Manchester Liberal Democrats have asked the District Auditor to investigate the loss of £421,000 of City Council funds due to a basic accounting error.
The sum was part of funding that went to Marketing Manchester (the tourist board).
Manchester City Council was supposed to pay 35% of Marketing Manchester’s costs and another nine Councils would be responsible for the other 65% between them. But, since 2004 and due to a mistake, Manchester has paid around 56% and the other Councils just 44%.
At the last meeting of the Association of Greater Manchester Authorities (AGMA) Deputy Council Leader Jim Battle (who attended as Manchester’s representative) ‘kindly agreed to waive the overpayment’. How generous!
Here are extracts from the minutes of the meetings:
The Manchester Green Party has backed calls for the District Auditor to be brought in.
Marketing Manchester doesn’t seem to have benefited from the mistake or been responsible for it. But regular readers of my site will be only too familiar with this organisation as the one that has ramped up Manchester Pride into the high cost tourist event that it is today.
One individual is now Chief Executive of Marketing Manchester, Chair of Manchester Pride and Chair of the (gay) Village Business Association. An unhealthy concentration of power in my opinion. What is good for tourism and businesses isn’t necessarily in the best interests of our Pride celebration and community.
Update (July 2010):
In an article published in May 2010, The Mule newspaper has information about other payments made by Manchester City Council to Marketing Manchester.
Marketing Manchester rips Manchester City Councill off
With jobs cuts forecast already by the city council I fully support the calls for the thousands of pounds (£421.000) which was overpaid to Marketing Manchester
( Manchester Pride organisers )last year to be paid back.
How at any time, let alone during this current economic climate, the council can sit back and allow such a huge amount of tax payers money to be thrown away is staggering.
The council claim that it would be too expensive to chase and reclaim this overspend, yet this is the same council who will quite happily chase through the courts and send out very expensive bailiffs to all bad payers of the council tax, parking tickets or any other small sum that is owed to them.
This double standard where yet again it is the poor tax payer who suffers for this gross incompetence is quite frankly disgraceful.
And as an upstanding and reputable organisation surely Marketing Manchester should be quite happily refunding the monies themselves and doing what they know to be the right thing.
At the very least this is extreme bad management and at the worst you have to ask just how complicent is the council in this fiasco? Has the council received a back handed payment to encourage them to drop the case?
Were Marketing Manchester aware of the overspends as they were occuring but said nothing?
These are of course very unpleasant questions, but with such a huge amount of tax payers money being involved here I think we all have the right to ask them, and indeed to demand that they are answered.
Will the council explain to the next person made redundant, or explain to the next OAP who has had a service cut thats affected them, that perhaps £421,000 could have saved that job or service?
How many further police would that put on our streets for a year?
How many computers or books would that have bought for our local schools?
This is a huge amount of OUR money, and I think we all have the right to demand that we get it back.
Angry Manchester Council Tax Payer