Setback for Liverpool’s gay village

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The long-awaited arrival of Liverpool’s gay village may not take place until as late as August, it has been revealed.

Plans to ban traffic from the centre of Liverpool’s gay club zone could be postponed until the end of the lucrative summer season, despite the fact that plans were approved early this year, and the council has bought the necessary equipment.

In January, the decision was taken to close Eberle Street permanently and put bollards at the end of Cumberland Street and Stanley Street on certain nights of the week. Despite the fact that the council has bought the retractable, hydraulic bollards, there has been no progress on roadworks as yet.

Liberal Party councillor Steve Radford, the city’s first openly gay politician, told the Liverpool Daily Post: “Eberle Street has already been agreed and should have happened.

“Why can’t the council get its bollards up? There should be no reason for any delay.”

Popular gay-friendly bars The Navy Bar, Superstar Boudoir and The Lisbon were to benefit from the plans to close parts of the area to traffic at night, creating a safe pedestrianised area for evening bar-goers.

Under the new traffic control plans, Cumberland Street would have been closed between the hours of 6pm and 6am and Stanley Street between and 10pm and 6am, from Thursday to Monday each week. The adjustable hydraulic bollards would be let down during the daytime to allow vehicles to pass through freely.

The delay has been caused in part by senior councillors who are looking at the possibility of closing these roads every night of the week, rather than just the four days planned currently. However, before such plans could be implemented, councillors would need to consult residents and local business owners again.

The plan had been that the scheme would encourage the generation of a gay village atmosphere to compete with Canal Street in Manchester, famed the world over for its gay friendliness. Yet it is unknown why Eberle Street, home of G-Bar, Passion Garlands, has not been closed off.

Liverpool’s executive member for assets and development, Councillor Peter Millea, pushed to extend the scheme. He said: “The issue is we’re making it safer for people at night. But it was felt that we should really have it seven days per week, so we asked if we could amend it and that requires us to go back out to consultation.”

Cllr Millea said the council had postponed the installation of bollards because it did not want cause confusion amongst drivers by putting them in and subsequently changing the nights on which they operate.

He was also critical of the Stanley Street plans, saying that the 10pm road closure will not have the desired effect of creating a “cafe culture”.

He concluded: “No driver would suggest it’s safe to have roads closed some nights of the week. It’s a recipe for confusion and accidents.”

Cllr Nick Small, representative of Liverpool’s central ward, said: “It now looks like the scheme will be delayed until August. Everyone needs to get behind the latest proposals, and let’s get something in place and see how it works. I think all the businesses and all the residents can live with the latest proposal.

“What’s important now is that we get the investment in place so that it can act for a catalyst to attract further public and private investment.”