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What did we do to our Crosby?

Nick Timmons casts a personal eye over a village 'smashed to pieces'

Written by . Published on March 21st 2014.

What did we do to our Crosby?

WRITING recently in the Guardian,'To plug the north south gap the only way is Manchester' (13.3.14), Simon Jenkins declares  that Hebden Bridge did not "smash itself to pieces as much of Liverpool did".

I was struck by these words because the part of Merseyside, Crosby, I think of as home looks exactly like it's been, well, "smashed to pieces". So how have we done this to ourselves? 

We never rioted. Crosby isn't Toxteth or Moss Side. And far from being Militant I don't think it had a Labour councillor through the years I grew up here in the 60s and 70s. The Social Democrats oveturned a 19,000 Tory majority in 1981. 

And Crosby was living the Tory small business dream. On our road, St Lukes, there was a removals firm, a tyre specialist firm which then became a glazing company, a sweet shop, and a small firm producing lenses for spectacles. The last of these, the glazing firm, is about to close. 

CrosbyMoor Lane

In Crosby 'village', there used to be small shops, greengrocers, fishmongers, watch repairers, and a much loved bakery, Satterthwaites. Maybe we didn't eat enough cakes but, Simon, in voting for the self declared party for shopkeepers we thought we were doing the right thing. 

A scaled down Satterthwaites has risen again some way away down Coronation Road with a new owner. 

Crosby village is where Jenkins, however, is bang on the money. It looks like a bomb's hit it. Where Central Buildings once stood there's a crater and whitewashed-window storefronts dominate Moor Lane. 

The owners of Central buildings, Maghull Development Holdings, received planning permision for a new mixed purpose building in 2006 and knocked them down with the retailers located there for decades scattering far and wide.

Nothing's happened since. Except during the recent gales one of the fences fell down and that has now been replaced with fencing better suited to windy conditions. 

Why didn't it happen? The banking crisis of 2008 and property speculation, say locals, but they could be just deflecting blame. 

Between 1998 and 2012 fifty per cent of the businesses here have changed not just ownership but also the nature of their business. With a dwindling 'footfall', reversing the 1995 pedestrianisation is being raised as a possible way forward. 

But sometime one has to start talking about Sainsbury's and the most egregious example of the self-destructiveness of Liverpool and Crosby people in particular. 

In November 2009 Sainsbury's published a plan to build a bigger superstore. Three times the size of the current unit and including a two storey and an additional four storey car park it would have dominated the village. 

It was rejected by the majority locally and the plans ground to a halt. Having already purchased the shops on Moor Lane and other properties beyond to accomodate the new store, Sainsbury's now no longer had a use for them. With this uncertainty and with relatively high rents, no new shops have opened. 

The local press are, however, reporting hopeful signs and once a month there is a night steet market. Nationally Sainsbury's policy now seems to be to extend a network of smaller in town supermarkets rather than hyperstores. Is it possible other towns could have been as self destructive as Crosby? This may explain why some of the residential properties purchased for demolition are now up for sale. Rents on the shops on Moor Lane have also been sharply reduced. 

In a way that we've become wearily familiar with, local people are having the last violent, aggressive say - with knitting needles.

Last month local knitting artist Naomi "Rage" Lawrence coordinated a "yarn bombing" of Cooks Road roundabout and Moor Lane, as again can be seen in the picture above. Will we ever learn!?

*Nick Timmons is Crosby born and now lives in Berlin. He blogs at westeuropeaninberlin.wordpress.com

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

Paul WardMarch 21st 2014.

How about forcing traffic along The Bypass and Islington, giving prospective visitors (and shoppers) a lovely view of ugly car parks, backs of buildings and rubbish bins? No chance of a few trees being planted - Sefton Council couldn't bear losing a bit of revenue from the parking spaces that would have been lost. How about not doing anything to attract to the Village some of the businesses that have crammed into South Road? How about allowing any developer with a solicitor in tow to demolish anything of interest and put up another banal, orange brick block of flats? Look at the properties that have gone from Blundellsands, especially along the foreshore, and weep at the identikit crap that's been erected now. Still, at least we have a Tesco Express now.

AnonymousMarch 22nd 2014.

Our old friends Maghull Group again. Scallies.

Rob HartMarch 22nd 2014.

It's quite shocking that the village has been allowed to fall into such a state. As I understand, Officers at Sefton Council say as the land formerly occupied by Central Buildings is owned by a private company they are unable to do anything. Sainsbury appear to be in no hurry to make use of the empty properties they own. It does seem to require some sort of political will/initiative to overcome the blight that currently exists. I suppose in an era of continuing austerity it all comes down to money but urban decay is like cancer and is difficult to halt once it starts. It also impacts badly on community morale and appears to create a magnets for varying degrees of anti social behaviour. If something isn't done soon, the decline of the village and surrounding areas could sadly become terminal

AnonymousMarch 23rd 2014.

The decline of the village is very sad. I haven't been there but it's annoying to read how things have gone to such an extent. Who is responsible for this. Is the rent too much for shops to stay open, or is it just the council who make decisions. A rally is needed, just pretend it's football and have some enthusiasm in the village and get a meeting and discussion going, ask the villages what they would like, putting things right such as health issues, poverty, schooling or what? come on councillors, help your constituents now not next year or after the vote is over but NOW if you are in power and care about this decline. Is there food banks there too? To help the residents and send suggestions reply to previous rant. FROM BM.

AnonymousMarch 23rd 2014.

An excellent and motivational rallying call......................from someone who has never been there. I'm all fired up now, are you with BM brothers?

3 Responses: Reply To This...
Carlo BrightMarch 23rd 2014.

Read it properly, idiot. He grew up there. And there is no rallying call, it is merely an observation from someone who returrns home regularly to see the mess Crosby has become, thanks to the like of the vandals that are the Maghull Group, the same people who drove "accidentally" a wrecking ball through Josephine Butler House. Are you one of those naysayers from "a better Crosby". Smell the coffee, in the Costa on Moor Lane.

AnonymousMarch 23rd 2014.

The irony of telling others to tread it properly! The comment was aimed at BM, not the original poster. AND BM SAID HE'S NEVER BEEN THERE. You thick twat, wait til you wake up before you jump in

Carlo BrightMarch 23rd 2014.


AnonymousMarch 23rd 2014.

Oh grow up..you want to try living somewhere that actually has genuine social problems..

2 Responses: Reply To This...
Carlo BrightMarch 23rd 2014.

So nobody is allowed to have an opinion?

AnonymousMarch 23rd 2014.

oooh a few shops are a bit run down oooh no the sky is falling..

Rob HartMarch 23rd 2014.

The thing is Mr Anonymous, urban decline can be a pre-cursor to future social problems.Thats why it needs to be addressed ASAP.

1 Response: Reply To This...
AnonymousMarch 23rd 2014.

Future problems are in the future, the wealthy areas of the city get cow towed to enough as it is.

BMMarch 24th 2014.

The future problems are today's too & we all need to help make a good future for the generation living there now so they do not have to go elsewhere looking for a better future we should address all problems sooner rather than later.....

1 Response: Reply To This...
AnonymousMarch 24th 2014.

Thanks Einstein for sharing your insightful wisdom. Apart from platitudinous easy turns of phrase, what have you in mind?

AnonymousMarch 24th 2014.

It's a crying shame what has happened to Crosby. It was a really nice place to grow up in and had a lovely "village in the big city" feel. IMO, the Maghull group need to either be forced to give up the land, or develop it in a certain time frame, at the moment they're just looking to maximise profitability, at the detriment of the village. The finger can't be pointed at the Maghull grp completely though. The Sainsbury's redevelopment would have kept the village booming. The waddling double chins of indignation belonging to the wealthiest in Blundellsands, Crosby and Thornton put a stop to Sainsbury's. The baby-boomer fortunate (who mostly shop online or at Southport or Formby for Waitrose and Marks and Sparks), claimed it would destroy the village aesthetically and financially. They even refused in their do-gooding quest to listen to small local traders, who were begging Sainsburys to redevelop the area. A Better Crosby (abettercrosby.blogspot.co.uk/…) I feel are said do-gooders that have cost Crosby it's immediate future. The first three lines of it's "Who we are" section states: - "We a community group promoting Crosby. Initially formed in response to inappropriate development proposals for Crosby Village we are now seeking positive improvements to our area". I hope they find these positive improvements soon, because the village is a ghost town at the moment.

1 Response: Reply To This...
Blundell SandsMarch 25th 2014.

Couldn't agree more. Crosby is one of the most densly-populated middle class areas of the city. The disposable income of all those thousands of families in £250k + houses must be considerable and yet all it can show for it is about 200 hair salons and a big crater in the middle of the village. I would like to see A Better Crosby come up with one concrete proposal. Or shut up and let someone less sanctimonious have a go while there is still a chance for the place.

Nick TimmonsMarch 25th 2014.

Thanks to all those who have posted. My view is that the sainsbury's new store development was inappropriate but it seems that campaigning to improve the village stopped when that proposal came to a halt. There haven't been any posts on the 'a better crosby' website over a year..... while I'm not blaming anyone isn't Crosby still in desperate need of a campaigning group? If Sainsburys can be stopped can't the Maghull group be persuaded, perhaps with support from local councillors and the MP, to at least landscape the waste ground they've created?

1 Response: Reply To This...
AnonymousMarch 26th 2014.

Probably because they all shop in Formby or get Ocado deliveries nobody is too arsed. The Sunday Times put Crosby as one of the best places to live in 2013, as reported on this website, but they probably meant Waterloo by that.

AnonymousMarch 26th 2014.

Don't Delta own one side of Moor Lane?

1 Response: Reply To This...
AnonymousMarch 26th 2014.

No, they buggered off to Bootle when they saw the writing on the wall

Mad MitchMay 16th 2014.

time to raise to the ground all of moor lane what village has anyone in crosby seen a real village its not a shanty town of grot shops

AnonymousJune 14th 2014.

Not really Liverpool, but Crosby is turning into a little shit hole.

1 Response: Reply To This...
AnonymousJune 15th 2014.

Waterloo is much better.

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