JMU Journalism’s news review of 2014

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Liverpool Mayor Joe Anderson (pic © JMU Journalism); Prime Minister David Cameron (pic © Wikipedia/Creative Commons)

Liverpool Mayor Joe Anderson (pic © JMU Journalism); Prime Minister David Cameron (pic © Wikipedia/Creative Commons)

It was – as ever – another huge year for news and sport in Liverpool, with JMU Journalism bringing you the latest from Merseyside on this website, a weekly newspaper, plus our radio podcast and YouTube TV channel.

The year began with the government’s latest round of funding cuts leaving Liverpool as one of the worst affected cities in the country.

Mayor Joe Anderson hit out at the coalition government, saying it had neglected this city, while others further south saw their central funding increase. Prime Minister David Cameron was moved to defend the cuts in a local radio interview where he denied claims made by the Labour chief.

Anderson and Cameron clashed again in October as they went head-to-head over HS3 as the mayor questioned the Conservative leader over why Liverpool had been left out of the blueprints for the multi-billion pound high-speed rail proposals during a press conference at Leeds Civic Hall.

Weeks later, Anderson was in the headlines again when he locked horns with ‘Sex and The City’ star Kim Cattrall, this time over development suggestions for Sefton Park Meadows. Elsewhere, plans to close 11 libraries in the city were reversed by the council after a successful grassroots campaign.

Hillsborough 25th anniversary memorial service at Anfield. Pic by Ida Husøy

Hillsborough 25th anniversary memorial service at Anfield. Pic by Ida Husøy

On the political front nationally, the people of Scotland decided to remain in the United Kingdom in a landmark vote after a JMU Journalism street poll revealed the majority of Liverpudlians wanted Scots to remain part of the union.

The fresh inquests into the deaths of the 96 Hillsborough victims began in March, just a month before the city fell silent to mark the 25th anniversary of the tragedy.

Around 25,000 people gathered at Anfield stadium for the remembrance service, and the whole of the city marked a minute’s silence at 3:06pm to pay their tributes.

A possible Ebola outbreak dominated the national agenda in the autumn, with the local Royal Hospital one of four in the UK to be put on standby a possible emergency. Another poll by JMU Journalism revealed mixed opinions over fears in the city about the disease potentially reaching Liverpool.

July saw the welcome return of those unforgettable giants as the Royal de Luxe spectacular brought hundreds of thousands of people to town throughout their three days of parading to commemorate the centenary of World War I. The huge street theatre puppets are said to have generated £46 million for the local economy.

Luis Suarez was distraught after Liverpool blew their title chance and moved to Barcelona

Luis Suarez moved to Barcelona after Liverpool blew their title chance. Pic © David Rawcliffe/Propaganda

In sport, Liverpool went agonisingly close to their first league title in 24 years but had to settle for second place, though Liverpool Ladies went one better than the men by retaining the Women’s Super League title on a dramatic final day of the season.

Despite the Reds securing a return to Europe’s elite Champions League competition, star striker Luis Suarez left to join Barcelona in July after he was engulfed in another biting controversy whilst at the World Cup with Uruguay.

His departure led to problems on the pitch at the start of this season when Brendan Rodgers’ side struggled without him, but the Reds began rebuilding work within the squad and also with expanding Anfield.

Derby rivals Everton flirted with Champions League qualification before eventually having to be satisfied with qualification for the Europa League under Roberto Martinez. The Blues also revealed ambitious proposals to move to a new a stadium on Walton Hall Park but they faced stiff opposition from locals.

Over the Mersey, Tranmere hit rock bottom of the Football League before making a recovery after Micky Adams become Rovers’ third manager of a turbulent year.

Liverpool Giants Spectacular 2014. Pics © Paul Schumann

Liverpool Giants Spectacular 2014. Pics © Paul Schumann

Elsewhere in sport, Leighton Aspell rode Pineau De Re to victory at the Aintree Grand National, while Tony Bellew gained revenge over Nathan Cleverley in their cruiserweight fight at the Echo Arena before landing a role in a Rocky spin-off film.

At the same venue, the International Festival of Business – the largest event of its kind in the UK in over a decade – came to the city in June.

The six-week long gathering succeeded in connecting UK business growth into international markets, and helped over 500 entrepreneurs from across Merseyside start up new businesses with a boot-camp style programme of master classes.

The death of 19-year-old Sophie Jones highlighted the growing campaign for younger women to receive cervical cancer screenings. She had been refused a smear test because of her age and an online e-petition called ‘Sophie’s Choice’ was created in the Wirral woman’s memory, generating hundreds of thousands of signatures within just days of her passing.

Royle Family star Ricky Tomlinson was granted the freedom of the city in October, and told JMU Journalism how “deeply delighted and chuffed” he was with the honour.

One of our quirkier news stories involved a shock in store for one Liverpool resident who came across a five-foot long snake while out walking in Sefton Park.

Liverpool Santa Dash 2014. Pics by Connor Dunn © JMU Journalism

Liverpool Santa Dash 2014. Pics by Connor Dunn © JMU Journalism

BBC Panorama journalist John Sweeney gave a special guest talk at Liverpool John Moores University to provide journalism students with a fascinating insight into his documentary work.

The year came to a close when 8,500 people took to the streets of Liverpool in Father Christmas costumes to mark the 10th anniversary of the city’s annual BTR Santa Dash.

The participants took on the 5km course and managed to reclaim back their unofficial world title from Las Vegas for the first time since 2010.

JMU Journalism will be back in 2015 to keep bringing you up to date on what’s happening in this great metropolis.

In the meantime, we would like to wish all our readers, listeners and viewers a very Happy New Year!

Additional reporting by JMU Journalism staff

About Samantha Gaulter-Green, JMU Journalism