UNCLE JOE STALIN AWARD FOR OPEN AND DEMOCRATIC GOVERNMENT
SALFORD CITY COUNCIL
Ladies and gentlemen, there's so many instances of transparency failure at Salford Council, we could write a book, never mind hand out annual awards – for the last twelve years!
So what's happened this year? Well, it all began last January when a response to a Salford Star Freedom of Information request for details on a developer's viability assessment at the Brow Cow pub came back with ninety per cent of information completely blanked out.
Yep, after waiting ten weeks for a response (it's supposed to be twenty days) Salford City Council sent the full viability report – all 22 pages of it – with every single figure, from the percentage of developer profit to costs and payments, redacted under huge blocks of black ink, as the Council response pointed out, 'You will notice that substantial redactions have been made to the documents...' No way! (see here).
The very next month, in February, the Council responded to a Freedom of Information request on land sales, refusing to disclose any details. This time, however, inadvertently, internal logs were included in the response which showed the attitude to transparency...
Part of the Council's Information team were recommending that the information was released "If we get the information requested from the business area we will be transparent as this information is regarding public money" they stated "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)'..."
The other half of the team, the senior managers, wanted to withhold the information stating that the Star should pay the Land Registry for the information, even though it was in front of them. The response to the Salford Star from the Council's so-called 'Monitoring Officer', Miranda Carruthers-Watt, was to withhold the information (see here).
The Star subsequently got the Information Commissioner involved – and, lo and behold, the information was released immediately, five months after the original request was submitted (see here).
In March, meanwhile, the Salford Star revealed the Council's behind closed doors 'memorandum of understanding' between Salford Red Devils Foundation and developer Capital and Centric, which included a proposal to build houses in Buile Hill Park in return for restoring the Mansion - that didn't go down well with the community!
In the same article (see here), we also revealed the transparency bypass on the business case for Derive, the Council's housing company. It still hasn't been made public.
Also in March, City Mayor, Paul Dennett, was off to the MIPIM property orgy in the South of France, revealing plans for the redevelopment of the Crescent, before anyone from the community knew anything about them (see here). And who paid for this trip, costing £4,022 (and a further £5,750 on PR which the Star later revealed)?
No-one was saying, only that it was via "private sector contributions", not even with yet another Freedom of Information request slapped in. It would, of course, "prejudice the Council's commercial interests" stated the Council (see here and see here).
After yet another internal inquiry, and another virtual jaunt to the Information Commissioner's office, the info was finally revealed, six months after the initial request...14 companies, almost all with vested interests in the city's development, had coughed up (see here)...
This is just a taste of how Salford Council – 'A transparent effective organisation' – does its business. And we haven't even mentioned the secret Trident cladding report – which isn't a 'report'. That deserves its own separate honour.
Meanwhile, the Salford Star sent the overworked Information Commissioner a Christmas card, it was the least we could do...
So, ladies and gentlemen, wear your mushroom caps with pride, hush your ears, cover your eyes and coo 'Thank the Lord for transparency', opaquely, as you give it up for the umpteenth winner of the Salford Star Mary Burns Uncle Joe Stalin Award for Open and Democratic Government...
Salford City Council!!!
If someone from Salford Council would like to make an acceptance speech please use the comments box below...
See Other Winners of the 2018 Salford Star Mary Burns Awards...
The Donald Trump Award For Media Dissing - Charlie Winstanley - click here
Disappearing Salford Award – Urban Splash/Alliance Investments – click here
Feed The Rich Award - Fred Done - click here
Universal Catastrophe Award – Conservative Government – click here
Real Digital Council of the Year - Salford City Council - click here
International Award – Manchester City Council - click here
Cuadrilla Award for Attempted Protest Stifling - Bellway Homes - click here
Grenfell Tower Memorial Award - Salford City Council, Pendleton Together and the Conservative Government - click here
Radio Ga Ga Nursery Award - Salford City Council - click here
Art Appreciation Award - Salford City Council - click here