Joe Anderson’s budgetary woes have been spelled out – again – this week. And we’ve even been given the maths. In its breakdown, we were interested to see a whopping £4million windfall from car parking and fines. Nice little earner.
Is it criminal that the council rakes in so much in parking fines? Maybe not. But it is, technically, illegal if it pours the cash from the meters directly into its general revenue pot.
That’s because councils aren’t allowed to make a profit from their parking revenue. It’s all supposed to be ploughed back into the potholes. Yeah, right.
The RAC Foundation keeps tabs on stuff like this. Their latest stats put Liverpool in a midtable position – way behind Westminster’s staggering £40million profit. One road in Westminster earned an eye-watering £3.6 million last year.
Still, £4million. Not to be sniffed at.
The council has 1,600 on street parking bays, and a further 30 pay and display car parks.
“For many local authorities, parking charges are a nice little earner,” says Professor Stephen Glaister, director of the RAC Foundation.
So, if Joe wants to run a legal budget, and abides by the local authority rules, looks like he’s got even less to spend.
But then again, a £4million windfall could be spent in other ways, too. In 2007, Manchester City Council ring-fenced £5million to kickstart their International Festival. It was money they’d set aside from, guess what, parking revenue.
Sir Howard Bernstein took the view that this was money invested in the city’s Renaissance – that culture could be a way to create inward investment, jobs, exposure and a chance to reinvent itself. Job done.
It was a brave move – and one that was greeted with a mix of Manchester scorn and pride (and, yes, talk about how it should be spent on day care.) But Bernstein also did something smart: he gave the money to a team who knew a thing or two about culture, and left them to it. Anderson, meanwhile, continues to micro-manage: dropping sponsorship bombshells onto the smart teams at Culture and Vision, who are left to pick up the pieces.
Six years later, let’s look at the two cities.
This week, Vogue came to Manchester, hosting (for the first time outside of London) its Fashion Night Out.
“Arguably, things changed in 2007 with the arrival of the Manchester International Festival,” Vogue says, on Manchester. You can read all about it in their glowing Manchester culture guide here . And our 2008 legacy? That left on the first plane out of the city, by the Capital of Culture leaders: all to lovely jobs in other cities. Manchester’s crew is still in place.
So we don’t have Vogue, we have Liverpool Fashion Week (run by Amanda Moss. You know her, right?). Joe Anderson (who’s not, yet, mooted as Anna Wintour’s rightful successor on Earth) says, of the event: “Liverpool Fashion Week is an outstanding platform to showcase new talent and I am proudly supporting the prestigious event which shows off our stylish city to a global audience.” We’ve told you different stories about Ms Moss’s fashion events, and we’re not going to tell you them again, because she’s got a friend at a very expensive solicitors (but, just for clarity: we were right).
Prestigious? It would be laughable, if he wasn’t our Mayor.
Joe’s put his hand in his pocket, to sponsor the event (as he did to sponsor the £25,000 red carpet knees up of the Liverpool Music Awards. How much national press did that event get? Still, at least Joe’s favourite band won. Finger on the pulse, eh?) Good to know that, on the one hand he’s saying the city will be skint in a couple of years’ time, and on the other, he’s pissing thousands up the wall for events that every sensible person knows do nothing to change perceptions of this city.
Culture can get us out of a hole. As it’s so obviously doing down the M62. But only on one condition: Joe leaves it to those that know. When he launched the Liverpool International Music Festival he proclaimed it will be ‘bigger than Edinburgh’: which singled him out as the only person in the room that had obviously never been to the Edinburgh Festival. The LIMF can and will be great – if we leave it to the experts, and spend our cash on the talent, not on parties and piss ups.
Still, we’ve booked our tickets for Liverpool Fashion Week’s Scouse Proud show (there’s no details yet of whose AW collection is showing. Rumours are that it might be Matalan.)
Talk about a car crash.