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SALFORD COUNCIL ACCUSED IN HOMELESS BATTLE
 

Star date: 11th August 2011

LANCASTER HOUSE CAMPAIGNERS ACCUSE "ILLEGAL AND UNDEMOCRATIC" SALFORD COUNCIL

Campaigners fighting the cut in funding to the Lancaster House homeless service have accused Salford City Council of "illegal and undemocratic" actions in both the way that the decision was reached and its blocking of any challenge to the decision.

Now they are taking the case to the High Court which they claim will cost Salford tax payers in excess of £50,000

Full story here…


At the beginning of August, Salford Council cut funding to Lancaster House which provides support for homeless people in the city. This, added together to cuts to other hostels, will result in a net loss of 56 beds for homeless people in Salford - for the background click here and click here.

Since the decision was made, campaigners to save Lancaster House have tried to get it `called-in' so they can challenge but say they have been met by complete "misinformation and misdirection" from Salford Council officials.

Now the Lancaster House Peer Group says it will take the case to the High Court which will cost Salford tax payers in excess of £50,000.

"Save Lancaster House Campaign's efforts to bring the decision to close homeless services in Salford to Scrutiny has failed" reads a statement from David Allum, Chairman of the Lancaster House Peer Group "We have tried to hold government to account with their own internal processes but this has failed at this stage.

"We have no choice but to take this matter to the High Court and to seek the judiciary to force the Council to make public this decision making process which we believe has been illegal and undemocratic" he adds.

The statement continues… "I have had many discussions with Salford Council's Scrutiny Department, Democratic Services and Councillors themselves in which people have misled, misinformed and generally been as unhelpful as possible in our seeking for a full enquiry to take place.

"It has become blatantly apparent that the Labour Party hierarchy has leaned on members to support their Lead Member. Our call to them today is that it is now time to stand up and be recognized rather than being whipped into obedience. Lancaster House is willing to work with members from all parties to bring this decision into the public domain.

"Every step of the way, Salford Council has tied both our hands behind our backs and continually moved the goalposts. This decision making process was never fair and it was blatantly clear that this decision was made long before the `process' had begun."

The statement goes on to thank councillors who have supported the cause, including Councillors Jillian Collinson, Martin O'Neill, Norman Owen, Judith Tope, Lynn Drake and Lisa Stone… "These Councillors are a shining example to Public Servants across the country. They have been supportive in helping Lancaster House and the people of Salford seek the truth."

Now, the service users of Lancaster House have got Stephenson's solicitors to seek redress in the High Court.

"We would like to make clear that if the council had scrutinized the decision themselves rather than forcing this to the courts, they would have saved the taxpayer £50,000+ in legal fees, as we are confident will be the case at the end of the campaign" the statement explains "For a council that is so concerned with saving money in this climate this does not make sense."

The statement adds that Salford Council has "something to hide" and that "Lancaster House has proof of this and it will become fully clear in the courts".

The statement concludes "Lancaster House and its supporters will continue to fight this closure and will make sure that a vital service for Salford remains open and also that the era of closed doors politics ends and proper transparency and full accountability of decision making begins…"

Update: 4:30pm 11th August

Salford Council Leader, John Merry has just issued the following statement in response..

"There's no question of illegality. The process in the Constitution was followed correctly and the reason this was heard as a part two item was because of commercial sensitivity around the contracts being discussed for many projects, not just Lancaster House. The decision was not called-in during the five day call-in process."

For further details see www.savelancasterhouse.co.uk
 

Brian F Kirkham wrote
at 19:22:00 on 26 August 2011
Johnnyboy, the answer to your question is simple. The councillors in question have an allegiance to either party in the current coalition in government (Any labour names in there?) - and are currently in opposition on the council. They're trying to make political capital on something their political masters in Westminster are partially responsible for.
 
johnnyboy wrote
at 05:31:09 on 26 August 2011
If "Councillors Jillian Collinson, Martin O'Neill, Norman Owen, Judith Tope, Lynn Drake and Lisa Stone" are a "shining example", why did they not call this decision in? Every Councillor knows that they can request a call-in for a statutory period after any decision. Why didn't they do it if they're genuinely so supportive????? And why are some of them in a party which has cut millions of pounds from areas like Salford and then moan at the results? Get real.
 
p-ssed myself wrote
at 09:21:07 on 14 August 2011
Omg---how did that slip through? Lol.Will Cllr Warmisham respond or start eating lettuce?
 
Porcine features? wrote
at 17:57:03 on 13 August 2011
That's a bit of an insult-----jabberesque maybe but not porcine. Anyway, I,ve heard that the councillors are on a health kick and hope to lose 20 stone of superfluous blubber. Councillor Warmisham, however, is hoping to keep his job. Keep smiling
 
Chrissie wrote
at 06:49:14 on 12 August 2011
Why doesn't John Merry speak in a language people can understand, instead of his habitual proto-political jargon? The statement made on 11th August means nothing and says nothing which is not just verbal smokescreens, using words like "constitution" and "commercial sensitivity." Neither the constitution nor commercial sensitivity in Salford were respected or protected, when rioters and looters sacked what's left of our already struggling commercial centre, whilst John Merry was composing articles, probably with a thesaurus to hand, in order to find the longest and most obscure wording, in his quest to remain in control.I also found his comments re. the possible installation of an elected mayor interesting, stating that this would be of great expense to the city, which has undergone massive cuts in services, whilst the salaries of JM and his colleagues have increased. I'm still out with the jury about having a mayor, and an additional expense, but Salford mayors in the past were great morale-boosters for everyone, and symbols of leadership in Salford, and some were actually excellent decision-makers. Is John Merry afraid that a mayor might oust him from his podium, and that his jargon-ridden speeches may no longer be displayed under a photograph of his porcine features in The Advertiser every week? Does "commercial sensitivity" mean selling out places like Lancaster House, (OK, an eyesore, but somewhere for homeless people to live,) and don't forget, we're all 2 wage statements away from being homeless!There have been, and always will be,homeless people, everywhere, and they need somewhere.Terrible and unpredictable things happen; an example being this week in Salford, where a family's shop with home above was destroyed by looters, completely unexpected. Will Lancaster House become a "des. res. within 10 minutes of the city centre," and I mean Manchester, (Merry's dangling carrot,whilst making us a dormitory suburb of Manchester, with no soul of our own,) not Salford, of which he is supposed to be the leader in creating enterprise.Has Mr Merry actually stated what the council's plans are, for Lancaster House, or is this still a "commercially sensitive " subject? I do hope that this message is understandable by most people, without too much jargon!
 
Brian F Kirkham wrote
at 21:14:41 on 11 August 2011
I've read the 4.30 update to this story. Just one question, why o why do the mandarins of the council go skipping to section 2 of the Local Government Act when decisions regarding projects have questions posed? I thought Salford were in favour of Open Government? (BTW, if ANYBODY from the town hall is reading this, I'm making enquiries..not having a pop!)
 
Jim Fish wrote
at 15:17:55 on 11 August 2011
Cannot see the arrogant bastards at Swinetown Clown Hall making a statement to the Star . They will be too busy bullshitting in another closed door secret meeting , ripping the council taxpayer off , cheating the disadvantaged and trying to hide this fact . If bullshit was brains this lot would win on Mastermind . Thanks to the Star for keeping us all informed on what really goes on in this dreadful , mis-managed dead city , and what this hopeless, inept , cretinous council are up to .
 
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