This page deals primarily with the media. You will be able to see how Liverpool's local newspapers give authenticity to what is written on this web site. Liverpool's main local newspapers are called the Liverpool Echo and the Daily Post. Both of these newspapers have a large daily distribution. The Echo sells around 150,000 copies per day. The Liverpool Echo and the Daily Post have always come under severe criticism from people who know what's going on in the region of Merseyside because it is felt that the journalists who work for both newspaper are too objective in the way they present serious news items, but every now and then the newspapers, even though much is missing from the articles, put together a good story.
On March the 4th 2001 two Daily Post investigative journalists Barry Turnbull and Paul Unger wrote an astonishing storey, which criticised the way in which regeneration money was being spent in Liverpool and the North West of Great Britain. The storey, which describes how certain powerful bureaucrats, who are creating a gravy train for themselves, have managed to turn regeneration funding into a bureaucratic nightmare, which it would seem, has been deliberately created to put as many careerist suburbanites into as many well paid jobs as possible.
Although, over the last few years, many critical stories have been written about the way in which regeneration funding has been squandered. It has been decided that we will start this Media Page with the Turnbull and Unger articles.
There is also an article that was written in the Guardian by Bishop of Liverpool the Rt Rev James Jones in which he criticeses the way in which the community are being shut out of the regeneration process.
There is also some stuff on Lib Dem councillor Andy Makinson. (Emails to me letter to Echo, such like). He wrote a letter to the Liverpool Echo complaining about the way in which the Kensington NDC initiative was being run. Off course this letter was printed in the newspapers letter column and shortly after this Andy was astonishingly voted onto the board of the NDC project. It beggars belief and can only happen in Liverpool.
You will also find three article about the Ropewalks regeneration agency which describe how this agency is under investigation by a European Commission fraud squad and how its incompetent council officers have managed to bring about a massive underspend. These articles are presently the last ones on this page.
£10m FOR FAT CATS AND OFFICES (Bureaucrats cash in on regeneration boom)
By Paul Unger and Barry Turnbull
Daily Posts 4th March 2001
The regeneration of Merseyside is creating a "jobs bonanza" for well-paid bureaucrats. An exclusive Daily Post Survey reveals today that public funds set aside to boost the regional economy are being used to finance at least 36 jobs for officials earning between £110,000 a year. These salaries alone are costing the tax payer more than £2m a year and the total wage bill is swelled by another 100 or so mid-level bureaucrats earning £50,000.
As a result of the job explosion career regeneration professionals on Merseyside now have better prospects and earning potential than many of the private sector business people they are seeking to help.
The cost of office space and support staff for the region's publicly funded initiatives takes the estimated bill for bureaucracy to well above £10m.
One reason for the proliferation of top jobs is New Labour's penchant for so called "area based initiatives" (ABI's) where funds are targeted at specific districts such as North Liverpool, Huyton or Wallasey rather than sticking to wider local authority or county borders. Together with targeted initiatives aimed at community projects the arts and specific business sectors, the volume of regeneration administration has become unwieldy.
There are now 123 single regeneration budget (SRB) organisations in the North West, each responsible for spending an allocation of funds from central Government. Charlie Parker, Liverpool's £110,000 a year director for regeneration argues that the plethora of top jobs is due to pressure from the Government. He said: "We are just reacting to Government legist -ration. We want to have less bodies and partnerships across Liverpool and we are trying to do that by combining projects were possible, but government funds still require you to have managers running the spending programmes it has set up."
As well as British Government programmes like the Single Regeneration Budget and New Deal for Communities, Merseyside's European Objective One programme has spawned a further team of elite bureaucrats all earning at least £60,000 a year.
Tim Loughton MP, shadow environment spokesman for regions, urban regeneration and housing, said the findings of the Daily Post survey showed that the New Labour Government had created new programmes, which delivered little except more administration and fat cat's. He added: "We suggest a single pot in the hands of a single urban regeneration company and doing away with creating all sorts of managers."
But Louise Ellman, Riverside MP said streamlining was already taking place. "Admittedly there has been a proliferation of various schemes over the years but let's not forget some of them have been local authority driven. Rectifying matters takes time but we will get there." She said.
Bureaucratic, confusing and bewildering (Regeneration red tape cost tax payers millions)
Continued by Paul Unger and Barry Turnbull
Daily Post 4th March 2001
The New Labour Party came to power pledging to cut out bureaucracy, confusion and waste at the heart of inner city regeneration. Four years latter, however, the bewildering array of partnerships, initiatives and projects is more complex than ever. Merseyside in covered by a patchwork of confusing bureaucracy due not just to the proliferation of regeneration bodies, but also the wide variety of funding sources. There are partnerships set up to spend Single Regeneration Budget money, the European Objective 1 funded Pathways programme the New deal for Communities, area based initiatives such as Speak Garston and initiatives focused on sectors such as the arts. At an administration level. Liverpool Vision, English Partnerships and the North West Development Agency are all involved alongside local authorities, which have their own economic development or regeneration departments.
Senior figures in local government admit that the public find the structure of regeneration bodies extremely difficult to understand. Tony Rich, policy officer on economic regeneration at the local government association said: "The regional development agencies were supposed to be a move away from different funding pots towards a single funding pot. But so far they have been tied up with spending budgets inherited from past programmes, such as from English partnerships. The New Labour Government is going to abolish Single Regeneration Budget after this current round and from next year merge many of the different funding streams within the RDA's. In addition to these moves, another New Labour intervention in urban regeneration, Local Strategic Partnerships, are aimed at delivering the kind of "joined up thinking" so famously touted as the way forward prier to the 1997 general election. Authorities will be encouraged to deliver programmes in a simplified, strategic manner to eliminate much of the overlapping and corner fighting of the current, disparate arrangement.
But many observers of the regeneration scene fear that local strategic partnerships will not have any clout. Mr Rich explains: "The Government knows something is wrong because last year it bought in a moratorium on any new programmes being set up. It had commissioned a report from the Cabinet Office on Government intervention in the regions and found that there were too many of these small area based initiatives (ABI's). Now it has set up the regional Coordination Unit, answerable to Lord Falconer, to bring coordination to ABI's and give a stronger role to Government Offices, making it more involved in process rather than just administration."
Inevitably, the spread of new programmes under New Labour has been singled out for criticism by the opposition parties. Tim Loughton MP, shadow environment spokesman for the regions urban regeneration and housing commented: "The government is very good at coming out with a lot of new programmes but what do they deliver apart from more administration and fat cats. It's very confusing for people, just who is responsible for what? If there are people with good ideas who come from a useful community group and they want to do something, they often don't know were to go or get passed this way and that.
"We suggest a single pot in the hands of a single regeneration company responsible to a regeneration minister and doing away with creating all sorts of managers. Certainly, regeneration culture has come a long way since Michael Hestletine surveyed the ashes of Toxteth almost 20 years ago and created teams to rebuild the area and improve others like it. Rather than creating jobs and prosperity for the communities of deprived areas, regeneration has now established itself as a business in its own right, creating a lucrative, professional career path for graduates, regardless of what is achieved in those posts. We already have the Employment service, the police, housing associations, universities, local authorities, why do we need all these programmes on top of these established organisations"? argues Mr Rich. "We should try drawing up agreements so these agencies all work together and handle the extra cash that Government is currently putting into other, temporary programmes."
And according to Louise Ellman, Liverpool Riverside MP, that is just the sort of thing that will be happening. "I think there is a tendency for some to be a little impatient. One of the ideas of the North West Development Agency is to be a co-ordinating body and we are certainly seeing that in terms of investment. Liverpool Vision is also another excellent idea. The city centre has been directionless for a long time and now that is being tackled and hopefully we will see some city centre developments to be proud of. Admittedly there has been a proliferation of various schemes over the years but lets not forget some of them have been local authority driven. Rectifying matters takes time but we will get there."
Winners in the regeneration game
Continued by Paul Unger and Barry Turnbull
Daily Post 4th March 2001
Charlie Parker Director of Regeneration, Liverpool City Council. Executive Director responsible for economic development, the city centre, urban renewal and other services. Salary: £110,000.
Vacant post: Chief executive, Liverpool Vision. Will replace Layth Bunni at the helm of the urban regeneration company which co-ordinates efforts to reshape the city centre. Salary: £100,000 per year.
Bob Hepworth: Director of urban regeneration. St Helens Borough Council. Head of all council projects and Ravenhead Renaissance, an SRB regeneration programme incorporating Newton 21, Parr Partnership, Count Me In. Salary: £70,000 per year.
Jim Wilkie: Assistant chief executive of Wirral Borough Council. Head of regeneration in Wirral including council and SRB projects. Salary: £67,000 per year.
Vacant post: Chief executive of Mersey Partnership. Heads regional marketing and tourism company, publically and privately funded. Salary: £75,000 per year.
Tom Flanagan: Assistant executive director at Liverpool City Council, responsible for environmental maintaience and planning. Salary:
£70,000 per year.
John Kelly: Assistant executive director at Liverpool City Council, responsible for regeneration policy. Salary: £70,000 per year.
Elaine Mclean: Assistant executive director at Liverpool City Council, responsible for co-ordinating regeneration partnerships including Kensington New Deal for Communities. Salary: £70,000 per year.
Ben Dolan: Assistant executive director at Liverpool City Council, responsible for performance management and Best Value. Salary: £60,000 per year.
Bob Lane: Chief Executive Speke Garston Development Company. Heads joint venture between the North West Development Agency and Liverpool City Council to revitalise land, buildings and infrastructure. Salary: £60,000 per year.
John Flamson: Director of Objective 1 programme on Merseyside, overall responsibility for more than Â£60,000 per year.
Bob Pointing: Manager Objective1 Priorities 3&4 responsible for strategic growth areas and deprived Pathways communities. Salary: £60,000 per year.
Humphrey Claxton: Manager of Objective 1 Priority1, promoting business creation. Salary: £60,000 per year.
Pete Dean: Manager of Objective1 Priority 2 developing people: Salary: £60,000 per year.
Vacant post: Director of programmes, Liverpool Vision, One of three new executive director posts proposed at the city's publicly funded urban regeneration company. Salary: £50,000 per year.
Vacant post: Director of Design/Planning. Liverpool Vision. One of three new executive director posts proposed at the city's publicly funded urban regeneration company. Salary: Â£50,000 per year.
Vacant post: Director of Development, Liverpool Vision. One of the three new executive director posts proposed at the city's publicly funded urban regeneration company. Salary: £50,000 per year.
Aidan Manley: Area team manager of North West Development Agency. Runs a £75m budget on Merseyside co-ordinating and delivering Agency strategy. Salary: Â£50,000.
Penny Wakefield: Director Liverpool Partnership Group, delivers strategy of social and economic development body Liverpool First, Salary:£50,000.
Vacant post: Director of Rope Walks in charge of urban regeneration of areas around Duke Street in Liverpool City Centre. Salary: £50,000 per year.
(Note: On or between the 26th and the 28th of Jan 2000 Liverpool Echo reporter Andrew Campbell wrote an article titled: "Rope Walks Fraud Shock". The article spoke about how the £110m regeneration scheme was being probed by European fraud investigators, No further articles were written about this incident, some people feel it was covered up).
Mark Trousdale: Chief executive of Small Businesses Services, a section of Greater Manchester Enterprise, co-ordinates advice and support services for business. Salary: £55,000 per year.
Chris Brown: Chief executive of Mersey Tourism and acting chief executive of the Mersey Partnership, responsible for selling Merseyside as a place to work rest and play. Salary: £50,000 per year.
Nicola Lee: Head of Liverpool Business Centre, helps deliver the commercial elements of the master plan recently published by regeneration company Liverpool Vision. Salary: £55,000 per year.
Vacant post: Chairman of Learning and Skills Council, part of Greater Merseyside Enterprise. Oversees the delivery of post 16 education and training with business and regeneration priorities in mind. Salary:£60,000 per year.
Vacant post: Chief executive of North Liverpool and Stanley Partnership. Heads a £100m urban regeneration project funded by the British Government and European Objective1 aid. Salary: £50,000 per year.
David Archer: Deputy director of economic development, Knowsley Borough Council, responsible for regeneration schemes including council and SRB. Salary: £50,000 per year.
Marc Colette: Director ACM (Arts Culture Media). Objective1 appointed sector champion responsible for arts and enterprise activity. Salary: £50,000 per year.
John McQuillian: Head of Mersey BIO, a Liverpool University biotechnology development company. Objective1 sector champion appointed to create jobs and support growth in biotechnology. Salary: £50,000 per year.
Colin Charles: Head of ISO CON, North West trade association for oil, gas and power industry suppliers. Objective1 appointed sector champion to promote growth in oil and gas industry. Salary: £50,000 per year.
Dave Perry: Objecive1 sector champion responsible for further growth and job creation in the automotive industry. Salary: £50,000 per year.
Ian Smith: Founder of Pharmhouse, web information site for pharmatuticals industry. Objective1 appointed sector champion to promote growth in pharmaceuticals. Salary: £50,000 per year.
Phil Woodhead: Former BT IT specialist. Objective1 appointed sector champion for information technology. Salary: £50,000 per year.
Stephen Boyle: Chief executive of Kensington Regeneration. Manages a NDC inititve earns £57,000 per year .
Vacant post: Chief executive of North Huyton New Deal Future. A New deal for Communalities programme currently awaiting allocation of £50m, Salary: Not determined.
John Fir: Director of Partnership for learning, public and private partnership education and training scheme in Speke. Salary: £50,000 per year.
Margaret Jackson: Former consultant and stand in chief executive of the Kensington Regeneration now leads the £20m regeneration scheme for South Sefton from her South Sefton Partnership office. Salary: £50,000 per year.
Note above insertion was taken from the Liverpool Echo July 6th 2001.
Note e=estimate. Some officials or their employers declined to divulge exact salaries.
Further note by Mike Lane all these Regeneration Partnerships are supposed to be accountable to the Liverpool City Council's Regeneration Department, which is headed by Charlie Parker the £110,000 per year regeneration supremo. This means that all the staff in most regeneration initiatives are under council terms of employment. The estimated salaries of £50,000 per year are more than likely Â£57,000 per year because chief executive officers in the Liverpool City Council earn £57,000 per year.
Even careerist Riverside MP Louise Ellman speaks out!
Liverpool Echo Article 25th May by Louise Ellman MP for Liverpool Riverside:
RIVERSIDE MP Louise Ellman has called for a face to face meeting with the Bishop of Liverpool over the £200m plan to transform Kensington.
She says residents and community groups are angry that they have been left out of the process of rebuilding their own community.
However the Rt Rev James Jones, chairman of the Kensington New Deal, today insisted there is commitment to local consultation.
Mrs Ellman said: "I have met a number of groups and individuals and it is quite clear that they feel excluded from the process. The whole point about New Deal initiatives is engaging local people in the process and allowing them to have a say."
Echo Article:FURY OVER THREAT TO 2,000 HOMES
Below is the front-page article that was written in the Liverpool Echo on Saturday, July 7th 2001. The Echo has a daily publication of over 150,000 copies and is owned by media giants Trinity Publications. I was partly responsible for this article and helped the Echo by giving them information.
By LARRY NEILD Local Government Reporter
THOUSANDS of people could be forced to sell their homes so they can be demolished as part of a massive regeneration scheme in Liverpool.
The agency given the task of re-building the Kensington area today admitted for the first time that compulsory purchase orders may be used.
Kensington New Deal Partnership, chaired by the Bishop of Liverpool, the Rt Rev James Jones has been given the task of breathing new life, and hope into the run-down community.
New homes, shops, jobs leisure and community facilities and a better living environment are all being promised as part of the multi million pound initiative.
More than £60m of government and European funding is being pumped into the area, along with tens of millions of private finance.
But a newsletter distributed to each home has sparked anger among some residents.
As part of the re-generation around 2,000 terraced homes could be bulldozed, to be replaced by new housing schemes.
Officials say in the newsletter: "We will try to prove to everyone how they can benefit by agreeing to move voluntarily. In the end, and only if we have to, we will use compulsory purchase powers to regenerate the area."
Local critic Mike Lane said: "We are constantly being told this is all about community participation and involvement. Now the people being paid good salaries to carry out our wishes are telling us that they will use the law to force people out of their homes if they have to. That does not seem like consensus to some of us in Kensington."
One resident Julian Smith said she grew up in her Guelph Street house and dreads the bulldozer wiping away her family home. The 41 year old assistant accountant for Littlewoods said she will fight the plans all the way. She said: "Ther's no guarantee I'll be moved back into the area, as they are going to knock down a lot more than what they will rebuild. I don't want to move out of this community, the area has its ups and downs but it's a good place to live."
Last week the Bishop agreed to meet Riverside MP Louise Ellman, after she expressed concerns that local people felt sidelined in the process of participation.
Mike Hanratty, communications officer for Kensington Regeneration said "The agreed funding bid document quotes the figure 2,012 properties for demolition. Although it should be noted that this may change as detailed discussions continue with residents. We also propose building 880 new homes, of which 741 will be for sale and 139 for rent, and refurbishing 3,229 existing homes, of which 1,248 are owner occupied and 1,981 rented. All of these plans are subject to detailed discussions with local residents. We want to avoid using compulsory purchase orders. This will be very much a last resort. Our strong hope is that we can develop a voluntary purchase policy, with incentives such as financial assistance towards relocation. We will do everything we can to show people how they can benefit by agreeing to move voluntarily."
Josephine Buxton, 68, has lived in Guelph Street for more than 50 years. She said today: "I think it is disgusting. I brought my children up here and now they want to come along and put us out of my home. I don't want to move and I don't want to go into sheltered accommodation either, all my friends live around here. I don't need this hanging over my head at my age." Her neighbour and friend Elsie Lamb, 74, said: "I feel safe here and am around people I know and can go to for help. But if that was taken away from me. I would end up a lonely old person. They wont give us another house here, as I live on my own. They will just talk us around to going into sheltered accommodation. Age Concern say the elderly are better off living in their own homes. So this scheme is the opposite of what should happen".
As you can see from the above article people do not want their houses demolished, yet the Kensington Regeneration Agency, (whose staff are all under Liverpool City Council terms of employment and as such are answerable to head of City Council Regeneration Charley Parker) have, based on unsound badly put together community consultation, decided to demolish nearly half of the community and move many residents out of the area all together.
Liverpool Echo's letter column Thursday July 10, 2001:
Below is a letter, which was sent to the Liverpool Echo by councillor Andrew Makinson, who is the Liberal Democrat councillor for the Smithdown ward. The Smithdown ward is part of the New Deal zone.
Regarding Saturday's article concerning the possible demolition of parts of Kensington. I wish to point out that Kensington Regeneration does not have the power to compulsory purchase properties.
This could only be done by Liverpool City Council, following proper consultation with local residents.
It is however, no surprise that residents are frightened and angry when Kensington Regeneration have repeatably failed to inform and properly consult with them.
They give the impression that they have decided their plan for the area, and they intend to force that plan through regardless of the wishes of the residents
Local residents and councillors have to fight for every piece of information from a board that is so secretive, they even tried to prevent the names of their members being made available.
This is a board that includes people who claim to represent the community, although they have been repeatedly rejected by the community in local elections.
It is time for Kensington Regeneration to shape up, before they destroy the community they were set up to help.
Board members need to be elected by their communities. Board meetings should be open, and there should be proper consultation on any demolition plans, followed by a ballot of the residents affected.
Councillor Andrew Makinson (Liberal Democrat) Tel 0151-733-0839
Note by Mike lane:
The latest scenario is: Andrew Makinson may now join the board. This is a classical example of the way things happen in Liverpool. Councillor Andrew Makinson (who is middle class) does not even live in the working class ward that he represents. Yet, through the action of writing a letter to the Liverpool Echo he has automatic entitlement to become a member of the KR NDC board. It beggars belief.
Andrew Makinson, who claims to believe in democracy, knows that if there was to be a democratic community referendum and I ran in it I would beat him quite comfortably.
Further note by Mike Lane
Below is an e-mail sent to me by Councillor Andrew Makinson on the 13/7/01
I'm afraid I can't agree with much of what Robin and yourself are claiming in your documents.
I see very little evidence of the "Town Hall" controlling the process in Kensington, indeed if this was the case, there would be democratic control and my fellow councillors and I would be able to get answers and exert influence over that process.
The real problems are the regulations the government have imposed on new deal programs, which restricts the influence local elected members, (because the Labour government do not trust their own party's councillors).
In theory, the rules seek to ensure the process is "community led".
Unfortunately, the result is that there is no democratic accountability to protect local residents from self appointed community representatives or the administrative machine which has been created.
Further note by Mike lane.
Bellow is another e-mail sent to me by Cllr Makinson17/7/01
Thanks for the minutes, I get the impression from Boyle's comments we areforcing a policy U turn on them.
I did a brief bit of research into Boyles
background, before he came to Kensington he was in Bradford as the Chief exec of the Manningham and Girlington regeneration partnership.
Girlington and particularly Manningham where the centre of last weeks riots. An example of Regeneration in action?
I do take your point about criticising the Council, and I did not think you where criticising elected members.
The point I was making is that Boyle and all the other council officers are not truly answerable to the city council through the democratic process,
because they are seconded to Kensington Regeneration and therefor answer to the board and not elected members. Effectively they are officers of Kensington Regeneration and not the city council.
I suppose I was disputing your phraseology in your report because it reads in a way that makes a completely different argument to the one you are
actually putting forward.
The problem lays with the board and the officers they have employed, and not the City Council as an institution which has decided it wants to control the process.
The bit about Labour not trusting their own councillors refers to the fact New Labour regard many of their councils as an embarrassment (such as Liverpool CC before 1998, Doncaster etc ).
Labour control most of the councils in the country, particularly the ones in deprived areas, most are old Labour, poorly run and have individuals whoseintegrity is questionable. That is why they have continued Tory policies of taking power and money away from Councils. They don't trust them to spend money properly, so the New Deal program is run by "the community". New Labour get the credit for giving the money to an area, and for anything good that happens, but Labour is blameless when things go wrong because Labour Councils are not running the program.
The fact that Labour "community" activists then end up on the board is just a bonus, and means Labour get the credit, have control over the process, but they won't get blamed for failures when there is an election.
Citizen "banned" from "having say"
(Article written in local Merseymart newspaper, which is owned by the Liverpool Daily Post and Echo, Thursday, September 6, 2001).
REGENERATION chiefs in Kensington are again being criticised that local people are denied a say in the areas future.
Mike Lane claims that he has been excluded from the Kensington NDC project because he asks too many questions and that he has deliberately been discredited by officials who do not like criticism.
Mr Lane was a member of the citizen's panels, a small number of local residents who represent the community, before being excluded.
He said: "I would like to defend myself against the slanderous accusations and I believe that the incidents were deliberately orchestrated against me to exclude me from the programme. I was accused of shouting at the meetings, but as I am slightly deaf I do tend to talk loudly.
"I want to know why I have been excluded from the meetings on the word of 10 people when the rest of the community want me on the panel. I believe the initiative is exclusive and not inclusive and I would like an end to all the secret meetings with more decision-making handed to the community. It is not a democratic process at the moment."
Mick Hanratty, communications officer for the Kensington Regeneration, said: "We are aware that Mr Lane is a fierce critic of the programme and correspond with him regularly. We will always listen to constructive criticism.
"Mr Lane was not barred from any public meetings but from the citizens panels. He was excluded from the citizens panels after a series of incidents were he was disruptive. These are people from his own community who have excluded him not us."
Up to £252m is being poured into Kensington with New Deal funding and private finance to improve the run down area. Various schemes to revitalise the area include a housing programme, employment opportunities, skills training and improved shopping and leisure facilities.
COMMENTS ON ABOVE ARTICLE:
It would seem that the journalist who wrote this factual article was given the wrong information, somewere along the lines we must have got our wires crossed. In fact it was only 4 or 5 people who voted me off the Panel and not 10.
As you can see in the above article the Kensington Regeneration's so-called Communications Officer Mick Hanratty, who incidentally is an ex-council officer, says, quote: "Mr Lane was not barred from any public meetings but from the citizens panels. He was excluded from the citizens panels after a series of incidents were he was disruptive. These are people from his own community who have excluded him not us."
Here we have a classical example of the art of manipulating and twisting words, an art that has been perfected by Liverpool City Council officers, such as Mick Hanratty. Here Mr Hanratty holds up only five Citizen Panel members as the community and refers to one rather tame incident as a series of incidents. On reading the article the reader would be given the impression that I attended many Panel meetings when in reality I only attended three and I left one of them well before it was finished.
Again this behaviour is common practice amongst middle class city council officers. It's known as the "making a mountain out of a mole hill syndrome". This sort of behaviour has been designed to marginalize and discredit democratic working class activists such as myself.
BELOW IS THE "GUARDIAN" ARTICLE WRITTEN BY THE BISHOP OF LIVERPOOL:
The Guardian Wednesday August 29th 2001
Guardian Tel 020-7278-2332
The chair of the Kensington Regeneration Bishop James Jones wrote the critical article below.
Also below the article is an e-mail that the Bishop sent to me in reference to the article.
Even the Bishop of Liverpool is criticising the way in which the New Deal for Communities initiative is being managed.
Bishop James Jones
GIVE THEM THE MONEY!
Revive the local economy, empower the local community, improve the public services and encourage local leadership. The prime minister has engraved these four hallmarks on his policy to revitalise poor neighbourhoods. But years of top down solutions have made local communities suspicious.
The political and professional classes who dominate the regeneration industry are well meaning and chant the correct mantras: "Urban renewal must be community led." But the more involved we get the more I feel we do not know what it means. One disillusioned local group told me that it means: "When we want your opinion well give it to you." And at a recent national conference, someone wisecracked that the NDC means New Deal for consultants.
Huge amounts of money are being showered onto deprived areas through funding agencies, professional regenerators and consultants. But instead of showers, the money needs to be channelled into communities to irrigate them. The issue is not how much money is spent on and for the New Deal for Communities, but how much is spent through them. How do we get that money to the local people?
This is were the political nerves start jangling. There is a curious double standard over using the money as an incentive. We will use tax breaks and sweeteners to encourage big companies to develop brown field sites and relocate to deprived areas. But when it comes to using the tax and benefit system to encourage local people to get involved in regenerating their neighbourhoods, there's a corporate sigh from the "MIDDLE CLASSES" who control the policies and who raise the spectre of benefit fraud and the despondency culture.
Some of the work given to outside consultants and agencies can, with suitable training be done by local people. Research and mapping exercises, for example, provide training and work increases confidence, secures greater involvement and gets money flowing through the community.
Volunteers want to take advantage of the government's many schemes, but they cannot afford to do it. We need to be more imaginative in finding ways to remunerate the community activists. One idea is to engage local people as community consultants for specific tasks such as serving on Citizen's Panels to appraise local projects. They would be trained, supported and offered time specific and project specific contracts. The payment would be tax-free and benefit penalty free. It would empower the local community, encourage local leadership and stimulate the local economy by getting the new deal money spent through the areas, three of the hallmarks of the PM's strategy for neighbourhood renewal.
In some urban areas, educational underachievement, truancy, juvenile crime and drug dependency are some of the symptoms of a society were parents feel out of their depth. Some parents have no skills in raising a child because their own parents were equally deprived of this ability. One initiative would be to offer parents double child benefit in the first year of their first child's life if they avail themselves of a 12-week effective parenting course. This £750 training grant (mediated through the learning and skills council) would target specialised learning of one of the neediest areas in society.
The same approach could be adopted towards young people. An idea already gaining currency is to employ you people between the ages of 16 and 25 as "youth agents" to engage other young people in purposeful activity. They would be trained, supported and supervised and paid again tax-free and benefit penalty free. Again it would have a double impact. It would encourage motivation and self esteem among young people and also get the New Deal money spent through the community.
Kensington New Deal in Liverpool has been awarded £250m over 10 years. But how much of that money will be spent on the community instead of through it? The more that is spent through local people the greater the empowerment and the more the local economy will be revived.
The government is beginning to consider new initiatives for 2003. Politicians are rightly exercising themselves as to whether we really have a system that encourages a truly bottom up approach.
We are not maximising our social capital in New Deal areas. We do not hesitate to use fiscal policy to stimulate the economy and to reinforce certain patterns of behaviour and to reward big investors. Can we not apply the same approach to deprived communities?
The Rt Rev James Jones is Bishop of Liverpool and chair of the Kensington New Deal for Communities in Liverpool.
Mike Lane (Local Critic. Liverpool Kensington NDC)
Bellow is an e-mail sent to me by the Bishop in response to an e-mail I sent to him about the above article:
From the Bishop of Liverpool. 28/9/2001
"I was really encouraged by your e-mail following my article in the "Guardian". I always take seriously your communications and am particularly glad to have your support. I am hoping to meet Lord Falconer at some stage soon and am assembling all the community support that I am getting to make the case to him as strong as possible.
(Note from Mike Lane: Lord falconer is the minister in charge of regeneration in poor inner city areas).
THREE STORIES FROM THE DAILY POST ABOUT FRAUD AND INCOMPETENCE:
Bellow are just three of the many stories that have been written about the Liverpool City Council run agency “Ropewalks." Remember the media in Liverpool have, over the years, bent over backwards to try and portray the most favourable image of the way incompetent Liverpool City Council officers behave. But, the truth is, the present Liverpool City Council officers and the many so called urban regeneration experts they constantly wheel in are not up to the job.
Alex Hunt a former journalist at the Daily Post once said about regeneration funding on Merseyside: “Nothing must be said or done that can harm the long term existence of regeneration funding on Merseyside", so it matters little if our incompetent oppressor Liverpool City Council's seniour officers make a mess of every thing they touch and when the shit hits the fan they blame it on the executive members and scurry off into the background and hide.
Its as though an environment has evolved within the Liverpool City Council, in which incompetence is accepted as normal.
It would seem that an unwritten law exists with the media and amongst Liverpool City Council officers, which says: Better to have the money and make a mess of it than to have no money at all.
LIVERPOOL DAILY POST 27/1/00
EROPEAN FRAUD INVESTORGATORS ARE PROBING a £110M LIVERPOOL REGENERATION SCHEME
WRITTEN BY BARRY TURNBULL
Officers from the European Commission's anti-fraud unit are looking at allegations concerning the formation of the grant-funded Rope Walks partnership.
The partnership was set up to breath new life into the Duke Street and Bold Street areas and is behind the £700,000 Chinese Arch being constructed in Great George Street.
The inquiry is understood to centre on possible
irregularities of procedure in the early days of the organisation, and the current running of the scheme is not under threat. Leslie Milne, from the Brussels-based unit, called OLAF, made a fact finding visit to Liverpool last October.
A spokesman for the Government Office North West said: “The investigation is into things that are alleged to have happened in the past but the current programme continues.
The bottom line is that they will be checking that European money is being properly dispersed and spent.
Around £17m of European funds is being sunk into the project, which is also being financed by central and local government and private business.
Liverpool City Council is backing the scheme with both cash and staff.
Council Chief David Henshaw said: “We have been working with OLAF for some months now and we welcome the beginning of the formal and official investigation."
Council leader Mike Storey added: “As the major funder, we are concerned about any allegations made in relation to the way public funds are being spent.
“We wont sweep anything under the carpet."
The project has been dogged with problems over the last 18 months.
On Tuesday this week, a board member quit the sixth in just 12 months to step down. Pharmacist Kenneth Lui (proprietor Euro Chemist, Liverpool City Centre) was voted onto the board last summer by the area's business community.
He resigned due to “frustrations" over what he claimed unwillingness by the board to discuss matters he put forward at meetings.
Mr Lui's resignation follows that of councillor Joe Andersons, Urban Splash boss Tom Bloxham, business man Gary Ridgeway, Liverpool Housing trust boss Dave Bebb and Jim Gill from English Partnerships.
Councillor Anderson quit amid personal concerns over the interests of fellow members.
LIVERPOOL DAILY POST 10/10/01
WRITTEN BY BARRY TURNBULL
“CITY MAY LOSE EURO MILLIONS"
Liverpool is in danger of losing millions of pounds of European aid, which should have been spent on cleaning up one of the most run-down parts of the city centre.
The board of Ropewalks regeneration project has admitted it will not be able to spend all of its Objective One money before the deadline runs out in December.
Due to the underspend, plans to create public squares and landscaping in the area around Duke Street and Bold Street may have to be abandoned.
Of the six planned projects £15m was to be spent creating new public squares and cleaning up eyesore streets, four have not yet even been started.
Ropewalks is pleading mitigating circumstances, including bad weather, and says it needs until next May to finish its work. It is pleading with bureaucrats in Brussels for an extension of the deadline.
Acting Ropewalks director Steve Power, said: “We have appealed for an extension for those projects in the public realm and believe there are mitigating circumstances. The Government Office agrees there has been adverse weather which has effected construction programmes so now we are waiting to hear what will happen."
Mr Powers said delays on other projects had had a knock on effect on the public realm projects.
The end result was that Ropewalks fell foul to strict rules governing the time period in which European aid has to be spent.
The entire Ropewalks project £110m programme designed to revitalise the area around Duke Street was established in 1997 and given a winding up deadline of December 2001. Although the projects involving the private sector, such as the Fact arthouse cinema can continue after this date, the purely public ally funded works must have been finished.
A spokesman for Government office North West said: “We are aware of the situation and are endeavouring to ensure that the money is spent on time. After that it is difficult to speculate, but officials in Europe have indicated that, if there are special circumstances, underspent money could come back to Merseyside but for other projects. It will only be possible to tell how much is outstanding when winding up takes place."
That would leave Ropewalks and Liverpool City Council urgently seeking funding from elsewhere.
Ropewalks has endured four troubled years since it was set up in 1997. A series of board resignations took place in the fraught early days of the project, although work has recently been progressing in a number of areas.
(Note by Mike Lane: It's rather strange, but as you can see from the above chapter on Ropewalks troubled years it does not include the fact that Ropewalks are still under investigation by the European fraud squad OLAF).
However, news that four important tasks have not been started, with the December deadline looming, look sure to cause concern.
Despite its problems, Ropewalks has been the catalyst for the start of the rejuvenation of arguably Liverpool city's biggest grot spot, the Duke street quarter.
The area has been subject to decay for decades and Duke Street itself, once a thong of mercantile activity, was on its knees.
Ropewalks attracted £25m of public funds, which were designed to draw in further private money, bringing the total to £110m.
Under stringent European rules, once the body was formulated in 1997, all public funds had to be committed by December 1999 and spent by December 2001. It now appears that some of the money allocated to the public realm works designed to create better pedestrian flows and thereby encourage private investment in commercial and residential property, will remain unspent.
There have been some notable achievements. The Chinese Arch in Chinatown
Is one symbolic success, while Liverpool Personal Services Society carried out an £8000,000 project to help disadvantaged people.
High profile schemes, which will be completed, include the former Gold Crown tea factory in Wood Street, which Urban Splash is converting into a residential, leisure and workspace complex.
The Foundation for Art & Creative Technology is an £8m plan for an arts and media centre, which is due for completion in April.
Liverpoo's oldest Catholic Church, St Peters, is undergoing a £2m transformation into modern office units. These are some of the successful examples.
Of course, there have also been disappointments. Some property owners have failed to sell up and preferred to watch their assets gain in value.
Ropewalks acting director Steve Powers said: “Some people have not been prepared to sell and that has been disappointing and has held some things up. However, some have been helped and we are receiving assistance to create some of the public squares.
“We have been strictly governed over how money has been spent and this has caused problems with some businesses over why they are not allegeable for assistance."
Other schemes going ahead include the Manoli Yard apartments development by Morrison Homes, David McLean's Kent Street development and a plan to transform Duke Terrace, one of the oldest stretch of homes in the city. It is hoped that many more schemes will come forward over the next couple of years.
(Critique of article by Mike Lane)
As you can see from the above article the journalist Barry Turnbull has excluded the important issue of Ropewalks being under investigation by a European fraud squad. He also, it seems, makes strenuous attempts to make it look like Ropewalks are doing comparatively OK when the truth is the city council led agency is being run by utterly incompetent council officers, local government public servant who are not up to the job.
LIVERPOOL DAILY POST 11/10/01
WRITTEN BY BARRY TURNBULL
“COUNCIL CHIEF UNDER FIRE OVER ROPEWALKS"br>
Liverpool's council chief, Mike Storey, came under fire last night after wading into the funding crises hanging over the city's Ropewalks regeneration programme.
The Lib-Dems leader pledged that public squares and other projects would be completed despite delays, which have put European funding in doubt.
Cllr Storey stated categorically that the £15m programme of work would be completed even if it had to go over deadline.
But former Ropewalks board member cllr Joe Anderson retorted: “From what I understand, the deadline for spending European money cannot be extended and if that is the case I would like Mike Storey to state publicly how these projects will be paid for. I would like to see the scheme finished but I cannot see where the money will come from."
Ropewalks has admitted work on the creation of four out of six “public realm" projects designed to improve the rundown area will not be finished by the end of December the deadline when the work has to be completed if it is to qualify for Objective One grant aid under the Ropewalks programme.
Cllr Storey said there has been consultation with the Government Office North West and with Europe to get the deadline extended.
But he insisted: “We can say categorically that all work on Ropewalks will be completed. We are not going to lose millions of pounds and the programme will be finished in April." He said the programme had been dogged by a combination of bad weather, losing a main contractor and complex legal negotiations with landowners.
(Critique of above article by Mike Lane)
As you can see from the above article city council leader Mike Storey tries to defend his incompetent council officers with excuses such as bad weather, losing main contractors and complex negotiations with landowners.
Why doesn't Mike Storey just admit that his seniour council officers are so incompetent and conniving that no one outside their conniving and incompetent sphere can work with them? As you can see from all the above stories Liverpool City council officers are utterly incompetent and if you checked into the behaviour of the officers who were and still are running the Ropewalks agency you will probably find that they have upset and frustrated the board members, the business men and the building contractors past and present.
If these council officers worked in the private sector they would be sacked within weeks of starting, but what happens to them in Liverpool? They are promoted or given even better jobs, for instance one of the former Ropewalks directors Elaine McLean, who ran Ropewalks from December 1998 to March 2001 left and took up an even more prestigious position as assistant executive director at the Liverpool City Council, responsible for coordinating regeneration partnerships including the publicly funded Kensington New Deal for Communities initiative. Her new post offers a salary in excess of £70,000 per year. This puts her in the position of second in command to City Council regeneration supremeo Charlie Parker (who coincidently sits on the Kensington New Deal board) who earns in excess of £110,000 per year. It beggars belief.