The Mystery Literary Festival: Soon

There is magic all around us. Stories waiting to be told. In every park & street the future is waiting. Listen, while I tell you a story called “The Mystery Literary Festival.”

In Liverpool there is a park called The Mystery. No map will tell you where it is but everyone knows it’s called The Mystery. And in 2018 they know it’s where the first Mystery Literary Festival happened.

Listen, I’m telling you a story, a mystery story.

The idea came from The Beautiful Parks Project in the autumn of 2017 when a woman with the grown up daughter said ‘Why is there no Mystery Literary Festival?’ And so there was. Once two passing strangers, one of whom was also me, stuck up their hands and said ‘If no one else wants to run it then we’ll do our best, having never done such a thing before. It will be a laugh and a story in itself.’ 

Listen, I’m telling you a story, a mystery story.

So it was announced, and here I am announcing it, that The Mystery Literary Festival would be for everyone who likes a story. And that would be more or less everyone, right? Continue reading “The Mystery Literary Festival: Soon”

The Welsh Streets: On Site Soon

DSC04324Yesterday evening I went to a gathering at Toxteth Town Hall. It was good humoured, relaxed, positive and felt very much like a new beginning, at last, for the Welsh Streets. There’s still a long way to go and a lot of work to do, but several hundred empty homes here look like they won’t be empty much longer.

This was mainly a look at a pilot scheme.
This was mainly a look at a pilot scheme.

A pilot scheme to test out the solutions most likely to work around here. Place First are the developers selected by Liverpool City Council to survey the area and start bringing proposals forward. They’re a company that specialize in private market rentals. When I first heard about this I went to the City Council Cabinet meeting, as anyone can, to express my doubts about this sort of single tenure approach. Preferring more of a mixture of ownership, renting and social lettings to balance places. Anyway, we’ll come back to that and the solution that might be emerging. Continue reading “The Welsh Streets: On Site Soon”

On Lime Street: The Futurist

DSC03446I do the houses, it’s what I’m best at. And through that I do my best to help with the economy and the quality of life in the place where I live. I have very little time for some of the campaigns to ‘save’ this or that which others get very exercised and excited about. I’ve written before that if I had a year to live, even though they’re ‘quite nice’ I’d put none of my dwindling energies into saving Sefton Park Meadows, as they’re now known. I feel much the same about The Futurist.

But yesterday I was walking along Lime Street and took these photographs. Looking at the closed-road-beleagured place as an analogy for a city struggling with austerity politics. Continue reading “On Lime Street: The Futurist”

How to do Social Housing: Part Two

Continuing the true story of Granby 4 Streets Community Land Trust on siteGranby on site - 70

The second of two detailed parts of my story about exactly how to do social housing. Or at least, exactly how we’re doing it in Granby 4 Streets.

At the end of Part One we are deliriously winning the Turner Prize.
At the end of Part One we are deliriously winning the Turner Prize.
Assemble and a few of us are up in Glasgow at the Channel Four announcement.
Assemble and a few of us, though not me, are up in Glasgow at the Channel Four announcement.
The rest of us are in Liverpool watching it all together at The Small Cinema in Victoria Street.
The rest of us are in Liverpool watching it all together at The Small Cinema in Victoria Street.

Next morning I’m up well before the dawn reflecting on what’s just happened and have published my thoughts on here before the media start arriving in the Four Streets. Continue reading “How to do Social Housing: Part Two”

Investing in Granby 4 Streets

Today I want to introduce someone you haven’t met on here before. In fact I hadn’t met him myself before yesterday. He’s John Davey, the man who invested £500,000 in us at Granby 4 Streets Community Land Trust, thereby more than helping to get us moving and bring the whole partnership of organisations together that’s now transforming the 4 Streets.16.02.29 - 1Here we are in Cairns Street yesterday. Back row, Erika Rushton of the CLT, Tracey Gore of Steve Biko Housing and Frank Hont – Lead Councillor for Housing at the City Council. Then front row, Ann O’Byrne – Deputy Mayor of Liverpool and next to Ann,  John Davey.

My day had begun as usual by walking into town to my morning's work.
My day had begun as usual by walking into town to my morning’s work.

Continue reading “Investing in Granby 4 Streets”

How to do Social Housing: Part One

A true story of Granby 4 Streets Community Land Trust on site.On Site Part One - 1I want to tell you a story about social housing. A very detailed story (in two parts) about exactly how to do it. Or at least, exactly how we’re doing it in Granby 4 Streets.

I want to tell you this story now because recently some people who I thought knew better are saying social housing can’t be done any more. Or that anyway if you do decide to do it you’re doing something called ‘Submarket Housing.’ As in subhuman, subspecies, substandard, subnormal, substitute, subterranean? You can probably only barely imagine how annoyed  this makes me feel, having been working in and around social housing now since 1972.

But this won’t be a rant, more like a demonstration of a community of people, including me, doing social housing here in Liverpool over the last few months. And it’s a detailed demonstration because over this time I’ve been the Granby community’s representative on site as we’ve worked on our latest batch of renovations. Throughout this time I’ve taken hundreds of site photographs, mainly to help us all run the job. But I think they’re interesting and even beautiful in their way. Because they show what doing social housing looks like.

Here goes.

Late last September we finished our first five houses.
Late last September we finished our first five houses.
And our great friends Ann and Lorna came to help us celebrate.
And our great friends Ann and Lorna came to help us celebrate.

That’s Councillor Ann O’Byrne, Deputy Mayor of Liverpool and Lorna Mackie of the Nationwide Foundation, one of our major funders.

That same day we went on site on our next three houses.
That same day we went on site on our next three houses.

Continue reading “How to do Social Housing: Part One”

Springwatch in Stanley Park

Stanley Park - 29Walking in the park on an early spring morning

A few weeks ago I had a walk round Stanley Park with my friend Rachael O’Byrne one winter’s morning. Well today we walked there again, with some other friends, because spring is on its way and we’re going to watch it carefully as it turns up in our lovely Stanley Park.

A cold bright morning turning off Priory Road into the park.
A cold bright morning turning off Priory Road into the park.
Walking across...
Walking across…
To the other side.
To the other side.
We met at the Isla Gladstone.
We met at the Isla Gladstone.
And set off walking. Jan, Rachael, Ros, Pat and me.
And set off walking. Jan, Rachael, Ros, Pat and me.

Continue reading “Springwatch in Stanley Park”