Those who follow the media will hopefully be aware that Prescot was the subject of an article this week that graced the cover of no less than the New York Times.
The article (here), written by journalist Peter S Goodman was mainly about the effects that austerity policies have had on Britain and used Prescot (and the wider Liverpool City Region) as a case study for the impacts of lower-council funding, the ‘tightening of belts’ and the unenviable decisions that have to be made to meet austerity targets.
The article caused heated debate, not only online with Prescot facebookers and twitterati weighting in, but also in a retaliatory twitter debate between a financially conservative commentator Christopher Snowden and the author as well as a well pointed riposte by the towns own Prescot Online.
This was picked up by the Daily Mail who ran an article attacking the original and has subsequently been picked up in the The New Statesman, Liverpool Echo and other outlets including ‘The Australian’. From our daily work in the town we’ve been told that multiple local businesses have been receiving calls from interested journalists all wanting a piece of the Prescot action!
On reflection, both articles and sides of the argument show signs of bias and misreporting. But this is to be expected with journalists with political points to make and good news doesn’t sell papers.
What is remarkable however is the fact that two outsiders have taken such interest in our town – as P.T. Barnum said “There’s no such thing as bad publicity” and getting a mention on the front of the New York Times is a position some would pay dearly to have.
They certainly picked an opportune week to publish the article because within days Prescot was making the news for other reasons.
On the 31st, the Liverpool City Region Combined Authority agreed funding- to bring about new Rail Interchange Project (including lifts at Prescot station!) and the Shakespeare North Theatre. That’s £14 million of investment by the City Region into Prescot. This money for Shakespeare North is a top up for the investment already made by the Shakespeare North Trust, Central Government, Liverpool John Moores University, Knowsley Council and private doners.
When taken alongside the £1.87 million funding and £766,000 private investment that the THI has brought into the town – this remarkable sum of money shows a growing confidence in Prescot from both the public and private sector.
One of the most exciting THI projects has also been in the news this week. Gary Usher, the award-winning chef and owner of Wreckfish and StickyWalnut managed to achieve the incredible by raising £50,000 in less than 60 minutes via the crowdfunding platform Kickstarter for his new Prescot restaurant Pinion.
The THI will be part of this incredible project. Now that the restaurant is definitely going ahead, we are grant aiding the repair and restoration works, in particular reinstating a sleek steel-framed shopfront framed by polished granite to this modern movement building and restoring its original clock. The THI contribution is by far outweighed by the private investment being made in improving the rest of the building, extending it at the rear, and the fit-out needed by a state-of-the-art restaurant.
The name? A Pinion is an intricate gear used in a watch – a word with a strong resonance in this historic watchmaking town. The restaurant Pinion will hopefully become a new cog in the bigger mechanism of independents, investors and new opportunities that will spark the wheels of Prescot into motion and power forward the regeneration of this proud town.
This is alongside other THI projects coming on site such as Market Place with the building contractor appointed and tenants MATE Productions confirmed. MATE are opening their MATE Creative Cafe, a great community café and outdoor events space – they are even looking at getting a massive marquee tent for outdoor performances!
Other successful investments are the old Red Lion Pub becoming the Kingsmen 1685 street food restaurant and the Prescot THI funded 13-15 Atherton Street becoming the new bistro for the fabulous Albion Bakehouse. To add to this of course are the rumours of new eateries floating around and Prescot will soon become a foodies paradise.
We feel that the Townscape Heritage Initiative has been an important part of this regeneration using the historic buildings and fabric of Prescot to restore a strong sense of place. We’re very pleased that the future is looking bright for Prescot and we’re even more delighted that it is a future built on the solid foundation of the past.