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Laz Word: Jason Harborow does the talking

What did Larry Neild make of the former Culture Co boss's two hours of airtime on that subject we still can't seem to flush away?

Published on January 19th 2009.

Laz Word: Jason Harborow does the talking

JASON Harborow, who commutes between the Iberian peninsular and Liverpool, chaired a Spanish Inquisition on the airwaves, last night, to give a fascinating glimpse into the goings-on that went on at the Liverpool Culture Company.

Jason’s two-hour special on City Talk was like a special edition of This Is Your Life, except Jason was playing the dual roles of Trevor McDonald and “It”.

MP George Howarth hit the nail on the head when he said Liverpool – irrespective of who ran the city council – was dysfunctional,
that it liked to play
the blame game

The show gave the one-time chief executive of the Culture Co a chance – on his terms - to set the record straight, perhaps settle a few scores and bury a few ghosts.

Harborow became the 08 bogeyman in the eyes of many, parting company with the Culture Co and taking with him a £235,000 council pay-off, except he didn’t screw anything up. In the show he said something I have said to many in his defence: he was never disciplined, he was never accused of doing anything wrong. He paid the price – losing a job he loved - because some people didn’t like him.

Then Sir Bob Scott, architect of Liverpool’s successful 08 bid, put Jason in his place. He told him that after being well compensated he was crying all the way to the bank. Ouch. But Jason didn’t want to go, Bob.

Knowsley North MP George Howarth perhaps hit the nail on the head when he said Liverpool – irrespective of who ran the city council – was dysfunctional and liked to play the blame game. It is something George has said to me a number of times.

Bryan Gray, who became chairman of the Culture Company, and Sir Drumm-

mond Bone, who held the job before Gray, both spoke in rather fond terms of Jason. Makes you wonder why he was forced out with such high-level allies.

Mike Storey, who has not exchanged a word with Jason for around 15 months, was not exactly antagonistic towards Harborow. Their chat was tough, with talk of the former allegedly leaking news of the latter's illness to the press, and denials going back and forth. Storey was brave to enter the lion’s den. Let’s say the score was a draw.

So it begs the question: who actually decided Jason should leave the Culture Company, who did that person or persons consult with, and on what grounds?

Prof Phil Redmond did not take part in the inquest: Was he asked? If so did he decline? There was a general consensus that Redmond did a good job, arriving, as one interviewee said, in the nick of time.

So was Sir P the hero of the hour, the saviour of Capital of Culture?

Jason’s view was that he never praised the real heroes, the hard-working team who did deliver.

Indeed the unsung heroes were Claire McCoglan and Fiona Gasper. It seems while a Liverpool version of the Spanish Civil War was going on all around them, they and their teams got on with the task of delivering what will surely be hailed as one of the best ever European capitals of culture.

It goes to show how politicians and officials crossing swords can make things difficult, but, at the end of the day, the show will go on, thanks to the backroom team who get on with things. They should get the medals

Liverpool’s route to a place on the World Stage has left its scars as well as its casualties, and maybe that’s the inevitable price that has to be paid for the greater glory of a city. When the Eurocrats arrive from Brussels (via Manchester) to assay CoC I hope among the glitzy brochures they are slipped a CD of the show.

Harborow insists his radio show is his last say on the matter. Fascinating as it was, I somehow feel the final chapter has yet to be written.

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11 comments so far, continue the conversation, write a comment.

eleanorRigsbyJanuary 19th 2009.

While the men did all the fighting and squabbling the wimmin were left to organise the big gig, and didn't they do well. Shows they should leave these things to us females and we'd show 'em.And Jas, Sir Bob's Not Yer Uncle certainly put you in your place. You got yer dosh so let's all get on with 09 with a little bit of peace and quiet.

Phil The Tour GuideJanuary 19th 2009.

The Chorley Chump was promoted beyond his capabilities and when he was found out, went sick. Then took the money and rode into the Spanish sunset, only he keeps coming back to whinge. I hope that "Citytalk" a radio station I occasionally grace have given hinm the oxygen of publicity for the Last time.

topsyJanuary 19th 2009.

oh what a surprise. liverpool deep in another scandal over corruption and jobs for the boys.scousers and crime. the perfect marriage.

DigJanuary 19th 2009.

I'm sure there's a a reader or 2 that could divulge some more interesting goings on from Millenium House & CoC. Show yourselves and enlighten us all!

diddy davidJanuary 19th 2009.

Boring. I am off on another holiday, courtesy of the council taxpayers.

Trinny and SusannarghJanuary 19th 2009.

THAT shirt - with THAT sweater?Oh puuuuleeeeaase.

CultureFatiguedJanuary 19th 2009.

Nice write-up Laz. They should have let you lose on our culture creatures. I don't think they could handle your insight.

Harry WilsonJanuary 19th 2009.

I've heard Laz on City Talk a few times with his Sunday political show and sounding off on Dean Sullivan. He's ok for a newcomer.

Di PoleJanuary 19th 2009.

It's another local radio station that features blokes who speak like stroke victims getting all worked up about footie matches. At least on the occasions I've bothered to tune in.

Mark MywordsJanuary 19th 2009.

City Talk will hire him as a presenter soon. This was a clearing-the-air excercise for PR purposes and nothing more.

Ann TenorJanuary 19th 2009.

What is "City Talk" when it's at home?

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