Liverpool’s public spaces


Last May a BBC reporter was about to interview me on Exchange Flags when a security guard approached saying ‘You can’t do that there ‘ere, this is private property,’ or words to that effect.

The BBC reporter accepted this directive, while assuaging my indignation at being moved from an area that has been publicly owned for centuries.

A recent report confirms that the trend appears to be insidiously seeping into large areas of the city. Take L1: The entire estate is built on private land, owned by a private property corporation called Grosvenor.

Having sold off the land to the private developer (or rather, technically speaking, having granted them a 250-year leasehold of the site), Liverpool City Council has essentially relinquished all control over the development. The bins, street lighting, round-the-clock security team – all are under corporate control. The city centre has effectively been privatised.

Liverpool’s citizens need to be vigilant less they wake up one morning to find our public spaces owned and controlled by an unholy alliance of Peel Holdings and Grosvenor.


One thought on “Liverpool’s public spaces

  1. Tony,
    In response to your letter, the ECHO obviously thought my words of support…too much?
    Best wishes.

    The Great Stink of London moved underground after the ‘big dig’ construction of a sewerage system, to the obvious benefit of all. The reality of Liverpool’s own Big Dig earlier this century, it would seem, is the distinctly whiffy corporate takeover of once public land.

    Central London is much more than a peculiar case in point, where the term ‘public space’ would seem merely notional. With many of its public parks and piazzas abuzz with private security laying down strict rules, London’s long boom casts its shadow over Londoners.

    Commercial forces have always shaped the world’s commercial capital, yet property developers where once met with the constraining influence of public intervention. Elected representatives gave pause to rampant market forces and/or the privatisation of public space by stealth.

    Using a camera on or near corporate property in central London, even on a ‘public’ street, can rouse interest from (imperium in imperio) private security – as Tony Mulhearn experienced in Liverpool city centre, which has ‘effectvely been privatised’ (ECHO letters Feb 27th).

    If we cant see the join between Grosvenor’s Liverpool One and the surrounding city, as is boasted, perhaps it’s because we’re not supposed to. Or else the creeping privatisation of public space would be set in sharp relief.


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