Easter has been and gone, and the countdown to local elections in the city-region is well underway. Not that you would know it. Despite what the chattering classes would have you believe, many of our fellow citizens still rely upon local media for information, whether about their local council or anything else. The Liverpool Echo reports virtually nothing about the bulk of the city-region or about the metromayor (unless it is critical!) other than crime reports. A younger generation is more inured to social media, but that in turn is limited in terms of objective dissemination of what is actually happening in and to local communities across the city-region.
However, some matters merit wider circulation than that refused coverage by our local media. One such is the report that a Mr Tony Reeves, former Bradford City Council chief executive, has signed a further (my emphasis) consultancy with Liverpool City Council, just as it is said that the suspended LCC chief executive, Ged Fitzgerald, is about to part company with the council. Remember that he has been sitting at home for over a year on his £300,000+ salary and limousine.
It is fascinating to note that the council has such money to splash about. Without any research, other examples of council largesse bob up. The s.106 money due for the Paramount eyesore in Lord Nelson Street has still not been collected. According to its planning permission, no-one could move in to the building until that money had been paid up. Although students are now living in part of that semi-derelict carbuncle, nothing has been paid by the developer, Pinnacle. Most inconveniently, another Pinnacle proposal – for Victoria House in James Street – has gone belly up.
The past week also saw that the transfer of Ross Barkley to Chelsea, made his agent £7 million in fees (remember Mayor Anderson writing to the police about the transfer??). Well, it reminded me that the mayor would be better served – and so would the city – in dropping madcap schemes to borrow on behalf of billionaires to fund their Bramley Moore cash cow. Perhaps he might prioritise doing something about the increasing number of failed developments within the city, and deal with the real needs of its citizens before indulging his football fantasies.
I am fully aware that there have been announcements of other projects – for example, Elliot Lawless’ latest in Erskine Street and the “new” cruise liner terminal – but this is recycled stuff. Many in the city would prefer some consolidation of basic services – like the dire pothole situation, turning the city into a motorists’ version of no-man’s land.
Whilst all this is going on, our local representatives of the fourth estate maintain their Trappist silence on these issues and the ineptitude – at best – of the mayor and council. Meanwhile, whilst Cllr. Millar and others like Erika Rushton (she of the Beautiful Ideas Company) complain to the police about being harassed due to widespread concerns about what has been happening, the Echo can only offer up the wholly discredited Derek Hatton to pontificate about Labour Party troubles in London. Oh, the irony!
The Echo’s refusal and/or inability to investigate the many issues brought to its attention over recent years, speaks volumes about it, and media standards generally. Many have noted how, even when it does touch tangentially on a contentious matter about the mayor and/or city council online, it does not permit comments from readers. I assume that it is either a case of its journalists being unable to write as they must see it (the last one to do so, Marc Waddington, was sent to the North Wales gulag for journalists who do not toe the line), or it is editorial policy to back whatever comes out of the Cunard Building. My money is on the latter.