(Illustration above by Ritchie Hunter)
Liverpool City Council’s ‘virtual’ planning committee have agreed a 450 foot zip wire to stretch from St John’s Beacon to the roof of Central Library. The plan now has to go to the full Council to be ‘rubber stamped’. Ritchie Hunter draws the analogy between this folly and a City Council suspended between the white elephant of the tower, representing the past, and of public services becoming private businesses – the future.
Visualise this: the tower, high above the city, is a symbol of the establishment and their mistakes. Although it’s integral to the city’s skyline, it has also been a big waste of money. Liverpool’s high flyers, the so called ‘income generators’ – the Peels, the LFCs, the Liverpool Unversities, are leaning out from the top of this building and laughing down at the figure on the wire. Anderson represents the political power, the intermediary; enabling private wealth to access community assets.
Hanging on to Joe’s ankles are some of his councillors. (To be fair, he is being opposed in this ‘zip’ awful plan by some councillors – a plus – when not one of them opposed any of his cuts or the privatisation of public services before.)
Joe and his councillors are all hurtling towards the central Library – a Private Finance Initiative (PFI) that has tied the city in to repayments of £2m a year for 25 years. (This is only one of LCC’s legally binding PFI agreements. Another is the £300m, 30 year contract signed with Jarvis in 2001, which includes £4.3m a year for Parklands High School in Speke, lying empty since 2014.)
If it goes ahead the zip wire plan will take away much-needed public space from Central Library. Extensive alterations will have to be made to the rooftop garden terrace and the ground floor, which will restrict public access to these spaces. Places used for books, music, learning and IT will all be pared down to accommodate another private company.
So, what’s planned for this library represents the future; public services, already compromised by private business, being whittled away until everything is commercialised.
“Liverpudlians entering the new library for the first time discovered a cathedral of learning in which visitors are carried upwards via a crisscross of stairs and escalators to the new glass dome, from where they can step out on to a new rooftop terrace that has opened up a new city view to St George’s Hall and beyond.”
Central Library images and quote from: https://gerryco23.wordpress.com/tag/lightnight/