Regeneration Means Looking After What You’ve Got, As Well As What You Aim For
Plans for a future Mersey Tram are in tatters at the same time as the very real Mersey Ferry landing stage lies under water. More care for current assets and less dispute about proposals still on the drawing board might have served the Liverpool sub-region better. Regeneration is about looking after what we already have, even as we dream about the future.
Transport arrangements in Liverpool have been somewhat topsy turvey of late.
Am I the only person who wonders how we could be letting our main Passenger Ferry landing stage slip into the Mersey at the same time that we are making such a fuss about the ‘loss’ of the proposed Tram?
After five years of plans and plotting it seems the Trams are not to return to Liverpool, at least in the foreseeable future. This is obviously a blow to those who fought to see this mode of transport resurrected in the city, not least the Merseytravel team who had already invested heavily in track and the like for construction.
All was not as it seemed
But then we learnt that not everyone within the city council was enthusiastic about this idea. There are stories of counter-briefings and blame in high places.
And whilst this extraordinary tale was unfolding…. the Liverpool Pier Head landing stage fell into the Mersey River. And the Ferries had to be cancelled for the foreseeable future, all because of an ‘unexpected’ tide.
So not only will people from the starkly less advantaged east of Liverpool not get the rapid transport system which many insisted they had needed in order to develop work opportunities for the future, but also people who currently travel into Liverpool from Wirral to work (or vice versa) suddenly found their transport had, quite literally, been sunk.
Lessons worth learning?
There may be lessons here for everyone; and doubtless different people will conclude differently what these lessons are. But for me it’s this: Don’t let grand plans for the future ruin what’s OK about the present.
Too much of the regeneration agenda, in Liverpool and quite possibly elsewhere, is taken up with filling the front pages of the local papers with imaginative and very likely undeliverable ideas; but far too little of this agenda is concerned with nurturing what we have already, whether this be people or physical resources. The second, ‘nurturing’ option may be less dramatic than the ‘visionary’ first, but it’s equally important.
Visions for the future have produced a blinkered view of the present. Whilst Liverpool City Council, Merseytravel and others made plans and perhaps counterplans about the hugely expensive Tram, not much thought was, it seems, being giving to our already famous Ferries. And now we have neither. Perhaps, with a bit less posturing and a bit more thought, we could have had both.