Wednesday, May 25, 2005

NOT EXACTLY FILLING US WITH CONFIDENCE

Interest in the unbelievable plans to bulldoze a giant chunk of the Dingle, in opposition to the wishes of people who live there, has been raised by last week's Tonight With Trevor McDonald special which showed that the few houses that aren't sound can be brought up to code for roughly the same as it would cost to knock them down; there's also, of course, a cultural angle with the mention that amongst the buildings to be destroyed is the birthplace of Ringo Starr. The "partnership" organisation panting to create some profits ("building land") for their chums ("partners") in the construction industry has issued a 'you can't stop progress' statement:

"We understand the cultural significance of Ringo's birthplace and are proposing innovative ways of reflecting this in any future development."

"Proposing innovative ways" - what would that be, then? Naming one of the ticky-tacky streets Ringo Starr street? Or how about some sort of plaque?

"I'm sure that Ringo would welcome proposals to improve the quality of housing and potential investment of millions of pounds in the area where he grew up."

The Newheartlands Pathfinder Scheme, you'll note, is only guessing what Ringo would want (but then, making the false claim that wasting hundreds of thousands knocking down perfectly good homes is the way you improve the quality of housing is already stretching it). Oddly, they didn't ask him. Indeed, Ringo doesn't welcome the plan at all:

"Why are they knocking them down? If it is economically viable, they should do them up. Are they going to knock out the centre of Liverpool again? That's what they did before. They moved everybody to high-rise apartments outside the city and forgot to rebuild."

The irony, of course, is that last week Liverpool completed the last demolition of the towers built in that frenzy to "improve the quality of housing". You might wonder where the leadership is in a city on the point of destroying another tourist attraction (Ringo's old home is quite a draw, and precisely the sort of thing that could be used to draw investment into an area in a way that a few dozen sub-suburban homes won't). They're fighting amongst themselves. Council leader Mike Storey and Chief Executive David Henshaw are having the mother of all turf wars while the place falls to pieces around them.