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 £25,801…for 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