TIME was today called on Liverpool’s worst eyesore pubs.
Liverpool council has drawn up a hit-list of former watering holes which are blighting city communities.
Many of them are on the main roads into the city, and with Capital of Culture year just months away, send out the wrong message about Liverpool.
Today the council revealed its plans to force owners to sort the decaying buildings out, or knock them down.
The list will now be handed to environmental health and regeneration officials, who will be ordered to take action.
Some of the former pubs – all once much-loved locals – are in such a bad state that demolition might be the only option.
Cllr Mike Storey, executive member for special initiatives, said: “These buildings have a long history and are a real landmark for their areas.
“But now they are eyesores, and it’s time they were sorted out.”
The council hopes some of the best known former pubs could be brought back into use.
Even if it were found to be no longer profitable to run them as entertainment venues, it is thought some of the reclaimed pubs could become community centres or bases for start up businesses or clubs.
As each building is brought back into use, another empty pub will be added to the list, with the aim of eventually eradicating the growing problem.
Liverpool council has already started taking action against some of the pubs’ owners, including the King Edward in the city centre.
The decision to act came after the ECHO last month revealed that the eyesore was the subject a string of complaints.
The council order demanded owners Richmont Properties either refurbish or bulldoze the venue – and now it is to be razed. The land the old pub stands on is said to be worth millions of pounds.
Cllr Storey said: “There is a big difference between an empty pub and a derelict one.
“A derelict pub is one which is basically falling down.
"But there are many empty, boarded-up pubs which we think, in Capital of Culture year, need to be at the heart of community life again.
“There is a strong case for dealing with these pubs in different ways – it is not just a case of demolishing or trying to refurbish them all. Often, the profit made from running a small pub does not make it viable, but if a landlord leaves it empty, they can make more money from putting hoardings around it.
“In those cases, we have to find other uses for them.”
But the cost of converting their often inflexible internal layout is often higher than the property’s potential value.
And the more elaborate venues are often listed or situated in a conservation area, restricting what they can be used for.
Tony Williams, from the Liverpool and district branch of the Campaign for Real Ale (Camra), does not believe life will get any easier for pub landlords.
He said: “The smoking ban could cause problems, and I have spoken to landlords who are finding it difficult to make ends meet already.”
Cllr Paul Brant, the opposition spokesman on regeneration, said: “We have argued for years that the council has the power to take action against owners of derelict buildings.
“If they are going to start using that power now, I am delighted, but I would like to know why it is not being used on the thousands of other rundown properties around the city.”
Rise and fall of the pub
UNTIL the early 1980s, the old tradition of having a pub on every corner was still true of many Liverpool communities.
A vast number of venues had opened during the 19th century when ale was still the consistently safest liquid to drink for most of the population.
As there was little in the way of public or private transport, pubs were set up within walking distance of were people lived.
Because there were so many venues, pubs were often quite small and ornately decorated on the outside to compete with other locals.
They were often very busy and profitable, particularly those situated near Liverpool’s docks.
But by the 1980s, changing domestic and commercial behaviour left many battling to survive.
The demolition of old-fashioned terraced housing left some establishments marooned, while the break-up of brewery monopolies saw them left in the hands of independent landlords who struggled to turn a profit.
The demise of inner-city industries, the rise of other entertainment and changing patterns of society – including the rise of television instead – all contributed.
Some of the pubs on the hit-list
The King Edward, Great Howard Street
COUNCIL issued a notice demanding action on the fire-ravaged, vandalised pub. The owner has promised to demolish it, although work has yet to start.
White House, Duke Street
A target for the ECHO’s Stop The Rot campaign, permission has been granted to restore it back into a pub and contractors will start on site this summer.
Dickie Lewis’s, Stopgate Lane, Walton
COUNCIL has issued a notice demanding action on the fire-ravaged pub. The owner has missed the deadline, so the council may now do the work itself and claim the costs back.
Gregsons Well, Brunswick Road
A WARNING letter has been sent to the owner of the derelict building.
Botanic, Picton Road, Wavertree
ENVIRONMENTAL health are deciding what action to take against the boarded-up, burned-out pub.
Travellers Rest, Edge Lane, Old Swan
COUNCIL’S legal team is handling case after owner appealed against notice demanding action to clear up site of now-demolished pub.
Premier, Prescot Road, Old Swan
COUNCIL has issued a notice demanding action on the boarded-up pub.