"The rule is, jam tomorrow and jam yesterday - but never jam today"
Alice Through The Looking Glass
Four years ago, the Salford Star reported on a `community strategy' that stated how, in 15 years time Salford would be a `beautiful, welcoming…highly skilled, healthy' city etc while acknowledging some shocking facts about the levels of poverty (see the Salford Star article – click here).
In that feature the Star made reference to the `Magnificent Seven' `pledges' from Salford City Council five years before that … how it would `improve health…reduce crime…raise education and skills levels…support children and young people in achieving their full potential…tackle poverty…ensure good jobs and a thriving economy…and ensure decent affordable homes…'
Now, almost ten years on, another `prospectus' from City Mayor Ian Stewart is about to be unleashed… 2025 Salford A Modern Global City…which paints yet another stark picture of Salford's `deprivation' levels…
• Salford lies within the worst 5% for deprivation in the country
• Levels of worklessness still too high
• Some families may have less than £11 per person per day to live
• One quarter of all children live in poverty... etc
The `challenge' is to reduce all this…by making the skyline iconic…
While the `prospectus' is 43 pages long, full of stuff about the, er, great regeneration that's happened so far, and how Peel Holding's MediaCityUK, Port Salford and Salford City Stadium will save us all, the main headline `2025 Ambition' is a `Transformed Skyline…iconic infrastructure, places and spaces'.
When councillors discussed the draft document at the Regeneration Scrutiny Select Committee last month, one of the first items of discussion wasn't about poverty but "potential sites that would be suitable for the location of an iconic building".
The `ambition' also includes "enhancing even further the heritage, culture and environmental quality synonymous with great European cities". After this 2025 item was discussed at the Regeneration Scrutiny Select Committee*, under `Any Other Business', there was a discussion on the two Salford Quays Cargo Cranes, those iconic structures currently on the Salford skyline that the City Mayor is determined to demolish.
A councillor asked whether "consideration had been given to the option of one
crane being retained". `No!' came the reply… "it would not be possible for
one of the cranes to be retained".
Salford people might be asking how they can trust a `prospectus' that talks about "enhancing even further the heritage, culture" of Salford, when the Mayor can't even save one `iconic' crane on the city's skyline…(see here for how Spain does it)
Instead, the `prospectus' mentions a 100 metre `boulevard' leading from Ordsall Hall to a new water taxi landing stage, as "connecting the city centre to Salford Quays is the critical priority for Salford". Let's just hope the `waxi' doesn't land at Ordsall Hall on a Friday – because Council cuts have closed the place.
The 2025 document is all about creating a "market facing" approach, to "establish Salford as an iconic, modern and connected European city", "where opportunities to work in partnership with Manchester to create a shared Regional Centre must be embraced"...
There's hardly a word about the £100million cuts currently crippling public services for Salford people. And no mention about things like cuts to The Grange respite centre for disabled children – obviously not `market facing' enough.
But still, by 2025 Salford will be A Modern Global City. And how are we going to know if it all works?
The `prospectus' explains that "scrutiny and governance of the plan's progress and success" will be done, not by Salford's elected Council which is (kind of) accountable to its citizens, but by "a new partnership regeneration and investment forum" called Building Growth, which will be made up of "key senior public and private sector partners from across the Manchester City Region".
* The `prospectus' states: "Salford's vision is to become recognised as one of the world's top super-connected, digital and media cities. A city that offers the opportunity to everyone who lives learns or works here to become a super-connected global citizen."
Fantastic! The Salford Star had to write to Salford Council this week to get hold of the minutes of the Regeneration Scrutiny Select Committee and loads of other reports and minutes from this and other meetings, as the fantastic Salford Council `super-connected, digital and media city' couldn't even make its own website links work.
** The Salford Star will be analysing the document's claims about the regeneration of the city in great detail over the coming months. We're not going to do it over the summer as the Mayor and loads of his Assistants and councillors have buggered off on holiday and we're sure they would like to read, what we hope will be, a bolt of reality…so watch this space.
In the meantime if anyone would like to read a preview of 2025 Salford: A Modern Global City – click here and go to item 05