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Liverpool birthplace of Beatle Ringo Starr under new threat

by Jonathan McGregor. Published Wed 23 Mar 2011 08:30, last updated: 23/03/11
Madryn Street
Madryn Street

A Liverpool council chief launched a scathing attack on Tory Housing Minister Grant Shapps as a new row erupted over the future of the birthplace of ex-Beatle Ringo Starr.

Joe Anderson, Labour leader of Liverpool City Council, defended a town hall decision to plough-on with plans to demolish hundreds of Victorian terraced houses.

He argues that there is no future for the properties since they cannot be renovated at an economic price and says it is time to move forward for the sake of local residents.

The council has issued new notices for demolition of most of the "Welsh Streets" including 9 Madryn Street where "Richard Starkey" was born in 1940.

But the move has angered conservationists who launched a Save Madryn Street (SMS) Campaign last August when it emerged bulldozers were ready to level 440 homes in the Dingle area.

Protests from around the world prompted delays by city planners and campaigners scented victory in December when Housing Minister Grant Shapps wrote to the council officially calling for new a consultation exercise with a view to saving the homes.

Mr Shapps' move came after he received a call from Save Britain's Heritage to impose a stop on demolition by granting a Public Request to Order Disposal (PROD).

But now it has emerged that the Labour-controlled authority plans to press ahead with demolition, depite a request from Mr Shapps for a new consultation exercise.

The new demolition plans have been condemned by both the SMS Campaign and the Save the Welsh Streets Campaign.

But when he was quizzed about the proposals Mr Anderson remained defiant.

He said "If Grant Shapps knew what he was talking about then I would listen to him, but Grant Shapps doesn't know what he's talking about.

"He hasn't visited the Welsh Streets, he hasn't seen the Welsh Streets, and if he comes and speaks to me I will take him up to the Welsh Streets and let him have a look.

"We're not demolishing things just because we need to demolish them - we are doing it because it's the right thing to do."

Mr Anderson also dismissed proposals from the housing company Regeneration Express who held talks with council officials over plans for redevelopment of the Welsh Streets.

Mr Anderson said: "To date no-one has come forward with any concrete plans to save them, and to be quite frank I don't think anybody will, because quite simply they cost too much to bring back into use.

"A lot of properties within that area will take about #70,000 to #80,000 to bring back, and you could not sell them for that price, so it does not make economic sense.

"It's just absolute madness to try and save them.

"I asked them to come up with alternatives and they have not, and that's their fault and not mine."

Asked whether he expected Grant Shapps accept the Public Request to Order Disposal (PROD), Mr Anderson was equally disparaging.

He said: "The PROD is something Grant Shapps has to decide upon. What I can tell you is what the council has decided, and the council has decided to listen to the community and move on.

"The community in that area have been waiting for 11 years to have these houses demolished, and I believe they have waited long enough.

"I think we have been open and transparent about the process. I listened to both sides, and the majority of people in that area want us to do something about it rather than waiting with a blighted, derelict site - which is something that Grant Shapps, Eric Pickles or David Cameron don't live with.

"They go back to their mansions every day, and I want to get the area right for the people who live there. Grant Shapps needs to look after his own area, and I'll look after mine."

SMS Chairman Philip Coppell said: "Grant Shapps must now step in as a matter of urgency to save the Welsh Streets.

"Number 9 is a priceless tourist resource that the city would be mad to destroy.

"Experts have said that most of rest of the houses could be renewed to make excellent low-cost starter homes.

"There are detailed proposals for renovation to the highest standard.

"But the city council - for his own selfish political reasons - is not prepared to listen to common sense or the voice of reason.

"Joe Anderson has refused to meet us and is blinkered to the truth.

"We have tried to be patient and cordial but, sad to say, his attitude has been dismissive and derisory.

"At the unveiling of the John Lennon Peace Memorial in October he expressed his devotion to The Beatles, their music and their legacy to Liverpool and the world.

"Now he is intent on destroying a vital part of the Beatles' heritage in Liverpool and that is really hypocrital and barbaric.

"We are calling on Beatles fans everywhere and residents in Liverpool to show their opposition to this new crazy new plan to demolish the Welsh Streets.

"It must be stopped, otherwise we will all live to regret it - including Mr Anderson."

A spokesman for Liverpool City Council confirmed that a new application for detailed planning consent to demolish most of the Welsh Streets homes had been submitted.

The spokesman said: "The original application has been withdrawn and replaced by this new one.

"The new one has a lot more detail about the methods of demolition and the after-treatment of the sites."

The spokesman said that Grant Shapps had been noted but there were no plans for further community consultation about the future of the properties.

The spokesman added: "We have written back to Mr Shapps outlining our position.

"We consulted with the community and their was clear support for the proposals to demolish the properties listed.

"There is an opportunity for objections to be raised in the process of the new planning application that is going on."


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"save those houses especially Ringos house" Barbara, NJ around 4 years, 3 months ago

"We who lived in these houses all our lives voted in 2005 for demolition & new build.Ringo could't care less.The tour operators only need it " M.Huxham MBE, Liverpool 8 around 4 years, 4 months ago

"I grew up in Liverpool, and I'm still extremely proud of it, but to keep destroying our heritage is disgusting. Good job across the pond." Georgina Calvin, Lawton, OK, USA around 4 years, 4 months ago

"Has anyone thought about asking Ringo what he would like or if he would contribute to the restoration? Is the home he grew up in restored?" Dee Dibal, USA around 4 years, 4 months ago

"Foolish to destroy Ringo's childhood home! It's a historic source of revenue...and legacy of Liverpool!! From Youngtown Rock & Roll Museum" Trevor, Ontario, Canada around 4 years, 4 months ago

"Such a pity that they would even allow such a thing to happen. " liz, United States around 4 years, 4 months ago

"The decision was made by council & developer well before any consultation, and then the outcome was rigged to match the despicable plans." Martin, Toxteth around 4 years, 4 months ago

"You sometimes who how these people got in positions of power. Is Anderson the right man to be Leader of the City Council?" Bill, Anfield around 4 years, 4 months ago

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