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Should Liverpool have its day 6,000 miles away?

Larry Neild wonders whether we should really send another £400k up Shanghai's Suzhou Creek when we haven't got a paddle.

Published on July 21st 2010.


Should Liverpool have its day 6,000 miles away?

SHOULD Liverpool pull the plug on a Liverpool Day event at Shanghai’s World Expo? Liverpool is the only UK city to have its own show at the six-month event in China’s biggest city.

Given the bulk of the audience are ordinary Chinese folk, the expectations are seen by some as 'over egged'

The climax was scheduled to be a showpiece Liverpool Day featuring the RLPO, OMD, The Wombats and the Youth orchestra from the Chinese Pagoda.

Problem is the council will have to find £400,000 to foot the bill, but unfortunately the city is skint.

It’s looking likely there will have to be a much scaled down ‘Liverpool Day’ at Expo as politicians here grapple with a huge hole in the budget.

The Lib Dems, under Warren Bradley, agreed to underwrite any shortfall in funding in recognition of the importance Expo was seen as a platform for Liverpool generating business opportunities with Chinese firms.

Liverpool and Shanghai are twinned, so it seems only right for the Liver Bird to fly the flag for Merseyside at the big event.

However given the bulk of the audience are ordinary Chinese folk, the expectations are seen by some as “over egged”.

Our Expo adventure will have cost around £3m by the time the curtain comes down, that money coming from the NWDA, private sponsors and the city council.

In a way, Liverpool has been let down by the private sector in the North West. Although the sector has chipped in, as cash or money in kind, around £700,000. Given the state of the economy it is not surprising more lolly was not forthcoming.

The new city council leadership is grappling with a financial crisis getting worse by the day. Leader Joe Anderson was telling me Social Services is already £4m overspent and that’s just three months into the year.

He and his cabinet will have their work cut out scraping together enough cash to keep vital front-line services going, never mind splashing out cash they haven’t got on a Liverpool Day halfway around the world.

If Liverpool was flush with spare cash and had a healthy sum in the treasury reserves, then go ahead with this Oriental jamboree.

The council has already been forced to impose a recruitment freeze and this week we are likely to see a stringent clampdown on civic spending – furniture, taxis, and running costs.

The debt owed by the council is currently £120m and the national government has already announced tens of millions will be cut from the money it doles out to local authorities.

So things can only get bleaker.

Expo is essentially a vanity fair, mainly to show off China to its own people and the rest of the world. Although independent consultants say the benefit to Merseyside will be anything up to £47m over 10 years, it is one of those things difficult to measure. We could just as easily reap absolutely no financial benefit from our presence.

Yet it was still the right decision to take part in Expo, but when money is tight it is easy to see why the financial curtain has to be drawn. How would the people of Norris Green or Kirkdale react to seeing services in their communities cut whilst money was available to take a fast boat to China?

It would be see as the ultimate Chinese takeaway.

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

Liverpool WagJune 16th 2010.

The trouble is, anonymous, is this city's days as a big player were numbered when the Wright Brothers were born. I am sick to death of hearing about the "Manhattan skyline" about those ridiculous CoC figures, about the North Docks being the "new Shanghai". Bollocks, bollocks and more bollocks. It ain't ever going to happen. We are a tiny city with a falling population at the edge of a small island that is no longer a world leader. I am now thinking of standing for mayor.

tiggerJune 16th 2010.

Dear Sold down the river, you are so ill-informed it is unbelievable - you don't see the point in it?? Why take Rex Makin's word for it? How, in fact, would he know? has he seen the figures, has he been to Expo. The Liverpool pavilion is pulling in over 4,000 every day and a phenomenal success. And why do you think it is a junket? Again, easy to write, but you can't substantiate this. So don't bother in future, mate!

WappingJune 16th 2010.

If we weren't twinned with Shanghai no one here or there would notice. The Chinese have all the world's money, the USA owes them trillions, they've just bought Greece, they already own all of East Africa. If anyone thinks that inviting them to "invest in" Liverpool is a good idea they are are simply showing off their ignorance of the commercial realities. The Chinese won't put a ringgit or a yuan into Liverpool until we are completely broken by debt and mismanagement and pouring borrowed money into Shanghai is like putting petrol into a fire extinguisher.

AnonymousJune 16th 2010.

The trouble in this city is you can't distinguish fact from fiction. Here they go again in the papers today telling unsuspecting delegations fromBirmingham, Derry, Norwich and Sheffield how CoC earned us zillions of pounds in income from millions of extra tourists. No, no, no it bleedin' well didn't. According to the Daily Spin, otherwise known as the Daily Post,....Coc is estimated to have brought vthe city more than £7500m in economic benefits and an estimated £300m in free publicity. So if all that money has flowed into our city why are we skint, why are we firing council staff instead of hiring, why aren't we offering to lend David Cameron a few bob from out bulging piggy bank. Because it's not true. CoC was a success, but the figures are an illusion.And now with Expo. Again, as Laz says, good to be there. But let's not been under any illusion that we are to see an army of Chinese tourists heading our way anytime soon, or Chinese business people deciding to swop the low-wage interior areas to build factories and opt instead for Liverpool. Can't just for once our officials and politicians level with us and stop the hype and the spin. I was hoping a more level-headed Labour administration would bring us down to earth.

Pension FundJune 16th 2010.

It's a shame to spoil the ship for a ha'p'orth of tar! McIlhenny would easily find £400,000 by looking down the backs of the cushions on his numerous settees.

Sold down the riverJune 16th 2010.

Can't see the point of us being there. Rex Makin says no one can be bothered going to the Liverpool stand because it's off the beaten track by miles. Still, a nice junket for some

Sold down the riverJune 16th 2010.

Oooh! You protesteth too much.....

AnonymousJune 16th 2010.

You have to understand that a PR agency runs the Daily Spin.

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