Updated: Thursday, 19th September 2019 @ 4:44pm

Lib Dems slam Labour town hall chiefs for spending cash on fountains... instead of the homeless

Lib Dems slam Labour town hall chiefs for spending cash on fountains... instead of the homeless

| By James Moules

Manchester City Council opposition Lib Dems have criticised the council’s plans to spend over three quarters of a million pounds on fountains - saying the money could be better spent on helping the homeless.

The Liberal Democrats on the council voted against plans to spend £771,000 on Exchange Square's centrepieces.

This money is an addition to the £400,000 spent on Piccadilly Garden's fountains.

Liberal Democrat Opposition Finance Spokesperson, Greg Stanton, said: “In the last couple of years, Labour have wasted £1.2m on failing fountains; had we spent that same amount on Liberal Democrat priorities, we could have housed every single person sleeping rough in Manchester for an entire year, along with a hot meal, a warm shower and access to a support worker.

"Now, weigh up the difference that could have made versus the difference a revamped fountain will make.

“But, only Manchester Labour could talk about taking homelessness seriously whilst recklessly throwing away enough money to house every rough sleeper… on fountains. It's deplorable.

“As with all of Labour’s vanity projects, the Liberal Democrats will oppose this with all our energy and fight to re-prioritise public money for social change, not vanity projects and endless failing fountains.”

However, the council stated that the Exchange Square water feature project is being funded by the public realm Capital budget and borrowing for public area maintenance, and this budget could not be used for services for the homeless.

They also said that £2 million extra will be going into homelessness support services in the next year, and that the Bed for Every Night programme provided a bed for every rough sleeper who wanted one over the winter period.

With regards the fountain project, Sir Richard Leese, Leader of Manchester City Council, said: “World class public realm sets a city apart and Exchange Square has been a real success of the city centre transformation, creating a true focal point for local business, events and visitors.

“The Square is a lynchpin for the surrounding retail – including the Arndale, New Cathedral Street and the Corn Exchange – building a hub of economic activity that helps to support thousands of city centre jobs.

“The water feature has always been a renowned part of this public space, and its revamp will provide a welcome uplift to the look and feel of the Square.”

Human Appeal report that £60 is enough to house two homeless people for one night, with a hot meal, warm shower and access to a support worker.

They estimate around 100-110 people be housed for a year with the total money spent on the fountains.

Their calculations state that the £1,171,000 spent on the fountains accounts for £3,208 per day, which would cover the costs of 107 people for £30 per day.