In the latest Baltic Triangle Podcast, the head of an organisation representing 40,000 residents in Liverpool city centre said its views on World Heritage Status were ignored. Tony McDonough reports
A group representing 40,000 residents in Liverpool city centre says its voice was not listened to in the years and months leading up to the loss of the city’s World Heritage Status (WHS).
Speaking on the latest Baltic Triangle Podcast, Gerry Proctor chair of social enterprise Engage Liverpool, says there was a strong well of support among people living in the city centre for keeping but their views were not listened to.
After a stand-off with UNESCO over the redevelopment of the waterfront lasting almost a decade, Liverpool was deleted from the list of World Heritage Sites following a top-level summit in July.
Earlier this week, Liverpool City Council chief executive Tony Reeves was scathing about UNESCO and that the loss of the status was “UNESCO’s loss and not Liverpool’s”. He said: “When it boils down to it, UNESCO took the view that it’s better to leave a giant swathe of the city derelict, that nobody can access, until it rots and falls into the sea.
“In one of the poorest parts of the city, that could be a catalyst for regeneration and create thousands upon thousands of jobs and bring that part of the city back to life with what I consider to be really good urban design. I think they got that horribly wrong.”
Gerry said that, prior to 2017, Engage had not taken a particular view on WHS. But that year they arranged a series of seminars and invited officials from UNESCO to take part. The reaction from the residents was strongly in favour of keeping WHS.
Isabelle Anatole-Gabriel, UNESCO’s chief of the Europe and North America unit, came and addressed a packed meeting of 150 residents. Gerry described her talk as “extraordinary”.
He explained: “I had no idea about the theory behind World Heritage Status. It was about protecting and preserving something that you could not find anywhere else in the world – something of outstanding universal value.
“The narrative from the Mayor was that WHS was a waste of time – just a badge on the wall that was standing in the way of development… until the 2017 seminars I had been ambivalent on the issue.”
At the end of the final seminar Engage took a vote of those present and Gerry says it was unanimous in wanting to keep WHS. He added: “There was not a single abstention. It was then we decided to take a position. But that argument was never given a fair hearing.”
This month’s Baltic Triangle Podcast also features an interview with Zen Buddhist monk, Sue King, who has established her dojo, Mushin Academy, in the heart of Norris Green. Click here to listen to the full interviews with Gerry and Sue.