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SCRUTINY IN SALFORD
 

Star date: 8th July 2010

SCRUTINY IN THE DARK

We do hope there wasn't anyone in Salford who was thinking of scrutinising Salford Council's record in regeneration at this afternoon's `Sustainable Regeneration Scrutiny' meeting…

Click here to find out why…


This afternoon, at 2pm precisely, the great democratic process of Salford City Council swung into top gear with its Sustainable Regeneration Scrutiny meeting. The forum was set to discuss Central Salford URC's much maligned Irwell River Park project, amongst other things. And everyone was invited to ask questions…

…Except that there are no relevant papers to be found anywhere on the web page… No `Report from last meeting'…No `Report on the Irwell River Park Project'No reports on anything. How can we ask questions on things we have absolutely no information about? Are we supposed to be psychic?

Still, it could be worse…anyone who wishes to look up info on the equally badly titled `Strategy and Regeneration Scrutiny Committee' will find absolutely nothing at all – not even an agenda or a web page

That's what we like – democracy at its best. In Salford.

Meanwhile, more and more of Salford Council's more juicy business is being discussed in committees under what it calls `Part 2', which means that the public and press is excluded, and no paperwork is shown at all.

Things like the discussions around the huge loan given to the Salford Reds Stadium, the finances of the Central Salford URC, Council financial dealings with the New Deal for Communities, extra payments to Council employees  – in fact, most things that have a financial element are taken away from any accountability and scrutiny… and all people get to see is a `decision notice' which has only the scantiest details on it – except to say that it's gone through and been approved. And by that time, it's too late.

Alan Westwood, Salford City Council's Strategic Director for Customer and Support Services, who is the officer responsible for how the council conducts its business, said: "It is an exception for the council to conduct its business in private but there are specific provisions within the Local Government Act which allow us to do that as some matters may be confidential.
 
"There are good reasons for these provisions and the law is there to protect the interests of the council and taxpayers, as well as those of third parties where necessary. On the occasions when it is justifiable for the council to discuss matters in private, we are still obliged by the Act to weigh up the public interest. Is the public interest better served by the matter being discussed privately or by it being discussed publicly?
 
"In the cases you are interested in, the decision was made because the nature of the business to be discussed would have included matters that were commercially confidential and the public interest was best served by that being discussed privately."
 
We would argue that they were `best served' by the public being kept in the dark. A £20million loan to Salford Reds Stadium - shouldn't we know about it, without having to rely on leaks? It is our money after all…

 

Cabinet Meeting

Date Tuesday 25 May 2010
Time 10.03am
Location THE SALFORD SUITE, SALFORD CIVIC CENTRE

B Part 2 Items not open to the Public
B1 Exclusion of The Public
B2 Community Stadium

 

Julie Templeton wrote
at 19:44:32 on 14 July 2010
I wish every town and city had it's own version of Salford Star (from Carlisle)
 
mary ferrer wrote
at 09:29:05 on 12 July 2010
The council make a decision,if others are not happy with the decision then you can call it in, give your reasons, Then you go to the call in and overturn the councils decision, then Mr Merry states the decision you have just made will have to go to the next full council and at that meeting they overturn your ojection. So you have just wasted hour and hours fighting and winning to have it passed anyway. Another loophole they come up with when you ask something they don't want you to know the answer to,is " IT IS COMMERCIALLY SENSITIVE" i.e loan to Salford Reds for £350.000 to keep them afloat, for one.
 
P.A.T wrote
at 22:57:53 on 11 July 2010
Bunch of NOBS.
 
Havin a laugh? wrote
at 15:37:44 on 10 July 2010
Sustainable Regeneration? Is he Havin a laugh?I wish that all the people involved in REGENERATION and SUSTAINABLE REGENERATION would have a look round the areas that THEY have REGENERATED (sic). Even the flagship chimney pot park scheme has ground to a halt without more government money being ploughed in. I,m sure REGENERATION is meant to be SELF SUSTAINING and not to rely on begging for more and more public money? The main industry in Salford now is asking for public money.
 
Councillor Iain Lindley wrote
at 20:54:19 on 09 July 2010
I'm no defender of the Council as you know, but you're barking up the wrong tree here. Nothing was discussed at the meeting that isn't on the agenda you posted above, and whilst maybe the website ought to be updated with the reports they were freely available at the meeting and if you're that desperate I'll e-mail them to you. The reason that the "Strategy & Regeneration Scrutiny Committee" comes up blank in a search is because it doesn't exist any more - Sustainable Regeneration is the successor to that old body with slightly different terms of reference. Now if you want to say that Scrutiny is a worthless waste of time that doesn't really change anything, then I'm all ears...
 
Censorship wrote
at 21:20:21 on 08 July 2010
So the council are policing themselves? Think about it and you work out why it would be in your interest not to know? It makes you wonder whether people are getting brown paper packages somewhere down the line doesn,t it if it always seems to be the financial side of things that THEY dont want US to know?
 
salford star wrote
at 16:11:33 on 08 July 2010
see Mat V comment below...Yes we do know lots about the URC Irwell River Project but not what was being discussed this afternoon. If you Googled all night you'd never know...
 
Matt V wrote
at 16:07:52 on 08 July 2010
Have you tried Googling for information? I found plenty by searching for "Salford URC Irwell River Project" and clicking on a few links. So, no, we're not meant to be psychic.
 
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