Figures released for Salford Council's expenditure over £500 for April 2011 show that there was no let up in the employment of outside consultants, marketing and PR companies plus some other strange stuff, despite £40million of cuts announced the month before.
Most strange, perhaps, is the Council's £14,000 spending from its Community, Health and Social Care budget on `subsistence' somewhere within the posh De Vere Hotels chain. We know there's loads of homeless people in Salford but they certainly weren't re-located to one of the De Vere `Villages' dotted around Greater Manchester? So what was it – a jolly, a junket? A `bonding' exercise?
Meanwhile, Lancashire Cricket Board was paid £12,660 as a `consultancy/contractor' fee from the city's Community, Health and Social Care budget. For this amount, we can only find a three week Wicket Keeping Development Course last February, based at Wentworth High School.
Salford Council Leader, John Merry, is known to be a keen cricket fan and it must delight him that Salford is developing its catching prowess. It must also thrill Mr Merry that Manchester City Centre is grabbing so much publicity, as he sits on the board of CityCo, the Manc marketing company with its vision "to make Manchester city centre a more dynamic, exciting and interesting place…and to continue to strengthen the brand and reputation of the city". CityCo received a `subscription' of £36,000 in April, courtesy of Salford council tax payers. And Salford doesn't even warrant a mention on its website.
Mr Merry also sits on the board of the Halle Orchestra which received £4,200 in `professional fees' from the Children's budget. This is ok – but people might well ask what hell the BBC Philharmonic Orchestra is doing to earn its £20million sponsorship from Salford Council.
And those shoppers who feel mugged and robbed every time they park their car on Salford Precinct at £1.50 a go will be delighted, we're sure, to discover that, in April, local tax payers coughed up £1,242 (and 56p!) for Salford Council car park permits at the posh Digital World Centre on Salford Quays.
While we're on the Quays, in April The Lowry picked up a whopping £185,417 in `professional fees' courtesy of the Community, Health and Social Care budget, plus a rental fee of £6,001 from the Chief Executive's budget.
Also on the Quays, Ear To The Ground, the `live events strategies' company picked up £24,695 in `professional fees' in April, to go with its payment of £88,540 the previous month. And we still can't work out what the hell they do – apart from being Peel Holdings' partner in MediaCityUK.
For the February expenditure figures we questioned why The White Room `creative economy consultants' had received £25,801 (see here). And its MD commented indignantly that the fee was for shaping `the concept, partnership and business plan' of the Make Media Centre that was to be `an integral part of MediaCity. A part that is explicitly for the communities in Salford'…
Hmmm – that was money well spent. The concept is as dead as a dodo at the moment. And in April The White Room Consultancy picked up a further £16,130 from the Council's Children's budget, plus another £17,382 from the Chief Executive budget as a `consultant/contractor'.
On the `giving the community a voice' (as long as it's not critical of Salford Council, eh?) front, People's Voice got its regular Salford Council handouts – this time £3,252 in `professional fees' and £3,428 for `marketing'. And that ace Salford community company, er, Old Trafford News, received £4,440 in `training expenses'. They were joined by M44 Ltd, which received £2,400 in `professional fees'. M44 Ltd is a `local business directory' for Irlam and Cadishead with a website that's last `news' item, lifted from another publication, was way back in June (see here).
And there's more… The Pathways cic (`developing customer insight and market segmentation to enable commissioners to factor in attitudinal, psychographic and demographic information to the services they commission') consultancy fee of £51,280 – and the £242,000 in `agency fees' for Comensura (`procurement and supply chain management solutions')…amongst lots of other payments.
Salford Council cuts are certainly biting hard – in some places…
For full details of Salford Council April expenditure over £500 click here
More to follow…