Happy New Year… to a Dying Town Divided

By on Friday, January 13, 2012

Steeple of Prescot Parish ChurchYour editor is back on British soil, having been living away for a couple of years. Prescot has always remained in my heart, however, hence starting this website as a way to disseminate news and views about the town.

I return to a town that has been on its last legs for years, and its decline appears only to be accelerating. Prescot Leisure Centre no longer exists. It will be replaced with a nice-enough pitch-side facility, but it will not be of the size or scope to ¬†replace the town’s only civic centre. Scotchbarn Baths is waiting to be demolished, too, as all leisure services, including a swimming pool, are relocated to Huyton. I’ve heard the new Culture and Leisure Park is impressive, and I don’t doubt it — but again, a central facility serving the whole of Knowsley can’t replace a local leisure and civic centre for Prescot.

Prescot Museum will be downgraded later this spring, too, vacating the beautiful Georgian townhouse it now occupies on Church Street and taking up space in the Prescot Centre, which it will share with the relocated library and the council One Stop Shop.

Wetherspoons has arrived on Eccleston Street. Is that a good thing? I drank in there, and I was happy to see the old Kwiksave transformed into a vibrant place whose decor reflected a bit of Prescot’s heritage and history.

Meanwhile, both Knowsley Council and Prescot Town Council have seen great change. The Lib Dems have mostly been unseated, undoubtedly due in large part to Nick Clegg’s coalition with the Conservatives. (Can’t say I blame the electorate, either.) Now the animosity between local Labour and Liberal Democrats has reached record heights, with news that Merseyside Police, at the instigation of local Labour councillors, have launched a fraud investigation into the now-unemployed Prescot Leisure Centre management, including former Town Clerk Geoff Pollitt.

Council leader Robert Arnall (Lab) said he was “extremely concerned by the management of Prescot Town Council under the previous leadership of the Liberal Democrats” and commissioned a review as soon as he was elected. Cllr Ian Smith (Lib Dem) described it all as a “Labour conspiracy” by a council “just looking for someone to blame.”

As a new year begins, death and division further diminish a town already in decline. Prescot is, as I’ve written before, a neglected treasure. In 2012, in the absence of local government that really cares, the only thing to save the town is me and you. Cameron’s “Big Society” may simply be a clever way to make dwindling investment look good, but it does at least reveal a truth — that we can’t rely on the people in charge. Fellow Prescotians, it’s up to us to do something.

Floreat Prescotia!

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