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Liverpool launches 'taskforce' in bid to save World Heritage status

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Liverpool has created a special city ‘taskforce’ in an attempt to stave off the removal of its World Heritage status

UNESCO will decide next year whether to remove the city’s status, following a number of planning decisions criticised heavily by conservationists.

Yesterday (2 October) Liverpool City Council said the new taskforce would communicate with UNESCO on matters relating to the city’s historic fabric.

Mayor of Liverpool Joe Anderson has written to heritage minister John Glenn, claiming the new board will ‘reset the relationship with UNESCO’.

He said: ‘We greatly value World Heritage status and recognise that it brings huge benefits in terms of the city’s economy, identity and self-esteem.

‘With the impact of austerity we have lost focus on communicating the importance of those benefits as effectively as we previously did.’

Save Britain’s Heritage director Henrietta Billings welcomed the move. ‘We have had serious concerns following UNESCO’s concerns about the future of Liverpool,’ she said. ‘As far as we are concerned, this is a positive development. It shows that Liverpool is taking its responsibilities seriously and we look forward to positive steps coming from it.’

The mayor’s decision to form the taskforce is 360-degree U-turn on his previous approach to dealing with UNESCO.

In 2016, he rejected a call from the worldwide heritage body to impose a two-year moratorium on development within the World Heritage Site.

To lead the team, Anderson has appointed David Henshaw, who was chief executive at Liverpool City Council when the city received World Heritage status in 2004.

The team of experts will also include former English Heritage chair Neil Cossons; Claire Dove, chief executive of Blackburn House Group; Gerald Pillay, vice chancellor of Hope University; John Belchem, emeritus professor at University of Liverpool; and Michael Parkinson, associate pro-vice chancellor for civic engagement of the University of Liverpool.

In July, Parkinson criticised the report that led to UNESCO warning it might remove Liverpool’s World Heritage Status, calling it a ‘box-ticking exercise’.

He was quoted in the Liverpool Echo as saying: ‘London has a World Heritage site at Tower Bridge. That’s flanked by The Shard and The Gherkin. So why has their status not been threatened?’

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