Earlier today we learned that Eric Pickles has decided to overrule the independent Planning Inspectorate to reject one of our key regeneration projects here in Liverpool.

The Welsh Streets project, which includes Ringo Starr’s old home, has been left in limbo for over twelve years. This cruel and perverse decision by Mr. Pickles perverse decision to ignore independent professional advice and the needs and wishes of local residents is clearly a political one.

The cramped, damp conditions the people live in are in desperate need of action and all we want to do is alleviate this by building the new family homes they want.

Heritage campaigners (from outside the city) want to preserve these terraced houses. Local residents who actually live in them, don’t. As one put it, the ‘heritage’ of many of these homes is the misery of bronchitis.

Many are either furious or heart-broken to learn that Pickles had snatched away this opportunity to make their lives better. Needless to say, Eric Pickles has never been near the place. He preaches localism and yet listens to people from outside of our City and ignores the locals who live here.

He reckons that we have too many void properties in the city, but actually he’s wrong: we have one of the best records in the country.

We’ve brought 1,400 void properties back into use, with plans for another 2,000 over the next two years – again, more than any other city.

Come on Eric, your priority was to get a headline about ‘saving’ Ringo’s old home at the expense of an entire local community, even though you know our project already does that.

My lawyers are studying the judgment to see how we can appeal. In the meantime, I’m challenging the Secretary of State to get himself on a train and explain his dishonourable decision to local residents.

The train tickets we sent Eric are still valid.

Without a doubt, Eric Pickles is the worst government minister I have ever dealt with. May’s election can’t come soon enough.

“I get by with a little help from my friends” sang Ringo. With ‘friends’ like Eric Pickles sticking their nose into our affairs, Liverpool doesn’t need enemies.

Joe


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