Today's wet weather is an apt backdrop for the Liverpool Sound concert at Anfield. Raining on this particular parade of what was billed as the highlight of Liverpool08 isn't, however, merely a meteorological matter. The metaphorical downpour comes in the shape of the national media's interest in the mismanagement of 2008 by the city council & the Culture Company (www.liverpool08.com ).
BBC Radio 4's File On 4 programme (http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/programmes/file_on_4/7420315.stm ) this week lifted the stone on just some of the shennanigans, cock-ups & warring egos which have resulted in what could have been the area's best opportunity in over a generation becoming a laughable & pathetic attempt to paper over the cracks of a civic & business leadership in denial & conflict.
As Allan Urry (who cut his journalistic teeth with BBC Radio Merseyside) reports for the programme, Liverpool City Council is currently closing two specialist care homes for the elderly as it tries to put its finances in order. One of those affected by the closures expresses her feelings:
"Joyce Provost, whose 77 year old mother suffers dementia, [said]: 'The old people built this city....they're not being considered, I don't think it is fair.'"
The Bread & Circuses approach of the city council is put under the spotlight by seasoned observers of the city's civic & business scene. The programme notes that "one of the city's leading academics has a stark warning that the city is ill equipped for the tough times ahead.
"Professor David Robertson, head of the Public Policy Institute at Liverpool John Moores University, is doubly pessimistic with nearly £7-12bn worth of Central Government and European funding due to come to an end.
"He added that the city's regeneration had been 'very frothy, focussing upon tourism, short term spending and increasing spending on shopping.
"They are the first things to go in an economic downturn.'"
These aren't the sort of observations you will find in the Liverpool Echo. Just two days after the File On 4 programme was first broadcast, the Echo morphed into a glorified PR blurb for the Liverpool One development (http://www.liverpoolecho.co.uk/liverpool-news/local-news/2008/05/29/liverpool-one-huge-shopping-development-opens-100252-20991041/ ).
Forget about journalism, this coverage oozed with nauseous sycophancy.
It reminded me of the points made in April by the writer Paul Kingsnorth in his book, "Real England: The Battle Against The Bland" (http://condensedthoughts.blogspot.com/2008_04_01_archive.html ).
It's worth noting, en passant, that Phil Redmond, self-styled saviour of culture year, refused to be interviewed by Allan Urry unless he could dictate the terms of the conversation & exercise a power of veto over the programme's questions.
On a lighter note, Lee Forde -- the man who was expected to work with a reduced budget yet return a finished project regardless, as far as Warren Bradley was concerned -- tells Urry that Bruce Springsteen had expressed a wish to play Liverpool this year, but the farce that was unfolding ruled it out. Thanks, fellas, another reason to remind as wide an audience as possible of the Audit Commision's report which described Liverpool as having the worst-run council in the country.