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DAILY BRIEFING

What price heritage?

Written by Charlie Clegg, senior associate 
Edited by Kevin Pringle, partner
22 July 2021 

Good morning,

What do Oman’s oryx sanctuary and Germany’s Elbe Valley have in common? They are the world’s only two former UNESCO world heritage sites; or were, until yesterday afternoon. Liverpool’s maritime city centre now joins the ignominious list.
 
Inscribed as a site of international importance by the UN’s heritage agency in 2004, Liverpool has faced the threat of delisting since it approved the Liverpool Waters development in 2012. The green light for Everton FC’s riverside stadium earlier this year has tipped UNESCO into demoting the city.
 
Publicly, the city is unbowed: the council tweeted an image of the waterfront with the caption “No labels needed”. Off social media, however, civic leaders are less defiant. Liverpool’s former world heritage officer is “incredibly sad and disappointed” by the decision. Though tourism to Liverpool will no doubt continue, loss of status could represent an economic hit. For example, in 2014/15, UNESCO projects in Scotland generated £10.8m through their association with the agency.
 
As Liverpool and the UK’s other urban tourism centres look to recover from Covid, such a reputational hit is even less helpful, even if it proves surmountable. On UNESCO’s “endangered” list, Vienna’s historic centre and Kosovo’s medieval monuments are the only European sites. Nevertheless, Liverpool’s case shows that urban development can, little by little, undermine heritage’s highest accolade and the visitors that brings with it.
 
Liverpool did not forfeit its status for vital social housing or infrastructure; it built garish blocks: high-concept, high-budget, low-necessity. The UK now has only one large city whose centre is a UNESCO world heritage site: Edinburgh. It should take note.
 
Although the actions that led to Liverpool’s demotion were civic, their effects could be national. To lose one heritage site will not help international visitors choose the UK. This is especially pertinent when Visit Britain calculates that benefits of inbound international tourism to the UK this summer will be less than a quarter of what they were in 2019.
 
No measure of defiance can disguise the truth of Liverpool’s loss: sad, damaging, and entirely avoidable. It may have taken a long time to find out, but world heritage status is not immutable. Whether or not the UK will become the first country to lose two world heritage sites rests on local planning authorities. They decide whether a price can be set on their irreplaceable, internationally-recognised heritage.

News

The director of the Tokyo Olympics’ opening ceremony has been sacked ahead of tomorrow’s event. Footage from the 1990s has emerged which appears to show Kentaro Kobayashi, a former comedian, joking about the Holocaust.
 
French president Emmanuel Macron has ordered an investigation into Pegasus spyware after reports that Morocco used the software to tap his private mobile phone. NSO Group, the Israeli software company behind Pegasus, has denied wrongdoing.
 
Nursing unions in England have condemned the UK government’s offer of a 3% pay rise. The rise, which would be backdated to April, comes after months of negotiations. The Royal College of Nursing is demanding a 12.5% rise.

Business and economy

Supermarkets including Tesco, Sainsbury’s, and Waitrose have all issued apologies for product shortages caused by staff’s need to isolate. Around a million people have been asked to isolate, which is affecting all areas of supermarkets’ supply chains. The British Retail Consortium has called for action from the UK government. (£)
 
The US has dropped its objections to the Nord Stream 2 pipeline, which aims to supply Russian oil to Germany. The US claimed it had reached a deal which would prevent the Baltic Sea pipeline from being used to threaten Germany and the rest of Europe.
 
BP has been forced to close temporarily a small number of petrol stations due to a shortage of delivery drivers. The shortages, also due in part to Covid self-isolation, are estimated to affect around 60,000 drivers.

Columns of note

The UK government plans to change the definition of “public interest” and “damage” in the Official Secrets Act while boosting potential sentences for those who violate the law. In the Times, Sean O’Neill looks at the effect this would have on investigative journalism. He calls for Boris Johnson to rein in Priti Patel’s authoritarian instincts if he is serious about civil liberties. (£)
 
“People and community”, “integrity and ethics”: these are some of the words companies use to appear ethical. In the Financial Times, Brooke Masters shows how the meanings of these terms are often negligible in the face of some companies’ actions. She argues that, in a sea of value statements, companies need to practise – rather than just preach – their values if these statements are to have meaning. (£)

Cartoon source: New Yorker

Markets

What happened yesterday?

Strong company earnings – including Coca Cola and Verizon – drove the S&P500 and the Nasdaq composite up 0.6% yesterday: a second day of growth after a sharp drop on Monday.
 
In Europe, the Stoxx600 index and the FTSE100 both closed up 1.7%. This was the FTSE’s best daily performance since February.
 
Sterling closed down at 1.37 US dollars and 1.16 Euros.

What’s happening today?

Finals
Activeops
Ideagen

Interims
Breedon
Centrica
Franchise Brand
Howden Joinery
Novolip Regs
Pjsc Magni.s
Pjsc Magni.s
Unilever
Novolip Regs  
Unilever

Trading announcements
Aj Bell
Big Yellow
Daily Mail
Diploma
Pensionbee
SSE
Volution Group

AGMs
Big Yellow
BlueRock Diamonds
Bytes Tech
Edinburgh Investment Trust PLC
Halma
Octopus Aim
Osirium Tech
Pennon
Petards
Providence Res.
SSE
Telecom Plus
Ukrproduct
Ventus Vct 2
Ventus Vct
Vp
Weiss Korea Opp
Workspace

Int. economic announcements
(09:00) IFO Current Assessment (GER)
(09:00) IFO Business Climate (GER)
(09:00) IFO Expectations (GER)
(12:45) ECB Interest Rate (EU)
(13:30) Initial Jobless Claims (US)
(13:30) Continuing Claims (US)
(15:00) Existing Home Sales (US)

Source: Financial Times

did you know?

                With 55 each, Italy and China are tied as the countries with the most UNESCO world heritage sites.

Parliamentary highlights

House of Commons

Oral questions
Various
 
Ministerial statement
Covid-19 update
 
Ministerial statement
Update on Awarding Qualifications in 2021 and 2022

House of Lords 

Oral questions
Various
 
Statements
Various
 
Debates
Report from the Public Services Committee ‘A critical juncture for public services: lessons from COVID-19’
Report from the European Union Committee ‘The future UK–EU relationship on professional and business services’
 
Orders and regulations
Draft Calorie Labelling (Out of Home Sector) (England) Regulations 2021
Calorie Labelling (Out of Home Sector) (England) Regulations 2021 – motion to regret
 

Scottish parliament 

The Scottish parliament is in recess until 30 August but will be recalled on 3 August for Covid updates.

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