New regulations have forced Salford Council, in line with every other council in the country, to disclose all its monthly spending over £500. The historic first month to be disclosed is December 2010.
While a lot of the information is `redacted personal data' there's enough on the 83 sheets to give a pretty good snapshot of Council spending…
First up, what price our opinions? Salford Council spent £20,750 in December with pollsters Ipsos Mori North to gauge our thoughts. Maybe our thoughts might be that we'd rather save someone's Council job with that money? The same could possibly be said for the Council's £21,331 worth of `subscription' to something called Manchester Knowledge Capital.
There's some very strange payments, like a £3000 grant to Serfilco International from the Chief Exec's department. The only `Serfilco International' we can find is a `multi-national manufacturer of a wide range of filtration and liquid handling products'. Do they need a £3000 grant from the people of Salford? Very strange.
The Labour Group get £557 for some reason, and £2770 gets paid to the Cornish King Bulb Growers – can't all these Salford In Bloom groups grow their own flowers, rather than importing them from the other side of the country?
What else? £9,400 got paid to Star Fireworks to go up in smoke, and Stealth Recruitment got £9253 to presumably advertise a job.
Meanwhile, Salford Council spent lots on hotels over the four weeks - Wharfside Hotels Ltd, otherwise known as The Copthorne Hotel on the Quays, was paid £29,307, and the Hazeldean Hotel in Kersal was paid £3255. Maybe so many rooms were booked to stuff with the multitude of consultants who continue to plague the city.
It's impossible to get an accurate figure of the real number of consultants employed, and their exact payments because the column that records the spending classifies Consultants and Contractors together, plus many of the names under these headings are `didacted'. But, by ticking the ones that have `consultant' in their title or `associates', and by a bit of research on the net, we estimate that around 25 consultants or consultancy companies got just under £150,000 over the four weeks recorded.
These are the people who are supposed to save the Council money and make them more efficient, like Marsh Publish Service Solutions which picked up £23,078 in December alone.
The Lowry got over £100,000 in `professional fees', over £7,500 in marketing fees, and over £10,000 hiring its facilities to the Council, making a December total of £121,266.
Meanwhile, Salford Council continues to throw money at an organisation called People's Voice (that will be the one that never criticises the Council). In December this organisation got paid £11,006, or £14,363 if a double entry on the sheets wasn't a double entry. People's Voice is, incredibly, still getting funding on top of £240,000 public money it's already had over the three years to March 2010 - £194,493 of it from the Council via the NDC (see here).
One thing that never stops in Salford is the bulldozing of the city. And December saw a total of £246,391 paid to an array of companies under the classification of `demolition'.
But one of the biggest payment for December seems to be a total of £404,250.51p to the tax payer's friend, the Royal Bank of Scotland. Christmas bonus anyone?
If you've got a few days with nowt to do you can see all 83 sheets and every Salford City Council payment over £500 for December by clicking here…