Mayoral leads reflect on 2018 (part three)

In the third of a series of blogs, our Mayoral leads reflect on 2018 and look ahead to 2019

Cllr Alice Bennett – Mayoral lead for heritage and design

2018 has been a wonderful year for me in this role. In April, I was invited to Naples as part of the URBACT project that explores saving the ‘sleeping giants’ ~ the significant heritage buildings at risk ~ in 12 European cities. Naples is the lead city and it was a pleasure to work with the teams from each city to share best practice. Our ‘sleeping giant’ is the Wellington Rooms (AKA the Irish Centre) on Mount Pleasant. When Liverpool hosted the event in 2016, the URBACT teams were able to take a (very careful) tour inside the building and despite its decay, its once-great architectural beauty was still very much evident. A lot of preliminary work has been undertaken, paid for by the council, to make the building weather- and vandal-proof. As part of a conference open to Nepalese design students and professionals, I was invited to share (via a number of interpreters) the work that had been undertaken on the Wellington Rooms and the approach by Liverpool City Council towards heritage. Principal planning officer, Peter Hoey, eloquently detailed the restoration to date as part of a series of workshops.

In June, I was helping to defend Liverpool’s World Heritage Status (WHS), at the 42nd World Heritage Committee Session in Bahrain. I attended with two council officers, Lesley Woodbridge and Peter Jones who both work tirelessly towards maintaining and enhancing Liverpool’s WHS. We met with Keith Nichol from the Department of Culture, Media and Sport and with Isabelle Anatole-Gabriel, chief of unit for Europe and North America, at the World Heritage Centre in Paris. The meetings were supportive of the council’s revised Desired State of Conservation Report, outlining Liverpool’s commitment to maintaining its WHS and to doing everything possible to remove us from the ‘danger list’. UNESCO is fully supportive of Liverpool’s WHS and the meetings confirmed the positivity towards our beautiful city.

Young heritage champions with Cllr Alice Bennett (back centre) and Lord Mayor, Cllr Christine Banks (front centre)

In August, I launched the Young Heritage Champions programme that involved 6 school-aged young people learning all about the city’s heritage, its WHS and the potential heritage of the future. We were lucky enough to be based in St George’s Hall and to be able to explore its endless wondrous spaces. Lord Mayor Christine Banks welcomed them to the Town Hall and we had a site visit to the Bombed Out Church (St Luke’s) whilst being filmed by Granada Reports. The interest from Granada Reports centred around activities being undertaken by young people over the summer holidays that encourage them to go outdoors and be active. Our Young Heritage Champions confessed to hardly looking at their phones whilst they were looking up, down and all around to find the city’s hidden and not-so-hidden history. Deputy Lord Mayor Peter Brennan led the graduation ceremony during which each YHC presented a summary of their (rather fantastic) ideas for engaging young people with heritage.

October was a particularly busy month. I was a speaker at one of the Engage Liverpool seminars that hosted a guest speaker from Bordeaux, a WHS city that faced, in the past, similar development and congestion problems that Liverpool now does. It was an inspiring seminar that provided lots to think about in terms of what Liverpool could do to improve its WHS site and its inner city landscape.

The Young Heritage Champions (YHCs) and I visited the Athenaeum, a library founded in 1797 in which ‘gentlemen could receive and share information’. The YHCs were able to rummage (carefully of course) through the rare books kept in safe storage, including an exceptionally rare copy of the Magna Carta.

I visited the Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine to look at some art displays and to learn more about its educational history. I ended up having a tour of the world’s most deadliest snakes, which I absolutely loved and feared in equal measure. The YHCs don’t know it yet, but they are heading there early next year. If I can stand in a room full of deadly snakes, so can they.

On a visit to Granby Adult Learning Centre, I was told about a fireplace in the basement that was a WW1 memorial. After inspecting it and seeing that it was not in the best state or in the best place (a damp cellar), I decided to contact Cllr Roy Gladden, chair of Liverpool Veterans. Roy and the veterans organized for it to be removed and restored. It was made by an ex-pupil to commemorate 47 men who had fallen during WW1, all from Tiber Street Council School. Previously registered as a lost memorial by Historic England, it now resides in the Town Hall’s Memorial Room, where relatives can pay tribute to their loved ones.

As the festive season is traditionally about gratitude, I would like to end on this note: I certainly could not have achieved what I did this year without the council officers and my fellow councillors who are all so skilled, so knowledgeable and so enthusiastic. I can’t thank them enough for all they have taught me and helped me to achieve.

Ruth Bennett – Mayoral Lead Community Safety

Cllr Ruth Bennett

On 26th November 2018 the Domestic Abuse Strategy and Action Plan was launched. The culmination of many months of hard work, the new Strategy developed by Liverpool City Council seeks to widen the definition of Domestic Abuse and Violence. The Strategy encompasses action aimed at reducing abuse and coercive control aswell as violence and recognises that abuse and violence takes place in different relationship settings, such as child to adult abuse, in same-sex relationships, in the older population, this list not being exhaustive. The Strategy also places the interests of the child at the heart of the Council’s Strategy and planning. In widening the scope of the Strategy, there is to be no diminishing of the Council’s focus on eliminating abuse and violence against women.

The Strategy was launched the day after the UN day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women and Girls on 25th November 2018 and as part of the 16 days of activism running from 25th November 2018 – 10th December 2018, the Council took part in the #HearMeToo Orange the World campaign. As part of this campaign, the main buildings of the Council were lit up orange, Radio City was also lit up and ran on repeat over the weekend, notices of why the buildings were lighted as such. These notices, also posters in the buildings and on the Council’s social media accounts directed people to the Council’s website where could be found information about Council and partner services.

Two years ago studies were made into the feasibility of setting up an Alcohol Recovery Centre in Liverpool City Centre, with the aim to provide a service whereby those intoxicated could seek help and treatment away from the Emergency Departments of local hospitals, thereby freeing up the time of NHS staff and local Police. In other parts of the country a lot of these facilities had only just been set up and studies were taking place to measure the success of the same. One of my tasks as Mayoral Lead is to look again at the feasibility of setting up such a Centre.

Professor Simon Moore of Cardiff University is shortly due to present his study on the successes of such Centres in place across the country and Liverpool City Council recently hosted Professor Moore during which he provided us with some information in this area. Partners from the Police, Council, CCG, Royal Liverpool Hospital, Public Health and the Ambulance Service listened to and questioned Professor Moore, this was an invaluable source of information and whilst there are differing viewpoints on whether such a Centre would be beneficial for Liverpool, the Partners are committed to visiting the centre in Cardiff to speak to the staff operating such a Centre and learn how this may be of benefit to Liverpool.