Liverpool was not the only city that experienced inner city problems in the early 1980s. Many cities in the United Kingdom at this time were being affected by deindustrialization and the hardships that were being suffered by the local communities.
Deindustrialization happened when the original older industries closed down. They were unable to survive was due to a variety of reasons, but the consequences were the same with large numbers of people in inner-city areas unable to find employment.
This was having a negative spiral affect. The lack of money being earned by these local people meant that they had little to spend in the locality and other businesses suffered with them. In Liverpool the problems arose for people losing jobs, associated with the docks in the city.
The port during the 1970s and 1980s lost 80,000 jobs and this, in turn, resulted in many other manufacturing jobs being lost in the area. The people in the inner-city areas had little chance of employment and there was great poverty and high tension with the local authorities.
In Toxteth in the summer of 1981 there was increased tension with the local afro-Caribbean youths. There were riots occurring in Manchester, Bristol and London, as large numbers of young people were reacting against the harsh economic climate that was being driven by the Margaret Thatcher led Government.
In Toxteth events came to a head in July of that year, after months of the local population being unhappy with the local police’s insistence of its regular stop-and-search policy that targeted the youngsters from the community.
After another arrest from the police, full scale rioting occurred in the Liverpool district over a period of nine days. Local protestors used scaffolding poles, petrol bombs and paving stones to throw at the local police and much of the local property was set alight.
A total of 468 police officers were injured, 500 people were arrested, and the area was destroyed, with 70 buildings needing to be demolished. The riots resulted in the publication of the Scarman report that stated that the cause was the combination of the economic deprivation of the area and the continuing poor relationships between the police and the local community.
Since that time much has been done to try and rejuvenate Liverpool’s inner-city areas. Many of the older industrial sites have been cleaned and rebuilt. The older industries will never return, as they cannot compete with cheaper overseas competition.
Liverpool has had to re-invent itself with more jobs becoming available in the service sector. The old Albert Docks were completely closed in the 1980s, and today the area is home to the Tate art museum as well as shops and a thriving entertainment industry.
This work is an ongoing process and the city still has some of the poorest housing areas in the country. The city in 2016 opened Liverpool2 – a container port which is able to handle the largest ships in the world. This was accompanied by 27 square miles of dredging to ensure that the River Mersey was deep enough to accommodate the vessels.
The creation of new jobs from this and other projects will hopefully make the city’s economic future bright so that they can continue to work on redeveloping the poorer housing areas of the city that still remain today.