Run out of money? Then splash out

Richard Mor­ri­son The Times

The Week - - News | Best Articles: Britain -

“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”.

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