OMG! The Sunday Times Rich List, which comes out on Sunday, shows that 16 out of the top twenty richest people in the North West have increased their wealth over the last year, as austerity raged over the region.
Joint sixth richest people in the North West are Fred and Peter Done, who have risen from eighth last year, thanks to increased profits of around £72million. Their personal wealth has also increased by £50million over the last year, giving an estimated total of around £950million - £20million more than Sir Paul McCartney.
The Dones are behind the Betfred bookie chain and their empire spans insurance, sports promotion, property and a restaurant. Indeed, the Done bros had their violins and hankies out recently when their company FICM stated that it just couldn't afford to pay Salford Council £1,283,970 in planning fees; nor could it afford to provide 76 affordable housing units in the two horrid blocks of apartments it's erecting next to the old Black Friar pub in Trinity.
The company argued that its two 16 and 12 storey blocks housing 380 flats just wouldn't be viable; that its profits wouldn't be high enough, if it had to pay the Council fees. Indeed, it couldn't even afford to fund two new bus stops on Blackfriars Road, requested by Transport for Greater Manchester. Salford Council, weeping into its £56million cuts budget over the next two years, agreed – and the Done bros paid nothing, apart from a `clawback agreement' if their profits went through the Black Friar's roof (see previous Salford Star article – click here).
Meanwhile another developer who knows loads about not paying planning fees to Salford Council are Peel Holdings' supremos, John Whittaker and family. The tax exiles who reside in the Isle of Man, are second in the North West Rich List with a combined wealth of £2,370million, up £70million from last year. They are also the 43rd richest people in Britain – thanks largely to generous help from the public coffers towards schemes like MediaCityUK, Port Salford and the AJ Bell Stadium.
The Whittakers managed to get Salford Council to waive all planning fees at Media City, which the Salford Star worked out at a cost of almost £6million to the Council; with public money rentals from the BBC, Salford Council and Salford University virtually covering the cost of its construction. Peel also managed to persuade Salford Council to provide a loan for its joint venture AJ Bell Stadium of £22million, while another £31million in public subsidies and loans went to Port Salford.
It's no wonder these people and their companies are so high up on the Rich List – we seem to be paying for their wealth. Roll on more austerity!
• The Sunday Times Rich List is published this Sunday in, er, the Sunday Times.