CORBYNISTA COUNCIL OF THE YEAR AWARD
SALFORD CITY COUNCIL AND MAYOR PAUL DENNETT
Ladies and gentlemen, with Salford and Eccles MP Rebecca Long-Bailey by his side, and Salford councillors and the Salford Mayor lining Salford Precinct earlier in the year declaring their love for the socialist saviour, many media types have anointed Salford Council as the perfect Corbynista place.
Now, while we're sure all residents would love this to be true, what universe are these media air heads living in?
This year has seen wage cuts for Council staff, more jobs axed, attacks on disabled kids and their parents; councillors trousering extra payments and Council fat cats getting huge pay hikes; developers given the financial freedom of the city; the 'cash-strapped' Council investing hundreds of £millions in office blocks while refusing to open up empty buildings for the homeless; formal friendships with a brutal Chinese region...and loads of spin about how great and Corbynista it all is...yay!
Back in August, the Salford Star noted how, if it had been a Tory Council that wanted to shut the city's only home for disabled children, Labour councillors would have been frothing with indignation (see here).
As it was, Salford City Mayor, Paul Dennett, made the decision to close The Grange, despite over three thousand people signing a petition opposing it, despite GM Mayor Andy Burnham supporting the campaign to keep it open (see here), and despite Salford UNISON accusing the Council of lying to justify the decision (see here and see here).
At the meeting when Dennett made The Grange closure decision, there were shouts of 'Traitor' and 'Shame' from the public gallery (see here), as UNISON's Ameen Hadi slated the stance..
"They should be fighting with us against austerity rather than afflicting cuts on the poorest, especially when they haven't consulted properly and especially when they are going to be in dispute with this union" he said "It's not good enough from a Labour Council and we will use all our resources to fight the decision."
The closure of The Grange is currently pending a judicial review, as Salford Council is now 'consulting' on cutting the transport budget for disabled kids to get to college and nursery, making their parents pay (see here). Now in the offing is the closure of the 262 Children's Home in Eccles, which the Council is discussing behind closed doors.
Meanwhile, in October, Salford councillors unanimously voted to cut wages by over £100 a week for workers in the Council's Regulatory Services, while making 14 redundancies, as staff protested outside the Civic Centre (see here).
The department deals with issues like food hygiene, trading standards and slum landlords, and a member of staff told the Salford Star that "We won't be able to safeguard the welfare and safety and residents of Salford"; while UNISON branch secretary, Steven North, added that the move was "potentially dangerous".
Mayor Paul Dennett noted at the cuts meeting the importance of the service and how Tory cuts were a "driver" for the 'restructure' but added that it was "absolutely the right approach" and that is was "a good piece of work".
Yep, everyone knows about the vicious and evil Tory Government cuts to local government but the magic money tree in Salford continues to be bountiful for everyone, it seems, except the most vulnerable...
...But 'hark' we hear councillors say... 'We announced a £3million fund to tackle poverty in January' and a plan for new libraries in September which would 'buck the trend' of national closures...
Hmmm. The £3million anti-poverty fund turned out to be, on closer inspection, just over half a million pounds on actually tackling poverty, unless you include £300,000 on extra street cleaning as vital help for the vulnerable. Meanwhile, £2million of the £3million was for 'affordable homes to rent'...
In the twelve months since this announcement, nothing has happened except a statement from the Mayor in July (see here) saying that homes would be built by the Council for private sale, rent and affordable rent, presumably from the £2million; the idea being that the private sales and rent would cross subsidise the 'affordable rent', which isn't social rent.
Meanwhile, when the Council was urged by everyone, from Salford and Manchester Street Support, to JVA, to Salford Unemployed and Community Resource Centre, to open up its empty buildings for the homeless, the request fell on deaf ears (see here).
And then there was the great library spin, with City Mayor, Paul Dennett, announcing that "expanding and upgrading library services – is amazing and such a bonus for the people of Salford..."
In reality, the move sanctioned a cut of £549,000 for the service, one quarter of all library jobs axed, DIY empty existing libraries and new 'click and collect' book locations (see here). Even the report that went to the Council's Cabinet stated that "Community libraries are key in preventing social isolation and loneliness"; but, hey, the bottom line and 'progress' comes before 'social isolation and loneliness'...
While there were cuts and a few crumbs for the vulnerable, hundreds of millions of pounds were found for prestige projects...
£200million was found by the Council to invest in posh office blocks at 100 Greengate and Two New Bailey (see here); the Salford Red Devils £1million loan 'holiday' was extended again until 2020 (see here); a further £632,500 loan was handed to the Council's loss making joint venture AJ Bell Stadium taking the total to almost £25million (see here)...
...over £87,000 was spent on councillors televising their own self-congratulatory council meetings (see here) and £300,000 was approved to pay for a My City Salford 'digital hub' at MediaCityUK which would allow the Council "to push messages" and "supports communities to do more for themselves...without the need to contact public services" (see here)...
While the vulnerable were making do with crumbs, new Salford Council accounts revealed that six of the Council's highest paid officers got pay rises of up to £12,000 on salaries already well in excess of £100,000. The highest paid officer was City Director, Jim Taylor, trousering £187,503, including pension and £7,677 electoral duties.
The accounts also revealed that only 22, of around sixty councillors, got the basic allowance of £10,509, with the rest charging up their incomes with all kinds of special payments for being Executive Lead Members, Support Members, Chairs of Scrutiny Committees and Panels, Opposition Leaders, or sitting on outside bodies like the Greater Manchester Waste Disposal Authority and Transport for Greater Manchester.
While all this was going on, in the background developers continued to turn Salford into a giant Monopoly Board with the dice loaded. In September, at the Labour Party Conference, Jeremy Corbyn made a keynote speech, insisting that "After Grenfell we must think again about what are called 'regeneration' schemes.
"Regeneration is a much abused word" he added "Too often what it really means is forced gentrification and social cleansing, as private developers move in and tenants and leaseholders are moved out."
The Salford Star drew Mr Corbyn's attention to the High Street Estate in Pendleton at the back of Salford Precinct where Salford Council has been up to its neck in 'gentrification', with rows of affordable housing tinned up, awaiting demolition. In the latest phase 149 social properties have been handed 'decant notices' while just 52 so-called affordable houses will be built to replace them (see here)...
... According to the last public figures available, over the whole of Pendleton, 885 affordable properties are being bulldozed, with only around 500 so-called 'affordable homes' being built, out of 1,500 new houses... 'Gentrification' at its finest...
Over in Greengate and Chapel Street, home to vigorous development of unaffordable housing, the Salford Star reported in September that out of 4,172 apartments and houses that have received planning permission, only two affordable properties will be built – in line with, yes, the Tory Government's nasty National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) but also Salford City Council's own developer friendly policies, which allows them to avoid £millions in planning fees and the provision of affordable housing (see here and see here).
Meanwhile, Salford Council and City Mayor, Paul Dennett, talk the ethical talk that must be music to Jezza's ears...So how about the 'agreement of co-operation and friendship' that Mayor Dennett signed with the Mayor of Urumqi in China, in March?
Urumqi is the capital of the Xinjiang region which, last month, ordered every car owner in one of its areas to install a GPS tracking device or they would be banned from buying petrol. Urumqi also saw 10,000 armed Chinese army troops swamp the streets, and the place is also the subject of an Amnesty International campaign to free a critic of the government who has been jailed for life...
"It was interesting to meet and find out how much we share in common with Urumqi" said Dennett after signing the deal (see here)
Dennett's had his own community problems this year, with residents in Kersal standing their own Independent by-election candidate in March, in protest at the way their views were ignored during the Salford City FC stadium planning process. The candidate drew enough support to split the vote, allowing a new Tory councillor to sneak in and take the previously safe Labour Party seat.
The news drew national attention as the media and some Salford Labour councillors jumped on this as 'proof' of Jeremy Corbyn's lack of support with the electorate. Nothing could have been further from the truth. It was nowt to do with Jezza (as the subsequent General Election went on to prove) and everything to do with the attitude of Salford Labour Party controlled Council (see here and see here).
While Salford Council talks the Corbyn talk, it certainly ain't doing the Corbyn walk . So ladies and gentlemen, sing 'Ooooh Jeremy Corbyn, WTF?', and give up your principles, ethics and political education for the winner of the Salford Star Mary Burns Award for Cobynista Council of the Year...
Salford City Council and City Mayor, Paul Dennett!!!
If Paul Dennett would like to make an acceptance speech please use the comments box below
Winners of 2017 Salford Star Mary Burns Awards...
Feed The Rich Award (part 1) – Fred Done – click here
Disappearing Salford Award – Villafont – click here
Dick Turpin Award For Services to Bridge Hold Ups – Peel Holdings – click here
Carly Simon Award For Vanity – Councillor Derek Antrobus – click here
Feed The Rich Award (part 2) – Conservative Government and the HCA – click here
Grenfell Tower Urgency Award – Salford City Council – click here
Uncle Joe Stalin Award for Open and Democratic Government – Salford City Council – click here
Shameful and Unacceptable Practices Award – Greater Manchester Police – click here
Self Destruction Award – Salford UKIP – click here
Our Friends In The North Memorial Prize – Salford City Council – click here