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SALFORD COUNCIL BANNER DECLARES ‘TRANSPARENCY’ DESPITE EVERYTHING BEING SECRET
 

Star date: 27th March 2018  

SALFORD COUNCIL TRANSPARENCY DEFICIT OVER HOUSING AND BUILE HILL MANSION

Salford Civic Centre currently has a huge banner outside its entrance declaring that the Council is a 'Transparent effective organisation'...Yet, this week alone there's been huge secrecy over its plans for Buile Hill Mansion and its new housing company, Derive.

The Salford Star understands that the plans for Buile Hill include building houses in the park but, without consultation, the City Mayor has gone ahead and signed a 'memorandum of understanding' with developer Capital and Centric...

Full details here...


Salford Council Great Eight Salford Council Great Eight Salford Council Great Eight
Salford Council Derive Secrecy Salford Council Great Eight Transparency checklist Buile Hill Mansion
click image to enlarge

Two massive banners currently hang at the front entrance to the Civic Centre listing the 'Great Eight' that are "Creating a better and fairer Salford". One eighth of the slogan refers to 'A transparent effective organisation'...Anyone who has had any dealings with Salford City Council might well object.

This week alone there have been two important decisions, the details of which have been kept totally secret. First up was a 'memorandum of understanding' concerning "potential proposals for the future use of Buile Hill Mansion and former Parks Depot", signed by City Mayor, Paul Dennett, yesterday.

Before the Property and Regeneration Briefing that rubber stamped the 'understanding' there was absolutely nothing in the public domain, bar the agenda item itself.

Afterwards, a decision notice was posted on the Council's website stating that approval had been given "for Salford City Council to enter into a non-binding memorandum of understanding with Salford Red Devils Foundation and Capital and Centric", noting that "it will allow Salford Red Devils Foundation and Capital and Centric Group to sufficiently develop their proposals"....

Proposals for what? Despite Buile Hill Park being a 'public' park, and despite Buile Hill Mansion being a 'publicly owned' mansion, the community is being kept in the dark... "The relevant documents contain exempt or confidential information and are not available for public inspection" sniffs the decision notice.

The Salford Star understands that the deal includes the developer building houses in the park on the site of the old greenhouses and stables and, in return, the Mansion will be handed to a consortium, led by Salford Red Devils Foundation, fired by National Lottery grants, for potential community use.

However, these kind of deals, done behind closed doors, lead to suspicion within the community, particularly when no-one else has been included or consulted.

Today, the Deputy Salford Mayor has been busy approving a 'business case' for Derive, the Council's 'wholly-owned housing/development company' which is set to use millions of pounds of public money for community housing.

Nothing wrong with that, except the total secrecy that surrounds the finances and plans. The details were hidden from the public, with a public 'checklist' answering the question 'Is there a clear and coherent reason why the community in general would benefit more from information being withheld?' with a sharp 'Yes'.

The only justification the Council gives is that the document 'Contains commercially sensitive information'...

The Salford Star understands that the Council has set aside £2million of its £3million 'anti-poverty strategy' budget for the housing project. But the only details on a Derive project so far, is a plan to buy eight homes built by Great Places Housing Group in Duchy, a mere four of which will be for social rent, while the other four will be for the more expensive 'affordable rent' (80% of market rent). There might well be more housing in the pipeline – but no-one from the community is allowed to know.

Meanwhile, tomorrow, there is a report being considered by the Council's Audit and Accounts Committee, which states "The achievement of the Council's corporate objectives requires all areas of the Council to work effectively and efficiently in its use of resources whilst demonstrating transparent governance arrangements..."

The Draft Internal Audit Plan measures Salford Council deeds against its 'Great Eight', including 'A Transparent effective organisation'; and, under 'Governance
Arrangements' lists the risks of non-compliance... "Loss of accountability; lack of corporate ownership of decision-making; and possible failure to deliver the expected level of services to residents..."

On the evidence of Salford Council actions this week alone - never mind failure to make developers' viability assessments public, failure to make information available even under the Freedom of Information Act and constant secrecy of reports - the community might just take its 'Great Eight' banner with a pinch of salt, if not offence...

Fiona O'Sullivan wrote
at 08:58:02 on 19 April 2018
It has to be stopped. Agree with Mary Ferrer.
 
Bob the regular wrote
at 19:10:32 on 29 March 2018
Well guess what, ( see Phils comment below), I am a thinker as well. Funny enough, I was in Warrington the other day and I came across the statues of the mad hatters tea party. It made me think of our very own mad hatter from Warrington that seems to have installed himself in Salford.I think it was the Mad Hatter who said , "If you don't think, you shouldn't talk". Can we deduce from the fact that because our mad hatter doesn't talk, that he doesn,t think? I began to think of how we could have our own little mad hatters tea party in our own little clown hall. Prime candidates for tweedle dum and tweedle dee have to be Merry and Warmisham. The Cheshire cat Antrobus. The red queen Garido. The straw man Lancaster. Any other nominations?
 
Phil wrote
at 16:34:34 on 29 March 2018
Listen. For I will say this only once. Mayor Dennett is The Man. He is a Thinker. If Mayor Dennett has decided, along with some fellow "Wise Men & Women", that it's a good idea to build homes in Buille Hill Park ... then I'm right with him. He knows what he is doing, and unlike the rest of you, he isn't "Penny wise and pound foolish". The guy is an intellectual and he's in it for the long haul. The man is a Thinker.
 
Brianfkirkham wrote
at 14:00:44 on 29 March 2018
Two things...I’m inclined to remind correspondents of the nature of that hall within the park. As far as i know it, it still contains the workings of a coal pit from its says as Lancashire mining museum. It was one of the things that halted the development as a private country estate for Salford’s great and good in weaste. If people are actually serious about the crazy idea of sticking housing in a public green space, I’d suggest they publish their plans and have some idea of what replaces it. Note...when the country estate idea was peddled....it was thrown out by locals..draw your own conclusions.
 
Guy Otten wrote
at 10:12:14 on 29 March 2018
Thanks Bob the regular. You have probably spotted the Liberal Democrats are back, but obviously have much to do before even Norman's achievements are mirrored. But the need is pressing!
 
Mary ferrer wrote
at 00:06:56 on 29 March 2018
Bob we have to put a stop to the way this council is doing what ever it likes.This latest saga has to be stopped. If we don't no park or playing field will not be safe.WE can't have a housing estate in the MIDDLE of our Grade 2 heritage park.The site they are talking about is big.How can they make a decision like this and not tell the ward councillors. Paul Wilson says he knew nothing about it,and I believe him.We have to FIGHT it can't be allowed to go ahead.They are walking all over us and it sounds like the councillors have been kept in the dark as well.Wave bye bye to any lottery funding. They didn't like the plan for a hotel,wounder how they will react when they find out we have a HOUSING ESTATE SLAP BANG IN THE MIDDLE of a GRADE 2 LISTED HERITAGE PARK. Next to OUR GRADE 2 listed Charles Barrys mansion.
 
Bob the regular wrote
at 14:49:00 on 28 March 2018
Bet money they get away with it. They always do.I blame Clegg and his mates in the Liberal Democrats for all this.Before this lot went into league with the Tories, the LD's were doing very well nationionally, especially under Charles Kennedy who was a far better bloke half pissed all the time than Clegg is stone cold sober. In Salford ,grumpy old Norman was doing a great job making inroads and holding the council to task. He had a great team, including some of my favourite contributors to the letters pages of this journal. Norman even got within a couple of thousand votes against the iron chipmunk. A fantastic result. Just shows how one nutter at national level can affect the lives of people at local level. For what did clegg end up with,?Nothing. Salford needs a party to hold Dennetts mob to account. I cannot see where one is coming from.Rest assured though ,the old saying about giving someone enough rope holds true. It won't be long before administrators are running Salford
 
Mary ferrer wrote
at 07:49:40 on 28 March 2018
If it had been April fools day.I would have had a good laugh.But it's not and I am not laughing.Buile Hill Park is OUR city wide HERITAGE PARK.We have the Mansion house,grade 2 listed Charles Barrys building.How could anyone think building houses within this park would go down well with the people of Salford.Across the city there there are loads of brownfield areas for houses to be built.why in God's name have they come up with this hairbrain idea.we lost £4million lottery funding because of their last barmy idea of a hotel in the park.How will a small housing.estate go down.If this is allowed NO park in salford will be safe.What chance have the people trying to stop houses on Duncan mathieson playing fields.This is one very bad idea
 
Carolyn Bilsborough wrote
at 23:09:01 on 27 March 2018
I raised this at the Claremont Weaste Community Committee this evening and it appears the councillors don't know anything about this. I requested that an update would be provided at the next meeting which will be Tuesday 22 May at 6.30pm at De Salle Sports and Social Club. It is an open meeting for all residents so if you want to know what's happening go along and have your say !
 
Mike Kelly wrote
at 18:59:43 on 27 March 2018
Regarding the building of houses within Buile Hill Park, i assume planning approval would still have to be made so lets see what response this proposal gets. Councillors in the three adjoining wards to the park may need to consider carefully there position relative to this issue especially with elections due in May,the council did not listen in Kersal to how people felt regarding the development of Salford F.C ground and look how that ended.
 
Arnold Rimmer wrote
at 18:59:16 on 27 March 2018
I don't know of any business that would let every man and his dog know of the details of a tender or contract before it's been signed. That would just be asking to ripped off.
 
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