Ooooops, there goes half a million pounds!

Manchester Green Party backs calls for the District Auditor to be called in to investigate the loss of £421,000 of City Council funds as reports from the last meeting of the Association of Greater Manchester Authorities (AGMA) revealed an astonishing accounting error! Local Councils, using taxpayers’ money, fund “Marketing Manchester”, which is basically the PR machine for Greater Manchester and is known to have several objectives, the first ‘allegedly’ being to make money for a small but powerful elite of business people by increasing tourism and investment. Manchester Council was supposed to pay 35% Marketing Manchester’s costs, and another nine Councils were responsible for the other 65% between them. But since 2004…. wait for it ….. Manchester has mistakenly paid 65% and the other Councils only 35%, meaning that Manchester has overpaid £421,000. Our local councils did not discover this error for several years – what does this say about their service and the “due diligence” which is expected of them?!

    To add insult to injury, at the AGMA meeting it was agreed that the overpayment would not be repaid. According to the meeting minutes, Labour’s Deputy Council Leader Jim Battle (who attended the meeting as Manchester’s representative) “kindly agreed to waive the overpayment,” and our elected representatives have now declared that they would not be asking for ANY of the money back! It is ironic, therefore, that Cllr Battle serves on the Leadership Group’s ‘Public Protection Committee’.

   It’s one thing to lose £420,000 of council taxpayers’ money, but then not to bother trying to get it back once the error is discovered is an absolute disgrace. We are currently being asked to tighten our belts, with cutbacks expected to vital public services, etc. – we simply cannot afford to lose nearly half a million quid!

    Manchester Green Party therefore supports calls for a thorough independent review to explain how this happened – even a fraction of this money could have been useful in Hulme, for instance, or other deprived wards in Manchester. £40,000 could go into the much needed play area in Shawgreen, for example. Why should Hulme residents suffer because of Labour’s incompetence? We all deserve better.


5 responses to “Ooooops, there goes half a million pounds!

  1. Lots more about Marketing Manchester's involvement in Manchester Pride here: turns out that, despite Pride bringing in tens of millions of pounds of extra business and tourism each year and all funded through expensive tickets that are bought by the public, Marketing Manchester has the nerve to invoice Pride £6,000 a year for doing its accounts!

  2. I'm horrified but no longer suprised by what messes town halls can get themselves into.Oldham recently wasted a load of money on rebranding their logo. At the same time they shut my local library and moved it a couple of miles further away!

  3. It's a scandal and you're spot on to highlight it.Manchester doesn't have the spare cash to wipe off £421k of debt so easily.

  4. i am pretty disgusted by this news.a – i am a director of a social project in hulme that has to go through rigorous and stressful funding bids just to get the odd 10k here or there to then pay for 3 months or more of projects, and in effect, belittling our local workforce -we are worth more. All of us end up on less than minimum wage because of these systems. b – myself and our org are having to jump through huge hoops for a recent funding bid we received from the council – where yet again, we will overwork for little pay, and deliver (we hope) some really quality work on eco-techno themes to local people. Luckily the department we work with are really nice -but the amount of red tape is appalling.c – 421k is 42 'projects' worth to us. Well actually it would be 20 projects worth, but in order to survive as an org, we all get paid less just to make things happen.So -i feel pretty annoyed to see that the council wants to elongate our hard work by contractually binding us to fulfilling rigorous paperwork for 10k, and it can't hold the same system for larger partners who received just short of half a millionsomething has got to giveQuestion – and solution -please – the community and the universities and the creative 'industries' need Arch bar?!give us the space, please. After 6 months it will pay for itself. The community will get on board to make it happen – cohesion will occur, – 'productivity' that people seem to rate as important, will also increase. Hulme wants arch bar – simple as, and hulme deserves arch bar.if the council can write off 421k -surely there is an economic equation that applies to social projects, cohesion, creation and regeneration??surely we are due some reparations for the fact that all social spaces have been removed from this very central and active community ?i would have thought so? Can we start to include the people who don't have much money, but want to build their communities? or is it only PR companies who exercise these privileges?….vicky

  5. Very true Vicky. I was part of the collective that organised the non-profit Get Bent! festival in 2007: mysterious fire on Lever Street in spring of that year put the Basement Cafe (a much-loved non-profit community space) out of operation and it has never reopened. As a result, we struggled to find alcohol-free alternative spaces to hold our many events. With new restrictions on the use of the LGBT Centre, universities that are increasingly PR conscious and commercially-minded and the lack of any other available spaces in the city centre that are not about boozing, it would be even more difficult now. Everything is being sewn up to prevent anything that is 'unauthorised' from happening. Just this week it was announced that the person who is Chief Executive of Marketing Manchester (the tourist board) has been elected Chair of the (gay) Village Business Association. He is also Chair of Manchester Pride. This is an unhealthy concentration of power but typical of what is going on.