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SALFORD COUNCIL EXPENDITURE FEBRUARY 2011
 

Star date: 17th May 2011

MORE CONSULTANTS AND MARKETING AS SALFORD CITY COUNCIL  SPENDING GOES ON…

Did someone mention £40million of cuts? February's expenditure over £500 for Salford City Council knew no bounds as consultants, marketing companies and recruitment specialists all cashed in while budgets still allowed.

We have the ex deputy chief executive of Salford Council picking up over £13,000 in consultancy fees; we have `creative economy consultants' scooping nearly £26,000 – and the first £1million instalment of the loan to the City of Salford Stadium, jointly owned by Rich List climber John Whittaker and his Peel Holdings group.

Full story here…


Salford City Council's expenditure over £500 for the month of February has finally been disclosed and reveals that consultants, marketing companies and even an outside broadcasting outfit are still picking up hundreds of thousands of pounds courtesy of Salford council tax payers.

The White Room `creative economy consultants' received £25,801for what exactly? No-one knows. A marketing company called Elygra which appears to specialise in branding school meals and are in bed with McCains chips got paid £13,887. And U.R.C. Associates (no, not Salford URC, they've been wound up as a bad job) got £13,484 in consultancy fees and for `capital expenditure…

U.R.C. Associates appears to be fronted by a bloke called Mike Shields who - if it's the same one - was deputy chief executive of Salford Council from 1978-83 and has been banging on about the spurious concept of the `knowledge economy' for the last few years. We've no idea what knowledge he might be putting into the city for the £13,000+ as Salford was hardly covered in glory when Mike helped run the place way back in those dole-ridden days.

Meanwhile, The Lowry, which had its grant cut by the Council, appears to be getting it back literally through the back door, as it charges for conference hire and facility hire and all sorts of stuff to the tune of £22,407 for one month alone, plus another payment of £92,708 from the Community, Health and Social Care budget.

Salford Council also paid almost £2000 to Countryscape, a marketing company which produced a `brand identity' for The Lowry's Unlocking The Quays project which was already funded through the Lottery. Did Salford Council pay Countryscape for that project? If so, why? And did Unlocking The Quays actually need a `brand identity' in the first place?

While we're over at Salford Quays, SIS Outside Broadcasts Ltd which has just formed a new company with Peel Media to run MediaCityUK's studios, received a payment of £26,539 for `marketing/publicity' from Salford Council. An outside broadcast paid for by us? When? Where?

Not to be outdone, Peel Holdings, owners of the Manchester Ship Canal Company, got £26,231 for `road maintenance'. Considering we're paying to clean up Peel's canal, while building bridges and piazzas for its MediaCityUK real estate project, the least the company can do is tart up its own road you would have thought…

Meanwhile Peel Holdings svengali, John Whittaker, who according to The Sunday Times Rich List, has seen his wealth double from £1,015million in 2010 to £2,075million in 2011, is still getting handouts from Salford tax payers. The joint Salford Council/Peel Holdings venture, Salford City Stadium got the first £1million loan instalment in February from the eventual £22million total. Peel Media also received £500,000 from Salford Council in January for `capital expenditure' (see here).

And still on the subject of MediaCityUK, Chris Marsh, the £650 a day `deprived areas' jobs consultant (see here) got another payment of £8,763 in February via his MPSS company.

As the scandal over the continued mining of peat in Chat Moss rumbles on (see here), Salford Council paid a horticultural company called R Draper, which specialises in soil, £2,825. Amongst its products are `Peaty Soil - A rich peaty soil, excavated locally…', although it also does a non-peat variety. So which one did Salford Council buy?

The Council also spent another £2,244 on plants. What else? Well, Salford Council bought two houses through solicitors – one for £79,678 and one for £101,644. And gave LPC 1 Ltd a £11,049 ` rent allowance'. Someone, whose name has been `redacted' got an `improvement grant of £15,000 too. No explanations given for any of this spending.

Gill Rigg, Independent Head of the Salford Safeguarding Children Board, and who was last seen on tv last week saying that the death of Tia Rigg was `not preventable or predictable', picked up £4,938 from Salford Council through her Gill Rigg Consultancy. There's no suggestion that this would have influenced the outcome of the Salford Safeguarding Board (she certainly had a go at Salford's failures), it's just interesting to know.

Salford Council's favourite community media muppets, People's Voice Media (see here), got another payment of £1,958, while for some reason Old Trafford News received £4,710 for `training expenses'. We hope they weren't training anyone in community websites and stuff – their website is completely derelict (see here).

There's loads of other consultants, marketing companies and god-knows-what companies cashing in - but we're sure that anyone who has been pushed into voluntary or forced redundancy will be pleased to hear that Salford Council spent £10,375 in one month with recruitment companies, Michael Page International and Tribal Resources.

For the full Salford City Council expenditure over £500 for February click here

To see Salford Star's take on the January's expenditure click here

Photo by Steven Speed shows John Whittaker and friends at MediaCityUK

wrote
at 16:31:56 on 19 May 2011
See Countryscape comment below... So would you like to enlighten our readers on which project it was for? After all, it is public money. Not only does Salford Council make no reference to the fee being for work undertaken for The Lowry, it makes no reference to anything...
 
Paul Mahony - Countryscape wrote
at 16:27:23 on 19 May 2011
In answer to the question posted in the above article: "Did Salford Council pay Countryscape [£2000] for the Unlocking Salford Quays project?" The answer is no. The fee listed in the Salford City Council expenditure was paid to our company for work undertaken on a different project, for a different client. The Salford City Council expenditure for February 2011 makes no reference to this fee being for work undertaken for The Lowry.
 
Fadge wrote
at 15:19:39 on 19 May 2011
The white room bloke states 'there will be a return on investment for the taxpayer' .What return ? Explain how any taxpayer will benefit .Local government ? Just a licence to commit financial extortion .
 
Salford Star wrote
at 10:44:14 on 19 May 2011
See White Room comment below... Unless you know different, we believe that the Make Media centre has been axed in the cuts???
 
Andy Lovatt - MD The WHite Room wrote
at 10:40:54 on 19 May 2011
Its no secret what we were paid to do. We were recruited through open tender to undertake a Development and Appraisal of The Make Media Centre - an opportunity for Media City to make available its facilities to the local community. The consortium developing the concept included Creative Industries in Salford (CRIS) and Radio Regen, both well known and respected community organisations. The reason consultants are brought in for this kind of work is so that public investment is well spent; that there is a need and demand for the facilities provided and that there will be a return on investment for the tax payer. Consultant provide an object and evidenced view on this investment, rather than relying on anecdote, opinion or special interest groups. The work we undertook help shape the concept, partnership and business plan as an integral part of MediaCity. A part that is explicitly for the communities in Salford.
 
Fadge wrote
at 10:40:47 on 19 May 2011
This is obscene wastage of OUR money . No wonder the ' services ' provided by this useless lot are such poor value for the council tax extortion .
 
Brian F Kirkham wrote
at 08:03:12 on 18 May 2011
I have a quite simple idea that may in the longterm save the council some cash and provide services the people want them to provide. It will take a while, but you'll see the council coffers filled to the brim. Cut the consultants over three years. This means those ex-council officials and private companies now creaming the council budgets will no longer be able to do so. An example comes from the City of Salford Stadium - where the private concern is building a stadium with public cash for another private concern (the rugby team) with the council waiting for some knight in shining armour to take up the vacant plots surrounding it. Another example comes from MPSS. If he was worth his onions, i'd have had a publicity note regarding his programme/or scheme (as i live in the target area). Thing is haven't seen Mr Marsh in the local vicinity recently, does that mean he doesn't regard the M5-M6 Areas more poverty stricken for a chance at work at Media city? LPC - seem to have actually done some work, the redeveloped town houses actually look ok as do the school, housing etc but its a bit of a mosaic at the moment, and no one is communicating from LPCs view whats happening...If anyone at the star knows let us know here. Last but not least - Personnel Consultants - with all due respect .... The council has a personnel department...Or were these Personnel staff sacked by the council and re-hired? I said someplace else that Salford is trying to be another Manchester whilst Manchester tries its best to Outdo Birmingham or (God Forbid) London. These consultants are bleeding the city of its assets while we get very little in return. The New Mediacity has already fallen into the regional trap - Don't let it happen to Our City!
 
D Clemo wrote
at 08:00:28 on 18 May 2011
Disgraceful . No wonder council tax is so obscenely excessive in this dreadful hellhole .An independent financial investigation is immediately needed into this appalling wastage .
 
Be careful with that axe Eugene. wrote
at 07:59:35 on 18 May 2011
Mike Shields is the ex CEO of The NWDA. The same organisation that Merry is a board member of and two of the 'esteemed' gentlemen in the above photo have been chairman of, and its not the ones with the hats on.
 
Disgruntled Council Worker wrote
at 20:46:39 on 17 May 2011
These figures are shocking. A very troubling culture has developed at Salford Council where the senior staff have been helping themselves to hefty pay increases and new job titles whilst the majority of staff who actually do the work that keeps the place ticking over suffer pay cuts or freezes and job losses. There is zero accountability. We see that they repeatedly bring in overpaid consultants who contribute nothing that could not be gleaned from permanent staff. All this despite cuts to service and job cuts for staff at the bottom of the pile. The lastest harebrained scheme has been to remove staff's drawers from their desk and replace them with lockers. A totally pointless scheme dreamt up by a senior manager with evidently far too much time on his or her hands. There's a lot of really good staff at Salford Council, sadly though in recent years this new breed of highly paid senior management have really hampered the organisation.
 
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