Friday, 23 April 2010

The Merseyside Civic Society-Heritage Collaborators.

The LPT was formed by Professor Quentin Hughes and myself after long deep conversations into the impending gloom that was to befall the WHS. Quentin who wrote Seaport and LIVERPOOL City of Architecture was more than qualified to meet with the UNESCO officials on their visit to decide whether to award World Heritage Site Status to Liverpool in 2004. He had asked me, as their Chairman to join the Merseyside Civic Society but I had refused. I was asked to give a talk to the MCS council in February 06 after kicking up a fuss about the then proposed museum in the local and national press. Even the Times were writing about it. And more was to come.  The lottery funding would be refused for the interior fit –out, (which they have now spent) because as all there was to look at for the fit out was some sketches on the back of a ciggy packet.  I did my talk in the offices of Edmund Kirkby here in India Buildings who gave the offices for free. Edmund Kirkby are surveyors with lots of clients and conflicts of interests in the city but I presume it was with good intentions that they laid on the tea and coffee. It was a good turn out I was told, 15 or 20 of them. I thought to myself there was a definite pull in the room as I tried to persuade them that the museum disaster was funded by the then proposed Three Grotesques at Mann Island.  Quentin had not long passed away and the current Chairman was and still is Dr Peter Brown was even arguing against me.  He would later show his true colours. One of the members was an archaeologist working for the museums  who would go on later to do the dig on Manchester Docks.
There was a trustee of NML present if I am not mistaken was the Earl of Derby, and the vice chair of MCS was also the chairman of the Friends of Liverpool Museums. Andrew Pearce  was a worry constantly going on about the museum arranging wine and cheese presentations on it, promoting it. He was commended by David “Fuzzy Felt” Fleming in a yearly review. He and the friends were later binned by him as being an extremists. With a few stalwarts in the room such as Pat Moran who is always honest if not a little loud and Tony Moscardini, I did the best to explain what World Heritage meant as quite a few of them, who had bothered to turn up seemed to be lacking in what it meant to have such an accolade. I gave all my best in a frantic exchange at times, thought I had pulled some in. Dr Knobolis, who teaches at Liverpool Uni. (well some Greek sounding name) Who I later found is a property owner of two apartments in the “Plassy Flats” the saddest block of flats at Kings Dock, asked if I would like to become a council member. I was cheered and seconded in, and there began part of the most frustrating relationship I have ever had.
I was keen; I even gave up my busy lunchtime for meetings. At great financial cost. I would watch as the most foolish things were discussed while world heritage disaster had started. Occasionally people such as Hilary Burridge  who I would find out has quite close connections to her low-ness the Dame of Dereliction Louise Ellman.  Burridge would turn the meeting into a Tesco bash….a nimby. Tony Moscardini always seemed to get it spot on.  Patrick Moran used to get annoyed, he stormed out once in anger, only to have to come back 10 minutes later because he had forgotten his shopping. A Grosvenor mole Trevor Skempton turned up at the planning meeting for One Park Worst on behalf of Grosvenor. Now call me old fashioned but is this the reason he was there. He would want to talk and he would spend a lot of time trying to discuss how great Grosvenor were. Even when Private Eyes, Piloti give it a bashing, he was there to defend it even writing in to BD. Writing in about the LPT’s warnings proclaiming the need to blend the old with the new…Yeah, as if we don’t know this.   The MCS even put it on the website. A delegation including Peter Brown, Charles Hubbard of Edmund Kirby were allowed 10 minutes with the Unesco mission whitewash in October 06 as I had persuaded some to get on board, well those that turned up, some meetings had as little as three people, its hardly a gathering. One MCS council member said to me he couldn’t argue with the planners because he has to work with them.
Its called Lying Down to be Counted.
 Peter Brown who teaches at a Liverpool University stitched us up with a consultaion evening there presented by Neptune Developments. One of Neptune’s whose directors trained at the Liverpool Uni and so did the architect of disaster Matt Brookes. Neptune donated the model to the University. Oh and Brian “Mad Hatter” Hatton an educated idiot who couldn’t put a shelf up who also teaches there lined us up on the developers behalf. He would later edit an Architectural Review Jan 08 entitled Liverpool Work in progress and he never upset a developer or architect once. Remember how it was all going to be Iconic. Pulling them all in to help the decimation of WHS, in fact promoting it. It’s funny reading that now. Anyhow it wasn’t long I was thinking this Brigade are like the Vichy Government, Collaborators with the establishment who are in fact the enemy, on the wrong track, they represent vested interests.
I resigned and renamed them the Merseyside Inert Society they are worse than the developers in my opinion. Only, in my opinion, they are not that inert when they are helping their friends. They all turned up for the wine and cheese evenings that were frequently arranged as smoothers. They actively tried to get one laid on from Peel Holdings who refused. Peter Brown became entertainments organiser...yes. Gave an evening for Henry Owen John to give a talk who was lambasted by some of the more brave.  Peter Brown was mates with John Hinchliffe.  I said to him stop writing letters Dear John these people are getting away with it and you are letting them. Or Dear Nigel to Nigel Lee the Chief Planning disaster.
Now I am not saying anything illegal has taken place, other than. They have been a shadow of themselves, they were indeed Civic under Quentin’s chairmanship.
They had a civic duty.
There is an old saying for evil to succeed it takes good men to do nothing the Merseyside Civic Society, what a waste of a good name.
 I would prefer to be in the resistance than side with the collaborators, I hope they can all sleep at night.

1 comment:


    This is a letter in todays Daily Post Jonathan is a council member of the MCS

    Letters to the editor April 28
    Apr 28 2010 Liverpool Daily Post

    Council’s housing mea culpa too late

    BACK in the seventies, politicians sussed there are few votes in mass housing clearance because of the social disruption it imposes, at huge expense, with universally disappointing results.©

    Unfortunately, in the last decade, Liverpool's ruling Lib-Dems and Labour opposition both chose to skip these lessons and appear to operate as a “demolition coalition”, offering little scrutiny to John Prescott's damaging “housing market renewal” proposals.

    Confronted with the “New Heartlands Pathfinder”, the city accepted the regeneration cash, signed off the land-deals, supported eviction of tenants and home-owners, and looked away as established communities crumbled.©

    Now, for every gleaming new building in Liverpool's resurgent city centre, there is street-upon-street of fine Victorian terraces standing empty in the twilight streets beyond.©

    Famous districts like Anfield, Toxteth and Edge Hill have been laid waste.

    The Council leadership's 11th-hour “mea culpa” may mean sanity finally breaks out just as the cash runs dry.

    Residents stuck in the half- emptied Welsh Streets and elsewhere may ask Joe Anderson if Labour will do things any differently. They will be desperate to know if Cllr Bradley's admission means the CPO threat is finally lifted or not.©

    If so, there is a last chance of refurbishment and “homesteading” (letting local people and builders take on empty properties themselves).

    The one encouraging fact is that most of the streets scheduled for clearance are still standing. It is to our shame that many of their former residents may well not be.

    Jonathan Brown, L6