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The Grouch’s column: 29/07/2010

Salmon’s all right to stay and that NWDA spend down

Published on July 29th 2010.

The Grouch’s column: 29/07/2010

Fish out of water: Salmon’s fine
Can you hear that? The loud harrumphing noise coming from London? That’ll be the Daily Mail, and the rest of the press core from London, who managed to drag themselves out of The Ivy for long enough this week to have a go at Peter Salmon, director of BBC North, for not moving his entire family to Salford immediately when MediaCity opens for business.

He’ll be renting a flat through his working week, so as not to disturb the six children he and his wife are responsible for, several of whom are at important stages in their education and living in London. This, clearly, is a shooting offence.

The publication was aghast at the fact that while all the poor old staff were being ‘forced’ to move there – with nice enough relocation packages and the prospect of a lot more house for a lot less money, as well as stint in the most interesting UK city outside the capital – Salmon would not be putting his £1.8m house in Twickenham on the market to settle in Salford.

But why should he?

Yes, the £1,900 a month he’ll receive to pay the rent while he’s here through the week is perhaps a tad excessive, but the BBC should probably be looking to address the salaries of some of its top (London-based) stars before it gets to Salmon if they want to appease the outraged licence payer and its official mouthpiece on Fleet Street.

The Daily Bile also compared Twickenham to Salford economically and socially – house prices, number of people on benefits, famous sons, that sort of thing - which is always a sweepingly easily way of simplifying things and showing one thing as being inferior to another.

What the rag completely forgot to mention is that Salford is and has been home to some serious wealth – footballers, musicians and even Doctor Who reside in places like Worsley and Ellesmere Park, where a house can set you back £1.5m.

The utter ridiculousness of the Hate Mail’s coverage was summed up perfectly by two numpties whose quotes they made up they found to interview on the street.

Ben Mari, 36 and wife Suzanne, 32, who had a daughter predictably called Maribel and live in Twickers, said: “Put it this way - house prices are about five times as much down here as they are in Salford, which makes it five times a better place.”Really?

I bet restaurants that charge five times more for the same piece of steak you can get in the place six doors down love it when they see Ben and Suzi lolling down the high street.

The fact is that sometimes, work gets in the way of our family life, and you have to make a decision about how much you can compromise.

Salmon’s wife – former Corrie actress Sarah Lancashire – may actually like the house she lives in, having probably paid for at least an equal share of it through some highly lucrative acting jobs. Why should she be forced to sell up at the behest of the Daily Mail?

Establishing the BBC in Salford is a big job, not just for the Beeb but for Greater Manchester. The knives have been out in London from the start, and you can bet the Mail will find more outraged luvvies to whinge about it.

If Salmon is the man for the job, he’ll have been worth the money. Well get the jobs, the kudos and the contract. Salmon gets the legacy to take on to another role if he so chooses. If not, he’ll be out the door and the BBC can recruit someone else.

The real outrage from the media is, of course, private. London is losing its grip and the regions are getting a piece of the action. If we pull it off, £1,900 a month will have been well worth it.

NWDA away
It’s been another week of cuts of course, as the list of projects the NWDA won’t be able to fund was formally released. There were no huge surprises – if the cash isn’t in the bank already, it won’t be arriving at all – but some of the coverage seemed to imply that the NWDA had withdrawn the funding through some sort of malice. As some sharper Confidential readers have already mentioned on this site, the NWDA isn’t axing anything – it’s being chopped down itself. The cuts also don’t mean projects have to stop, but those driving them will have to find grants from elsewhere - although that won’t be easy. The projects weren’t hand-picked by the agency, nor was it given any choice in the decision to close its cheque book. Maybe in the future, the city will have to return to the old adage of having the money in the bank before it starts spending.

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6 comments so far, continue the conversation, write a comment.

Plan manJuly 29th 2010.

You can't blame him or rather his family too much. I'd not up the family to London if they were all in school and happy here.

MoneyJuly 29th 2010.

I would give Lord Haseltine a ring...

Sax-Coburg GothaJuly 29th 2010.

I am from Hanover, so in a way I am related to the Queen. Can I help?

fishcakesAugust 2nd 2010.

Hmm. All well and good Grouch and congrats on the coverage in the Sunday Times but it does smack of the Blackadder "charge men I'm right behind you" doesn't it? Like it or not many of the BBC employees located in London believe, with justification, that they have arrived at the epicentre of UK media. They have often started their careers in the provinces, just as Peter Salmon did, and, having climbed the slippery pole of the BBC hierarchy, will see the forced relocation to the North as a retrograde step.
The relocation of Breakfast seems particularly odd. These wretched breakfast shows are reliant on "sleb" turnouts and unless they have a new vision to make BBC Breakfast a sort of Today Programme with pictures the move will fail!

The GrouchAugust 2nd 2010.

Fair point Fishcakes. But I think anyone who works in the media needs to accept that change is always a possibility - whether that be skills (print v online, paywall v free) or where your office is.

With Breakfast, from what I've seen recently,the only 'celebs' on there are actors contractually obliged to turn up and plug a forthcoming BBC drama. They should be more worried about maintianing an intelligent news agenda rather than getting George Clooney on the sofa.
Outsourcing to a cheaper location is a reality I'm afraid, whether you work in the media or manufacturing.
I thought we were all in it for the good of UK Plc anyway..?

fishcakesAugust 2nd 2010.

Grouch, I don't have a problem with finding more efficient ways of delivery and I'm certainly not opposed to change. I'll be honest, I don't think they'll move Breakfast. I think it'll be something they kite like the abolition of 6Music, only to retreat citing reasonableness and attempting to demonstarte a "We're listening" image.
Ref Peter Salmon, you have to admit that it does provide fuel for the critics of the big move North. Capello got bollocked for not going to watch the under 19s play! Salmon's decision may be understandable but politically it's massively unhelpful.

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