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PETER MANDELSON AT MEDIACITYUK
 

Star date: 15th March 2010 

`SALFORD PEOPLE NOT CYNICAL ABOUT MEDIACITYUK' SAYS MANDELSON…

On a visit to MediaCityUK last Friday, Government Business Secretary Lord Peter Mandelson told Salford Star that Salford people are not cynical about MediaCityUK…as he defended the strange financial relationship between Peel Holdings and North West Development Agency, and argued that thousands of jobs are already being created for Salford people by the project.

Full story and interview here…


Mandelson At MediaCityUK Mandelson At MediaCityUK Mandelson At MediaCityUK
Mandelson At MediaCityUK Mandelson in Weaste
click image to enlarge

MANDELSON AT MEDIACITYUK

"There are already thousands of jobs being created for Salford people…"

And there they were, all in a huge glass walled piazza-level room at the half built MediaCityUK on the Quays…

Hazel Blears, Salford MP. Councillor John Merry, Leader of Salford City Council. Bryan Gray, ex chairman of North West Regional Development Agency (NWDA), and now chairman of Peel Media. Robert Hough, ex deputy chairman of Peel Holdings, now chairman of NWDA. Robert Whittaker, multi-millionaire owner of Peel Holdings. And Lord Peter Mandelson, Government Business Secretary and media styled Prince of Darkness.

…And in a beautiful piece of symbolism, there was the Salford Star on the freezing outside, noses pressed to the glass, looking in. After waiting around for an hour and a half we got less than five minutes with Peter Mandelson, which we print word for word below. 

We wanted some answers on the accusations we've been throwing at the MediaCityUK scheme from day one of its inception. While the Salford Star is not against
the concept of MediaCityUK, and welcome its potential to bring jobs to the city, as a community magazine we aim to represent the views of Salford people who are still cynical after the jobs and accessibility promised when The Lowry was built never happened.

Already, in the last printed issue of Salford Star, we proved that the idea of 15,000 jobs being created at MediaCityUK was utter rubbish. What we did prove from official figures is that if every square inch of MediaCityUK was filled by businesses there would be 3250 new jobs "at a local Salford level".  The BBC is only a small portion of the total MediaCityUK site, and at present they and the University of Salford are the only major tenants to have signed up. The rest of the site is almost deserted. Even 3250 new jobs is looking ridiculously optimistic in the short term.

So the first question to Peter Mandelson was…What do you think Salford people's perception of MediaCityUK is?

Mandelson: "I think they see a huge opportunity here because it's giving the whole of Salford a new lease of life with what's being built here, sourced here, the skills that are being invested here, the jobs that are going to be created…"

How many jobs do you think will be created here for Salford people?

Mandelson: "There are already thousands of jobs being created for Salford people and that will grow. One thing I'm particularly impressed with here is both the workforce coming from the local area and the manufactured plant being sourced from the travel to work area. I think that's been an important priority from the development and I congratulate them for it."

The second question was about the amount of public money that is being invested into the project. Peel Holdings, the richest company in the North West, has invested £500million into the first phase of MediaCityUK. We estimate that over £500million will also be sunk into the project from tax payers, with the vast majority of this (over £450million) going directly to Peel in rent for the studios, buildings and equipment which the company owns. Any profits go to Peel with nothing coming back to the tax payer. It's a deal on which Peel cannot lose, only gain, for very little risk.

We asked whether Mandelson actually knew how much public money has been put into the scheme?

Mandelson: "A lot of public money but even more private money and that's exactly the key we're looking for. The Government and the regional development agency have got to help make things happen so that at the early stage of risk we're prepared to take the risk. Where feed investment is needed we're prepared to provide the seed, where the planning obstacles have got to be overcome the Government and local authorities have got to do that as well.  At the end of the day it's private investment and enterprise and initiative that's going to pull this off but it has to be done in partnership between the public sector and private enterprise."

Do you know that the public sector has paid 50% of the first stage?

Mandelson: "I'm absolutely delighted that the Government and local authorities and the regional development agency have been prepared to put their money where their mouth is…"

But…

"Hold on a moment… We want regeneration we want new business opportunities we want new jobs created, we want people to feel a real sense of confidence and ambition and if it's public sector that's invested in it it's worth every penny."

Questions have been asked and fingers have been pointing to the links between the `regional development agency' (NWDA) and Peel Holdings. That Bryan Gray, a former chair of NWDA, now works for Peel Media which is building MediaCityUK, and Robert Hough, former deputy chair of Peel Holdings, who still holds a directorship, is now the chair of NWDA. The NWDA is currently throwing public money at the Peel owned MediaCityUK, some would argue, to the detriment of investment in other parts of Salford that need it more.

So we asked whether Peter Mandelson was aware of the links between NWDA and Peel Holdings?

Mandelson: "Yes, and I hope they continue to work very closely together. The essential thing about the regional development agency is that it's business led – I set up the RDAs in 1998 when I was Secretary of State at DTI and one thing I insisted on…insisted on…was that the whole development agency, whilst drawing from different parts of the public sector, is business led - because it's private enterprise, investment in capital and people that we want to bring into regeneration and recreating opportunities for people in areas like this, to bring about the sort of transformation we're seeing here. I'm absolutely delighted that that partnership is working so well here."

Did he think that the private company involved has the same agenda as the Government and the regenerators?

Mandelson: "Of course. But what's unique about this whole area is everyone pulling in the same direction – Government, regional development agency, local authorities, private enterprise, business firms that are backing this – everyone pulling in the same direction…you couldn't pull it off unless everyone was working together in the same direction."

Then why are Salford people are so cynical about it?

Mandelson: "I don't believe that Salford people are cynical about it…I've been in this area quite a lot over the years…"

So have I…

"…a lot because I have family up here and they see it as a thrilling opportunity – they see people taking them seriously, taking their future seriously and investing in it, and that's why people see the transformation here as an investment in them and their future. And I'm very glad that, not only the regional development agency, but the local authorities and the local members of Parliament, and in particular Hazel here in Salford, have put their shoulders to the reel and really helped to get this off the ground. They are to be congratulated and I hope that the sort of unity between the vision on the one hand, what government investment can do on the other, drawing in private enterprise…"
 
But there isn't any…

Mandelson: "and investment…will continue to transform not just Salford and Greater Manchester but the whole of the North West …"

But there's no private companies here, apart from the University and BBC…

Press officer intervenes… "I'm sorry time's up…"

So that was it, and Mandelson's people drove him away to his next appointment at John Wilkinson's factory in Weaste (Wilkinson gift to Hazel Blears for her ill fated Deputy Leadership campaign: £5000)…

Obviously Peter Mandelson was never going to slag off Peel Holdings or the NWDA or the links between them, or the amount of public money MediaCityUK is sucking up. But we did expect a bit longer with him, given we were the only press that turned up for this appointment. We did expect a bit more warmth towards the real concerns of Salford's community. And we did expect a bit more humility and humanity, particularly with an election around the corner.

But when you ask him a question in the middle of his monologue, Mandelson just fixes you with his cold brown eyes and carries on talking. He remains the Prince of Darkness…

Perhaps Gordon Brown would like to have a chat about Media City?

 

 

 


 

Najeeb wrote
at 18:44:05 on 02 April 2010
I think Media City is a fascinating project and it will bring lot of good to Salford area. I was googling for Media City Dubai when I stumbled upon Media City, Salford. I think i am lucky that I did not invest in Dubai Bubble, where many such projects remain a pipe dream, whereas Mediacity Salford is up and standing. Besides some direct jobs, every business enterprise around the project will have more opportunities. And if businesses are doing well, these would create lots of indirect jobs and positions. Please remeber, it is only desolate places and ghost towns where no jobs/business opportunities are created.
 
Steve wrote
at 22:36:37 on 18 March 2010
Good response Salford Star - but you still need to work on putting forward more positive constructive alternatives. Do the community views that you reflect have them? I'm sure they do.
 
Salford Star wrote
at 04:40:15 on 18 March 2010
Sorry Steve but we never claim to represent the community, 'cos like you say, no-one ever elected us. `Reflecting views', yes, definitely...taken from audience reaction at Salford Question time when MediaCityUK was brought up, taken from vox pops on Salford Precinct, taken from our own mail box and by talking to people every single day. So, yes, we try and reflect those views, and to make sure that the hype about community involvement in MediaCityUK, coming from the very unelected bodies that are involved in the place, isn't just hype. That's pretty constructive in our view.
 
Steve wrote
at 04:25:59 on 18 March 2010
Thanks for your response Salford Star. I'm a Salford person and, in your words, I know where I'm coming from. I'm always suspicious of people who claim to represent the community without any form of accountability. It's easy to criticise - as you clearly demonstrate - but less easy to be positively constructive - as you also clearly demonstrate.
 
Mark Whitfield wrote
at 11:06:39 on 16 March 2010
Hi, I maintain a Photographic Timeline Journal for MediaCityUK Salford Quays (12,500 pictures to date) which goes back to the first digger on site in June 2007. It is located at : http://www.mawhitfield.co.uk/mcuk.htm A LuvTheCity article about the MediaCityUK timeline exists at : http://www.luvthecity.com/salfordtimeline.aspx Hope this is useful, Cheers MARK.
 
Disgusted of Lower Broughton wrote
at 19:20:31 on 15 March 2010
So nice of Baron Mandelson to speak on behalf of the people of Salford.
 
Salford Star wrote
at 19:20:24 on 15 March 2010
Steve - that's not for us to say - we just try and reflect the views of the community and hold public bodies up to account. If all this public money is being put into Media City then someone has to look at why it's being done and what will come out of it. If you read the article you will see that so many promises were made re The Lowry and nowt's happened there. Perhaps we would like to see Salford's community get a fair deal for a change... We've seen all the regeneration in the past and Salford is still one of the most `deprived' places in the country...Why was that? Because developers, speculators, and profiteers took out and only gave back crap housing and more social problems. The Salford Star is not political and, despite what some people might think, has no axe to grind - you just look at the history of the place and you'll understand where Salford people are coming from...
 
Steve wrote
at 19:10:34 on 15 March 2010
Please could the Star give us a clear view of what it would like to see from the Media City development?
 
Albert Spiby wrote
at 19:10:23 on 15 March 2010
Salford Star... Are you a "Doubting Thomas" regarding Media City? You do know that its real name is Media Deity don't you? I refer you to item 2 of the Ten Commandments.... Worship only Peel Holdings Also, you mustn't ask any awkward questions of poor Mandy. That's not in the script.
 
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