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...with attitude and love xxx Spring 2015 Free

Free Inside for Every Reader... The Magic Mayor Healing Doll! Pendleton Untogether... Terror in the towerblocks! Salford’s £19 Million Planning Scandal Chapel Street Charade

Christopher Eccleston Exclusive!!!


Manchester & Salford Branch Manchester & Salford Branch of the National Union of Journalists sends solidarity greetings to the Salford Star, a fearless and independent voice in the Greater Manchester media. With the ownership of the regional press in the hands of big newspaper groups which have sacrificed journalists’ jobs for large profits, we need more independent Real Media publications and websites like the Salford Star to question, challenge and uncover the stories those in authority don’t want us to hear. “It is not enough for journalists to see themselves as mere messengers without understanding the hidden agendas of the message and the myths that surround it.” John Pilger “I was never aware of any other option but to question everything.” Noam Chomsky Twitter @NUJMcrSalford Facebook NUJMcrSalford www.nujmanchester.org.uk


INTRO W

elcome to the first printed issue of the Salford Star since issue 8 in 2008. We brought out an issue 9 online expecting to get back into print as quick as possible – but it’s taken seven years, during which time over 2,750 articles have been put on our website (www.salfordstar.com) daily, attracting hundreds of thousands of readers from Salford and all over the world.

...with attitude and love xxx Spring 2015 Free

CONTENTS...

From the Hazel Blears expenses scandal, to the Precinct riots, to daily reporting of the anti-fracking protests at Barton Moss, it has been – and still is – a 24:7 news operation, breaking many, many exclusive stories on not even a shoestring of a budget. While the growth of the website has been phenomenal, every day of those seven years we’ve been trying to get back out into print. During all this time, donations have continued to be made to the Salford Star from our readers and we want to thank every single one of them. They have helped because they know how important it is that Salford has an independent press that will give people a voice, challenge authority and hold it up to account. It’s needed now more than ever. And so we present the new look Salford Star – a new format, a new size and hopefully a new print beginning. This is a pilot issue and we now aim to bring out copies every three months, starting in the autumn. To keep the mag going we desperately need advertising from local businesses and community organisations. We need writers, photographers and people willing to help with distribution. If you can deliver the mag to your street let us know and we’ll drop off some bundles. To keep the Salford Star in print we need the support of our community.

CHRISTOPHER ECCLESTON From LH to LA to LH

Free Inside for Every Reader... The Magic Mayor Healing Doll!

MURDER MOST FOUL

Pendleton Untogether... Terror in the towerblocks! Salford’s £19 Million Planning Scandal Chapel Street Charade

Christopher Eccleston Exclusive!!! It’s exactly nine years since we brought out the first ever issue of the Salford Star. There’s been a lot of changes in the city during that time but our values have remained constant... Salford Star: Written and produced by Salfordians for Salfordians... With attitude and love xxx

Banged up for 35 years for a murder that even the police say you didn’t commit...

THE END OF SALFORD?

A `regeneration’ special with the morphing into Manchester, social cleansing, a £19million planning scandal...and in Chapel Street there’s nothing cordial about Vimto

PENDLETON UNTOGETHER

`Leccy bill madness with fuel poverty and more as the community kicks off

SWINTON LIONS Set to roar again

THE CUTS

Bullying and the climate of fear

DIY COMMUNITY

With Involved Salford, Proud and Loud, Coffee4Craig, Laynie Pearce, Leah Dean, St Thomas Church, the Boothstown kids and the Save Hilltop Moss campaign...

AFTER THE ELECTION What next? Plus full results summary

MARY BURNS She’s brutal, bad and back!

ROMAN TREASURE Coin finds all over the city

Contributors to this issue of Salford Star... Editors: Stephen Kingston and Steven Speed with Gareth Lyons, Bernard Brough, Alice Searle, Graham Williamson, Graham Cooper, Beckie Hough, Jo K, Lewis Harrison Wood (website tech)

A MARY BURNS PRODUCTION

Contact Salford Star...

By phone: 07957 982960 or 0161 728 7611 By email: info@salfordstar.com Salford Star Office: Office 6C, Antz Junction, Unit 10, Junction Eco-Park ,Rake Lane, Swinton, Salford M27 8LR

www.salfordstar.com updated daily

Twitter: @salfordstar09 Facebook: Salford Star

www.maryburns.co.uk

To advertise in future issues of the Salford Star just get in touch. 20,000 copies distributed all over the city Details of how to donate to the Salford Star are on the website

Printed by: Archant Print, Prospect House, Rouen Road, Norwich. NR1 1 RE. Tel: 01603 772345

PROPER SALFORD MUSIC With Red Venom and Chris Flynn

PROPER SALFORD CULTURE

With Simon Williams, JB Barrington, Broady’s art, Eagle Inn poetry, Salford Carnival, some top books and the Portal series that’s wowing the net.

PLUS: FREE INSIDE FOR EVERY READER...

THE MAGIC MAYOR HEALING DOLL!

www.salfordstar.com

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ESSENTIAL COVER IF YOU WORK IN FIGH T I N A G U S PUBLIC TER ITY SERVICES WORRIED ABOUT YOUR JOB? IS YOUR JOB MAKING YOU ILL? SUFFERING HARASSMENT OR DISCRIMINATION? SICK OF LOW PAY, CUTS, RESTRUCTURING, PRIVATISATION. NOW IS TIME TO JOIN SALFORD CITY UNISON IF YOU WORK IN SALFORD COUNCIL, SCHOOLS, SALIX HOMES, CITY WEST, SALFORD COMMUNITY LEISURE, URBAN VISION, HOUSING ASSOCIATIONS OR THE PRIVATE CARE SECTOR- JOIN US Every member, wherever they work, receives our full range of member benefits and services, which includes: • advice, support and help when you need it at work • a helpline that is open until midnight • legal help for you at work and your family at home • financial assistance and debt advice in times of need • compensation for accidents and injuries at work.

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Christopher Eccleston Little Hulton’s Christopher Eccleston is hitting screens all over the world this year, from the ITV series Safe House, to a huge Kray Twins film, another series of The Leftovers and the ongoing Arctic series Fortitude. But it’s LH rather than LA that’s firing his psyche – and the role he really wants to play, Ewan MacColl.

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o we’re sat in the `drawing room’ of the incredibly upmarket Charlotte Street Hotel in London and Christopher Eccleston is stripping. Without even being asked he’s whipping his jacket and shirt off and pulling on the Salford Star t-shirt for our photo shoot. It’s almost a self-metaphor for this mega actor who’s mixed with Hollywood legends and done the daleks. Scratch the surface and the psyche is pure Salford. We’re at this ridiculously posh hotel ostensibly to chat about the ITV thriller, Safe House, in which Chris played an ex-cop persuaded to turn his guest house in the Lake District into a sanctuary for crim-threatened folks. But the incredibly amiable actor would rather talk about his home city and the affect the not-so-safe Little Hulton, or LH, had on his life. Little Hulton is that place near Bolton where loads of `old’ Salford families were transplanted back in the day, with the promise of lovely big new council houses but not much else. No jobs, no roots and some rather scathing locals who didn’t take kindly to strangers... “I moved out of Langworthy when I was seven months old - I was born at home, my brothers were born in Hope - then we moved to Little Hulton, and there was a load of tension because they all thought we were scallies and we all called them `little gobbins’” Chris recalls “So growing up there

was always this feeling that `This is where we live but we’re not from here’ which is quite an odd thing. One nana was in Irlams O’ Th’ Height, another was in Sutton Flats, my mum even took me to the dentist in Salford.

like the Ellesmere in Walkden...”

“One of the reasons my dad didn’t want to move out of Salford was because he used to just walk down to Ordsall, to work at Colgate Palmolive; he had to buy a car when we moved to LH but my mum got a garden” he adds “My mum’s still in the house. You can’t flog it, you’d get nowt for it.”

“What, Bez? What does he know about reality?” he laughs “I’m going to have to read the manifesto now before I can comment. The question is, could my mum see Bez as the new MP for Salford because she’s 83, Salford born and bred, and what she says goes. So Bez is going to have to go and see my mam. Can you set it up?... `Bez this is Elsie, Elsie this is Bez’... [assumes an Elsie voice...] `Get yer hair washed, what’s wrong with his eyes and why are you talking so quick?’”

“I’ll be part of anything that celebrates Ewan MacColl. I’d like to play him...” The LH experience had a wild effect on so many young Salford people of that alienated generation, hence the amount of creatives who emerged from the area. They all talk about the same strange experience of being plonked in a weird environment. Shaun Ryder, of Happy Mondays, used to think the Bolton locals were `backward’... “He used to live on the same road as me; I remember a family called the Ryders but not Shaun Ryder...I remember Bez” Chris smiles “...When he first appeared thinking `I’ve seen him’, and then when they were on their way up seeing him in pubs

And now Bez has got politics and the We Are The Reality Party. Would Christopher Eccleston, with his well known left wing leanings, vote for Bez?

Unfortunately Bez couldn’t have got Elsie’s X, as she lives in the Worsley and Eccles South constituency, rather than Salford and Eccles where he stood and got over 700 votes. And Chris himself couldn’t have taken Elsie’s advice on whether to vote for Bez as he’s been living in North London for four years, after a two year stint in LA, and ten years in Ellesmere Park, the posh bit of Eccles. Indeed, there’s been a long time spent away from Salford, living or filming in America and elsewhere, doing Hollywood with Angelina Jolie and Nicolas Cage on Gone In 60 Seconds, and feeling the fall out of New Orleans... “I was filming there, had a girlfriend there, it’s a fantastic city – I was filming

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there a year after Katrina down in the Lower Ninth as well. It was unbelievable, you saw the devastation, and seventy per cent of the population left but the ones who stayed were all the crims, so it was really tasty and grim but it’s a great city...” So when he looks at Salford now, from afar, what does he think? “Well, I’ve got two really small children, a three year old and an 18 month old, and I don’t go anywhere, I’ve not been getting home as much” he explains “I worked in Manchester in 2012, did a big television series and had a flat in the centre and it was great to be home. I’d live back there if I could. “I wouldn’t go back to LH” he decides “but back up north. I’ve done London really, and I’ve never really settled anywhere to be honest. I can’t talk about Salford because I got out, went to London. I’m a bit of a wanderer but Salford’s in my heart, that’s where all my values came from, from my mum and dad. And I know a Salford that argues with the image; real Salford values that are my mum and dad’s, about honesty, hard work, anti-authoritarian...all that great stuff that’s sustained me all through my career.” The anti-authoritarian link is still there through the Working Class Movement Library on The Crescent. The Library hosts pamphlets, books, posters, badges and everything in between to do with working

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days later an email arrives from Chris asking when we can do it. A few days after that, he phones us to arrange a definite time. It’s going to be Saturday morning at 10am... Saturday morning at 10am and Christopher Eccleston is stood in the street outside his North London house... “It’s madness in there with the kids” he says. What we want to talk about now is the day job. There’s so many roles that Christopher Eccleston has played that have been socially and politically credible, from Trevor Hicks in Hillsborough to Nicky in Our Friends In The North, surely the best ever drama on British TV. “I think it’s fair to say that I always looked for well written projects, and I always look for projects that address something about what it is to be British and human” he decides “I think my working class background led me to roles like Hillsborough, Hearts and Minds, Our Friends in the North because really that was the television that I absorbed as a kid and a youngster. BBC and ITV television of the 70s and 80s was a bit more writer led, a bit more radical, and tried to talk about what the whole nation was experiencing rather than, you know, the Downton Abbeys.

people’s struggles over the last few centuries. It also holds the archives of top socialist playwright Jim Allen, one of the great Play For Today writers who inspired Chris to become an actor, and he recently based a Radio 4 documentary there, interviewing two of Allen’s children, Kathy and Joe. One of Allen’s most acclaimed TV plays was Spongers, produced over thirty years ago about vicious official attitudes to welfare claimants. It could have been written today. This is working class cultural heritage that Chris is determined to help keep alive. Late last year he was also scheduled to do one of the Radical Readings, alongside Maxine Peake, as a fundraiser for the Library. The event sold out in hours but he had to pull out as he was stuck in the Lakes filming Safe House, and had to be replaced by Mike Joyce. On 10th May there was another big Library event, a celebration of Ewan MacColl, but again Chris couldn’t make it as he was filming in Texas...

“You don’t want to just fanny about, you want to say something about the people you came from” “If you get a job you have to go” he laments “If I’m in Austin I can’t do it but what an interesting man. Some had a pop at him because he was controlling but he was fascinating. My first awareness was Dirty Old Town from the first Rod Stewart album, then The Pogues’ version, which was beautiful. “I went to Salford Technical College with a bloke called John Axon, and his grandfather was a railway hero for whom Ewan MacColl wrote the Ballad of John Axon, so I had that connection and all the rambling stuff” he adds “I love all that claiming the land, so he means a huge amount to me, I’ll be part of anything that celebrates Ewan MacColl. I’d like to play him, he’s a big enough figure to be dramatised.” We’re about to talk more about playing MacColl, the politics of Christopher Eccleston and maybe even something about acting, when a press officer comes in and says the paid-by-the-hour room hire has run out. Even ITV can’t afford to run over time in this ridiculously posh hotel. Instead, we go outside and shoot the photo in the street, with Chris promising to finish off the interview by phone as he wanders off signing autographs for admirers, still wearing his Salford Star t-shirt... Now, when `celebs’ promise to finish interviews on the phone, it never happens. Never. But a few

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“So it’s very natural for me because Bleasdale, for instance, with Boys From The Blackstuff, had such a massive impact and all the Plays For Today from the 70s and 80s...a director called Alan Clarke, who did things like The Firm; Mike Leigh’s television work... It was perfectly natural for there to be a topical political issue and within a couple of weeks there’d be something on television about it. The best example of it was the riots in Salford in 1981. We had riots all over the country and it went off on Salford Precinct and within two weeks of that or something, Trevor Griffiths, a great playwright, had written a thing called Oi For England about how extreme right wing groups were exploiting the discontent. I was amazed at that and there was this play on BBC 2 mentioning things like Hulme and Salford. When you’re 18 and you’re hearing place names that you know on the telly it was massive. So I think for my generation, the working class generation at my drama school, it was very natural to marry politics with art, if you like. Very natural. “There is an element when you become an actor from my background that you feel like you’re just fannying around, that it’s not a proper job, so if you can find a way to give it some gravitas and ballast you feel better about the fact that you’re not working in a factory all the time, which is what my dad did and my mum did” he explains “You don’t want to just fanny about, you want to say something about the people you came from, and I know that sounds very worthy but I’m not going to apologise for that because my generation was a bit politicised and was a bit worthy and idealistic.” He apologises for the “rant”. But it’s a rant that needs ranting. Why can’t working class people have thought provoking, intelligent dramas produced about their experience, rather than Benefits Street-style poverty porn? Most would agree that Christopher Eccleston’s best work has been where he has taken on roles of ordinary working class people with extraordinary stories. Chris has a natural ability to make these characters believable. The overwhelming sensation after an hour chatting to Chris is that he cares. He reflects for a millisecond... “I’ve gone out and done my sh*t” he adds “I’ve done Hollywood films and taken the yankee dollar and all that. But that’s ok, I’ve got no problem with that; I’m interested in money, I like to make money; nobody I know wants to be poor but when I did those projects one of the other things it allows you to do is do the stuff that you really want to do, something like Flesh and Blood which I did in 2002. We made that for two conkers and a marble, it won loads of awards all across Europe; we did it for

nowt.” And then there was The Second Coming, in 2003, playing the Son of God from Salford and coming out with words we’d all like the tell the world...“ ‘...I’ve been you...knowing it’s all going wrong and doing nothing about it, keeping my head down, giving a quid to charity, signing a petition, talking about it down the pub, laughing about it and doing nothing...Even now, right now, I want to do nothing...I want to go home, shut the door and pretend this isn’t happening. But I can’t...I can’t...’ “It was phenomenal writing by Russell T Davies” says Chris “It was a much bigger piece at one point, which I felt the subject matter deserved, but at the last minute Channel 4 pulled out, ITV picked it up and we had to condense it, so I think it was a little bit compromised in a way because the scale Russell was trying to write on had thrown up massive questions of what if, for humanity to go forward, religion must die? But it was a lovely part for me and again something that I could engage in.

ation of Received Pronunciation with intelligence and scientific knowledge. It’s a load of nonsense, so that was my little blow for that if you like.” As we speak, Chris is about to go to America again to film a second series of The Leftovers in Austin, Texas. And in the near future there’s a film called Legend coming out, about the rise and fall of the Krays, with actor Tom Hardy playing both twins and Chris playing Nipper Read the copper who was after them. Busy? “The last two years were ok but I’ve not worked since December so I’ve just had a period out” he says “I’m not one of those actors who works constantly which is both good and bad. I’ve got a very young family now and I do love being with the children, so it means I can see them grow up and that’s nice. But you’re always anxious about the next job in my game...”

“And that’s the other thing, apart from being worthy, if you’re going to spend eight or ten weeks making something you want it to be intellectually stimulating for yourself” he adds “I think that viewers say `Two hours of my life I’m going to spend doing this’ and that is what needs repaying in television. Viewers are talked down to a lot. And a lot of people who make television think they’re smarter than the audience and they’re not.

There was also Safe House, shown earlier this month...gripping, dark unrelentingly creepy with a shimmering, heartbeat-hammering soundtrack and cinematic shots of the brooding landscape. Chris had joked that opening scene of Safe House, which showed him swimming in a freezing cold lake, was “all part of my mid-life crisis”. At 51, mid life is being pretty good, with a string of tv and film roles and two young kids. Filming in the Lake District brought back memories of the family’s love of nature and holidays spent on farms in the countryside of The Lakes, Devon and Cornwall. Indeed, everything seems to flow back to the family and life in LH...

“Viewers are talked down to a lot. And a lot of people who make television think they’re smarter than the audience and they’re not”

“I’ve thought a lot since we spoke because I think that is possibly something that informed the rest of my life, and something I’d quite like to write about” Chris explains “This idea that I grew up in Little Hulton thinking `I’m not from here’. I think it might have given me a bit of a wanderlust because I really did feel it.

“I think that’s changing a bit now, thankfully, with the proliferation of channels” he says “Television executives are basically accepting that the viewer is always going to be ahead of them in terms of narrative, in terms of content, they see so much. My mum and dad were very, very selective about what we watched on telly. They both left school at 14 but they would not watch sh*te, they wouldn’t have their intelligence insulted and they wouldn’t allow ours to be. They chose things because television was our theatre.”

“I went home recently and I thought even though my mum’s lived in that house for fifty years I didn’t really think of it as home” he adds “I mean, my Sunday league team was Barr Hill on the Height, so it’s an odd thing to live somewhere for twenty years and think `Well yeah but I’m not actually from here’. I think that says a lot about how people cling to Salford. There’s a really deep rooted affection in people from Salford for it. Perhaps because it gets a bad press.”

Unfortunately, a lot of the recent TV stuff that Chris is in has been aired on pay channels like Sky Atlantic, so the mass viewers of yesteryear, when there were only four channels, have gone and those who can’t afford it, or don’t believe in stuffing Murdoch’s Sky profits, have to be content with a few trailers and chopped up episodes on YouTube. There’s series like the Arctic thriller, Fortitude, filmed in Iceland, and The Leftovers, another apocalyptic goddy series in which two per cent of the world’s population, or 140million people, disappear... “I shot that for five months in New York last year and it’s from a novel by Tom Perrotta about the idea that possibly the rapture as predicted in the bible has happened, where God selects his chosen people and they all float up” Chris explains “The Leftovers refers to everyone left behind, and I play an episcopalian reverend who isn’t taken, so he’s got some issues as you can imagine...” In The Leftovers Chris adopts a yank accent, a far cry from the familiar Salford brogue that he normally insists on using to keep everything real... “It’s boxed me in a little bit” he decides “There’s certain things I’ve done, like Elizabeth, where I didn’t use my accent but I thought it was important to use it for the Doctor, for instance. And I think they’ve all benefitted from that in the sense that it said `You can go anywhere with this character now’, whereas before that he was RP [Received Pronunciation], you know. My point there was that Alan Turing, probably the greatest scientist we’ve ever known, was a Mancunian. You cannot make the associ-

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“You can knock the buildings down but you can’t knock down what’s inside people” It’s a city that’s slowly disappearing under the juggernaut of its new Council-hyped image. Whole swathes of `old’ Salford have been bulldozed even during the time since Christopher Eccleston appeared in the very first printed issue of the Salford Star nine years ago. In that time, the image has turned to focus on the `iconic’ glass buildings of MediaCityUK. And its re-branding as `Manchester’, which Chris says is an “abomination”. “But it’s in the people, that’s what’s interesting” he argues “You can knock the buildings down but you can’t knock down what’s inside people and what’s passed on. I certainly feel that as I see my mum and dad’s generation age, and that’s why I’ll talk about it ad nauseam because all the values I got were from them, and I got raised in Salford.” Is that real Salford spirit in danger? “I’ve got children now and I’m going to pass some of that on” he says “I’m going to keep it alive and there should be things to keep it physically alive as well...” Even over the phone you can feel Christopher Eccleston’s fist metaphorically clenching... “It’s up to people like you and me to keep Salford alive...”


“I’m a bit of a wanderer but Salford’s in my heart”


MURDER MOST FOUL

In one of the most bizarre cases of recent judicial history, Salford dad, Pat Davis, is desperately waiting for the case of his son, Anthony, to be re-opened. Anthony was found guilty of murder and sentenced to 35 years in jail, even though he was almost five miles away from the scene of the crime and has been convicted only on the word of a supergrass...

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t was August 2007 when a gang burst into the Bradford home of drug dealer Edward Simpson, intent on robbing him of thousands of pounds. Simpson put up a fight and was badly beaten, before being tortured and killed, his body subsequently dumped on waste ground a few miles away. Reported as one of Bradford’s most notorious and violent murders, the gang of eight robbers and accomplices were caught and jailed. However, only one of them - Anthony Davis - was convicted of murder. Davis was found guilty even though he was almost five miles away from the scene, a fact that the police and the courts do not dispute.

Two years ago, the BBC’s Panorama highlighted the Anthony Davis case while questioning the credibility of supergrass testimony. Top QC Michael Mansfield said that supergrasses were “inherently dishonest” and that, while knowing about the crime, will “dress it up in a way that they put people at the scene who weren’t there…”

“You couldn’t write it, you couldn’t imagine they could miss that amount of evidence” Anthony Davis

Davis was convicted of murder, under Joint Enterprise laws, of organising the robbery and having `foresight’ that someone would be killed. But the only evidence against him was the word of supergrass Sonny Stewart, who himself was heavily involved in the robbery. The only way that Davis - who has already served eight years of a 35 year sentence - can get out of prison now is to prove that Sonny Stewart lied.

Sonny Stewart said that he was with Anthony Davis on the night of the Simpson murder. The compelling case being put forward by Davis is that, far from being five miles away from the murder, Stewart was actually at the house committing the robbery and murder. And the evidence is piling up to prove the point. Evidence that was ignored by the police, hidden from Anthony and not available to the jury that convicted him...nor to the court that subsequently rejected his appeal.

Stewart did a deal under the SOCPA (Serious Organised Crime and Police Act) to implicate Davis and seven others (including himself) in the crime, with the incentive of having his charge reduced from murder, which carries that 35 year sentence, to manslaughter, which resulted in him getting a seven year sentence.

The Salford Star has examined over three thousand pages of that evidence which has now been made available. It could, and should, clear Anthony Davis. Indeed, his lawyer, Chaman Salhan, CEO of 2nd Opinion Now Solicitors and Barristers, who has handled over two hundred murder cases, is adamant that

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this is the worst conviction he has ever come across... “If you talk about the criminal justice system going wrong this is about the greatest exponent of that which you are ever going to have...” he insists. Indeed it is absolutely staggering that the West Yorkshire Police either missed or deliberately ignored a pile of evidence in their possession that could have placed Stewart at the murder scene. Firstly, `cell site’ analysis shows Stewart’s mobile phone signal at the scene of the crime at the time when the robbery was happening. The same cell site analysis puts Davis almost five miles away. The assertion that Davis was using Stewart’s phone to direct the robbery looks impossible. The expert witness who analysed calls made at the time of the robbery even said at the first trial that he didn’t think the pair were together. He was replaced by a new expert at the second trial. Another compelling piece of evidence was a footprint found in congealed blood at the scene of the murder. It was a possible match to a pair of the distinctive Nike Air Rift trainers recovered from Stewart’s house. Indeed, the PC who photographed the footprints at the murder house also singled out the Nike trainers at Stewart’s house as they were left in the hallway, away from his other shoes. She not only photographed them, she took them away, before the senior officers arrived to do the main search, CCTV footage shows.

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Police logs record that the PC took the shoes back to the station, where they were put in a store cupboard for over a month, while other items found in the search of Sonny Stewart’s house were fowarded to a forensic lab. The trainers were eventually placed in a sealed brown envelope and sent, not to a forensic lab, but to the West Yorkshire Footwear Bureau where they couldn’t be analysed, only viewed through a clear window in the envelope. The trainers were at this Bureau for over two months, during which they were never tested for blood or print comparisons. The Salford Star has seen the police photos of the `blood prints’ and photos of the distinctive Nike soles, and they are incredibly similar. But this evidence was never put before the jury that convicted Davis because it wasn’t available to his QC. Furthermore, the police gave Stewart his shoes back before the ap-

peal case so they couldn’t be analysed properly. Acquired evidence in a murder trial should never be returned until either the appeal process is complete or the defendant has admitted guilt. Meanwhile, two black men and a white man were convicted for being at the house, yet witness statements point to three black men and a white man being there. The third black man, Davis alleges, was Sonny Stewart. During the robbery, a man called at the house to see Edward Simpson and was dragged inside and beaten. He became an independent witness and said that there were three black men, the leader of whom was 6ft 4inchs tall, wearing a camouflage jacket, a description matching that of Sonny Stewart who subsequently had two camouflage jackets removed from his property by police.


“If you talk about the criminal justice system going wrong, this is about the greatest exponent of that which you are ever going to have...” Chaman Salhan Cases Review Commission (CCRC) did review the case but upheld the original conviction. Then something very strange happened. Lawyers acting for Anthony Davies appealed against the CCRC decision, the person who did the review was taken off the case, and a new CCRC team visited Anthony in prison and spent hours with him going through his claims, in a move that is incredibly rare. Anthony is now waiting for that team’s decision. Back home in Swinton, Anthony’s father Pat is not only campaigning for Anthony’s release but for lots of other families caught up in what they see as the flawed SOCPA and Joint Enterprise laws. “The SOCPA agreement was supposed to be that they use someone from the peripheral edge and glean information from that person, in this case that wasn’t done” he explains “The person they used under the SOCPA agreement is a central player in the offence, and people who were on the peripheral edge weren’t even offered that deal. So this is also about who they choose to use that law with, rather than the actual implementation of the law. Pat admits that Anthony is no angel. He has got a past conviction for drugs. But 35 years for murder is something else...

Another prosecution witness, the brother of one of those convicted of the crime, had also told police that Stewart had confessed to him that he was present at the scene. And, perhaps the most damning evidence of all is that Stewart himself said on a taped and filmed interview a week before the trial that there were three black men involved. Stewart told the police interviewers... “I understood that it would be...it would be a shiver, just...just the threat of three big black guys going in with a replica gun, him not knowing it’s a replica, them slapping him about a bit and sitting him down saying `Where’s your money?’” After Stewart says this, a police interviewer is seen on film writing something on a piece of paper, and then Stewart back peddles on his story. This footage was shown on the original Panorama programme with QC Ben Nolan

commenting “It’s clear on watching that interview that he slipped, and realised that he’d slipped because he laughed nervously and then corrected himself, and his final version was that there were two black men and one white man who were to attack Mr Simpson”... Speaking to the Salford Star from Lowdham Grange Prison in Nottinghamshire, Anthony Davis is staggered that he has served eight years in jail without having the chance to put this fresh evidence before a court... “They had available a footprint of a Nike trainer found at Sonny Stewart’s house; they hid that from us” he says “They also had cell site analysis that puts Sonny Stewart at the scene; they hid that from us...They also had the statement from the witness matching the description of Sonny Stewart; they hid that from us... By not disclosing that evidence to me, it became his word versus mine.

“I’m convicted only on Sonny Stewart’s word, there’s no other evidence to support me on a guilty plea of murder” he adds “If he’s telling the truth, which I say he’s not, then the conviction is good. But if he’s lying, that means I’m doing 35 years in prison on make believe. He’s put himself in a position to abuse the system, get himself away with murder and leave another man in jail for a murder he didn’t do... “You couldn’t write it, you couldn’t imagine they could miss that amount of evidence” he says “I’ve got a 14 year old child who could put that together. If the police genuinely thought he was telling the truth, and they just didn’t recognise this evidence because there were a lot of different officers doing different jobs, that’s fair enough. But at least have the decency to make it right. Don’t just leave me rotting here now we do know it’s there...take me to the Appeal Court and

www.salfordstar.com

tell the world that I’m not what they‘ve shown everyone, and let me go home to my family.

“When I hear Anthony I’m very proud of how he’s standing firm and trying to prove his innocence” Pat Davis “I’ve got four children thinking their dad’s a murderer and that’s why I’m angered” he explains “35 years? That’s for the likes of The Krays, Ian Huntley, cases like that. If a person has got 35 years in prison I would expect that case to be nailed shut and the evidence that put him there should be concrete with no flaws. That’s all I’m asking for...”

“When I hear Anthony I’m very proud of how he’s standing firm and trying to prove his innocence” Pat says “To be able to have done this under these kinds of stresses shows he’s a very brave man too. I feel it for him and for the grandkids who miss him. There’s a lot more emotion attached than I show because I know I need to be disciplined within myself, in order to cope and manage what we’ve had to do over the past three or four years.” Meanwhile, Chaman Salhan, the lawyer who is representing Anthony is convinced that West Yorkshire Police have got the wrong man... “There is clear and cohesive evidence which, when looked at dispassionately, demonstrates that Mr Davies has been wrongly convicted which amounts to a substantial miscarriage of justice” he says “I sincerely hope that the CCRC will refer the matter back to the Court of Appeal so that justice can be seen to be done and Mr Davies acquitted in due course...”

At the end of last year, the Criminal

9


AFTER ELECTIO WHAT The General Election saw the Tories sweep to power with more cuts and more attacks on the community littering their political agenda. So what is next for Salford, which remains a Labour Party stronghold?

D

uring the last five years in Salford life has been harsh. Over five thousand people have been affected by the Bedroom Tax, thousands more have relied on food banks and the vulnerable and disabled have had their services decimated. If the last five years were bad for Salford, what next, now the Tories have even more power? New Salford Labour and Eccles MP, Rebecca Long Bailey, listing ConDem Government `crimes’ before the General Election, said “We’re on a one way street to the workhouse unless we do something about it...” With even more cuts and even more austerity on the agenda, what can be done about it? Salford overwhelmingly voted against the ConDem Government, annihilating the Liberal Democrats and increasing Labour Party majorities in both the local and national election. But is that it? Is it about putting an `X’ in a box and then expecting paid and expense-laden local politicians to do the rest? On General Election night and the following afternoon at the local election count, those Labour politicians elected to represent Salford people in Parliament and on Salford Council said well meaning words in their victory speeches, led by Rebecca Long Bailey... “David Cameron I’ve got a message for you tonight - `The people of Salford and Eccles have had enough and they’re angry. They deserve better...’” It was a point echoed by Worsley and Eccles South MP Barbara Keeley... “I pledge to campaign to recognise and value these [public services] staff on who so many people rely...I will continue to campaign for carers and for improved health and social care...” The problem Labour has at a local level is that its politicians are imposing Tory cuts in a rather vicious manner. On the day of the election, news broke that Salford Council had attacked its own staff trade union, by withdrawing facility time from Salford City UNISON elected branch treasurer Ameen Hadi – despite him representing his members by campaigning against cuts to jobs and services within `health and social care’.

When carers of disabled adults organised a Rally On The Lawn picnic outside the Civic Centre, to protest against cuts to the Council transport which took their sons and daughters to day centres, the full wrath of the Council came down on them. They were told it was illegal, that they were trespassing. There was dark propaganda spread in the media against them, with stories of crying brides having their wedding day ruined... People half expected the riot police to turn up, turfing wheelchairs off the Civic Centre lawn. When parents of disabled children campaigned against the closure of their short term respite facility at The Grange, they and their supporters were labelled `rent a crowd’ by Salford’s Labour Mayor, Ian Stewart, in an official press statement. All they were doing was, in Barbara Keeley’s words, `campaigning for carers and for improved health and social care’... Indeed, on a local level, those Labour Party politicians who spoke fine words at the election haven’t really done much over the last five years, apart from a bit of tub thumping in a Council chamber, a half hearted petition and a complaint trip to London...followed by meekly imposing the cuts anyway, `with a heavy heart’... ...All this, while plotting `iconic’ new bridges, sneaking money to Salford Red Devils, waiving planning fees for developers, borrowing and then lending huge amounts of money to massive corporations, and, of course, paying over £4,000 a week for fountain management at Greengate Square. It doesn’t wash well with people like Noreen Bailey, who had Council transport for two of her disabled sons taken from her. And now, instead of getting much needed respite, has to take them to the day centre herself; while also looking after her other severely autistic son. Noreen, a Labour Party supporter all her life, was so furious that she actually stood against Labour at the General Election for anti-cuts TUSC, the Trade Union and Socialist Coalition. Indeed, many of TUSC’s candidates in the elections were drawn from people affected by the cuts. TUSC and the Greens, the two alternative parties


THE ON NEXT? Over 40% of people registered didn’t vote at all.

standing in the local election against cuts by the Labour Council, polled almost 8,000 votes; while TUSC, the Greens, the Reality Party and the Pirates gained around 7,000 in the General Election. A significant minority. Particularly at a time when people were looking at the bigger devil in Government.

On election night, representatives of those parties were scathing of Labour, led by Bez of the We Are The Reality Party... “Rebecca Long Bailey is talking about suddenly becoming this socialist party fighting for the people, when it was Labour who signed it all away in the first place. So I find it quite sickening to listen to really but that’s two party politics for you...” Emma Van Dyke, Green Party candidate for Salford and Eccles, saw her party’s membership increase six-fold during the election campaign with thousands voting for the Party in Salford on the night... “I think this a good base for the next election; we now have numbers which we didn’t have last year and that’s an important thing” she said “But it’s not just about the numbers it’s about the message. If Labour do some of our policies we won’t really mind as long as good things happen, as long as they do it...” Steven North, who stood for TUSC in Worsley and Eccles, was more blunt... “It looks like tonight we’re going to get more of the same over the next five years and the question for the people who have done well tonight is `What are they going to do about that?’ Are they going to do the same that they’ve done over the last five years, and think that’s going to be enough, because it’s clearly not been enough for them nationally has it? “Going along with doing nothing clearly hasn’t helped them nationally tonight, and in Scotland they’ve been wiped out by a party that is seen as to the left of them; that is seen as being a party that will actually challenge the establishment, albeit it only to a certain extent in our view” he added “They need to take notice of that in Salford.” As thousands of Salford people displaced their anger at the establishment into a right wing UKIP protest vote while over 40% of people registered didn’t vote at all, for these left leaning anti-cuts parties, the election was never just about putting an `X’ in a box... “The Reality project is going to be big and we’ve got lots of plans” explained Mags McNally, who stood for the We Are The Reality Party in Worsley and Eccles South “We’ve got our permaculture centre coming up, and our work with the homeless through

Coffe4Craig...despite what happened today we’ve got our plans and we start tomorrow...”

And for TUSC, the work continues too... “From tomorrow we will be back fighting for services – Noreen will be fighting for vulnerable people and I’ll be representing members in my trade union role...” said Steven North. And then looking over at the whooping Labour Party supporters celebrating increased majorities added... “Are they going to stand with people like me and Noreen, and other candidates who have stood up against austerity, and help us? That’s what we want them to do because we’re going to keep fighting. They take people’s votes but now let’s do the real work because we will. They need to actually start leading...” If not, as Rebecca Long Bailey said, “We’re on a one way street to the workhouse...”

General Election Results Salford and Eccles Rebecca Long Bailey, Labour Party 21,364 Greg Downes, Conservative Party 8,823 Paul Doyle, UKIP 7,806 Emma Van Dyke, Green Party 2,251 Charlie Briggs, Liberal Democrats 1,614 Bez Berry, We Are The Reality Party 703 Noreen Bailey, TUSC 517 Sam Clark, The Pirate Party 183 Total votes: 43,457 Turnout: 58.49% Worsley and Eccles South Barbara Keeley, Labour Party 18,600 Iain Lindley, Conservative Party 12,654 Owen Hammond, UKIP 7,688 Chris Bertenshaw, Green Party 1,242 Kate Clarkson, Liberal Democrats 1,100

Steven North, TUSC 380 Mags McNally We Are The Reality Party 200 Geoffrey Berg, Independent 184 Total votes: 42,182 Turnout: 58.44% Blackley and Broughton Graham Stringer, Labour Party 22,982 Martin Power, UKIP 6,108 Michelle Tanfield-Johnson Conservative Party 5,581 David Jones , Green Party 1,567 Richard Gadsen, Richard Liberal Democrats 874 Total votes: 37,112 Turnout: 51.9%

Salford Local Election Results... Barton Michele Barnes, Labour Party 2,656 Robert Bingham, Conservative Party 1,015 Linda Davies, Green Party 435 Wayne Tomlinson, BNP 271 Susan Wright, TUSC 226

Little Hulton Kate Lewis, Labour Party 2,281 Stephen Ferrer, UKIP 1,038 Nathan James, Conservative Party 669 Kieren King, Green Party 150 Terry Simmons, TUSC 159

Boothstown and Ellenbrook Robin Garrido, Conservative Party 2,924 Lee Rowbotham, Labour Party 1,580 Diana Battersby, Green Party 410 Joseph Mcardle, TUSC 109

Ordsall Peter Dobbs, Labour Party 2,950 Jonathan Boot, Conservative Party 1,224 Jim Alayo-Arnabat, Green Party825 Christopher Barnes, 665 Stephanie Vickers, TUSC 146

Broughton Charlie Mcintyre, Labour Party 2,918 Yonie Saunders, Conservative Party 720 David Jones, Green Party 444 Alan Metclafe, TUSC 229 Cadishead Jimmy Hunt, Labour Party 2,506 Dorothy Chapman, Conservative Party 1,315 Alan Valentine, Green Party 405 Diane Cawood, TUSC 244 Claremont Joe Murphy, Labour Party 2,335 Mary Ferrer, UKIP 1,124 Bob Goodall, Conservative Party 1,014 Ronnie Benjamin, Liberal Democrats 315 Rene Iacopini, Green Party 305 Matt Kilsby, TUSC 80 Eccles Lisa Stone, Labour Party 2,612 Linda Goodall, Conservative Party 1,347 Robert Wakefield, UKIP 739 Emma Van Dyke, Green Party 327 Val Kelly, Liberal Democrats 257 Sally Griffiths, TUSC 122 Irlam Peter Taylor, Labour Party 1,935 Brian Robinson, UKIP 910 Noel Gaskell, Conservative Party 727 Paul Hardwick, Green Party 215 Eric Thorpe, TUSC 47 Jackie Anderson, Independent 25

Pendlebury John Ferguson, Labour and Co-Operative Party 2,501 Stacey Olsen, UKIP 1,295 Glenis Purcell, Conservative Party 1,024 Chrissy Brand, Green Party 235 Jake Newton, TUSC 78 Swinton North Jim Dawson, Labour Party 2,716 John Deas, UKIP 1,066 Sharon Bulmer, Conservative Party 1,035 Norma Parkinson-Green, TUSC 163 Swinton South Neil Blower, Labour Party 2,228 Joe O`Neill, UKIP 1,086 Anne Broomhead, Conservative Party 1,054 Sean Fairbrother, Green Party 264 Jill Royle, TUSC 111 Walkden North Samantha Bellamy, Labour Party 2,263 Bernie Gill, UKIP 1,094 Dan Hill, Conservative Party 866 Usama Ahmed, Green Party 188 Andrew Carss, TUSC 118 Walkden South Iain Lindley, Conservative Party 2,162 Robert Sharpe, Labour Party 1,969 Albert Redshaw, UKIP 749 Thomas Dylan, Green Party 238 Tom Thurman, TUSC 76

Irwell Riverside Stephen Ord, Labour Party 2,124 Katherine Alder, UKIP 617 Wendy Olsen, Green Party 537 Jessica Taberner, Conservative Party 472 Jamie Carr TUSC 92 Carl Lawson, BNP 37

Weaste and Seedley Paul Wilson, Labour Party 2,279 Barrie Fallows, UKIP 1,080 Adam Kennaugh, Conservative Party 813 Peter Mulleady, Green Party 353 Robert Vaughan, Liberal Democrats 285 Paul Quinn, TUSC 122

Kersal Harry Davies, Labour Party 2,110 Arnold Saunders, Conservative Party 1,872 Jason Reading, Green Party 250 Farid Norat, TUSC 89

Winton Paula Boshell, Labour Party 2,693 George Darlington, Conservative Party 1,020 Paul Doyle, Independent 533 Helen Alker, Green Party 330 Stephen Cullen, TUSC 182

Langworthy Gina Reynolds, Labour Party 2,424 Andy Olsen, UKIP 1,065 Nicky Turner, Conservative Party 460 Ian Pattinson, Green Party 341 Sean Warren, TUSC 98

Worsley Chris Clarkson, Conservative Party 3,054 John Roberts, Labour Party 1,533 Andrew Townsend, UKIP 770 Chris Bertenshaw, Green Party 380 Kit Watson, TUSC 44


THE THE MAGIC MAGIC MAYOR MAYOR You are You are invited invited to to participate participate in the the most most important important psychic psychic in experiment in in Salford’s Salford’s experiment history... history... Following the General Election there are more cuts to come from the Conservative Government and, thus, more cuts to come from Salford Council. And, following the Local Election, there was no change to the Labour Party’s grip on Salford Council, and, thus, more of the same attitude from Salford City Mayor, Ian Stewart. Whether you think that the Mayor is all good, all bad or a bit of both, the fact is that he is in a position to affect the destiny of hundreds of Salford people. As Mayor, Ian Stewart can choose whether or not to implement £millions of cuts to vital services in Salford, or to prop up rich businesses and tycoons. So far, political pressure has failed to move the Mayor’s psyche, so now a new, more unconventional, feminine method might produce results. Here’s a selection of Ian Stewart’s dastardly deeds over the three years he’s been in power - and the reasons why Salford needs to employ the Magic Mayor Healing Doll...


Liars, Extremists and Rent-a-Crowd As parents and carers of disabled children were fighting cuts to their services at The Grange, the Mayor, incredibly, labelled them and their supporters “rent-a-crowd” in an official public statement. The parents branded his comments `insulting’ and `disgusting’. Then last year, as parents of disabled adults took Salford Council to the High Court following cuts to their transport, the Mayor was at it again, berating campaigners for `Lies, Allegations and Innuendo presented falsely as `Fact’, by those who again falsely paraded as supporters of genuinely vulnerable people’. One mum of a disabled daughter said the slurs “sum up the Mayor of Salford”. The Mayor also banned the parents and carers from holding a peaceful protest picnic on the lawns of the Civic Centre, complete with dark propaganda being fed to the media about crying brides. Of course, the Rally On The Lawn went ahead, with over five hundred people attending, including many of the disabled adults affected by the cuts.

Next up for the Mayor’s wrath was Steven North, democratically elected branch secretary of Salford City UNISON, the trade union that represents Salford Council staff. Steven, along with people affected by over £24million of cuts, wanted to meet with Labour councillors last year to “raise concerns… over the future of a number of services that support vulnerable people in Salford”… In reply the Mayor frothed… “Your stated aim is to destroy our national democratic system and more specifically Salford Labour Party”. The Mayor’s piffle was deemed “defamatory” and “blatant lies” by Steven North. The Salford Star also came in for the `terrorist’ treatment from the Mayor, with Stewart calling the publication `evil’, `extremist’ and `hysterical’ for, er, suggesting amongst other things that he might want to trim his own £69,000 salary to help with the cuts. Meanwhile a Labour Party councillor who spoke out against the axing of public services was dragged to a disciplinary hearing of the Party for `un-comradely behaviour’

Bridge Beauty Contest In the midst of the worst cuts in living memory, the Mayor initiated a bridge beauty contest costing £30,000. The winner, Tonkin Liu with Arup, will have a budget up to £1.9million to build the footbridge between the Crescent and The Meadows.

R HEALING HEALING DOLL... DOLL... R One Rule For The Mayor...

As Salford Council staff got slapped with paying 1% of their salary to park their cars on Council property, the Mayor dumped his own personal camper van over two parking spaces at the back of

Turnpike House between March and July last year – without paying a penny.

Heartless Salford Quays Cargo Cranes Demolition

Fat Cats

In an effort to save money, Salford Council ditched its Chief Executive Barbara Spicer and her exorbitant £175,000 salary (plus addons). But, less than three months later the Mayor was all set to appoint a new City Director on a wage range of between £145,000 and £149,999 (plus add-ons). This year, to help drive the cuts, the Mayor has also created two new Fat Cats with

promotions on salaries that will `exceed £100,000’ – a Director of Service Reform and Development, and a Director of Finance and Corporate Business. They will be joining five other Council Fat cats on salaries above £100,000. Meanwhile, the Mayor picks up his £69,000 salary from the Council, plus rent from his second tax payer funded home in London, and his exMP’s pension.

After a long battle to save the iconic blue cranes at Salford Quays, the Salford Mayor signed their death warrant, saying it was too expensive to refurbish them. This despite developers building hundreds of apartments, offices, shops and hotels on the Quays which would have paid for the cranes to be painted in gold, had Salford Council not waived £millions of planning fees. Around £6million of public money was also spent on `community heritage’ projects around the Quays, ignoring one of the last remaining tangible heritage assets; while £150,000 of public money was supposed to be set aside to replace the real cranes with a `new heritage interpretation feature’. Dubbed “cultural and historic vandal-

ism” by Nigel Pivaro, the cranes were demolished, ironically, on Quays Culture Day, 26th October 2013, as one Salford Star reader lamented their passing... “So very, very sad...it’s like the authorities are trying to scrub Salford off the map. People like my dad who spent their working lives on the docks will be heartbroken about this. It’s all that was left really...” The trashing of the iconic Docks Cranes will be the lasting legacy of Salford Mayor Ian Stewart.


MAGIC MAYOR MAYOR MAGIC HEALING DOLL DOLL HEALING More Mayoral Misdeeds...

Openness and Transparency On the night he got elected as Salford Mayor, Ian Stewart said “We need to learn from past experience where our judgement could have been better...We as politicians are not very good at communicating with the public, and the public are making decisions without basic information sometimes...

“That’s our fault as politicians, we need to get better at that” he added “Getting better at communication means that we as a Council must be more open and transparent with the public. I will seek to generate that openness and transparency in future…” Three years later, those words have come back to haunt the Mayor on numerous occasions. Under his leadership, Salford Council is one of only four authorities currently being monitored by the Information Commissioner’s Office after failing to respond to over 35% of Freedom of Information (FOI) requests within

the legal limit of twenty days. One resident waited nine months for a FOI response, while the Salford Star has waited up to six months for responses.

Meanwhile, Salford Council press office hasn’t responded to any requests for comments or quotes to the Salford Star for almost two years, despite some of the subjects concerning child protection matters. Indeed, the Council had to issue an official apology to the Star’s editor after the Mayor’s `communication’ officer tried to ban him from attending an election count. The £65,000 a year `Head of Communications’, Matt Finnegan, subsequently resigned after the Star exposed the `politically restricted’ council officer spinning on behalf of a Labour Party election candidate. Under the Mayor, `openness and transparency’ hardly exists in Salford any more...

Roll Up, Roll Up for the Cuts Circus Back in February, the Mayor tried to quell protests at a full Council meeting to pass cuts by packing out the public gallery with Labour Party members. An email from the Mayor urged members to “reduce the protest by getting Labour supporters

in the gallery...Please reply to this email to arrange a ticket.” Of course, there were no tickets for ordinary members of the public and, after the scam had been exposed, the Mayor backed down.

Secret £164,000 Salford Reds Scandal A web of secret financial deals involving former Salford Council Strategic Director, Martin Vickers, Salford City Mayor Ian Stewart, Salford Red Devils owner, Marwan Koukash, and Peel Holdings was revealed in August 2014 after an internal investigation by top Council officers. Vickers took redundancy from the Council with a £78,000 pay-off, only to turn up weeks later in a job with Salford City Reds (now Red Devils) rugby club – having been central to negotiations with the club’s new owner Marwan Koukash and the rather favourable terms of its £1.5million loan payments to the Council. During that process Vickers, with the Mayor’s knowledge, had also agreed to waive the rugby club’s match day costs up to £164,000 which it should have been handing over to the Council’s jointly owned stadium company. The club also got two year’s free rent at the AJ Bell

Stadium. The deal by the cash strapped Council to subsidise the rugby club was kept secret from everybody, including councillors, in that no official `Record of Decision’ was ever published. And the Monitoring Officer at the time who should have been “ensuring lawfulness and fairness in decision making” was, er, Martin Vickers. What’s more, the secret subsidy, of up to £164,000, had come from the `revenue’ budget which should have paid for front line services for the city’s vulnerable people. Instead of the Mayor resigning, it was all put down to a `paperwork error’. The decision was backdated to make it legal and everyone carried on, happily ever after.

13 Assistant Mayors When the Mayor was elected he anointed 13 Assistant Mayors and a Deputy, who cost almost £200,000 last year (£198,995). Included in this figure is £44,850 for Deputy Mayor David Lancaster, seven `assistants’ on £13,141, five on £9,856 and one on £12,878. These payments on top of their basic £10,181 councillor allowance, of course. Despite leaks from the Mayor’s office hinting he was going to cull the assistants, no thinning out of the mayoral money brigade has happened yet.


HOW TO USE THE MAGIC MAYOR HEALING DOLL This is an experiment in positive imagination... The acupuncture points have been marked on the Magic Mayor Healing Doll which would help to open Ian Stewart’s heart centre. This will fill him with peaceful energy and love for all life forms, thus arousing the goddess-like compassion within him...

Why We Need To Employ The Magic Mayor Healing Doll... Unfortunately, Ian Stewart’s psyche is imprisoned by his years in the hard olde world of competition and mistrust. Against his true nature - and confined by his middle aged advisors, hardened against their own inner voice by having to claw their way to the top – he has failed to embrace the new hopes and possibilities that are in the air. So now we must experiment more, employ more direct methods...We must try to enthuse the Mayor with a new vision to affect or even bypass the system by offering to him healing energy...

The Buddhists believe that everyone is an Unrealised Buddha, meaning that pressure of events has made them forget their soul, their higher being. So the Salford Star offers the Magic Mayor Healing Doll as a means for thousands of individuals to pool their psychic energy and invoke and unearth the goddess-like feminine, compassionate, nurturing side that’s buried within Salford City Mayor Ian Stewart. So let’s bring out the best in Ian Stewart by turning him on to the goddess within himself. Help him to help us all to save ourselves!

1.

Make five copies of the Doll

2.

Attach one copy to a wall or door

3.

Using any kind of pin, gently fix one in each of the seven acupuncture power points

4.

Try to do this in a loving manner, putting aside any negative opinions you may have of the Mayor. Be sensitive to the child of god which the Magic Doll represents.

5.

Remember that no two people are exactly alike. Thus, since the points are approximate, try to feel your way around each point until you sense that you are on it. Then drive the pin home, thinking or saying aloud...

“May this extra psychic energy nourish and awaken the goddess within the man called Ian Stewart. May the energy be employed through him, in the service of all life in Salford” 6.

Leave the poster and pins in position. Now get four other people to participate in the project and give them a copy of the Doll.

7.

When the number of dolls reaches 20,000 Ian Stewart’s heart will be opened.

* *


WHIT LANE' S FORGOTTEN ESTATE

Graham Cooper, a youth worker at Oliver’s Youth Club, was one of those leading the fight to save homes in the ten year, £53million New Deal for Communities project that was supposed to make Charlestown and Lower Kersal a better place. That began in 2001 and ended four years ago. Look at the area now and you’d think `This place needs £53million spending on it!’. Here Graham gives his views on Whit Lane – the `Forgotten Estate’...

W

here did the £53million NDC money go? It went on knocking down all the houses. £26million was spent on the physical regeneration of the area – where is the physical regeneration of the area? We’ve got a few nice statutory buildings that we contributed towards, like the Beacon Centre, the Sports Village and whatever else. But you’ve got houses that were compulsorily purchased years ago that are now danger zones and no-one’s interested in trying to resolve it. They’re all waiting, waiting, waiting...well we’ve been waiting 15 years around here, it’s absolutely ridiculous. The irony of regeneration is stark here...because if this is what is classed as `regeneration’ there is a real issue about the word regeneration. It should be `de-generation’. Whole streets are tinned up, no-one cuts the grass, no-one picks up the litter; there’s furniture dumped all over, there’s glass and bricks everywhere, walls falling down...Yet there’s no councillors here challenging what’s going on. But this estate is only like this because of the people

16

such as Salix, Salford City Council and the old NDC, which is `Non-Inspiring Communities’ nowadays, who have left this estate in limbo for years. They’ve all walked away, no-one wants to touch it, but there must be a legal duty amongst those agencies to keep this estate tidy and danger free because people who live here deserve a quality of life.

...there is a real issue about the word regeneration. It should be `de-generation’. It makes my job as a youth worker in this area so much harder to try and get kids to not be anti-social, to not smash things, to not drop litter and to be part of the community when they walk out of the door and see this. We try to teach young people about responsibility, looking after the area respecting each other and then they walk out the door onto this estate and they must think `Why are we doing it because no-one else cares?’

The contrast between the part of the estate that’s staying and the estate that’s been earmarked for demolition is so stark it’s unbelievable...the grass has been cut, it’s all neat and tidy, there’s no fly tipping...it’s a totally different world. They care about those people but not these who live about twenty yards away. A part of what’s going on here is about driving people out. By not caring, by not doing anything, by not being pro-active with their estates and their land, people will think `Why do I want to live around here?’ So when it comes to redevelopment they can’t wait to get out of the area, and there’s a part of me that thinks that’s what the authorities want. Going back 10-15 years ago, when the NDC came, there were issues about gentrification, social cleansing all the lot of it. They are after the riverbanks and the estates and that plan has never, ever changed in my opinion. There’s supposed to be new plans for Keepmoat to build 400 houses on the riverbank, only 25% of them will be affordable, but I don’t think these people will be living around here. The whole

www.salfordstar.com

estate will be going eventually, that was part of the re-development plans and, from what I know, it’s still on the table. There’s only 80 or 90 people who will need to be re-homed and I think they will try, like they did ages ago, to move them to other areas. There’ll be a very small percentage of people who will be here. That’s the whole idea of how these things work. They annoy people, who will go to private housing associations, private landlords, anywhere but an area like this.

A part of what’s going on here is about driving people out. But the irony is that this community is a real community. If it wasn’t for that feeling and those relationships there would be a lot more bad stuff going on here - more crime, a lot more people at risk. It would be really down to the bone if it wasn’t for the fact that people in this area look out for each other. And they’ve had to do because no-one else has...


Only 7.4%. of Salford babies are now born in Salford

With every new development Salford is being re-branded as Manchester. Is this the end of Salford as we know it?

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ack in February 2011, mums, midwives and even local politicians were heartbroken when the board of NHS North West voted to close down Salford’s maternity unit at Hope Hospital. Speaking after the decision meeting, Jill Morrison, a Salford mum who had recently given birth to a premature baby at Hope, said she was `absolutely disgusted’... “Now there’s not going to be a Salford city as such – we’re going to be taken over by Manchester yet again. And it’s all wrong...” To be a true Salfordian now, you’ve either got to be born at home or be delivered at the now re-named Salford Royal Hospital in the Midwife Led Unit, itself under threat from either closure or `outsourcing’. In the year 2012-13 only 261 babies were born in Salford, out of 3,500 babies with Salford parents. That’s 7.4%. In the near future the true Salfordian will be almost extinct.

...the city is being re-branded and hyper-gentrified Meanwhile, the city inhabited by Salford people is changing beyond all recognition and morphing slowly into Manchester through a re-branding exercise by private companies who don’t give a toss about the city’s proud heritage and culture. Salford Council has handed over hundreds of thousands of pounds to Salford City Reds, now Salford Red Devils, justifying it by citing the importance of having a Super League rugby team that would put the city on the map. That team now plays with `Lowry Outlet, MediaCityUK, Manchester’ festooned across its shirts, thanks to sponsors the Peel Group, which had previously re-branded its MediaCityUK and Lowry Outlet Mall as being in Manchester.

At Salford City Football Club, the takeover by the Class of 92 last year was shrouded in Salford pride... “Everyone knows how important Salford is to me” said Ryan Giggs. Unfortunately, the first thing the Class of 92 did when they fully took over the club was to take the word `Salford’ off the team shirts, replaced with the non-descript SCFC. The city’s official lion crest has also been removed from the badge (replaced with a more `modern’ one), while an image of the Manchester skyline now dominates the shirts, thanks to the sponsor. Salford is certainly disappearing from the face of the earth, a process begun by the `University of Salford, Manchester’ (which also did away with its Salford lion), and almost finished by the Electoral Commission, which had planned to get rid of the Salford Parliamentary seat altogether and merge it with Manchester. A huge backlash by local politicians and Salford people, including the Save Salford Facebook group with over 5,000 members, forced a re-think as the Salford and Eccles constituency was saved. But huge swathes of the city are now in Broughton and Blackley, with a Manchester based MP, Graham Stringer. Those same politicians who wept for the future of Salford had no qualms, it seems, in agreeing to re-define the riverside and developer-ripe bits of Central Salford as being in the `regional centre’, which is bureaucrat-speak for Manchester, even though they include Salford City Centre in the `official’ definition. The plan was revealed in Salford Council’s Development Plan Core Strategy Pre Publication Consultation in 2011, complete with a map showing the boundary line for the new `regional centre’ weaving around some of the most deprived parts of Salford. For instance, Greengate was included

in the `regional centre’ but Greengate North and Trinity weren’t included. Ordsall Waterfront was included but Ordsall itself wasn’t. Also in the `regional centre’ were The Crescent, some parts of Liverpool Street, Salford Central and Salford Quays, while Pendleton, Broughton, Charlestown (except for the Innovation Forum), Lower Kersal, Eccles New Road, Claremont and Weaste were left out. While the Core Strategy was eventually scrapped by Government inspectors, a new `local plan’, probably with the same ideals, is about to be consulted on this summer – which is more than can be said about the controversial imposition of a Greater Manchester Mayor which will erode Salford’s identity even further. The devolution deal with Tory Chancellor George Osborne - signed by the ten leaders of Greater Manchester councils including Salford City Mayor, Ian Stewart -included handing over powers to the GM Mayor for aspects of planning, housing, transport and education. When Salford councillors discussed a document called the Greater Manchester Spatial Framework which will determine planning under the new devolution deal, even the Assistant Mayor for Planning, Councillor Antrobus, stated “There may be legislative change which means that we would not have the power to approve it. That power will be somewhere else...” Meanwhile, developers are taking the power to kill Salford’s indentity into their own hands. Virtually every single new development in the city has suddenly been moved into Manchester. A Liverpool company, X1, is currently flogging loads of apartments all branded with Manchester... X1 Media City Manchester; X1 Salford Quays Manchester; X1 Chapel Street Manchester; X1 The Exchange Manchester...and, most obnoxious of all, X1 Town Hall Manchester – its conversion of the old Salford Town Hall on Bexley Square. The stunning deco Dock Offices, currently being converted to flats, are now located at `Manchester’s Salford Quays’, according to sales agent Edwards and Co; the Adelphi Wharf apartment

blocks on Adelphi Street, that have not even been built yet, are currently being marketed as `high end riverside apartments in Manchester’ and there’s two Abito apartment developments at `Manchester:Greengate’ and `Manchester:Salford Quays’.

...developers are taking the power to kill Salford’s indentity into their own hands. Visiting Salford? You can now stay in the `Premier Inn Manchester’ (at Salford Quays), or `The Lowry Hotel Manchester’ or the `Holiday Inn ManchesterMediaCityUK’. Fancy getting fit? Try and work out how Pure Gym is in `Exchange Quay Manchester’. Or fancy a snack at EastzEast at `Manchester Riverside’ on Blackfriars Street? The list goes on and on and on... However, is it any wonder these companies are running ragged over Salford’s identity when the city’s original URC regeneration company, was marketing the Quays as `Manchester’s Waterfront’? And even now, Salford City Council’s own Visit Salford website is hosting a brochure for the Soapworks in Ordsall, located at Media City, Salford Quays, Manchester... “an exciting, bold new address” one of the pages slathers. It certainly is... It’s not just the Salfordian who is an endangered species; a growing section of the city is being re-branded and hyper-gentrified, and is losing its very soul, despite the corporate crumbs of a few Shelagh Delaney portraits dotted about developments and naming an unaffordable housing block after a Vimto bottle.


SOCIAL CLEA IN SALFORD From Higher Broughton to Lower Broughton; from Ordsall to Pendleton, there’s been a deliberate policy to clear out communities and replace them with more affluent people. Now, the property developers are actually admitting it...

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ack in June 2001, people living in the so-called `Bottom Streets’ of Higher Broughton met as part of an ongoing consultation concerning the regeneration of their area. The official minutes of that Wiltshire Street Residents’ Group meeting, recorded by Portico Housing Association, state quite clearly... “There is a supposition on the part of the residents that any cleared land will be sold for development, providing modern more expensive homes. If this happens, residents see very clearly that they will lose their homes and their status as owner-occupiers to permit other, more affluent people to move in...”

An area that was once made up of almost 100% houses that were affordable to the community will now be 64% unaffordable Now, 14 years later, not only have the `Bottom Streets’ of Higher Broughton been bulldozed but so have the `Top Streets’. Where there were once over 400 houses, there are now just six original houses left and 19 new ones built for the former community. Where there were once almost a thousand original residents, there are now maybe thirty left. And in their place have come, as predicted by the residents themselves, `more affluent people’ and `more expensive homes’. Between 2005 and 2007, house owners were paid between £19,250 and £56,000 for their houses by Salford Council. Prices for new houses in the area, built on the site of the demolished streets, ranged from £110,000 for one of the 19 `affordable’ pre-fabs built in 2006, to a high of £239,950 for a house in Countryside Properties’ new Kings Square estate. “This is a top deal for Salford, for local people...” said Salford City Mayor, Ian Stewart, as he opened the Kings Square show home in 2013 “...we are delivering what local people want.”

The Higher Broughton experience was nothing less than the assassination of a community, or what many former residents call `social cleansing’. It’s an experience shared by communities in all areas of Salford within a few miles of Manchester City Centre or MediaCityUK; from Langworthy and Seedley, to Pendleton, Ordsall and Lower Broughton. And what’s more, it’s been a deliberate policy of Salford Council, backed by massive amounts of public money.

holds in Boothstown and Ellenbrook (£46,578), Worsley (£40,546) and Claremont (£31,142) fare better.

In Lower Broughton - now re-branded `New Broughton’ - Countryside Properties put the `aspiration’ in black and white, in a report last October to Salford Council, as it tried to justify evading provision of affordable housing for its new private housing estate next to The Meadows...

In the first £40million phase of the Pendleton Together project, only 110 of 300 new properties are affordable and for rent. In the overall £430million scheme, only around 500 homes out of 1500 being built will be affordable. This compares with 885 affordable properties scheduled to be bulldozed.

Boasting of how, at the end of its current phases of building, the `tenure split’ would be 36% affordable and 64% non-affordable, or private `market accommodation’, the property company states: “It was a key aspiration of the Development Agreement to significantly reduce the proportion of affordable housing and this scheme will help achieve that aspiration...” Not only do these schemes clear vast proportions of the old community out of the area, they also mask the poverty and problems that still exist in the area. Countryside Properties, in its original planning application for `New Broughton’ stated quite clearly that “By introducing more market housing, which is generally occupied by a greater proportion of economically active people, there is likely to be an overall improvement in the health of the residential population of the area.” The heath of the original community does not improve – but the statistics do! In Ordsall, previously one of the most `deprived’ districts in the country, latest Salford Council figures (2012) show that the median household income is £30,479, the fourth highest in Salford. Only house-

Ordsall has been subject to years of masterplanning by property company, LPC, and is sandwiched between Manchester City Centre and MediaCityUK. Meanwhile, Pendleton, on the doorstep of the University of Salford and MediaCityUK, is currently undergoing a 15 year, PFI (Private Finance Initiative) `transformation’.

“...residents see very clearly that they will lose their homes and their status as owner-occupiers to permit other, more affluent people to move in...” Wiltshire Street Residents’ Group The Business Case that went off to the Government to get the PFI grants stated that the final plans for Pendleton “will lead to a dilution in the current concentration of economically inactive households” by “young professionals and individuals who wish to live in Pendleton”. It’s all being done “in order for Pendleton to position itself to play a key role in the housing needs of this increase in population”. And not, presumably, for the community that is already living there. A Council report shows that only ten remaining residents out of 76 originally living on the Athole Street estate moved to new houses


ANSING

Higher Broughton: Pre-regen: 400 community houses Post-regen: 25 community houses

that were built on the site of their former homes. Residents in Seedley and Langworthy know all about this, having lived through the well documented Urban Splash experience near Chimney Pot Park, where they were paid a pittance for their homes, only to see them transformed into unaffordable `upside down’ houses. And residents of Lower Kersal and Charlestown were also almost shafted by the £53million New Deal for Communities scheme where speculators had their eyes on bulldozing half of the Whit Lane estate to build a marina and prime unaffordable waterside properties, until it all went wrong. Meanwhile, for those needing social rent housing in Central Salford, the writing would seem to be on the wall with increasing rents, draconian tenancies and a more stringent housing allocations policy about to be introduced. With Salford Council housing now transferred to the independent Salix Homes, which formerly only managed the properties, tenancies have changed from `secured’ to `assured’, making it easier to evict residents. New tenants could also face rent hikes and the prospect of `affordable rent’, rather than `social rent’, which could be up to 40% more expensive. Indeed in the run up to the transfer ballot last year, Salix stated that it “would have greater freedom, for example, in the range and types of tenancies provided and locations/lettings policy”, and that it would “work to change the view that social housing is a home for life towards being a resource for a particular time”. Alongside this, Salford Council is about to change its Housing Allocation Policy, introducing an option to “re-house families in multi-storey blocks” and penalties for refusing a `suitable property’. The demolitions, the new

Lower Boughton:

Pre-regen: almost 100% affordable homes Post-regen 36% affordable homes

unaffordable housing and the squeeze on social rent is all an attack on low cost housing in Central Salford, as land prices rise and Manchester City Centre expands into Salford. There’s huge profits to be made and it’s nothing new. A similar scenario is happening in London, and 143 years ago the writer and revolutionary, Friedrich Engels, wrote about it from his base in Salford...

“The result is that workers are forced out of the centre of towns towards the outskirts” Friedrich Engels “The growth of the big modern cities gives the land in certain areas, particularly in those which are centrally situated, an artificial and colossally increasing value” he explained “the buildings erected on these areas depress this value instead of increasing it, because they no longer correspond to the changed circumstances. They are pulled down and replaced by others. This takes place above all with the workers’ houses which are situated centrally and whose rents... can never increase above a certain maximum “The result is that workers are forced out of the centre of towns towards the outskirts; that workers’ dwellings... become rare and expensive and often altogether unobtainable” he added “For under these circumstances the building industry, which is offered a much better field for speculation by more expensive houses, builds workers’ dwelling only by way of exception...They will provide new dwellings for hardly more than a quarter of the workers actually evicted by the building operations.” Never mind the Engels of 1872, the residents of Higher Broughton noted this in 2001...`more affluent people’ and `more expensive homes’. Or social cleansing gone rampant.


LECCY BILL MADNESS... Case 1: Jamie: Should be paying £294 per year. Actually paying £750 for six months.

PENDLETON UNTOGETHER

Residents living in Pendleton towerblocks are currently in the middle of an £80million refurbishment which is supposed to modernise their flats and alleviate fuel poverty with an efficient green system. Instead it’s having the opposite effect with bills doubling and anger growing...

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n Spruce Court, Pendleton, Sara Thomson is going out of her mind... “I’ve got to ask family and friends for food and to help with money” she says “I don’t know who to turn to...” In Hornbeam Court, Lee Ward is worried about eviction... “I’ve fallen behind with my rent now...I’m getting threatening letters” he says “How am I going to pay? It’s ridiculous...” In Whitebeam Court, Mark Sillis says he’s had to cut back on everything... “shopping...baths...I can’t have a social life” he explains “I think this is about making money and making Salford look better than it used to be. I don’t think they care about people. We’re just numbers to them...just guinea pigs...just muck on the floor basically.”

“We were promised it would be efficient and green; it’s a load of rubbish” Mark Sillis These are just a few of the hundreds of residents who are horrified at the results of a multi-million pound, publicly funded refurbishment of Pendleton towerblocks which was supposed to reduce energy bills. And at the centre is what they call the

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`monster’ ...the `money furnace’...or the NIBE F370 Exhaust Air Heat Pump which its manufacturer announces is a `smart, simple cost saver’. The NIBE system, imported from Sweden, recovers heat from waste air and pumps it back into flats to provide heating and hot water. It’s controlled by a massive contraption the size of an American double fridge freezer that sits in the kitchen, and costs around £6,000 per flat. Pendleton Together, which is managing the refurbishment of over 800 high and low rise blocks, states that the new system “massively reduces carbon and heating bills”, citing a housing scheme in Sheffield which “resulted in utility bills falling by as much as 70%”. But residents who have already had the NIBE fitted just laugh at statements like these. Their energy bills have more than doubled since the NIBE was installed... Lee shows us his itemised electricity statement showing £545 for less than three months use on his meter ... “On 1st December I put £20 in, on 3rd December £10, on the 5th £10, on the 9th £20, and so it goes on and on until 27th February” he explains “I got a quote from British Gas: the average two bedroom flat in this area uses 6,000 hour units a year - I’ve already used 4,500 in three months,

that’s two thirds of my annual usage. It’s costing a fortune. I’m working for the NIBE...” Mark tells the same story.... “We were promised it would be efficient and green; it’s a load of rubbish” he says “It was a lot warmer with the gas boiler we had before because the radiators used to get red hot; now they’re lukewarm. It’s estimated we should be spending £720 for the year - we’ve spent £736 within seven months. The bill is definitely going to double.”

The independent Whitebeam Community Action Group, set up by residents to try and sort out horrendous problems with the refurbishments, carried out its own survey of the 134 tenants they could contact in Whitebeam, Malus and Spruce Court. They asked – Are you happy with the NIBE? Every single resident, apart from four, said `No’. Can you afford to use it? Every single resident, apart from four, said `No’. Would you like it removed? Every single resident, apart from two, said `Yes’, even two of those who were happy with the NIBE!

And Sara, who is trapped in the classic heat or eat dilemma, agrees... “I’m on benefits at the moment and I used to spend £10 a fortnight on electric; now I’m spending between £20 and £50 a fortnight, sometimes more” she explains “Every time I complain they send someone out and say `It’s nothing to do with the system, it’s all the stuff that you’re using’ but I have an energy efficient halogen oven. You can’t turn the NIBE off because it costs at least £6 just to switch it back on again, so I have to make sure that my electric is always topped up. People I speak to are spending £160 a month on it but you should be spending £30 to £40 a month. It’s everyone in the block. It’s disgusting.”

Pendleton Together, under siege from residents’ complaints, has barred all discussion about the NIBE at official monthly block meetings and posters giving out information from the Action Group have been ripped down. It hasn’t stopped the Group from holding two huge unofficial meetings at St Paul’s Church on the Broadwalk, with people from all blocks coming together to share their experiences and anger.

It’s not just everyone in Sara’s block, it’s almost everyone in all blocks that have the NIBE installed.

“We are not able to offer you an alternative heating system to the NIBE” it stated “We feel that the

www.salfordstar.com

Jamie, who runs the Group, put in an official complaint about the NIBE and was horrified to receive an email from Chris Brown, Pendleton Together Contract Manager...


LECCY BILL MADNESS...

Case 5: Lee: Average two bedroom flat uses 6,000 hour units a year. Already used 4,500 in three months.

LECCY BILL MADNESS... Case 2: Kathy: Was paying £33 a month. Now paying approx £66 a month

The Great Residents Survey...

Whitebeam Malus Spruce Are You Happy With Your NIBE? No (100%) No (100%) No (99%) Yes/No *Survey conducted by Whitebeam Community Action Group of 134 residents, with all responses signed. electric based systems the NIBE is economic if specified, fitted and used correctly...Should you wish to discuss how alternative accommodation can be accessed through the Council’s Choice Based Lettings System we can provide you with more information...” In other words, `If you don’t like the NIBE system, get out!’ This has made Jamie even more determined to get the thing ripped out and residents compensated.

“I’ve relayed all the horror stories to Pendleton Together and all they have done is say `If you don’t like your NIBE find somewhere else to live’” Jamie, Whitebeam Community Action Group “I’ve been researching the NIBE for about seven months, from the first day they brought it in and started punching big six inch round holes in the outside walls” he says “Basically the whole flat was re-done for the NIBE. We are now only caretakers for the great NIBE. We must feed it every day...you don’t control it, you can’t control it...it has to stay on 24 hours a day...and it controls you. You get up in the middle of the night, and it’s freezing cold because the outside wind temperature is -15, but the ambient temperature is +5. So you’re sitting on £6000 worth of boiler and you’ve got to go and buy electric fires because your boiler doesn’t feel like working. During the summer you bake, during the winter you freeze. “I’ve relayed all the horror stories to Pendleton Together and all they have done is say `If you don’t like your NIBE find somewhere else to live’” he adds “And Salford Council is standing as far away as possible – you’ve heard of arms length! They

would sell us tomorrow for a bag of poo.” The massive redevelopment of Pendleton was finally launched in 2013 after years of delay. It is about nothing less than, what Salford Council called in its original Outline Business Case for Pendleton, the “dilution in the current concentration of economically inactive households...The ability of Pendleton to fulfil its potential of attracting those on higher incomes will depend on the appropriate housing and environment being provided.” Pendleton sits smack in the middle of Central Salford, with Salford University on one border, MediaCityUK on another and Manchester City Centre a few minutes bus ride away. While 885 affordable properties are in the process of being bulldozed, only around one third of the 1600 replacement properties will be affordable. The total thirty year scheme, including the new housing, refurbishments, new spaces and parks, is costing £650million, with £430million coming from Central Government and £43.6million coming from Salford Council for refurbishments (see below). Behind this is an array of companies and subcontractors, and some very complicated finances. The refurbishment of the blocks and other social housing is part of a Private Finance Initiative, or PFI, game that’s being played out in investors’ wallets, based on the sale of £82.6million worth of bonds on the Irish Stock Exchange via a company called FHW Dalmore (Salford Pendleton Housing) plc. The bonds, or notes, pay investors 5.4% (A Notes) or 8.35% (B Notes) rates of interest, and are traded on the world markets. In turn, the company lends Pendleton Together Operating Ltd (a subsidiary of Chevin Housing Association and Pennine Housing) the money to `refurbish, manage and maintain’ 1,270 social housing properties (including 833 flats) over a thirty year period. Salford Council, which remains the owner of the properties, will also pay Pendleton Together

Operating Ltd a total of £43,644,980 until 2043 for `management, maintenance and modernisation’; around £1.5million a year. The Irish Stock Exchange has made available a massive 500 page document which lists all the companies involved, the targets for completion and the risks involved – and the main risk is not completing the refurbishments in time. For instance, 244 dwellings have to be complete by the last day of the 24th month from the start, or Salford Council can terminate Pendleton Together Operating Ltd’s contract, while there are also penalties payable to Salford Council if the work is late. Meanwhile, Pendleton Together Operating passes on most of these liabilities to its sub-contractor Keepmoat Regeneration (Bramall) Ltd. Basically, there are huge profits and penalties at stake, from the investors to Pendleton Together Operating, to Keepmoat. And sat in the middle are the residents. To get the job done as quickly as possible and to save money, presumably, Keepmoat didn’t decant residents of Whitebeam Court into alternative properties during renovations, and tenants were left living in a building site for over six months as their homes were ripped apart around them. Last year, the Salford Star reported how 73 year old George Astley, the first person to move into the block when it was built, was forced to live on sandwiches after his cooker was left disconnected for weeks. He was also left with no hot water, with dust everywhere and pipes and cables hanging... “I’m 73, I don’t need this” he sighed “I don’t know how older, less well people are going to cope. Every weekend I’m cleaning when I could be out. Complain? Who to? They don’t care. It’s ok for them, they go home to a nice clean house with a hot meal - I’m living on sandwiches.” In Whitebeam, Spruce and Hornbeam residents recalled how their flats looked like “a grenade had gone off”... “it’s like living in a war zone”... “if I did

www.salfordstar.com

such damage in your house I’d be done for vandalism”... “it could be worse, I could be a refugee”... “at the time I was ready to throw myself out of the window, it was driving me crazy...” Even a senior housing officer on the PFI project was `shocked’ and `disturbed’ by the conditions people were living in, while local Salford councillors got involved. Following pressure from the newly formed Whitebeam Community Action Group and the Salford Star article, Pendleton Together and Keepmoat apologised for the disruption, promised additional support for tenants, set up an emergency compensation scheme and offered decants to residents while work was going on. Flats were also to be refurbished in four to five weeks, as opposed to seven months previously. Pendleton Together also offered £50 towards the cost of firing up the NIBE. Indeed, while refurbishment horror stories are still festering amongst some residents, it’s the NIBE that’s causing current consternation... “It’s costing too much, I used to pay £15 a week for my energy but now it’s between £30 and £40” says Lisa Pritchard from Whitebeam “When it first got put in I complained to them and they just said `There’s nothing we can do about it, it’s just the way it runs’ and we’ve not got any further. They came out once and said they’d be back in a week; that was two months ago and no-one’s been back.

Even a senior housing officer on the PFI project was `shocked’ and `disturbed’ by the conditions people were living in... “No-one’s happy” she adds “When we used to bump into other people on the block it used to be chit chat, like `How are you?’ and stuff...now everything’s about the NIBE. They said at the beginning it’s going to be efficient, it’s going to save money but definitely not. If I could get it taken out

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The Great Residents Survey... Can you afford Whitebeam to use your No (100%) NIBE? Yes/No

Malus No (100%)

Spruce No (99%)

tomorrow I would. And they need to stop putting the rest of them in.”

LECCY BILL MADNESS...

Case 4: Sara: Was spending £10 a fortnight. Now spending £20-£50 a fortnight.

Elsewhere in the country, many housing associations have ripped out the NIBE systems and the Bedfordshire Pilgrims Housing Association has paid out £52,000 in compensation to residents to cover their huge energy bills. Two years ago, in Coventry, Labour councillor Ed Ruane and Coventry North West Labour MP Geoffrey Robinson were instrumental in getting NIBEs taken out of homes and tenants compensated. “Residents were giving me monthly bills for as much as £500, it was ridiculous” he recalls “In the lead up the housing association was just saying

`You’re not using the boiler properly, you keep switching it off and on etc’, but that wasn’t the case. The NIBE system is a Scandinavian design and was based on the fact that there’s always a central source of heat like an open fireplace; well that’s not the case with UK households and it clearly wasn’t piloted properly

“When we used to bump into other people on the block it used to be chit chat, like `How are you?’ and stuff...now everything’s about the NIBE” Lisa Pritchard “I think if you were to ask other housing associations would they purchase the NIBE system now I think you’d get a lot of answers saying `No’, which gives you an indication that it was wrong for these people when they had it installed” he adds “It hasn’t worked so you’ve got to take action on this straight away. Why should the tenant have to forfeit the mistake, it’s just totally wrong. Inadvertently the housing association is forcing the most vulnerable people that it’s designed to protect into fuel poverty.” Strangely, Pendleton Together refuses to give tenants a copy of their EPC, or Energy Performance Certificate, which should be provided when a property is rented. One tenant who found his own certificate was horrified to discover that his flat’s Energy Efficiency Rating was a `B’ and that his annual cost for heating and hot water should be £294 per year, when he was paying £750 for six months. Furthermore, the information on the official certificate was wrong, stating that the flat had an `air sourced heat pump’ which is a low or zero carbon system, when the NIBE was an exhaust air heat pump, with a very high CO2 system, that might drop the Energy Efficiency Rating to a `D’, flying against Government policy. In March this year, Salford Council signed off its progress report on the Government’s Home Energy Conservation Act, stating “Pendleton Together plan to install 895 air source heat pump units in

their high-rise blocks. This will help achieve the project’s target of generating 10% of its energy from renewable sources, with the potential to achieve as much as 37.9% renewable energy savings overall.” The Salford Star has also seen the official contract between Salford Council and Pendleton Together which states that “The contractor shall demonstrate that the 10% renewable energy target is being met through performance measurement assessed annually”, including “overall energy consumed by the exhaust air heat pump (EAHP)”. The Council adds that is expects “as a minimum” a quarterly forecast of the performance of the NIBE system. Salford Council must now know the real readings from the NIBE system, unless figures are being falsified. Meanwhile, the Whitebeam Community Action Group goes further and alleges that the NIBE system has been fitted illegally. In an email sent to Pendleton Together it states... “NIBE EA [Exhaust Air] Heat Pump units as installed in our properties do not comply with building regulations and as such are not allowed to be used in new build or refurbishment projects. The Domestic Heating Compliance Guide, which is part of the building regulation section 8.1a states as follows; Electrically driven heat pumps should have a coefficient of performance of no less than 2 when operating at the heating design condition. As the NIBE EA heat pump operates at less than a COP of 2 they cannot comply with the building regulations. They are therefore illegal systems and must be replaced, and these people should be compensated for wasted costs to date.” Pendleton Together refused to be interviewed by the Salford Star on this or any other matter but NIBE itself issued a statement... “The suggestion that EAHP units are not classed as renewable technology is not true. EAHPs have been recognised by the EU as renewable technology since 2013 in a decision binding across all member countries. An application for their inclusion in the RHI [Renewable Heat Incentive] in the UK is due to be made after the General Election.” However, away from all the carbon and climate


Residents Part of `A Living Laboratory’

LECCY BILL MADNESS...

The University of Salford is a partner with Pendleton Together, and its Head of Industrial Partnerships, Mike Taylor, told the Platform website how the Pendleton PFI is viewed by his team: “Obviously it’s on our doorstep. The way we talk about the programme internally is that it’s a ‘living laboratory’”...

Case 3: Mark: Should be paying £720 per year. Actually spent £736 in seven months.

LIFE WITH THE NIBE... “It’s spoiled everything they’ve done in the flat to upgrade it. All you keep worrying about and looking at is the meter going round and round. It’s very expensive and one fortnight I put £90 in, and then got a £70 bill for 18 days, and I hadn’t even used the cooker. It’s not for working people or people on benefits. I thought `Please let summer come so you don’t have to have it on’ but if you don’t have it on you don’t get hot water.

The Great Residents Survey...

Would you like Whitebeam your NIBE Yes (100%) removed? Yes/No

change targets, residents just want to know why their bills have rocketed when they were promised their energy bills would be reduced. Phil Hurley, Managing Director of NIBE UK, said: “We are aware of a small number of installations on the site where there have been issues and are working closely with Pendleton Together to investigate these. As far as we are aware, the issues have not been with the EAHP technology itself, but with the operation of the heating systems during ongoing refurbishment work. Things like lack of insulation, doors and windows being left open during works and so on, have, we understand, led to inevitably high running costs for some users, particularly during the winter months.

systems with gas are much lower. At the Castlefields estate in Runcorn, where 69 NIBE units were replaced with gas boilers, in flats as well as houses, the running costs of the replacement systems were one third of the NIBE running cost. The running cost reduction was actually greater in flats because of the removal of the over ventilation”

“From the information provided by Pendleton Together there are, as far as we can see, no existing issues with installations that cannot be resolved” he added “If any tenants are experiencing problems with the operation of the EAHP it is important that they bring this to Pendleton Together’s attention. We have an engineer on site every week and can help address any issue with the set-up of the system or its day-to-day operation.

“If you drill large holes in the walls of a tower block, install a fan that sucks in far too much air through the holes, and then heat the flats using on-peak electricity with a small ventilation heat recovery heat pump, then the tenants will pay the price for these decisions” he explains “The NIBE unit is not renewable technology and is excluded from the Government’s renewable heat incentive programme.

“It is important to note that this EAHP system is ideal for this type of property and is working very effectively in thousands of homes across the UK and tens of thousands across Europe” he explained “It is simply incorrect to say that there is an inherent problem with the technology or that, for some reason it does not work in the UK. Previous incidents where systems have been removed in UK developments have been down to their incorrect specification (eg too small a unit for the size of the property) rather than malfunction. The Whitebeam Court units have been correctly specified however and if installed and operated properly should offer heat, hot water and controlled ventilation at a reasonable cost.”

“The NIBE unit is not a full heat pump, it is an electric heating system with a large electric immersion heater and a smaller heat recovery pump that needs the immersion heater to provide the missing heat in cold weather” he concludes “There is really nothing to talk about on running cost, because the electricity meter can speak for itself, and everyone at Pendleton with one of these units can say what their meter readings are.”

Not so, according to Geoff Morgan, BEng CEng FCIBSE, a heating engineer and specialist who has been involved in court cases against NIBE... “NIBE exhaust air heat pump systems are known to be high running cost compared with gas or full heat pump systems” he says “Where such NIBE systems have been removed, and there have been many, the running costs of the replacement

“The NIBE units installed in the tower blocks introduce disadvantages because the inbuilt powerful fan over ventilates the flat by nearly 100%, made worse by drilling large holes in the outside walls which allows the wind to blow in” he adds “This causes a great increase in the heat loss which makes the running costs higher.

Their meters are screaming but the Pendleton Together partners – Pendleton Together, Keepmoat and Salford Council - remain silent, pushing the responsibility for the NIBE fall-out around each other... “I blame Salford City Council, who approved it, and Pendleton Together but they won’t admit whose fault it is” says Mark “It’s having an effect on everyone and making them ill. I definitely want the NIBE out.” Jamie from Whitebeam Community Action Group, believes the stakes are too high for a u-turn... “It’s my impression that they know they’ve got a pup

Malus Yes (100%)

Spruce Yes (99.5%)

but the job is half way through and to stop it would cost around £5million” he explains “So, instead, they carry on fitting them and kick the can down the road. But in the meantime the tenants are suffering...” Coventry councillor, Ed Ruane, who helped get the NIBEs removed in his ward, is shocked when we tell him that the local Salford councillors aren’t standing up for residents caught in an enforced fuel poverty scandal...“I don’t understand why the councillors don’t just get behind this” he says.

All the time you’re watching it...I can’t explain, it’s like a computer that knows which room you’re in. You keep running up to it and writing down the number on the meter to try and work out how much electric you’ve used...it’s like a job having your heating on. I wouldn’t have it in if I’d known what it was like.” Kathy Jeffrey, Whitebeam Court “It’s useless and it’s too expensive. I was paying £33 a month on standing order for gas and electric, they’ve put the NIBE in and it’s doubled. I work five or six days a week and start work at 6am but I have got to do the overtime to pay the electric.

“The housing association is forcing the most vulnerable people that it’s designed to protect into fuel poverty” Coventry councillor Ed Ruane When the Salford Star contacted them, Councillor John Warmisham responded that he couldn’t comment as it was the pre-election `purdah’ period, while Councillor Paul Dennett didn’t respond at all. Assistant Mayor for Housing, Councillor Gena Merrett, also stated she couldn’t comment but added that she would ensure a council officer responded. That response has not been forthcoming. And neither has any response from any councillor now that the purdah period is over. It’s all left residents feeling betrayed and isolated... “My mum is not too well, her block, Thorn Court, is next to be fitted with a NIBE and I don’t want it for her” says Sara “Something needs to be done, and fast...”

On my living room wall there’s a box that you could keep two pigeons in. It’s an 18 inch vent and if you look down it you can see outside. When it’s windy it howls through there and wakes you up at night; when it’s really windy it’s like a boom box, you could make music with it. Some nights it’s not worth going to bed. You can also feel the draught coming through the drawers and cupboards, yet the flat is supposed to be sealed. You couldn’t walk around in a pair of shorts with the heating, it’s that draughty. I’ve complained to Salford Council and signed every petition but there’s been no response at all.” Edward Murray, Whitebeam Court


CHAPEL STREE Nothing Cordial about Vimto...

Over £11million of public money has been sunk into Vimto Gardens for a return of no affordable housing and no joy for a local shopkeeper who has served the community for thirty years...

A

rshad Malik, or Mo as everyone knows him, is stood in his convenience shop, a scones throw from the shiny new Vimto Gardens development, trying to work it all out. He’s been here over thirty years, even though the block was supposed to be demolished decades ago... “Salford Council told me in 1989 that this building is not going to be here after 1992, and here we are” he laughs. But this time it really is coming down, as part of the Chapel Street redevelopment being done by English Cities fund (ECf) in partnership with Salford City Council. Mo didn’t have a problem with this because, he says, he was promised one of the four retail units underneath the Vimto Gardens `luxury collection of 83 apartments and 14 townhouses’. Except it looks likely that he isn’t going to get one, probably because his face and the current community he serves don’t fit the new shiny Vimto image.

“I want to know what they have done for the local community and local business so far?” “Before they went for planning for that building they asked me all these questions about what kind of shop I wanted” Mo recalls “So I gave them all my requirements and they said `Once we have that building done we’ll move you in there’. Then they offered me the smallest unit as they said the bigger unit, Unit One, was going to be for a big brand convenience store - Tesco or someone - so obviously I refused the smaller one. How can a small shop be viable next to a Tesco Express or a big name?” Mo, who had been working in the community for thirty years, was in danger of being chucked out, despite forty pages of petitions signed by just about everyone in the neighbourhood. Under pressure and with no obvious sign of any big brand grocer showing interest, the ECf asked Mo to make it a rental offer for Unit One. That was over six months ago. But Unit One is still on the market. And Mo’s still hanging on... “I got two independent valuations of what the rent should be on that Unit and both were nowhere near the high price they are asking” he explains “I even offered them £50,000 more rent

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over five years from what my valuers suggested; I just don’t know what their problems are.” To get over the branding hurdle, Mo even got in touch with Spar, the largest retail food chain in the world, which agreed to help him develop the new shop. But he’s still hanging on... “There’s different excuses every time” he says “I just get no response. They’ve been messing me about for six years, well, thirty years actually.” Indeed, he’s almost been a prisoner in his shop for that time. In 1995 Salford Council bought the block and Mo has been operating with no proper lease ever since... “I asked them to renew it in 1996 but they said they couldn’t because it was coming down in the next three or four years. I spent thousands of pounds getting different solicitors involved trying to buy this place off them but all they kept saying was `This is coming down this year, next year...and it definitely shouldn’t be here after 1992!’” With no lease, if Salford Council kicks Mo out he’ll get no compensation, just a small loss of business payment, for thirty years work serving the community as the only shop in the neighbourhood. Yet thirty years and his relationship with the current community seem to count for nothing in ECf’s plans of offering what it calls `a refreshing change’. The Council and ECf seem to be wanting to kick Mo out, without actually kicking him out themselves. First they offered him a small unit next to a big brand Tesco or something, making it impossible for him to operate. Now they are pricing him out by setting the rent ridiculously high. ECf refused to talk to the Salford Star about Mo or any of its Chapel Street redevelopment but Darren Moorhouse, from King Street Commercial, the agent for the Vimto Gardens retail units, insisted there was nothing out of the ordinary in their dealings with Mo...“We’ve had an offer from the gentleman but it wasn’t at the right level so we’re just marketing it, waiting for the best offer we can get from the right sort of tenant.”

“I don’t think this is anything to do with the local people” The right sort of tenant? “The offer wasn’t enough and he’s aware of that” Moorhouse added “We’ve had one or two offers that haven’t reached the level

that the client is looking for. It’s not just about the financial things. We’re taking everything into consideration in terms of how the shop is going to look, trying to give the area a big boost and make it look really good.” Does Mo not count? “Yes he counts very much but everything has got to be right...In terms of the rent it was just nowhere near; we’ve had better offers and turned them down. We’ve dealt with him as we would anyone coming in showing interest in the unit.” Now, if Vimto was financed by a private company it would still be hard on Mo and his shop and his customers. That’s capitalism. However, Vimto Gardens has been stuffed with public money, with loans totalling £10.6million. The Homes and Communities Agency coughed up a £3.4million loan under its Get Britain Building scheme. The Greater Man-

www.salfordstar.com

chester Combined Authorities chucked in another £3.4million loan from its Growing Places fund. And Salford Council also contributed a £3.8million loan – plus £514,000 to `realign’ Islington Way, outside Vimto, making it more user-friendly. The £3.8million loan was agreed in the secret Part 2 of the Deputy Mayor’s Property Briefing in 2012, and then approved by City Mayor Ian Stewart, so no-one has any idea on the justification for the Council deal. However, the funding for the `realignment’ of Islington Way was agreed under the Council’s Sustainable Community Strategy, `Connecting People To Opportunities’. Mo certainly doesn’t think he’s been `connected’ to any opportunities... “There’s only one question I would like to ask” he says “How did they get funded with public money? By saying

that they are going to look after the local community and local businesses? I want to know what they have done for the local community and local business so far?” He can also look with irony at the `vision’ for Chapel Street, set out in the Salford Central Development Framework, which clearly states that “independent retailers” will be “encouraged”. “Obviously I feel very frustrated” Mo adds “I have all the customers in the world; we asked their opinion and every single person around here signed the petition. They can call a public meeting if they want and ask everyone. This shop’s been here thirty years; the community is like a family to us. It’s very unfair but they just keep fobbing me off, saying `Make us an offer’. I think they just intend to bring in some big brand name into that building which is going to


ET GOES SOUR Chapel Street – The Secrecy P ublic records show that over the last four years Salford Council has spent £18.4million buying up land in and around Chapel Street that was covered by the massive Compulsory Purchase Order (CPO) it slapped on every lamppost in the area back in 2011. Many of the speculators that owned land covered by the CPO were based offshore in places like Jersey, Bermuda, Isle of Man, Barbados and Switzerland.

In the interests of accountability and transparency the Salford Star wanted to know where all that public money went, so we put in Freedom of Information (FOI) request asking for details of all expenditure by Salford City Council from its `Chapel Street Acquisition Fund’, broken down into how much it paid each land owner. This was refused as disclosure “could be detrimental to the commercial interests of the council and the partners involved in the scheme”. Indeed, Salford Council “decided that the public interest is in favour of withholding the information”. As well as the Acquisition Fund, within the huge Chapel Street Planning Application there is also detail of a Development Trust Account, controlled by Salford Council and the English Cities fund (ECf). Normally when developers are applying to the Council for planning permission they have to pay Section 106 money for things like roads, public spaces and affordable housing. But for the whole of the Chapel Street redevelopment, the ECf proposed this Development Trust Account instead, which would take fees from, what it called, `more viable zones’ and use them `to bring forward the development of non-viable sites on Chapel Street’. The ECf never quite defined what a `non-viable site’ is, except to state that `non-viable development will probably be the largest call for funds’. Meanwhile, it adds, confusingly, and via incredibly bad English, that `The other matters will be drawn from a specified list of matters related to normal developer contributions, i.e. improved public realm and infrastructure, affordable housing, public art’. You what? Indeed, affordable housing is definitely not a priority, as stated in the application, which weighs up the balance between spending these Trust Account funds on affordable housing or spending them on `transformational regeneration’ (whatever that is..Vimto Gardens?). It concludes that the balance “should be, for economic and viability reasons, in favour of regeneration, which would suggest that the affordable housing target will be difficult to meet”.

Vimto Gardens public money loans:

make the value of it go higher. But how did they get all these public funds? I believe they got them by saying they were going to look after the community. “I don’t think all this is anything to do with the local people at all” he insists “How many flats in Vimto Gardens are going to the local people? And what benefit will it give to the local people in future? I can’t see any.” Despite all the public funding, Vimto Gardens has no affordable housing and, unless someone gets a kick up the butt from the public funders, it won’t have a community convenience store either. The block of luxury flats and townhouses fronts the Islington Estate that Mo serves, where, according to Salix Homes, 66% of residents are getting some sort of housing benefit. It seems that neither Mo, nor the local community, fits the new shiny image Vimto Gardens portrays in its brochure... “Named after the fa-

£3.8million £3.4million £3.8million

So has there been any money paid into the Trust

Salford City Council

Account and, if so, where has it gone? Again, in the interests of accountability and transparency the Salford Star put in a Freedom of Information request asking for details of all payments made into the Account, with the source of those payments, and details of which schemes have benefitted from the Account. Given that the Account is full of public money, and is apparently operated through a steering group comprising the Salford City Council and the ECf, we also asked to see all correspondence about the Account. This request was refused, not under the Freedom of Information Act but under the Environmental Information Regulations 2004, Regulation 12 (5) (e) `which provides an exception for information where its disclosure would adversely affect the confidentiality of commercial or industrial information where such confidentiality is provided by law to protect a legitimate economic interest’. Apparently, any financial information can be classed as environmental information if it `related to the costs of redeveloping land and building a new development’. Not only that, but the Council `consulted with ECf as appropriate and ECf have not only not consented to the release of information but have strongly objected to the release of their correspondence with the council on the basis that disclosure of the information will directly affect their commercial interests and would involve the disclosure of sensitive information that could be used by their competitors’. The ECf hasn’t actually got any competitors as the whole redevelopment of the Chapel Street area has been handed over to that organisation. Indeed, the profit-seeking ECf seems to be policing itself, and could be financing its own projects via the public money Development Trust Account. We could be completely wrong, of course, but neither the ECf nor Salford Council would allow themselves to be questioned on this or any other matter by the Salford Star. And they certainly won’t provide any information via the Freedom of Information Act.

The FOI, or Environmental Information Regulations 2004, response states, “the Council acknowledges there is a general public interest in transparency...However, we believe that in this case the public interest in maintaining the exception outweighs the public interest in disclosing the information...” In other words, it’s in the public interest for none of us to know anything about what’s going on with the public money in Chapel Street...

The Homes and Communities Agency

The Greater Manchester Combined Authorities

mous drink that was first produced just metres from the site, it’s rapidly becoming the location of choice for people with a penchant for life that’s bubbling with possibilities...” `Bubbling with possibilities’ of social cleansing? And Mo’s still hanging on. While plans are hatched for another `luxury development’ to be built on the site of his shop...

www.salfordstar.com

25


What Is The English Cities Fund? Last news item on www.chapelstreet.net

...And What’s It Doing To Chapel Street?

T

he English Cities Fund (ECf) was created by the Government in 2001 to get investment into cities that needed redeveloping. It’s a joint venture between private companies Muse Developments and the Legal and General, and the Government’s Homes and Communities Agency (HCA). ECf is involved with five schemes around the country, including Central Salford, which is broken up into two areas, Chapel Street and what it calls `New Bailey’, the area around the Mark Addy pub. The three organisations originally coughed up £50million between them for all five schemes, with the Government providing half of that, and Barclays Bank backed it with a further £50million of loans. Last year, the Legal and General put in another £60million to fund the new £12million multi-storey car park and a 125,000 sq ft office building in New Bailey which, of course, is branded as being in Manchester.

“The overall aim is to create a major expansion of the region’s commercial centre within the old city of Salford to meet the needs of key business sectors” SCC The redevelopment area is huge and covers 17.75 hectares of Salford, spreading from the Fusilier war memorial on Chapel Street to the border of Manchester near the old Granada Studios. In 2011, Salford Council, which is `in partnership’ with the ECf in the city, slapped a Compulsory Purchase Order (CPO) on virtually every bit of land covered by the redevelopment, which allowed it to `acquire’ empty sites on which the landowners refused to build or to tart up existing buildings to fit the new `transformational’ image. Salford Council has, so far, spent £18.4million buying up land through its Chapel Street Acquisition Fund (see previous page). The idea behind it all is to spread Manchester City Centre into Salford, and, when complete in around ten years, ECf and the Council is promising to have built 2.37million sq ft of commercial space, 849 new properties and 390 hotel rooms. It’s also promising the creation of “around 11,000 new jobs”, which, in line with all Council claims about jobs, needs to be taken with a massive dose of cynicism – 15,500 `new jobs’ at Media City? So far, ECf , which is due to finish in 2018, has delivered an NCP car park, a Premier

26

June 5th 2013

Inn Hotel, the beginning of the New Bailey office block, plans for unaffordable housing near St Phillip’s Place and at the Vimto Gardens development that has so annoyed one local businessman.

www.salfordcentral.com

Official ECf website on Chapel Street

Dead

Also in the Chapel Street area has been the controversial £12.4million road `calming’ scheme, financed by the now defunct NWDA and European funding; the X1 `Manchester’ apartment developments at the old Salford Town Hall and opposite the Angel Centre, and The Ainscow `boutique’ hotel within the old Brown Brothers building, which was once destined to be a digital learning centre for the community. Indeed, there hasn’t been much for the existing community at all in the Central Salford redevelopment, which shouldn’t be surprising because the private companies involved are in it to make a profit, while a Salford Council press release stated: “The overall aim is to create a major expansion of the region’s commercial centre within the old city of Salford to meet the needs of key business sectors, including the financial and professional services.”

Keeping The Community Informed...

The whole aim is to `transform the area’ and, while no-one wants to see derelict sites, the community is well down the agenda. Indeed, the elephant in the Chapel Street regeneration room seems to be the Islington Estate, with its concentration of Salford’s less well off people. A survey of developers by consultants GVA Grimley in 2009 reported that “all private developers approached suggested that if they were to intervene in the estate it would be through clearance and redevelopment, rather than adopting an infill approach...Islington has potential as a place for private family homes as the nearest competing place so close to Manchester City Centre.” Meanwhile, the planning application that ECf submitted for the whole area notes that social housing is definitely not a priority as there is an “urgent need to secure the transformational regeneration” (see previous page). As the original Council `vision’ for Central Salford states, it’s all about `restoring the health’ of the place, implying that poor people and their social housing are part of the `illness’... `Central Salford will be transformed. A beautiful, vibrant new urban centre with striking economic opportunity is waiting to be born out of its fine heritage and the unveiling of its many assets. The city’s elegant but underused buildings and its vacant but potent spaces will be filled with places to live, work, shop and enjoy life. The restored health of Central Salford will flow across the entire urban areas, stretching out to benefit all of Salford’s communities...’

www.salfordstar.com

March 2013 Last public minutes for meetings of the Chapel Street Regeneration Forum Number of people at meeting Number of residents at meeting Number of people from Council, developers and regen agencies at meeting

28 5 23


SALFORD’S £19 MILLION PLANNING SCANDAL During the last twelve months alone, developers have evaded planning fees of over £19million and avoided paying for over 800 affordable homes in Salford, by crying poverty - while trousering profits of up to £24million apiece. Meanwhile, official Council figures show that half of the city’s population can’t afford to buy even a low cost house. What’s going on?

I

n Salford at the moment there’s a huge property boom going off. Not in the normal areas of the city, like Lower Kersal, Langworthy or Little Hulton but in the prime sites around Salford Quays and on the Manchester border of Greengate, Chapel Street and the waterfront at Ordsall. Huge blocks of apartments for `young professionals’ are being thrown up, with developers and speculators rubbing their hands at the prospect of rich pickings.

830 affordable houses would meet over 90% of the city’s housing needs next year; while £19million would more than wipe out every single cut that’s happened to environment, community safety and leisure service over the last four years. If these fees were being paid by developers, the property boom that’s going off in the posh bits of Salford would be helping the rest of a city currently suffering under austerity. But it’s not.

At Clippers Quay, facing Trafford Road on premium waterside land where the old cinema used to be, a company called Amstone Ventures recently got planning permission to build 665 `Private Rented Sector’ (PRS) apartments, plus shops and restaurants, in five sterile blocks up to 15 storeys high.

Developers have evaded fees and affordable housing contributions on virtually every single big planning application that has come to Salford Council’s planning panel over the last twelve months by using one golden word - `viability’. That if they had to meet their obligations to pay these fees, in line with Salford Council’s official policies, their schemes wouldn’t be `economically viable’ – and the Council’s planning officers and the District Valuer have been agreeing with them.

“What’s been going on behind the door, I don’t know...” Planning Councillor Karen Garrido The company should have been paying £2,376,796 in planning fees to Salford Council. In line with Council policy, the company should also have been setting aside 20% of the properties, or 133 flats, for affordable housing. Salford Council’s planning panel passed the application with no requirement for affordable housing, and an agreement that the company would contribute a mere £700,000 towards a footbridge on the Quays. Altogether, a loss to the city of £1,676,796 and 133 affordable homes. This is just one of over a dozen property schemes that the Salford Star has documented during the last twelve months. And the figures are eye-watering. More than £19million has been lost to the city over this period alone by developers evading planning fees. And 830 vitally needed affordable houses have also been lost by developers avoiding their obligations. To give some idea of the scale of the scandal,

Anyone can read the public planning documents where developers state that they wouldn’t be able to afford to build their blocks of expensive apartments and private housing estates if they had to make these payments. But no-one is allowed to see the `viability’ figures on which their pleas are based. The Salford Star has tried through the Freedom of Information Act to get hold of viability statements and been refused on the grounds of `commercial confidentiality’ and, very strangely, `public interest’... “Having carefully considered that balance of public interest in this case, the Council has concluded that the public interest in maintaining the exceptions outweighs the public interest in disclosure”, the Council concluded. However, a 160 page Salford Council consultation review of its `approach to securing planning obligations’, produced in November 2014 and to be finalised this summer, reveals some kind of truth. Developers can make up to £24million profit while their schemes are deemed `not viable’, according to figures contained within the document.

The report, listing 16 kinds of housing scenarios in all areas of the city coded according to land value, sets out an equation to calculate what level of financial fees developers could pay without it affecting their building programmes. The equation is A-(B+C+D+E)... `A’ is the `Gross Development Value’, or income from sales, ground rents etc. From this total is then deducted land costs (B), building costs, including sales and marketing (C), interest costs (D) and developer’s profit (E). In the report, a `developer’s profit’ of 20% was “assumed across all residential appraisals”. The Council figures show that a developer building 600 high density apartments on a `premium’ site, such as Salford Quays should make £24,019,200 profit. A developer building 600 high density apartments in what is classed as a `high value’ area such as Chapel Street or Greengate should make £21,016,800 profit, or £18,067,200 profit in a mid/high area around The Crescent; or £15,012,000 in a mid-value area like the Ordsall waterfront. And a developer building seventy low density houses in a low value area like Whit Lane is expected to make a profit of £2,642,720.

“Our local communities are being robbed left, right and centre” Councillor Derrek Antrobus, Assistant Mayor Planning Throughout the report the equation changed as 10% `zero carbon’ building costs were added. Then planning obligations, or Section 106 payments, were added. These are to mitigate the impact of the developments and the new people they bring. So it’s for things like open space, public realm, infrastructure, heritage, construction training, climate change and, in some areas, extra school facilities. When these costs were factored in, all but four of the development

www.salfordstar.com

£40MILLION OF PUBLIC MONEY FOR ONE REPLICA CROSS! Developer Daren Whitaker avoided almost £5million in fees to Salford Council for just three developments by his companies... £1.105million lost in fees on Sillavan Developments: 327 flats on Trinity Way £1.919million lost in fees on WB Developments: 491 flats at the back of Regent Road Retail Park £1.908million lost on Pinnacle Developments: 497 apartments at Greengate Total loss: £4.932million* Pinnacle also got a £35.1million loan of public money from the Homes and Communities Agency which doesn’t have to be paid back until the 497 private rent apartments are all fully let. In return for £40million of public money, Salford gets no affordable housing but does get a replica cross monument that Whitaker agreed to build in Greengate. *While the fees for all these developments were waived, Salford Council does a have a clawback agreement whereby if profits reach a certain level some money will be paid. scenarios calculated (most in low value areas) could afford to pay. Next to be added were the costs for affordable housing. The Council has a policy that any de

27


velopment of over 25 properties should feature 20% affordable housing or a payment for off-site affordable housing. Lo and behold, when these payments were totalled, only five scenarios out of the 16 the Council calculated remained in `surplus’.

own guide, this development should be bringing Section 106 payments of £2,376,796 plus the watered down requirement for 66 (10%) affordable properties. But it won’t. It will bring just £700,000 and no affordable properties; while the developer, according to the Council guide, could be making over £20million profit.

LOST PLANNING FEES AND AFFORDABLE HOUSES OVER THE LAST 12 MONTHS Development Scarborough Developments/ Middlewood Locks X1/Trafford Rd Liveman Ltd/Dock Offices City Suites Ltd/Chapel St WB Developments/ Wilburn St City West/The Grove Eccles Amstone Ventures/ Clippers Quay Acroy Ltd/Chapel Wharf Countryside Properties/ The Meadows Countryside Properties/ Tenerife St FICM/Black Friars Pub/ Trinity Villafont Ltd and Simandhar Swami LLP/ Woden St/Ordsall* Countryside Properties/ Linnyshaw Industrial Estate/ Walkden Fortis Developments TOTAL:

Planning Fees Lost

Affordable Houses Lost

£6,409,987 £534,795 £251,098 £476,781

50 28 13 52

£1,919,697 £73,653

98 0

£1,676,796 £2,759,663

133 198

£1,226,341

19

£296,872

11

£1,283,970

76

£1,221,278

75

£467,670 £676,682 £19,275,553

36 41 830

The developer building high density apartments on a premium site like Salford Quays suddenly fell into a deficit above £3million. So, in order for him to maintain his £24million profit, the Council reduced the affordable housing requirement to 10%. Meanwhile, as a result of the Council’s other calculations and in order to maintain the huge profits, developers building high density apartments in high, mid/high and mid value areas of the city no longer needed to provide any affordable housing at all. And neither did the vast majority of those building in mid, low/mid and low value areas.

`If these fees were being paid by developers, the property boom that’s going off in the posh bits of Salford would be helping the rest of a city...But it’s not.’ Indeed the only developers who had to pay the full planning obligations and 20% affordable housing were those building mid density apartments and housing in premium and high value areas. Needless to say that most blocks of flats being proposed are high density flats in high, mid/high and mid value areas of the city. If these Council calculations are taken as a guide and measured against actual planning applications that have been passed over the last twelve months, something has gone seriously wrong. At Clippers Quay, there were 665, presumably, high density apartments in the `premium’ area of Salford Quays. According to the Council’s

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`Something has gone seriously wrong...’ Around the derelict Black Friars pub in the high value Trinity area, the FICM company - part of the Fred and John Done empire now has planning permission to build 380 high density flats in two ugly blocks of 12 and 16 storeys high. According to the Council’s calculations, this should make a profit of over £10million, although the planning application states that a `minimum profit of 10%’ is `appropriate’ (around £5million maybe). The Done bros should be paying Salford Council the full £1,283,970 costs of Section 106 obligations, even though, according to the guide, they can be let off with providing 76 affordable properties. Instead they will pay nothing for the moment. The company won’t even pay for two new bus stops on Blackfriars Road, requested by Transport for Greater Manchester... “Due to scheme viability the application is not able to provide any Section 106 financial contributions, therefore the bus stops cannot be funded by this scheme”, stated the planning officers.

When interviewed about the plans for this development last October, FICM director, Simon Ismail, said: “Trinity is the heart of the original Salford, it is where we are all from and we all feel a sense of responsibility to create something very special that we can be proud of. This will be Fred’s legacy.” What? That Mr Bet Fred won’t even pay for a bus stop in his beloved Salford? These are just two examples of over a dozen schemes that have evaded paying full fees and providing affordable housing, most even flouting the Council’s own limp wristed guide which allows them to make huge profits before any other costs are considered. In every case the excuse has been secret `viability’ assessments. And the only Council response has been to insert `clawback’ agreements whereby, if developers do make larger `surpluses’ than anticipated, they will have to pay up. This won’t be known until the schemes are complete and sold or rented off. And you can’t put affordable housing in an estate or apartment block that has already been fully sold or rented. In any case, we’re talking years and a reliance on developers’ honesty. The loony logic was at a peak this month when Fortis Developments, wanting to build 206 apartments in the first phase of a massive scheme off Adelphi Street on the banks of the Irwell, avoided paying £676,682 in planning obligations and providing 41 affordable properties due to `viability’ issues – even though over 75% of the flats had been sold up front, or `off plan’. The “marketing costs are very high” stated the council planning officer’s report, arguing that a `clawback’ agreement was not considered to be “appropriate”.

The political response in the city to the scandal has been a lot of hot air from both Labour and Conservative Party councillors who sit on the planning panel, declare themselves powerless and pass all these applications. At the end of March, developers Villafont Ltd and Simandhar Swami LLP put in a planning application to build 372 PRS apartments, plus a resident’s gym, cafe, shops and offices in eight blocks up to 15 storeys high on Woden Street by the Ordsall waterfront. Again, because of `viability’ issues, they were to evade £1,221,278 in planning fees and the obligation to provide 75 affordable properties. At the same meeting, Countryside Properties evaded £467,670 in fees plus 36 affordable homes. Not for the first time planning councillors from both parties questioned what was going on... “I’m concerned about where we are going in our city” said Karen Garrido, Leader of the Conservative group “I find it a little off-putting when I read that there should be 36 affordable houses on this site and it says that it would render the scheme unviable...I find that a bit of a threat... What’s been going on behind the door I don’t know...I find it a quite sad state of affairs.”

`Mr Bet Fred won’t even pay for a bus stop in his beloved Salford...’ Derek Antrobus Assistant Mayor for Planning, agreed, questioning the viability assessments ...“It’s totally unacceptable that developer after developer comes here claiming that they can’t comply with our policy when our local communities are being robbed left, right and centre. If you’re in business and invest there’s always a risk that you might not make profits but we’re told when we’re assessing viability that we’re supposed to guarantee a certain margin of profit...and it’s the public sector that’s underpinning their profits. We’re told that the economy’s booming and then the next day we get developers pleading poverty and saying they can’t comply. I don’t know who to believe any more...” Councillor Antrobus put the blame firmly at the door of the Government and its National Planning Policy Framework - a nasty little policy which, for everything, there is a “presumption in favour of sustainable development”. One particular paragraph (173) states: “...To ensure viability, the costs of any requirements likely to be applied to development, such as requirements for affordable housing, standards, infrastructure contributions or other requirements should, when taking account of the normal cost of development and mitigation, provide competitive returns to a willing land owner and willing developer to enable the development to be deliverable.” `Competitive returns’ has been deemed to mean a 20% profit margin by council planners all over the country. And there’s a growing industry of consultants, like S106 Management, which help developers avoid payments using such margins. Salford Council opted for the 20% profit because of “current market conditions where levels of risk remain high”. Yet, according to economic analysts, property prices are set to rise by up to 20% over the next three years, while developers in Salford keep sending out marketing emails joyously telling anyone who will listen that phases of their blocks of apartments have already sold out – before they have even been built; or, in some cases, before they have even got planning permission! In January, Councillor Antrobus made a public speech to the full council calling it “a public scandal of immense proportions that has seen Eric Pickles rig the planning regulations in

www.salfordstar.com

order to deprive, to rob, local communities of its essential investment in order to line the pockets of landowners and developers”. However, these `viability’ issues weren’t just present under the ConDem Government. Back in 2007, under a Labour Government, the Salford Star documented every single planning application submitted to Salford City Council during a six month period at the height of the housing boom. Only four schemes out of 19 submitted offered any affordable housing. From applications for nearly 9,000 homes, only 175, or less than 2%, were officially classed as affordable - despite the Council having a policy in place that all new developments over 25 houses had to provide between 20% and 25% affordable homes. The loophole? The schemes would not be `commercially viable’. It’s been an ongoing issue for almost a decade under both Labour and Conservative governments. And it was hardly an election issue this year. Many might argue that, even though Salford gets puerile Section 106 payments or affordable housing from developers, it does get millions of pounds of Council Tax from the residents who populate the new properties which could mitigate cuts and poverty in the city. However, a hint of where this Council Tax might be going was given in a Salford Council report from 2010 concerning the management of Greengate’s new fountains and public space. The report from the Lead Member of Planning (Councillor Antrobus), urged that “Lead Members approve an annual contribution of £332,627 from the Council Tax payments towards the running costs of the Management Company...” As developers run rings around Salford Council and its planning officers, and Salford councillors play political games, left in the middle are Salford’s residents. An official Council report titled Evidence of the Need for Affordable Housing in Salford shows that half the city’s families can’t afford to buy even a low cost house, while a third can’t afford to rent privately.

`Developers can make up to £24million profit while their schemes are deemed `not viable’...’ Meanwhile, the numbers of Salford households on the housing waiting list rose from 10,251 in 2013 to 11,498 in 2014. The housing crisis is evidenced further as latest figures show an average of 27 bids for every affordable flat that becomes available in the city and 38 bids for every affordable house. To cope with the crisis, just 16 social rent properties were built and completed in the last financial year (2013-14). The current trend is to provide the very misleading `affordable rent’ properties which are 80% of market rent, compared to 40-60% for social rent. There were 128 of these `affordable rent’ properties completed last year, and 25 `intermediate’ houses. Even if these latter properties are classed as affordable houses, the total of 169 is well short of the 887 houses that the report states are needed every year. The report adds that a mere 77 affordable homes are being built as a result of Section 106 agreements, while our research shows 830 affordable homes have been lost. As developers evade their responsibilities by pleading poverty, huge profits are being made. And the `viability statements’ on which all this is based remain secret. It is indeed a “public scandal of immense proportions”...


www.salfordstar.com

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£148 Million of cuts since 2010

The Cuts, the Bullyin and the Climate of What Is Going On and Why Aren’t Charities and Voluntary Organisations Speaking Out?

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ince 2010, the Government has cut £148million from the money it gives to Salford Council, with another £24million to come, making an eye watering total of £172million by 2017. You cannot take that amount out of any council’s budget without someone getting hurt. And there are plenty of Salford people being hurt.

As well as those hundreds of council staff who have lost their jobs, thousands of people have been hit by cuts to council services, from disabled people who have had their transport `withdrawn’, to `moderate’ needs adults who no longer get help. Council Tax payments have increased for those who can least afford it, day care centres have been shut and charges have been introduced for services that were once free.

Not one single VSG that is funded by Salford City Council would talk, either on the record or anonymously, about their experiences... Meanwhile, national government policy has led to 4,500 people in Salford hit by the Bedroom Tax, cuts to disability allowances and thousands of unfair sanctions placed upon those claiming

benefits. With the Tories now in full control of the government, there’s much more hardship in the pipeline. Make no mistake, the old, the young, the poor, the homeless and the vulnerable have been absolutely hammered by Government and Council cuts. Yet there’s hardly been a word of protest from the very organisations and charities which were set up to protect and help these people; that are on the front line dealing with the human fall-out. As society lurches back to Dickensian times, there was even a mock Conservative Party poster produced during the General Election with David Cameron saying `Thank you for your continued support, your silence means a lot to me...’ What is going on? Earlier this year, the National Coalition for Independent Action (NCIA), an alliance of voluntary and community organisations, produced an Inquiry into the Future of Voluntary Services, part of which was research by Dr Mike Aiken which showed that organisations which get money from the Government or councils, “face threats to remain silent about their experiences and many are fearful to speak out in case they lose their funding or face other sanctions”. The study featured interviews with workers from

large and small VSGs, or Voluntary Service Groups, and listed the pressures they were under... `Restrictions on what they could say if they are in receipt of contracts – due to confidentiality and gagging clauses’; `Subtle or explicit pressures, ‘nods and wink’ or direct comments about future funding’; `Self-censorship and fear – a coercive atmosphere aided by government statements, legislation, and legal aspects of contracting processes – leading to over-caution’... One organisation, which does speak out about the plight of those it helps is Direct Help for Poor, a faith based charity, which revealed the pressures it was under to shut up...“Yes, it is harder without doubt…it is subtle and menacing”. Members had faced “bullying…on more than one occasion” from political figures: “…in private, one-to-one… they say: `be careful’…They have power, access to media organisations, they have money and connections…There were attempts to undermine people in our organisation”.

`It is subtle and menacing...’ Even Oxfam was reported to the Charity Commission by a Conservative MP for tweeting about poverty, and the NCIA report cites Brooks Newmark, the Civil Society Minister, who, last year, attacked

charity campaigning when he spat “...what charities should be doing is sticking to their knitting and doing the best they can to promote their agenda, which should be about helping others”. Chris Mould chair of the Trussell Trust, which runs food banks in Salford, told the Panel on the Independence of the Voluntary Sector, of the pressure placed on the charity to keep quiet by “people in power”. The report adds that “The injunction to silence knowledgeable VSGs from talking about their experiences would be quite at home in any totalitarian regime seeking to crush independent or divergent voices”. The Salford Star tried to locally replicate the NCIA research about what it calls `the climate of fear’ – but not one single VSG that is funded by Salford City Council would talk, either on the record or anonymously, about their experiences, despite the cuts to their funding and the struggles they have had maintaining help for those who desperately need it. Meanwhile, Salford Council has gagged all of its 8,890 employees under its `People Management Policy’ to enshrine their `duty of loyalty’ to the authority and to `serve the Mayor’. Gross Misconduct charges can be brought for actions `inside or outside work’ for “Any action which is


Salford Labour Council Attacks Anti-Cuts UNISON Rep I

n a vicious and unprecedented action, Salford Council is trying to remove democratically elected UNISON Branch Treasurer, Ameen Hadi, who has challenged cuts and supported both his members and community campaigns to defend public services. Ameen was hauled before Council bosses and told he was no longer allowed to represent his members after informing staff about cuts... “Salford UNISON has long had an agreement with Salford Council that our members – not our employer – decide who will act as full time officers” stated Salford City UNISON “UNISON has seen no evidence that justifies this attempt to over-rule our right to a democratic union branch.” Ameen has been instrumental in joining UNISON members’ fight for jobs and conditions with community protests challenging the cuts in public services... including campaigns to save transport services for adults with disabilities, to Save The Grange for disabled young

people’s respite care, and action to stop the closure of SureStart and day centres. “UNISON views this move as an ill-timed and unwarranted interference in the right of an independent trade union to freely organise” Stephanie Thomas, Regional Manager at UNISON North West, explained. As a lobby of Salford Labour councillors was due to be held with hundreds of trade unionists converging on the Civic Centre to protest, the Council backed down slightly, allowing Ameen to carry on with his union duties while there is to be a “period of meaningful discussion”. A joint statement from the Council and UNISON added: “Both parties will use their best endeavours to reach a mutually agreeable outcome... At the conclusion of these discussions both parties reserve the right to reach their own decision on the next steps should this be necessary.”

attacks on active trade union members in the area. At the University of Salford, two UCU members were sacked for no apparent reason, leading to a one day strike last month; while at Bolton University, Damien and Jenny Markey were sacked in March, following allegations about leaks to the press with the aim of `bringing the University into disrepute’. All denied, of course. Commenting on the latter case, Salford-based actress Maxine Peake spoke out in disgust... “Attacks on trade unionists are part of a growing trend towards shutting down dissent” she said “We need transparency and accountability from our public institutions and political representatives.”

The attack on Salford City UNISON mirrors similar

ng Fear... likely to bring the council into disrepute” or “harm the Council’s reputation”. This has led to a trade union steward being dragged before a disciplinary hearing for speaking out against the cuts, and the Salford City UNISON elected Branch Treasurer being forced from office for contacting his members about cuts. In the absence of any poverty and hardship reality coming from funded VSGs, community self-help groups like SEARCH, Coffee4Craig, USUC and Salford Involved, that have sprung up recently and don’t receive any funding, are not only speaking out, they’re screaming, and putting the funded groups to shame. While Salford Council buries the affects its cuts are having under confusing words like `reconfiguration’, `reshape’, `restructure’ and `redesign’ of services, and its officers usually state there will be `no impact’ on the community, behind the scenes the last official Council report on such issues which wasn’t made public - gave a stark picture of the consequences of the cuts from both Council and Government... “...increased indebtedness; increased arrears of rent and Council Tax; increased use of high interest lenders and loan sharks; increased homelessness presentations and homes at risk of posses-

sion; fewer people with contents insurance; fewer people with savings; higher levels of depression and mental health problems.”

“But why, in Britain, does civil society need to be brave to exercise freedom of speech?” Commenting on the NCIA report, Penny Waterhouse, one of its directors, said: “This research shows that some voluntary groups can, and do, speak out for a better world – if they are brave and think of their beneficiaries instead of their organisational interests and professional status. “But why, in Britain, does civil society need to be brave to exercise freedom of speech?” she added “It’s a bad, and dangerous, state of affairs. NCIA calls on voluntary services to exercise their civil liberties and join with activists and campaigners to advocate forcefully on behalf of their beneficiaries.” Until they do, no-one will know the full extent of the hardships of the community. As that mock quote of Cameron stated... `Thank you for your

continued support, your silence means a lot to me...’ *Voluntary Services and Campaigning in Austerity UK: Saying Less and Doing More by Dr Mike Aiken can be read in full at www. independentaction.net


Health Improvement Team Termination £1.6million cut to services for young, elderly and vulnerable...

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ast month Salford Council agreed to `re-direct’, or cut, £1.616m of Health Improvement Service money, which will see thousands of people in the city lose out on prevention work promoting healthy lifestyles and wellbeing for the young, for the elderly, for the vulnerable and those with mental health issues.

One project helped by the Health Improvement team is a Friday luncheon club at St Thomas Church in Clifton, where over a dozen people come to meet up, eat healthily and ward off isolation for a few hours. 93 year old Elsie Stretch has been coming since it opened at Christmas last year... “Oh yes I definitely enjoy it, it’s company as well and the food’s good” she says “If I wasn’t here I’d have to be at home, I can’t walk to Swinton.” Peter Whitter is here for the first time... “I’ve recently lost my wife and Avis thought it would be a change for me...”

Reverend Avis Gordon is the Associate Minister at the Church in Clifton Green, and she is absolutely furious that the team who helped set up the luncheon club, and a lot more activities in the area, could be lost... “They helped us to get the grant, they advised us on all the healthy eating, they also chat to the guests about their health needs and have just got us another grant to buy some new tables” she explains “We just need their support basically. We don’t really know what we’re doing, we’re just people off the estate; you can have as many volunteers as you like but it’s the leadership, advice and support that is crucial to this group.” The group is free to attend (although guests can give donations) and provides a two course hot meal for anyone, plus some happy old style music and great company... “If these people weren’t here

they’d just be sat in their houses, because one of my jobs is transporting them and, for some, I’m the first person they’ve seen all day” says volunteer David Chapman “I think the Council has passed the responsibility for looking after isolated groups onto groups like us. It feels like it’s a cost they don’t want.” And, as fellow volunteer, Penny Applegate, points out, “If they cut the Health Improvement Service it’s going to cost the health service more money further down the line because the prevention work won’t be done.” June Holt, from the local residents association, which joined with the Church to form Partnership for Action In Clifton, or PAC, is grateful for the Health Improvement team’s backing, not just for the luncheon club but for weight support groups, healthy hips and hearts and more... “They do loads of stuff and are always there if you need to know something” she says “I think lots of things

would fall apart because there would be no-one there to run them.” Trina Phillips, who’s had a couple of strokes and has been helped by a number of groups run by the team, agrees “Lots of groups wouldn’t exist” she says “I find that disgusting because today there is more need, and to cut what is necessary is wrong.”

Proud and Loud

Positive performance art in the midst of cuts and callous treatment...

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else available, which invariably means they don’t go out unless they are supported” he adds “We are now factoring these considerations into our plans for the future.”

Disabled people with the greatest needs make up 2% of the population, yet are getting hit by 15% of the cuts. During the last Government, research from the House of Commons showed that the ConDems took more money from disabled people than from the banks.

Proud and Loud Arts is a unique company. Its work is quality, surreal, moving and at times hilarious. Since it burst on the Salford arts scene in 2005 with the short movie What Are You Waiting For?, its members have performed live at The Lowry and on tour, working with top writer Cathy Crabb, and producing a series of voracious videos articulating their views. The question in that first film What Are You Waiting For? was eventually answered by one kid, who replied `For the world to change’...

t the Sutton Community Centre, near Salford Precinct, members of Proud and Loud Arts are exploring relationships for their upcoming production, The Life and Loves of Pyramus and Thisbe. All over the room there are imaginary walls blocking forbidden love. The production could be interpreted as a metaphor for the barriers Government and Council cuts have imposed on disabled people trying to live their lives.

“I don’t think there are many people in the group who haven’t been affected in some way” Proud and Loud’s Artistic Director, Tom Hogan, explains “Members have discussed their discomfort in the lead up to assessments, and their fear of facing re-assessments. This is a national issue for all people with disabilities and our members are not immune from that”. “We have found that those who can’t use public transport are spending a greater proportion of their travel allowances on taxis because there’s nothing

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“Our job is to empower people to have a voice so that they can talk about their own needs effectively and with confidence” Tom explains “That’s what we’re trying to encourage.” It’s certainly working for one actress, Danielle Maycox, whose condition since birth – Spinal Muscular Atrophy - requires 24 hour care. When her family circumstances changed, Danielle applied to Salford Council for the extra direct payments she was entitled to, and was horrified at the undignified assessment procedure she was expected

to undergo. Despite sending full medical notes and a log of her care needs, the Council wanted to send its own assessors to her home, daily, for up to six weeks in an incredibly intrusive process, timing personal care. Some might say it is designed to deter people from applying, fitting the Council’s cuts strategy. At first, Danielle was put off by the `assessment’ but then challenged it, claiming a `disregard for personal privacy’, an `infringement of human rights’ and `an affront to the concept of dignity’. And she won. “They were trying to make me have assessments that I didn’t feel were appropriate really” Danielle explains “I might not have even gone for the direct payments if it hadn’t have been for Proud and Loud; it would have put me off. Proud and Loud gave me the confidence to not accept things they wanted me to accept.”

www.salfordstar.com

And that, in short, is the philosophy that runs through all of the company’s work. Ask Tom Hogan if the work should be more campaigning, and he has a very honest answer... “Purely by performing and being public we are doing that” he explains “Once the work is coming from the artists in that room, and it’s their work and their voice, that’s the political act.” • Pyramus and Thisbe will be premiered later in the year. To help finance touring costs the company aims to raise £15,000, via sponsorship of its Salford Triathlon team and USwim events at Salford Quays. To donate see www. justgiving.com/proudandloud • Proud and Loud is also looking for new members. Find more details at www.proudandloudarts.com


Involved Salford Broughton people making a difference...

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fter years of multi-million pound regeneration, Broughton is still faced with the same problems as it had previously. It’s still classed as one of the most `deprived’ wards in the city, and many people feel let down by the process. So in February 2014 local people decided to do it for themselves through a community co-operative, Involved Salford. And it’s already having a positive impact. After only one year the co-op is running a bi monthly ‘listening event’ called Have Your Say, where people come and share ideas – and a new gym, a market, a jobs club and a lunch club have all come through this grass roots forum.

“The idea of Involved Salford is to help people start something...” “The gym came out of someone coming to one of our meetings saying he had done a fitness instructor course whilst he was in prison but no one would take him on” says Nick Burke, the project’s enterprise co-ordinator “The whole thing has been designed by local people...We could have had it in the church hall but our members said they wanted it to be a proper gym so we have had to find a space for it.” `IN The Gym’ is in The Vibe on Broughton Lane. Unlike Salford Community Leisure centres, there

are no contracts so people without banking facilities can join and pay £2 a day, £5 a week or £10 a month, while volunteers who work there can gain qualifications. Meanwhile, at the lunch club, Involved feeds over one hundred people a week at four different venues; the Church of the Ascension and St James every Wednesday, and St Clements and St Pauls every Friday. It’s all done by the volunteers, including the head chef, and they have raised funds to put twenty people through a food hygiene course, some of whom are now selling their food at events. It hasn’t all been plain sailing though. Involved also had a furniture refurbishing project at the Biospheric warehouse where people would learn how to renovate and sell old furniture but the rents were too high so they’ve had to close the project down for the time being. But Involved Salford is about trying new things and new attitudes... “Maybe it’s not the amount of money that is going to change this place, maybe it’s the way it is operated” explains Dave Fraser, founder member of Involved “There has been lots of money spent on Broughton to try to make it less deprived, from Sure Start to SRB5 and the public private partnership with Countryside Properties. But we are still one of the most deprived wards. “The state always needs to help but I think there

KEEP SAFE IN SALFORD

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nti-trafficking charity, SAFE, is looking for citizenship teachers or head teachers in Salford high schools to run a programme to educate pupils so they understand and can stop themselves becoming a victim of child sexual exploitation and trafficking. SAFE recently ran a pilot six lesson module for the Year 9 citizenship class at Altrincham Grammar School for Girls which was well received by both teachers and students, and now wants to expand the pilot plus programme in Salford schools, before launching it to other North West schools. For more details email education@safe.uk.net and see www.safe.uk.net/

is an issue of how it does so” he adds “As a co-operative we believe in local people helping themselves. The thing that has blighted Broughton is big government million pound programmes that run for a few years, then finish.”

“Maybe it’s not the amount of money that is going to change this place, maybe it’s the way it is operated” This project, with its umbrella of schemes, seeks not just to be about self-help but also to give voice to people’s issues in the area, after years of toothless `community groups’ set up by regenerators ...

“Why would a government funded scheme want to actually create a group of local people who are active and critical in an effective way?” Dave asks “We need to learn to not fall into that trap of being easily not listened too. We have ambitions to be a really effective campaigning organisation, and are interested in supporting people to implement whatever change they feel is right. “We are run by local people for local people and want to try and change the way things work in the local community” he insists “The idea of Involved Salford is to help people start something...” To find out more about Involved Salford projects and events www.salfordinvolved.co.uk

Boothstown Kids Bashed By Countryside...

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or months, residents on the Moorings Estate in Boothstown have had to put up with dirt, dust, noise and massive articulated lorries mounting kerbs as the vehicles try to negotiate the narrow roads en route to a new Countryside Properties development off Highclove Lane.

resident, Helneya Jones adds: “Salford Council can’t enforce anything, so Countryside are just doing what they want. But we are just trying to protect the safety of our children, who can’t play out because no-one feels comfortable leaving them outside. We want to keep the kids safe.”

In protest, they’ve blocked the road, had meetings and sent countless emails to Salford Council and Countryside Properties concerning anguish over their children’s safety...but still the huge lorries continue to hurtle around the estate during the walk to and from school, and at weekends. Residents are furious with Salford Council because planning officers have admitted that `there are difficulties around enforcement’ of conditions that are `intended to encourage developers to operate in a considerate way’...

Local councillors and MP Barbara Keeley have been involved, and Countryside has now agreed to put in an access road. But in the meantime, lorries are still trundling through the estate – and the kids are still scurrying back indoors for safety.

“This is about the complete failure of Salford City Council, approving this application, ignoring the wishes of residents and agreeing planning conditions that are unenforceable” says Charlotte Cooper of the Moorings Estate Residents Society. And

www.salfordstar.com

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The

MARY BURNS Page ...And Here Is The

Wakey

Euro Jollies For The Islington Estate

News From The BBC

Wakey!

Euro money is the best you can get, certainly for those lucky people who got involved in a thing called Re-Block, a European funded two year `exchange and learning programme’ which focussed on “reviving high rise blocks for cohesive and green neighbourhoods”.

Bong!...Out of 2,920 BBC staff who work at MediaCityUK only 134 full time and 16 part time employees actually live in Salford. And out of those, how many reside beyond the bubble of Salford Quays we’ll never know because the BBC, when asked under Freedom of Information, couldn’t tell. Bong!...Out of 3,700 jobs advertised by the BBC in the UK since 2012, only 646, or 17%, were based at Media City. Bong!...The Beeb has paid over £6.3million in business rates since the Government allowed Salford Council to keep a hefty slice in 2013. Where has it all gone? Ask the people who are making the cuts... Bong!...The BBC is paying Peel Holdings 16% above what it should be paying for its space at Media City, according to the latest report from the National Audit Office. The Beeb is paying Peel £21million a year in running costs which means the public body is coughing up over £3million a year more than it should. Bong!...The BBC signed a lease until 2029 with Peel for Media City that has no `break clauses’, which means it can’t renegotiate the rent...It’s paying around £3million a year over the odds, so that’s, er, somewhere over £55million extra in total by the end. And we wonder why Peel Holdings’ owners, Isle of Man tax exiles John Whittaker and family, increased their personal wealth by £70million last year. And why, I’m hearing, certain BBC producers are filming outside because they can’t afford the studio time indoors...

It’s nice to know that while Salford Council was busy hatching plans to demolish the Salford Quays Cranes in 2013, it was also hatching plans to erect two large towers in their shadow on Ontario Dock at a total cost of £89,000. The two towers hold cables which pull riders across the water for that well known Salford sport of wakeboarding, a kind of cross between snowboarding and water-skiing. Cash-strapped Council coughed up £29,000 towards the Salford Wake Park, while Salford Community Leisure threw in £30,000 and British Watersports added another £30,000. But that’s ok because it’s for the community isn’t it? Isn’t it? It is for anyone who can splash out £25 for an adult and £17 for kids (including board)...for just 15 minutes on the water if there are four people in an hour long session. PS The Salford Quays Cranes got demolished for the sake of £22,500, if you subtract the Council money ringfenced to do them up from the lowest quote to save them.

Salford was chosen for the towerblock focus, along with nine other partner cities across Europe, including the rather nice locations of Malaga, Rome and Budapest as well as places in Romania, Sweden, Germany, Greece and Lithuania. All expenses paid `exchange’ trips were soon arranged for those `active members’ of the group. Indeed, in the project’s final report there’s a lovely photo of Councillor Stephen Coen, Assistant Mayor for International Relations, enjoying himself at a buffet in Malaga. The two year, 44,331euro, jolly – sorry, `exchange and learning programme’ - around Europe had very serious aims...“To create inclusive governance structures; to improve social inclusion; and the refurbishment of estates through improvement of public/green spaces”. An `Urbact Local Support Group’ was set up with all the usual suspects on board, and, of the thirty people who contributed, there were only three actual residents of Islington Estate; the rest made up of ten Salford University bods, seven from Salford Council, a few other odds and sods from the Chapel Street regeneration vested interest incs, and two local councillors. From what I’m hearing, almost no-one on the Islington Estate actually knew about this, backed by a Salford Council report which states that a Re-Block Workshop was held with tenants – five were invited, three attended! But, hey, it’s what comes out at the end that matters... ...And, after two years and various visits and conferences around the Continent, a Local Action Plan was formed. What was needed for the Islington Estate was better signs, a website, more leadership skills in the community (so they too can get on Euro jollies?), improved use of green space (pea growing), more positive publicity for the Estate (see this article) and `meaningful activities for residents’ (buffets in Malaga anyone?. Also what was needed was to remove

the railings around the estate as they gave `a sense of isolation’...The railings also gave a sense of security – and when one resident found out about the `madness’ of removing them he kicked off, and has now been assured that the railings will stay. A totally worthwhile exercise obviously, with the final words from Salford City Council... “As there is no additional money with which to implement the action plan, the Local Support Group are eager not to unrealistically raise expectations...” Oh, and just to add insult to Euro injury, the Local Support Group, 95% of whose contributors didn’t live on the Estate, decided that there were some `underlying issues’ with residents, including a `Lack of ambition, a lack of confidence, a lack of self value and a lack of self worth’. Nice.

Who’s Watching £166,000 per year Healthwatch? As our health and social care services are being butchered, privatised and `devolved’, it’s nice to know that Salford has Healthwatch – our `independent consumer champion in health and social care’. What? You’ve never heard of it? Surely some mistake! You must have seen this organisation championing disabled adults as they had their transport taken off them? Or fighting Council cuts to support for elderly people with dementia and traumatised kids? Or researching the real affects of the Council’s privatisation of every last bit of adult social care? What? You haven’t? Me neither! Is Healthwatch toothless, useless or part of a company that’s getting massive contracts from Salford Council, one of the very organisations it’s supposed to `independently’ monitor’? Healthwatch nationally was created from the Health and Social Care Act 2012, and local groups were to be set up in 2013, “working towards a society in which people’s health and social care needs are heard, understood and met”. The aim was that `People shape health and social care delivery; influence the services they receive personally and hold services to account’. In Salford, social enterprise, Unlimited Potential, won the contract, worth £166,520 per year, to be Healthwatch `Steward’ and has since made a right pig’s ear of it. Even Salford Council wasn’t impressed... “There was significant dissatisfaction from Healthwatch members as to the lack of progress made and the

approach taken of Unlimited Potential” a progress report stated late last year, adding there was a `lack of public awareness’, a `lack of meaningful leadership’ and `poor communication and administration’. Behind the scenes, I hear, there was total chaos, with experienced staff and the `shadow board’ being binned, volunteers resigning and Unlimited Potential wanting to impose an `appointed’ board and a paid chair, while pushing for Healthwatch to be part of its structure rather than an independent body. Or, as the Council report put it, “Concerns focussed on the pace at which Healthwatch was developing, the leadership from Unlimited Potential and the engagement of members in shaping the future of Healthwatch”. So what did Salford Council do with the damning report? It noted that `progress’ was being made and gave Unlimited Potential the contract for another three years, at £166,520 per year, with an option to extend it for a further two years after that! So how much `progress is Healthwatch making? Well the latest `news’ on its website asks for views on Greater Manchester West NHS priorities “by the end of March 2014”...its last uploaded newsletter was produced six months ago...its `inspection reports’ consist of cutting and pasting reports from the Care Quality Commission ...and there’s videos still up there of Healthwatch volunteers who have since resigned in disgust.

Meanwhile Healthwatch has remained publicly silent on all the cuts, privatisation, integration and NHS devolution that’s going on at the moment, and remains so far below the radar that no-one I know has ever heard of our `independent consumer champion in health and social care’... And there’s more. Surely, you might think, Healthwatch should be independent of all health care providers so it can slag them off if it needs to? This could be a bit tricky, when Unlimited Potential is picking up Salford Council contracts for Health Training (£107,636), the Smoking Support Exchange Programme (£120,000) and Smoke Free (£60,000). Its `independent’ members would have to investigate Healthwatch’s own parent company. As Unlimited Potential proudly announces, “from small community roots we have grown into a £1million a year business, working with the city council, health chiefs and other local organisations”...


Salford Walks For Laynie

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n Saturday July 18th, around fifty people are set to walk from Salford Precinct to Manchester City Centre to raise money for Laynie Pierce, who is currently suffering from cancer. It was always Laynie’s dream to get married to her long term partner in Mexico, and now friends and family are rallying around trying to raise £10,000 to make that dream come true.

13, they’ve had four children together, and she’s done a lot for the community, raising funds even two days after she had a breast removed last year” says Laynie’s sister, Stella “She’s tried to get married in the past but something more important in the family always came up and funds went towards what was needed. Now this is our way of giving her something back.”

“She’s been with her partner since she was

A packed Blues Brothers Ball at Lower Kersal

Social Club in March contributed £7,000 and the sponsored walk, plus a sponsored skydive by Lacie Elliott, is hoping to see the target reached, with a percentage also going to Macmillan Cancer Support. “We need as many people as possible to either take part in the walk or sponsor someone” says Laynie’s friend, Mags McNally “When we finish the walk there’ll be an event in Manchester and we’ll have our collecting buckets

out all along the route. Laynie is a really popular girl in Salford where we’ve all grown up and we’re determined to make her dream come true.” The Laynie Pierce walk will take place on Saturday 25th July starting at Salford Precinct at 12 noon. For more details see the Laynie Pierce Charity Event Facebook page

MASSIVE CONTAMINATION AT BARTON MOSS L

ast month, a judge at Manchester Magistrates’ Court heard details of what he called “dangerously high concentrations” of toxic chemicals found in samples taken near the controversial IGas exploratory drilling site at Barton Moss. Expert witness, Dr Aidan Foley, told the court he had tested for 16 compounds and had found evidence of PAHs (Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon), which include acenaphthylene, anthracene, benz[a] anthracene and chrysene - carcinogenic substances which have major affects on human health, as well as on livestock and crops. Dr Foley named a number of sources from where the contamination could have come from, including the M62 which goes past the site, historical dumping, Barton Aerodrome or from plant and machinery used at the IGas drilling site... “Would the logical conclusion be that it must have come off the site?” asked the Judge... “Yes” replied Dr Foley. He argued that a return visit to the site for

more samples was crucial so that he could fingerprint the actual source of the contamination but both Peel Holdings, the owners of the land, and IGas, which rented its site from Peel, had refused access. The expert witness for the Crown Prosecution Service wasn’t called to give evidence as the hearing centred on access to the site and the need by the defence to obtain further samples, before any judgement could be made on whether IGas was guilty of criminal damage and breaches of environmental law. The result of that judgement will affect the cases of virtually all the Barton Moss protectors who were charged by Greater Manchester Police during the protests at the site last year. The judge adjourned the case while access to the Peel Holdings site is attempted again and subsequent samples analysed. The case is expected to come back to the Magistrates Court in June – when more details of the “dangerously high concentrations” of toxic chemicals are sure to emerge...


IT’S JUST NOT CRICKET IN WALKDEN... Residents living near Blackleach Country Park discovered secret deals between Salford Council and developers to build dozens of houses on the Hill Top Moss beauty spot. The community was the last to know about the scheme...

“This is a wildlife corridor and it’s just mindless to wreck it” Derek Barlow

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sk Shirley Jones if she thinks Salford Council is there for the community and she just laughs... “Definitely not! I would say that they are hand in glove with developers in this area. They should be listening to us to some degree but they don’t listen to us to any degree...” Last summer, Shirley and loads of other residents living near Hill Top Moss in Walkden, discovered almost by accident in the local paper a little statutory notice of intent to flog off the Moss, which is the adjoining beauty spot to Blackleach Country Park and the highest point in Salford. The residents were given just two weeks to object to the plan…but then further discovered that Salford Council, via Urban Vision, had been in negotiations with Redwaters developers for the previous two years about the sale of the land for dozens of houses, with the sweetener of `improvements’ to Walkden Cricket Club attached. They’ve been trying to find

out what’s going on ever since... Minutes from a secret Salford Council property meeting in April 2012 record the intent for the “disposal of land at Hill Top Road, Walkden for residential development and the improvement of sporting facilities at Walkden Cricket Club” and that “approval be given to the commencement of negotiations with Redwaters Developments Limited”. The only councillors at that meeting were Deputy Mayor David Lancaster and Councillor John Ferguson, who declared an interest as a member of Lancashire County Cricket Club. “The development here is for houses and a cricket club with, we found out, Lancashire County Cricket Club if they can get the funds” says Shirley “This started off as a refurbishment of the cricket club which is what the officers and councillors told us... then it went to this £1million sports village...We’ve heard since that it’s a 14 acre full sports development area...The greater opposition we put

to it, the greater this sports development gets, it seems.” Residents and Friends of Hill Top Moss have certainly put up opposition to the plans. Over 150 people held a protest march through Blackleach Country Park last year, there’s a 600 signature petition and banners on the houses next to the Moss... but the Council seems determined to go through with the plan. “We spoke with Councillor David Lancaster in his surgery when he said he was going to listen to us before he made his decision: that was in the winter but we’ve heard nothing since” says resident Julia Patterson “In the meantime we’ve had leaflets from the developers making much of the proposed development, and we feel that it wasn’t an honest move because it made it look like this was definitely coming, to get the community excited. “It was very interesting to see that the Council blocked developments

in Worsley for the same kinds of reasons as we’re putting here with regard to the wildlife corridor and the continued amenity of the country park” she adds “Once this Moss is gone, it’s gone. And that’s what everyone’s fighting for.”

“In this case the Council is putting money before people which is all wrong in my opinion” George Bryan “This area actually belongs to Blackleach Country Park...so how can they build on it? I don’t think a lot of the Council at all because they always override people every time anyone has any objections” Jennifer Waring “I think it’s hypocrisy from the Council - on one hand they’re saying `We want to protect green spaces’; on the other they’re saying `We now want to sell these spaces off to developers’” Councillor Iain Lindley, Walkden South


Coffee4Craig What started out as a tongue-in-cheek `coffee revolution’ to help the homeless has turned into a massive Salford challenge to a rapidly turning Dickensian society...

A

sk Fie Lancaster what is the worst case of homelessness she has come across and the answer comes straight back... “We had a gentleman who had been living in an Eccles bus shelter for three weeks” she says “What got me was the guys who work on the trams, buses and taxis were all taking him brews, which was great, but they didn’t alert anyone. They didn’t tell anyone because nobody knows who to tell...” This man’s story is similar to Fie’s brother-inlaw, Craig, who was also living on the streets. Except that Craig died, alone, in an NCP car park in Cardiff almost two years ago... “Everyone who went passed him thought he was a bundle of rags and then somebody went over to see what the bundle of rags was, and it was Craig” she explains “He was 37, had a really troubled life, and the only one who cared about him was his sister Risha. When we found out that he’d died it broke us, it rocked our world.”

‘I’m sick of walking past people on the street and not knowing what to do to help’ Salford-based sisters Fie and Risha already volunteered for Manchester homeless charity, Lifeshare, but they wanted to do more. At Craig’s wake, held with his homeless `family’ in Cardiff, a mad, grief-fuelled idea materialised – that they would start a `coffee revolution’... “We wanted everyone who had found out through the Facebook page and word of mouth to go out there, stop and have a chat with some homeless people, ask if they want a coffee, get them one and say `That’s from Craig’; then just walk away” Fie explains “And that was it...`Let’s just start this urban myth; who is this Craig who keeps buying me coffee?’ He would have found that hilarious. The idea was really tongue in cheek. And then Craig had other ideas...to release the potential in thousands of people.” First, one of Risha’s old school friends who

was at the wake decided to go out and feed the homeless in Cardiff. Then, over Christmas 2013, the sisters, with the help of their step brother, did their first soup run in Manchester, quizzing the people they helped about what was needed. “The consensus was that there was nothing on at a weekend” Fie recalls “All the Christian services, and all these wonderful organisations and charities shut on a Friday afternoon at 4pm; where do you go? You’re not a priority because you’re fit and healthy, you’re not a pregnant woman, so nobody’s got to help you. So, on 16th January 2014, we did our first ever Street Kitchen at Piccadilly, and we did that because we were told that Salford guys migrate into the city centre as it’s safer and warmer and not as bleak.” The non-judgemental organisation, Coffee4Craig just took off from there, running pop-up shops for the homeless, food parcels for those who need them and, last Christmas, an emergency shelter at its HQ at Lancaster House, near Salford Royal Hospital. Now, as the need grows, so does Coffee4Craig which is in the process of becoming a full blown charity. Fie, however, is well aware that it’s all merely papering over the cracks in a rapidly turning Dickensian society. Shockingly, the Job Centre is sanctioning people and then sending them to Coffee4Craig to get food. That’s the Government cutting benefits and expecting volunteers and charitable organisations to pick up its pieces. “We have social services ring us” Fie adds “Salford Council ring us, the mental health nursing team at Meadowbrook ring us, A&E doctors, Greater Manchester Police, even the Narrowgate shelter rings us to do reverse referrals. They all want help. Like, they’ve got a patient to discharge from hospital who has no fixed abode but isn’t a priority. We try and find a space and if we can’t bring them here, we phone a B&B and pay for it, that’s where the money goes; it’s £28 to £42 a night.”

“It’s not a long term solution” she explains “I think what we do at Coffee4Craig is support someone in an immediate crisis, and then signpost them to longer term solutions like benefit advice, debt solutions, citizens advice, all these types of people who can work with them. And what we then do is raise awareness of it, and we have volunteers who lobby the Council about things like sanctions and benefits. We don’t do it quietly. Like it or not we are essentially a protest because every single charity is a protest if they are run properly.” Coffee4Craig jointly led the infamous Selfridges spikes protest, took part in the Homeless March in Manchester and supported the subsequent Homeless Camp at Albert Square and, later, St Peter’s Square. The Camp had the slogan `Keep your coins: I want change!’. According to official figures, Salford has just 14 rough sleepers, a figure in itself that has doubled in a year. Fie reckons the number is well over forty. Meanwhile, a report from Shelter last December, based on Government figures, showed that one person in every 63 in Salford is at risk of eviction, the second highest rate in the North West. Homelessness, for so long swept under the carpet, is now becoming a very public and a very radicalised issue. While the political scandal rages on about the contrast between the massive amount of posh apartment blocks going up in Salford and Manchester while people sleep rough in doorways, what Coffee4Craig has also shown is the incredible generosity of local people. The `Five Tin Challenge’ went mega in Salford and beyond, with thousands of tins of food being collected in pubs, shops and at community events. Others have helped by volunteering their skills to the organisation. Black Grape and Bez even donated proceeds from their re-union gig. But it’s those who aren’t exactly rolling in money and donate that stagger Fie... “They’re the biggest givers, they really are” she says “It’s amazing

isn’t it? But what I would like is big business backing. I would like to stop having to take donations of food and money from people who really need it themselves.” The reason why people have got on board with Coffee4Craig is that it’s run by volunteers and there’s no handsomely paid fundraiser in the background... “There’s a charity boss in Manchester on £80,000 a year” Fie spits “Give me that and I will staff our entire organisation. I live on benefits. I’ve got nothing; second hand everything, two pairs of jeans...and do you know what? I couldn’t be happier. “I know my motivation for wanting to do this” she adds “But I always ask our volunteers `What’s yours?’. And they all say `It’s because I’m sick of walking past people on the street and not knowing what to do to help...You’ve made me aware of what I can do to help’.” Anyone who spots a bloke living in a bus shelter in Eccles now knows what to do. Call Coffee4Craig. Or, better still, get involved and help this passionately worthwhile group that’s shouting, screaming and doing something positive about the scandal of poverty and homelessness in 2015. Find out more at www.coffee4craig.com


The

MARY BURNS Page Fountains of Cash... As parents and carers of disabled adults struggle to get their sons and daughters to day centres now that most of the Salford Council transport has been cut, I’m sure they will be delighted to know that £219,065 has been spent over the last twelve months on the management of Greengate Square and its lovely coloured fountains. Salford Council paid the cash to Capital Properties to sweep up the Square and stuff, and to host wonderful events like gourmet food markets and the Dig The City festival. Indeed, the Square is so popular than you can actually hire it for the princely sum of £500 a day. Surely people are queuing up to get on board this unique opportunity? Er, maybe not...Despite forking out £219,065, or over £4,000 a week on fountain frolics, the income to the Council from Greengate Square for the whole of last year was just £5,828.09...

How Devo Manc Democracy Works... With everyone in Greater Manchester obviously jumping for joy at the prospect of devolution giving us more say in how things are run, let’s have a look at the democracy of it all so far... 1)

Back in November, almost out of the blue, the ten smirking leaders of Greater Manchester councils, including the Salford Mayor, appear on tv signing a devolution deal with Tory Chancellor George Osborne that had been thrashed out behind closed doors. The deal imposed an Elected Mayor for Greater Manchester without any referendum, any consultation or anything.

2)

We’re told the only accountability of this Mayor will be to the ten Greater Manchester Council leaders who will form a cabinet.

3)

In February word breaks that £6billion worth of health and social care funding is to be devolved, with no prior warning or consultation. People fear that it’s the start of the break-up of the NHS, and even Labour’s shadow health minister, Andy Burnham, declares himself “a bit worried by what I’m hearing”...

4)

Next up, we’re told we’re having an `Interim Mayor’ until the proper Mayor is elected in 2017. The two `interim’ candidates, Police Commissioner Tony Lloyd and Wigan Council Leader Peter Jones have a series of `engagement sessions’ but only councillors are able to attend and ask questions. On 29th May, Salford Mayor, Ian Stewart, will decide which candidate he wants to vote for, as will the leaders of the nine other GM councils.

Now, what’s missing in all this? That will be us! No referendum, no public consultation, no nothing. But that’s okay because devolution is going to giving us more say in how things are run! Manchester City Council Leader, Richard Leese summed it up beautifully when he said, without irony, “We are proposing a revolutionary shift in power from our remote parliaments to local people who know their places best...”

The Power of What?

Special Salix...

I’d like to send my congratulations to Salix Homes for coming second in the UK Housing Awards `Outstanding Campaign of the Year’ for its propaganda urging residents to vote to give their publicly owned homes over to, er, Salix Homes. The now private landlord was `Highly Commended’ for its The Power of Yes publicity, which basically plastered a big The Power of Yes logo on a zillion leaflets, brochures, flyers, magazines and t-shirts. So, congratulations to Salix...The swinging of the `stock transfer ballot’ really was absolutely nothing to do with the tens of thousands of pounds spent on glossy hype, nor Salford Council putting subliminally biased films on its website, or councillors and Assistant Mayors going round telling everyone that if they didn’t vote `Yes’ they’d be living in a hole in the ground with no running water and a tin bath. No, this campaign was brilliant...so brilliant that in the initial official test of opinion, done with 2,500 residents, just over 25% of them said they intended to vote `No’. By the time of the real ballot, and after the big `Power of Yes’ campaign, that figure had risen to almost 40%. Maybe the UK Housing Awards would like to give out a gong to the totally shoestring `Vote No’ campaign. They could call it the `Catapults Against Goliath Award’...

SALFORD COUNCIL ACCOUNTS PARTY July sees the annual accounts party when, in theory, anyone in the city can ask to see the books of Salford City Council, including contracts, bills, vouchers and receipts. It’s a time when, in theory, you can request the drinks receipts for senior officers, the Mayor’s food bill and all the cash that’s flowing to Peel Holdings et al. Yes, July is the time for true transparency and, by law, the `public right’ to inspect the accounts...Well, maybe...Unfortunately there’s a little catch that’s been added over the last few years... “Some documents containing personal or commercially-privileged information may not be available for inspection” the Council states. Try asking for anything of interest and see how they bring out this clause. Perhaps it should be changed to the `public right’ to inspect only the financial stuff that they want you to see. Still, it’s definitely worth a try... The public right to inspect the books for the year ending March 2015 runs 1st July to 28th July, 8:30am - 4:30pm. Just call the Director of Finance and Corporate Business at Salford Council to make arrangements 0161 793 3245.

And congratulations again to Salix Homes for getting into the finals of the UK Housing Awards in the Meeting Specialist Housing Needs category, for its sterling work at Duchy Road Caravan Park. Unfortunately `meeting specialist housing needs’ doesn’t extend to a disabled bloke I know living on the 14th floor of Canon Hussey Court on the Islington Estate.

– but was turned down by Salix. Then shining knight , Strategic Mayor Paul Dennett got involved, emailing TJ, to “assure you that the issue of the City Council’s Housing Lettings/Allocations Policy being Equalities Act compliant has been taken seriously...”

The lifts in the block never seem to be working and poor TJ, as he’s called, has almost been a prisoner in his flat for a number of years. His doctor even sent a letter to Salix back in 2013, stating that “TJ’s current living environment poses a clear and immediate risk to his health...” TJ then bid for a ground floor property but was refused because it was “age banded to people over 55 years old”. He complained, citing discrimination under the Equality Act - `eligibility through disability’

Over a year later, and after numerous complaints and falls on the stairs, TJ still hasn’t got his move, and still remains a prisoner in his home when the lifts up to his 14th floor flat don’t work, which seems like every day. And now that Salix has been privatised, Assistant Mayor Dennett has conveniently washed his hands of the whole thing. Anyway, congratulations, Salix Homes, on Meeting Specialist Housing Needs. Shall we have a ballot on that?

Trough Corner... To make sure councillors aren’t trousering, er, benefits from their positions of power, they are all required to declare any financial interests they may have, such as companies they are involved in, shares they hold or any gifts or hospitality they’ve had over the value of £100. And in the interests of accountability and openness this Register of Interests is online at the Council’s website for anyone to view...except that most councillors haven’t filled the thing in for up to two years. The Mayor, Ian Stewart, last declared any gifts or hospitality in the online register in November 2013 (ninety quid’s worth of hospitality at The Lowry), while he last signed the register of interests in February 2013. His Deputy, David Lancaster, arrogantly snaps on his un-dated online form that `Any gifts and hospitality is declared through the Salford City Council procedure’ and declares nothing.

Stephen Coen, Assistant Mayor for International Relations, doesn’t declare any gifts and hospitality on his form – so that photo we’ve got of him enjoying a buffet in Malaga was maybe a mirage. Meanwhile, Derek Antrobus, Assistant Mayor for Planning, last signed his online form in October 2012, with the gifts and hospitality section left blank; while Assistant Mayor for Transport, Roger Jones, repeats the Deputy Mayor’s mantra that `Any gifts and hospitality is declared through the Salford City Council procedure’. Excuse me, but isn’t the official online Register of Interests something to do with `Salford Council procedure’? And if not, what is the `procedure’? Where can we see it? Has anyone ever heard a councillor stand up at a meeting and say `Hi, I’d like to declare a rather nice little trip I had to France...Oh and some free tickets to Salford Red Devils...etc...’? Thought not.

Hazel Banks on Co-op Now she’s no longer Salford MP, Hazel Blears has turned her attention to the Co-op where she’s run into more controversy. Hazel put herself up to be one of three possible Member-Nominated Directors (MNDs) to get on the Board of the Co-op Group, whose work will involve `a minimum of approximately one to two days a month’, with a `basic fee of £60,000 a year’!!! To be an MND, applicants had to have skills including “the highest standard of integrity”, “financial and commercial

acumen” and “awareness of the operational issues involved in managing a business the size of the Group”. Six people applied but three of them were chucked off the election list, leaving Hazel and the other two unopposed for the ridiculously massive fee. With such great democracy at work, the Midcounties Co-op threatened legal action against a voting process that was “neither transparent, nor objective”, and, to stave off open revolt, the Co-op’s bigwigs had to issue a

statement hours before the election at its annual AGM, promising a review of the process etc etc. Hazel was duly elected, with a 36% vote against her. Having taken the Co-op cash, expect Ms Blears to get involved in the `Northern Powerhouse’ next, which has similar styles of democracy involved...


Up On Spruce Court With Chris Flynn... Salford inspires many things whether it is a preconceived idea of the city or Lowry’s paintings. The place has inspired generations of song writers from Ewan MacColl to Graham Nash. Chris Flynn is the latest artist to be captured by the muse that is Salford.

B

orn in Preston, Chris moved to Salford at 18 years of age....”I kind of gravitated towards the music of Salford and Manchester” he recalls “I had lots of friends who went to university here and started staying more and more because the bands were so great.”

you” he says “They want to listen to things that include them in the story...real people’s stories and real events. I think the way I write now is based on that period of being fifteen floors up and being able to watch the whole of Salford go about its business.”

Chris spent twenty years living in Spruce Court and the time spent there gave him inspiration and material for some of his songs... “The songwriting started as a bit of personal therapy, a little bit cathartic...as I went through it I started to make up stories about characters because not everybody wants to hear songs that are about

The latest offering from Chris Flynn is Falling to Pieces (Dumped), an earthy song reminiscent of Tom Waites, with a video shot at the King’s Arms on Bloom Street. This follows the excellent video for his last song, Pandora, made at the Eagle, or to us old timers the Lamp Oil, on Collier Street.

“It’s real, it’s a story everyone can identify with because everyone has and will continue to get dumped” he insists “Again, I don’t think the song is about me. It really is about situations people find themselves in. I often find that my songs are not love songs they are about what happens after love is gone.”

long time, especially the core of the three piece” he explains “There’s something that connects with us when we play together.”

Listening to Chris’ work there are a couple of things that stand out and, first is the quality of the songs. They are well crafted stories, an art that seems to be disappearing of late. The other thing is the standard of musicianship...”The guys that I work with I’ve been with for a very

To find out more about Chris Flynn and listen to the music look up his website at www.chrisflynn.org.uk It’s also well worth watching the videos on YouTube.

Indeed after sell out gigs, including the Lowry and the more intimate setting of the Lamp Oil, few would argue.

Words by Bernard Brough

Hair Care Lower Broughton’s Leah is soon to shave all her hair off to raise money and awareness for cancer research

“Miss Holding was really open about her cancer and it got me thinking about raising money in her honour” says Leah “In March I raised £200 from the Pretty Muddy 5k run but I wanted to raise more. I decided on the head shave because it’s a pretty big thing when girls do it. I’ll be a bit cold for a bit... “At first my friends thought I was a bit mad but I got a good response from the school, with pupils I didn’t even know coming up and giving

me money and the teachers were on board too” she adds Leah’s dad, Joe, is also on board... “I was a bit emotional at first because she was going to lose all her hair but I’ve got used to it now; it’s fine she can always wear a hat” says “I try to make a joke of it and it’s for a good cause...” The sponsored head shave is going to be a public event at St Boniface’s Social Club in Lower Broughton on Friday 3rd July, from 7:30pm onwards with a DJ, raffle and more. Tickets are £2.50 and can be purchased from the venue. Leah is already over half way to her target of £2,000. Anyone who wishes to sponsor Leah can do so via www.justgiving.com/hennaheads

Photo by Beckie Hough

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ixteen year old Leah Dean has now left Albion Academy but is making the ultimate hair sacrifice for her former English teacher, Miss Holding, who has been diagnosed with breast cancer. She is going to shave off her waist length locks to raise money for Cancer Research UK.


WHAt’s On In Salford Fringe Festival Eccles Art In Salford…

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tephen Broadhurst, or Broady, specialises in he Greater Mandepicting scenes and chester Fringe people from old Salford, Festival is back for its usually in pastel and fourth year in July with pencil with his unique hundreds of performers take on the subject. and Salford gigs at His exhibition at the Lower Kersal Social Langworthy CornerClub, the King’s Arms, stone recently, featuring the Eagle Inn and eighty original pictures, Salford Arts Theatre, was incredibly popular where Little Hulton’s and now he’s moving star poet JB Barrington the focus to Eccles, is performing on 25th displaying over a July. dozen pictures related to the area at the JB’s well-selling book, Eccles Community Art Woodchip, Anaglypta Gallery... and Nicotined Artex Ceilings, features over “There’s old bakeries, two dozen poems writ- trains, buses, people in ten in easy Salfordian the streets and soldiers that range from old in the Drill Hall during Salford to the happen- the First World War” he ings of today. He’s also says “They bring back making a huge name a lot of memories for for himself on the live people.” circuit, with festival appearances and support Broady has also done slots alongside bands portraits of virtually anylike The Fall, Black one who is famous in Grape and the Sleaford the city, from Shelagh Mods…“I always say Delaney to Freddy that my poems sound Davies. The works are better performed than for sale and he keeps read, there’s more the price incredibly passion when they’re affordable so that lots heard” he explains. of Salford people can own an original. Other Fringe highlights include The Mercury You can catch Broady’s Complex, an autobiowork at the Eccles graphical tragi-comedy Community Art Gallery which recalls Lindsay, in Eccles Precinct, from age five, announcing 16th May until 13th June to her mother, “When in an exhibition alongI grow up, I want to side other local artists be Freddie Mercury” Robert Lever and Peter th st (19 -21 July King’s Grove, with photos Arms); Phill Jupitus Is by Salford Young Porky The Poet (King’s Carers and Young Adult th Arms 6 July) and Carers. Being Frank, a night of spoken word and film The Eccles Commugiving the story behind nity Art Gallery is in the late Frank SideEccles Precinct, Unit bottom creator, Chris 4, Boothway M30 9AT. Sievey, complete with Open Saturday 10am John Cooper Clarke to 4pm, and Tuesday and Johnny Vegas and Friday 11am to interviews (18th July 2pm. Salford Arts Theatre).

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More details: www. The Greater Manches- ecclescommunityartter Fringe Festival gallery.org runs 1st-31st July. Full details at www. greatermanchesterfringe.co.uk

Salford Playwrights

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alford has produced some top playwrights, like Shelagh Delaney, Harold Brighouse, who wrote Hobson’s Choice, and Mike Leigh. Now, a new group is being set up at Islington MIll for people to develop and showcase their work. “All you need is an idea and the determination to see it through” says playwright and dramaturg Julian Hill who is hosting the series of three hour workshops.

Salford Books Poetry At The Eagle

Salford Carnival

Dolphin Blockbusters

ReSisters...

SALFORD RAF HERO

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funfair, pony rides and more will be on offer at the first ever Salford Carnival which takes place on June 6th and 7th at the AJ erformance poetry that’s funny, thought Bell Stadium in Barton. The free family day will provoking and enteralso feature live music taining has come to across three stages, Salford in the form of Evidently, at the Eagle nine-a-side tag ruby, DJ workshops, face Inn, that happens on the second Monday of painting, morris dancing teams, crafts stalls and every month. bars. With two top poets “It’s a community event on the night and ten open mic spots there’s with virtually no money to make it happen, always a huge variety apart from the facilities of word spitting going down which is all filmed that have been given and put up on YouTube to us, and hopefully Salford people will get for posterity. Hosted behind it and have a by Salfordian poet, good day out” says Kieran King, Evidently organiser, Ed Blaney, has been called “a rip roaring, verse slinging, who also produces the Salford Music Festival. cheer rousing, heart filling, feet stamping The Salford Carnival riot of rhythm and runs June 6th and 7th rhymes” by performer, at the AJ Bell StadiDominic Berry, and is um, Liverpool Road, on the shortlist for the Barton. For further Saboteur Awards for details see www.salBest Regular Spoken fordcarnival.co.uk Word Night.

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“Salford has a history of producing playwrights and plays which sing with the sounds and feelings of this city” he adds “There is no reason why Salford cannot produce similarly influential works again and it’s crucially important to a healthy theatre that people from the city write from it and about it. Salford has a strong community and a wonderful unique humour which is reflected in its The next two shows culture. We need more see guests Gerry Potter of this in our theatres.” and Colin Davies on June 8th, and Miko The first meeting will Berry and Tim Ledwitch be at Islington Mill on July 13th. Well worth in the Club Space checking out... on Tuesday May 26th between 6-9pm. Evidently: every The cost of each second Monday of the workshop is £8 (£5 month at the Eagle concession). For Inn, Collier Street M3 more details contact 7DW £3 www.evidentJulian Hill mancheslysalford.net/ terplaywrightsforum@hotmail.com or 07885680129

nyone who thinks that a dolphin’s permanent smile means they’re happy, needs to read The Perfect Pair books by Salford authors David C Holroyd and Tracy J Holroyd. Everyone loves going to see dolphins perform – jumping through hoops, flicking beach balls, having their teeth brushed. They seem to love it. But what happens if the dolphins don’t feel like performing or won’t learn the tricks? Ever heard of a `shake session’?’ These fishy blockbusters recount the sad underbelly of the world of aquatic circuses through the memories of trainer David Capello, a `fictional’ character in a `factional novel’. It all takes place in the filthy, murky, sleazy, unfiltered waters of a corporate dolphinarium that’s a metaphor for the filthy, murky, sleazy, unfiltered waters of big business where money rules the waves of humanity. While the subject matter is harrowing it’s no dour Black Beauty dirge – both books fly along with page turning pace, humour and a gripping tale that makes them almost impossible to put down... with comedy penguins, Stinky and Worse, along the way. This is pure brilliant holiday reading. With a message in a bottle-nosed dolphin... The Perfect Pair: Part 1 The Enchanted Mirror Part 2 The Mirror Cracks By David C Holroyd and Tracy J Holroyd (Matador) *Available in print and on Kindle

new book on northern radical women, featuring everyone from Chumbawamba’s Alice Nutter to Bernadette Devlin McAliskey, also covers Salford’s political `ReSisters’, including Maxine Peake, Shelagh Delaney and community activists. From the Suffragettes to the Ford workers in the 1960s; and from the 1970s feminists to the miners’ wives and Greenham Common protesters in the 80’s, women have been involved in political activism throughout the century. Many of their stories are well documented, but for every Germaine Greer there are anonymous others taking part in campaigns for peace, equality and workers’ rights. Local writer Bernadette Hyland attempts to redress the balance, telling their stories through interviews and past articles. Despite the reality of today’s austerity Britain, the book ends on an optimistic note. The spirit of protest is alive and well, from local action against the cuts, to the anti-fracking camp at Barton Moss – with women still playing an important part. Northern ReSisters: Conversations with Radical Women Bernadette Hyland (Mary Quaile Club) £5.95 *Details on how to buy the book can be found at http://maryquaileclub. wordpress.com Review by Jo K

hil Riley worked on the night shift at Ross Foods with a bloke called Kenny Butterworth, who originally lived near Salford Cinema before moving to Folly Lane. Phil listened to Kenny’s incredible Second World War stories night after night and promised to write them down for posterity. Kenny died but Phil delivered on his promise and this is the result. It tells of an ordinary young Salford lad who, like tens of thousands of others, was caught up in world events. He joined the RAF at the outbreak of war and became an ‘armourer’. This book is the true story of his trials and tribulations throughout the duration of hostilities. He was no decorated hero, but he was certainly no coward and showed that on several occasions. It also gives a good insight into the unexciting, side of what actually happened during wartime. He came face to face with death and somehow survived, but he saw death take many comrades. This is a story of one man’s war experiences which were shared by many others, without whose courage and fortitude in what might be called, ‘the backstage of the theatre of war’, things would have turned out quite differently. Kenny’s Story by Phil Riley (The Memoir Club) *For details of how to get a copy of the book email the author priley497@ btinternet.com Review by Mike Skeffington.


Portal ‘THE MOST DANGEROUS DRUG ON THE STREETS’

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elcome to Portal, `a danger to society’, according to the government. Or the ultimate high, according to its users and addicts...“You’re so strong and sure about every decision you make...and then you come out” says one addict who’s attempting to go clean. Set somewhere down some back streets of the north, Portal is a seven-part web series that’s clocked up over 300,000 views recently. It centres on a doctor, a dealer and a dominatrix whose lives are interweaved between the virtual and real world that the banned drug creates. Loads of the Portal cast and crew have local connections, from Salfordian lead actors Clay Whitter, who plays the dealer, and Victoria Connett, who plays the doctor; to University of Salford graduates, Chelsea Edge, who plays the dominatrix, and co-producer Sarah-Lee Jones.

“Salford is in our blood” says Mark Ashmore, who founded Future Artists in the city in 2008, shot short films like Broken Britain and the feature length Lost Generation here, and then tried to build an art space at the Black Lion pub, before rates and landlords priced out the dream. Now, however, it’s Portal that’s virtually stimulating the net... “It’s either an entertaining look at what could happen if social media engulfs us all and becomes both a drug and a digital game; or it’s a multilayered look at the state of society, the dangers of technology companies and how corrupt they are” explains Mark “It’s my job as a story teller to show this black mirror to the world. But you could always watch it for the pretty pictures, it looks great!” For more details on Future Artists and the links to Portal see http://futureartists.co.uk/

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uthor Simon Williams is laughing his head off. In the fourth book of his Hidden Depths series, the central character, a bloke called, er, Williams, has become Mayor of Salford. And after about half a day in office has discovered massive corruption at the heart of the Council... `There was more fiddling going on than in the BBC Philharmonic’ he gasps. So what could possibly be the writer’s inspiration for all this? “It doesn’t resemble anything” the real Simon insists “It’s purely fictional...” The fictional Williams is the `Langy Roader’ who, saddened by £6million missing from the city’s coffers while cuts were happening to public services, tries to sort it out in the only way he knows – by bringing in a few burly Salford lads to have a word with the ex-Mayor and his 13 `under mayors’. Next up, Salford Lads Club is handed over to the homeless, the Class of ’92 buy Salford Stadium and the Salford MP is found dead after a night with two hookers. All the action is squashed into about three dozen bursting pages – it’s like reading a top thriller on fast forward. And there’s murder, romance, love, lust,

violence, corruption and more corruption thrown into the mix. This is proper Salford as sorted in the imagination of a proper Salford lad. “I try to create an easy read for people who don’t read because it gets them into reading” the real Simon Williams explains “You can read books and they can be boring and laborious. In these, there’s always something happening. The story is on the flow. Everyone can relate to some part of this book. I just look at things and put my own twist on it...” Salford Born and Bread takes less than an hour to read and it’s an hour that will have you laughing your head off. If only it was this simple to sort Salford... Hidden Depths: Salford Born and Bread By Simon Williams *Available now on Kindle for £1.99 with all profits going to Coffee4Craig • Salford Born and Bread is the fourth book by Simon Williams in the Hidden Depths series. Find them on Amazon and Kindle


ROMAN TREASURE IN SALFORD Everyone knows about the Roman Fort at Castlefield but not many people know that the Romans were also in Weaste, Broughton and Boothstown, where their treasure has been unearthed over the last 135 years. Alice Searle reports... A Bit of Roman History When the Romans landed on the shores of Britain they had one aim - to conquer the natives and claim Britain for the Roman Empire. This was in the 1st century, AD 43, almost two thousand years ago. They had been before with Julius Caesar, but these visits didn’t last. When they did decide to stay it was for nearly four hundred years and we learnt a lot from them. They had amazing building methods and even a governing and legal system. In Britain at this time, there were very few towns and certainly no cities. So there was no Salford and no Manchester... The Romans made their way through Britain, building efficient roads for their legionnaires to march across the country, and

constructing look-out forts on high land, to garrison their soldiers. On arriving in what is now Manchester and Salford, they soon defeated the Brigantes which were Celtic tribes, and set up a Fort on a high ridge near to the junction of the rivers Medway and Irwell. They called this Fort ‘Mamucium,’ which means ‘breast-like hill.’ What a nice ‘cuddly’ name in comparison with its future masculine name of Man-chest-er. Remains of this Fort can be seen, reconstructed, in Castlefield, on the border of the present Salford and Manchester. Approximately ten thousand artefacts have been unearthed, including coins, pieces of decorated pottery, some tools, a bronze statue, a broach and a flagon, plus bronze coins showing the heads of different Roman leaders, indicating the long Roman stay. A gathering of local natives soon established itself around the Fort. This ‘vicus’ [gathering of people] was the origin of Manchester and Salford.

Romans In Salford As the Romans moved north, intent on conquering Scotland, they built roads out from Mamucium. One road went north, cutting close to what is now Strangeways, along the line of Bury New Road, through Prestwich and on to Ribchester and Lancaster. The remains of the Roman road can be walked from the bottom of Singleton Road, parallel with Bury New Road. In 1912, in the Broughton Park area, ‘an intaglio’, or Latin carving, was found on a

stone. In the late 1880s the historian, Charles Roeder, carried out digs in the Rainsough area, a few yards over the border from Salford, where he found Roman coins and pottery. It is thought that this was perhaps another look-out Fort, looking down to the River Irwell. The River could be forded at this point, joining up with another major Roman road going from the Mamucium Fort to Wigan, passing through Seedley and Weaste on the way to Worsley and the west. In 1947, 540 Roman coins were found in a stone quarry near Boothstown. And in 1989 up to one thousand coins were found during excavations for housing at Boothsbank, a few thousand meters away. Part of this hoard is now kept in the basement of Salford Museum and Art Gallery. In September 2014, treasure hunter John Kearney unearthed a bronze Roman coin and button when metal detecting on Broughton playing fields, around thirty metres from edge of the field as he walked towards the Cliff.... “It was a few days before I realised I might have a Roman find” he says “If I had known I might have been more careful with it and treasured it more. I was then excited and contacted

Treasure hunter John Kearney on the site of the Roman road in Higher Broughton the Manchester Museum. To find it so close to my house, I couldn’t believe it. It can’t be the only one.” John has since been exploring on Kersal Moor, and in Clowes Park, Higher Broughton, and he’s recently found a silver template which could be Roman. All around the old Roman roads in Salford, if you look hard enough and dig deep enough, there must be plenty more treasure out there...


Little Hulton Success? It Goes With The Territory... Graham Williamson meets film writer, director and prime time tv actor, Reuben Johnson

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or an area that has endured its fair share of negative press highlighting crime and social problems, Little Hulton has produced its fair share of talented individuals who have elevated themselves and shone on the world stage. Former Harrop Fold pupil, Reuben Johnson, is well on his way to joining Christopher Eccleston and Shaun and Paul Ryder in becoming another of LH’s famous sons. This driven young man has not only written and produced his own play Territory but actually took the production up to the Edinburgh Fringe and picked up a National School of Drama Award. Reuben then turned the play into a full length feature film, which is now on general release via Vimeo. Not content with writing plays and directing films, he has also starred in BBC dramas, like Prisoners’ Wives and Casualty. I fight my way through the busy Stretford traffic to pick up the Man United fanatic and weave through to Chorlton where I reward him with a pint of expensive Belgian beer in one of the trendy bars lining the main drag. United are playing tonight so I dive straight into the questions with one eye on the clock... Graham: So at what age did you show an interest in acting? Reuben: Well I started taking it serious when I was

14. Growing up where I did in Little Hulton, I didn’t really get an opportunity to do it, so I ended up moving schools and one of the teachers introduced me to the Youth Theatre at the Bolton Octagon and I really got into it there. Then I went to Pendleton College which specialises in performing arts and got more opportunities there. G: What was your first acting break where you thought ‘yeah I can do something with this’? Reuben: My first TV beak was in a BBC drama called Prisoners’ Wives. I had a quite a big part but before that I done a lot of theatre stuff as well that I was really proud of. But the play I wrote, Territory, which we made into a film I would say was my proudest achievement. Territory - The Film The film itself can be classed as a semi-autobiographical tale that centres on two brothers. The younger sibling, impressionable and naive, reunites with his ‘go ahead’ ambitious older bro who has returned up North from his musical studies in affluent Oxford. Younger bro invites the level headed, older, wiser brother to hang out with his dubious scally mates for a Friday night jolly down the woods. Surprisingly the straight head musician accepts the invitation and what ensues is what you would expect from a group of bored Salford teenagers out of sight of their parents and the local

dibble. The characters are gritty and true to life. Johnson’s character being the testosterone filled pseudo top boy, Ashley.... G: So Territory portrays life in Little Hulton, what was life like for you growing up in the area? Reuben: Well I would say normal as you don’t know any different until you experience anywhere else. It’s only when you go to college, move to London and meet new people from less working class backgrounds that you realise it was pretty crazy. We just kind of lived on the street and got into all sorts of bother, you know? You had to learn how to handle yourself as well. The thing is that even though I hung around in those groups and got into trouble, I always had ambition and I really wanted to make something of myself. I had a good family as well that maybe some of my peers didn’t have. G: In the film you had some established actors performing, how did you persuade them to get involved? Reuben: I knew Ian McKee who has been in loads of stuff; I was in a film with him called Weekender which was a Manchester rave film, he’s a mate, and Mike Parr who is in Emmerdale now and just smashing it winning awards and stuff came in. He was actually in the play to start with. G: So what’s in the pipeline for 2015?

Reuben: I have a production company called Fiddy West Productions that is run by myself and a girl called Victoria Brittain, and we have another film due to start maybe end of this year or the start of next year. We are trying to secure funding and we have a pretty cool cast for that, people who I’ve met along the way. That will be called Wrecked and it’s another play that I did. After Territory I did a few different plays that I really enjoyed but Wrecked is similar to Territory but a bit more hardcore. Territory, although it has its dark moments, is quite light hearted. We’ve also got a few stage productions and there are several more plays that we are trying to show in London. So, from hooded street urchin to playwright, director and primetime TV actor, this has been some journey, and it’s amazing to think this is barely the beginning. Overcoming stigma amongst peers, audition knockbacks and, no doubt, toffee-nosed snobbery that drenches the middle class dominated world of theatre, Johnson’s achievements should act as an inspiration to any youngsters in Salford who have aspirations to succeed. As far as role models go, it looks like Little Hulton can add one more to the growing list. The film Territory is available to buy at £5 or rent at £3 via the website Vimeo. See https:// vimeo.com/ondemand/territory


SWINTON LIONS SET TO ROAR AGAIN

They’ve been gone from Swinton for too many years but there’s plans afoot to get the Lions roaring again. As they head into the League Cup Final, Gareth Lyons checks out their chances...

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f you walk around a non-descript Swinton housing estate called the Gateways you would be forgiven, if you weren’t aware, that you were walking on the site of not only local sporting history but world history. A site where champions were made, test matches played and dreams, eventually, evaporated.

You won’t find a Martin Hodgson Way or an Alan Buckley Drive, or even a Les Holiday Avenue on the Gateways. But you may find a hole in the ground where the heart was ripped out of the town of Swinton. A hole that was opened in 1992 when Swinton Lions’ Station Road Rugby League ground was sold off to Championship Winners 1927, 1928, 1931, property developers by their own board of 1935, 1963 directors. Runners Up 1925, 1933, 1940 Since then the club has Challenge Cup eked an existence in Winners 1900, 1926, 1928 a number of locations, Runners Up 1927, 1932 tolerated but largely

Swinton Lions Club Roll of Honour

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never wholly welcome, and has survived thanks in large part to the band of loyal supporters who make up the Lions Independent Supporters Trust. Returning to M27 We’ve heard `We’re coming back’ or similar phrases so many times since the Lions moved out, that now even the most optimistic Swinton fan treats this with scepticism. A point I put to Alan Marshall, a member of the Swinton Lions’ new board of directors which took control of the club last year. “We’re not going to make any rash promises, which has happened in the past” he explained “We as a board are aware that the ultimate goal for Swinton would be to come back to the town; we are not going to give any assurances but we are looking at ways and means to facilitate a return.” New owners with big ideas for sports teams are as regular as days that end in `Y’, so understatement is quite refreshing. At the back end of 2013, with the club in serious debt and threat of extinction, there was much publicised speculation that Mar-

wan Koukash would take over the club as a `knight in shining armour’. This has proved to be just that, speculation. The club has gone in a different direction, with the Swinton Independent Supporter’s Trust joining with some local business people to take the club forward. Swinton’s ownership is extremely interesting, as the Supporter’s Trust, which owns part of the club, has a real say in its direction. Currently, two of the club’s board of directors are elected annually by the Trust, but it has long played a role since its formation in 2002 with a seat on the board. The recent blocking by Salford Council of Marwan Koukash’s unrealistic plans for a redevelopment of Swinton Town Centre on the old site of St Ambrose Barlow School, which included a proposed ground for Swinton Lions, might have been seen as a blow to the club. Not so, I was informed, Koukash has never even spoken to the club’s current board to outline his plans. Indeed, his only conversations were with the Supporters Trust and his various media accounts - an extremely strange state of affairs. “If the Ambrose plan had come off it would have

www.salfordstar.com

Photo by Gareth Lions

been great” said Alan Marshall “But the club has never planned for this.” A member of the Supporters Trust who was present at the public meetings between the Trust and Koukash told me that the Salford Red Devils owner had been asked whether he wanted to invest in Swinton and put money in to the club. To date he hasn’t responded to this request. With Salford Council blocking plans for the development on Ambrose Barlow, citing traffic concerns and the need for new primary schools, there is a shortage of potential sites within the boundaries of Swinton for a new ground. Any thoughts of a stadium on the site of the old Swinton Sewage Farm are remote, as developers seem to have once again earmarked this site for housing. The playing fields on Beech Farm or the site of the old Moorside High School building are two other potential sites. Outside of the town there was land at Agecroft cited by the previous Swinton Lions regime but nothing has happened since. After the Council refused Koukash’s plans, it did state that it would investigate areas for develop-


Home Fixtures all 3pm kick off Sun 7th June Newcastle Thunder Sun 21st June Oldham Sun 5th July Barrow Sun 26th July Rochdale Hornets Sun 9th August London Skolars Sun 23rd August Univ of Gloucester Sun 13th September South Wales Scorpions All home games played at Sedgley Park Rugby Club, Park Lane, Manchester M45 7DZ Entrance: Adults £15/Concs £10/Under 16s £2

Rebuilding Lost Ties Even if the Lions came back to the town tomorrow, the years on the road has led to a lost generation of supporters...“We’ve suffered since we lost Station Road” Alan explained “The community has been largely ignored.” Thankfully, the 2015 Swinton Lions are aware of this and since the takeover have been working hard at rebuilding ties within the town. Staff are involved heavily with coaching at Swinton High School, have recently built ties with St Ambrose Barlow and are trying to establish a relationship with Moorside High School. Most surprising is the link with Salford City College where the club has built a pathway for children to play the game from the age of eight upwards, with the opportunity of playing for the Lions. Indeed the College’s under 17s rugby team will also double as the Swinton Lions Academy, giving an excellent opportunity for young players to develop, whilst completing their studies. The club’s community work was recently recognised by the Rugby Football League and given Embedding the Pathway Accreditation - a scheme aimed at developing coaches, and players’ development between the ages of U12-U14. Meanwhile, the club’s first open training session attracted over forty youngsters keen to play the game. The amateur game has been neglected in the City of Salford as a whole over the last twenty years by both our professional rugby teams. Due in large part from the split between the amateur and professional game and indifference at boardroom level, relationships suffered and it is only in the last few years that this has improved, in part by the excellent work done by John Blackburn and his staff at the Salford Red Devils Foundation and the amateur team’s volunteers. The Lions have identified that they have a part to play and have begun to work more with local amateur teams. With this aim the Lions have built ties with legendary Swinton based amateur team, Folly Lane, whose social club, people may remember, was located outside the gates of Station Road and was bought by ex-footballer and property developer Gary Neville. The club has also built up excellent links through its `walkabout’ away from M27 with the Bury Broncos.

Why Keep The Score? “If winning isn’t everything, why do they keep the score?” - the inspirational quote from American Football supercoach Vince Lobardi - aptly describes the pitfalls of the Lions’ plans....That, in sport, everything is built on the back of results. The Lions currently reside in the third tier of rugby in this country and have to become a much better team than they have been. Only sustained improved performances will make all the good work being done behind the scenes effective. To this aim the objectives for this season are simple, Alan Marshall insisted - to win the Kingstone Press League 1, then promotion through the playoffs as well as winning the IPro Sports League 1 Cup. The club has created a young and vibrant squad under the leadership of coach John Duffy, and with senior and experienced players like Jordan James and Stuart Littler, they believe the Lions will achieve these aims. Unlike in previous years, there is much to be optimistic about in 2015. An excellent start to the season has seen the Lions reach the final of the League Cup, to be played at Bloomfield Road, Blackpool 23rd May against rivals North Wales Crusaders, who the team drew 14-14 in a bruising league encounter earlier this season. On top of this is the recent news that Lions’ legend Les Holliday has taken up a role as ambassador with the club. Conclusion After previous regimes made bold statements about the club moving back to the area, it is quite refreshing and professional for the current board to be realistic and not emotive. The goal is to return to M27 but no time frame is in place to build up people’s hopes. After 27 years of promises it does seem that at last the Lions are heading in the right direction to put the club back on the map. As Alan Marshall philosophically stated, “It’s little acorns that grow into big trees; we’ve got to start somewhere”. Swinton Lions was once a mighty oak tree in rugby league. Battered and diseased it withered. Let’s hope that, under the care of all the people who love the club, Swinton becomes mighty once more...

Photos courtesy of Salford Local History Library

ment, and Alan Marshall said that the club is keen for this discussion to be had.


RED VENOM FROM THE ’HEIGHT TO SANDRA BULLOCK Irlams o’ th’ Height’s Red Venom is Salford’s below the radar rap legend whose track, Let’s Get It On, is still being played everywhere...

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o we’re sat in the Henry Bod pub talking about Red Venom’s history with Sandra Bullock; a stunning jazz-hop track called Let’s Get It On that wazzed up the film Miss Congeniality...and hasn’t stopped wazzing up stuff since...Sex In The City used it. The Bewitched film used it for its trailer. And everyone is still using it...

the track shows how Red Venom transcends the genre of rap or hip hop. It’s just musical. Incredibly, the tune, like a lot of Red Venom sounds, went unreleased due to his record label problems, hence the Lost Files title of the album.

“It’s turned up on Sky sports advertising the football and the video still gets played on VH1 on the classics and rare hits; I didn’t even know it was rare” Red laughs “We shot the video in the Roadhouse, it was set in the 60s then it goes into 2000s; and it’s got the world champion breakdancers in there. It still pops up everywhere. Chris Moyles was playing it recently but he kept talking over it so you didn’t hear the raps. It’s a very jazz sound...”

“It’s been a big part of my life writing those tracks” he explains “It’s the story of when I was growing up; when my mum passed away and when my sister passed away as well at 26, and all the struggles over the years. There’s a track called B-Boy Supreme, with Man Parish, about growing up in the 80s...Follow Me, an anti-gangster rap, has the same break as Happy Mondays’ Step On...there’s a lot of different styles there.”

Let’s Get It On was Red Venom’s biggest hit that never was, due to the usual rip-off record company problems. But that was just one project half way through his career. And he’s done a zillion since that fly off in all directions as his sounds veer from blues to jazz to funk, to folk, to old skool hip hop, with a rhythmic tinge of everything in between.

“We’re bringing loads of guests from America and from the UK, and if anyone from Salford wants to get involved they’re welcome.” To try and capture it all, a kind of `best of’ album has been launched called The Lost Files (1973-2015), led by an absolutely ultra track called Homeward Bound, compassionately highlighting the Salford experience with the chorus `Yo my dirty old town, you’re where I’m from...’. With accompanying fiddle from Toss The Feathers’ Dezi Donnelly,

Meanwhile, there’s also a current vinyl and CD album out called Red House, on which Red has been working with a host of huge hip hop names including Craig G, Man Parish, Lord Jazz, Mikey D and Donald D, who was in Ice T’s Rhyme Syndicate. And there’s yet another Red House hip hop album in the making provisionally called Transparent Cyphers... “The idea is that it’s Red’s house, like a party with lots of guest artists” he explains “We’re bringing loads of guests from America and from the UK, and if anyone from Salford wants to get involved they’re welcome. There’s a guy called DJ Doom who’s worked with Eminem producing two of the tracks. Doom’s from the Bronx and has been around a long time and worked with some serious artists. We did the deal before Eminem approached him so that was good business sense!” From Irlams O’ Th’ Height to the Bronx it’s been a hell of a journey... “It’s like a fairy tale because when I was a kid in Salford I always dreamed of being played in America and now the Salford thing has took in America” says Red “Everyone’s been trying to break America but I broke it years ago on the underground tip; my stuff gets played even more there.” Indeed no-one would guess that Red Venom is from Salford from his vocals... “I was taught to use my voice as an instrument; if it doesn’t sound right change it, and, ok, it does sound a bit mid Atlantic but if your voice isn’t right who’s going to listen to you? It’s like someone who can’t sing.” If the stage accent isn’t Salford, the sentiments that cut through the tracks are totally Salford. It’s all part of Red Venom’s refusal to be boxed in by any genre or rules. The sound is incredibly musical... “That’s what happened to hip hop with Grand Master Flash and the Furious Five” he explains “It was musical, the rappers didn’t rap

all the time; the DJs had their part, the break dancers could dance to the beats, and the rappers had their bit, whereas now the rappers want to take over hip hop. You get people rapping for the sake of rapping and not saying anything. They’re saying nothing just rapping, rapping, rapping...You look at Facebook and there’s fifty million rappers and everyone’s got a hip hop name...” What makes Red Venom stand out is that he’s classy. The videos are polished. The tracks are neat. The lyrics are clever and political. And the music appeals way beyond a rap/hip hop crowd. He’s currently working with actress and jazz singer Cheska Totti on a jazz hop project, with an album in the pipeline that’s evolved from live sets at Matt and Phreds in Manchester.

“Everyone’s been trying to break America but I broke it years ago” Indeed the Red Venom sound is still evolving in all types of different directions. So many that it’s hard to keep up. But it’s all part of a Salford scene that began in the 80s, when crews would come from all over Salford to the Precinct or the old Clarendon baths to breakdance, rap or buy electro tapes. He reels off names from back in the day like NSU, Hyperdrive, Salford City Breakers, DJ Poz and Emcee D... “A lot of people in Manchester didn’t see that side of it because they stayed in the city centre thinking they were cool but really Salford had its own hip hop scene.” For twenty years both that scene and Red Venom have been under the radar of classic Salford music. Now The Lost Files will hopefully set the record straight... Find out more at www.redvenomhiphop.com


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Salford Star Issue 10  

...with attitude and love Spring 2015

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