The blame has been laid well and truly at the doors of Mr Forde and Mr Green.
See below for copy of official report.
You can have your say by writing to the council, writing to the papers, writing to your councilors, signing the 2 petitions on line debating the truth behind this disgraceful affair in Liverpool's history.
If we allow them to lie to us, they will continue to lie and treat the Liverpool people with utter contempt.
On line petitions
Lee Forde is being made the scapegoat of the festival scandal petition
Is the Mathew Street report a whitewash?
Nov 20 2007 by Alan Weston, Liverpool Daily Post
Mathew Street festival (320)
The report into the Mathew Street ‘fiasco’ still left many unhappy. Alan Weston reports
THE 11th-hour cancellation of the outdoor element of the Mathew Street festival was generally reckoned to be one of the biggest PR disasters in Liverpool’s history.
But the way the much-delayed report into the fiasco was handled has come a close second for some.
Following a lengthy investigation, the original report was changed after concerns over alleged “inaccuracies” were raised by council leader Warren Bradley.
This in turn led to accusations from council opposition leader Joe Anderson that the report – event-ually made public at the end of last week – was a “political cover-up,” and to demands to release the controversial first draft.
In the event, blame for the embar-rassing collapse of the festival, one of the key events in the city’s 800th birthday year, was laid principally at the door of two senior officials at the Culture Company. Both have since left their jobs, meaning there will be no disciplinary inquiry.
Cllr Warren Bradley, council chief executive Colin Hilton and Culture Company chief executive Jason Harborow largely escaped censure in the 30-plus page report. But the report into the cancellation of the outdoor stages of the festival high-lighted “serious mismanagement” in the Culture Company.
It blames former operations director Chris Green and events manager Lee Forde for not realising or not communicating the serious-ness of the problems affecting the festival to their superiors. Mr Forde has already defended his actions.
Cllr Bradley has never considered resigning but said lessons needed to be learned.
The Daily Post asks: Was the Mathew Street festival report a whitewash?
* OUR planned debate on airport-style security at our stations has been held over.
YES: The Case For - Inside job leaves everyone waiting for answers
by Liam Fogarty, chair of amayorforliverpool.org.
SCRAPPING the outdoor festival hurt Liverpool badly. This report adds insult to injury – it’s an insult to our intelligence.
On August 10, Cllr Bradley ordered an inquiry into the Mathew Street fiasco. Asked who he thought was to blame, he said, "It’s down to officers who are paid through the public purse to deliver events."
Having pre-empted the verdict, Cllr Bradley got the outcome he must have prayed for. But the rest of us are right to be sceptical. The report lacks credibility.
We deserved a truly independent inquiry. Instead, we got an inside job.
This council is happy to pay huge sums to outsiders for spin and good PR. Yet, faced with a PR disaster of its own making, it opted for an internal investigation. No wonder Liverpudlians aren’t convinced.
Whatever mistakes Messrs Forde and Green may have made, to see more senior figures escape criticism simply beggars belief.
In Parliament, ministers are responsible for the mistakes their civil servants make. The consequences can be career-ending. It may not be fair, but it goes with the territory.
But in Liverpool, responsibility is something you dodge, not something you take. The report confirms that nobody was in charge as Mathew Street unravelled. Remember, this is not some school fete we’re talking about.
It is a huge, international showcase for Liverpool. If the threat to such an event didn’t show up prominently on our civic leaders’ radar, it ought to have done.
Mathew Street exposed Liverpool’s crippling lack of leadership. The festival needed someone to take the reins and take the rap.
Cllr Bradley’s lack of support for Culture Company chief Jason Harborow is telling. The bookies will give you long odds on Mr Harborow seeing out his contract.
Predictable calls for us all to "move on" ahead of 2008 just don’t wash. Our key arts institutions won’t let us down. Great events will take place. But the city’s decision-makers can’t simply shrug off the Mathew Street debacle.
"Lessons must be learnt," say the report’s sponsors. Too right. Liverpool’s seat-of-the-pants style of management is no way to run a great city. Internal enquiries can never restore public trust in the Council. And without real, accountable leadership, Liverpool will always be just a headline away from the next fiasco.
A meaningful apology from those who claim to lead our city is the least we deserve.
NO: The Case against - Liverpool can shake the world by working together
by Cllr Mike Storey, executive member for regeneration at Liverpool City Council
THE Mathew Street Festival should never have been allowed to get to the position it did, because of health and safety concerns, which brought about the cancellation of the outdoor stages.
I have to say I find it slightly galling to see Labour councillors huffing and puffing; remember in the ’90s, when the Labour council refused to give any money to the Mathew Street Festival and wanted to charge the organisers for the licences.
It was left to the new Liberal Democrat council to save the Festival and year on year, we have seen the Festival grow and expand to become the internationally acclaimed event it is today.
It is this poor behaviour that must stick in the throat of those who have organised the event, with the very same politicians never thanking the officers publicly for their incredible work.
Political point scoring to them is more important than real concern and support.
The Mathew Street report into the reasons for the cancellation is not in my mind a whitewash, but it is extremely vague in certain areas, crucially around important factual information. It is very easy to blame others, and I find it sad that those very same officers who have worked tirelessly, morning noon and night, have become the focus of everybody’s attention, instead of the process and procedures which allowed the situation to arise.
I feel certain subjects within the report received too much coverage at the expense of quite fundamental information:
Why did the report not question the overall senior management of the Capital of Culture Company?
What is the point of having a highly-paid management team to have overall responsibility for staff and events, if there is a lack of internal control, which was clearly identified within the re- port?
Why was the budget for 2007 realigned and events cancelled with no information being dis- seminated about these decisions, either to the elected members, Board members or the chief executive of the City Council?
Whitewash no, lessons learned, yes.
The time has come to move on, there is a new team in the Culture Company who have a record of delivering change. Liverpool has an opportunity to shake the world; the team working in unison will ensure that happens.
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|Forde comes out fighting|
|“I've been made a scapegoat,” says the city's former events manager as the Mathew Street Festival report is finally released. Read it in full, here.... |
by Angie Sammons
One of the two people to be blamed for the cancellation of the Mathew Street Festival today came out fighting by turning up outside Liverpool Town Hall - supported by the city council's former spin doctor - as journalists packed the building to hear the findings of the long awaited report into the shambles.
Lee Forde, the Liverpool Culture Company's former events manager, who spoke exclusively to Liverpool Confidential at the end of August to reveal why had quit his post (click here) was flanked by Matt Finnegan who today announced that he is acting as Mr Forde's unpaid press representative.
Lee Forde outside the Town HallThe Mathew Street report, which has been beset by delays in publishing for various legal reasons, cites Mr Forde and his former line manager, Operations Director Chris Green (who has also since left the Culture Company) for either not realising or not communicating the seriousness of the problems affecting the MSF to their superiors, and says that both would have been subjected to disciplinary action had they still been in post.
However, Mr Forde claims to be in possession of a thick dossier of emails, many of which, he says, indicate that senior council members and officials were made aware of potential operational concerns as far back as February.
And as the city council officials and its leader, Warren Bradley, fielded questions from the local media inside the Town Hall, Mr Forde told us outside: “I haven't had the advantage of reading the report in any form, and I haven't had the opportunity to edit, or alter it in any way during the last three months, but it now seems clear that the city council is trying to use me as a scapegoat.”
Mr Forde went on: “I did the best within my power and within the reporting structure to make people aware - at the highest possible level - of the issues we were continually raising. To pretend otherwise is a travesty of the truth.
“There was a serious battle over funding for the birthday year celebrations between the Culture Company and senior councillors - sadly Mathew Street Festival lost out. I did not want people to become the physical casualties of that battle.”
“Both my staff and I repeatedly warned there were serious problems of public safety and funding over Mathew Street, but nothing was effectively done even after I resigned. I have no intention of hiding away – I have done nothing wrong and nor have my team. I ran Mathew Street successfully for five years and my team won awards for their work.
“We were proud to work for the city. But I am ashamed now of what the city council has done. They know exactly who was responsible for the cancellation of the Mathew Street festival.”
Mr Finnegan, the city's former media chief who resigned from his £65,000-a year-post after an 18-month suspension during the well documented David Henshaw-Mike Storey feud, said: “I worked with Lee for six years, he always struck me as one of the most professional of the council's employees and had the utmost integrity.
“I do not like seeing people hung out to dry and made a scapegoat for something that was not their fault and not their responsibility.
“ I believe him when he says that he repeatedly told people what the problems were with Mathew Street and the danger to public safety. The responsibility for cancelling the event doesn't lie with him but with much more senior people in the Culture Company and the city council. Of course they won't come out and defend their reputation, but Lee has to do it and I am here to help him."
Warren Bradley: "A fully open and transparent investigation"Mr Finnegan added: “There are very serious issues at stake here. This is not the last you are going to hear of this. I think there will be more stuff that will emerge over time because it's about the way that the city is being run and it's about the future of Capital of Culture.”
In a statement, Councillor Warren Bradley said: “I promised a fully open and transparent investigation into the cancellation of the outdoor stages and I am pleased that the report has now been published for everyone to read.”
IF LINK TO REPORT DOES NOT OPEN FROM HERE GO TO liverpool confidential for full details.