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SALFORD COUNCIL PASSES ON OVER £23MILLION OF CUTS
 

Star date: 27th February 2013

DESPITE PROTESTS AND POLICE EVICTIONS SALFORD COUNCIL PASSES CUTS BUDGET

As expected, and despite delays caused by campaigners in the public gallery, Salford Council today voted in favour of a budget passing on over £23million of cuts to the people of the city.

In a protest on the steps of the Civic Centre as councillors were going into the Council meeting, Salford City UNISON branch secretary, Steve North, slammed the Council for axing services for vulnerable people and not standing up to the ConDem Government… "We've got a duty to fight" he said "Otherwise, god knows what Salford will look like in ten years time."

Full report on the Council meeting here…


Salford Council Cuts 2013-14 Salford Council Cuts 2013-14 Salford Council Cuts 2013-14
Salford Council Cuts 2013-14 Salford Council Cuts 2013-14
click image to enlarge

See previous article – Salford Council Drama As Police Called To Evict Cuts Protesters – click here

As Salford City Mayor Ian Stewart opened and closed the Salford Council meeting that voted in favour of £23.4million of cuts, his own councillors' eyes looked glazed as he waffled on and on and on, repeating himself over and over again about the "hard reality of the times we live in"… "the most challenging decisions I've had to make in my political life"…and how it is "a budget of cuts forced upon us by the Government" etc etc. We saw one councillor definitely nodding off…

While no-one could doubt the seriousness of the subject matter and the social impact of the decisions, Stewart's two speeches were like something out of a post war Soviet politburo, which someone clocked at ninety minutes but seemed like ten hours.

Within the soporific outpourings of the Mayor's first speech were the gruesome reality of the cuts (see here for full details), particularly those in Adult Social Care… "We have to do things that will upset some of the most vulnerable people" he said adding that the Council "can no longer maintain services for people with moderate needs…that is the hard reality for the times we live in."

Meanwhile, the city's "overstretched" Welfare Rights department, "the best in the country", is being cut… "the irony is that we are forced to make reductions in resources when need increases".

Aware of criticism of Council spending on prestige projects, while slashing public services, Stewart said that the public money being poured into Chapel Street would create "up to 11,000 jobs" and that the Irwell River Park would create "up to 3,000 jobs". In both cases Stewart emphasised the words "up to" so that his statements wouldn't come back to haunt him…

…Like MediaCityUK and those, er, 15,000 jobs… "Critics will say that it's not for Salford people and they are right. Salford people are not getting the high end jobs and that is not acceptable…the issue is being addressed in terms of learning and skills…"

Stewart concluded that "I make no apologies to anyone for our capital investment". But, in almost the very next sentence, he contradicted himself, relaying that 28,500 people in Salford are claiming out of work benefits and 5,500 young people were out of work… "This is not acceptable".

The £multi-millions invested so far are obviously not paying off. And the jobs `jam tomorrow' approach has, unfortunately, been heard too often before.

The £millions being spent on fountains, river paths and prestige gateways to Manchester, coupled with social care cuts for the "hard reality for the times we live in" was too much for protesters in the public gallery, who began whistling and brandishing red cards as soon as Ian Stewart eventually stopped talking (see here).

Once the police had politely asked protesters to leave, to which they politely agreed, councillors filed back into the chamber… "Well that was exciting" said the ceremonial Mayor…

Next up was the Conservative opposition's chance to put amendments into the budget, which, given the zillion Labour Party majority, had absolutely no chance of being accepted.

The Tories proposed £2.5million of additional `savings' including three days compulsory unpaid leave at Christmas for all Council workers earning over £21,000, reductions in sickness pay and overtime, and reductions in funding for public sector trade unions officers.

They also proposed cutting funding completely for the Working Class Movement Library, a 5% cut for The Lowry, scrapping three Council press officers, a £50,000 reduction in the Media City budget, deferral of the BBC Philharmonic Orchestra sponsorship, and the use of external advertising to fund the Council's Life in Salford magazine. Other proposals included reducing the number of Assistant Mayors from 13 to five, whilst imposing a freeze on councillor and mayoral allowances…

…Apparently the ruling Labour Party budget included a 1% rise in such allowances, which was never made clear in any budget proposals or public documents…(although on Twitter tonight Assistant Mayor John Merry wrote that  this wasn't the case)

In exchange for these savings the Tories would put £2.5million back into the budget to reverse some of the worst excesses of the Labour cuts. Over £1million would be put back into Children's Services for `early intervention' and `starting life well', while they would defer the Adult Social Care `substantial needs only' proposal, scrap the charging policy for adult care and cuts for in house supported accommodation for adults with learning difficulties. They would also put over £250,000 back into street cleaning, while providing £200,000 for business start up support.

The `alternative' Tory budget was met with derision from Labour councillors, John Ferguson slating their "crocodile tears" for disadvantaged people, when the first thing their Government did was slash £4million off Salford Council's funding.

John Merry asked where the Salford Conservatives were when the Government cut £1.2million from Salford's `early intervention' grant… "they didn't man the barricades".

Peter Wheeler gave the Conservatives the Scrooge Award 2014 for their proposal not to pay staff over Christmas, while Bill Hinds branded the alternative budget "a gimmick".

While Conservative councillors protested that their budget wasn't a gimmick because there are no local elections this year, Labour councillors lined up to attack the Government and its local "apologists"… David Lancaster said he was "ashamed that food banks are here in Salford", while Peter Connor insisted that the Conservative Party is "still a nasty party".

The Tories budget was then, as expected, voted onto the scrapheap. Which just left City Mayor Ian Stewart to waffle on forever, hand wringing about the "cuts forced on us by the ConDem Government", which will bring "great suffering, real hardship for the people of Salford and their families…"

He formerly proposed the £23.4million cuts budget and all, except the Tories, voted it through. By the end of the meeting there was no anger or pity…just relief that the Mayor had finally shut up.

The most truthful statement of the day came when Salford City UNISON branch secretary, Steve North, was addressing protesters on the steps of the Civic Centre before the Council meeting began.

"I've just been talking to one of the Labour councillors and he was saying to me that they all have their views, and they're all very, very unhappy about these proposals and what these things mean, but when they go into the meeting they go as a block" he said "They meet on a Monday as the Labour Group, and they get told how to vote.

"So, for the people of Salford there doesn't appear to be any opposition politically whatsoever to these cuts that are taking place" he added "That's the challenge for us, to continue to push this Council to understand that what the people of this city expect them to do is to campaign against cuts, to challenge the Government, to stand up for the people who elected them - and not just stand up for a Mayor who tells them how to vote on a given day…

"I can guarantee that the cuts they're voting for today will have an impact – privatising services, denying care for people with moderate needs, taking away the support that's required for people to enjoy the green spaces that Salford politicians rightly shout about; these are the things that matter" he concluded "We've got a duty to fight – otherwise, god knows what Salford will look like in ten years time."

Bernard Brough wrote
at 16:36:11 on 05 March 2013
Although I have no affliation to the Labour Party, or Conservative Light as it is now becoming known, I really must take issue with the "it's all Labour's fault that we are taking from the poor to give to the rich" line. It's the system, both major parties, forget the Lib Dims, deregulated markets so much that such a huge crash was inevitable. Both in Britain & the US laws passed in the 1930s to ensure that such a crash would not happen again were systematically dismantled. I see no moves by any party to address this & until somebody does we are stuck up this creek with nothing resemblling a paddle in sight.
 
Doomsayer wrote
at 07:18:28 on 05 March 2013
Whilst I applaud your objections and rhetoric, it is useless. The cuts will continue, and whilst you try and shine a light on the dark spots the council would prefer you not to, they will continue unabated. I worked at Salford for over 10 years and know all too well from the inside how Barbara Spicer and her management team work. Don't underestimate the Chief Ex. Just take a look at the senior management casualty list since she came to power. It would be naive to think they all chose to leave. Salford used to stand for values, people and improvement, now it amounts to how to hack and slash budgets. Barbara's lapdog Martin vickers is focused on only one thing - can you do it cheaper. Forget innovation, value, good - can it be done cheaper? I was on the inside and saw the integrity, compassion and professionalism ebb away. Sad. Still too many assistant directors and heads of service, especially in c&ss. Oh and be assured, anyone that works in the council that accesses salfordstar will be found, as the councils ICT can track that. So whilst there is an Internet usage policy that does not prohibit personal usage or access to Salford Star or union sites, you'd be a fool to login from your work PC / laptop. Keep asking the questions SS. Democracy needs checks and balances and accountability, especially in times of austerity when large amounts are still spent on mayoral pet projects or fitting out his suite or mediacityuk, despite cuts to the vulnerable taking place.
 
mary ferrer wrote
at 17:30:43 on 28 February 2013
First regarding voting Labour Councillors, they are whipped, they can't use their brain or balls(if they have any) on how they vote,they are TOLD how to vote. I don't do budgets and figures, but where are the city's reserves and what about our borrowing powers, have they hammered the Credit of this city on CRAP. This budget makes better headlines that if they cut the wages of the higher earners or cut the handouts to Peel,Lowry,BBC and so on. I am sure they could have saved money elsewhere if they wanted to. I DON'T agree with what this government have and are doing,but, we must remember they picked up the debts of the former LABOUR government. Labour have run this country too its knees and our local Labour Council have done the same here is Salford. There is no opposition within Salford council at this moment in time. the PEOPLE of Salford have a choice come next May and I hope they use their vote wisely. Vote for councillors who listen to their constituents and are their voice, not the mouthpiece of this Labour council. Get councillors who have balls and the bottle to standup to this lot.
 
not happy wrote
at 17:30:33 on 28 February 2013
Am I reading this write that we have a labour council having budget cuts forced on them and not doing a thing about it, WHY? They are in opposition to the government and should be helping the voters who put them on the council to fight the cuts, I’ve never voted Tory but some of the things like the number of Assistant Mayors from 13 to five, whilst imposing a freeze on councilor and mayoral allowances…that sounds good, why should they have pay rise of 1% when all the other council workers are having to make cuts these are few of the highest paid councilor taken from the Councilor’s allowances and expenses 2011 to 2012 these are all on public display at http://www.salford.gov.uk/memberallowances.htm so why do they need a pay rise I bet some of the council worker would like a wage like that Connor Peter £10,080 £13,011 0 £23,091 Hinds Bill £10,080 £13,011 0 £23,091 Lancaster David £10,080 £14,637 0 £24,717 Merry John £10,080 £28,185 0 £38,265 Murphy Joseph £10,080 £13,011 0 £23,091 Warmisham John £10,080 £13,011 0 £23,091 Antrobus Derek £10,080 £13,011 0 £23,091 Burgoyne Eric £10,080 £16,570 0 £26,650 Boshell Paula £10,080 £13,011 0 £23,091
 
Dave wrote
at 17:30:28 on 28 February 2013
It gets worse the mayor now has a website that the council are promoting on their home page, it's even more dribble about what this man (i use the term man lightly) is doing for us all. Great idea from the mayors PR team though because if they keep spouting the same rubbish enough some idiots will belive it.
 
SQ wrote
at 17:29:16 on 28 February 2013
Star - why don't you set up a Salford Star Party and get elected onto the council to stop this sort of thing?
 
Ian s wrote
at 17:28:50 on 28 February 2013
Unison are in the pockets of labour haha. All this is just for show...
 
Michael Felse wrote
at 10:47:30 on 28 February 2013
As a long standing member of Unison I agree with the fight to protect vulnerable people in society. At the same time I am saddened, nay appalled, at Labour cuts to services that are now sure to befall Salford. Time to hang your head in shame Councillors of Salford. In my day as Labour Party Constituency Secretary we put people before politics. Imagine today the lonely and socially excluded person in our community with early stage dementia, then accept that could be you. This is why council services are necessary.
 
Bit of a baffler? wrote
at 09:51:15 on 28 February 2013
Cllr Iain Lindley tweeted last night "Buried in the small print today but Salford Labour have voted themselves an increase in allowances - opposed by Conservative opposition." Salford star tweeted to Merry "can you confirm please that councillors voted for a 1% increase in allowances?" Merry replied "No", so is that no he can't confirm it (maybe been told not to) or no they did not vote for a rise??? If it's the later then one of these cllrs is lying, i know which one i would put my money on.
 
Worried wrote
at 09:50:24 on 28 February 2013
" Peter Connor insisted that the Conservative Party is "still a nasty party"." for gods sake if that is the intelligence level of the debate that goes on in the council chamber then we really are all doomed in Salford. Comments like those from cllr Connor are really more for the school playground than the council chamber, growup you lot act your age and not you fu*king shoe size.
 
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