Tuesday, January 24, 2006

FLO NO MO'

You might recall that back in September, Flo Clucas stood up and told the world she had, in her hand, a piece of paper which proved that Ringo Starr's first home wasn't of any historical significance and should be torn down; then, a couple of weeks later, she announced that it was of such little historical significance, it would be taken down brick by brick and stored somewhere for safety, for reasons she never really went into. You might also recall that we've been trying to get some simple answers to a couple of basic questions since then.

Well, sadly, it looks like we'll not get the answers from Flo: as part of the rearrangement of the Lib Dem cabinet in the city, she's got a new job, caring for economic development and Europe, and her role at the head of housing has been taken over by Marilyn Fielding. So we thought - before Marilyn's in-tray gets filled up with other, more pressing matters, we'd see if we could find out exactly what happened. We've sent her an email:

Marilyn,

Congratulations on your new role in the reorganised Liverpool City Council cabinet.

We had been hoping to get a response to some questions about the proposed demolition of the Ringo Starr house from your colleague Flo Clucas, but she hadn't found a moment to respond in the last few months and - as we believe you are taking over her portfolio as far as housing goes - we wonder if we could redirect them in your direction?

Councillor Clucas announced the findings of an investigation into the bulldozing of Ringo Starr's childhood home in Madryn Street at the start of September 2005 [source: http://news.bbc.co.uk/go/pr/fr/-/2/hi/uk_news/england/merseyside/4229068.stm]

What form did the original investigation into the merits of retaining Ringo's house take, how much public money was spent on it, and how did such an investigation manage to leave Councillor Clucas telling the world that Ringo resided in a place for three months when he lived there twelve times as long?

A couple of weeks later, Cllr Clucas announced that the house was to be saved after all. [Source: Liverpool Echo, 25th September 2005]

After an investigation paid for from the public purse and a public announcement that it had recommended demolition, what new information had come to light showing this house was of historical signifance after all? Why had this information not been uncovered by the original investigation?

The plan now seems to be to take the house down brick-by-brick, and store it somewhere - is this still the case?

How much will this cost, who will be paying, and what is the long-term plan for the bricks?

And finally - and really, this is just out of curiosity - are the council making any cash out of the levelling of the neighbourhood the house stands upon?


Fair questions, we think - and besides, how can the people of Liverpool know what sort of people are running their city if they don't have the facts?

Just as a side note, the rejiggling of the Lib Dem cabinet has been forced upon the city by the resignation of Mike Storey. (The Liberal Democrats aren't having a very good time of it at the moment, are they?)

Storey was found by the Standards Board For England to have broken the Code of Conduct in a way that went to the heart of the proper relationship between members and officers by seeking to improperly influence an officer of the authority. The report also concludes that Councillor Storey’s conduct had brought his office and authority into disrepute.

The investigation related to allegations that Councillor Storey had encouraged a paid officer of the authority to undermine the council’s chief executive.


Don't cry too much for Mike Storey, though - although he resigned, he's already been given a plum job by Warren Bradley, who replaced him at the top of Liverpool City Council. Storey is now in charge of the celebrations of the City's 800th birthday next year. We're not sure we'd have put a man who had resigned in shame and been found guilty of what was called an "extremely serious misconduct" in charge of a high-profile event; apart from anything the inability to find someone to do the job who hadn't just resigned in ignomy suggests the talent amongst the Lib Dems in Liverpool must be pretty thin at the moment.