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SALFORD MEDIACITYUK PUBLIC MONEY MAZE
 

Star date: 17th January 2011

A Salford Star Exclusive

SECRECY AND SCANDAL SURROUNDS ALMOST £6 MILLION OF `COMMUNITY ENGAGEMENT' MONEY FOR MEDIACITYUK: Part 2

"We're fed up with big organisations just dropping in and taking all the money"

£320,000 of public money spent on marketing MediaCityUK…Over £500,000 spent on management, consultancy, research and overheads…and over £4.5million spent on three very similar MediaCityUK ventures…

A whole industry has grown up around getting Salford's community `engaged' with MediaCityUK. But is that money reaching Salford's communities? And is it having any affect?

Read the second part of the MediaCityUK money-go-round…


PART 2

"Salford is now the most studied anthropological tribe since the Amazon!"

Last June at Salford Lads Club in Ordsall, staff from Goldsmiths University of London held an event around the theme of MediaCityUK. Local kids dressed as chefs were serving `light refreshments' and the wine was flowing.

The idea was to bring together people involved in "local media and media training", to show some short films made in Goldsmiths-run workshops with local people, and to have a wider discussion about the "social impacts of MediaCityUK".

After what seemed like hours of short films from around the world, and some from Salford, there were about ten minutes left for the discussion that had interested local community media people. The Goldsmiths staff looked visibly shocked at what they heard…

"We're fed up with big organisations just dropping in and taking all the money" said one bloke who helps some of Salford's most excluded kids get their music to a wider audience "We came here to air our views, not watch a load of films."

Another guy who works on community films stood up and said "This is patronising and condescending – you'd think people in Salford had never heard of the media or something. What we want to know is `Where are the paid jobs for ordinary working class kids around here?'"

He added "There's so many projects around MediaCityUK and the BBC – Salford is now the most studied anthropological tribe since the Amazon!"

The Goldsmiths short film soiree was hastily concluded as Salford people working in "local media and media training" let their opinions rip. What many of those who attended the event or took part in the film workshops didn't know was that they were the community tick box element of a £3.3million project called FIRM - Framework for Innovation and Research in MediaCityUK - financed by UK Research Councils and the North West Development Agency.

FIRM is a "research and innovation partnership" between the University of Salford, Goldsmiths University of London, Lancaster University, University of Cambridge, the BBC, the  Massachusetts Institute of Technology  and Vision and Media which aims, amongst other things, to "investigate the social impact of MediaCityUK".

Judging by this Salford Lads Club event, the first `social impact of MediaCityUK' was to get the backs up of people in Salford already doing community media work.

The FIRM project has six different `Work Packages' broken into themes. This particular Goldsmiths theme incorporates, "The novelty of the child-like mimetic question 'What is Media City like?'"
 
Meanwhile, the University of Salford is involved with another FIRM package, part of which is the `Port to Portal' project which entails "the development of an online digital archive which pulls together video and other material, from both professional and user communities, around the main narrative strand telling the story of the area's journey from a world-leading Port to a Portal into the digital age".

This is a remarkably similar project to The Lowry's Unlocking The Quays - "aimed at improving interpretation and increasing access to the history of Salford Quays" - which charts the area's history from, er, port to MediaCityUK portal, with added music, a play, an exhibition and a public art trail for which five artists, none of whom was from Salford, were paid £35,000 each (see here). The Lowry received £464,400 from the Heritage Lottery Fund for this project.

Last year, there was yet another venture "throwing a spotlight on The MediaCityUK Development, its impacts and opportunities for local people and communities". Called New Mornings Old Streets, the idea was for the community to develop "a digital archive and the creation of a film about the changes that are happening around them". This University of Salford led project cost £407,000, including £306,000 from the government's Learning Revolution Fund. 

£5000 out of the £407,000 found its way for the Salford Community Media Partnership to produce a magazine, Salford Media Scene. And one feature included interviews with young people in Broughton, only one of whom actually knew what MediaCityUK was (see here). This, despite £320,000 of public money (see below) flooding into `marketing and communications' for MediaCityUK.

Last year, MediaCityUK PSP or Public Sector Partners - made up of Salford City Council, Central Salford, and the North West Development Agency (NWDA) – also produced a booklet, called Make It Your MediaCityUK. Under a section called `What's In It For Me?', it stated that the partners "are working…on a huge programme that will ensure MediaCityUK has long term benefits for the local area, local businesses and local communities."

The three year PSP Programme was financed by the North West Development Agency with funding of £1,498,500 until March this year. Under the Freedom of Information Act the Salford Star has obtained a breakdown of where that money went, and we can reveal that most of it has been spent on consultants, management, marketing and overheads.

£401,000 was for the `Core' and `Virtual' Programme Teams, including consultants; while £320,000 went on Marketing and Communications, plus £45,000 on Operational Overheads.

A further £732,500 was earmarked for `Research and Consultancy', which included `community engagement' and `new projects'. From this, £102,012 has funded a MediaCityUK Schools Programme (Radiowaves, Supporter to Reporter, Me and My Movies and Higher Futures 4U), and a spokesperson for MediaCityUK Public Sector Partners told us "The majority of activities and projects for local residents to get involved with will come out of our community engagement  strategy…which is currently being finalised and looking to start rolling out later this year [2010] and ongoing after MediaCityUK is open."

We now know that the funding set aside for the controversial `community engagement strategy' projects is £161,000 (see here). This makes a total of £263,012. We cannot find any official trace of where the £496,488 remaining part of this £732,500 budget has gone, except under the general heading of `Research and Consultancy'.

If it has gone on `research and consultancy', then added to the other £766,000 that's been spent on management, consultancy, marketing and overheads, this would mean £1,262,488 or 82.5% of the Public Sector Partners Programme's near £1.5million budget is not going anywhere near the community.

Almost six million pounds of public money is currently being hoovered up in researching MediaCityUK, marketing MediaCityUK and `engaging the community' in MediaCityUK.

Meanwhile, Salford's community media groups and artists continue to work for virtually nothing, while having their noses pushed out of the MediaCityUK trough. And Salford Arts Theatre - which puts on affordable events and runs workshops for local kids less than a mile away from MediaCityUK - still has holes in its roof with buckets on the floor catching the rain.

MEDIACITYUK
Public Sector Partners Programme £1.498million: FIRM £3.3million: Unlocking The Quays £464,400 :
New Mornings Old Streets £407,000

See also how the BBC didn't bring jobs to Salford (see here)

And how Salford unemployment is rising despite Council claims of 1500 jobs for Salford people at MediaCityUK (see here)

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

 

Brian Francis Kirkham wrote
at 21:09:26 on 18 January 2011
With all this academic research taking place, have any of these researchers delivered a report to the council/Peel/BBC ? - and - given public funds were used to create these reports, when and where are these available to look at...? Shame I can't CC: on here - It might speed up the response for an answer As a sidenote 6 Million on a consultation exercise seems a little bit steep, when key consituents weren't even asked for their views I can't wait for an answer on this one..
 
Ant wrote
at 18:16:10 on 18 January 2011
Is that the former Cllr Paul Brighouse who sat on residents committees and told us how good regeneration would be for our area (the tree streets),then promptly trousered 28k for his house when others were being offered 3k. He used this to set up home outside Salford, a city he was proud to live yet stood by whilst his neighbours got shafted. Please dont boast re your audience with leading council officials it just shows its not what you know but who you know.
 
Paul Brighouse wrote
at 05:31:07 on 18 January 2011
In 2005, I was running a social enterprise in Salford. I met, seperately, with John Merry & John Willis, Felicity Goodey & Hazel Blears. Salford URC were looking to draft a 'Vision' for the area. I gave a presentation basically around, "Don't go employing southern based consultants, Salford people can do this". To their credit, they agreed & the Vision was carried out by local charities, groups & social enterprises, in small chucnks worth £5,000 to each of these companies. To quote their report : "The intention of the URC was not only to enable the community to lead the consultation on the Vision for the future development of their area, but to enhance the already existing capacity within the community to carry out consultations both now and in the future. The main thrust of this bottom-up approach to the consultation process was that local people, who understand local issues, were in charge of getting the community together". It's a pity they didn't practice what they preached in years to come. Paul Brighouse
 
David Henry (Salford Youth Council) wrote
at 05:31:02 on 18 January 2011
Nome of the community organsations I work with were approached about this, nor did we expect to be (but we should have been). We've got nothing, really other than our volunteers, collective knowlege and plenty of energetic volunteers which the likes of certain major cultural institutions in this city have attempted to poach time and time again. They have the world on their plate over in "MediaCityUK", all the idea - but no idea I say! We're not in Kansas anymore Toto!
 
UoS wrote
at 16:32:36 on 17 January 2011
What does anybody need to "consult" about? "Consultation" about how and where to invest the money? Once you've paid for the "consultation" there's evidently hardly anything left to invest! Clearly this is absolute lunacy. This FIRM project sounds stillborn to me - Salford University seem to love talking about it because it associates them in people's mind with organisations that are a success (Cambridge, MIT, BBC), whereas their own is nationally recognised as an abject failure. The 'New Morning, Old Streets' project is a mystery as well - who decided to 'dole-out' the money to groups not based in Salford? The trouble with these big groups - the Universities, the Council, the BBC, Peel etc - is that in 'high society' (i.e. public tendering) they're used to dazzling people with bullshit to get results. You can't apply this logic to ordinary working Salfordians who aren't easily distracted - they want to know where the money's being invested. Clearly it's going straight down the pisser in most instances.
 
Steve wrote
at 14:51:29 on 17 January 2011
Great article. I can’t believe that most of this money comes from allegedly independent funding bodies. Every time Salfordians try to do something for their own community they barely get a penny for their efforts. Then the minute some money comes available you have a load of careerists all over it like a rash. How the hell does all this public money get wasted on projects that have little if any benefit at the grassroots; The Lowry, Salford University, Media City. Is it not bad enough that the banks have robbed us blind without this lot taking our last few pennies! And for what? To tell Salfordians their own history! Of how Salford has evolved from Port Industries to Media Industries!! Bollocks! We had them both rammed down our necks and told to like it or lump it. And why? To keep an economy going that has always made life more difficult for you if you come from somewhere like Salford.
 
G.Griffiths wrote
at 14:51:17 on 17 January 2011
In 1995, £250,000 0f S.R.B (Single regeneration budget not sausage in a roll in a box for those of you who remember the cinema advert) was earmarked for the Wiltshire street area, phased over 5 years. In the first 3 years, over £70,000 went on wages for part time assistants for the neighbourhood coordinator. That left about £180,000 over 5 years to be spread between 7 streets (420 houses). The neighbourhood coordinator hung round till from summer 1995 until September 2002 and has now got another digestive biscuit dipping job with a similar title, elsewhere. If you look at the waste ground facing Broughton baths, there is a sign up saying, roughly "temporary landscaping paid for out of SRB money". I suppose they will take it down now?
 
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