Star date: 22nd February 2010


The Salford Star funding row is still rumbling on as Salford Council was forced to explain its `discrimination' to the East Salford Community Committee recently.

Now we can reveal that Salford Council has funded all other `community media' in the city with well over £300,000 during the past few years. While, of course, stuffing hundreds of thousands of pounds into its own Life In Salford magazine.

Full story here…

People's Voice Media Life In Salford magazine Feb 2011
click image to enlarge

It certainly kicked off at a packed East Salford Community Committee meeting in late January, as Salford Council produced the results of its investigation after,"Some members of the Community Committee suggested that they felt that Salford Star had been singled out and discriminated against" (from previous meeting's minutes).

Way back in April 2010 Salford Star had its funding application for Community Committee funding ripped up by the Council, which argued that the magazine did not meet its criteria for funding publications. While the magazine wasn't seen to be libellous or racist, it failed because it was judged as `overtly political' and not `balanced' (see here).

The Salford Star appealed to the Council's Cabinet against the decision (see here) but it was upheld, with Councillor Peter Connor voting on condition "that we don't fund any magazines; not on this particular case". As the vote was taken Councillor Connor repeated "Would we fund any other magazine?" to which the response was "No".

Lo and behold, a few months later, Salford Onlinewhich is generally uncritical of the Council – was granted £10,000 from two Community Committees.

The Salford Star brought this to the attention of East Salford Community Committee, together with the assertion that Salford Council's stringent criteria for publications had obviously not been applied to Salford Online as it had featured uncritical interviews with the BNP and carried libellous comments.

A particular example was given from 6th June 2010 which stated "Mary Ferrer…you were defrauded on your vote by swindling Labour liars and cheats…" etc.

Unless the comment was true, it was Libellous with a capital `L'. And it's still up on the site (see here).

Salford Council was sent off to investigate and Sue Lightup - the Council's Strategic Director of Community, Health and Social Care, and wife of former Labour Councillor Roger Lightup – reported back to the Community Committee explaining that "having reviewed the process and reported back to the Chief Executive, I was able to say that the same process was applied to both publications."

Then it kicked off. Rabbi Simon Grant, chair of the Budget Sub Group which makes financial decisions on funding, disagreed, saying that while the group got no guidance on funding the Salford Online application, for the Salford Star "We were clearly told that if we funded this magazine we would be in breach of the law…the decision was taken out of our hands."

Pete Ball of the Budget Sub Group agreed… "The letter we received [from the Council] was not guidance, it was `You will obey us'…"

A member of the community stood up and said "This looks like you're saying it's a political publication and without balance if it successfully challenges or makes a fool of those who control the budget…I'm sorry but I think it stinks…"

For half an hour people from the community stood up to defend the Salford Star, with Sue Lightup insisting "I'm paid to be objective and it was my professional opinion…" and Council Leader John Merry explaining that he and his Cabinet merely "took the advice of the officers".

Salford Star editor, Stephen Kingston, remarked that "Everyone is this room seems to think it was a political decision not to let the community committee make its own mind up about whether to fund the Salford Star..."

And so the row rumbles on, with huge connotations for the future of what's known as `participatory budgeting' , or the community having a real say in where local taxpayers' money goes.

John Merry concluded: "We have a responsibility for how public money is spent…"

This `responsibility' for funding `community media' seems only to apply to organisations that are uncritical of Salford City Council.

People's Voice Media - a Manchester company with a base in the Salford Innovation Forum - has received £205,499 over the last three years from Salford Council, via the NDC, including over £10,000 (that we can trace) for newsletters in East Salford.

Does People's Voice give the community a real voice to challenge Council decisions or policy? Or hold the Council to account? We would ask people to judge for themselves by looking at People's Voice East Salford Direct website (see here), or reading Essence magazine (see here).

Meanwhile, Salford Online, with its £10,000 of funding, tends to cut and paste press releases and rarely, if ever, investigates Salford Council. It's a similar scenario at Salford City Radio - well backed by Salford Council with £60,000 funding this year alone plus premises at the back of the Civic Centre. Labour councillor, Jim King, is its chairman and driving force.

The Salford Star would argue that Salford Council is using funding as a means of controlling community media, while appearing to tick the right boxes. Such funding has hit well over £300,000 during the last few years.

The Council also has its own `non political' magazine, Life in Salford – which this month features on Page 3 photos of Labour Party Councillor John Merry and Labour MP Hazel Blears; on page 5 Labour Councillor Peter Connor; and on page 14 Labour Councillor Jim King. The escalating cost for Life is, we reckon, over £300,000 a year including Council adverts (see here and here).


* Salford Star's parent company, Mary Burns, did receive a payment from Salford Council in December after young people in Charlestown asked us to do a little magazine with them. The cheque was for £949, and after printing costs our workers got £280 between them, which included all sessions, layout, graphics, editing, expenses etc.



Fadge wrote
at 21:04:47 on 22 April 2011
What a typically pathetic excuse , cowering behind the inane , pointless gibberish spouted by tory windbag pickles .. Pathetic.
John Merry wrote
at 20:20:24 on 06 March 2011
I have already said s2 and the legal advice we received made it clear there would be a problem. In any case Mr Pickles has now issued a code that would make it difficult for the council to fund any publication making the whole debate academic
Nachtschlepper wrote
at 15:46:48 on 06 March 2011
I can't find any comment that staes what part of the Local Government Act would be contravened if the Council funded the Salford Star. Will you give us an example or not?
John Merry wrote
at 10:10:46 on 06 March 2011
Err read the comment below
Nachtschlepper wrote
at 05:39:36 on 06 March 2011
Mr Merry we are still waiting.
Nachtschlepper wrote
at 20:02:16 on 03 March 2011
Still no answer as to which part of the Local Government Act the Salford Star has contravened.
jim devine wrote
at 16:16:51 on 03 March 2011
Thanks Mike and I always respect your various points....
Mike Skeff wrote
at 14:51:23 on 03 March 2011
Jim Devine, I recognise you are only showing up horrendous hypocrisy and I'm with you all the way on that, but I simply state that I don't launch personal attacks. I do however, launch attacks on politicians, local and national, who are not truthful and practice double standards as is the case with most of Salford council. I agree that the Broomhead affair was disgraceful, but things like that don't come as a surprise any more.
Eddie wrote
at 11:23:51 on 03 March 2011
Re the comment below . Nepotism and cronyism have always been eagerly practiced at all levels of politics .Wallowing in the taxpayer- funded freebie trough is a way of life for many unemployable in the Real World of Work .
newbie2 wrote
at 04:56:40 on 03 March 2011
You reported back in March that Sue Lightfoot effectively blocked all applications for funding for the Salford Star. You have now indicated that she has been forced to reassess both the Salford Star / Salford Online applications. I wonder if she happened to mention to the Chief Executive that her husband currently works as a community reporter for Salford Online?
John Merry wrote
at 04:56:23 on 03 March 2011
I was not involved in the case you describe so cannot comment on the detail. I do know that the NWDA was abolished as part of the current governments attack on the north and that in the long term we will see the damage that has been caused.
jim devine wrote
at 22:12:05 on 02 March 2011
You are correct to clarify that John (and i agree you werent condoning racism but defending a colleague) but dont you feel that the 3 Salford police officers families and friends are also proclaiming they are not racist. Unfortunately the difference is they got sacked and Broomhead got a £1 million public funded pension pot from an organisation whose board you sit on. These are stone cold facts and I am sure in your quieter moments you would concede that it does appear to smack of the kind of double standards that makes peoples blood boil. Incidentally the designer Galliano's only defence now is the "I am not racist" proclamation backed up by people who have a vested interest in his continued friendship.
John Merry wrote
at 19:55:05 on 02 March 2011
I did not defend his behavour and action was taken. If you go back and reread what I said I simply said that in my opinion Steve Broomhead was not a racist.
Jim Devine wrote
at 07:03:09 on 02 March 2011
John, you know only too well you defended Broomheads racist behaviour (ON THIS SITE) while your own council supported the sacking of four GMP officers for a lesser offence. Why? You wont answer it but I will and its why I am sickened by people like yourself . You sat on Broomheads board and received £9,000 a year and then helped sanction his massive public funded early retirement without condemning his racist behaviour once. Mike Skeff, I am only showing up horrendous hypocrisy so please dont accuse me of launching personal attacks, please ask John did he defend the man who stereotyped 'pakis' or not.
Albert "FreeMan" wrote
at 09:38:03 on 01 March 2011
Black's Law Dictionary defines an Act thus: "A legislative rule of society, given the force of law by the CONSENT of the governed." My recent research on the net leads me to believe the following: The Government and Local Councils are simply Corporations, and their so-called "Laws" are simply contracts. Contracts CANNOT be forced upon anyone. It would appear from my research that there is equally no obligation under LAW to pay Council Tax. Therefore why not give the money saved to The Salford Star? This is a VERY complicated area (deliberately so as to confuse) so I suggest you do your own research before acting upon my opinion. I am not a lawyer and I do not give legal advice. Google "Freeman On The Land" and "Lawful rebellion".
Nachtschlepper wrote
at 09:37:27 on 01 March 2011
I know what the Act say I read it, I still don't get what part of it the Council would be in breach of by allowing funding for the Salford Star. When did the Salford Star support or oppose any individual or political party?
Brian F Kirkham wrote
at 07:03:26 on 01 March 2011
I think the use of this section of the Local Government Act stems back to the last general election, when the whole Hazel's second home thing was major headlines..once again, Salford Star covered this story when a candidate was being chosen, stepping back when the candidate and his party were canvassing for the seat. I don't remember the star endorsing or supporting any candidate myself, but hey - thats the excuse thats been peddled by council officers and due to that, their use of section 2 comes into play! (and yes Mr Merry, before you ask, as one who studied business law for his technology HND - I have read and Understood the act you referred to!) Perhaps a column for the officers may appease them?! (Steven, don't get upset...Im Kidding!!!) Would there be a time in the not too distant future where the councillors see sense and allow this award winning publication to go back into print? Over to you SCC!!
Salford Star wrote
at 21:27:42 on 28 February 2011
See comment below... So by supporting the Save Hope Maternity campaign in Life a few years ago (a very worthy cause we might add), Salford Council was actually in breach of the Local Govt Act - as we pointed out in our appeal. Therefore Life shouldn't be funded - and Salford Council prosecuted?
at 21:22:51 on 28 February 2011
This is what Section 2 Local Government Act 1986 says... 2 Prohibition of political publicity. (1)A local authority shall not publish any material which, in whole or in part, appears to be designed to affect public support for a political party. (2)In determining whether material falls within the prohibition regard shall be had to the content and style of the material, the time and other circumstances of publication and the likely effect on those to whom it is directed and, in particular, to the following matters— (a)whether the material refers to a political party or to persons identified with a political party or promotes or opposes a point of view on a question of political controversy which is identifiable as the view of one political party and not of another; (b)where the material is part of a campaign, the effect which the campaign appears to be designed to achieve. (3)A local authority shall not give financial or other assistance to a person for the publication of material which the authority are prohibited by this section from publishing themselves.
Nachtschlepper wrote
at 21:21:58 on 28 February 2011
I'm sorry buut to use that as an excuse scrapes the bottom of the barrle. Give an example of when the Salford Star has published any material that appears to be designed to affect support for a political party.
John Merry wrote
at 18:56:53 on 28 February 2011
Section 2 Local Government Act 1986
Nachtschlepper wrote
at 06:38:07 on 28 February 2011
Still no answer as to which law would be broken or why the Council would be atken to court if the should fund the Salford Star. Though I never really expected one.
Mike Skeff wrote
at 21:43:13 on 27 February 2011
Mr Merry, I have no doubt that you are not racist and I'm sure you had difficult times in your personal life through remarks made to and about your wife, something I and I'm sure most Salford Star readers would condemn. However, that is a seperate issue from the council's refusal to allow community money to be allocated in a fair and unbiased way, but I wanted to make the point that I do not engage in personal insults and I know the Salford Star does not condone them, in fact quite the contrary. The problem Mr Merry is that people sometimes become so frustrated and angry when their council goes against their (the people's) wishes and needs for purely political reasons. Your own publications are as biased towards the council as it is possible to be, it is pure propaganda, lacking any investigative journalism or interest. We, the people, have the right to our own free press and we have the right to a share of OUR money to print the Salford Star. Say what you will Mr Merry, your refusal to allow funding to this magazine most definitely IS censorship and to suggest that some law would be broken is totally absurd and untrue. Therefore I urge you to stop trying to 'choke' the Salford Star by blocking justified funding, this only prolongs the battle and causes increased resentment towards you and the council. Rest assured Mr Merry this fight will not go away. You know in your heart that you, as a council, are wrong on this issue and you should be brave and honest enough to stand up to justified criticism and scrutiny. The Salford Star magazine is not your enemy it is the voice of Salford and it's reputation is continually being enhanced, partly because of the council's attitude towards it.
Red Dave wrote
at 21:43:06 on 27 February 2011
The Star is NOT,and never has been, a political magazine .The Star reports FACTS, and is a much more valuable resource than the council's own propaganda magazine .Funding should be reinstated immediately for the Star , and withdrawn for Life in Salford - which is overtly pro- council and therefore political .Criticism is essential in a true democracy .The People have a right to know how OUR money is spent , squandered, or wasted .The People have a right to know the TRUTH .
John Merry wrote
at 12:50:11 on 27 February 2011
Jim how dare you imply that I condone racism. Are you not aware that I was married to a Muslim and I would guess I have a spent a little more time experiencing racism than you. We did not rewrite our constitution to exclude Salford Star but you keep on as though I have discretion on these issues. Once I had the legal advice that the Star fell foul of the Local Government Act in respect of being a political magazine I have no choice
Red Dave wrote
at 09:26:18 on 27 February 2011
Can Merry explain why the council re-wrote its constitution to deny the Star funding , whilst stuffing obscene amounts of OUR money into the brainwashing Jolly Salford Rag ?Criticism is a healthy aspect of a true democracy , and the People have a right to know how and where THEIR money is spent . Or squandered and wasted .
John Merry wrote
at 08:50:24 on 27 February 2011
No her opinion was not wrong
jim devine wrote
at 08:50:18 on 27 February 2011
Actually John, while your attacking me about who the Star should interview, where would you draw the line, Hitler, Stalin, Gadaffi, Blair, Campbell,Mandelson, Balls,Enoch Powell, Nick Griffin, Stephen Kingston. Where is your line ? Its obviously not about your crony friend who sends texts about 'dying pakis' or how many skid marks on a gay mans helmet, where would you draw the line before you slag me off at drawing the line at you !!!!!!
at 08:49:42 on 27 February 2011
I must confess, I love the Salford Star and its contributors but I feel if I logged on in three years time the same old people would be slagging off the same old council. This man Merry knows that oh so well. What put me off him as an individual was when he defended his fellow boardmember Steven Broomhead for sending a racist text ABOUT 'DYING PAKIS' when his own council stated that racist language would never be tolerated. After reading that, Merry has no credibility and just like Prescott, Smith, Mandelson, Bliar, Bliars no self respecting journal should give them the oxygen of publicity. That is just my view and maybe the Star hasnt yet reached my twisted and cynical position yet, but hopefully one day it will.
Jamesadenough wrote
at 12:04:19 on 26 February 2011
So Sue LightOUT professional opinion was wrong! Yet another highly paid officer of the council who escapes censure!
The Truth wrote
at 10:02:32 on 26 February 2011
So Mr Merry are you going to answer the question? What law would the council be breaking if it provided funding for the Salford star rather than refusing its application. If the star was a "look what a wonderful job the council is doing" publication (like the ones the council does fund), I bet you/the council would approve funding then.
Red Dave wrote
at 10:02:15 on 26 February 2011
On what grounds did the council refuse funding for the Star? Because the Star criticised and explained the bullshit of local and national politics , and educated the People to the corruption, greed , dishonesty , and self-serving interests of many in power.The Rulers fear an educated workforce.A council that truly represents the People would reinstate the Star's funding immediately - unless they have things to hide .
John Merry wrote
at 07:31:24 on 26 February 2011
My previous post was posted before being completed . What it should have said is that it was not a case of the Council withdrawing funding but rather refusing it.
Nachtschlepper wrote
at 06:27:47 on 26 February 2011
I really do not recall saying that anybodys opinion was unwelcome Mr Merry. All I asked was what law the Council would be breaking if they funded the Salford Star & why the Council would end up in court. Questions which you continue to refuse to answer.
jim devine wrote
at 06:27:38 on 26 February 2011
A couple of interesting quotes from Mr Merry in relation to the Star's rejected application: JM: Let's just deal with the issues. If this is legally the Council's money and we have a duty to protect it, we cannot simply allow community committees to spend it on the basis of no criteria. They really do believe its their money!!!! CONCLUSION Concluding the appeal John Merry said "I find myself in some difficulty, not whether or not I like the Salford Star and the issue is not whether we want it to exist or not. The fact remains that there are loads of publications which are perfectly entitled to attack councils, but they wouldn't seek funding from the organisations they are attacking…" Kinda says it all to me......
John Merry wrote
at 06:26:43 on 26 February 2011
We never withdrew funding the star applied and was turned down
The Truth Hurts wrote
at 21:19:30 on 25 February 2011
Re Merry's comment :'A failure to give you money is not censorship '.The council gang withdrew funding for the Salford Star solely because of justified criticism of the way OUR MONEY IS SQUANDERED , and has been for many years.The Jolly Salford Rag is a fine example of this ,with its pro-council bias .This is clearly censorship.The Salford Rag should be scrapped , and funding given to the Star. After all , it is OUR MONEY , not the councils .
Salford Star wrote
at 18:34:56 on 25 February 2011
See John Merry's comments below... You should see the comments that we block! For the Salford Star, nothing is personal against any politician or council officer or anyone. It's all about accountability, policies and practice. So we would urge our commentators to stop the personal abuse and any accusations of corruption - unless you can prove it, of course, in which case we'll shout it from the rooftops!
John Merry wrote
at 18:27:13 on 25 February 2011
Can we just clarify I don't post on here not because I don't have balls Nachtslepper it's because you and your friends made it clear I am unwelcome and judging by the abuse anybody with a different point of view gets it is hardly a debate. That's why I have always answered direct questions from Steve as an alternative. Even that seemed too far for Jim Devine who wanted Steve to stop interviewing me. Its a free country and you are entitled to your opinion but please do not equate the inability of the council to give your magazine money with what is happening in the middle east where people are dying to have the same rights that you already have. No one has stopped you publishing , no one has stopped you from expressing your opinion. A failure to give you money is not censorship. Now given the vicious nature of some of the comments which even some of our political opponents have commented on no doubt there will be some angry that I have posted this but I wanted to set the record straight.
Mike Skeff wrote
at 14:29:01 on 25 February 2011
I agree with the opinions on Salford council posted on this site wholeheartedly so I won't waste my time reiterating the insults, they are well deserved. However, it is clear that the council as a body and individually are impervious to such comments: as water off a duck's back. They still get their huge salaries while people lose their jobs. Might I suggest one tactic to keep the pressure going and that is for as many people as possible to email the council on a daily basis demanding they allow fair funding for the Salford Star. I might also be possible to contact the national press individually, as Steve Kingston has done in the past I think, and see if they can help with our efforts. The point is whatever can be done should be done to secure funding to get OUR award winning magazine back into print.
Salford Star wrote
at 14:03:54 on 25 February 2011
see Steve's comment below...What here in the comments box? Have a look at the About Us section for our raison d'etre. 50% of Salford Star was self financing when in print. How many other so called community media can say that? 15,000 copies were circulated around Salford. There's loads on the site about it - just put Salford Star into the search engine and it will come up. Really think you should be asking how and why other funded bodies deserve funding via the back door...
Steve wrote
at 13:55:59 on 25 February 2011
The Star has been complaining for a long time about lack of funding from Salford Council. Could we get a more positive view? Can the Star present us with a case as to why it should get funding? What is it's circulation and readership in Salford? Does it have an editorial policy? Is it a sustainable publication? What resources does it have?
Nachtschlepper wrote
at 12:51:10 on 25 February 2011
I wouldn't hold your breath waiting for anybody from the Council responding on this site. In addition to being totally inept the whole lot don't have a pair of balls between them.
Davey wrote
at 10:01:58 on 25 February 2011
Surely the Clowncil's disgraceful political decision not to fund the Salford Star can be challenged .They are obviously terrified that the Sheeple will discover how Salford has been ineply and neglectfully mis-managed for many years.All councils are the same - run by self-important windbags , all in it for the money , just like the MPscum .What have they all got to hide ? A LOT .The clowncil propaganda rag should be scrapped , and funding given to Salford Star.
The Truth wrote
at 10:01:36 on 25 February 2011
To answer Nachtschlepper-----it is probabaly that there is a law that council,s must adhere to their policies, which they make themselves. SOOOOO---Salford would probably be going against a policy which they have voted on and approved, that states "We wont give any funding to any publication that critices us in any way, even if it is only by printing facts and/or the truth. This policy applies mainly to the Salford Star though". BUT, I am sure that avid Salford Star reader John Merry will be along shortly to answer your questions shortly.
Nachtschlepper wrote
at 06:48:08 on 25 February 2011
I keep reading that the Council would be taken to court, the Council would be breaking the law if they should fund the Salford Star, but the never say which law they would be breaking & why they would be taken to court. Are we really expected to give any creedence to anything this bunch of pillocks say?
Mike Skeff wrote
at 17:15:56 on 24 February 2011
This comes as no surprise to anyone who has followed or been involved with the Salford Star. I have been involved and contributed, in my small way, since it's inception and I know the impact the printed version had and still has on the wider community. Very many potential readers don't have access to the internet and those who do, especially the younger age group, are more inclined towards other online activities. When it comes to the printed version however, all age groups get involved. I am asked, almost on a weekly basis, if the 'mag' is coming out again. Of course I answer yes, as I believe it will. The voice of the people, any people, cannot be silenced indefinitely and Salford council must know this. People across the middle east and north Africa are dying in the streets fighting against just such censorship, so I think the people of Salford could and should do more to demand that the council abandon their highhanded double standards. Their know they are wrong to deny Salford Star funding. I know Steve Kingston personaly and his jounalistic motives are completely objective and unbiased. The Salford Star will continue and eventually emerge, in print, if the fight continues. Good luck Steve.
Ed Ward wrote
at 09:35:01 on 24 February 2011
This useless, inept,cretinous waster council extort taxpayers money to fund their idiotic jackshit schemes ,and squander the rest .The People are entitled to know exactly what the crap-council are squandering OUR money on .Reinstatement of funding for the Salford Star is essential . If this clowncil have nothing to hide , where's the problem ?
anthony wrote
at 17:03:00 on 23 February 2011
Any funding from Salford Council no matter how small would go a long way in convincing residents that our citys politicians do believe in democracy and actually practice it. There you go John bit of advice on common sense for free.
Dave Young wrote
at 10:02:24 on 23 February 2011
This so-called labour council must have plenty to hide as they are fearful of the Salford Star .CENSORSHIP AND CORRUPTION .The Star needs immediate funding so the People this council claims to represent can know the truth. What have this council got to hide ?
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