Run out of money? Then splash out
Richard Morrison The Times
“The roof is leaking, you can’t afford your kids’ music lessons, you’re defaulting on your mortgage.” What to do, asks Richard Morrison. Why, throw a lavish party for some strangers. That’s how Britain’s city councils are handling the problem. A budget shortfall in Birmingham last year forced it to slash funding for its orchestra, ballet and other cultural projects, and it still needs to find a further £54m in savings in 2018-19. Yet that didn’t stop its council bidding to host the 2022 Commonwealth Games, for which it must now raise £190m. Nor did the pressures of austerity stop Dundee, Leeds and other cities blowing millions in preparing bids to be a European Capital of Culture in 2023 – even though it was “glaringly obvious”, given Brexit, that the EU would exclude the UK from the scheme – or deter Newcastle and Gateshead from agreeing to host a new jamboree called the Great Exhibition of the North this summer, at a cost of £14m. Apparently it’s going to “transform perceptions of the North”. No doubt it will – if those perceptions include the notion that northerners are sensible folk “who don’t waste money on useless frivolities”.