Campaigners that successfully fought the disbursement of a 150 year old community and drove its regeneration are being awarded the Freedom of Liverpool.
In 1983, residents of the Eldonians in Vauxhall came together and formed a Housing Co-operative to prevent the city council from demolishing their homes and moving them to other estates across Merseyside.
They came up with an alternative plan to build new affordable homes and community facilities on the site of the derelict Tate & Lyle sugar factory. Today the area boasts over 400 houses, a community sports centre, a nursery and a community village hall – and won the World Habitat Award in 2004.
Tony McGann OBE was one of the key figures in the campaign and has been a key figure in the area ever since.
On Saturday 1 July, he is being awarded the Freedom of Liverpool, as are the Eldonians Community Based Housing Association, which he chairs.
Tony said: “This is a very proud day for the whole of the local community. Everyone who lives in the Eldonians has huge pride and passion in the area and a terrific sense of community spirit and it is truly humbling that we are being recognised.
“Speaking personally, I am proud and delighted to be made a Freeman of Liverpool. All I want to do when I go away is come back to Liverpool. Our people are the best in the world and to be honoured by your home city is amazing.”
The ceremony is being held outside the Eldonian Village Hall as part of an all-day community celebration which will be attended by local residents.
Lord Mayor, Councillor Malcolm Kennedy, said: “Tony and his colleagues at the Eldonians typify some of the greatest characteristics of scousers – a huge love for the city, a determination to improve lives and caring for their neighbours.
“This is an area I know and love intimately and it is a huge honour for me to be able to reward decades of hard work by presenting the city’s highest civic honour to both Tony and the Eldonians.”
Mayor of Liverpool, Joe Anderson, added: “Liverpool is fortunate to have so many fantastic people that spend their lives doing amazing things which make a huge difference to the lives of so many.
“I’ve known Tony McGann for a long time, and the Eldonians is one of our city’s proudest achievements, held up nationally as an example of how a community can develop, build and manage their own housing.
“It is right and proper that we formally recognise and celebrate their achievements by awarding them the city’s highest civic honour.”