THE SALFORD STAR MARY BURNS AWARDS
Category: The George Bush `Read My Lips' Award
Winner: Salford City Mayor, Ian Stewart
With just one statement on the day he got elected, Mayor Ian Stewart could have won this prestigious Mary Burns Award ten times over…
Yes, Mr Stewart's first public statement on being elected has resonated right down to Salford's socks that are still being laughed off.
"We as politicians are not very good at communicating with the public, and the public are making decisions without basic information sometimes" he said "That's our fault as politicians, we need to get better at that. Getting better at communication means that we as a Council must be more open and transparent with the public. I will seek to generate that openness and transparency in future…" (see here)
Ladies and gentlemen please stop giggling as we look at Mr Stewart's `openness and transparency' record since being elected…
• Unaccountable Assistant Mayors – very few of Stewart's army of 13 Assistant Mayors are actually subject to any form of public scrutiny as they don't have specific `briefings' where papers and minutes should be produced for the public to see. What does Steve Coen, the Assistant Mayor for `International Relations' do all day? What does John Mullen, Assistant Mayor for Technology, do all day? What does Lisa Stone, Assistant Mayor for Communication and Community Engagement, do all day? They all get paid handsomely with public money yet the public can never hold them to account. Openness? We think not!
• Patsy Select Committees – following Government guidance, Salford Council has had to set up new Select Committee style scrutiny committees with the "power to request the attendance of the City Mayor, Strategic Assistant Mayors, Assistant Mayors and any officer of the Council but specifically directors and heads of service" (see here). So far, the things have been totally useless, with the Chair of the Finance Select Committee, Councillor Jolley, twice signing off decisions to be, er, exempt from scrutiny – once with the sell off of a slice of Salford's stake in Manchester Airport, and once with that doomed £750,000 loan to Salford Reds. After the information had been leaked even the Assistant Mayors refused to give the Reds the cash. So much for scrutiny!
• No Register of Members Interests – again, new Government guidelines state that every council should have a Register of Members' Interests available online (see here). For Salford, this was promised in October, then again in November. It's now January and still no sign of an online Register. When the Salford Star asked to see the old Register way back in October we were told we couldn't see it. Transparency? In yer dreams!
• Missing Minutes and Reports – Salford Council is supposed to produce proper online minutes and reports of public meetings of the Council at least a week in advance. The Salford Star has lost count of the times over the last twelve months where we have had to ask for them because they are just not there. The excuse is that it's always an `IT problem'… Yeah, yeah, nothing to do with hiding them from the public, we don't suppose?
• Everything shoved under `Part 2' – given that Salford Council is spending public money gathered from the people of Salford, those people might think that they had a right to know where that money is spent. Think again! Virtually everything with a whiff of finance is shoved under `Part 2' of Council meetings, which the public is not allowed to attend or see reports because of `commercial confidentiality'. Even after a decision has been made, in many cases, it's still impossible to work out what has financially gone on because there are just no details on the official `decision notices'. Secrecy is endemic within Salford Council's modus operandi.
These are just a few examples but there's many, many more – and lots more related Mary Burns Award categories.
"Getting better at communication means that we as a Council must be more open and transparent with the public"???
Ladies and gentlemen, there could only be one winner of the George Bush `Read My Lips' Salford Star Mary Burns Award…Please close the blinds, keep your gobs shut and stick your head in the sand for our winner…
Salford City Mayor… I-a-a-a-n Ste-e-e-e-ew-a-a-a-art!!!
If Ian Stewart would like to make a thank you speech please fill in the Comments box below...
See Other Salford Star Mary Burns Award Winners...
Unfortunate Website of the Year: Visit Salford – click here
Salford Folly of the Year: Greengate Square – click here
Fiddling While Rome Burns: Salford Council – click here
Chicken of the Year Award: Ian Stewart - click here
Readers Award for Disdain for Salford Working People: Creative Tourist - click here