The Manchester Evening News reports that Manchester City Council has overpaid more than £420,000 to the organisation Marketing Manchester (which describes itself as “the agency charged with promoting Manchester on a national and international stage). This was over a six year period. Manchester City Council is supposed to contribute 35 per cent of Marketing Manchester's budget, with the other nine Greater Manchester councils splitting the remaining 65 per cent of the bill between them. Instead, the ratio was reversed – and it took the council six years to notice. That doesn't say much for their accounting methods for a start. To make things worse, a decision has been made not to reclaim the money, but to write it off instead – to write off nearly half a million pounds of taxpayers' money.
It seems that the Council's Deputy Leader, Jim Battle (Labour) reckons it's not worth the effort of reclaiming the money owed. According to Battle:
“There was a misunderstanding and it has now been corrected, end of story. It would be bureaucratic nonsense to chase a few thousand pounds. It will cost more to administer and correct.”
End of story? Leaving to one side the fact that they tend to take a firmer line when the hard-pressed working poor of this city fall behind with their Council Tax payments (they send the bailiffs in), this seems a bit of a cavalier attitude to taxpayers' money – and it is the taxpayers' money, not the council's. Ordinary people work hard to support themselves and then get over-taxed by this kleptomaniac Labour council – the least they can do is spend the money raised through Council Tax wisely. How is it that the council thinks they can afford to use our money to subsidise this glorified PR agency, and yet they couldn't afford to salt the roads properly this winter?
Or maybe the real question that should be asked is this: Should Marketing Manchester even exist? Why does Manchester need promoting? We're one of the major cities in the UK, who doesn't know we're here? Giving money to Marketing Manchester is a pointless extravagance at a time when the council should be focusing on providing core services as efficiently as possible.