The Manchester Salford Pathfinder (MSP) project, which has released over £360million to demolish, refurbish and build houses in the two cities, has been criticised by the Audit Commission for letting everyone know what it’s doing – apart from the actual community.
In a report called Market Response the Commission, states…
"Regular market reports are distributed to board members and wider stakeholders including the two city councils, local urban regeneration companies, housing associations, private sector representatives and government agencies. However, the papers are not routinely distributed to residents in the pathfinder area, nor are they available through the pathfinder website."
The Audit Commission can sure say that again – the local Pathfinder website hasn't been updated since 2008…the last bit of research it's got up there is from 2005, the last Annual Report is from 2007/8, and last `news' item is dated March 2008.
Meanwhile, it lists on the MSP Board…Bryce Glover of the Alliance and Leicester, even though he left the bank last April and has now also left the MSP Board…and Professor Michael Harloe, `Vice Chancellor of the University of Salford', who actually retired last year, although he's still on the Board for some weird reason. Also up there is Eddy Newman from Manchester City Council, even though he's been replaced by Paul Andrews. And there's new Board members, like Francis Hilton, who aren't included at all.
Given that Pathfinder is spending so much public money, the secrecy surrounding financial and market information is phenomenal – it's virtually impossible to work out from public records, for instance, how much Pathfinder money has actually been given to each scheme it's been financing. Residents will be concerned that regeneration agencies, councils and private developers are updated on a regular basis while they are kept in the dark.
Meanwhile, the public records that are available tend to lump Manchester and Salford statistics together, so that it's impossible to work out Pathfinder's true affect on Salford.
We believe that of the £361,000,000 that Manchester and Salford have had, £126,000,000 has come to Salford but have no idea as to exactly where the money has been spent or whether, in fact, this total is even correct.
The Audit Commission recommended that "the pathfinder website is kept up to date and consider including market trend data so that it is accessible to a wider audience"…
We won't hold our breath. Way back in summer 2007 (issue 4) the Salford Star noted that Pathfinder hadn't followed the Audit Commission's recommendation from 2006 to put in place "appropriate arrangements…to be publicly accountable for its decisions". Following pressure, Pathfinder finally got its website up in winter 2007 – kept it alive for around six months and hasn't touched it since by looks of things.
We asked Pathfinder for a comment – but they haven't got back to us yet.