`We sadly lost one member of the party this week Gayle,a great activist and a women with immense passion.May she rest in peace gone but not forgotten.
Does anyone still think the BBC’s £877 million relocation to Salford is a good idea? Not John Simpson, who called it an exercise in box-ticking. Certainly not the people in London who have had to move their families 200 miles – or those, such as Sian Williams, the BBC Breakfast presenter (and more than half of her colleagues), who refused. And now, it would seem, not even the locals, who have seen nothing like the 15,500 jobs they were repeatedly promised.
Last week, it was revealed that just 16 people in Salford, a city of 229,000 people immediately to the west of Manchester, have secured full-time roles at BBC North – now home to BBC Children’s, Sport and Radio 5 Live, as well as programmes such as Mastermind and Dragons’ Den, and soon to be joined by BBC Three and BBC Breakfast. Hazel Blears, the local MP, has declared herself “shocked” and “disappointed”. The Salford Star, an award-winning community newspaper “published with attitude and love” (but mainly the former), called it “a proper scandal and a disgrace”.
Meanwhile, stories abound about the mounting costs of the move. As we report today, the BBC has spent more than £11 million on temporary accommodation and travel outside London over two years, including £8 million on hotels. Its executives’ expenses rose by 20 per cent last year, mainly due to the cost of accommodation and rail fares. Victoria Derbyshire, who presents a show for Radio 5 Live, flies daily to Manchester from Heathrow, returning in time to collect her children from school. She, at least, pays out of her own pocket.
The Corporation believes it will recuperate its costs within 20 years, while providing a better service to its 17 million licence-fee payers in the North. Yet if the BBC has managed to alienate staff and viewers in the South without winning many friends in the North, what exactly is the point, beyond a vastly expensive exercise in geopolitical correctness?
Salford, certainly, does not seem to have been won over. “Media City is seen by people here as being for the yuppies, not for them,” says Stephen Kingston, editor of the Salford Star. One of the paper’s stunts involved sending local children to the Lowry, a theatre and gallery complex within the new development, to see what happened. They were thrown out by security. Recently, three of the newspaper’s contributors – two with media degrees – applied to the BBC. They heard nothing.
Joan Bakewell: my accent is too posh for the BBC
19 Jan 2012
Joan Bakewell told by BBC that her voice is ‘too posh’
19 Jan 2012
BBC spent £5,600 on boxes at the Proms
18 Jan 2012
BBC’s Monday night comedy push ‘failing to attract big audiences’
18 Jan 2012
BBC executives handed £275,000 bonuses despite ban
17 Jan 2012
In the Corporation’s defence, the success rate of the 3,172 applicants from Salford, while low, was not grossly out of proportion. Nationwide, some 67,000 people applied for only 529 jobs. Of those, 233 went to applicants from the Greater Manchester area. The BBC rightly protested that they recruited “on skills and experience, not by postcode”.
Of greater concern to the people of Salford, only 45 per cent of whom have qualifications at A-level or above, is that they are seeing so few of the promised benefits. The council has paid out more than £20 million to welcome the Corporation, including £220,000 on special buses, £3 million to sponsor the BBC Philharmonic Orchestra and a staggering £6 million for “engaging with the community” to prepare them for work in the media. Sixteen jobs seems a paltry return. Meanwhile, as unemployment nears 10 per cent, funding for everything from day care to library buses has been cut. “It’s really angering people,” Kingston says. “You’re getting two Salfords now: a glitzy, sterile environment there, and here.”
To an outsider, neither Salford is particularly appealing. Salford Quays, which accommodates the BBC, as well as the Lowry, an upmarket shopping centre, a Holiday Inn, a smattering of restaurants and 350 executive flats, is a soulless glass development. A stone’s throw away is the Ordsall estate, which is in the worst 1 per cent in the country for crime, with five murders in the last year. One victim was Anuj Bidve, an Indian student shot on Boxing Day. Another was a local man shot in a pub in September in front of 60 witnesses, none of whom has come forward. When I visited last week, there was a packed police van on every third corner, sullenly surveying the empty streets.
Further north, in Pendleton ward, is the optimistically named Salford Shopping City, a collection of market stalls, pawnbrokers and pound shops that passes for a centre in a community devoid of focus. During the August riots, 1,000 people poured on to the streets here, with entire families stopping their cars outside Lidl to fill trolleys with food. You can still see the marks on the grassy roundabout where rocks were taken to hurl at shops and police.
Today, the area is filled with the unemployed and the unemployable: inarticulate, threatening youths shrugging off friendly questions with obscenities; disturbingly young mothers; and a couple of more approachable people thoroughly disillusioned with their lot. “Media City is a total waste of money,” says Carl Evans, 46, who is on incapacity benefits. “I wouldn’t go there; there’s nothing there for me.”
Our chairman kindly donated over a £1,000 worth of ink for our Risos,but with the purchase of our new Machines we have stock to spare the Ink fits the Risograph RN2000ep and we are selling cheaper than eBay any one getting ready for the campaign season and needs to grab a bargain drop us a line.`