Successful cities come in all shapes and sizes.Going pop any time soon

Successful cities teeter on the brink of failure

Some of the world’s most successful cities are succeeding just a little too much and policy-makers are struggling to keep the whole show from falling apart.  From Berlin to Barcelona, Venice to Dublin, it’s all getting a little bit fraught.  Dougal Paver takes a look at the issue. Venice had a population of 134,000 in 1931.  Now it stands at […]

Ditching diesel cars: where does your city stand?In need of a hydrogen engine. Quick

Ditching diesel cars: where does your city stand?

Diesel cars look like becoming the new pantomime villains, but controlling or even banning them from cities poses logistical as well as political challenges.  Merrion managing director Dougal Paver casts his eye over the issue. At the biggest private sector employer in Liverpool a shiny new car rolls off the production line every 80 seconds – and the vast majority are diesel. Liverpool council, […]

Barcelona is full, but is 'banning' tourists smart?Not everyone is happy with Barcelona's rampant tourism market

Barcelona is full, but is ‘banning’ tourists smart?

For many cities, wading through tourist dollars would be a lovely problem to have.  But not in Barcelona, it seems, whose mayor is seeking to control the numbers ‘let in’, as Dougal Paver discovers. Thirty two million.  Divide that by 365 to find the average number of tourists per day pouring in to central Barcelona.  87,671 to be precise.  Except, of […]

That push for localism starts with your food marketThey'd eat loads of these in Chorley - if only they could find them

That push for localism starts with your food market

The Sage of Chorley told us that garlic bread was the future, but now we know that’s only the case if it’s locally-baked from sustainable sources.  For cities as much as market towns, localism holds the key to economic sustainability, argues Dougal Paver. You notice stuff wandering around cities like Barcelona for a week (that’s the holiday plug over).  Things […]

Bulls' testicles: proof of the glorious efficiency of marketsGreat with spuds and gravy

Bulls’ testicles: proof of the glorious efficiency of markets

Capitalism isn’t perfect, but give competition room to flourish and the public are the winners. Just wander around Barcelona’s marvellous Mercat de Sant Josep if you want proof, suggests Dougal Paver. Ask me at any point on any day where I’d like to be if I could be teleported there and then and the answer would be the same: “on a stool […]

No civic modesty hereThere's marketing puff and then there's miracle-working. (Pic credit: Nivea UK)

Modesty: an under-rated civic virtue

As the Paver family head to Barcelona for a short infusion of culture, sunshine and tapas its pater familias ponders the Catalan capital’s civic modesty.  After all, it’s got a lot to shout about. One of the early lessons on my marketing degree was that any claim you make about a product, service or place has to be congruous with reality.  People […]

Weary waiterSoon to be replaced by a 22 year-old Italian.

Café society, revisited

We welcome back John Flamson with another thought-provoking guest blog on café society, Liverpool-style.  Enjoy. As the weather changes and our summer holidays seem a distant memory, we think fondly of the balmy evenings, pavement cafés, a cooling Pils or a warming Cortado.  And we imagine such simple joys in our own city of Liverpool. I repeat in full below […]

Only land scarcity and a rising market will improve the Liverpool skylineThrough the fog of commentary rise some great - and some average - buildings

Only land scarcity and a rising market will improve the Liverpool skyline

As tower cranes once again punctuate the Liverpool skyline like a gloriously misshapen comb some are worrying that the standard of new buildings isn’t what the city deserves.  But they forget that the biggest determinant of design quality is the market price for whatever is being constructed. “Buy land,” said the wise old Irish farmer, “they’re not making any more of […]

Density + Shanks's pony = healthy cities, healthy economiesThe dense Georgian town planning in Liverpool's Canning neighbourhood: liveable, walkable and sociable

Density + Shanks’s pony = healthy cities, healthy economies

Our colonial cousins worry about suburbanisation far more than here in the UK, with a lively city-focused blogosphere debating how American cities can  boost population densities.  If their research is a guide, there are very clear social, health and economic outcomes. Here’s a case in point from the admirable CEOs for Cities blog.  Everything we take for granted – liveable […]

Eixample BarcelonaNot many gaps amidst that lot: Ildefons Cerda's famous Barcelona grid plan

Most cities are gap-toothed beauties

One of Liverpool’s great thinkers – and doers – around urban policy, John Flamson, once memorably described Liverpool as ‘a gap-toothed beauty’. He was referring, of course, to the fact that for all the enormous progress in turning around the city’s physical fabric, much remained to be done. He could just as well have been describing any post-industrial western city […]