CHICKENS COME HOME TO ROOST
So, only six of the ten candidates who want to be Mayor of Salford could be bothered to fill in the Salford Star Mayoral Challenge, thirty questions that aimed to go beyond campaign propaganda and find out where they stand politically, what their personality is like and how much they actually know about Salford and its issues.
There were policy questions, campaign questions, some fun questions and even a few trick questions chucked in to see how they would respond. They each had no more than four lines to reply, to stop reader boredom creeping in.
Our `chicken' article (see here) prompted some more candidates to reply and the six candidates who responded were…
Ian Stewart – Labour Party (LP)
Joe O'Neil – Green Party (GP)
Norman Owen – Liberal Democrat Party (LD)
Michael Moulding – Community Action Party (CAP)
Michael Felse – English Democrats (ED)
Pat Ward – Independent (I)
So, without further ado let us see how they measured up to the Salford Star Mayoral Challenge in no particular order…
QUESTION 1: If elected Mayor what salary would you take?
This question was aiming to gauge their motivation – just in it for the money?
Michael Moulding (CAP): I understand I am entitled to receive up to £100,000 per annum in law that is allowed. I will ask for no more than £35,000 pa meaning a saving of £65,000 pa!
Norman Owen (LD): Between £65,000 - £75,000. This is based on my salary when working as chief engineer and also my current council allowance.
Pat Ward (I): I would accept the salary that is being offered to all elected Mayors (except the London Mayor) but I would be open to discussions regarding performance-related aspects of this wage.
Ian Stewart (LP): Whatever I am given. I want nothing to do with setting the wages or expenses if I am elected as City Mayor. I came through the Parliamentary Expenses debacle with a clean bill of health, but it left a scar. Therefore: I am on record as stating that a totally independent body would decide and impose the wages/expenses. I mean it!
Michael Felse (ED): TBA as the level is not set. My policy will save millions of pounds including passing back 50% of council tax to local people which puts my worth towards the higher end of a Mayoral salary scale. With much to do but all achievable it puts my personal expectation in being the full time Salford Mayor at £72,500.
Joe O'Neil (GP): 50% reduction on current Leader's salary.
Question 2: Peel Holdings are `a necessary evil'/`just pure evil'/ `a wonderful, wonderful company' – which of these statements is closest to your views?
Will any of the candidates have the balls to stand up to Peel?
Norman Owen: A necessary evil.
Pat Ward: Peel Holdings contracts have not been managed well by the council leaders and the number of jobs created has not met the expectations of Salford people. I would not choose any of the above statements.
Joe O'Neil: A necessary evil
Michael Felse: None. It is unwise to categorise potential investors. Salford is in a situation where property parcels are privately owned. The Mayor has to work in the confines of the law but can bring in protective powers. My way will create a Salford Green Belt Charity run by local people that best protects all Salford.
Michael Moulding: What about "an unnecessary evil?" ie They will be treated no differently under my stewardship than any other organisation. Salford first, Salford last. They can like it or lump it!
Ian Stewart: None of the above! All Companies/Developers would be treated with an equitable approach. If their proposals benefit the People of Salford and their Families they will be considered for support. If on the other hand their proposal is deemed not to be of benefit to the People of Salford and their Families, then rejection will be considered and implemented!
QUESTION 3: What's your most dastardly plan for Salford if elected?
The candidates' chance to expose their hidden agendas…
Pat Ward: Not exactly dastardly but I do intend to review all senior positions.
Ian Stewart: I think the Star has been watching too much Dastardly and Muttley on children's TV!!! Ok so I'm a bit out of date! Or is it Dick Dastardly and are you calling the election process "Whacky Races Now?"
Michael Moulding: If I could return the city to the County of Lancashire! It's where the city belongs! Forget Greater Manchester it's false!
Norman Owen: To remove the magenta colour of the city and replace it with the green and gold that were the colour of the buses.
Joe O'Neil: Match peoples pay to results, slash the consultants, and make sure people understand we are Salford, not the last bus stop to Manchester.
Michael Felse: Dastardly plan is an unusual phrase but fits with my belief that each ward in Salford needs 20 Community Directors, new posts, entry requirements (not open to council executives, must have community experience, voted in by local residents, pay £40k) to head up social enterprises in their community.
QUESTION 4: If elected Mayor will you save the cranes?
Deliberately vague, to see if they knew about the peril of the blue cranes on Salford Quays…
Ian Stewart: I have an emotional tie to the Cranes. I worked at the TGWU office on Merchants Quay for years looking daily at the Cranes. They remind me of the Industry when Salford and Manchester were in their 'Pomp'. But more important they remind me of the blood sweat and tears shed by the Dock and related workers. However, hard decisions on protection of the most vulnerable – People first always
Joe O'Neil: Yes my old fellow worked on the docks God rest him, sick to death on how this city is being ripped apart.
Michael Moulding: Absolutely YES!
Pat Ward: If elected, I will consult Salford people on this. What Salford is missing is community input. If the people of Salford feel that the cranes are a local landmark and want to protect them, then it's important as Mayor to represent the feelings of Salford people and protect the cranes.
Norman Owen: Yes.
Michael Felse: Fact is the metro tram line runs alongside the cranes that have been deemed past restoration. If they fall onto a tram with people inside then Salford Council can face a manslaughter charge. For safety reasons I will remove the cranes and hold a memorial dedication ceremony to workers with a boat pageant.
QUESTION 5: Is Eccles dead?
Norman Owen: In present state, yes.
Michael Felse: No. Eccles is capable of an amazing future because it has pride, identity and courage to survive. What is needed are opportunities that do not see the only option as car park interchanges, shopping malls or any acceptance of broken promises as a given lifestyle. Local people have the power to inspire change.
Michael Moulding: Not yet, but if this council has its way it soon will be!
Pat Ward: It was very busy around the area of Morrison's supermarket, but it is sad to see the main precinct was so empty. I was campaigning and reminiscing about the old market and Dollycraft. Eccles was a hive of activity in those days and could be again if the right person is elected.
Ian Stewart: No, In spite of government efforts, Eccles must be revived. A new E.M. [Elected Mayor] will have to deal with what exists. EM needs a long term Co-operative Partnership Approach strategy which the residents of Eccles help to develop and have ownership of. The key to that is Residents, Politicians, Council Staff and others working together to identify, develop and achieve the Vision.
Joe O'Neil: Yes.
QUESTION 6: Are too many of Salford Council's decisions made in secret under `Part 2'? If elected how would you change this?
Michael Felse: Changing this is an integral part of my SalfordGate inquiry. I am the only one candidate calling for the inquiry, but considering I was the first whistle-blower that caused the wave that became the Donnygate inquiry (with arrests of 21 councillors, some hit with jail sentences) my reason to end secrecy is proven.
Norman Owen: Yes, better understanding with partnerships is needed. No deals behind closed doors.
Ian Stewart: Not in a position answer the first part of that one. I don't know yet. However, my approach to change would be consistent. I would want to know what has been – what is the situation now – consult as widely as possible – plan change – consult and review – then decide and implement – then review and modify if necessary. This is the only way to develop 'change for the better'.
Michael Moulding: YES. Look at the procedures preventing disclosure to ensure more decisions are publicly available and I have been known to leak a document or two. Don't believe me ? Google Mick Moulding - "I am the mole".
Joe O'Neil: Open the doors so the public can view what goes on behind closed doors.
Pat Ward: Yes there are. If elected, I want a community driven council so there will be transparency in all decisions and only items that are going to have a detrimental effect on Salford or our residents by being released will go into Part 2.
These are the candidates' answers to the first six questions of the thirty. Over the coming days we will hopefully learn about their views on the Salford riots, MediaCityUK, Swinton, Urban Splash, the Salford Star, poverty, trade unions, Barbara Spicer, their own egos and the Higher Kersal Lake Project…
Four candidates didn't take up the Salford Star Mayoral Challenge – Paul Massey, Independent; Bernard Gill, UKIP; Edward O'Sullivan, BNP; and Karen Garrido, Conservative.
See Salford Star Mayoral Challenge Day 2 - click here
Day 3 - click here