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The Laz Word....from Larry Neild

This time: The show will go on, but the spiralling costs of the Liverpool Sound means it's not over till the Beatle sings

Published on April 21st 2008.

The Laz Word....from Larry Neild

BEFORE Liverpool City Council passed a bylaw making it illegal to spend a penny when out and about in the city centre, there used to be portfolio of public conveniences. Remember the underground loo in Victoria Street?

One of the toilets to go down the pan was in Catharine Street. It became a breakfast bar. My one regret is that the council didn’t run it themselves as a tea shop. It would have enabled me to say our civic machine couldn’t organise a brew-up in a pissery.

It seems that the council has developed quite a record of well, making a pig’s ear of almost everything it touches, particularly in our showpiece culture year.

We had the fiasco – disaster even – over the way the Mathew Street Festival was handled, a misfortune that cost you, the taxpayers, a fortune, not least the £250K pay-off to Jason Harborow. The dust has yet to settle.

Then it seemed the city – that means you again – had to pick up the expenses tab for allowing Ringo Starr to plug his album before a worldwide audience at the Culture Year kick-off ceremony. It paid off: his CD made Number 99 for a week in the charts. Well done Mr Starkey. A sizeable hospitality bill was notched up by the Starr entourage.

But did Liverpool learn from the past? Of course not. For weeks there have been rumours about things not going so well with the big gig of the year, the Liverpool Sound concert at Anfield.

Anfield was picked after the preferred choice – Salthouse Dock - was abandoned. The idea was to drain the dock and build a stage and seating, just so a worldwide audience could have a good view of the Pier Head as a building site. That little adventure set back the council around £320,000, much of it to meet consultants’ bills.

Fast forward to April, 2008. and a headline on a story in the NME “Sir Paul McCartney’s Anfield Concert in Cancellation Threat” . Wow. At least the city's media spinners are living up to the promise of grabbing headlines for culture year in national publications.

The council, currently facing criticisms over plans to shut homes for vulnerable people, was forced to put £1.7m at the disposal of MPL for production costs and insurance bills after it insisted it be handed control of the event, or else. MPL is owned by, let me see, oh yes: Paul McCartney.

The 66-year-old pensioner is said to be doing the gig for free. Hooray for Sir Paul, except that the council has to give, in lieu of the fee, £300,000 to LIPA and one of Sir P’s favourite charities. Doesn’t seem very free to me if it’s not an optional donation.

The sting in the tail is that the council will have to foot the bill for any over-runs in the costs of the gig, which could well exceed £2m. Of course 25,000 tickets costing £35 to £75 have already been flogged to Macca fans and another 11,000 are being printed to earn more money to meet the costs of the one-night stand that could now reach £2m or even higher.

One of the toilets
to go down the pan was in Catharine Street. It became
a breakfast bar.
My one regret is that the council didn’t run it themselves as a tea shop. It would have enabled me
to say our civic machine couldn’t organise a brew-up in a pissery

The show will go on, insists the Squire of Frodsham, Sir Philip Brookside-Hollyoaks, creative director of the Liverpool Spending Company. Well actually what he said was that he was confident the show will go ahead (room for manoeuvre there). "I'm not going to say, 'This concert will go ahead regardless,'" he told BBC Radio Merseyside. "At the end of the day there always comes a line when you say, 'This is not worth it'."

The council has apparently hired the late Mr Sherlock Holmes, for a donation, to try to find the mole who spilled the beans on the emerging Anfield fiasco. I reckon it was that chap Moriarty.

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

Mrs DoyleApril 21st 2008.

I think he's more like Father Ted.

Liverpool LooApril 21st 2008.

I love your column, Laz. And you can write pretty well, too. Keep socking it to 'em

Gullet RoadApril 21st 2008.

Do any of these people who have forked out over a hundred quid for tickets for this know who they are actually going to see? It's in four weeks time and they don't know who's playing. Cock up after cock up. Imagine Galstonbury trying to pull that sort of stunt. Unbelieveable!

Lord StreetApril 21st 2008.

Do you think that in about five years when all the listed buildings have been demolished, all the holes in the ground filled in and all these ugly new erections full of flats, bars and car parks are finished, that we might get another European Capital of Culture that we can do properly, like any other European city? (NOT appointing yanks and Australians to run it might be a good start)

London RoadApril 21st 2008.

All together now: Yesterday, all my troubles seemed so far away.....

London RoadApril 21st 2008.

Yeh, Macca is a bit like Victor Meldrew, especially since his divorce.

TonyApril 21st 2008.

Has larry ever thought of starting a blog?

John Lennon AirportApril 21st 2008.

Yes. And Ian McNabb. I have nothing against either, but they are not a hundred quid's worth and I think the people on the waiting list will not wait around much for all the new tickets that are supposed to be going on sale to help fund the mess Maybe MPL have got a few aces up their sleeve. Perhaps Ringo is booked. Oh dear!

Jim McCabeApril 21st 2008.

Apart from Elvis Costello, the supporting cast for Sir Thumbs Up's gig is still in a state of disarray. I suspect they'll fall back on a couple of the old Merseybeat suspects (Gerry Marsden, etc.) & those whose musical credentials are tenuous to say the least (thinks of a certain three-piece female outfit beloved of local hairdressers).

EleanorRigsbyApril 21st 2008.

Hey Dude, leave our Paul alone. He wants money, that's what he wants. Haven't been reading the papers lately. He's practically skint with that divorce stuff. Screw the council while you can Paul, everybody else does.

Mullet RdApril 21st 2008.

Now doubt they'll wheel the bloody farm out again.

BertApril 21st 2008.

That guy Nield is one miserable spoil sport! Ok he does not like Macca, I remember somebody writing to the daily post about him saying he was Liverpool's answer to Victor Meldrew, c'mon Laz give us Macca fans a ticket to ride!!!

Font of all knowledgeApril 21st 2008.

As I understand it, despite the Echo and Post trying to bury the bones of the real story, Paul does not want a stash of cash from this. He appears to have surfaced from his "bother" and indicated precisely that he does not trust the city council or culture company to organise this event at Anfield. Last week, just five weeks before the event, Sir P insisted that his own production company MPL be handed the cash to produce the event properly, not the council, or he is offski. Has anyone called Challenge Anneka? This would make great telly.

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