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Exclusive: Roscoe Street battle over street drinkers' house 'isn't over yet'

Permission granted for wet zone on 'hot property', but nobody has asked NHS leaseholders, furious locals claim

Written by . Published on June 24th 2014.


Exclusive: Roscoe Street battle over street drinkers' house 'isn't over yet'
 

DESPITE more than 50 objections, Liverpool City Council’s planning committee today (Tuesday) approved plans for a “wet zone” for street-drinkers in the upmarket Georgian Quarter of the city. 

But Dr Emlyn Williams, chairman of the Rodney Street Association, told Liverpool Confidential he is hopeful the scheme in Roscoe Street will not go-ahead. 

He said: “Despite 52 objections the Planning Committee today rubber stamped the council’s own proposals for establishing a facility for holding street drinkers within the locality. 

“However the council has a problem which it has yet to recognise. It does not have the consent of the property leaseholder and is unlikely to get it.” 

The leaseholder is NHS Properties, which holds a 99-year lease on the building, with 16 years more to run. 

The original lease was granted by the freeholder – Liverpool City Council – in 1931 to allow 80 Rodney Street to serve as headquarters of the Liverpool Royal Infirmary.  It was used for health purposes until the five or six years ago when it was vacated. 

Dr Williams has been in communication with NHS Properties and says it realises the potential for “sensitive refurbishment” of 80 Rodney Street. 

Img_334080 Rodney Street is owned by NHS Properties

Dr Williams said it was clear from his communication that the leaseholders realise the difficulty in selling the building if the rear outhouses, on Roscoe Street, were used as a gathering post for street drinkers. In just a short period of time potential buyers have come forward wanting to purchase 80 Rodney Street. 

In a letter to David Elstrob, of NHS Properties, Dr Williams says: “It is heartening now to learn that you were as surprised as we were to the ‘wet centre’ proposal and that permission for maintaining such a facility over the next five years has not been granted (by the leaseholder)”. 

Dr Williams tells NHS Properties that even in its current state the premises could earn around £1m if it secured a new 99-year lease. Such a deal would also free the NHS from the need to pay for dilapidation work on the property. 

 The city council is eager to create the wet zone saying concentrating street drinkers in one place would make sure they received the support they needed. 

The plan has outraged local residents and businesses based in the Rodney Street area. They fear they will live in fear and face from drinkers congregating at the proposed centre in Roscoe Street. 

Planning Committee Chairman Cllr John McIntosh said after he had “done some soul searching” he was recommending approval.  

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49 comments so far, continue the conversation, write a comment.

AnonymousJune 24th 2014.

So it's a cheaper alternative to the Grapes?

1 Response: Reply To This...
Hoarse DrinkerJune 25th 2014.

And without the tinnitus-inducing 'music'

AnonymousJune 25th 2014.

I have always found it amazing that any council planning committee is allowed to make a decision on any planning application made by its own council. You just tend to think, well they are hardly likely to turn it down. Liverpool planning committee now has only a small sprinkling of opposition members, now that Labour dominate the council. Planning Committees are supposed to be 'quasi judicial' but very often decisions are, no doubt by coincidence, taken along 'party lines'. In the interests of natural fairness and justice wouldn't it be better if councils were not automatically allowed to give itself permission for anything.

1 Response: Reply To This...
RichyJune 28th 2014.

A good point. The whole thing is a charade to give the impression of some kind of process - the committees in a case like this know before-hand what the desired decision will be and unsurprisingly they rule in the councils favour. It is completely politically motivated. The Planning system is being abused by the council - but that's not surprising - they abuse everything else.

Emma BJune 25th 2014.

Ah Dr Emlyn Williams strikes again. Anything he objects to gets approved. Surely Rodney Street deserves a better rep? The fact he could only muster 52 signatures speaks volumes.

2 Responses: Reply To This...
BennaJune 25th 2014.

Hi Emma, we didnt really have much time to do this sadly we were'nt consulted and seem to have no rights at all...most of the infant schools nearby objected..a reresentative from the Chinese community, the headmaster of the lipa primary school spoke out against it and its actually next door to me...dumping the whole of the citys problem next door to a young woman...we'be appealed to them to come and have a look but they didnt even bother to discuss it...just passed it without a further though....I thought we lived in a democracy....when there are so many other spaces away from residents and businesses ...why an earth did they choose here...its disgraceful and very upsetting for all of us

John BradleyJune 25th 2014.

"I thought we lived in a democracy" We do, what makes you think this is undemocratic?

RichardJune 25th 2014.

NIMBY. NIMBY. Let them have it in Anfield or Toxteth but heaven forbid it be near where the fine upstanding and wealthy medical practitioners live.

6 Responses: Reply To This...
BennaJune 25th 2014.

No it shouldnt be there either I dont think

BennaJune 25th 2014.

Hi John bradley, Ask anyone that was in the one meeting we were allowed...where we were TOLD what would happen....ask anyone who was at the planning..that was quite frankly a joke...needent have bothered turning up

BennaJune 25th 2014.

Hi Richard, why Anfield or Toxteth?...I'm from Toxteth mate

John BradleyJune 25th 2014.

Again explain why this is not democratic. Deemocracy doesn't mean that you get your way. Where do you think it should be.

RichyJune 28th 2014.

Richard - of course you would be delighted if it was next door to you - wouldn't you? Which of course it is not. Richard - the council want to open an Alcoholics Beer Garden next door to you. You like that idea?....Nah...didn't think so

John BradleyJune 28th 2014.

I've never claimed that for a moment my argument is with the claim that it was undemocratic and was done at the last minute.

AnonymousJune 25th 2014.

Street drinkers is another made up phrase by PC fools who call prostitutes "sex workers". Substitute the phrase " deadbeat pisshead wasters" and see if you'd want them in your area!

Debtor RetreatedJune 25th 2014.

Used to live in Rodney St. Then we had a baby, and it became impossible to take her out in the pram without the other half being in fear of herself and or the baby being attacked. Drunks in St Luke's, drunks on the street begging and stopping you. St James Cemetery, no, drunks and people injecting, and used needles dumped in the grass where you might want a toddler to run about. Also people living in some of the catacombs (really!) who were intimidating to say the least. Add to this Liverpool City council concentrating drug services in the old YWCA, the bail hostel in Falkner St and the other hostel in Blackburne Place, and it is hardly surprising that we decamped to the Wirral. Lovely here. I can recommend it. City Centre living? No thanks. So Mayor Joe, why are you actively encouraging street drinkers by setting up a shebeen, from where they are all going to get kicked out at 8pm with nowhere to go? What happens then?

2 Responses: Reply To This...
BennaJune 25th 2014.

Great point...and exactly our argument..and also two and fro the centre..are they all going to be monitered then.....I dont think so

BennaJune 25th 2014.

There argument to that however would be..you see you have a terrible problem there and this will make it better! but as we are both past and present residents of the area...we can see what will happen..

AnonymousJune 25th 2014.

I wonder how many of you folk on the council are actually from liverpool not many I guess otherwise why would you wNt to ruin our beautiful city you seem intent on stripping us of our heritage well we will not stand for it the people will have murder THINK AGAIN

1 Response: Reply To This...
John BradleyJune 25th 2014.

If you were actually interested in Liverpool you would have already know where the people on the council come from.

Ramsey CampbellJune 26th 2014.

I'm interested in Liverpool. I have not the least idea where most of the councillors come from, and I see no contradiction in this.

1 Response: Reply To This...
John BradleyJune 26th 2014.

I think you can probably guess.

Debtor RetreatedJune 26th 2014.

The basic problem is that there have been and always will be 'problem drinkers' who need to be managed in some shape or form as by definition they can't or won't do it themselves. Many years ago there was the crypt of the Metropolitan cathedral but at least it got them off the streets after about 6pm. What this is proposing is to get them drunk (and actively participate in this) and then literally decant them onto the street, after hostels and the like have closed. Having taken ownership of the problem by getting them drunk, it is now the Council's responsibility to get them somewhere else like home or a bed for the night. How about all round to Joe's?

5 Responses: Reply To This...
John BradleyJune 26th 2014.

How is it actively participating in getting them drunk. What time will it close and what time to the hostels close?

Debtor RetreatedJune 27th 2014.

The 'idea' (if you can call it that) is to get drinkers off the street by providing them with somewhere to take their drink and then get drunk. The drink is poured out into glasses, or hopefully 'plastics', and they have to drink it on the premises. So a bit like a pub for total losers. Or a bit like a pub. Then at 8pm (I think) having got all these irresponsible people drunk, the operators put them out on the street, all ready to start fighting and spewing up and generally make everyone else's life a misery. What should happen is that this is done somewhere where there are no other people around, say in an industrial estate, but no, the city council has to do this right in the middle of the 'cultural' quarter. I think that hostels deliberately close their doors quite early to prevent trouble makers getting in. So having got all these people drunk, what is the Council proposing to do with them?

John BradleyJune 27th 2014.

So not so much active participation, but getting somewhere where support services can be provided in an attempt to convert them to contributing members of society. Not really the cultural quarter, but a back alley there.

RichyJune 28th 2014.

JOHN - so glad to hear you like the idea of a Liverpool City Council operated Alcoholics Beer Garden -would you like to volunteer your property or that of your surrounding neighbours/community for this purpose -Are there any back alleys that are suitable around your area? Maybe you could volunteer to clean up their vomit/piss and collect their cider/beer cans/shit. Lots of Love - The Council(Not)

John BradleyJune 28th 2014.

Judging by you lack of following the arguments it will not be long before you require the wet zone yourself.

BennaJune 26th 2014.

If democracy means you shouldnt get your way John...then why are the council getting "their way" without consulting people...you've answered your own question...that is not democracy....discussion and respect would have been nice

1 Response: Reply To This...
John BradleyJune 26th 2014.

The Council was given the power by the people of Liverpool. It was given the power by the people, there is no indication that if all the people of Liverpool were asked they wouldn't agree with the council decision. You don't get to veto on council action that would be undemocratic.

AnonymousJune 27th 2014.

I thought this area was bordering or possibly in the city's knowledge quarter. Aren't they shooting themselves in the foot putting it here? Also are they not encouraging these people to drink. I know they will anyway but why not put something somewhere away from family homes to help them stop? Surely it's making life harder for the people in the hostels.

BennaJune 28th 2014.

there were 58 objections john..a petition from the chinese community, a headmaster from an infant school due to open over the road, neighbours and residents speaking.. but yes I agree..indeed they may vote it in..and they might not...but wouldnt it be nice if its was discussed not forced upon us

1 Response: Reply To This...
John BradleyJune 28th 2014.

Did you go to the council hearings did you write letters and submit comments. You were invited for discussion, but you didn't go.

BennaJune 28th 2014.

also its not a back alley John its the fronts and backs of residents houses, about 12 people at present..its a busy road where the students cut through to the college further down, and its where parents walk their kids to the infant school...amongst other things. The back doors are covered in grafitti cos they just get re-done if you paint them

BennaJune 28th 2014.

Also lets not pretend we can get these people back into society sadly John..the word REST centre hilarious...these are hardcore addicts..the streets are being "cleaned" in prep for the tourists, when the giants come and other stuff is on. There is no medical help here...just a few ham sandwiches and errrr art classes. May pop in myself for a spot of lunch and a bit of sketching...and a beaker of diamond white

BennaJune 28th 2014.

we had one meeting...not everyone was told, we had 4 days notice...and we were TOLD what was going to happen

1 Response: Reply To This...
John BradleyJune 28th 2014.

You mean you didn't read the planning permission notices etc etc.

BennaJune 28th 2014.

there was no discussion thats the point...have u just cottoned on now

4 Responses: Reply To This...
John BradleyJune 28th 2014.

I've cottoned on to the fact that you didn't take up the opportunities given to you because you couldn't be bothered to read the notices, you expect everyone to come to you rather than for you to have to react to the standard process.

RichyJune 28th 2014.

John - I take it from your comments that you love the idea of a Council-run Piss head beer garden. As you are so enthusiastic - I suggest you volunteer your back garden/yard or start a community scheme with your neighbours to provide this 'service' in your area. Still keen?....Thought not!

AnonymousJune 28th 2014.

And not everyone spends all their time council bothering like you John, they get out, have jobs and rounded lives. Doesn't stop them having an opinion though?

John BradleyJune 28th 2014.

Richy the point is that if was in my neighbourhood, I'd get involved as soon as possible. I wouldn't wait until the decisions had been made and them moan that nobody asked me.

Benna HarryJune 29th 2014.

John...do you have a problem with your eyes...i think you need glasses..or are you just stupid

Benna HarryJune 29th 2014.

why do you keep insisting no one got involved when we;ve told you several times we did as much as we could when we were told of their plans....were you there? no...? thought as much...so how do you think you know then

1 Response: Reply To This...
John BradleyJune 29th 2014.

You claim to have had only a few days warning. So are you claiming that the council did not put up the statutory notices or it it you didn't both to read them. I think it was the later.

Benna HarryJune 29th 2014.

gonna log off now john...I'm watching Glastonbury...its rather more entertaining than chatting to a plank

1 Response: Reply To This...
John BradleyJune 29th 2014.

For a 43 year old you are awfully childish.

Emma BJuly 11th 2014.

As Benna has admitted there are only 12 residents in that street, so the Council should be congratulated for finding the least occupied street in town! As for the 'Knowledge Quarter', I doubt anyone has heard of it. Almost every time I read the Echo, Storey or Big Joe refer to the Queer Quarter or the Cultural Quarter. At the last count there were 7 of them. Shouldn't there be 4 quarters if any?

1 Response: Reply To This...
John BradleyJuly 11th 2014.

It is usually the Gay Quarter and I suspect you think Quartermasters are 1/4 of a master and that a head quarter is like a chicken quarter. en.wikipedia.org/…/Quarter_%28urban_subdivision%29…

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