Scottie Press: A Liverpool Institution

Celebrating 47 years and counting of independent local news and opinions

Yesterday morning I spent  a couple of hugely enjoyable hours in the office of, arguably, Liverpool’s most opinionated newspaper, talking about?

‘The power of local news in communities and the role Scottie Press has in the regeneration of north Liverpool’

Well so the paper’s newish editor later summed up our rambling conversation, which roamed all over the place, from my own time of first working in the area during the paper’s early days, to his own ideas about north Liverpool’s future and the potential importance of Scottie Press in helping to create it.

We had a great time and I came away with a role for me in the paper’s future, which I’ll tell you about in a bit.

But first back to the start of it all in 1971. Continue reading “Scottie Press: A Liverpool Institution”

Home as a Human Right: Ten Thoughts

On believing in everyone having a secure home as a human right. 

This is roughly the text of my talk to the Liverpool Walton Constituency Labour Party on the evening of 22nd May 2018.

From a lifetime working in and around housing and communities and at the request of the Walton Constituency Labour Party here in Liverpool, these are my ‘Top 10’ thoughts, a mixture of policies and practicalities, on how we might go about fixing the wide ranging housing crisis we are now in.

1 Establish having a secure home as a basic human right
2 Reinvent Council Housing
3 Be secure and safe from the cradle to the grave Continue reading “Home as a Human Right: Ten Thoughts”

Streets Apart: A History of Social Housing

Early in May this year writer and journalist Lynsey Hanley, together with a producer from BBC Radio 4 came and interviewed me for a series of programmes they were planning about the history of social housing. I was glad to do this as Liverpool had a significant role in the early development of council housing.

Then a few weeks after our recording the Grenfell Tower Fire happened and in its still unfolding aftermath it seems more necessary than ever to look back at the history and development of social housing. Continue reading “Streets Apart: A History of Social Housing”

One Special Day

All days are special, especially this one. So I decide I’ll walk around and photograph it, as I tend to do.

Walking to work in fact on a gorgeous blue day.
Walking to work in fact on a gorgeous blue day.

Friday 20th January, 2017. Yes, the day the world gets a chauvinist thug as President of the USA.

Thinking about this as I walk into The Mystery.
Thinking about this as I walk into The Mystery.

And deciding the day is too special and beautiful to spoil it with any more thoughts of him.

Me and an urban goal.
Me and an urban goal.

Continue reading “One Special Day”

Walking with Municipal Dreams

From LFC to Eldon Grove, talking history, housing and the beauty of hills.

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I’m on my way to meet John Boughton, renowned blogger as ‘Municipal Dreams’ and his partner Michele Grant, to go walking.

As usual in Anfield I get off the 27 bus at the top end of Oakfield Road.
As usual in Anfield I get off the 27 bus at the top end of Oakfield Road.
To see just how big the new stand is looking.
To see just how big the new stand is looking.
I meet John and Michele at the Shankly Statue as arranged.
I meet John and Michele at the Shankly Statue as arranged.

They live in London and have done for many years, but Michele grew up here in Liverpool. Continue reading “Walking with Municipal Dreams”

In Blackpool: On The Left Coast

Blackpool - 38It doesn’t look like that early on this March afternoon as I arrive in Blackpool.

It's raining from a grey sky on a grey sea.
It’s raining from a grey sky on a grey sea.
In a decidedly out of season place.
In a decidedly out of season place.

But it’s still so very Blackpool though. Even on a damp Tuesday afternoon. Full of the memories of coming here all my life. Early days on the X61 Ribble Bus, before the 1965 blue Cortina arrived to bring us all here in style. Later still all of us from the Corpy Housing Department coming to ‘see the lights’ on a fleet of Corpy buses. Messing about in the Fun House then getting ourselves tucked into a very large pub and taking no notice of the illuminations at all. Golden days! Continue reading “In Blackpool: On The Left Coast”

Walking to Eldon Grove and Rotunda

Updated  November 2016

The plans mentioned below for the restoration of Eldon Grove do now seem as if they will receive planning permission, despite the objections of many local people. The blocks of new flats around Eldon Grove that they are objecting to will still be built, though those to the front have now been reduced to three storeys from four. So I’m very glad that what I consider to be the most beautiful municipal housing ever built is to be saved. But I’m bewildered that we’re not treating it with more respect.

A slate grey cold February Friday? Maybe, but dry and perfectly fine for a short but more than interesting walk from town to Rotunda. Passing, on the way, a worrying update to my continuing tale of our precious Eldon Grove. A contrasting study, in fact with Rotunda, in the long term effects of how we love and care for two of the places and buildings that should most matter to us?

I set off from a morning meeting in Central Library.
I set off from a morning meeting in Central Library.
Walking towards North Liverpool.
Walking towards North Liverpool.
I could of course go straight along the main road, but where's the interest in that?
I could of course go straight along the main road, but where’s the interest in that?

Continue reading “Walking to Eldon Grove and Rotunda”

Wandering About: Down to the River

Aimlessly 3 - 52
A day of reflections.

Having walked a fair bit of North Liverpool then South Liverpool in the last two days it didn’t take a genius or even me to work out today’s ‘Walking About’ route, the middle. Roughly from here in Wavertree, through L7 and L1 to the River. Let’s go.

Out across the Mystery.
Out across the Mystery.

Reflecting as I start out on a third walk in three days that there are some times when I need a lot of time on my own. Not in a melancholy way, but I don’t want to be inside and I have an elemental need to walk, alone.

The inbound London train crosses a 79D bus on Picton Road.
The inbound London train crosses a 79D bus on Picton Road.

Continue reading “Wandering About: Down to the River”

It’s Liverpool, in 1964: City of Change and Challenge

Or ‘Seaport: A Life in a Book’challengeSeaport - 1This book came out originally in 1964 when I was ten years old. And though I had my adult-side library ticket by then it must have been a reference only book, as I have no memory of bringing it home. Instead I would sit in the North Liverpool library of my childhood and pore over it for hours. Fascinated by such a gorgeous book about the place that, even then, I considered myself lucky to have been born in. Much of which I hadn’t yet seen. My Liverpool was a Ribble bus to County Road and Stanley Park, near where I’d first lived, or all the way into town, with occasional rides on the ferry, back and forth, back and forth.

My parents, having lived through the war years in Vauxhall and Bootle next to the decimated docks, had been glad to move their little family out to the new northern suburbs where everything was new and life could only get better. And Maghull back then was a fascinating place to grow up in. Between our house and the library there was still a farm where you could watch the great big sow suckling her piglets. And the surrounding streets as they got built filled up with footballers from Everton and Liverpool who we would constantly pester for autographs. But also, of course, by 1964 the Beatles were among us and together with this book only added to my fasciation with the place I was actually from, my Liverpool.

So I would sit there in Maghull branch library, gazing at places I hadn’t yet seen and dreaming of finding them. Then over the decades that came I would find the book occasionally in the Liverpool libraries I by then lived near, and notice that in a way, the book and those early dreams were shaping my life.

Eventually a copy of the 1993 reprint of the book entered my life. The father of my partner Sarah, Frank Horton, was dying of lung cancer. And having seen how often I would look through ‘Seaport’ while visiting him, tenderly passed the book over to me, saying “I think it’ll be more use to you than me now.”

It’s one of my greatest treasures and I’ve long thought of writing about it on here. So here goes. No clever editing, we’ll just leaf through the book, and skipping back and forth across the decades since Liverpool in 1964, I’ll tell you the story of my life. Continue reading “It’s Liverpool, in 1964: City of Change and Challenge”