June's figures for Salford City Council's expenditure over £500 show £15,574 spent on funerals in one month, presumably for the poor whose families can't afford to bury them. If so, this is a sure sign of increasing poverty within the city, although there are no comparable figures for the previous years (we are attempting to get them under Freedom of Info).
Meanwhile, lots of money was paid out by Salford Council in June to an array of consultants, including over £8000 to Turner and Townsend which claims to "help organisations succeed by managing risk while maximising value".
Another prominent payee was Instar Consultancy which received two payments in June totalling over £23,000. From when Salford Council's expenditure was first made public in December 2010 until July this year, Instar received over £108,000 or an average of £12,000 a month. Instar is wholly owned by Sue Wilkinson, and its last accounts showed a profit of over £100,000.
Salford Council told us that Sue Wilkinson is a contractor brought in to manage the quarter of a billion pound Building Schools for the Future project. That will be the one that is beset by problems? In July, Salford Schools Forum slated the overcrowded state of the city's primary schools, following a report by Sue Wilkinson (see here). However the Forum did `acknowledge the work undertaken by Sue Wilkinson and the pressures involved'. That's £3000 a week pressure for Sue's Instar consultancy?
Then there's the incredible Jason Setford-Smith. He is a director and principal consultant at Swift Argent Ltd which picked up £9000 from Salford Council in June. On Jason's Linked In page he also claims to be working as a `consultant and project lead' for Salford City Council, and as a consultant for Primary Insight, a `specialist support organisation for institutional investors' which advises on `outsourcing, government works, public services, regulation and industry development'… No conflict of interest there?
Oh, and Jason is also a `retained consultant' for Transport for Greater Manchester (formerly GMPTE), a `retained consultant' for Capita Symonds and a `retained consultant' for huge private consultancy, Mouchel. We asked Salford Council for some sort of Jason explanation, and we're still waiting for a response.
Altogether, consultant magnet Salford Council spent over £150,000 in one month on outside `specialists'.
One particularly specialist service was provided by Zentek Forensics which picked up £5,445 in June. Zentek are forensic investigators of computers and mobile phones and provide a tailored `search and seizure' service. What was going on at the Council? If we worked at the Civic Centre we'd be afraid…very afraid…
Also paid £750 by the Council's Children's Services in June was Shred It Ltd which specialises in, er, shredding confidential documents. In these times of austerity you'd think a match would be cheaper – but, we suppose, it's better than leaving secret documents on children lying around the streets (see here).
Meanwhile, the Manchester International Festival got another payout for £250,000, making a total of half a million pounds until June. The Lowry got a further £1,179 in `misc expenses'…And The White Room `creative economy consultants' picked up a further £5,760 bringing its total payments since December to over £65,000. And we still don't know what the hell it does!
Peel Media, of course, got another £1500 of public money in rent on its `Make It Your Media City' site. Salford Council told us these monthly £1500 payments to the billion pound property company - which has already had millions of pounds worth of public money for its MediaCityUK project - were for office space and they have now stopped. Peel Holdings, owners of the Bridgewater Canal Company, also got another £24,353 handout to do up its canal.
And, billion euro turnover outfit Sodexo got another £82,335 `external grant' on top of all the other `external grants' it's had this year (see previous articles).
Now, what Salford Council expenditure list would be complete without People's Voice being stuffed with some more public money? In June it was £1,500 from Children's Services for `leisure activity'.
Oh, and `community magazine' M3 - the content of which was tampered with in its first issue by Salford URC - got its £5,333 payment from Salford Council's `devolved budget'. This is the very same budget that Salford Star has been battling the Council over – it states that the community would be breaking law if it financed Salford Star because we are `political' (see here). So tampering with editorial by Salford Council's now dead regen company isn't political??? Spot those hypocrites!
For all Salford Council's Expenditure over £500 for June 2011 click here