Peter Rhodes on Liverpool's shame, little Englanders and why councils want speed cameras

Read the latest column from Peter Rhodes.

Liverpool - messier than it once was
Liverpool - messier than it once was

Meddling foreigners. Was that your first reaction on hearing that Liverpool had been stripped of its Unesco World Heritage Status? Me, too. How dare these interfering UN types damn an entire English city? And then you look at what has been happening to Liverpool's once-majestic waterfront over the past decade, including the erection of a trio of hideous buildings denounced by indignant Scousers as “the Three Disgraces.”

One commentator describes Liverpool's redevelopment as “civic vandalism on an epic scale.” It certainly looks a mess and if it takes Unesco to make the point, so be it. Now, about London . . .

Planning trivia. In four Olympic Games from 1928 to 1948, medals were awarded for the gentle art of town planning. At Los Angeles in 1932 the gold medal was won by a design for a sports centre - in Liverpool.

A reader emails to denounce me as a “Little Englander.” Interesting term. In the 19th century it meant someone opposed to further expansion of the British Empire. In 1914, Little Englanders were those trying to avoid European squabbles; it was Little Englanders who tried to keep us out of the First World War.

The great writer J B Priestley was proud to be called a Little Englander because he loved England and despised what capitalism was doing to the people and environment. Today, “Little Englander” is usually a term of abuse, often aimed at people who supported Brexit. In my experience, if someone calls you a Little Englander, he's probably just a Bad Loser.

Why on earth would local councils want to take over responsibility for enforcing speed limits from the police, as reported this week? Haven't they got enough red tape without entangling themselves in speed cameras, tickets and fine-collecting? And then you read this proposal more closely and discover that some councils want to run their own speed-awareness courses. Aha, all becomes clear.

The awareness-course industry is worth about £200 million a year, making easy money for constabularies and providing employment for retired cops. There's no evidence it produces better drivers but it's a nice little earner and who can blame councils for wanting a slice of the action? I expect the police to fight tooth-and-nail to keep this golden goose.

Thanks for your interest in my recent unexpected encounter with an elegant little sea bird. I can report that we parted on good terns.

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