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Friday, December 19, 2008

Day 13 – Deprivation Deprivation Deprivation

Mr Stephen Sauvain, QC for Liverpool City Council, continued his cross-examination of retail and regeneration specialist Mr Mike Hollis. Mr Sauvain established that the scheme was out of scale; Mr Hollis reiterated that it wasn’t ideal but the due to the level of deprivation in Kirkby there were very special circumstances.

Mrs Burden, the planning inspector, asked what affect the current economic downturn would have on the scheme as Mr Hollis had indicated that the crisis could be the worst since the Great Depression of the 1930's. Mrs Burden, in light of this somewhat dire prediction, was particularly interested in the 5% growth forecast. Mr Hollis was surprisingly confident that this could be achieved but agreed to supply Mrs Burden with a revised forecast with a lower growth factor.

Returning to the size of the scheme Mr Sauvain suggested that if you draw your catchment area wide enough you could justify need and therefore development? Remarkably Mr Hollis disagreed “No, the catchment area was for the future of Kirkby and the scheme would provide Knowsley with a major centre” Mr Sauvain “Perhaps Huyton residents would like to see expansion there?” Mr Hollis, clearly becoming frustrated, responded with “there are no huge areas of deprivation in Huyton and there are no areas for edge of centre development.” Mr Sauvain reminded Mr Hollis that North Huyton wasn't particularly wealthy.

Mr Hollis continued to explain that the leakage from Kirkby was unacceptable but Mr Sauvain pointed out that Kirkby should be designed to meet the needs for a larger catchment area for convenience shopping. Mr Hollis conceded that the size of the Tesco store could have been smaller but Mr Sauvain immediately responded with “in that case why didn't you try to locate the food store in the Northern part of the town?” Mr Hollis explained that the site was too small to accommodate a suitable sized store. Strangely it was in 2006 when the UDP was adopted.

The Rev Tim Stafford then cross-examined Mr Hollis on behalf of the Kirkby Residents Action Group. Tim enquired, “Why are the comparators Skelmersdale, Bootle and St Helens, and not other areas that are comparable with Kirkby?” Mr Hollis responded, “These are the areas that the objectors have suggested will lose investor confidence” Tim “So no Liverpool comparators then?” Mr Hollis “No, but if you want to put one forward?”

Tim then attempted to establish what the shortages of jobs of the right type for Kirkby were. Mr Hollis explained “A few construction but mainly retail” continuing the “lets portray Kirkby in the worst possible light” tactic Mr Hollis added “It's the second most deprived area in the country” The turbulent priest's reaction was swift “Kirkby or Knowsley? What is your evidence for that?” without waiting for a reply Tim told the inquiry “Can we get this clear? That's Knowsley not Kirkby” A suitably informed Mr Hollis awaited the next question.

“So there will be more low paid, part time jobs in Kirkby?” asked Tim. “Some of the jobs will be part time, it will give Kirkby the kick start it needs” explained Mr Hollis. Tim “What about the effects on small traders?” Mr Hollis “I've heard some traders speak in favour”

Tim asked about the amount of jobs, “1,200” explained Mr Hollis. “Full time?” enquired Tim, “No”

Tim then attempted to establish the schemes benefit to the local economy; Mr Hollis simply explained that the money went back into the local economy through wages.

Peter Fisher, Knowsley Constituency Liberal Democrats, asked if any risk assessments had been conducted on the nearby shopping centres of Huyton and Prescot? Mr Hollis admitted that they hadn't adding that they were slight and in relation to Asda the impact was within tolerable limits. Mr Fisher responded by pointing out that there was no traditional linkage between Huyton and Kirkby as far as shopping went.

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