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SALFORD MEDIA CITY COMMUNITY MONEY SCANDAL
 

Star date: 13th January 2011

A Salford Star Exclusive

SECRECY AND SCANDAL SURROUNDS ALMOST £6 MILLION OF `COMMUNITY ENGAGEMENT' MONEY FOR MEDIACITYUK: Part 1

"I knew nothing about this community engagement money going out…and I'm pretty annoyed that we didn't at the very least get the chance to put in a proposal" John Phillips, Salford Community Media Partnership

A whole industry has grown up around getting Salford's community `engaged' with MediaCityUK, all financed with public money. But is that money reaching Salford's communities and the community media organisations which work with those communities?

The latest scandal surrounds £161,000 about to be dished out by Salford Council for the "appointment of the organisations to deliver the pilot phase of the MediaCityUK Community Engagement Plan". And Salford's community media groups ain't happy…

Part 1 of a very long story, here…


MEDIACITYUK `COMMUNITY ENGAGEMENT': Part 1

Last Monday, at 9am, there was due to be a meeting of Salford Council's `Customer and Support Services' where the Lead Member was due to ratify the handing out of £161,000 for pilot projects as part of the MediaCityUK Community Engagement Plan.

There were six projects in line to get the money but the work had never gone out to public tender. The £161,000 is part of a huge pot of almost £1.5million from the NWDA `Public Sector Partners Programme' which was set up so that "people of Salford are informed and engaged by MediaCityUK and what it can offer them and their families".

This latest batch of money just seemed to have been handed out without many of the key community media groups that are working with Salford's communities knowing anything about it.

The Council report stated that the projects were exempt from going out to public tender because "The organisations themselves, in consultation with the community, Steering Group and CRIIS, created these ideas and so the concepts are intellectually with the lead organisations."

Yet few groups were asked to apply for the funding in the first place, and never got the opportunity to `create ideas'. Indeed, when the Salford Star sent out a questionnaire to over forty of Salford's community groups, the vast majority had never heard of the funding and were furious.

We asked `Were you or your organisation approached to submit ideas for projects for the `MediaCityUK Community Engagement Plan?' and `Would you or your organisation liked to have submitted some ideas if you'd known about it?'

The responses were typified by this from the Ordsall Trust and Salford LIDS which work with the community literally across the road from MediaCityUK…

"Nobody from Ordsall Trust or Salford LIDS has been approached. We certainly do have ideas. Worse, we're actually doing stuff (without any funding or support from these guys) and no doubt will be expected to carry on working for nothing, while these fat cats share out the cream between themselves."

Within a mile of MediaCityUK, Salford Arts Theatre - where some of Salford's greatest actors began their careers – now has holes in its roof and buckets on the floor to catch the rain. The Theatre's Roni Ellis replied that, while she had been involved in the `community engagement' consultation, "If my memory serves me right it didn't mention funding. If I was asked to put forward ideas for community engagement projects I would have been there with the ideas."

The Salford Community Media Partnership (SCMP), which incorporates a large number of Salford's community media groups (including the Salford Star) was never informed either…

"I knew nothing about this community engagement money going out until I was contacted by the Salford Star, and I'm pretty annoyed that we didn't at the very least get the chance to put in a proposal" says John Phillips, joint SCMP organiser and Chief Officer at Langworthy Cornerstone Association

"I'm not saying that we should get any special treatment or anything, but not even being considered is very disappointing to say the least" he adds "I wonder what the process was for selecting the pilot projects? I've not actually heard of most of them; I spoke to Chris Brophy, Manager of Salford City Radio, and he knew nothing about it either, even though they are down as working with one of the pilots. SCMP is included in the Community Engagement Strategy for Media City mentioned in the report, and they definitely know about us and what our members can do, so I don't understand why we weren't even considered."

Representatives from the city's community groups were about to go to the Salford Council meeting last Monday to make their feelings known when the agenda item on the funding was suddenly `deferred' due to a `technicality'. Apparently, John Merry, Leader of Salford Council, had to ratify the funding before it went to the Lead Member of Customer and Support Services. No-one at the moment knows when the John Merry meeting will be held and whether it will be held behind closed doors.

We asked Salford Council…

* Why was no-one asked to submit ideas as part of the consultation?
* Were these projects ever advertised to community arts groups in the city and, if not, why not?
*How were the companies receiving funding chosen - by someone at Media City or the Council or the University?
*Does the Council think that acting like this will endear the community and media artists working in the community to MediaCityUK?
* Whether the MediaCityUK `community engagement' projects will now be put out for public tender?

John Merry said: "I understand a proposal has been drafted and submitted for my consideration but no decision has been made yet. At the beginning of 2010, following a formal tender process, a company called Creative Industries in Salford was appointed to work with community groups, the media and the public to create a community engagement strategy for MediaCityUK.

"Creative Industries used the information from these consultations to put together a plan of proposed pilot projects to engage the community" he added "This is the plan I will be reviewing as part of my role as lead member of regeneration."

The Salford Star has seen a copy of the original consultation with Salford's community media groups which included recommendations for a Community Media Programme – and only one of the groups which are due to get funding from the MediaCityUK `engagement programme' is even mentioned.

The organisations due to get a share of the £161,000 are:

INNER CITY VISION: £47,600 (max)
This money is for two projects. The first is the Muslim Community Radio Initiative "To build on creative work already taken place over the last three years by Inner City Vision in the Muslim community" (£17,600). And the second project is to work in Little Hulton "on digital skills, music technology with intergenerational groups, and young parents on IT skills" (£30,000). Incredibly, considering the `focus' on IT skills, we can't find a website for `Inner City Vision' anywhere. 

The Council report also states that "Inner City Vision have previously worked on the successful Lowry Walkabout programme in this area". When we contacted The Lowry asking for contact details for Inner City Vision their press officer told us "Unfortunately I can't find any information about us working with a company called Inner City Vision so can't help you on this one I'm afraid." The Council report states that `Inner City Vision' was `previously Ulwin & Charles'. Again, there's nothing on the world wide web about such a company. Although there is a person called Chris Charles, who is a former Lowry employee.


SCHOOLS PRODUCTION HOUSE: £50,000 (max)
This appears to be a salary of £50,000 `until the end of the academic year' – "The post-holder would work with existing groups and organisations to ensure schools are linked to the best industry media practice."

PEOPLE'S VOICE MEDIA: £18,000
This project is "to train a group of Community reporters in Irlam and Cadishead and East Salford so they are equipped to gather local stories of relevance to local people".

£8000 of the money is coming from the NDC (New Deal for Communities) in East Salford. People's Voice accounts show that for the last three years until March 2010 the company has already had £194,493 in contracts and grants from the NDC for doing, presumably, the same work in East Salford. People's Voice also had £42,362 from Salford University's `Transformation Fund' in 2010, plus £3,375 from Talk Broughton. The company turns over in excess of £500,000 a year and lists its `volunteer expenses' at £491 for 2010, and just £137 for 2009. People's Voice Media is based in Manchester.

CTVC: £15,000
This project would "bring 5 weeks film production training delivery in Salford for 5 groups of young people". CTVC is based in London.

FUTURE ARTISTS: £20,800 (max)
This project is to work with between 20 and 30 young people from East Salford "to create their own project and distribute it via social and traditional media to showcase their talents through a high quality piece of work". Future Artists are based at Islington Mill in Salford.

COMMUNITY GROUPS IN ORDSAL AND LANGWORTHY: £10,000
This appears to be the crumbs thrown to the community, as groups from Ordsall and Langworthy compete for funding by application to "engage and inform local people about MediaCityUK".

Part 2 – WHAT HAPPENED TO ALMOST £6 MILLION OF `COMMUNITY ENGAGEMENT' MONEY FOR MEDIACITYUK see here.

 

COUNCILSPEAK INTERLUDE

The Salford Council report (above) that was due to go to the meeting last Monday stated that "The strategy was approved and the project plan noted by Lead Member for Community Health and Social Care on 24th November 2010". But there was no meeting on 24th November and there are no Lead Member for Community Health and Social Care meetings listed on the Council's website. We were told that this was another `error' and that it was, in fact, approved by the Lead Member for Neighbourhoods. Again, we couldn't find any `Lead Member for Neighbourhoods' meetings or any Council decision notices about it. The reason given was that `this is not an official approval because the power to give overall approval to this decision lies with the Lead Member for Regeneration (Councillor Merry)'. You what?

 

Photo of MediaCityUK by Jemma Cooper

adrian wilkinson 30media ltd wrote
at 21:02:54 on 23 January 2011
I apologise for the error in my last comment again i need a proof reader lol! It should say the biggest con job on earth. I also missed the unappreciative attitude of these people to workers and project bosses "like myself" who don`t have the luxury of a salary at the end of the month. I love this article salford star it has finally given me a chance to speak out, i am going to enjoy my business solely and leave the con artists to do it themsleves after all they get paid !!!!! A final comment from a permanently for profit team, Thanks
 
adrian wilkinson 30media ltd wrote
at 17:23:58 on 23 January 2011
Hi my last comment on the subject i think you have run out of space here. Over the nine years we operated i incurred 10,000 pounds personal debt supporting the project, Councils and funders want people to run these projects all unwaged and in what becomes a full time job and neglects supporting them either financially or in any other fahsion, Its slave labour and the biggest on job on earth, i dare say i am not the only person to share these experiences. Please add yours.
 
adrian wilkinson 30media ltd wrote
at 17:02:37 on 21 January 2011
Just three months ago i was informed that 1million pounds was still available in a devolved budget for community groups, now they have no money ??????
 
adrian wilkinson 30media ltd wrote
at 07:16:45 on 21 January 2011
I have today quit the sector of non profits, This is relavant to your story and follows on from my other comments, I have just received word having put in a bid totalling 25 k that we cannot have the full amount but have to appeal and get a lesser amount because they don`t have any money ? This would have created a flagship media centre fully refurbished delivering services in film,media,theatre and music, The make up of the plan would have also made it a self sustaining project. After my other comments if you read i have had enough if you want any help bringing these down salford star give me a shout. A very uncharitable male indeed and team, We are off to concentrate on our commercial busines after nine years of the biggest load of rubbish you have ever heard.
 
adrian wilkinson 30media ltd wrote
at 21:31:46 on 17 January 2011
I can also point out my grant funding for nine years all inclusive is approx £40,000 Thats a grand total of £4500 per year. In that time we have worked with almost every community group, worked with in excess of 2000 musicians , Delivered youth projects, worked three festivals ,and salford film festival. Worked on the early salford radio broadcasts prior to their launch. With ahuge batch of other measures. Run past me what these groups taking £500,000 per year have done ? Why because our face does not fit!!!! Thank you
 
adrian wilkinson wrote
at 06:35:33 on 16 January 2011
To be brutally honest without wishing to affect our future as a group ,all media projects are quite used to being un supported and a click like mentality going on for a small minority of groups, who acheive and engage far less and get millions poured into them.
 
adrian wilkinson wrote
at 06:35:14 on 16 January 2011
Yes great article its about time myself and my colleagues had a voice, Thank you Salford star!!!
 
adrian wilkinson wrote
at 06:34:53 on 16 January 2011
I think nigel they award to muslim groups to make themselves appear pc and imply racial equality, The essance of what you are saying is right , We have an incinerator being built near our base, they will award so much to the community to lessen the blow of being there. This is the same kind of principal although media city is preferable to an incinerator.
 
UoS wrote
at 21:08:52 on 15 January 2011
Great article - looking forward to the follow up.
 
Lyn wrote
at 17:27:02 on 14 January 2011
I wholly agree with Nigel Pivaro, he has hit the nail on the head with his point how can you isolate on the basis of Gender/Race/Religion/Sexual-preference and then expect cohesive integration to result from this? I am puzzled because the example given 'Muslim Women' surely excludes all men and also all non-muslims. So how about funding for non-muslim men for example who perhaps are a majority group in salford. Or lets not go down that road of institutionalised division in the first place.
 
Nigel Pivaro wrote
at 15:42:34 on 14 January 2011
The whole thing is a stitch up with no wider consultation in order that groups or individuals with a need and a vision equal, if not greater, than those who have been ushered in through the side entrance. Personally I find the award to Muslim women especially reprehensible. Straight away the award is exclusive to a small group within in a particular group to the exclusion of others on the grounds of gender and religion. This surely borders on the illegal as well as the absurd.
 
Em3 wrote
at 09:08:58 on 14 January 2011
Thanks for a brilliant article on this so called 'community engagement' funding. it sound like a mirror image of government and big business - where our 'representatives' are lining their own pockets and the pockets of their mates. SCMP is doing some fantastic, genuine grassroots community development - often in cold buildings with no money to pay bus fares to us, unemployed (but very grateful) participants. I know people who would have topped themselves without SCMP. GIVE US A BREAK YOU FAT CATS!
 
Adrian wrote
at 20:56:05 on 13 January 2011
http://www.facebook.com/pages/Campaign-for-non-profit-workers-union/163631340349922?created#!/pages/Campaign-for-non-profit-workers-union/163631340349922?v=info Please show support i have compelled by this story set up a page to campaign for change.
 
Brian F Kirkham wrote
at 20:54:46 on 13 January 2011
£161,000 to Arts in Salford ? Hmmm... I took a long hard look at your article, and it posed more questions than answers to me. Firstly, I've heard of the Muslim Community Radio Project - it exists, and broadcasts (Quite successfully) under the banner of fresh asian radio in Manchesters Rusholme/Cheetham Hill Area...but i had no idea it was setting up in Salford..is this going to be the same set up? Then Again, Inner City Media - Who are these people? They may be behind both projects, but i see the council throwing public cash to a company that hasn't really advertised itself to anyone except the local council. I'll be interested to see what comes of this. Peoples Voice have had schemes elsewhere in the city, and i've seen some of their productions in libraries and the like - then again - its in East Salford, and i'm becoming wary of cash being poured in that area, because of the 'proximity' to the university campus. But then we come to Ordsall Weaste & Langworthy, ideal candidates one may think for funding, given the proximity of given districts to the Mediacity development - Yes, Primarily we'll benefit from the new academy (when it eventually gets built) but I haven't heard much from Council/Peel/BBC on how they mean to engage the local community in this scheme...For Instance, in Mediacity's Infancy there was discussion of a Community Media centre for use by the local community - but it's been a while and with the development due to open next year - what's going to happen to this part of the scheme?
 
J. Caffrey wrote
at 19:50:26 on 13 January 2011
Just wanted to say, what a great piece of reporting. It would be a shame if you don't manage to get it out on a more public platform like on Granada reports or BBC news. It sounds like its practically corruption, fraud, I don't know, but its absolutely disgraceful when people who have worked hard in the community to make good things happen, then when an opportunity is presented they get, well, robbed, by so called 'respectable' professional people. Even worse when those people are being paid by public money. It's disgusting. I'm pretty sure if your average citizen were to abuse their position to manipulate and defraud the distribution of public funds in favour of their mates and favoured associates that a magistrate would give all concerned criminal convictions. Be interesting to put that to the test.
 
adrian wilkinson 30media ltd wrote
at 19:50:05 on 13 January 2011
I apologise for my two spelling errors on the previous comment,sticky keyboard lol! I have long felt groups need a union to campaign for change and to break away from ,the you will get what you are given mentality. Structures need changing, i have thought about quitting the sector a number of times owing to the way things are ,people do themselves no favours and will end up with a revolving door of disgruntled groups. People sacrifice a lot and deserve better treatment and conditions. Thank you
 
30 media ltd wrote
at 17:48:05 on 13 January 2011
We have operated on a shoestring now for over eight years, Although i can say criis is a great organisation you have mentioned there, I applaud your story, I too can look at and identify with the salford theatre project, We started years back supporting unsigned bands and have done so very successfully over those years, reaching over 1000 musicians whilst delivering community services. We have also had dealings with almost evry other project you mention here. There are many times when i personally have had to prop up the organisation with personal loans and finance, We also work unwaged. The problem lies in the funding everywhere in general, Ideally a pot of funding should be mandotary for groups on a year to year basis however the current system requires bidding, Ideally people should be waged under that funding as it becomes a full time career in itself. A few years back they introduced self sufficiency measures so that group should make money to support themselves. This is ok in theory however we had to start charging for services we usually offered free. it also takes money to make money ,where would a media project such as ours start. We attempted to take on funds to make the project into a business but that failed so to sustain things we were back at square one. What happens currently is a system where if you don`t get grants your organisation becomes in debt, You then have landlord problems etc... And then you wait untill you finally get a grant through. These people want things intrduced like community projects that benefit the community but where is the support and conditions for the people they want to deliver it. I still am paying off money i took out to support the project ,if i did not have a business as well i would be bankrupt ,it does not make sense and changes need to be made. Come and interview me salford star. Adrian 30 media ltd formerly swerve unsigned limited
 
adrian wilkinson wrote
at 17:46:38 on 13 January 2011
Further to my comment previously we also encountered major problems fllowing a burgalry, we were funded by the community foundation in greater manchester for a project, Much of the project centred around equipment we purchased with funding around £5000 worth, we got two projects done and launched prior to being robbed, We lost a very large amount of equipment and a band we worked alongside suzuki method also had equipment stolen. Because of the insurance policy not being processed in time. we could not get a payout. I contacted the foundation and explained atht we could not deliver the measures owing to this, They stated they will never work with us again and Will cut us from funding, I said i wanted to complain and was told we would only be complaining to them and that we would not get anywhere, These guys control 70 % of funding in the city. I took out a credit card for the organisation at this point and ended up with that hanging over us, We also had to pay the band. This is just another example of injustice. Thanks
 
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