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Published on September 1st 2008.

The Laz Word by Larry Neild Next year’s Mathew Street festival will be as good and as big as this year’s event, City Council leader Warren Bradley has assured Liverpool Confidential.Talks about the August Bank Holiday event in 2009 will start as early as this week, our firefighting political leader added.This is what Cllr Bradley told us: “The Mathew Street Festival 2009 discussions will start in earnest this week. Liverpool City Council, who incidentally led on this year’s event, despite what is perceived, will again lead on next year’s festival. “Like all of the events the City Council are responsible for, we intend to deliver it as well as this year’s.” So we should give it up for the city council and the Capital of Culture Company, paymaster’s of this year’s successful Mathew Street Festival. Interruption: Excuse me Mr Laz, what’s with you – normally you don’t have a kind word to say about the CoC-Up mob.Credit where credit’s due Interrupter, after last year’s fiasco the City Council did pull it off this year, but I haven’t done yet. This year’s big street festival –organised by the City Council - cost the culture company around £750,000 and I can’t help wondering who is going to pick up the tab next year when the cost could be closer to £1m.The culture company with its merry band of sponsors (more cash in kind that real dosh) will be no more and whatever succeeds CoCC will presumably have to find the funding for the event.Turn the clock back to the 1990s when the Mathew Street Festival could easily have disappeared from the city.It started out as an event led by the hard-working team at Cavern City Tours, but it simply grew and grew and the city council rescued the festival. Of course Cavern City Tours are still very much on the scene, but I doubt it could stage a re-takeover without massive public cash.I remember a plea going out at the time to the owners of bars, restaurants and hotels to dig into their pockets, but the whip round idea never took off. Which is surprising given the businesses rake it in during the August event.A pointer to next year came in what appeared to be a coded message from Warren Bradley, leader of the city council.. He hailed this year’s festival as the biggest and best ever, but said he wanted businesses to jump on board for the 2009 Festival.Hmm. Is that a shot across the bow to the business community in Liverpool: pay up or risk losing it. With the changing fortunes of Liverpool businesses rents have rocketed, meaning the landowners and property tycoons are raking it in. It’s a pity they cannot be made to chip in.Whuile it is reassuring to hear Warren Bradley say talks will start within days about 2009, we should sort out quickly who is goping to pick up the tab. Will it be hard pressed taxpayers? Will it be the big wealthy quangos, or the skinflint businesses reluctant to cough up?That £750k paid this year will be seen as peanuts compared to the cost of this weekend bring La Machine to the streets of Liverpool. This huge mechanical ****** (it’s the city’s worst kept secret) will crawl around the city over four days in what is being billed as one of the sensations of culture year. The big issue will be the cost – is it worth paying £1.8m for a short-trm event? I pondered over this and feel in our culture year we should be allowed one big indulgence, something we would never expect to see in our wildest dreams, and will probably never see the likes of again.If La Machine lives up to its expectations it will be one of the most unforgettable events of 08. If the organisers have spun a web of expensive spin, we’ll hire spiderman to sort them out.

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