In Southport, seaside resort blues turn Labour red

Napoleon III is said to have come up with the idea for the Champs-Élysées during his political exile in England in the 1830s, during a trip to the seaside. The young prince was so impressed by Lord Street – Southport’s main tree-lined shopping street – that he kept it in his memory. Years later, once he was emperor, the construction of the grand boulevards in Paris contributed enormously to his popularity. Without a doubt, he owed almost all of his success to Southport.

It’s been nearly two centuries since Louis Napoleon’s seaside retreat, but Lord Street still holds a political sway. When the UK goes to the polls on July 4, Southport is likely to elect a Labour MP for the first time in its history. On Lord Street, an elderly woman clutching an ice cream cone has some clues as to why. “Well, she begins, looking down at the once-grand boulevard like a headmistress inspecting a disheveled schoolboy. Look at this.”

The street looks like Wayne Rooney’s tie knot

So that’s what I do. Lord Street has a pair of trousers torn at the knees. His tie knot? That’s probably what Wayne Rooney’s, the English footballer, looked like when he was a schoolboy. Lord Street has black Converse trying to pass for dress shoes. Nothing is quite as it should be, or as the old lady says, as it used to be. The department store windows announce that “everything must disappear”. Septuagenarians eat ice cream and moan. On the seafront, the city’s famous pier has been closed since 2022, when a study concluded that it “rotted from the inside.”

If it’s already tough being a British city after the austerity policies of the 2010s, seaside towns are suffering even more. The most deprived town in the entire country, according to official figures, is Blackpool. It’s located about 30 miles north on the coast.

When you add to the equation a city with shoestring budgets and the average Briton’s preference for the beaches of Tenerife as opposed to a swan-shaped pedalo at Pleasure Beach, the result is unfortunate.

The MP is “twiddling his thumbs”

As a result, almost everyone uses the expression “at the crossroads”The seafront is no longer enough; young people are leaving in droves; the population is ageing. A Liberal Democrat (LibDem) councillor, Gareth Lloyd-Johnson, is convinced that the current MP, conservative Damien Moore, twiddling his thumbs.

And, meanwhile, Southport is in desperate need of rehabilitation, even rebirth. “Running a local economy cannot be based solely on being a Victorian seaside town,” Gareth Lloyd-Johnson sums up. Half-hearted measures have been taken to decouple the city from the leisure economy that once made it prosperous. Proposals to build a £73m (€86m) art deco convention centre are perhaps the greatest hope of this, as is work to attract digital businesses to a historic building on Eastbank Street.

This change of direction is not unanimous.

Related Articles

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Back to top button