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DISGRACEFUL SALFORD CITY COUNCIL TAKES FIVE MONTHS TO RELEASE INFORMATION
 

Star date: 29th March 2018

WHERE IS THE ACCOUNTABILITY WITH THIS APPALLING MAYOR AND COUNCIL?

The Salford Star has finally received financial figures requested almost five months ago under the Freedom of Information Act, after the Information Commissioner became involved.

Internal logs from the Council show that the information was readily available after the original request but officers deliberately blocked access. Who is holding this appalling Council, run by the so-called 'transparency' Mayor, Paul Dennett, to account? The City Council Monitoring Officer? No chance!

Full details here...


Salford Council 'transparency' banner
click image to enlarge

Back in February, the Salford Star ran an article which is worth re-printing below with the update being that the Information Commissioner became involved and, this morning, the information was finally released after almost five months...


When Salford City Mayor, Paul Dennett, was elected nearly two years ago he promised "a fresh approach to governance"...

"It was quite clear during the election process that transparency and accountability, or at least the public perception of those sorts of issues, is very much important amongst our electorate" he said "...So it's incumbent on us all...to tackle some of those issues around transparency, accountability and engaging the public in how we do our business."

Further details of how Salford Council 'does its business' regarding transparency can be revealed after a log of a Salford Star Freedom of Information request was emailed, probably inadvertently, to us.

Back in November 2017, the Star editor, Stephen Kingston, requested details of all land sold by the Council over the last three years, together with prices and postcodes for the land. The Council responded in December with a list of the land and a few postcodes but no prices.

The Council stated that the prices were 'publicly' available on the Land Registry – but the cost would be £3 per site, for 39 sites. The Star does not have that sort of money.

The Salford Star editor complained and asked for an internal review, which subsequently upheld the original Council decision not to release the information. However, together with the response from Salford Council Solicitor and Monitoring Officer, Miranda Carruthers-Watt, an internal log was included which gives a window into how Freedom of Information requests are dealt with.

The log traces all the correspondence connected with the request, including an internal email from Salford Council/Urban Vision's Peter Openshaw from 5th December... "It's publicly available so we don't have to supply. The fact he has to pay is irrelevant. No issue with adding postcodes where we have them"…

...And further ones on 7th December "Let's wrap that up in an answer to him. He will need to do some journalism research... We hold the sales prices but as they are publicly available he can get them from the LR [Land Registry]."

The log then sets out 'Two scenarios'...

1. Withhold our original response to customer to look for the information via land register; Mr Kingston will have to pay for each search. Environmental Information Regulation 6(1)(b) information is already publicly  available and easily accessible. Environmental Information Regulation 8

2. Request that the business area supplies the information (land sold by the council) and keeps this updated for future requests. I have found other councils that have provided this information and some that have refused it.

Below this, is a plea from the Council's own Freedom of Information team...

"If we get the information requested from the business area we will be transparent as this information is regarding public money" it states "After discussions with the rest of the FOI team we are concerned that if we do not supply the information to the customer the council is not appearing helpful or transparent which is one of the council's 'great eight'...'We will take action to create a more transparent, effective and efficient organisation (no.7)'..."

In the response to the Salford Star from Miranda Carruthers-Watt, this advice was binned and the Council upheld its original decision to withhold the information. So much for Dennett's insistence that he would be tackling "some of those issues around transparency, accountability and engaging the public in how we do our business."

There's another statement too from the Council's FOI team... "If we withhold our original decision Mr Kingston with probably complain to the ICO [Information Commissioner's Office]..."

...And that is exactly what the Salford Star did. As soon as the Information Commissioner's office became involved, the information was almost instantly released.

Questions now have to be asked about the role of highly paid Salford Council officers acting 'politically', playing with the Freedom of Information Act just to 'get one over' on the Salford Star. All this on public money time, plus the time of the hard pressed Information Commissioner's office.

Who is going to hold this Council to account? The so-called Monitoring Officer, who is there to ensure propriety? No chance. It was the Monitoring Officer who responded, effectively blocking the original FOI request.

Meanwhile, Salford Council's banner flies over the entrance to the Civic Centre proclaiming 'A transparent, effective organisation'...


The Salford Star will be shortly revealing the land sale figures finally obtained under the Freedom of Information Act...and it's no wonder the Council tried to obstruct their release...


* See also previous Salford Star article: Salford Council banner declares 'Transparency', despite everything kept secret - click here


The insane have taken over the asylum wrote
at 12:22:06 on 05 April 2018
Salford star, how about doing an interview with Howard Balkind, let’s see what really go’s on behind the closed doors of swine town town hall, let’s open this cesspit to public scrutiny. Howard Balkind, how about getting in touch with other former councillors who’ve been screwed and start a new party to represent true salfordians, the voters are there, you just need to connect with us and work in “our” interests and not in the interests of big business. We’re crying out for a new party in Salford, labour has abandoned the true salfordians, labour in Salford are there for the taking, you just have expose its curuption to the wider public.
 
Salford Star wrote
at 14:51:49 on 03 April 2018
See comments by Phil, Felse, etc.. We've got an idea - why don't you all join Facebook where you can bitch about each other all day in your own echo chamber rather than using the Salford Star comments box? Any more personal comments or garbage for that matter will not be posted.
 
Slurp wrote
at 14:51:45 on 03 April 2018
Phil - you'll find Salford has districts that are very similar to Monsall and Miles Platting . Not so much Cheetham Hill yet. But the Council's working on that one. They'll be bringing diversity to all the lucky lucky residents of Salford whether they like it or not.They say you get the politicians you deserve and i can only think some of Salford's residents have been truly dreadful for us to get this shower in charge.
 
Phil wrote
at 14:48:55 on 03 April 2018
Felsey, you really are deplorable. Please, stop scraping the bottom of the barrel in your wretched quest to do some damage to Salford Labour. You are a divisive man, Felse, and one who lives, breathes and thrives on division. This is why no party will have you. You overstay your welcome very quickly. Nothing constructive ever comes from you. And you jump on every bandwagon. I'm truly rejoicing at the knowledge that Salford Labour are going to win the locals by a landslide, and you and the other bitter ones, O'Neill and Ferret will be crying, probably go the sound of Roy Orbison singing It's Over. 😀😁😂😊
 
Felsey wrote
at 13:10:21 on 03 April 2018
I thank Councillor Balkin for his update. Let’s face it Salford has zero chance of having anything but a Labour Party controlled council for the foreseeable future. I would like to think changes are improving within for the good of Salford. Sadly a continued national press on anti-semitism will cloud the 2018 election. I do urge Salford Labour Party to make an urgent honest statement. Just how much truth is there in the national press about hate and abuse? Is any such horror happening in Salford. I want to live in a safe inclusive society and our Council must take responsibility. With only 5 weeks to the local election I stand with the 90% not voting Labour. Fact is Labour are losing members and I think is regretting deselection of good communicators.
 
Retired Socailst wrote
at 11:06:11 on 03 April 2018
Strange reading Cllr Balkinds comments, today he offers a damning resume of Labour in Salford willing to take the money but lacking any real spine unable to rock the boat. Surely it makes you think why get into politics at any level if that is your make up? Have we today heard from the horses mouth what life is like in this Dennett led pit. Surely this city needs some thing less arse licker and more idealistic.
 
Howard Balkind wrote
at 18:27:17 on 02 April 2018
I may be finishing as a Salford Councillor in May but for along time I have always felt that information has been withheld. As so often reports to scrutiny committees just do not seem to add up. Please remember that out of sixty councillors over fifty are labour and are scared to rock the boat. I often did and ended up being deselected behind closed doors
 
wrote
at 18:27:11 on 02 April 2018
But Phil didn't, as asked, disclose his political affiliation. We know he thinks the sun shines out of the Mayor's fundament, but he never told if he was a member of any party. I think that is what David Wright wanted to know.
 
Phil wrote
at 10:03:55 on 01 April 2018
David Wright, You want to know my background and political affiliations, and also my name (I say this because like Joe O'Neil you seem obsessed by somebody using just a christian name) and all this because I have the temerity to think that Salford City Labour Council, and especially Mayor Dennett are doing a good job ... How very Stasi of you. And I say Stasi as in the East German Secret Police. What next, in the interests of being a nosey bastard, will you want my inside leg measurements? Well okay, to satisfy your Stasi-esque curiosity, my name is Phillip Rossi, I'm unemployed and I live in a tower block on the Broadwalk. Psssssst. If the Earth is the third rock from the Sun, then my current abode is the fourth block from McDonalds. Or maybe it's the fifth one, I'm not quite sure.
 
The insane have taken over the asylum wrote
at 09:59:19 on 01 April 2018
@phil. Calling someone else Stasi after defending this labour controlled council ”who are Stasi”, which denies the Salford star freedom of information requests, information which is in the interest of the public, information that this Labour Council withholds because it tells of the criminality which this labour council is enacting on the people of Salford for the benefit of there multi millionaire/billionaire friends.
 
Phil wrote
at 14:38:43 on 30 March 2018
David Wright, You want to know my background and political affiliations, and also my name (I say this because like Joe O'Neil you seem obsessed by somebody using just a christian name) and all this because I have the temerity to think that Salford City Labour Council, and especially Mayor Dennett are doing a good job ... How very Stasi of you. And I say Stasi as in the East German Secret Police. What next, in the interests of being a nosey bastard, will you want my inside leg measurements? Well okay, to satisfy your Stasi-esque curiosity, my name is Phillip Rossi, I'm unemployed and I live in a tower block on the Broadwalk. Psssssst. If the Earth is the third rock from the Sun, then my current abode is the fourth block from McDonalds. Or maybe it's the fifth one, I'm not quite sure.
 
David Wright wrote
at 13:27:13 on 30 March 2018
fao: ‘Phil’ I am a ordinary resident of Salford. I have lived here all my live, firstly when Swinton and Pendlebury was part of Lancashire, and now in Salford. I have no connection with Salford Council and have never worked for them. I don’t know anyone who is connected, nor do I know anyone at the Salford Star nor any of the other contributors [where named]. I am a member of the Labour Party. My name on here is my real one. Now will you, Phil, describe your background and political affiliations, for the tone of your regular comments suggests a connection with the council or its officers, councillors or the mayor. If you keep hiding virtually anonymously behind a single name your contributions will have to be read with more than a pinch of sceptical salt.
 
crazy rabbit wrote
at 13:27:02 on 30 March 2018
Someone, please remove Phils Rose tint glasses. Salford council is an evil, Cri**nal, and etc ect
 
Bob the regular wrote
at 13:26:05 on 30 March 2018
First thing Phil,where do Salford people live after the council knocked down all the cheap affordable housing, both council and for private ownership? I think the aim of the rulers of Salford is to turn it into somewhere upmarket, inner city place where the "better class" of labour voter can live inner city style at great expense. You know the type I am talking about. Social workers, housing providers, university teachers,ordinary teachers, "health service professionals",women with dangly earings, who work in hr or the media. People who believe strongly in comprehensive education ,but scramble to get in the best schools catchment area and use their wealth to do so. An example of such an area would be withington or chorlton, where a two bed terraced house in a not so good area can cost £350 000, far more than supposedly richer areas like Sale and Worsley that have predominantly Tory voters. These are the sort of people who will vote for Dennett and his gang, while blaming the tories for their expensive cost of living. As for the ordinary people, well, as far as labour are concerned, they may vote labour, but many hold veiws that are not to the liking of labour ideoligy . They can go to hell. Remember the bolton woman and Gordon brown? I heard she got 100 grand for that. I could do with that sort of cash myself.
 
Felsey wrote
at 13:25:31 on 30 March 2018
Well done Salford Star. I feel confident Paul is going to modernise Salford Council after his two year induction. Big job very few could do. I was prepared to trust Paul in saving the Nurseries. I see he met my previous demand about passing Buile Hill Mansion over to local community groups and the Reds is a worthy group. There can be possible £millions in grant cash coming from this one move alone. Salford Star article reads to be opening up information into the public domain. I see the opportunity is coming along to build more trust.
 
Phil wrote
at 03:03:08 on 30 March 2018
All these people slagging off Salford City Council. You don't know how lucky you are to be living in Salford. The Council do a great job, with limited resources. Salford is an attractive place to live. It's got a rough and ready charm. If you don't believe me, then compare it with arsepits like Monsall, Miles Platting and Cheetham Hill. A while ago I went down Oldham Rd to get to Monsall. What a dreary soul destroying drosspit that was. It was like travelling across a lunar landscape. The place was devoid of trees. Just grimey urban decay and the occasional crappy looking tower block standing up like some depressed monolith. It didn't help that it was a grey miserable day, but then it suddenly hit me; that even in the middle of Summer such a place would be a dump. TRUST ME, there are no places like that in Salford. Why, you may be asking? Because of Salford City Labour Council, that's why...
 
CBP wrote
at 19:10:51 on 29 March 2018
Is Salford Council a parody or is it a real thing? It's just that a commissioning editor (comedy) at the BBC would like to know,, think it might make for a good subject material for a series., although I understand script writer specialising in horror movies is also very interested.
 
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