rummaging through documents to pull his pieces together. If you want that kind of journalism to exist in Liverpool, and you’re not a member yet, please do join up now.
This week’s weather
Monday ⛅ Sunny intervals with a moderate breeze with highs of 19°C
Tuesday 🌦️ Light rain showers and a gentle breeze with highs of 21°C
Wednesday 🌧️ Thundery showers with a moderate breeze with highs of 21°C
Thursday ☀️ Sunny intervals and a moderate breeze with highs of 18°C
Friday 🌧️ Light rain and a gentle breeze with highs of 19°C
Weekend ☀️ Light rain and a gentle breeze with highs of 20°C
This week’s weather forecast is sourced from BBC Weather and it’s for Liverpool.
The big story: Is Southport Pier in trouble?
Top line: Repair works on Southport Pier have hit a bump in the road after the projected cost of its restoration rocketed to £13 million. The 160-year-old pier is the oldest iron pier in the country — so how will Sefton Council afford the cost of remodelling this historic landmark?
Context: Southport Pier was forced to close last winter amid health and safety concerns over its wooden decking. An initial report by Sefton Council stated that the pier was “rotting from within”, and in May 2022 the council approved spending £206,053 on the ‘Southport Pier Decking Project’ — an initiative to fix the crumbling structure. However, after works began it became clear that the cost of remedying the damage well exceeded the initial grant, with the budget for a complete repair of the decking now set at £3 million.
Business case: After the pier’s closure, local business owners expressed their concerns about how long the repairs would take. Colin Jamieson, the owner of Southport Pier Pavilion, told the Echo: “No business can close, no matter how strong it is and expect to carry on without money coming in for six months. I have got two daughters working down here and a son-in-law, they have all lost their income.”
An extra £10 million? Despite the council’s projection of £3 million for the restoration of the pier, it now looks like the project will cost much, much more. £13 million, in fact, after issues with the pier’s steelwork were uncovered in recent weeks. The council don’t have that kind of money lying around, and already there have been talks about seeking £10 million of government funding to complete the restoration.
Missed opportunities: Southport MP Damien Moore says the council needs to take a “long hard look at itself” over missed opportunities to secure funding for the pier’s repair.
Council view: Marion Atkinson, the council's cabinet member for regeneration and skills, says it would be “unsustainable” to expect any local authority to foot the bill for the pier’s costly repair. "There is clearly a case to lobby the government for a national fund to address this pressure,” she said. “And to ensure piers receive an ongoing, ringfenced, realistic and proactive maintenance budget allocation rather than having to reactively respond as seems to be commonplace nationally.”
A grand reopening? So when can we expect to set foot on the pier again? The answer is…no-one knows. Sefton Council's cabinet will hold an emergency meeting this week to discuss the next steps.
Home of the week
This three-bedroom home in Litherland is “a stunning example of 1930s elegance,” according to the agents. It is on the market for £245,000.
Your Post briefing
A Liverpool man who hacked the Twitter accounts of Elon Musk and Barack Obama has been jailed for five years in the US. Joseph O’Connor hacked over 130 accounts as part of a Bitcoin scam in 2020, targeting celebrities including Kanye West, Joe Biden and Bill Gates. The 24-year-old — known online as PlugwalkJoe — was extradited from Spain last year, and pleaded guilty to hacking charges that carried a sentence of more than 70 years. The US justice department said that O’Connor had also admitted to other hacking crimes, including stalking a minor and hacking a high profile TikTok account.
A Wirral golf course that was forced to close a year ago could reopen after a protest broke out at a council meeting. Brackenwood golf course was shut by Wirral Council in 2022 after a series of cuts were passed to balance its budget. Discussions about the future of the course have resulted in dozens of protestors attending a meeting this month to urge councillors “not to destroy it”. Brackenwood was among four recently shut Wirral golf courses, including Bromborough Civic Centre and Woodchurch Leisure Centre, with Wirral residents arguing that shutting the course would be “ridiculous.” Members of Brackenwood golf club have now agreed they would re-enter negotiations with council officers to determine a way forward, with the addition of tennis courts or sports pitches on the cards.
The inquest into the death of Nicola Bulley began today, with drowning confirmed as the cause of death by Home Office pathologist Dr Alison Armour. Ms Bulley, from St Michael's on Wyre, was reported missing in January after failing to return from a dog walk along the river. Her phone — still connected to a work call —was found on a bench nearby, leading police to initially believe she had been attacked or abducted. The police later faced criticism after her body was found in the river around a mile downstream from the bench. During the inquest, Dr Alison Armour told the coroner there was "no evidence" she was harmed, and that watery fluid and fragments of dirt found inside her body were "typical features we see in cases of drowning".
Far-right podcaster Kristofer Kearney has been sentenced to four years in prison after posting dozens of antisemitic and Islamophobic documents to the instant messaging site Telegram. Known online as Charlie Big Potatoes, Kearney published the manifestos of the Christchurch mosque killer Brenton Tarrant and Anders Breivik — the man behind the murder of 77 people in Norway in 2011. Kearney, who was born in Liverpool, also published a “Punish a Muslim Day” letter, which encouraged people to “butcher a Muslim” and bomb a mosque to collect “points”. Judge Richard Marks KC determined at an earlier hearing that Kearney had shared the posts with the intention to encourage terrorism.
🎸 On The Waterfront returns to Liverpool this week with a weekend of music at Pier Head. On Saturday, enjoy the sounds of Camelphat, Hot Since 82 and Yousef. Finish off the weekend with Wirral’s own rockstars The Coral, plus James and Red Rum Club. Find out more here.
❤️ Here’s one for the romantics: the Liverpool’s Love Stories guided tour starts today with a series of trips to uncover the city’s most romantic locations. The tour takes two hours and begins at the Beatles statue on Pier Head, with plenty of photo opportunities along the way. Find out more here.
🎭 American comedian Nick Offerman heads to the Liverpool Empire this Thursday. Best known for his role as Ron Swanson in the hit sitcom Parks and Recreation, Offerman combines mirth with music in an evening sure to compel listeners. Tickets here.
🕺St George’s Hall will be the host of a 90s-themed silent disco this Saturday, with partygoers enjoying a range of hits in one of Liverpool’s most historic buildings. Attendees can switch between three separate channels of music, with a range of DJs behind the decks from 8pm to 11pm. Tickets here.
Our favourite reads
In VICE, an investigation that gets to the heart of one of the nation's oldest mysteries, right up there, along with the identity of Jack the Ripper and how they got certain stones on top of other stones at Stonehenge: why are there so many Scousers at Glastonbury? Rumours abound — like “high-speed internet to the See Tickets servers being secretly based in Merseyside’ — but the truth is elusive; what is known is that Liverpudlians lead the way when it comes to secret break-in groups that crash the festival without tickets. Perhaps the most obvious explanation is the best, the two share core values: music and partying.
“Beneath the glistening water surrounding Albert Dock in Liverpool, there lies a dark and tumultuous history,” begins the Guardian’s review of this year's Liverpool Biennial, which is themed around slavery and colonialism. Torkwase Dyson’s monolithic 750kg curved sculptures, “like ships ready to make a voyage”, are perhaps the most striking work, but so much across the multiple exhibition venues, with contributions from 35 artists, is worth seeing. Hannah Clugston notes how the “full horror of enslaving and oppressing entire communities is meticulously detailed”. It runs until 17 September.
For the reading pleasure of any Reds with a Sunday Times subscription, there’s the story of one of Jürgen Klopp’s first meetings as Liverpool manager, in which he pointed at a little-known new signing with impeccably white teeth and a natural shyness, and singled him out: “You don’t understand how good he is,” he told his squad in October 2015. Bobby Firmino — who left Liverpool this summer — would go on to win a Champions League medal, a league title and the hearts of the Kop in the process. A lovely read about a departing icon.
Letters from readers
“Love this article and loved the film. It’s been very interesting hearing how it came about and how working in Liverpool launched so many actors in their careers. Such a pool of talent we are. Thank you Jack and Sophie.” Carolyn Thornton, Two Russian sailors walk into a bar — the rest is cinema history
“Interesting article. I can see our car plants wanting to be in freeport because of the global nature of their supply chain but for any UK centric operation there seems to be little benefit other than reduced planning constraints.” Ruth Smart, No such thing as a free port?