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£42MILLION SALFORD PLANNING SCANDAL MUSHROOMS AS MAYOR ASKS WHAT IS GOING ON
 

Star date: 12th July 2016

POVERTY RIFE IN SALFORD AS DEVELOPERS EVADE OVER £42MILLION

"What is happening here?" Salford City Mayor

At the Salford Poverty Truth Commission last week, Salford City Mayor, Paul Dennett, contrasted "Global financial investors coming into our city" with the fact that "poverty and deprivation isn't shifting". He then asked "So what is happening here?"

What is happening is that, based on official Salford City Council figures, developers have evaded over £42million in planning fees and obligations over the last two years, while failing to provide over 1,000 affordable houses. As the city's schools are bursting, developers have contributed just £17,000 to funding extra places.

Full details here...


£42Million Salford Planning Scandal £42Million Salford Planning Scandal £42Million Salford Planning Scandal
£42Million Salford Planning Scandal £42Million Salford Planning Scandal £42Million Salford Planning Scandal
£42Million Salford Planning Scandal £42Million Salford Planning Scandal
click image to enlarge

At the Salford Poverty Truth Commission last week*, Salford City Mayor, Paul Dennett, was in the audience as people in the community told their stories of poverty, including poor housing and homelessness. As the city booms with development this was the other side of the story, with a collage at the back of the hall spelling it all out graphically...

...`Lack of community venues'... `selling of green space'...`social cleansing'... `not enough beds'...`poor living conditions'... `misuse of monies'...

In his speech, the City Mayor at least acknowledged the problem, probably the first time a prominent politician in the city has done so. While former Mayor, Ian Stewart, waffled on about `Chinese levels of growth', new Mayor, Paul Dennett, was more circumspect...

"We all see growth as some sort of panacea" he explained "What is interesting is local authorities talking about this idea of `inclusive growth' but what we really need to understand is what is going on here. What we're seeing in the city of Salford is that poverty and deprivation isn't shifting. However we are experiencing significant growth. So what is happening here?

"Global financial investors are coming into our city investing in building after building, which is great, fantastic, but there's a real challenge for me, as City Mayor" he added "It's up to us and our respective organisations to design a system that actually tackles poverty and also provides people with real opportunities through growth."

The confession that massive bricks and mortar development of unaffordable properties isn't reducing poverty and deprivation is timely, and something that the Salford Star has been screaming about for a decade.

Firstly, bulldozing people's homes in Langworthy, Seedley, Broughton and Charlestown as part of the failed Pathfinder and NDC projects did nothing but break up communities, produce unaffordable housing and provide no jobs, as developers, consultants and demolition companies cashed in.

This current second wave of uber development around the Salford side of the Manchester border has similarly provided no gains for Salford's poorest communities – and in the process has given the city away to the rich as a cheap Monopoly board.

In print issue 10 of the Salford Star magazine, it was documented in ridiculous detail how developers had evaded and avoided £19,275,553 in planning payments and obligations to the city, which also lost 830 affordable houses in the process (click here for electronic version). That figure, based on Salford Council reports and figures, was the total up to March 2015.

Developers got out of the payments by producing `viability' reports showing that if they had to pay up, their schemes wouldn't be economically viable to build. But these `viability' reports, the Salford Star showed, included developers' profits in the costs that they were allowed to deduct – up to £24million. The viability reports are completely secret and no-one from the community or press can see them.

Salford Council also helped developers by declaring certain areas `low' or `mid value' where no fees at all had to be paid. This new policy was brought in last summer without any publicised consultation with the community, only `stakeholders' (see here)

Since March 2015 and up until June 2016**, using the same estimations, developers have avoided and evaded a further £23,273,225 in planning fees and obligations, making a staggering total of £42,548,778 lost to the city over just two years...

...And this doesn't include payments from the whole of the development of Chapel Street and New Bailey, which are kept completely secret by the Council and English Cities Fund (ECf) (see here). The Salford Star is currently challenging this secrecy via the Information Commissioner.

The Council would argue that it has `clawback' arrangements in place for the rest of Salford, so that, should developers make bigger profits than originally declared, they will pay something back to the city – but there's no sign of that as yet, despite many developers declaring that the first phases of their schemes have already sold out.

Meanwhile, despite the Council bringing in a `kiddie bedroom tax' for developers, who were supposed to pay for extra school places if they built family housing, it was revealed in February that just £17,000 had been collected for this purpose (see here).

£42million, while it can only be used on `capital' projects and not frontline services, still buys a lot of school expansion, community resource centres, homeless shelters, recreation grounds and more. The very things that help alleviate poverty and deprivation. Instead, a lot of so-called section 106 money that's been collected is usually earmarked for posh riverside walkways and bridges.

The Salford Mayor asked `What is going on here?'. A clue was given by Salford's own Planning Lead Member, Councillor Derek Antrobus, in a recent short film about regeneration...

"The Quays started to change the image of Salford so people were no longer concerned about investing in the city" he explained, before adding "I hope that the image of the city will be much better" and "We've got Media City which has been of immense value in changing the image of Salford from Dirty Old Town to something more about the future..." (see here)

While Antrobus revealed an image-obsessed Salford Council, people in the film talked about loss of community and heritage. Community activist and youth worker, Graham Cooper, summed up the attitude towards regeneration... "It's about bricks and mortar and not about the people who live in these areas" he said.

It's a bit of poverty truth that the Salford Mayor could well take on board. Meanwhile, developers are laughing all the way to the bank – with over £42million in their back pockets...


See also previous related Salford Star articles...

*Report on the Salford Poverty Truth Commission – click here

Salford Deprivation Revealed in AGMA report - click here

New Salford Deprivation Figures Show Regeneration Failure - click here

Salford Housing Report Shows Working Class Being Priced Out of Regeneration Area - click here

Salford Developers Avoid £6million at Just One Planning Meeting - click here

** Developers avoiding payments have been documented constantly by the Salford Star - click on the archive page for a month by month report



RayofSunshine wrote
at 18:08:26 on 18 July 2016
Michael, you're living in the wrong time zone; your métier is America in the late forties. The fact that you have to resort to smears against Labour demonstrates how clueless and desperate you really are! Workers of the world unite!
 
RayofSunshine wrote
at 18:08:21 on 18 July 2016
Putting aside for the moment the Prime ideological imperative of bashing "The Class Enemy " ; UKIP in general and Mr. Felse in particular, this article raises important issues for Salford! Could it be that Salford lacks companies of significant size and expertise to benefit from the current "building boom"? Secondly, is thus boom necessarily a good thing in the long term for the Salford Economy -- over reliance on property and the proliferation of empty dwellings owned primarily by foreign investors? I feel that any "profit" derived from these developments should be placed in a "Salford Sovereign Wealth Fund", whose beneficiaries should be the citizens of Salford.
 
Michael James Felse wrote
at 11:56:15 on 18 July 2016
Thank you "Salford Sensor" and it's good to see our SunnyRay getting to terms with reality. Labour now moves to a month of extreme militant tendency take over. I saw it 35 years ago when Labour tried to ditch moderate MPs such as Harold Walker for whom I worked. They failed to replace him with a left wing Union's candidate but I now see Communists getting their evil way. Salford is caught up in this mess; disastrous on local housing, causing bad planning and lacking local grass root thinking. If Salford wants better it will need to step behind the stop Communism battle. Labour has become a Tragedy.
 
RayofSunshine wrote
at 09:18:23 on 18 July 2016
Putting aside for the moment the Prime ideological imperative of bashing "The Class Enemy " ; UKIP in general and Mr. Felse in particular, this article raises important issues for Salford! Could it be that Salford lacks companies of significant size and expertise to benefit from the current "building boom"? Secondly, is thus boom necessarily a good thing in the long term for the Salford Economy -- over reliance on property and the proliferation of empty dwellings owned primarily by foreign investors? I feel that any "profit" derived from these developments should be placed in a "Salford Sovereign Wealth Fund", whose beneficiaries should be the citizens of Salford.
 
Salford Senser (NOT Censor!) wrote
at 20:26:07 on 14 July 2016
It seems to me that Salford Council thinks that demolishing (rather than refurbishing, where practicable) X number of homes, and building X + 10 unaffordable homes is a solution to the housing crisis in this area - "We're building loads of new homes!", the Council and the Labour cronies craw! Living in Langworthy for 16 years, I have seen 3 & 4 bedroomed terraces converted into 2 bedroom upside down houses, their former owners not, apparently, getting a fair price for their homes which were then sold on to other developers, and all of them in the chain making money. Areas wholesalely demolished rather than investing in the existing properties. The heart has been torn out of Langworthy (and other areas) by developers who seemingly have duped gullible and business-inexperienced councillors and officials by flattery. So what is wrong with a levy on developers? It would help recoup money that has exited ("Salexited") Salford - Good idea Mr Felse! Oh, Rayofsunshine - suggest you read the UKIP constitution and rules of procedure...they were an eye-opener to me!
 
Inside Out wrote
at 22:30:54 on 13 July 2016
What's not clear is whether the Star, or indeed anyone else, put the above points to the Mayor on the day or whether they just used the event to score a cheap point without engaging. It reads like the latter. If you don't ask the question then you're probably not going to get an answer.
 
George in Labour wrote
at 17:18:32 on 13 July 2016
Mr Felse is on the ball. Who is this guy and why did Labour expel him. He could have saved my party. Instead we are waiting for the undertakers to bury Labour. Can Felse get our money back. Look at me praising a ukipper. The world is full of surprises.
 
Alice wrote
at 14:36:32 on 13 July 2016
This is a message to new Mayor Paul Dennett. This is the time and the opportunity for you to prove you care about Salford. You don't want the reputation of the 'developers friend' or the Mayor who ignored the most vulnerable and the poor in Salford. If you are a genuine Labour believer you will start to be strong, be ethical and say, 'enough' to the invaders who are abusing Salford. They do not care about the people of Salford or its heritage; they are driven by greed and 'empathy with the poor' is nowhere on their agenda. Build your reputation Paul. Insist on the money owed by these developers being returned and you will get appreciation. Great reporting again Salford Star.,
 
RayofSunshine wrote
at 14:35:37 on 13 July 2016
Michael, I don't think your plans for a levy on developers will go well with your "UKIPPER mates". Given that the while raison d'etre is to pursue Thatcherism to the Nth degree, you're in danger of being regarded as "a bit of a commie!"
 
Michael James Felse wrote
at 09:12:42 on 13 July 2016
I agree with BroughtonPrh. Salford Council caused the loss to local people. We now see an extreme face of Labour nationally showing its ugly face. I want a new Greater Manchester Mayor bringing in a ten year reflective levy on developers profits. It means £285million more into our communities. Enough cash for flood defences, youths' live media stage, 3700 social housing builds and more, an end to London developers taking obscene profits. This is why a none Labour leader gives better value.
 
Broughton Pariah wrote
at 08:06:00 on 13 July 2016
If the council had paid a legally established "market value" for the properties it knocked down in Higher Broughton, then it would have cost them so much that a developer would not have been interested. As the majority of people received around £30,000 less than market value and there were over 420 properties that would come almost £14,000,000 with the 10% home loss payment. The underpayments to these people is basically the profit to the developers.
 
G.Brough wrote
at 21:53:33 on 12 July 2016
This is Salford Council (allegedly a socialist labour council) in effect being run by Urban Vison.The council is just a body to rubber stamp Urban visions "suggestions"which the council ask them to "consult" on.Check Urban vision website they operate all over the country. Urban vision does much work for Salford city council.How much have Salford council actually contracted out?. Once we find this information it is possible to track the money...consultancy fees, planning, Expences, gifts, etc etc. So who is running Salford? Socialist Labour? or Corporate enterprise? on behalf of Salford Council According to the article the elected officials just do the usual whaffle without actually saying anything. Are they in Denial?
 
Brian wrote
at 19:06:47 on 12 July 2016
well maybe he can get them to cough up, or get them to rear the buidings down unless they pay up, somebody is getting rich!!!!!!!
 
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