Talk about pre-Christmas sales… This week Salford Council has agreed to `dispose' of the old Town Hall in Bexley Square, plus four other parcels of land and buildings around Eccles, Walkden and Broughton (see here) - whilst joining up with nine other Greater Manchester councils to flog a huge slice of Manchester Airport.
The old Salford Town Hall and former Magistrates Court in Bexley Square now looks destined to become a block of flats or something. The decision was taken yesterday, in secret, as `Disclosure of terms would prejudice the ability to conclude the transaction and disclose financial affairs of the parties'.
So we don't even know the destiny of one of the city's most iconic buildings - and whether the now annual May Day Rally (at which Salford Mayor Ian Stewart appeared last year) and Battle of Bexley Square commemorative days will be able to go ahead, as the building is to be privatised.
Meanwhile, two days ago, with no call-in or scrutiny allowed, the go ahead was given, behind closed doors, to sell a bundle of Salford Council's shares in Manchester Airport.
Currently, Manchester Airport is owned by the ten local councils of Greater Manchester, with Manchester Council having a 55% stake and the other nine councils splitting the remaining 45%, with a 5% share each.
The proposal was to flog off 35% of the shares to Australian finance speculators, Industry Funds Management (IFM) - not to offset the horrendous cuts in public services but to finance a takeover of Stansted Airport…
….Or, as the Council's decision notice states, "The Strategy recognised that in order to ensure long term economic growth, there would be benefits in progressing a number of potential changes to the existing arrangements of MAG [Manchester Airport Group] which would allow access to greater funding and expansion of MAG.
According to previous reports obtained by Salford Star, Salford's share in the Airport will reduce from 5% to 3.3%. The Council used to earn £1million a year from the Airport but now the income figure is unknown as the deal is being done in secret and presented as a fait accompli.
The Council decision adds that "In order to secure financial growth in the Airport Group, a Strategy had been developed by MAG alongside independent consultants. The aim of the Strategy is to deliver maximum value, growth and profitability in the interests of all existing shareholders." Although there's no public justification for this.
The `Strategy will also, no doubt, deliver `maximum value, growth and profitability' for the Manchester Airport Group's fat cat executives, including Executive Director Charlie Cornish who more than doubled his pay package last year to £480,000 in `emoluments' - including a £55,000 `incentive', a £15,000 `car/fuel card cash alternative' and £4,000 `benefits in kind'.
Fellow director Penny Coates received a £111,000 `incentive' as part of her total £283,000 package, and director Neil Thompson a £22,000 `incentive' as part of his £233,000 package (see Salford Fat Cats – click here).
With the Airport shares flogged, the old Salford Town Hall sold, the Quays Cargo Cranes to be demolished, Lower Broughton being blitzed and the likes of Salford Market, The Willows and the Langworthy Hotel reduced to rubble, the end of the Salford world as we know it is well nigh…