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SALFORD STAR COMMUNITY MAGAZINE GOES ON STRIKE
 

Star date: 23rd May 2013

SALFORD STAR ON STRIKE AGAINST SALFORD COUNCIL ILLEGAL DENIAL OF INFORMATION AND MORE…

Today, the Salford Star is seven years old. And, today, the Salford Star is going on strike to show what the city would be like with no free independent press holding Salford City Council up to account.

As Salford City Mayor Ian Stewart and his cohort of Assistants and spin doctors seem determined to turn Salford into China with its idea of democracy, the Salford Star is taking a stand.

Full details here…


Salford Stalinford
click image to enlarge

Today the Salford Star is seven years old – and over those seven years the Salford Star, both in print and online, has given a voice to thousands of ordinary people, held Salford Council up to account and reported on community campaigns and creative and sporting events that the mainstream press didn't want to know.

When in print, the Salford Star won awards for its investigative journalism and straight talking, while online around 30,000 people a month are checking out the website – a number that grows virtually every week.

The success of the Star has been all the more remarkable, given that all contributors work on a voluntary basis. No-one gets paid at the Salford Star. Yet photographers, journalists, web and graphics experts from all political backgrounds give their time because they believe that Salford needs an alternative community press.

The ability of that alternative community press to report has now been put under severe pressure from Salford City Council. It is for this reason that the Salford Star is today going on strike…

ILLEGAL BLOCKING OF INFORMATION

* During a window in August, every citizen has the right to question Salford City Council's draft accounts and to see invoices and documents. Nine months ago, the Salford Star requested documents relating to the spending of public money at MediaCityUK, amongst other projects. These have not been forthcoming.

An email from Salford Council's own accounts department stated: "were information to which you were entitled be blocked, then we would be construed as `obstructing' you under the provisions of the right to inspect. It's a criminal offence…"

* Five Freedom of Information requests by Salford Star, dating back to last December, have not been answered, without explanation, despite Salford Council having a legal duty to respond within twenty days. These requests relate to affordable housing in the city, loans and payments to Salford Reds and Salford City Stadium – and even to the results of City Mayor Ian Stewart's Connecting Salford, his so-called democracy engagement project.

SLURS AND LIES

Both City Mayor, Ian Stewart, and his Assistant Mayor, Gena Merrett, have publicly accused the Salford Star of lying and being supporters of an `extreme left wing party', in an attempt to slur this publication. Both accusations have been proven to be false (see here and see here).

Indeed, in April, the Star demanded that Gena Merrett be taken to Salford Council's Standards Committee for breeching her roles and responsibilities in public office. Apart from an acknowledgement, that request has not even been responded to.

PUBLIC FUNDING FOR PUBLICATIONS

Over the past few years public money has been thrown at uncritical, safe, so-called `community media' in the city that doesn't hold Salford City Council up to account… including People's Voice, M3, Salford City Radio, Essence, Salfordonline, and, of course, it's soon to be re-launched Life In Salford `Town Hall Pravda' (c Eric Pickles).

Meanwhile, in East Salford, community representatives, who decide which organisations to fund with `devolved' council tax payers money, were told they could be jailed if they supported the Salford Star.

Only yesterday we discovered that Life In Salford's open `community pages' would be excluding a small article asking for Salford Star volunteers (see here).

SALFORD COUNCIL LACK OF TRANSPARENCY

A year ago this month Ian Stewart was elected as Salford's first City Mayor. In his first ever speech as Mayor after the election count, Stewart stood up and said…

"There will be changing methods of communication. We as politicians are not very good at communicating with the public, and the public are making decisions without basic information sometimes. 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" he added "I will seek to generate that openness and transparency in future…"

Over the past twelve months, Ian Stewart has done the exact opposite. The Salford Star is no longer sent press releases by Salford Council. Indeed, Salford council's press office has become politicised (see here). We have at least fifteen requests for Salford Council comments outstanding, dating back to last year. Nor has Ian Stewart ever granted Salford Star a one-to-one interview.

Instead, Salford's alternative press has been met with secrecy, slurs and selective release of information.

Only last month, the Electoral Reform Society accused councils like Salford of being one party states, like China and North Korea, with no "viable opposition" to have a "decent democracy".

Salford Council, with 52 Labour Party councillors out of a total of sixty, certainly has no `viable opposition'. This is why a free and independent press, holding Salford Council and its Mayor up to account, is absolutely vital to maintain democracy in the city.

This is becoming almost impossible under the autocratic regime that is currently in power in Salford.

For this reason, and to draw attention to the treatment of the city's independent community press, the Salford Star is going on strike…

Welcome to China by the Irwell….

Sid wrote
at 17:41:44 on 28 October 2013
Whatever happened to the strike? Did you win?
 
Bernard Brough wrote
at 07:40:24 on 10 June 2013
I'd love to know where all these supposed socialists are. Most Labour MPs don't know the meaning of socialism & still wouldn't get it if it were explained to them very slowly with drawings. Please don't try to blame Labour for the mass privatisation programme. The Conservatives privatised all utilities & transport long before the Blair government got into office. For anybody who is interested it was down to banking deregulation under the Tories that led to the financial crisis. Yes Labour could and should have done something to roll back the deregulation and a truly socialist Labour Party would have.
 
Michael Felse wrote
at 16:04:24 on 06 June 2013
I urge all candidates in the by-election to ensure as many people they meet as possible get to hear Salford Labour has failed to take part in any of the Salford Star reader exchanges raised during the election. It has to mean Labour are not fit to represent "Weaste and Seedley" in failing to take any time to make any contribution on all the very important local matters raised by the considerate and concerned bloggers.
 
Jonny P wrote
at 08:04:39 on 06 June 2013
@Bernard Brough, You talk about "public utilities & transport" not being sold off by the loony left but it was in fact the same loony left in the Labour party of 1998 that sold these out. Blair, Prescot, Beckcet, Field, Harmen (go on say the later were not left wing) reveled in the opening up of the utilities market resulting in the high prices we see today, as for transport they had their chance of taking what is now "Network rail" formally "Railtrack" back in house, they chose not too, why? because it would not win votes having the taxpayer as a whole subsidise the railways. Not saying I don't agree with nationalisation but I am saying let's get things in the full frame of the picture before we shoot the film.
 
not a brain dead labour voter wrote
at 08:03:29 on 06 June 2013
thatcher destroyed the country, ye right, and under 13 years of socialist labour, life was utopia, remember they left us £1 trillion in debt, every thing that is happening now can be traced back to those 13 years of labour, and remember all those people in the labour party that destroyed this country are still there i.e. millband, balls, and all privately educated hypocrites.
 
wrote
at 12:05:52 on 05 June 2013
The corrupt banking sector was de-regulated under the evil bitch thatcher's misrule , and became even more corrupt . The blame lies with the thatcherites and their corruption , greed and dishonesty .
 
wrote
at 05:40:16 on 05 June 2013
the best con-artist and illusionist I have ever seen in Britain was Tony Blear, first he got the Labour party and trade unionists to make him emperor of the labour party then he set about hypnotising the general public in to voting for him, David Copperfield eat your heart out, but I could not work out how he fooled the unions, him being a Tory like, maybe he promised them, they could all be champaign socialists if he becomes PM, well typical socialist's, they drop the socialism bit when they hear money is involved
 
wrote
at 17:15:51 on 04 June 2013
Bernard Brough – what drivel! The banking crisis was on labours watch. They had years to put the legislation in place, but failed. Stop re-writng history!! You sound like the Mayor and seem to forget labour were in power for more than a week.
 
Bernard Brough wrote
at 20:12:55 on 03 June 2013
Do not presume to tell me what this publication is about. I will tell you what this publication is about. It is about holding those in power whatever their political hue to account, it is about giving the people of Salford an outlet for their views & stories. Blair moved to the centre? Are you fucking joking? Blair was & is a tory, not even a left wing tory. You can rave on about loony lefties, but was it they who sold off public utilities & transport? Was it they who allowed the banks to leave so far up shit creek we will still be paddling come the end of this century? No it was not it was a fucked up unregulated system. The only solution is to start a renationalisation programme & the type of legislation implemented after the Wall St Crash, legislation that over the years was seen as socialist & therefore dismantled. And you call them the loony left? I'll retire to Bedlam.
 
brian wrote
at 05:30:09 on 03 June 2013
reading these comments reminds me of a quote, "divide and conquer". "united we stand, divided we fall". if i wanted to rule a country i would create multiple parties and watch then squabble and who ever gets in power throw some money at them and do as i say, i might of give some people ideas?
 
the end wrote
at 05:30:03 on 03 June 2013
Ref Bernard Brough: Labour was unelectable until Blair basically adopted Tory central ground policies, effectively rejecting the Left wing approach. Whilst Thatcher may have had some luck with the Falklands, Labour consistently failed to listen to the electorate (Rather like Salford now). I never mentioned how to vote in my comments, this publication is about incfunce and being on strike does not bring any influence. The comments my Mr Concerned about writing to Pickles should be possible. Let the Star publish the details of someone suggest a standard letter
 
Bernard Brough wrote
at 17:01:15 on 02 June 2013
@ the end, did they really? So it wasn't down to macroeconomics, the Falklands, lack of leadership in the Labour Party or an openly hostile press? The aim of this publication is to inform people not to tell them how to vote. I would go and play now but some miserable get took my ball.
 
Straightshooter wrote
at 17:00:46 on 02 June 2013
China and Korea?!?! Oh my god this rag is the most antiestablishment load of tosh I have ever clapped eyes on. I know occasionally their are some valid points raised here but on the whole it is so unbalanced it's unreal. I think it's time to let the loonies run the asylum to see what would happen! Good luck!
 
ex-labour voter forever wrote
at 16:59:38 on 02 June 2013
The sooner the electorate kick these New Labour Traitors out for good , the better for us all .
 
Mr. Concerned wrote
at 07:00:34 on 01 June 2013
I think it's about time the Salford Star readers, get together, and write a complaint to David Cameron, concerning all the problems with Mrs. Blears, and The Salford Council. Mr. Cameron should listen, not because he gives a damn about Salford, but because he hates Labour. And let's be honest, most of the councillors in Salford are with the Labour party. This will only work if all of the 30,000 Salford Star readers put a complaint in, to number 10. You can google these contact details. It's time to see how loyal The Salford Star readers are.
 
The End wrote
at 06:59:37 on 01 June 2013
Ref: Bernard Brough – You seem to have forgotten it’s the looney left that kept Labour out of power for so long, adding to the misery and destruction of Thatcher. You ask is it a competition? – off course it is. The very existence of this publication confirms that it is a competition , the prize being a council that works in accordance with the views if its (Salford Star) members. PS thanks for the insults, now run along and play while you are off school this week
 
Michael Felse wrote
at 06:59:22 on 01 June 2013
@MikeSk, yes I was on the platform with Ian during the Mayoral election. I heard he would see an open, engaging, transparent Salford Council develop under his direction. Obviously things take time to shape and fashion into a new leadership style. Perhaps we can expect our Mayor to publish his action plan for public transparency as a Charter in the free Council In-Salford magazine and maybe gift half the pages to local community and voluntary groups as space for an opportunity to develop Salford's community pride.
 
salford pimpernell wrote
at 06:57:33 on 01 June 2013
maybe the star would like to investigate what I have heard, and it comes from a good source, that Salford city council is about to sponsor Salford city reds, and I thought we were broke, and with all the money we the council tax payer have ploughed in to that white elephant we shouldn't have to pay to advertise at this stadium. more of our money going down the drain and in to someone's back pocket
 
Mike Skeffington wrote
at 17:33:17 on 30 May 2013
I have been connected with the Salford Star since it's inception and I know the hard work and struggles it's had to survive, so all credit to Steve Kingston and all those contributors and supporters for keeping it alive. Best wishes and 'back-patting' isn't going to change anything though. What's needed now is for us all to submit, Freedom Of Information (FOI) requests to the Information Commissioners Office (see Mike Kelly's post of 23 May) stating that such requests have been denied to the, Salford Star, which is our only means of receiving important information to which we are entitled under law. If we inundate the office with such requests it will send a very powerful message to the council. The reason the council is so intransigent is because it has not been challenged, except by the Salford Star. Individual requests in large enough numbers will force outside authorities to intervene and will show Salford Council that the, Salford Star, does have a practical effect and is not just people blowing off steam on and obscure website, which is what they believe it to be. Steve, if you could post a list of the specific requests you have made we could submit them individually. Let's do something practical people!!!!!
 
Mark Byrne wrote
at 08:32:42 on 30 May 2013
I was at a Trade union meeting in Manchester not so long ago (18mths or so)and Ian Stewart gave a speech about his humble beginnings in Glasgow and was urging all the fringe parties of the Labour Party to stand together in the future to get rid of the condem coalition.He said Anarchists etc... should be welcomed ....
 
The Electoral lawer wrote
at 06:46:55 on 30 May 2013
Felse are you a shady gezzer?. I believe you knew at the time of writing your comment dated below as 23/5/13 that you had reached the point at which you could NOT legally withdraw your nomination, and that you also knew that your name would legally have to remain on the ballot paper even if you asked the council not to print said paper with such. Your actions could be seen by some as gerrymandering of the vote in Weaste & Seedley which will not have gone unnoticed, expect to hear from the electoral commision shortly, hopefully you will get your day to voice your thoughts courtesy of those that govern fairness within the electoral system, you can't argue with that Michael.
 
Alice Ann Drinnan wrote
at 06:45:30 on 30 May 2013
And your point is what exactly? Let me see now, you're going on strike, by which I presume you are not updating the web site. As I write, no update for several days. The point of this strike? You claim that everyone agrees that the city needs an energetic, thrusting, fearless information source to challenge the council and to expose wrong doing and coverups. I'm sure it may be there's some sort of self defeating mad logic working here. The only ones hurt by this so called strike are the people of Salford and you too, in terms of your credibility. Salford council will be rubbing their hands and popping the champagne corks at Poll Tax Palace this week at this incredibly stupid own goal. Back to work soft lads!
 
M3 wrote
at 05:51:13 on 29 May 2013
Dear Mr Pickles, As someone who treasures the independence of the press, I heartily agree with the sentiments your expressed with regard to local council's establishing their own Pravda style newspapers. Our local newspaper, The Salford Star is one that lost its Council funding and is now only to be found on-line. The reason for this? It tried to hold-to-account Salford Council and recently has had several requests (to look at our council's accounts) illegally rejected. Salford council hate any questions about the way they spend our money. We would be truly grateful if you supported our campaign to persuade Salford Council that no-one reads its propaganda-rag - and we would like to have our money back in order that we can print our wonderful Star again. Many households in Salford have no internet/computer - and they genuinely appreciated the Salford Star IN PRINT - now they feel they have nothing. The Star doesn't just challenge the labour council - it contains interesting and highly pertinent local stories which bind the community together and celebrate local talent + history. I promised fellow readers that I would write to you and so here I am. Please let us know when you are in Salford and we'll buy you a pint! Thanks a million. Here's links to 2 articles about Pravda and our volunteer's strike.
 
not a brain dead labour voter wrote
at 05:49:24 on 29 May 2013
I can't believe you all fought we lived in a democracy, Salford's always been a dictatorship, just most people in Salford prefer sticking their head's in the sand, and to pretend the problem doesn't exist.
 
Bernard Brough wrote
at 16:40:37 on 28 May 2013
@ the end is it a competition or a war or something? Only one of those beings that eats babies ( I do mean a tory) could come up with such bollocks.
 
Bernard Brough wrote
at 17:50:19 on 27 May 2013
Steve, where in this article does the Salford Star go on about getting some of our money from our council? Do you see what I'm getting at? It's our own money. Sit down and think about it for a couple of days, I'm sure you'll grasp the concept eventually.
 
the end wrote
at 17:49:58 on 27 May 2013
The looney lefts answer to everything!!! I assume that means Salford council have beat you.
 
Sickened Salfordian wrote
at 17:49:46 on 27 May 2013
Michael Felse, you really are one sick mother fucker of an individual. To use the deaf of somebody for your own political gain is beyond contempt, individuals like you need preventing from ever holding public office, not even the warped lot that run Salford have gone this low. Get yourself down to your GP in the morning you need to be admitted to hospital for some treatment, something is NOT right in your head.
 
Bernard Brough wrote
at 17:47:13 on 27 May 2013
Is the alternative to a "hate attack" an I really like you a lot attack?
 
Michael Felse wrote
at 06:14:22 on 27 May 2013
In view of the Woolwich attack I feel it necessary to put differences aside and show that Salford will work towards achieving community cohesion. Condolences to the family of Lee Rigby. I am moved to stand down in the by-eleciton in light of this attack and urge our Councillors to make an across party partnership for the safeguarding of Salford that ensures we will not see hate attacks in our community.
 
Insider wrote
at 18:19:56 on 26 May 2013
Can I suggest a mass protest and that all of us send in FIO request like:- What new appointments have been made to the Mayors staff and Chief ex staff since he took office, Where were the adverts who decided the salary Then go into the fiasco of salford Reds!
 
john wrote
at 06:24:51 on 26 May 2013
How about asking Eric Pickles to put his Departments money where his the concern is. Provide funding for 4 regional free community press centres, that can hold all of these organisations to account free from fear. Totally independent, run by volunteers to ask the questions that need answers, promote community events, concerns and any other issues that people want to talk about. It could provide training in a number of areas, like journalism, multi-media, printing etc for young unemployed. He can also tag on to his act that local people can force the councils to use these publications for their notices, promotions. Totally free press, that there is so little left in this country.
 
m3 wrote
at 06:24:44 on 26 May 2013
GOOD IDEA to start a CHANGE petition Bob + I will also write to Eric Pickles - hope others will do so.
 
Steve wrote
at 06:21:57 on 26 May 2013
The Star would be so much better if it got over its obsession with getting money out of Salford Council.
 
scatterplot wrote
at 20:28:21 on 24 May 2013
How much would it cost to get Salford Star back on paper? Have you thought of fundraising schemes such as Community Shares or similar? (www.communityshares.org.uk) The Star is a true asset of Salford's and we should try everything to have the print magazine back.
 
m3 wrote
at 08:26:00 on 24 May 2013
SALFORD STAR ON STRIKE! How can the council or the university or any public body deny us the right to know how our money is being spent? It is apalling! I have written to George Monbiot and other supporters of the Salford Star + letters to national newspapers. I doubt they will be printed but I urge everyone to use the national press too, to expose this absolutely brutal and undemocratic ILLEGAL behaviour by OUR council! We really missed you SALFORD STAR, Happy Birthday and thanks for 7 years of love and attitude x
 
bob wrote
at 08:25:55 on 24 May 2013
Im up for joining forces to get requests completed, maybe change.org and also we can all sign a letter to ask the Information Commisioners Office to investigate and cc letter to Eric Pickles. Youtube channel and facebook page, lets go for it
 
Do They Care? wrote
at 06:00:44 on 24 May 2013
what would happen if all of us ask for the same information that the Salford Star is asking for at the same time? How could they ignore that,I appreciate there is a cost but we could share that burden and request??
 
wrote
at 20:34:54 on 23 May 2013
Looking at the various elements here...withdrawing support, attacking editorial staff (not in a physical sense - thank god), Blocking access, and general maltreatment to any questions put to them by the people that make the star, I've got to ask in light of Salford's own Motto "Industry & Integrity" - When are the authority going to be helping this award winning publication get back to print? This City needs an Independent (and strong) newspaper - and since Mirror Group took over the MEN/Advertiser it's become increasingly hard to get hold of a copy of either!
 
wrote
at 20:34:50 on 23 May 2013
How can the likes of Stewart and co even claim to be in any way democratic when they ignore such a basic thing as a free press? What they fail to take into account is that this publication represent at least 30,000 people who view it online every month. So, a thorn in the side it may be, and bitter and angry they may be, but it is actually 30,000 Salfordians they are showing contpempt for; not just this publication. I suggest a campaign demanding that the Star has access to the same rights as every other community group, including devolved funding. Perhaps a facebook campaign? When that gets up to speed maybe Change.org?
 
bob wrote
at 20:34:42 on 23 May 2013
This council does not want to hear from the people of salford and they do not want the people of salford to know what they are upto. Salford labour council, twined with North korea.
 
Mr Chew wrote
at 20:33:35 on 23 May 2013
Biggest joke is FOI act was introduced by Labour when they were in power, Ian Stewart was in parliament when this happened and supported this legislation. Now he is sat in the circus tent in swinetown he wishes it did not exist. Sorry Ian just like the people of Salford you got what you voted for, we got an arsehole you got an inconvenience, just put up with it, we have to.
 
wrote
at 20:33:03 on 23 May 2013
Did you really expect competence from the inept Clown Hall Cretins ?
 
Scouse wrote
at 15:34:42 on 23 May 2013
Nice one Salford Star, I hope you go to the information commissioner with the lack of response.
 
Mike Kelly wrote
at 15:34:20 on 23 May 2013
If the FOI requests have not been answered or fudged you can request the Information Commisioners Office to intervene. There helpline is as follows: 0303 123 1113 for advice to help you to solve the problem.
 
Alice Searle wrote
at 13:15:09 on 23 May 2013
Good for you Salford Star! I know so many people who read the Star, but, because the Star was blocked from obtaining funding from the Community Budgets, it can no longer produce a paper copy. This means that those without computers or unable to use a computer do not have an opportunity to access this really important information..information which is NOT disclosed by the Council. I find this not only frustrating, since information is a democratic right, but also SAD that our Coucillors feel so threatened by their public that they cannot respond to their questions. If they do not want to be receivers of criticism and disappointment then they should SPEAK to those who seek information and understanding. The Council should see Salford Star as a herald of the public and a valuable source of community liaison.
 
Sally Griffiths wrote
at 13:15:02 on 23 May 2013
its fantastic that we have you and we are very grateful!!!
 
Paul Gerrard wrote
at 13:14:26 on 23 May 2013
Full support to the Salford Star from Salford against Cuts! Where would we be without you? Hasta la Victoria siempre!
 
joe oneill wrote
at 12:21:26 on 23 May 2013
We understand you are none political but we join you in solidarity Salford Green Party Long live the revolution
 
pissed off wrote
at 09:49:02 on 23 May 2013
Have a look a www.whatdotheyknow.com look at the FOI requests made to Salford city council, requests on there that have not been answered dating back at least a year. When they do answer a request it's done around the houses so to speak, with snippets given that could be interpreted another way.
 
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Star date: 21st June 2018

COUNCIL SPENT £5,750 ON MIPIM PR IN SOUTH OF FRANCE

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Star date: 20th June 2018

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Full details here...

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Star date: 19th June 2018

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