As you will have well gathered by now, I love to talk about Liverpool in all kinds of ways. The parts of the place, the theory and practice of the place, the many joys of my place, my home.
So today I was up and out early for a day of Talking Liverpool.
And we will return to the subject of the Welsh Streets later.
A good deal of my thinking and talking with people kind of work happily happening in places like Bold Street Coffee.
In fact to be filmed talking.
So we spend an hour or so talking Homebaked as a community business, our aims as a community land trust and its importance as a creative place for the communities of the area while a future is made from the years of doubt and clearance still so deeply felt. It’s emotional, as it always ends up being for me. As much as I can talk happily about the future and Homebaked’s clear role in helping to create it through community-led social enterprise and honest trading, I also hear myself saying things like ‘This is where the stories have come for safe keeping’ because I know from my friends here how hard times have been.
Then afterwards the film-makers film the bakery, while I photograph them doing so.
Soon after this I complete my circular tour of Liverpool by getting the 27 bus home.
By which time Liam Murphy of the the Liverpool Echo has written up his report of this morning at the Town Hall, including this:
“The cabinet meeting at Liverpool town hall also saw Ronnie Hughes, Community Land Trust organiser, who was among the volunteers behind the Turner Prize-winning refurbishment of homes at Granby 4 Streets offer his help. Mr Hughes: “I just thought there is something from my own experience on Granby which could be of help.”
He also echoed others who had argued against the council’s previous plan for widespread demolition of the houses in cautiously welcoming the latest proposals.Today Mayor Anderson thanked Mr Hughes for his offer and said the council would use any advice he could offer, but insisted the main focus could be on what the community in the Welsh Streets want.
He said: “My intention has always been to work with the people who live there.”
Fair enough and I’ll also be continuing to talk, obviously. So, this being by way of a public record, here’s the core of what I said to the Cabinet this morning:
“My main thought on what I’ve read so far is a worry that all of the homes might eventually go for private rent? Is that so or could we be looking at the kind of range of tenures that seems to be working well for us all so far in the 4 Streets?
Within this could we also be considering the possibility of varied development models within the work Place First would look into? Increasing the long term stability of the area by having some of the eventual development work on parts of the site being carried out in a co-ordinated way by other local organisations and even some individuals who’d then own their properties? Place First being private rental specialists, can we ensure a greater diversity of approach is built into the whole thinking and development process from the start?
After all that’s happened I believe that what you’re considering today is to be cautiously but carefully welcomed. And I think that care is all around whether we can build an openness to both a diversity of tenures and development approaches into the work and thinking that’s about to happen.
I’m happy to support and be involved in how we do this. Very happy, above all else, that the Welsh Streets are now back in the hands of Liverpool people, to talk about and work on in Liverpool.”
As there has been before. Me on here back in October 2013 when I took that photograph:
“We want to sort this out in Liverpool. The Welsh Streets are Liverpool streets and Liverpool City and the people of Liverpool should be sorting out their future. Reconciliation and hope was happening, constructive negotiations were taking place. A decade of debate was beginning to resolve. Let it be, I say. Call off the Public Enquiry. Let the people and the place predominate and come to practical resolutions together. We already know the streets and the houses and their people must go through one more winter of weather and doubt. Let it be the last.
And who am I to speak out so plainly for streets I don’t even live in? Well who am I not to? I may not live in the Welsh Streets but I’m as Liverpool as you can get, and I don’t like to see Liverpool taken out of our hands. I trust the people and I trust the potential mediation and democratic processes of my place, and I want to see them prevail.”
I still agree with that and I meant what I said in the Town Hall this morning, at the beginning of a good day Talking Liverpool.