‘Leading figures’ have a plan to “steer the city through the coronavirus crisis and prepare for a post-Brexit world.” It’s called ‘Operation Greyhound’, because we need to be “quick out of the blocks on the route to recovery.” Ritchie Hunter asks, “Do the city ‘leaders’ live in the same world as us?”
There we were thinking that after all the deaths, misery and loneliness, at least now there’s the opportunity to make a new world; one where the strength shown by our communities and the commitment of our rank-and-file workers could be harnessed into tackling the Climate Emergency and bringing about social justice.
Instead we get ‘Operation Greyhound’! You couldn’t make it up! Or maybe you could as a shaggy dog story. This new city plan is pretty similar to the old city plan, but with no mention of a Climate Emergency, or anything social (sounds a bit too like Socialism), or justice for that matter, according to the Echo report anyway, which has basically just reprinted a Council statement.
According to the Echo the major recovery plan which goes to the council cabinet on 3 July: “has the backing of 72 leading figures from the city’s commercial, legal, financial and cultural sectors…”
So, no input from communities! No input from Mutual Aid groups, campaigning groups or trades unions! No input from workers on the front line!
It’s interesting what contentious issues have been left out of this statement, as well as the ‘biggy’ of the Climate Emergency. There’s no mention of the “major housing development” on the old Festival Garden Site or the new cruise terminal, although these are still part of the plans and are mentioned in other versions of this press release, such as here. https://www.pbctoday.co.uk/news/planning-construction-news/liverpool-post-covid-recovery/78209/
No mention either of Peel Holdings, involved in destroying ‘Liverpool’s last remaining Countryside‘ for an airport ‘white elephant’, and battling the local community over Rimrose Valley, ‘the biggest park in the city region‘.
Liverpool is a city of transport: from the slave trade and sugar to containerisation, the car factories and tourism: everything is designed around consumerism and economic growth.
Anderson tells us that the city needs economic growth to offset the effect of government cuts to funding for public services.
But these growth plans are now in disarray. For instance: The airport (10% stake), cruise ships (12m), shoppers (parking £6m), plus rates from shops and restaurants.
The three big organisations that drive Liverpool’s economy will also all be hit by the recession brought on by the Covid-19:
- Liverpool University have 7,000 international students. Around 3,200 of these are from China. They have also built large residential areas, setting up their own building company in the process. This accommodation will not now be filled.
- Peel Holdings. As above, but they have so many fingers in other pies that even taking your shoes off won’t help the count!
- LFC. Does anyone have a figure on how many people come to the city for the football?
As we go into the worst recession ever, and with the world on the brink of a climate crisis that will mean starvation and upheaval for millions, we get the same old tired plans for growth from our ‘leading figures’. They’re in denial about the real problems facing us all.
The Council need to reject this plan and put forward an alternative which takes account of the massive task ahead. We can’t rely on the profit driven system to solve any of this. Give control of designing the city’s recovery to communities, trades unionists and the Mutual Aid groups who have stepped up during the Covid-19 crisis. Use the expertise of people on the ground, of workers.
The Council should be encouraging community involvement in drawing up solutions, for planning, for education and for co-ordinated ‘grass-roots’ building of a society based on need. If they, the Council, don’t, then these groups need to take control themselves.
Liverpool’s £1.4 billion plan for coronavirus recovery as city looks to avoid socio-economic crisis, Liam Thorp, Liverpool Echo, 25 June 2020.
The Independent Committee on Climate Change: “COVID-19 can be an historic turning point in tackling the global climate crisis”: https://www.theccc.org.uk/