While Salford City Council struggles to make £40million of cuts this financial year, the Salford Star can reveal the existence of a £10million Media Enterprise Zone Fund, spread over the next five years, purely to be spent on unspecified projects at MediaCityUK.
Under the Freedom of Information Act, Salford Council admitted the existence of the Media Enterprise Zone Fund, or MEZ, and stated that the "MEZ budget is £2m per annum for five years beginning this year".
After further questioning about what the Fund was actually for, Salford Council's press office told us that it had been set up "to support the long-term development of MediaCityUK".
This, the Council stated, included "support business (particularly start-ups, small and medium size business's) development and growth at MediaCityUK" and to "provide funding support for the future development and use of the public environment and public transport".
We asked how the Fund would help support businesses at MediaCityUK – are there any grants available? Is there any help towards rent costs at the Peel Holdings owned site? Er, no…
We were told that there was no "grant offering". The Fund is about developing the Council's £4.2million Media Enterprise Centre at Media City and creating "a supportive environment for companies" with things like "screening rooms" and "equipment". Neither are there any grants to subsidise established companies at Media City to take Salford people into employment.
The second function of the £2million a year Media Enterprise Zone Fund is to "provide funding support for the future development and use of the public environment and public transport", which is incredibly unspecific and could mean anything.
Salford Council's official budget spending on MediaCityUK this financial year shows a total of only £694,230 (Employees - £227,575: Premises - £8,146: Transport - £1,799: Supplies and services - £456,710).
The £10million MEZ Fund comes on top of £520,000 Salford Council spending on three events at Salford Quays for the Manchester International Festival and to "celebrate the BBC's arrival in Salford and the opportunities they and MediaCityUK will bring to the city" (see here)…
…It also comes on top of millions of pounds already spent on the BBC Philharmonic Orchestra as part of the Council's eight year £20million sponsorship (see here).
…It also comes on top of a three year (2008-11) NWDA `MediaCityUK PSP Programme' budget of almost £1.5million which included £732,500 for "research and consultancy", £260,000 for a "Virtual Programme Team" and £320,000 on "Marketing and Communications".
…And it also comes on top of previous spending of £650 a day on the MediaCityUK `deprived areas' consultant, Chris Marsh (see here)
There is also lots more public spending at MediaCityUK still to be revealed…
As Salford's carers and homeless hostels have their budgets cut Salford people may well question the ethics of such vast amounts of public money being sunk into just one area of the city…
* Any business seeking help as part of the MEZ Fund can e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org
Photo by Jemma Cooper