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The Grouch’s column: 12/08/2010

Manchester hotels rake in government cash; Tesco’s local gaffe; and how not to get battered in Eccles

Published on August 13th 2010.

The Grouch’s column: 12/08/2010

Civil servants blow the budget in Manchester
Several government departments released their expenditure and expense claims this week, in order to be more open and honest. This is a good thing - transparent government and all that. But it also makes for some interesting reading.Amid the obviously hilarious claims - £1,600 for a firm called Stress Angels and £3,450 to a live jazz quartet to help with ‘skills and training’ – were some with a local flavour.

The Government Office for the Regions spent £539 on a trip to Blackpool (how many Kiss Me Quick hats is that?), and also racked up more than £5,000 with Manchester City FC and £1,359 at Manchester United, for ‘learning and development’. Hmm.

City Inn Manchester trousered £7,635 from the department, compared to the McDonald Hotel’s £741. Manchester University got £7,400; Manchester College received £16,800 and the Lowry Centre got a relatively poxy £568.

The city council got £434,000 from the Department during the year.

Over at the Department for Communities and Local Government, they spent £12,900 on Manchester United (on ‘catering’), £685 on a slap up meal at Stock and gave £6,465 to City Inn Manchester. The extra nine yard hike to the Malmaison must have proved too far for the civil servants, as that hotel only got £685.

The Homes and Communities Agency, which has an office near Warrington, also put up staff in Malmaison, at a cost of £619. It also used the McDonald Hotel Manchester, costing £1,800, but City Inn won out again in the hotel wars, taking £8,900 from the department.

It gave £25,000 to Manchester Central during the year and the University of Manchester received £47,000.

So we needn’t worry about local spending cuts – our football club corporate hospitality rooms, restaurants and hotels seem to be doing all right out of government as it is.

Not a cakewalk
And now for a whinge. I know. Surprising. But one of our intrepid food reviewers went off on a mission this week, to find out more about the lauded battered and deep-fried Eccles cake being dished up by one of the town’s chippies.

So off they went, on the 33 bus on Wednesday teatime looking for a new gourmet adventure. After negotiating Eccles’ main drag – everything was closed except for the Oddfellows Arms, which, obviously, was holding a karaoke session – our man got to Whittakers Fish Bar and Grill only to find that it was shut. Despite local and national public publicity, it couldn’t be arsed to open. Our man shook his head. He doesn’t want to see Eccles die, but if the locals can’t help themselves off the back of a golden PR opportunity, what hope is there?

Every little white lie helps...
Retail giant Tesco does everything. It sells car insurance as well as bread and now it’s branched out into flogging houses.

Its iSold venture purports to have a Manchester office. When you click the Manchester link on the website, you’re greeted with eleven smiling faces. “Hello Manchester!” they say. “Our team has years of experience in Manchester,” cries the page.

Apart from they don’t. Not all of those people are based in Manchester. Some are based in Colchester.

Estate agents in not-quite-telling-the-truth shocker. Who’d have thunk it?

...but it’s alright for some
Maybe the property market is on the up though. Sales and lettings firm Thornley Groves is opening its eighth branch in Greater Manchester, over in Urmston. They’re after a branch manager as well. Their Hale office also needs a manager if you fancy poking around massive houses in leafy Cheshire. Tesco employees need not apply.

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Gourmet LunchAugust 13th 2010.

On that note: aren't Eccles Cakes made in ARDWICK? Never-ending location scam shocker!

AnonymousAugust 13th 2010.

How much does Grouch think is a reasonable price for holding a meeting in Manchester City Centre with coffee, and a light finger buffet? per head And why is training people such a bad thing?

Actually I think he needs a bit of the latter.

MattAugust 14th 2010.

On the subject of gaffes, your offer for TNQ says it is available any day of the week. In fact, it isnt.

Oh BlimeyAugust 20th 2010.

The people at City Inn are going to love you. The council switchboard is about to be jammed as the sales departments of every hotel within a five mile radius queues to offer a better deal. I'd love to know the rate they pay at City Inn though. Smells of bought business to me.

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