Star date: 27th November 2012


Over the past week, Salford Mayor, Ian Stewart, has launched thinly veiled public attacks on the Salford Star, accusing the community publication of "lies".

Here, we answer him back in an open letter. Hands up who wants to live in China?

Full details here…


Dear Mr Mayor

Over the past week you have made two very public, very thinly veiled attacks on the Salford Star, accusing this community publication of "lies".

Both at last week's Full Council Meeting and at the East Salford Community Committee you stood up and said in no uncertain words that it was "lies" that the Council is going sack and re-employ its workers if they don't accept a new pay and grading structure.

And it was "lies" that you were closing mental health drop-in sessions without consultation. Indeed, it was a "disgrace" to claim that you had issued redundancy notices to community care workers employed at the mental health drop-in groups.

Charm offensives aside, let's take these accusations one at a time…

1) That the Council is going sack and re-employ its workers if they don't accept a new pay and grading structure…

Now, we might not be very bright but guess what? We can read. And it states quite clearly twice in your Pay and Grading Consultation Report, that if Council workers don't agree to the new pay structure they will be dismissed. It states it first on Page 3…

"This proposal [for the new pay model] will continue to be the subject of ongoing discussions with the trade unions in an attempt to secure a collective agreement. In the event that this is not possible, the council will attempt to secure a consensual variation to contract and ultimately revert to dismissal and offer of re-engagement where necessary."

In case you haven't read the document, it states it again on page 5

"In the event that the amendment to contract cannot be achieved via a collective agreement all affected employees will be issued with notice of dismissal from their current contract but will be offered immediate re-engagement/employment on the revised terms."

The Salford Star read this as a threat. And the trade unions representing Salford Council workers certainly read it as a threat, issuing a statement accusing you of "bully boy tactics, especially from a Labour Council".

Indeed a meeting of almost 200 UNISON members in October voted to "instigate an industrial action ballot of all UNISON members affected by these proposals" if the Council refused to withdraw the document and "lift the threat of dismissal notices".

So where's the "lies" Mr Mayor? It's there in black and white. Would you like us to repeat it? "In the event that the amendment to contract cannot be achieved via a collective agreement all affected employees will be issued with notice of dismissal from their current contract…"

2) That it was "lies" you were closing mental health drop-in sessions    without consultation. Indeed, it was a "disgrace" to claim that you had issued redundancy notices to community care workers employed at the mental health drop-in groups.

First off, nobody actually claimed you were closing drop-in sessions. What was claimed is that you were running a consultation with no option of keeping the present arrangements, therefore making it a `sham'.

What was also claimed was that "staff have been told that three community care workers' posts will be axed", in effect making their posts redundant. In effect, sacking them from their current jobs. At the time of writing, UNISON also stated, "two workers are facing redundancy".

The Salford Star has actually obtained a copy of a Mayor's Briefing, written by your own staff…

"After the consultation with staff, we made slight changes to the way we organise services and have deleted three posts, one of which is currently vacant."

That's the deletion of three posts before the service users consultation has ended. That's three posts made redundant, two of which were occupied by community care workers.

Your briefing goes on to state that "We are working to redeploy the two members of staff affected and no-one has been given notice of redundancy."

No, but the posts themselves are redundant and those workers were given notice that their posts were being made redundant, or `deleted' as your officers like to phrase it.

To say that the Star has been telling "lies" is totally splitting hairs, Mr Mayor. Perhaps you should be concentrating on what the service users themselves are saying about the state of their drop-ins…

…They have had to confront you at `Democracy Day' with banners accusing you of `Broken Promises' to protect the most vulnerable people in the city.

They have had to take their banners to London on an anti ConDem Government march to tell the country what is happening in Salford. They have had to stage a protest outside the Labour Party Conference. They have had to meet the leader of the Labour Party himself, Ed Miliband, to beg him to have a word with you. Which he did.

And, ultimately, they have had to occupy Salford Council chamber itself last week just to get a meeting with you. You even had to apologise publicly for "not being as responsive as I should have been".

Do not try to shoot the messenger, Mr Mayor. Cheap political soundbites aimed at discrediting the Salford Star will do you no favours, and does not take away the reality of what is happening in Salford.

The Salford Star gave you the opportunity to be interviewed and to put any perceived wonky records straight. You have so far declined to accept that invitation.

Instead, Salford Council - perhaps on your instructions – has not answered any of Salford Star's questions or requests for comments for the past month and more. We asked if there's an official boycott on the Salford Star. We got a reply stating that there was no boycott. But there are still 13 Salford Star questions unanswered, ranging from affordable housing to black cab ranks.

Is this your way of running a city, Mr Mayor?

One of the reasons the Salford Star was founded was that we didn't want to live in China.

Every single so-called `community media' in Salford is now either politically controlled or financially backed by Salford Council, with virtually no criticism of you or your policies. The totally independent Salford Star doesn't believe that this is healthy.

Indeed, we almost wept at your speech in the House of Commons, back in 2007 when you were still an MP…

"Community media are particularly effective in engaging and serving some of the most disadvantaged groups in our society" you said "It provides a voice for many people who are disengaged and excluded from traditional media… They…act as a platform for arts innovation, for community debate, and for communication with local and national government, thereby increasing social cohesion and community involvement in the democratic process and in citizenship."

Oh how quickly you forget...

You can try to discredit us, Mr Mayor, but ultimately we aren't going anywhere. We reserve the right to hold you and your Council up to account. We reserve the right to give voice to Salford residents who oppose your proposals. And we reserve the right to mock you if we feel you deserve it. You're getting paid enough to take it.

With attitude and chickens

Salford Star

mary ferrer wrote
at 06:31:26 on 14 December 2012
I have sent numerous emails to the City Mayor since June of this year and to date I haven't had any answers to my questions, so I hope you don't mind if I try again here on your site.My questions are relating to Buile Hill Mansion,the Grade two Listed Charles Barry building in Buile Hill Park. 1) In the contract regarding the lease with Wilkinson/Watson there is a clause where they can't bring in a third party.Has this been changes and if so when and by who. 2) As the council own the Mansion,why don't the council do the deal with the third party. As both Wilkinson and Watson are in financial trouble.(WE DON'T WANT THE HOTEL,BY THE WAY) In my emails there were other questions, but I won't bore your readers with them. I feel that after what has happened in the last few days, this council must now rethink the proposed hotel and look at doing something positive and with a bit of luck, a project for the benefit of ALL the residents. Please Mr Mayor try to get this right. There are a group of people who are more than willing to work with the council to look for external funding for a community project for the benefit of all, not just an elite few. We would setup a preservation trust and think this might help any further lottery funding. Remember WE lost £4M because of the Hotel proposal.
at 02:18:29 on 05 December 2012
Tahir Chakotai wrote
at 09:29:27 on 02 December 2012
Ask this fantastic mayor what consultation means. This is a Salford Council term for "the illusion of free will". For those who don't understand, let me explain. Let's say for example, that the Mayor, and Salford Council, want to sell their housing stock to Countour Housing. They first inform the tenants that there will be a consultation to decide if this selling of the Council Stock, is in the tenants. Then they hold a vote, however all votes are counted, behind closed doors, by the very people whom want to sell the housing stock, ie Salford Council. However, even if the tenants vote not to sell, the voted numbers will always be counted in Salford Councils favour. So to put this in a nut shell, when the Council hold consultations, the decision has already been made. They simply hold a consultation, to fool residents, into thinking thay had a say, into what is happening, on their estate. In conclusion, the ten year plan for the Islington Way estate, is still to demolish it. And if they sell to Contour Homes, the tenants will suffer, because when their home does gets demolished, Countour Homes, unlike the Salford Council, are not obligated to give a Relocation Grant, which is somewhere around £5000.00, to help relocate, when finding a new home. And if you read this, Mr. Mayor of Salford, it was you, and your fantastic council, that failed to inform the tenants, of this problem. So before you call The Salford Star a liar, maybe you should put your own house in order first.
Brian F Kirkham wrote
at 06:39:25 on 02 December 2012
Hang about, fellows of star, what's this i'm seeing second column down on comments? - Forgive me if i'm wrong - but didn't Mr Felse stand in the Election for this cornball position?!!! If He's calling for an end to this crazy system then we don't NEED another referendae - which will only cost the people of Salford now...Mr Stewart should serve his term of office and Then at the next election, Mr Stewart should stand aside and the post of "Executive Mayor" Dissolved, If he want's to be a councillor - So be it - but the increased cost against lesser benefit does not justify any continuance of an American Style Mayor in our city. BTW - Mr Watt...what's your hang up - Didn't your man get in?
mary ferrer wrote
at 17:42:22 on 01 December 2012
Mr Mayor seems to be a nice man, but he is a politician and that came over at the Claremont @ weaste community meeting in November.Meeting starts at 6.30and we have to be out for 9pm.People were told to submit questions and if there was time people could ask questions from the floor. We had other business to get through. Mr Mayor spent the first half hour going on about his roots(heard it before) his political career (heard it before) his openness (ditto) You get the picture. So by the time it got to answering any important questions we had ran out of time. So don't think giving him a column would achieve anything other than giving him another platform to tell us a load of labour tripe, lies and not answer any direct questions. I sent my first email to our Mayor in JUNE and I am STILL waiting for answers. I am more than willing to put on here and any other site my questions.I just want ANSWERS and I know I won't get them from this bloke. I also don't think it is his fault that I am not getting answers. I put it down to Ms SPICER and LANCASTER. Still pulling the strings.
Michael Felse wrote
at 17:40:57 on 01 December 2012
Do we need a Mayor, the evidence is pointing to no.
Neil Sleight wrote
at 17:40:12 on 01 December 2012
No reply from Mayor Greedy Bastard yet ? Should be no surprise to any one . What never ceases to amaze me is how the same type of people crawl into taxpayer-robbing work . We suffer austerity , they don't . We protest , they spew lies . Speak up Stewart , we are waiting ..... And we are very , very pissed off......
Hilda Palmer wrote
at 05:31:13 on 01 December 2012
Brilliant article by the Salford Star, speaking truth to power eloquently, based on the evidence, as always. I feel privileged that we have such good community based journalism to challenge authority, developers, corporations, the council, cllrs, the Mayor, without fear or favour. Suspect Star is up on points against the mayor, and his ludicrous accusations are a sign of his fear in your/our favour. Thanks
Salford Star wrote
at 05:29:46 on 01 December 2012
See Mark Krantz comment below... Give Mr Stewart a 500 word column to say what he wants? Are you kidding? He's already got that in the MEN; his new press officers are pumping out Council propaganda every day which goes reported, uncritically, every day by poodle news sites; he has his own £15,000 Connecting Salford magazine going to every home in Salford; he hasn't even the courtesy to reply to our Open Letter, nor answer any Salford Star questions for over a month; he accuses us of `lies'? Yeah let's give him his own column! And what about one for Hazel Blears too? And the Tories, LibDems, BNP as well, to balance it out? No-one gets a free ride in the Salford Star - except maybe the John Cooper Clarke Column - that would be ace!
at 05:18:33 on 01 December 2012
On the train on the way back from the anti austerity TUC march on the 20th October, Ian Stewart told me he was being 'misunderstood' That the MEN did not report 'all' that he had said, that the Salford Star was 'telling lies'. I asked him about his plans to sack the entire workforce, everyone and then re-employ them on lower pay ? His reply was: 'Personally I have no intention of doing so, but I can not say so publicly. I have been advised that I might have to do so in the future at some point and to rule it out publicly now is not something that I could do as a Mayor in public office.' Misunderstood or Miss Spoke? The Leader of Manchester City Council has a 'Leaders Blog' so Richard Lees message can be put his message out clearly. Ian Stewart has no blog because he is in a bog. He does not know what to say. He lies to himself when he looks in the mirror. Tells himself he is doing good and protesting the people, on the side if the workers. May I suggest that the Salford Star offers Ian 500 words free in the Salford Star, the Miss Understood Mayor Page. No editing. Let the man speak.....
Vee Ball wrote
at 16:52:56 on 28 November 2012
As Chair of USUC who are campaigning to save the mental Health drop ins and the partner of a very ill Man I applaud Salford Star for their honesty and integrity. They have interviewed us now many times and they are always in possession of the full facts before anythng goes to print. National newspapers were not even interested in our plight but Salford Star has suspported this injustice to vulnerable people like no other publication it may be small but to its fans its mighty. Well written and intelligent, which is more than I can say for the two corperate giants we are fighting Salford Council and GMW. KEEP UP THE GOOD WORK STAR.
not happy wrote
at 16:52:50 on 28 November 2012
Taken from M.E.N 1st Novemer 2012 I am not perfect. I am capable of getting things wrong. It has been difficult for both me, as Mayor, and for the council, to adjust to the new political environment created by this Coalition Government. But we are getting there. And it would help if there was some understanding and some serious reporting of the difficult challenges we face. Yes, we have to review the pay and grading of our 11,000 staff to comply with equal pay legislation. No, we are not going to penalise the poorest paid. I have given a cast iron guarantee that I will do everything in my power to protect the lowest paid staff. The highest paid, including the chief executive, will have to take their fair share of any cuts. That’s worth a headline, isn’t it? I am committed to introducing a living wage for Salford council employees, giving a pay rise of up to £40 a week to 1200 of the lowest paid staff, mainly women, in roles such as cleaners and teaching assistants.Yet he states in other interveiws that if the work force don't take a pay cut they would all be sacked but they could be reinstated; So Mr Mayor i don't think it's the Salford Star telling lies it's your memory;you say one thing to the M.E.N yet an other thing to other papers. so is that an other resone why you need a spin doctor to remember what you have said to diferent paper
Thin End Of The Wedge wrote
at 07:01:50 on 28 November 2012
I was at the meeting pictured at the top of this story, shame more weren't, as maybe they could decipher the answers he gave to questions from the floor. I'm not sure that anything at all was said once all the 'mayor talk' was filtered out. Stop paying now!
alice searle wrote
at 20:57:53 on 27 November 2012
I wonder if there is some fear involved in Mr Stewart's criticism of the Salford Star. It may reflect an anxiety that what the SS reports is the truth and this 'hurts,' The obvious approach then is to get rid of the source of pain. "Out dam spot!" I would like to suggest to Mr Stewart that a more productive and less contoversial approach and one which will get him more understanding would be to talk to the SS and discuss the issues that are controversial. We all know that there are issues difficult to solve and that the Labour party is in a Catch 22 situation but why not try to work in a more productive way instead of bickering and attacking. That's the grown up thing to do.
suzi wrote
at 19:52:33 on 27 November 2012
As an academic I have been consistently impressed by the rigorous research in the Salford Star. This is the paper applauded by investigative journalists from the national (quality) press. It dismays and appalls me that politicians of Ian's standing fail to make themselves accountable to the very people who voted for them. Please Ian, respond to these reasonable and legitimate issues like a good politician + not a sulky school boy shouting 'liar' 'liar'. Show us that you are truly accountable to the electorate.
at 19:52:27 on 27 November 2012
Puerile, self-indulgent and obsessive? Yes, I would say thats a fair description of Mayor Stewpot.
Martin wrote
at 19:52:19 on 27 November 2012
Who are you , Emma ? The mayoral pet poodle ? I hope I'm not being robbed to pay your wages , as I'm certainly being robbed to pay his . Puerile , self-indulgent and obsessive ? Yrs , that sums Mayor Greedy up .
salfordant wrote
at 18:29:14 on 27 November 2012
Thanks for shedding light on this. Find it surprising and a bit unnerving that Salford Council haven't yet responded to valid questioning. Lets hope this letter provokes some answers. I'm all ears...
m irlam wrote
at 18:29:03 on 27 November 2012
What a fantastic article Salford Star, no doubt he will not answer though!!!
emma wrote
at 18:28:50 on 27 November 2012
Have you nothing better to write about? Puerile, self-indulgent and obsessive.
steve wrote
at 18:28:33 on 27 November 2012
What planet is Stewart on,nobody have said he was a good decent man. Now that would be a LIE.
Nachtschlepper wrote
at 16:11:57 on 27 November 2012
Who do you trust folks an award winning, highly respected community magazine or a money grubbing politician? STEWART OUT!
Winston Smith wrote
at 16:11:51 on 27 November 2012
First they ignore you, then they ridicule you, then they fight you, then you win (Gandhi). So, Round One to the Salford Star then. I can't wait to see their efforts at Ridicule (does them taking the piss with their salaries count?!?). Keep up the good *and democratic* work Salford Star!
at 16:10:17 on 27 November 2012
I wouldnt hold your breathe waiting for a response any time soon. Artful Dodger, Mayor "two homes" Stewart has perfected the craft of the non answer.
T. Watt wrote
at 13:53:20 on 27 November 2012
Well said , Salford Star . You have my full support , and that of many in this city . This disgracefully inept council , and it's greedy mayor and 'executives' do not . We are heartily sick and tired of this lot using the ripped off taxpayers as a private bank . I's time every penny of OUR money was accounted for . Democracy ? Not this lot !
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