The Salford Star has submitted an application for funding to three of Salford's Community Committees. Every year, Salford Council passes a portion of the council tax to these Committees - what's known as `devolved budgets' – and the community decides how best to spend the money locally. Any community group can apply.
Salford Star is not asking Salford City Council to fund its publication, it is asking the community – which is fair enough, given that the Star is a community centred magazine.
Before the Salford Star's first ever issue, East Salford Community Committee provided a grant of around £1500 towards print costs but when we went back for funding a few years later – ie after the magazine had hit the streets – it was a different story.
Salford Council re-wrote its rules for community spending on `publications', back dated them and decided Salford Star didn't meet the new `criteria'. The application was ripped up before the community actually got to see it, in what has become a widely publicised story.
Recently the Salford Star exclusively revealed that Salford Council is spending £28,000 per issue in its own Life magazine. The Salford Star application to Community Committees is for £3500, around an eighth of what Salford Council is spending.
The money we've applied for is to cover half of the print costs for a new issue of the Salford Star, the rest will be made up by donations, advertising and sales of merchandise. Everybody works voluntary on the Salford Star, so there are no staff costs.
Last year the Budget Sub Group of East Salford Community Committee formally voted that they wanted to be able to see any future Salford Star applications, so this time we are hopeful that Salford Council won't intercept the application.
EXTRACT FROM SALFORD STAR'S APPLICATION…
The only agenda that the Salford Star has is a community agenda, allowing people a critical voice. This is something that Salford Council's own magazine, LIFE, backed by £28,000 of local council taxpayer's money per issue, does not allow.
The Salford Star's case for public funding has been included as evidence by the House of Commons Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee on the Future of Local Media and is due to report in March 2010.
We would argue that the Salford Star, as a print publication, is vital for the city. The Salford Advertiser is no longer delivered free to homes in huge sections of the M4, M5, M7 postcodes, while M3 never got it.
This has profound implications for democracy as the only free printed magazine the majority of people in Central Salford now get is Salford Council's own LIFE magazine.
We would further argue that if public money is going to be devolved from Salford City Council to Community Committees, those Community Committees and their Budget Sub Groups should be allowed to see the Salford Star's application for funding.
We believe that Community Committees should be trusted to make up their own minds about an application's merit, rather than Salford City Council censoring applications which it might find uncomfortable.
* Salford Star has applied to three of Salford's Community Committees – East Salford (£2500), Ordsall and Langworthy (£500) and Claremont and Weaste (£500). The first Budget Sub Group in East Salford is due to meet in early March.
** See Salford Star interview with Salford Council Leader John Merry re Life here
*** Read The Salford Star - An Economic Execution here...