1 Jan 2012

Thatcher urged to abandon Liverpool after riots

4:46 pm on 1 January 2012

Former British prime minister Margaret Thatcher was secretly urged to consider abandoning Liverpool to managed decline after riots erupted in the city in 1981.

Newly released government papers showed on Friday that senior ministers warned her that it might be a waste to pour money into Merseyside where there was high unemployment and social unrest.

Nearly 500 police were injured and at least 70 buildings were severely damaged during nine days of trouble there.

Despite calls from other ministers to regenerate old industrial towns.

Chancellor Geoffrey Howe said the government must not overcommit scarce resources to Liverpool.

Instead, Mrs Thatcher sent environment secretary Michael Heseltine to the city.

Mr Heseltine said the idea of abandoning the city never got any traction.

Instead, he tried to encourage private sector investment to regenerate the area.

I simply wouldn't countenance that you could say that (in) one of England's great cities, a world city, we're going to manage decline here, he told BBC Radio. That would simply be unthinkable.