Capital of Culture:

Yet again Liverpool has shot itself in the foot. The cancellation of the world famous Mathew Street Festival a few weeks before the event was scheduled to take place is a disgraceful decision. The city, so pleased to capture the accolade of European Capital of Culture for 2008 three years ago, has been reduced to a laughing stock.

Bill Bryson famously described Liverpool as hosting a festival of litter when he visited Britain, related in his Notes On A Small Island. Times have changed; the city has moved on. However, this is a major setback.

Unfortunately, this is only the latest in a long line of own goals to beset the city's plans for 2008.

From the appointment of Robyn Archer, an Australian singer as Artistic Director, who couldn't take up the post for ages and then resigned, to the initial cancellation of the Summer Pops concerts, the celebration arrangements have lurched from one farce to another. Perhaps we would have been better with Kylie!

The official reason for the cancellation of the event is health and safety, with major work being carried out in the city and at the Pier Head. Whilst this may have some basis, it is unbelievable that the decision was taken so late. This takes no account of the thousands of tourists due to converge on the city during the festival. Flights and hotels will have been booked months in advance. Liverpool continues to have problems with the low number of hotel rooms available despite the building of new ones.

The sad reality is that much to every Merseysider's chagrin, it is generally accepted that this would not have happened in Manchester as they tend to be better organised. One only has to look at the debacle over the so-called Fourth Grace and the proposed tram system to see this.

Manchester would have had a contingency arrangement in place. Unfortunately, Liverpool under the present Liberal Democrat leadership, like Sven-Goran Eriksson, has no plan B.