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Liverpool’s Shanghai Expo finale under threat over

2010. 14 June

The dramatic finale to Liverpool’s six-month showcase at the Shanghai World Expo may be scrapped because of a £400,000 hole in its budget.

by David Bartlett

( Officials had planned to fly out the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra, Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark, the Wombats, and the Pagoda Youth Orchestra for the
climax in October.

But the so-called “Liverpool Day” may now be scaled down to a minimum effort in a bid to keep costs under control.

Liverpool Vision, which is running Liverpool’s Shanghai pavilion, said it had enough money to fund the event until its end in October.

But Phil Southward, director of operation for Shanghai Expo, said for additional events not in the original budget Liverpool Vision had to get permission from the council to spend the money.

But the city council is battling a financial crisis following the government’s squeeze on public spending and finding an additional £400,000 may be difficult.

Last night deputy council leader Paul Brant said: “The costs for running the Liverpool pavilion are fully funded, however, decisions to hold extra events at World Expo which were not budgeted for were taken under the previous council administration.

“We will be working closely with Liverpool Vision to review all expenditure to identify savings to keep the project within budget.

“Liverpool’s presence in Shanghai has already proved to be a huge success, and the city council is committed to World Expo as an important shop window for Liverpool businesses to the rapidly expanding markets in China.”

Mr Southward said Liverpool’s Expo presence would end up costing around £2.8m if the £400,000 for Liverpool Day were included.

Around £700,000 has been raised from sponsorship, with the North West Development Agency contributing £1.25m and the city council more than £300,000.

“At this moment in time there’s no over commitment for essential costs that are needed to run the pavilion.”

He said the city council would have to approve for the additional money to be spent on the showcase finale.

Liberal Democrat opposition leader Warren Bradley urged the new Labour administration to find the additional money.

“The city council with the full backing of the previous administration agreed to underwrite any shortfall in funding, as we recognised how important the Expo could be to the future of Liverpool.

“While welcoming the visitor figures that have been presented as passing through the Liverpool Pavilion, it seems further shortsighted that the new administration cannot commit such a small amount of funding for Liverpool Day, which will undoubtedly further enhance Liverpool's ability to drive new investment and jobs into the city from around the world.

“I hope they have some quick thinking regarding this decision and give the surety to the team in Shanghai, that nothing will prevent Liverpool continuing to deliver a world class exhibition on a global stage.”

So far about 115,000 people have visited its hi-tech stand since the event opened at the beginning of May.

It combines a video greeting from Sir Paul McCartney, football, maritime and a 3D film of a Chinese dragon and a Liver Bird flying over the North West.

The showpiece is the film which left Chinese crowds in awe.

An independent report forecast Expo’s benefit to Merseyside would be £5.5m to £47.5m over the next 10 years – from an increase in Chinese tourists and students coming to Liverpool, an uplift in exports and direct foreign investment.