Prescot Council Leader Responds to NYT Article (plus Fact-check)

By on Tuesday, June 5, 2018

The leader of Prescot Town Council has officially responded to a New York Times article that singled out the town as an example of government cuts.

The front-page story on Monday 28 May opened by saying that a walk through Prescot “amounts to a tour of the casualties of Britain’s age of austerity.”

The NYT’s Peter S Goodman went on to list lost assets such as the High Street library, Prescot Leisure Centre and Scotchbarn Baths, and the museum. (Was he correct? Scroll down for a factcheck.)

Prescot Online’s editor offered the other side of the story last week.

And now town council leader Cllr Stephen Pimblett has responded via the council website.

“It is undeniable that Prescot is hurting from the effects of the central government austerity policy,” he wrote, “as are many other areas.”

But Mr Goodman “overlooked the many positive aspects of our town’s development and regeneration, such as the addition of the new Shakespeare North theatre, which is a considerable investment and has already started to reinvigorate the town.”

He continued: “There is a positive feel in Prescot, with new investment in other local amenities such as a restaurant, hotel, micropub, new fire and police Station, and public realm improvements which will complement our existing infrastructure.”

He stated that the town has proposed a plan to keep Brown’s Field, currently under threat of sale, and added that the Prescot Carnival on 24 June would see the relaunch of the Love Prescot website, “which will showcase all that is great about our town.”

Fact-check on the New York Times’ Claims about Prescot (by Prescot Online)

Prescot Library
: “The old library building has been sold and refashioned into a glass-fronted luxury home.”
True: Yes, the purpose-built library on Derby Street is now a luxury home. The library moved to shared premises with Prescot Museum, in existing premises adjoining Prescot Shopping Centre. It is a smaller facility serving a wider area, as several other Knowsley libraries have been closed as a result of cuts.

Prescot Leisure Centre & Swimming Pool
“The leisure center has been razed, eliminating the public swimming pool.”
True: The large leisure centre on Warrington Road was demolished, along with Scotchbarn Swimming Baths. In its place is a smaller ‘Soccer & Leisure Centre’ comprising a gym, cafe, changing rooms and new pitches. The neighbouring town of Huyton houses a relatively new, large leisure centre with swimming pools that serves the entire borough.

Prescot Museum
“The local museum has receded into town history.”
False: There is still a Prescot Museum, housed with the library in premises adjoining the shopping centre. It is a smaller exhibition space, but the archival storage facilities are reported to be much more suitable. The older museum building, a Georgian townhouse on Church Street, is now owned by Shakespeare North and used by their partners, community theatre company MATE Productions

Prescot Police Station
“The police station has been shuttered.”
Sort of: There is no longer a dedicated, stand-alone police station. The historic site on Derby Street was closed last year. There is now a new, purpose-built, joint-police and fire station on Manchester Road. There is no staffed police station in the traditional sense, however: There are a few rooms for community police officers to use as and when needed, but residents cannot walk in off the street to access police services. It is open to the public once a week for police surgeries. The nearest staffed police station is in Huyton. It’s also worth noting that the former site wasn’t staffed for several years, either.

Brown’s Field
“Now, as the local government desperately seeks to turn assets into cash, Browns Field, a lush park in the center of town, may be doomed, too. At a meeting in November, the council included it on a list of 17 parks to sell to developers.”
True: A grassroots campaign to save the park is underway.

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