Star date: 29th October 2013


"Please do not question the council's commitment to Salford's heritage"

As the Salford Quays cargo cranes were being trashed over the weekend, Salford City Mayor, in response to the anger felt by many residents, put up a letter on his website setting out his reasons for signing their death warrant.

Here the Salford Star picks through his warblings with a few facts that residents ought to know. The main graphic for this article was posted on the Save Our Cranes Facebook group last night, as the backlash continues.

Full details here…

Salford Mayor Website Salford Cranes Survey Report Salford Quays Cranes
Salford Quays Cranes Trashed Salford Quays Cranes Trashed
click image to enlarge

At the weekend, Salford City Mayor, Ian Stewart, posted a letter on his website to the many angry residents who had contacted him concerning the trashing of the iconic blue cargo cranes at Salford Quays.

In Part One the Salford Star reported on the reaction from both residents and students, and the Mayor's insensitive response – click here.

In Part Two the Salford Star picks through Stewart's letter, with a few realities chucked in to `balance' the Mayor's reasoning…

Stewart's original words are in italics.

Why the cranes had to go….

Thank you for your recent correspondence regarding the cargo cranes at Salford Quays.  Please be assured I understand the concerns of residents regarding the decision we have been forced to take to remove the cargo cranes.

However the facts are that over nearly 25 years, the cranes have dramatically deteriorated. Yes, the cranes have deteriorated, thanks to neglect by Salford Council. Its own report stated "There is clear evidence of the lack of maintenance by the city over the period of time that the cranes have been located in their current position".

The paintwork is in poor condition, metalwork is exposed, and therefore the surface metal has corroded which is causing large chunks of metalwork to come apart from the structure making the structures and the surrounding area dangerous… This statement is a bit dramatic. A Freedom of Information request this year revealed that "A piece of metalwork fell from the cranes in 2006" – that's seven years ago! Even then, "Subsequent emergency works were carried out to remove all identified parts which were considered to have the potential of falling from the structure in the short term". A structural report in 2007 by the cranes' manufacturers, Stothert and Pitt noted that the "majority of areas are surface corrosion only" and that, structurally, they were in "sound condition…the strength and safety of the structure can be relied on".

The cranes were inspected again in 2011 by Urban Vision engineers who probably whacked them with a few lump hammers. Lo and behold, "a number of laminated areas of metalwork fell from the structures…They ranged in size from small flakes to larger pieces of metal and paintwork."

In 2011, the Council considered the viability of relocating the cranes to the Quays Gateway roundabout. There were strong objections to this from the Ordsall and Langworthy Community Committee.

This was the infamous £3million roundabout scheme. A resident who actually attended that (hardly representative) meeting posted on the previous Salford Star article that "It's obvious that Mayor Stewart is clutching at straws by trying to blaming O & L residents-but it's just not true" (see here for full details). Meanwhile, £75,000 was splashed out (by North West Development Agency) putting in plinths for the cranes on the roundabout.

The costs of repair, making safe and the future maintenance of the cargo cranes are significant, with estimates of up to £1million.

Again, this is somewhat of a spin. The Council's own reports state that the cranes could have been painted in 2000 for a mere £70,000 - `not implemented'. In 2007, £400,000 was set aside for the refurbishment but tenders that came in for the work costed it at £600,000. The Council wouldn't put up the extra £200,000, despite all the money flooding in from building work in the area. In 2009 there was an offer to fix the cranes from a civil engineering firm but this was `explored and rejected'.

In 2011 a report from the Council listed a number of options and costings – the highest was £982,990 and the lowest was £648,500 to dismantle and refurbish, plus £8,000 a year maintenance. The final solution, demolition, was costed at £78,233, with the note that `the historic monuments would be lost to future generations'. Urban Vision recommended Option 2 – the £648,500 option for the removal and refurbishment of the cranes. Yes, Mr Mayor, there were "estimates up to £1million" but your own report costed it at £648,500.

Salford Council set aside and ringfenced £626,000 for the refurbishment in its 2012-13 `capital programme', leaving a shortfall of just £22,500 plus maintenance costs.

In light of these significant costs, officers investigated a number of options to secure external funding… Unfortunately, the response received from the HLF [Heritage Lottery Fund] expressed concerns regarding value for money and indicated that a full application was unlikely to be considered a priority for funding. What, twenty two grand? No-one has ever seen this application or what it involved or whether it was a community-led project.

Officers also approached the former owners of the cargo cranes (Peel Ports) to establish whether they would be willing to contribute funding towards their repair and retention. They confirmed that in the current economic climate they would be unable to support such a project. The money could have been got from Peel in other ways – notably from Section 106 levies on all the profit spewing apartments, studios, shops etc that have gone up around MediaCityUK – except that Salford Council waved all financial payments from Peel for MediaCityUK, estimated at a £5.56million loss to Salford Council (see here) – and enough to re-paint the cranes in gold!

Those who have been most vociferous in demanding the conservation of the cranes have made no offer of a contribution. As the Salford Docklands Nature and Heritage Group stated yesterday in a press release posted on the Salford Star (see here) "Our attempt to obtain a Community Preservation Order for the cranes was blocked by Salford City Council under the grounds that the cranes were not deemed to be of even local heritage interest. It's as simple as that…If the Community Preservation Order had been successful we would have expected Salford City Council to secure the cranes with a protective netting and given us a helping hand by maintaining the insurance. We would then have had a six month period in which to raise the money and secure restoration contractors, and if we were unable to achieve those aims, the Council could have demolished them in the Spring."

There are 230 listed building entries across the city, as included on the national heritage list compiled by English Heritage and over 600 individual buildings/structures appear on the council's own local list.  All of these buildings/structures and spaces have played a role in Salford's history and these could all be viewed as 'prized assets'. Minus one, now…

I appreciate that the cranes act as a visual reminder that the area was once a busy working dock and it is important that this heritage is remembered and celebrated. This needs to build on the range of heritage interpretation / arts projects which have been delivered in the area to date [lists them]. And here's the Salford Star's answer about £millions that have been squandered on faux heritage projects (see here). If a quarter of this money would have been spent on the one unique real heritage asset the cranes would still be standing. The mayor didn't mention the £150,000 mobile phone app that will replace the cranes and has led to so much derision (see here).

All of this amounts to significant investment in Salford's heritage by the city council. Please do not question the council's commitment to Salford's heritage. The Salford Star could write a book to denounce this statement. But, instead we'll leave you with the Mayor weeping tears for the loss of the cranes…

As a former worker at the Transport and General Workers Union offices on Merchants Quay, I have a huge emotional attachment to the cranes as a reminder of the dock workers who built our city. I saw them every day from my office window and understand the attachment that people feel… and then he goes on about them being dangerous and how It would be wrong for the city council to spend £1 million on preserving and making safe two rusting and dangerous cranes, however historic they might be, when the people of Salford are struggling to make ends meet and the council is being forced to make £75 million cuts over the next three years.

We've written it before, and we'll say it again – the £1million `preservation cost' is pure spin, while the `danger' is well exaggerated. Even the demolition crews on Saturday were telling people that there was nothing structurally wrong with the cranes that couldn't be fixed.

Meanwhile the `council being forced to make £75million cuts', everyone knows about – but the money that the Council ringfenced for the cranes could not have been spent on services, it was `capital' one-off funding – which has now been diverted, the Salford Star understands (see here), towards to the Biospheric Foundation (£300,000), the mobile phone app (£50,000-£100,000) and the demolition costs (`up to £100,000').

And Mr Mayor, while you are weeping your tears for the cranes, we hope you enjoy judging the £40,000 competition to build a new bridge (see here) between the Crescent and The Meadows – and have tears in your eyes while you mull over its budget, estimated at £1.9million, while "the people of Salford are struggling to make ends meet and the council is being forced to make £75 million cuts"…

See previous Salford Star article on the trashing of the Salford Quays cargo cranes

* The Salford Quays Cranes £100,000 Execution Show - click here

Main graphic posted on Save Our Cranes Facebook site last night


Salford Star wrote
at 08:24:25 on 03 November 2013
See Fed Up Worker's comments below...it should be noted that we can't prove that Finnegan does the Mayor's tweets - we've heard all sorts about these tweets.
fedupworker wrote
at 07:59:25 on 03 November 2013
Love this site, can I draw to everyone's attention that Ian Stewart does not actually do his own Tweets, Matt Finigan, his 70k council tax paid employee does them!
Paul wrote
at 12:19:15 on 31 October 2013
@michael felse. We must give our Mayor the benefit of doubt. How many chances do you want to give this idiot of a man, he's made to many mistakes for them to be an accident, no he's just another incompetent jock like Gordon brown
Fat End of The Wedge wrote
at 19:46:20 on 30 October 2013
Isn't it time to organise a mass withholding of counil tax payments - clearly the council are not spending our money as we would wish it spent. Maybe people who voted for the Mayor should only have to pay?
Alexander James Valliant wrote
at 19:46:07 on 30 October 2013
Just felt the need to say, "Well said Chaz". Short, Sweet, and straight to the point".
Chaz wrote
at 14:03:02 on 30 October 2013
ANYONE who was involved with this disgusting act of cultural vandalism should be charged with criminal damage and sent to prison. If I popped up North and took a blowtorch to The Angel of the North I'd be put away...what's different here?
eddie wrote
at 14:02:55 on 30 October 2013
Alexander James Valliant wrote
at 14:02:33 on 30 October 2013
I have just read and digested this Salford Star story. The article concerning the cranes, in The Salford Star, states that Urban Vision went up the cranes to survey them. Urban Vision are Structial Specialists for Salford Council, however their expertise is buildings. A crane is subject to changes/shifts of gravity, therefore as the crane lifts different loads, and is turning constantly, the structure has different amounts of stresses and strains. A building has limited movement. Therefore Urban Vision deal with buildings, not cranes. The mathematics and technical knowledge needed to survey and rebuild a crane, is greater, than a person whom just surveys a building. To all the building surveyors out there, this statement is not meant to demean your qualifications and professional status, but to show that Urban Vision do not possess the right qualifications nor experience, to make any comments about the structural integrity of these cranes. That is why there are crane refurbishment specialists out there. For those who still do not understand here is an example, I can strip a car engine and rebuild it, however I can't rebuild an engine on a small ship. So the fact Urban Vision went up there to do a survey is simply preposterous. In conclusion, the statements made about structure, and condition, we're based on Urban Visions limited report, which is inconclusive, because they don't posess the technical knowledge or expertise to form any solid opinion. And if that is the case, then the amounts quoted to refurbish these cranes, would also read nonsensical. Therefore the Mayor made the wrong decision because The Salford Council sent the wrong team in, to do the survey on the cranes. From this, we can deduce that the whole investigation concerning the restoration of these cranes, was a sham, and the Mayor, and The Salford Council should be made accountable for their actions. Once again I find myself being repeditive when I say that the city of Salford, is no longer a democracy, but a dictatorship run by fools.
Alexander James Valliant wrote
at 14:02:16 on 30 October 2013
P.s. Mr Felse, although sometimes you do possess a logical mind, and on occasion, do make balanced and well though out conclusions, your statement saying to give our Mayor the benefit of the doubt, is asking myself and the general public, to ignore his ignorance. A bad decision, is a bad decision. It does not matter if he made a mistake, this Mayor, has a massive responsibility, to uphold the rights of the citizens whom live in Salford. As I have stated in previous comments, the Mayor, and the Salford Council, sent the wrong type of structual engineers to survey these cranes, and by doing so, they were quoted the wrong financial amounts, to refurbish these structures. And let's not forget the Mayors behaviour on twitter. I also defend the media students of Salford, when they state the Mayor blocked their comments, and insulted them. I too have been subjected to such behaviour by the Salford Council. In fact, when I have proved, in the past, a member of the Salford Council has made a mistake, I too have been insulted, then get blocked from communicating directly with them, and usually, I am then directed to their legal team, whom they hide behind. In conclusion Mr. Felse, I think your comment, on this occasion is a little out of order. The Mayor should take responsibility for his mistakes, and stand down. He should not be given the benefit of the doubt, because if he had read the comments on the Salford Star, he would have known how many citizens were apposed to his idea of pulling down these fabulous cranes, which were one of the last monuments, in Salford, that showed our industrial heritage. I as one would have preferred to look at the real thing, than hold my phone up to experience a virtual Salford. We will now have to rewrite the Salford sign posting saying "Welcome to the virtual world of Salford", "Please make sure you have a smartphone as we have knocked down every monument of interest".
at 14:01:59 on 30 October 2013
Michael Felse:- "This is the best elected Mayor Salford has ever had." How many have we had? None of the previous mayors were elected as such, merely as councillors.
Michael Felse wrote
at 14:01:51 on 30 October 2013
@Brian&Paul. Let us save the "who Else but Felse" conversation for another day. Today let us all stay focused on our Dock Crane loss and what we want as befitting legacy. I do not like the idea of an app. But let us not forget the Conservatives on Salford Council have been too quite on the topic. Will they force a no confidence vote or do we just assume all Salford Councillors are in the same boat?
Brian F Kirkham wrote
at 05:58:30 on 30 October 2013
Had Mr Stewarts Men listened to the dockyard's community, he would have realised the strength of feeling behind the loss of these two local landmarks. As it is, They now have to placate the local community by showing them a tangible memorial to those who worked on the docks...and this time - actually listen to those who have connections to the dockyards, involve the local community (I hope you're reading this Ordsall Councillors - as its your seats on the line if your fellow councillors and their commercial partners bodge it and scarper) I'm Saddened that the cranes couldn't have been saved but you now have an opportunity to make a memorial honouring the men and women who once worked there...and make it tangible (not just available for mobile phone users)
Paul wrote
at 05:58:04 on 30 October 2013
Mayor Stewart, worried about the £75 million we have to save over the next 3 year, and this led to the state sponsored vandalism of salford heritage by outsiders like Stewart , merry, spicer, I now look forward to the canciling of the two million pound bridge to nowwhere, the £3 million a year London philharmonic orchestra and maybe we could, seeing were so desperate financially, we could call in money that is owed to us, the tax payer ie salford reds stadium £22 million +. typical labour council spend hundreds of thousands destroying these cranes when it would have had taken a few thousand to restore them. what's the loss in tourism cost's when salford become a bland city with no sense of history, great town's and cities are known for there historical architectural buildings and engineering structures, who wants to come to a city void of history. Ian Stewart, the economic's of a mad man. Ps to Michael felse, do's this now mean you will be going back to helping labour at the next election by trying to split the vote again.
Brian F Kirkham wrote
at 05:55:06 on 30 October 2013
Mr Felse, I keep reading your comments and still, you continue the cheerleading. Were you not the one when Mr Stewart was put forward for Election, the chosen one from the English Democrats fighting for Mr Stewarts current Position? You've gone from Defending the Indefensible to Cheerleading the party in local power in an awfully short space of time, will you be looking for nice safe seat in council? or is this more selective stirring of the pot when you show your true colours at local elections?
suzi wrote
at 19:12:05 on 29 October 2013
In Tarragona just now again looking at the beautifully preserved cranes there - many tourists and engineering students taking photos - get your act together Ian!!
Michael Felse wrote
at 18:04:58 on 29 October 2013
We must give our Mayor the benefit of doubt. He was told the dock cranes were corroded and took action. This is the best elected Mayor Salford has ever had. It is our public duty to understand his massive job has great responsibility. I am in a mood to forgive and make ground to find light ahead in the tunnel.
ex new-liebour voter wrote
at 18:01:55 on 29 October 2013
Alexander James Valliant wrote
at 18:01:48 on 29 October 2013
I cannot understand where anyone is plucking these quotes from, to refurbish the cranes. For the fourth and last time let me explain what nessacary refurbishment was needed to repair the cranes. Now this is something I do have a great knowledge of, as I served my time at the shipyards, as an electrical design engineer. As apprentices, when there were no ships in the dry dock, we used to do plant repairs to the cranes. If thes cranes were to be reused as lifting machinery, then they would need to be dismantled and rebuilt. However as solid structured art, the cranes could have been repaired on site. All the moving parts would be welded shut. The electrical control gear, which is mostly copper, could have been stripped out to recover some of the costs for the refurbishment to the cranes. I contacted an old colleague of mine, who served his time along side myself, and has informed me that the maximum price he, and his company would charge, to refurbish the cranes would be £150,000. That figure is to refurbish both of them. Now as stated before, there is an estimated £15,000 worth of copper in each crane. A further £15,000 pounds for the scrap metal of each crane. To pull the cranes down, I have been informed that this would cost in the region of £25,000. Therefore the Salford Council made a pre tax profit of around £30,000 a £35,000 pounds out of the cranes demise. So it was in the councils best interest to pull these cranes down, and that is why they were pulled down. What I also forgot to mention is that my friend had informed the council about the cost of making them into a solid piece of rigid art, but the Salford Council, and Mayor, ignored his advice. My friend runs his own firm, who maintains, and rebuilds cranes for a living, and has done for over 20 years, so I know his figures would be near enough accurate. So it comes back to what I stated in my last three comments. The general public are no longer in charge of their own city. The City of Salford is no longer a democracy, but a dictatorship run by a majority of fools.
graham ball wrote
at 12:04:14 on 29 October 2013
Yet again Salford council destroying our heritage.you mayor are no longer fit for purpose and should resign.
tony flynn wrote
at 12:04:10 on 29 October 2013
An excellent piece of journalism Stephen, more power to your elbow. I fully agree with all your sentiments and weep in despair at the councils attitude to our city's rapidly vanishing landmarks.
Mark Donaldson wrote
at 12:04:04 on 29 October 2013
Salford Star I just love reading your articles on these...When the twitter war was happening on Friday evening it was purely embarrassing and cringe worthy with what the Mayor was tweeting, he should be feeling Highly highly ashamed..
TGWU wrote
at 12:03:54 on 29 October 2013
A bit confused at this, as an ex TGWU member in that building, >>As a former worker at the Transport and General Workers Union offices on Merchants Quay, I have a huge emotional attachment to the cranes as a reminder of the dock workers who built our city. I saw them every day from my office window and understand the attachment that people feel<< Where was his officer that he could see the Cranes?, Ian was an MP at Westminster not Salford Docks, did he ever have an office in the new building?
debbie wrote
at 12:03:32 on 29 October 2013
Tosser, that's all i can say!
Wenty wrote
at 12:02:34 on 29 October 2013
What a crocodile tears spewing waster Mayor Greedy truly is . Just 2990 days to go until we rid this shafted city of Mayor Rent-a-Gob .
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