Earlier this week Salford City Mayor, Ian Stewart, sent out an SOS to Council staff and the public, urging them to `Suggest Our Savings' - with ballot boxes normally used for elections set up in the Civic Centre, Turnpike House and Unity House for people to post "sensible suggestions" as the Council struggles to implement a further £25million cuts.
"The level of cuts mean we are being forced to close or reduce services we would otherwise very much want to keep and protect" the Mayor stated on his website.
Meanwhile, yesterday, the result of the controversial Meadows Bridge beauty contest – which cost £30,000 to run – was announced, the winner being Tonkin Liu with Arup. According to the original spec for the bridge competition, the final structure will have a budget of `up to £1.9million' (see previous Salford Star articles – click here and click here).
On announcing the Meadows Bridge winner, the Mayor hailed the "iconic" design and added that "We will now be working with our partners to find the funding to create this stunning new bridge in the heart of Salford that will add to the city's global reputation."
Global design company Arup, co-winner of the competition, didn't even bother to announce its triumph on its website or Twitter feeds, preferring to big up work for a new bridge across the St Lawrence River in Montreal, and its input into a new electric bus route in Milton Keynes.
However, Renato Benedetti, from Riba – which trousered the £30,000 running costs for the bridge design contest - luvvied it up, sighing "their unique bridge is poetic, innovative and elegantly engineered with sinuous curves seamlessly linking the Meadows with the new public space to be created. Its sculptural qualities ensure it will be a joy to look at and to use, becoming an inspirational new urban marker for Salford."
Under Salford Mayor, Ian Stewart, Salford is becoming full of `urban markers', like the £13million Greengate Fountain (see here), the £3.1million water taxi pontoons, walkways and cycle routes around the University and Media City (see here) and, of course, the £150,000 mobile phone app that is set to replace Salford's original `urban marker' – the Salford Quays Cargo Cranes that were cruelly demolished last year (see here).
Meanwhile, bridge experts attacked Salford Council's Meadows Bridge competition at its launch, with top bridge designer, Cezary Bednarski, arguing "There is no commitment to build anything, nor to employ the winner."
…And top bridge blog site, The Happy Pontist, equally critical…"Salford say they are looking for an `iconic' structure, but it's far from clear whether they have the appetite for an `iconic' cost." (see here)
Should Ian Stewart find Salford Council money for the `iconic cost' of the bridge, while making massive cuts to services for the most vulnerable people in the city, he might have a lot of iconically angry people to answer to…