This week I have had a very positive meeting with Malcolm Kennedy and Nick Kavanagh about the next steps to take to resolve issues with regard to the church.
We basically agreed the four principles that were contained within the motion I moved to council:
- The Church will stay in Council ownership
- Anything that will happen within the church and its grounds should respect the ethos of the building and its place as a memorial to the civilian dead of World War II blitzes
- That improvements to the church would be minimal but that work needs to be done in order to keep it in sound condition into the future
- That the council will seek to find appropriate partners to take forward the maintenance and management of the church and grounds.
In the short-term:
- The council will receive a detailed summary from a surveyor of what needs to be done to preserve the building in the short, medium and long terms. It is likely that the costs of this will be far in excess of the £500,000 currently talked about
- The council will seek urgent advice from specialist bodies such as English Heritage who know about how to deal with ‘semi- decayed’ buildings.
- We will draw up a full consultation process with the people of Liverpool. It is likely that this will involve:
An open day inside the church
A web enabled consultation.
At least one consultation meeting
- We would like this consultation to start in mid-June and continue until mid-July so that a report can be drawn up over the summer and decisions being made in September as to a route forward which will involve all those who want to be involved.
- Following the consultation a brief will be drawn up to look at partners for the council in controlling the building activity and controlling activity within the church and grounds.
I would like to emphasise:
i) That I do not see any political divide at present as to ways forward
ii) That no-one is in pole position to take responsibility for the future of the Church. Who helps the council run it will depend on how a response is made to the consultation and the quality of the business plans submitted.
iii) The management of the building and the management of activities within the building might be by different but complementary organisations.
Cllr Kennedy, Nick Kavanagh and I will meet as soon as possible after the election to begin to put forward firm actions to the short-term activities indicated above. I am very clear that we can develop a strong community led approach for the future of this building. I will also try and meet with both the campaign groups as soon as possible after the election to go into greater detail about this necessarily brief note.