July 2009 Archives

ANOTHER week, and another regeneration project seems to have fallen by the wayside.

The future of the £11.6m Crosby Observatory project is hanging in the balance.

Its custodian, the Mersey Basin Campaign, is due to be wound up in March next year.

The project, already delayed by the recession, is struggling to find a new organisation to take it over.

Prime candidate Sefton Council says in these times of financial constraint it has other priorities like rebuilding its crumbling schools, and who can blame the local authority?

Priorities are what it is about now. Projects that once were a nice idea will no longer happen. It's sad, but that's the reality of regeneration at the moment.

I recently sat through a presentation by Liverpool Council's executive director for regeneration, John Kelly.

He outlined projects that, in his and the council's view, the city simply cannot do without.

Top of the list is a rebuilt Royal Hospital. This is important not just to make sure patients in Liverpool continue to get great care, but also to attract the best and brightest professionals.

Stemming from a new Royal, and the land it would free up, there are hopes of extending the city's so-called Knowledge Quarter to attract more bioscience research.

But, as Mr Kelly pointed out, it's no good having great assets if people cannot get into Liverpool.

So the Hall Lane bypass and the extension of the Edge Lane dual carriageway are also
on the council's top list of priorities, and are making good progress at the moment.

Included in "sorting out" Edge Lane is bringing forward proposals to redevelop Edge Lane retail park and the surrounding derelict buildings.

The council had been at daggers drawn with Isle of Man tycoon Albert Gubay's Derwent Holdings, which owns the properties, but more recently the company has declared "the war is over".

"At the moment, we are asking people to come to Liverpool, but saying enjoy the misery along the way," said Mr Kelly.

He can't imagine the city not having a "fantastic" new stadium in Anfield.

One million people come from outside the city to visit Liverpool FC every year, and Mr Kelly believes this could double if the club build their new ground.

"We need these things by 2015," declares Mr Kelly.

And he is right, Liverpool does need these things, and a six-year timescale is not wholly unrealistic.

But the fate of many of these projects is not in the council's hands.

Just like building in a recession is about priorities, making them happen is about collaboration.

Wirral Conservative councillor Ian Lewis today reveals the party is to hold an open primary in the selection of a candidate for next year's election.

Apparently the Tories are going to invite thousands to select the next candidate for the Leasowe & Moreton East Ward.

He reckons its the first time an open primary has been used in Merseyside to select a local authority candidate and I think he's right I can't recall this being done before (but I'm sure Ian and I will be corrected if wrong).

Merseytram - the case against

By David Bartlett on Jul 29, 09 10:59 AM in

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Never let it be said that Dale Street Blues does not tolerate a difference of opinions.

Today my colleague Tony McDonough has attacked plans to get Merseytram up and running.

I've decided to reproduce it in its entirety.

There's a particularly stinging attack on Merseytravel's chief executive Neil Scales.

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Conservative leader David Cameron is known for his polished performances, so what should we make of his "twat" gaffe?

Should we be so surprised when politicians swear on air or on camera? After all swearing is part of everyday life in many offices up and down the land.

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The vocal Merseyside Civic Society has come out in support of Merseytram.

There is now a growing groundswell of support for the scheme to link Liverpool and Kirkby.

Dr Peter Brown of the University of Liverpool's Department of Civic Design, and chairman of the Civic Society, has written to Riverside MP Louise Ellman outlining the group's support.

The letter will also be winging its way to the region's other MPs.

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Daily Post columnist Jim Hancock today claims a scoop on the latest in the Everton FC stadium saga.

Hancock who is well connected in the region has been told that the club are likely to be told they can build a ground in Kirkby.

As always there will be politics at play when the decision is announced.

It's often said that a week is a long time in politics, and it's probably even longer in the blogosphere.

With that in mind I intend to go totally against the grain with this blog post.

It is all the rage for blogs to highlight a digest of recent blog posts (Iain Dale's popular Daley Dozen for example).

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Tory high command has high hopes for Esther McVey, and last week she appeared in a top 30 list of candidates to watch.

But just hours before Insight Public Affairs published its 'ones to watch' report an incident happened that has ended up bringing the Conservative parliamentary candidate publicity of a very different kind.

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Merseytravel chief executive Neil Scales is never one to miss an opportunity to promote Merseytram.

No surprise then that he turned up to Lime Street Station yesterday morning sporting a jazzy Merseytram umbrella to greet Transport Minister Sadiq Khan (in Liverpool to announce the electrification of the rail line to Manchester).

It may not be subtle, but his persistence may yet pay off.

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The window of opportunity to get Merseytram up and running is closing.

Shadow Home Secretary Chris Grayling started the timer when he revealed recently that a Conservative Government would probably not support the project.

And the planning permission to build Line One to Kirkby from Liverpool city centre expires in February 2010.

If the planning issue can be overcome it looks like transport authority Merseytravel has less than a year to get the cash and get work started, if, as is widely predicted, Labour lose the next General Election.

Dale Street Associates

David Bartlett

David Bartlett

City editor of the Post and Echo covering politics, regeneration, and urban affairs.
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