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Not Strictly Confidential – 31/1/08

Stuff bobbing about on the pool of life that you just can't flush away

Published on February 4th 2008.

Not Strictly Confidential – 31/1/08

And as one council door closes, another opens.

Exit Jason Harborow, Culture Company chief who got blamed for all the cock-ups of Mathew Street, but not officially. That honour, as followers of last year's fun and games will recall, went to Lee Forde.

Enter, Jon Brown, MD of local PR outfit Factory Communications, who is to act as a part time, interim spin doctor for six months while the council waits to see if it will still be in such desperate need of one after the May elections.

Who knows what will become of our H, now that he has banked £230K as a parting shot from what has just been dubbed the worst financially managed council in the UK.

Rumour has long had it that the former sports-merchandiser from Chorley was so inspired by the millions of cones in the city centre that he set his sights on acquiring a Spanish firm that churns out frozen desserts and the like.

If so, he will no doubt want to spend a chunk of his lolly licking the local opposition with some sound publicity and marketing in his new venture.

But who to call? Ice Cream Factory Communications, of course.


So why exactly has Jason been paid so much council taxpayers' lucre from a city with a £60m black hole in its finances?

Erm, let's look at the story so far. Council Leader Warren and Ex Council Leader Mike have both been reported to the Standards Board for allegedly attempting to undermine Jason's position following the cancellation of the Mathew Street Festival and the subsequent report. Eager readers will fondly recall it was this sort of stuff that got everyone into lumber during “Kick Off Number One” a couple of years ago.

This, along with Councillor Warren's frequent media outbursts of the first-thing-that-comes-into-his-head variety, gave Jason, according to employment lawyers, very strong ammo should he have wanted to take the council to an employment tribunal. Whoa! And so the golden handshake.

A council press release sent out, but not to Confidential because, to quote its news centre chief, Richard Farnell, “I probably do not consider you a bona fide news organisation” (ooooh, get him!), contains several quotes of the blah-di-blah variety from council officers.

We won't bore you by reproducing it here, but we've looked and looked, and can sadly find no quote from the normally talkative Warren. Perhaps the new city spinners have put a fire blanket over his cage.

Who's a cheeky boy then?


Speaking of cheeky boys, Liverpool Confidential ran into the elder statesman of Scouse scal comedy, Nige, at the Slaughterhouse last Friday.

In a sharp, scathing performance, Nige, aka comic Keith Carter, regaled a delighted and packed house with an account of his futile attempts, over the past four years, to get involved in the Capital of Culture programme, all via a highly fanciful, frustrating and funny exchange of letters between him: “Dear Culture Boss...” and them: “Dear Nige...”

Nige, of course, was instrumental in swinging Capital of Culture for Liverpool, indeed was cited by the 2003 panel of judges as one of the main reasons it gave the city the accolade.

Chairman of the judging panel Sir Jeremy Isaacs remarked, after seeing his show at the time: "I could only understand one in every three words. But he helped Liverpool win the bid."

Carter says he was "astonished" to hear his jokes had such an influence, but last week conceded that the fling was long over.

“I was only half joking on stage tonight,” he told us, adding that repeated representations to the 08 board, for Nige to, perhaps, be part of the programme, had been met with silence. And it's a long time since he's died in quite that way.

Perhaps the board understood none of every three words he said, or maybe they probably don't consider him a bona fide comedy organisation. In any case, some might say, that's gratitude for you.

But hey, this is still a free speech country and who wants to be in the fold when there's so much fun to be had being out of it?

Nige's Guide to Capital of Culture Part One, not funded by the Culture Company, hits the Unity Theatre on March 8. Don't miss.


Myth of the week: “Liverpool is twinned with New York”. So it says everywhere, on websites including Staying in Liverpool, Liverpool College, Building Design (The Architect's website), and Linda Grant, author, says it in a piece for the Guardian. The local papers have said it, A Mayor for Liverpool says it, and, not to miss out, Liverpool's own municipal City Magazine has even said it.

Easy mistake? Such a slip up might have been avoided if all of them had looked at the council's website which makes no mention of New York as a twin. Just Cologne, Odessa and Dublin. Let's not forget Shanghai either. We did, apparently, grant New York the Freedom of the City of Liverpool (August 2003).

All together now: Start spreading the news....


Spotted: Keifer Sutherland prancing naked among the Iron Men on Crosby beach. Ken Dodd on Facebook, Herbert the hairdresser taking a Peking duck back to Costco and the cast of Heroes getting all steamed up with celebrity chef Antony Worrall Thompson in the saucepans aisle of Kut-A-Bill, Smithdown Road. One of these is true, but we haven't the faintest idea which.

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

AnonymousJanuary 31st 2008.

It's not all bad. I like it for the TJs advert and the way it faithfully reproduces council propaganda.

Aaaar, Jim Lad!January 31st 2008.

It's the tall ships race this year. Bradley and Storey should be made to walk the plank out by the Bar Lightship. Think of the media coverage and the party afterwards.

Tricky WooJanuary 31st 2008.

I just heard Jason Harborrow on the radio this morning. he came across as very reasonable, saying things like "I am a professional". Yeh right. Nobody thought to ask him how professional he thought he was being when elbowed the band Sirenz into the final of the Battle of the Bands at Mathew Street. And nobody asked him why he did that, did they? Answer: Because he was up for a job interview at the council, not the culture co. And guess who was making the appointment: The step father of one of the members of the band.....Sirenz!

The real Ken DoddJanuary 31st 2008.

By Jove! Who's pretending to be me, missus?

London RoadJanuary 31st 2008.

"Balls go up for grabs", I've just read in the Echo. More bollocks, more like.

London RoadJanuary 31st 2008.

You are right about not being to flush it away. I would like to think that citizens would be sufficiently arsed to vote these incompetents out come the May elections, but to be replaced by what? The opposition haven't said a single word about what they will do, they are too busy kicking the dogs when they are down. Fine, but there is a brilliant opportunity here for some real leadership like, dare we say it, Manchester's, and I fear it is just not going to happen. At least Hatton and co built some family houses and, despite all the crap at the time, didn't leave us £60m in the red. How has this been allowed to happen and why haven't they been removed from office?

AnonymousJanuary 31st 2008.

I see Jason Harborow is about to do Warren Bradley in publicly on the radio and he's taking him to the Standards Board. What a circus. Mivvi anyone?

OnlookerJanuary 31st 2008.

Very forthright, deservedly so. And very truthful. Which is what Liverpool needs. Bradley has gone to ground because everytime he opens his mouth he just makes matters worse. Presumably Mr Brown will be paid an awful lot of money to keep the sellotape over Bradley's gob. Quite how the council thinks it is appropriate to hire someone part-time who will still be servicing, ahem, his other clients, is beyond me here. Isn't this a clear conflict of interests and isn't it giving the green light to any old property speculator or music promoter or general ne'er do well, no names no pack drill, to wield undue influence? And don't give me that bollocks about Chinese walls. Shouldn't someone be advising the District Auditor?

JON BROWNJanuary 31st 2008.

What has any of this got to do with me, the money i will make or that dick-head Bradley the fireman?

CarolynJanuary 31st 2008.

I imagine that Herbert is wearing a designery ski jacket because he plans to go out on the slopes, in which case the other skiers had better have their eye protection sorted. Those teeth have blinded several people at networking events already.

CarolynJanuary 31st 2008.

I was with you, Herb.

AnonymousJanuary 31st 2008.

It was definitely Herbert the hairdresser taking a peking duck back to Costco - I was there!! He had a very designery white,pink and I think blue ski jacket on...... I think Costco do good duck.

District AuditorJanuary 31st 2008.

I will mention it to Hasitall at the 19th hole.

Ken DoddJanuary 31st 2008.

I can confirm that I have a Facebook presence.

Lord StreetJanuary 31st 2008.

Not at all. On every sheet of San Izal lavatory is printed 'NOW WASH YOUR HANDS' which I have found over the years to be more factually reliable, healthy and uplifting reading matter than I have ever found in the Echo. And better spelt!Take away the fragmentary accounts of old criminal court cases, the crime, the trivia with a tenuous attachment to some old pop group and the footie and what are you are left with?The adverts (and 'Willie’)

Lord StreetJanuary 31st 2008.

Of course I do read the Echo occasionally, out of the same sense of morbid curiosity that makes me pick up and open a copy of The Sun or the Daily Sport left abandoned on a bus. If no-one's looking, that is.It never fails to disappoint. And what happened to the jobs it used to have on a Thursday?

DuckJanuary 31st 2008.

Sadly, I wasn't there.

ajJanuary 31st 2008.

Wish I'd seen Keifer dancing naked......

LewJanuary 31st 2008.

someone has just translated what that laohugong person was on about ages ago. He was well off target wasn't he? Far too clever for his own good...

The Unreal Ken DoddJanuary 31st 2008.

Liverpool has been twinned with (similar cathedral city) Cologne since 1952, similar port Odessa in 1956 (though it isn’t considered desirable or expensive enough for Councillors to bother with actually visiting). European capital city and economic powerhouse Dublin was mysteriously next in 1997 (when vast numbers of Councillors suddenly became Irish and went junketing in the Republic) and the booming industrial and economic centre Shanghai in 1999 (when Councillor Storey posed for lots of photographs showing him standing in a Jaguar car drinking champagne). As yet this lot have not to my knowledge gone out on the town in New York at the Liverpool Council Tax-Payers’ expense (well not openly, anyway).

Lord StreetJanuary 31st 2008.

I don't read the Echo.I find that San Izal Medicated Toilet Paper is cheaper and a far more interesting and informative read.+ NOW WASH YOUR HANDS +

Lord StreetJanuary 31st 2008.

Was it not His Worship Mr. Kenneth Livingstone who once said "If voting changed anything it would abolished" in those bleak and blasted years of Thatcherite tyranny?Mind you it's nice to read that good old ‘Kut-a-Bill’ is still going, and it's not yet been turned into a tanning parlour or the Council's 'Degeneration Strategy' hasn't caused it to be compulsorily-purchased/demolished/turned into crap-flats-for-rich-twats.

HerbJanuary 31st 2008.

Well, I was in Costco with me duck!

FiremanJanuary 31st 2008.

utterly gorgeous

London RoadJanuary 31st 2008.

I understood you first time, Lord Street, and thought you made a very pertinent and amusing point.

laohugongJanuary 31st 2008.

Ah, another of those literate stalwarts who piously declare that they 'never read the Echo 'cause there's now in it'. How do they know, if they don't read it? Better to know the nature of the bug in your soup than assume its a lump of tofu (taken from an old Chinese proverb or maybe from Ramsey's Rants). One has to agree about the Echo to a certain extent but its the same old guff as Guardian readers who scoff at the Daily Mail and Telegraph but never, obviously, would soil their preciously liberal hands with such tat. Very pretentious. Presumably there is an San Izal bog - sorry, Blog - somewhere that Lord Street subscribes to...

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