What a year it's been as Salford has almost become two completely different cities, with completely different identities. On one hand there's this glitzy, fabulous, sterilised section called Salford Quays and MediaCityUK. While on its doorstep is the real Salford that they are trying to sweep away.
This Salford has seen Council cuts for the most vulnerable, poverty that refuses to budge and mass demolitions of neighbourhoods. And it hasn't even started properly yet…
During 2011 the Salford Star has been trying to understand what the hell is going on. And, unfortunately, our conclusions are a city where the resources are being sucked into the glitzy sector, while being denied to those who need them most…
…Nowhere was this more stark than in the city's bus services. While Salford City Council was forking out £220,000 towards the cost of subsidising the new MediaCityUK shuttle service and the GMPTE Chief Exec was earning over £500,000 a year (see here and here), a new transport charge of £3.50 a day was being forced on some of Salford's most vulnerable people who attend day care centres (see here).
And while Salford Council was looking to close three day care centres in the city (see here), slashing funding for accommodation for people with mental health problems (see here) and withdrawing grants for homeless facilities at Lancaster House (see here), loads of money was spent welcoming the BBC, and on £multi-billion companies like Peel Holdings which were raking in £millions in tax payers' money (see here and here).
As Salford Council revealed that its child poverty rate was as high as 75% in some areas of the city bordering MediaCityUK (see here), Chris Marsh, whose job it is to "ensure that local people have access to the employment opportunities at MediaCityUK and to improve circumstances in Salford's most deprived areas" was actually being paid £650 a day! (see here).
Cash has been no barrier for all of Salford's so-called prestige projects – from Greengate (see here) to the Salford City Stadium which has now lost the word `community' from its title (see here), and back again to MediaCityUK, where there's loads of money for Quays projects (see here and here) while the Salford Film Festival bit the dust with Salford Council withdrawing its £20,000 grant (see here). The Star also unveiled a £10million secret Salford Council fund for MediaCityUK stashed away (see here).
In 2012 the BBC Philharmonic Orchestra will get another slice of its £20million sponsorship paid, while the Council will plough on with £95million of cuts (see here)
During 2011 Salford's whole identity has been under the cosh, firstly with the posh bits now incorporated into something called the `regional centre', ie Manchester (see here), secondly with the University of Salford renaming itself the University of Salford Manchester (see here)… and later with the disappearance of Salford completely from the political map (see here) – to the point where the Save Salford facebook campaign got thousands of members in a matter of days (see here).
And out in Central Salford the wholesale destruction of old neighbourhoods continued unabated with demolitions followed by either grass crofts or largely unaffordable new housing – to the point where Salford Star called for a public inquiry into the whole Pathfinder mess in the city over a whole week's worth of investigation (see here).
Protest in Salford was a growing phenomenon throughout the year with Salford Against The Cuts demos (see here), big Salford marches into Manchester against the ConDem Government (see here and here), a march on Salford Council by the homeless (see here) and a full scale riot by pupils at Oasis Academy MediaCityUK against the obscene sacking of one third of their teaching staff (see here). And despite thoughts to the contrary at the time, the Salford Precinct riot in the summer was eventually seen as a protest in a huge study by The Guardian newspaper, London School of Economics and the Joseph Rowntree Trust (see here).
This year also saw many losses in Salford – so RIP Shelagh Delaney (see here), Salford Star's first cover star, Tiny Brown (see here), and long time campaigner and thorn in Salford Council's side, Ken Keating.
Salford also lost Hope Maternity Unit (see here), Salford Central Mission (with obscene haste - see here for feature and here for CCTV coverage of its demolition), pubs like the Ship, the Brass Handles and the Flat Iron (see here), the infamous Graffiti Wall in Ordsall (see here), The Willows (see here) and Salford Precinct's flea and car boot markets (see here).
Primary schools closed this year included North Grecian Street and Charlestown, while Seedley Primary was bulldozed from the face of the earth (see here). Incredibly, Salford now has a primary school places shortage (see here).
Salford University, meanwhile, was shedding hundreds of staff (see here) while paying Peel Holdings £20million in rent for its new campus on MediaCityUK (see here). That huge rent included, presumably, a contribution towards Peel's private Media City security ejecting University pickets off the site (see here)
Welcome re-births included the Black Lion pub (see here), the Salford Music Festival (see here), and Ordsall Hall (see here) while Graham Nash reappeared to pick up an honorary degree and hold a photo exhibition (see here). Salford rapper, Briggzy, came out with the city's album of the year, Gingerfication (see here), while Class Actions anti Royal wedding rap hit the national press (see here).
There's loads of stories in Salford, so many that the Salford Star recorded its 1000th online article in the summer (see here). But the Star is still aiming to get back into print during 2012. Meanwhile, here's the Top 5 most popular stories from 2011, in reverse order…
5th Most Popular – The University of Salford's new Manchester logo, revealed exclusively by the Star back in July – see here
4th Most Popular – The Conservative Party Conference Shooting Horror – the Star exclusively revealed the Tory delegate pointing a pretend gun at protesters – see here
3rd Most Popular – Salford Oasis Academy MediaCityUK Riot Over Redundancies – another Salford Star exclusive as the kids got angry over their teachers' sacking – see here
2nd Most Popular – Salford Riots Flare As Cars Torched and Lidl Goes Up – frontline coverage of the Salford riot that drew a lot of comments – and nearly 500 likes on facebook – see here
MOST POPULAR SALFORD STAR STORY OF 2011…
1. SALFORD PRECINCT RIOT ALERT – the story that actually blew up the Salford Star website as thousands upon thousands of people tried to view the first exclusive photos of the start of the riot as police sealed off the Precinct…see here
Altogether these five stories had over 60,000 people viewing them, while during the year the site attracted almost a quarter of a million hits.
For 2012 we hope to attract even more readers – spread the word.
Coming soon – the Salford Star Mary Burns Awards