Liverpool zip wire will dishonour our dead and desecrate our heritage

Not only is St John’s Gardens the site of the Regimental Memorial to the King’s Regiment but to 14 other regiments and battalions and to victims of the Holocaust, genocide and other acts of violence.

On Tuesday the planning committee of the Council will meet to consider an application to create a permanent zipwire between the St John’s Beacon and the Central library. It may or may not allow this on planning grounds although I hope that it won’t. Tuesday, however, will not be the end of the matter. This ill-thought out project can only proceed with the support of the Council who, of course, own the Central Library and hope to make money out of this.

Getting money into the council’s coffers is, of course, a very good idea. Our precarious finances have been further damaged by the coronavirus problems. Getting more tourists into Liverpool when there are going to be major legal and personally imposed restrictions on travel and eating and drinking outside the home is also a very good idea.

But, as the saying goes, there is a time and a place for everything. This is definitely not the place for an attraction of this sort and I doubt that it will ever be the time either.

I have three objections to this proposal.

Firstly, St John’s Gardens is simply a lovely quiet place at the heart of one of our principal heritage areas in which residents, workers and visitors alike can enjoy some peace and quiet and take a break from the hustle and bustle. It is truly a marvellous sight and is kept brilliantly by the Council’s staff. Go any lunchtime during the week and it is always busy and bustling but in the calm and quiet way that you would expect from an ornamental garden.

Secondly, it will seriously damage the appearance of the buildings on William Brown Street which are a major part of our tourism offer. There we have three buildings which are a huge attraction for our City. The Central Library, the World Museum and The Walker Art Gallery are together a huge attraction to people wanting to study, think and be challenged by what they see. That is not the right place to bring in what is essentially a noisy and is figuring funfair style attract.

Lastly, it will do a grave disservice to the way we honour those that have given their lives for our City and our Country in countless wars and encounters. The best known of these is the Regimental Memorial for the Kings Regiment. Anyone looking at the list of the fallen from World War One in the ante-chamber to the Council Chamber at the Town Hall will know just how many men this monument commemorates. In fact, there are smaller memorials there for 15 other regiments or battalions. They include famous names such Liverpool Scottish and Liverpool Irish Regiments and battalions.

It’s not only the war dead who are commemorated there. Its where we commemorate the holocaust where more than 6 million people died during World War 2 but with other holocausts such as those in Rwanda since. We commemorate those how have died of violence and other more recent deaths and events. In short it is a place of righteous solemnity.

The zip wire will end all these three things. In fact, it is not one trip wire but two with people trying to race each other down the slope. It will not be a cheap attraction with figures of up to £40 being suggested for the race. So, this will be rich person’s attraction not something that children can use for a few pounds.

The suggestion that is made is that all the traffic will be so far up that it will be unnoticeable. That suggestion is laughable. The noise of the zip wire itself is intense. Then put two people on it screaming and shouting. You will know it is there and you will know it is being used. This will not be invisible. Wires will snake across William Brown Street and damage the appearance of that imposing street even when it is not being used.

For the council to damage St John’s Gardens; desecrate the appearance of our heritage and dishonour those who made the ultimate sacrifice for our Country would be an act of corporate philistinism. Come on Liverpool Council you can do better than this. Find another more appropriate site for the Zip wire. We have loads of space on the river front where this would be much more appropriate.

Oppose the planning application and then say that the Central Library cannot be used for this purpose. That’s the way to keep and attract more visitors to our City and bring with them the money that we need to keep our services going.

My Liberal Democrat colleague Cllr Carole Storey is proposing the following motion at the next meeting of the Culture & Tourism Committee.

Cllr Carole Storey supported by all Liberal Democrat Councillors who are not members of the planning committee

Zip Wire over St John’s Gardens.

Committee notes:

That St Johns Gardens is a haven of greenness and tranquillity in our City Centre. It is place where there are numerous memorials to those who fought and died for our Country and where we also commemorate those who died of genocide.

That the William Brown Street frontages are the finest collection of Graeco Romano style buildings in the UK as is St Georges Hall and that all these buildings are Grade I listed buildings.

It therefore views the proposal to install a permanent Zip Wire between St John’s Beacon and the Liverpool Central Library as an abomination which will:

  • Dishonour Liverpool’s dead and especially the Liverpool Scottish battalions;
  • Destroy the visual amenity of the entire area
  • Irrevocably harm the tranquillity of the Gardens.

It therefore requests the Mayor of Liverpool to remove Liverpool’s support for this outrageous scheme and withdraw permission to use a council building for this purpose.

Sign the petition

Meanwhile I have launched a petition which you can sign, support and promote. Please help us in this important environmental campaign:

About richardkemp

Leader of the Liberal Democrats in Liverpool. Deputy Chair and Lib Dem Spokesperson on the LGA Community Wellbeing Board. Married to the lovely Cllr Erica Kemp CBE with three children and four grandchildren.
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