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SALFORD CHARLESTOWN SPENDING REVEALED
 

Star date: 19th August 2012

OVER 70% OF BUDGET FOR NDC LEGACY COMMUNITY GROUP SPENT ON CONSULTANTS, MARKETING, ONE PART TIME WORKER AND A CHAIR

After almost ten weeks Salford Council has finally, sort of, replied to the Salford Star Freedom of Information request surrounding the finances of the Charlestown and Lower Kersal Development Framework Group – the `community led' organisation set up to guard the legacy of the ten year £53million NDC atrocity.

It's not pretty reading… Nearly £43,000 from a budget of £60,000, or over 70%, was spent on staff, consultants and marketing - while only  £15,155 was spent on grants for community projects.

Full story here…


Charlestown and Lower Kersal Development Framework Group Charlestown and Lower Kersal Development Framework Group
click image to enlarge

Way back in May the Salford Star put in a Freedom of Information request to Salford City Council demanding `all minutes, financial records and reports' of the Charlestown and Lower Kersal Development Framework Group'.

The snappily titled Development Framework Group was set up as `the guardian of the NDC legacy'. The NDC is the Charlestown and Lower Kersal New Deal For Communities ten year project which had a £53million budget and very little to show for it by the end, bar grass crofts, tinned up houses, no jobs and an angry community.

With the NDC long gone, the Development Framework Group (DFG) was supposed to look after the community's interests, with an annual income, or `annuity', coming in from rents off NDC backed buildings and stuff.

Unfortunately the Development Framework Group doesn't have a website, produces no publicly available minutes for any of its meetings, and no financial information has been made available to the community for which it is supposed to be the `guardian'.

Following the Freedom of Information request to the Council, which is the accountable body for the DFG, a reply finally arrived after almost ten weeks when it should have taken twenty days. The information on staff costs for the Group was blanked out (`exempt S40').
 
What the document did show was that for the year 2011-12 `Staff and Chair' were paid £34,638.93'. There is only one part time `staff', plus the `Chair'. The last available NDC report for 2009-10 shows that the NDC `Chair' got paid £10,583.82, so, using this as a guide, it's not too hard to estimate the part time wages.

To repeat. The full cost for one part time worker and a Chair is getting on for £35,000, from a total `community' budget of just over £60,000* in one of the poorest areas of Salford.

During 2011-12, the Development Framework Group also spent £2000 on `consultants and contractors' and £6,259 on `marketing and publicity' - mainly on Essence, the `everything's rosy in Charlestown and Lower Kersal' rag, which was set up specifically "promoting the positive activity which happens in the area".

Just £15,155 was spent on grants for six projects within the community (including £5,000 on a health impact study around the recycling centre, £5,000 on a community garden project at St Sebastian's Community Centre and £250 on mobile phones for the Police Community Support Officers), plus £1,700 on unspecified `events'…

As the previous Salford Star article showed, nearly 80% of the Development Framework Group's budget, according to its own pie chart, was spent on `administrative costs', `marketing and publicity' and `training expenses' (click here for full story).

One of the stated aims of the Group is "Investing the annuity in a way that has a positive and meaningful impact on the local community". A comment left by someone from the area following that article on the Salford Star website said it all…

"How can this be portrayed as a community run organisation, when no one in that community knows what's actually occurring, or even who and why people who they didn't elect claim to be representing them!...Why, you and I ask ourselves, after spending £53mill, are you now hiding such small spending?"

According to the Development Framework Group's Annual Report, "The Chair and Coordinator were invited to speak at the Economic and Social Research Council Salford Seminar. Our theme was community engagement in regeneration and was well received by those who attended."

One of the priorities for this financial year, the Report adds, is to generate more income for the Group, so it can be "less reliant on Salford City Council" – and even less accountable?

To this end the Group has set up a joint venture, with £1,000 support from the Leadership and Management Fund, to go out and get its own contracts based on "community development and social media".

One of the Group's partners is Liverpool based Pulse Regeneration - a `specialist social enterprise and community regeneration consultancy' - which has been raking in money from the NDC for years doing `sustainability' stuff.

The other partner is People's Voice Media, which trousered over £200,000 from the NDC at the last count (click here), and is currently based at the Salford Innovation Forum sharing the community space with the Development Group – paying no rent, only `running costs'. People's Voice Media currently produces the non-critical Essence ragazine too.

The three partners are currently going out looking for contracts. The community might well be asking whether the Development Framework Group's involvement in the joint venture is purely financially self serving or in the interests of the Charlestown and Lower Kersal community.

Meanwhile, for this financial year, a further £44,500 has been allocated for `Part Time Support Officer including on costs and Chair, including on costs'.

And as the Development Framework Group bigs up its `community engagement in regeneration' credentials, Charlestown and Lower Kersal is punctuated with closed down businesses, tinned up houses, grass crofts and more half cocked `plans' and `visions' for the area…


See previous Salford Star articles…

• Eight Year Whit Lane Regeneration Mess – click here

• NDC Regeneration Shambles in Whit Lane – click here

• NDC Legacy Group Accountability Blocked – click here


Copies of the Development Framework Group (Charlestown and Lower Kersal) Annual Report, minus financial details, are available in print from St Sebastian's Community Centre.


* The actual budget is just over £69,000 but the £9,000 rent figure is a paper stat as no rent is actually paid. It's shown as an expenditure and income figure.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Salford born and bred wrote
at 06:56:29 on 11 October 2012
Since resigning from this group, I've seen nothing being developed within the area, I've seen no impact on the area and NO money spent only on wages to the hair and Manager, What do they do in there office, How do they communicate with people, Who sets the wages, Why are the local people not involved in Denison making yet wages are set by the Chair and Manager Why is this group not got a website, Where are all the minutes from there meetings This group needs investigating because all it seems is to be about is wages,wages,wages and no community It's all a farce What's our new elected Mayor going to do about it
 
Linda Carr wrote
at 05:16:39 on 07 September 2012
I would also like to say the Community Representatives who are members of this group do not get any payment or expenses of any kind. They also have to pay their travel expenses out of their own pocket.
 
Zac wrote
at 09:48:48 on 05 September 2012
This lot just stinks , and merits a fraud investigation .
 
Ann Olner wrote
at 22:06:26 on 04 September 2012
I would like to make it known that the voted Community Representatives do not receive any expenses. They work very hard to do the best that they can for the Charlestown and Lower Kersal Area.
 
Brian F Kirkham wrote
at 17:32:36 on 31 August 2012
Another Community, Another Report. Can someone from the council please explain to me, just what the heck the people of Salford actually GET from these Management Consultants and what's been achieved from it apart from a production of a glossy brochure full of vague figures?
 
Lee Craven MBE wrote
at 21:45:29 on 30 August 2012
As a former Community Rep this is why I resigned, No information was given to Reps in relation to their community, And to top it off , the Reps were unaware that Staff and Chair were very well aware that Miller Homes pulled out of the Charlestown redevelopment plan , and that reps were not even aware of this, very let down by all of this, My heart belongs to the community and I will continue to support my community and not to be taken for a ride.
 
Seen this before wrote
at 15:34:27 on 19 August 2012
In the mid to late 1990's (yes Salford council have been playing the "regeneration game" for a long time), the Wiltshire Street area of Higher Broughton was awarded £250,000 of Single Regeneration Budget money. This was to be phased over 5 years. I saw figures that showed in 2 years, over £70,000 had been spent on part time assistants to the neighbourhood coordinator. We all know what happened up there as well.
 
mary ferrer wrote
at 06:38:43 on 19 August 2012
Well done.Glad you didn't give up. I don't do figures, but just reading this,I can tell something stinks. In the middle of all this are people, Salford people who are being treated like them there mushrooms.(Keep um in the dark,shovel shit on um.) It's all wrong,but they get away with it day in and day out.
 
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