Latest budget figures from Salford Council show the huge amount of spending this year alone on prestige capital projects, ranging from Media City to Chapel Street and the Irwell River Park.
`Capital' spending is for buildings and stuff, as opposed to `revenue' spending, which is for services, but nevertheless shows the massive amount of resources going into a very small area around Manchester City Centre and Salford Quays.
Chapel Street takes up £12.694million of the Salford Council budget for `acquisitions', or buying up land along the stretch leading into Manchester – yet the organisation that is subsequently developing the land (and re-branding it Manchester) is English Cities fund (ECf), a combination of private companies (Legal and General and Muse) and the Government's Homes and Communities Agency (see previous Salford Star article for further details – click here).
Meanwhile, MediaCityUK, now up and running for a few years, is still draining the coffers, with £2.205million set aside, plus £1.43million for the `MEC' (Media Enterprise Centre, now called The Landing). The so-called Irwell River Park, which is tarting up waterside sites, is gobbling up £2.415million this year and the Council has also set aside £3.961million for `other' unspecified projects.
Altogether, this spending alone comes to £22.705million. In the past, when Salford Star has questioned such spending via the end of year accounts, the Council finance dept has always stated that a lot of capital spending is offset with grants – but, of this total, only £3.958million is grant funded, meaning that Salford council tax payers are contributing £18.747million. Whether they like it or not.
Elsewhere in the budget, Peel Holdings' Port Salford is having a total of £24.068 thrown at it, of which £15million is coming direct from Salford Council; and unspecified `Salford West' projects are getting £4.761million (£1.172million from grants).
The total spending from the Chief Exec's capital budget alone (which doesn't include schools, housing etc), excluding grants, is £38.363million, with well over 50% or £22.705million going directly to what are perceived as prestige projects. Add the need to subsidise moneybags Peel Holdings' Port Salford into the equation and the figure jumps to over 90%.
This huge amount of `capital' spending is for one Salford City Council department alone. And, while City Mayor Ian Stewart argues tearfully that he can't use capital funding to stop cuts to public services (revenue spending), the question has to be asked as to who sets the `capital' and `revenue' budgets in the first place.
On Twitter the other day, Ian Stewart responded to a resident asking about housing that Salford Council has been "forced to cut 97million since 2010' with at least another 75million over next 3 years. We don't have the money." (sic)
That resident might well argue that it's a question of priorities…
*Over the next few months expect a barrage of hype and propaganda about `Salford 2025: A Modern Global City'…With huge rates of child poverty and workless households in that city (see here), just who is it benefiting? See previous Salford Star article – Jam Tomorrow – click here
• A lot more to follow on Salford 2025…
Main graphic by Anya K