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.