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Kirkby, the stadium and pipes of peace

Will there be only discord in a Liverpool City Region or can the six Mersey tribes sing in harmony? Larry Neild covers his ears

Published on June 9th 2008.


Kirkby, the stadium and pipes of peace

THE prospect of Merseyside’s six big council chiefs sitting around for a pow-wow to talk about the state of the Liverpool City Nation fills me with fear.

They’ll need the cavalry to keep the warring factions in order, and I can hardly see a peace-pipe doing the rounds. Any smoke signals are likely to be generated by hot air and blown fuses.

Nobody will deny that Kirkby needs improving. If somebody told me the people who designed that town graduated from the Soviet Academy of Design I would not disagree.

Short of opting for a directly-elected city region mayor, Liverpool, Sefton, Wirral, Knowsley, St Helens and Halton are going for a city-region cabinet.

Big Chief Sitting Ron, aka Cllr Ron Rounds, of Knowsley, is likely to chair this collective for two years before handing the totem pole to somebody else.

Will it work? Of course not, don’t be stupid. This is the Wild West, not the North West and we like to settle things kinda our own way around these parts.

The problem for Liverpool City Nation is that each tribe is jealously possessive and protective of its own wigwam villages. The chiefs may get together and talk the same language, but when they mosey off to their own camps things will be different.

I remember going on a scouting mission to Birkenhead a few years ago when Chief Storey and his sidekick, the Cherokee Kid (David Henshaw), went to get their neighbours to sign a treaty that would see many pounds of European money channelled into Liverpool City Centre (precursor to the recently opened Liverpool One). There was virtually a declaration of war. The other chiefs argued that allowing a big slice of money to Liverpool would deny money to their own lands.

Yet something like 60 per cent of city centre jobs go to people in the neighbouring boroughs: hence more city centre jobs means work for nearby lands.

During my weekly political show on City Talk 105.9 I ask guest MPs the first thing they would do if they became Ruler of Merseyside. The most common answer is to make the districts work together rather than compete. Our inability to do what the Greater Manchester councils do – sing from the same sheet – is harmful. That’s the politician’s battle cry.

The purpose of a city region entity is to work together for the good of the whole, rather than compete.

Take for example the current wrangle over the Everton/Tesco/Knowsley Council plans for Kirkby. Nobody will deny that Kirkby needs improving. If somebody told me the people who designed that town graduated from the Soviet Academy of Design I would not disagree. Read the reports of consultants and the scale of the scheme does not make sense for a town of 40,000.

It can only be an economic success if it draws shoppers and visitors from Liverpool, Bootle, Huyton, Prescot, St Helens and Widnes.

One report, commissioned by Liverpool City Council, estimates that the turnover of the bigger Kirkby will not be far behind the money going through the tills of Liverpool One. No wonder Grosvenor is also objecting.

So the new Super Cabinet, if it is doing its job properly, would tell Big Chief Sitting Ron where to stick his big plan for Kirkby. The reality is it won’t happen, because this is the frontier lands of the North West’s Wild West where (thanks to Liverpool) the smoking of peace pipes is now illegal.

As mentioned earlier, Larry Neild presents The Politics Show every Sunday on City Talk 105.9FM. 12 noon.

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

Stanley StreetJune 9th 2008.

I know not to waste my time or money visiting Geisha now as well!Thanks Dig!

Stanley StreetJune 9th 2008.

I hadn't commented because I saw the headline and assumed it was about some footer stadium or other that knuckle-draggers like Warren Bradley get all worked-up about.Frankly I don't give a toss where gormless multi-millionaires kick a ball around as long as it isn’t by my house.

eleanor rigsbyJune 9th 2008.

Just as if the planning committee of Knowsley Council would have had the guts to say No. To use Larry's theme of cowboys and injuns, they would have had them lynched from the nearest silver birch. The committee was bound to have to toe the line. All this crap about independent decision making is sickening. Let's hope there is a public inquiry so that the scheme can have the proper public and more importantly independent scrutiny it deserves.Maybe the planning committee members should be forced to live outside Goodison Park for a couple of months before deciding whether that's what they want for Kirkby. As for a Merseyside cabinet, Heaven Help Us.

BarackJune 9th 2008.

Interesting that there are no comments on this story - presumably, no-one is in the slightest bit bothered and the vast majority feel completely disengaged and excluded from the political process? Politics - or the daily decisions which affect people's lives, is seemingly irrelevant. Something for Larry to chew on further in another column? Meanwhile, the crucial word missing from this article was... maturity.

HilaryJune 9th 2008.

Thank you for your clarification

BarackJune 9th 2008.

Just to be clear: local politics lacks maturity. And that's the problem.

DigJune 9th 2008.

I stood in Geisha and listened to Warren Bradley & a drunken blue give Kirkby down the banks. The drunken man told me I had no right to an opinion when he found out I'm a red. When I told them I'm entitled to more of an opinion than the 2 of them they looked a bit confused. The confusion turned to embarrassment for Mr.Bradley when he realised he had been slating Kirkby for 15 minutes in the face of a resident.

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