We need full and public scrutiny of any zip wire decision

If the Zipwire project goes ahead we need to consider the pros and cons of the proposal. One of the cons will definitely be a big drop in revenue for St Georges Hall a major part of our listed building marketing opportunities

I’ve written today to the Chief Executive of Liverpool Council asking for a full scrutiny of the proposal to have a Zipwire at Central Library before the Council enters into a contract with the Zipwire Company. This follows a major change in the Company’s proposals announced on 17th August.

I’m asking for an impartial evaluation of three factors:

  1. We need to know the net effect of the tourists that it would bring in;
  2. We need to know the net effect on the Council’s finances; and
  3. We need to know that every potential location has been looked at inside the City before we agree to one which would seriously damage the architectural heritage of the City.

It is obvious to me that this proposal has been pursued on the back of unsubstantiated research from the Company that hopes to gain from it. It is also clear that the only people that back this idea are the businesses that will gain from it whilst a recent Echo survey shows that there is a huge majority that does not want it to happen.

I hope that the Company will bring a Zipwire to Liverpool but not to this location which would I believe would have a bad effect on our tourist offer and the total of the Council’s finances. I don’t know whether this is the case and no-one else does either. That’s why the propositions need to be fully and impartially scrutinised by our officers before a full decision is made”.

The full letter to the Chief Executive is appended

Tony Reeves,

Chief Executive,

Liverpool City Council

By E-mail

18th August 2020

Dear Chief Executive,

Re: Liverpool Zipwire

I was about to write to you when I heard about the major volte face from the Zipwire Company with their decision not to use 2,000 sq. ft of the Central Library as a changing facility but to kit people up in the base of the St John’s Beacon. I welcome this as it avoids a monstrous carving up of the ground floor of that building. However, although this is an improvement it will still mean that the library where people are trying to learn and study will still be subject to a severe intrusion from people who will be hyped up and without a doubt noisy!

It seems to me that we need to take this proposal a lot more seriously than we have before and that the Council needs to have a real look at the pros and cons of this in three regards. Tourist attraction; finances of the Council and location.

As a tourist attraction we have only the opinion of the Zipwire company that this will attract 300,000 new visitors to Liverpool. The company have no urban zipwires so have no past experience to go on. They have already added to this figure this year by 100,000! So, what independent evaluation has been taken as to whether this will attract 300,000 people or indeed any people to the city.

It would appear to me that major users of this facility would be hen and stag parties. I can well see that this might make a centre piece of such visitations to the City. But as this is, in normal times, a big industry for the City why does anyone think that this will be added to? Many of these visitors already do high nerve activities such as paint ball games. How do we know that all the zipwire will do is to move people from one business to another?

Crucially, we also need to consider the tourists that will not come to the City because of this. The William Brown Street area is already a major tourist attraction with its Museum, Library and Art Gallery. These are major attractions in their own right as is, of course, St Georges Hall. Will the type of high spending visitors who come to attractions such as these really want to come to study and think with people screaming over their heads?

Secondly, what will the effects of this be on the finances of the Council? Clearly, as the Company will be using less space in the library, they will want to pay us less money. Such an arrangement will be commercially confidential so I won’t know what the rental income will be although I think that this should be public knowledge.

However, we also need to factor in the losses that will accrue on St Georges Hall. This is a highly popular venue for weddings. This noisy zipwire will pass very close to where people are getting married. They then go into St John’s Gardens for photographs as well as using St Georges Hall as a backdrop for their big day. It doesn’t take much to imagine that they will want to go elsewhere for this big part of their lives. Of course, its not only weddings that take place there but citizenship ceremonies, company events, corporate events and musical activities. Again, it is plain common sense that this type of busines will be hit by a Zip Wire overhead. It would be totally out of keeping for us to continue to allow such activities to take place and where people come to register the deaths of their loved ones and the birth of their new arrivals.

Lastly, I have seen no evidence that this is the only place where a permanent Zipwire could be placed in our city. Engage has provided a number of alternatives but I see no sign that either the Company or the Council have considered these.

So, to summarise. I believe that a zipwire could be a useful addition to the tourist offer of the City but:

  1. We need to know the net effect of the tourists that it would bring in;
  2. We need to know the net effect on the Council’s finances; and
  3. We need to know that every potential location has been looked at inside the City before we agree to one which would seriously damage the architectural heritage of the City.

As you know, the Liberal Democrat Group has requisitioned a special meeting of the Council which, we understand, will take place on 30th September, more than 3 months after we requisitioned it. It would be really helpful to everyone if the officers, led by you, could have examined these issues before that meeting.

I would be delighted to discuss this with you at our next 1:1.

Keep safe,

Yours sincerely,

Cllr Richard Kemp CBE

Leader, Liverpool Liberal Democrats

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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