Mr Mayor's diary: September 2009
Wednesday 30 September
The first part of the day was taken up visiting three allotment sites in the city. I am a very keen gardener and had become interested in allotments as part of a Scrutiny Committee review a couple of years ago.
Recently we had come across allotmenteers at a number of shows across the city and so I thought it would be a good idea to see at first hand some of the sites.
We started off at Tindall Street Allotments in Eccles where we met Don Booth as well as representatives from partner agencies that have plots including Salford Community Leisure and the Mental Health Trust. We soon learnt that allotments aren't just about gardening for enthusiasts but also a therapeutic outlet for all sorts of people. They even have healthy walks round Tindall Street! Obviously there weren't many crops to see but there were still plenty of people around tending their plots and getting ready for next spring.
From there we went to the slightly smaller Poorlots Allotment site near home in Cadishead. We were met by Alan Cavanagh who is the Chairman of the Society that looks after the site. He was able to bring us up to date with plans to replace the magnificent new shed which had recently been burnt down.
Again there are a number of community plots and we met some students from Chatsworth High School and their teachers who had been tending their plot while we were on our visit. Allotment sites are so big while you are there you could be in the country even though you are usually surrounded by houses.
Our last visit was to a derelict site which is being brought into operation by the city council in time for the next growing season. We met with Angela Roberts who is Secretary of the Cumberland Avenue Allotment Association as well as the Chairman. The site has been partially cleared and money has just been made available to put down paths and fence the whole site. Angela is really excited that the site is going to come into use so soon as the Association was only formed last November.
With the number of people of the waiting there will be no shortage of takers so I have promised to return to the site in early May to see what progress has been made. The Mayoress and I really enjoyed our visits and we can only congratulate everyone involved with the allotments and particularly Steve Dennison who is the city council Allotments Officer for providing the resources and support to ensure the renaissance of allotments in Salford.
Our last engagement of the day was a visit to Albion High School. The Mayoress and I went there to present the second half of this month's Citizen's Award.
We had already met the mainstay of Rudi's Rebels but we were there to present an award to the singers. We attended a year 10 & 11 assembly in order to do this and were also coerced into awarding certificates to a number of the young people in recognition of the number of hours of volunteering they had done. We also gave special ties to the first tranche of School Ambassadors who are a new take on prefects within and outside the school.
Tuesday 29 September
When the Princess Royal came to Salford earlier in the year she visited BASIC on Eccles New Road to open a new café which they had created. At the time the Mayoress and I had had too little time to have a proper look round so I asked if we could be invited back.
BASIC stands for Brain and Spinal Injury Centre and they do some really pioneering work there helping people who have survived strokes and car crashes to relearn lost skills whether it be memory or speech by using therapy sessions, counselling as well as using new technology.
Wendy Edge gave us the full tour and got most of her staff to explain their roles and the ways they work with people to aid their recovery. Thank goodness there are people like this to help because the after effects of a stroke can be quite devastating and we are lucky to have such a centre in Salford.
In evening the Mayoress and I represented Salford at a reception to mark the 60th Anniversary of the formation of the People's Republic of China. This was held at the Chinese Consulate at Mauldeth Hall in Stockport. Mayors from as far afield as York and Leeds were in attendance as well as representatives from other Consulates in the area and we all enjoyed some excellent food and good company.
Monday 28 September
Only one engagement today at the St George's Able Bodied and Physically Handicapped Club. It was their AGM and as the Honorary President I had been invited to say a few words. The Mayoress and I enjoyed the rest of the evening in the company of Cllr Joe Murphy and Dot, his wife, even more so because we won over £20 playing bingo which we have donated to my charity funds!
Sunday 27 September
Two engagements today - first of all an early start to get to the Lowry to start the first Salford 10k Road Race. On a coolish morning, ideal running conditions I am told, over 500 runners lined up for the race and a little over 30 minutes later the winners were crossing the line. I was on hand not just to start the race but also to award the prizes in a number of categories including the over 60's winner who was the legendary Ron Hill who was winning his gold medals was I was a mere lad.
It was great to meet with him and to see such a large field turn out for this event which will now become part of our annual calendar of events. Thanks to Sports Tour International for combining with Salford City Council to organise this event and thanks to Graham Jackson who was the race director and kept me company as the Mayoress sheltered from the cold in the Lowry!
Our second engagement was in the rather grand surroundings of the Radisson Hotel at Manchester Airport where we were the guests of the High Sheriff along with all the other Mayors of Greater Manchester. We had an excellent lunch and were entertained by stories from the High Sheriff who is also the Danish Consul.
Friday 25 September
Today brought the second visit to Salford this year from a member of the Royal Family. This time it was the Duke of Kent. We met him first at the opening of the new Fusilier Museum in Bury and then actually welcomed him to Salford as he was visiting Broughton House to view the newly improved areas of the home and to meet with some of the residents and staff.
As with our previous Royal visit it was all over very quickly although this time I did have an opportunity to talk with the Duke about the situation facing ex-servicemen and the excellent work done by Broughton House at a time of financial restrictions.
Thursday 24 September
For our first engagement today the Mayoress and I welcomed the winning team from the Citizenship Day which we had taken part in earlier in the year. Part of the prize had been lunch with the Mayor so it was great to meet up with the young people again.
We really do have so to be proud of our young people and it was a real pleasure to hear about their plans for the future. Thanks to the Rotary Club for arranging this event which I think is of real benefit to the young people who take part.
Later in the day I met with another of the Salford swimmers who has been picked for the GB Swimming Squad. Daniel Phillips and his Mum and Dad came to the parlour so they didn't miss out on having their photo taken and it was good to swap stories about the trials and tribulations of being a swimming parent! Best wishes for the future Dan!
Wednesday 23 September
A busy day started with a meeting of my Charity Committee where I learnt the good news that the total amount of funds raised so far is over £3000 which was far in excess of my expectations. We discussed a number of events for the rest of the year and I am looking forward to taking part in as many as I can in the coming months.
Following that I spent some time chatting to Ben Colman who works in the Community Health & Social Care Directorate. He had recently completed a bike ride from Land's End to John O'Groats in aid of St Ann's Hospice.
As I am unable to ride a bike it was fascinating to hear how he managed such an incredible feat without any proper support team and using his annual leave to complete the epic ride. Congratulations to Ben and I was so pleased he was also raising money for St Ann's in the process.
My next meeting was a planning meeting with some staff from Salford University who are planning a charity event in February which sounds very exciting and potentially a big fundraiser for my charities.
In the evening the Mayoress and I went to the launch of a new strategy for people with physical and/or sensory impairments. The strategy had been drawn up after widespread consultation with disabled people to see just exactly they needed to be delivered to be able to live their lives as fully as possible.
I opened the proceedings and then the audience was given a greater insight as to what was involved by Julia Clarke, Assistant Director Of Commissioning and the Strategic Director for Community health & Social Care, Sue Lightup. There was obviously a lot of enthusiasm for the strategy. It now remains for the various agencies to deliver what has been promised and for disabled people themselves to monitor progress.
Tuesday 22 September
In the evening the Mayoress and I paid our first visit to Haldane Barracks which is the home of the Territorial Army in Salford. We had been invited to present medals to a number of members of the TA who had earned them for their length of service.
The ceremony was quite brief which gave us a good opportunity to talk to some of the volunteers who, due to the changing nature of the TA, had seen active service in Afghanistan and Iraq. It was interesting to hear first hand what is involved and the level of commitment both from the volunteers and their employers to the TA. We look forward to returning to the Barracks on Remembrance Sunday.
Sunday 20 September
Once again I was guest of Manchester United to watch probably the most exciting game of football I have ever seen. Both teams seemed determined to play open football and as a result there was a feast of goals. My guest, who was a blues fan, was obviously disappointed at the result but we had both enjoyed a fantastic game of football.
Saturday 19 September
After enjoying some fine days at outdoor events the Mayoress and I set off to the Civic Garden Party under rather heavy clouds with an ever-present threat of rain. The event itself was superb. MC'ed by Brian Wroe who is the Assistant Director (Community Services) and taking up the whole of the area in front of the Civic Centre.
This was a really good showcase for what the council does to help Salford's citizens. Alongside a number of marquees packed with information stalls staffed by council employees and staff from our partners were a number of marquees offering entertainment of different sorts including a dog show. I seemed to spend most of my time either being interviewed for local TV and radio stations or posing for photos.
By the time the rain came the lawns were full of people enjoying the party and although enthusiasm was a little bit dampened by the rain everyone involved felt that the 3rd Garden Party had been a great success and would certainly be repeated next year.
Friday 18 September
Today marked the first visit the Mayoress and I had made to Salford's Cathedral. The occasion was the opening of the new Cathedral Centre which has been created at the back of the building out of the recently vacated Education Offices.
We spent some time talking to the architect who was behind the scheme and could hear how committed both he and his team had been to the project. The idea was to blend the old and the new - retaining some aspects of the old building but to utilise modern structural techniques and to incorporate the latest new technology at every stage.
The building is very impressive and will obviously be a very big boost for the Diocese in the future. The Bishop of Salford also very kindly allowed me to pull the cord at the official opening ceremony as he felt I had been left with nothing to do!
In the evening the Mayoress and I attended the first money-raising event for my charities, St Ann's Hospice and the Salford Young Carers Project. It had been organised by the Environment directorate and consisted of food provided by Citywide Catering and entertainment provided by staff of the directorate.
We had a brilliant evening and I gather over £800 was raised for my charities. Thanks to everyone who helped to organise the event and who provided the entertainment.
Thursday 17 September
I met with Bob Riley over lunch. He is the Chief Executive of Manchester Camerata one of the premier local orchestras. One of the very interesting things I have noticed as I have attended quite a few classical music concerts since becoming Deputy Mayor and then Mayor is that I am beginning to appreciate this type of music much more than I did in the past.
Bob had been at the same concert the previous evening so we were able to have a really interesting conversation about classical music based on our reaction to the pieces that had been played and also to talk about the plans the Camerata have for the future. Bob kindly gave me a copy of the Camerata playing Beethoven's 4th Symphony and I think I'm hooked!
In the evening the Mayoress and I attended a drinks reception at MAG to celebrate their 20th Anniversary and also the opening of their new offices.
MAG stands for the Mines Advisory Group and for the last 20 years they have not only been campaigning against land mines but also putting people into the field to go about the highly dangerous task of deactivating these devastating weapons of war whose sole purpose is to maim.
Martin Bell and Sir Bobby Charlton were both in attendance. They have been long time supporters of this organisation which is doing such vital work in countries blighted by war where people are unable to grow crops or go to a well because of a fear that the area may be mined.
Wednesday 16 September
In the morning I chaired a meeting of the full council and then in the evening the Mayoress and I went to Manchester Cathedral at the invitation of the Swiss Ambassador to listen to a concert performed by a String Quartet made up of young Swiss musicians.
They played three contemporary pieces with great style and enthusiasm. As with all such events opinions were divided as to whether the pieces were to everyone's taste but we all enjoyed the Ambassador's hospitality and appreciated the opportunity to learn more about the large Swiss community that lives in Manchester.
Tuesday 15 September
First of all today I made my 3rd webcast with the expert help of staff from the communications section of the city council. I really enjoy doing this now and I hope you will look at it too and get more details of some of the events I have attended.
My next engagement was the monthly Citizenship Ceremony which was very enjoyable as usual as we welcomed another 50+ people based in Salford to British Citizenship.
Following on from this ceremony I met with Squadron Leader Jason Davenhill from the Manchester & Salford Universities Air Squadron and his colleague Lt. Col. Suzanne Anderson.
We had a very interesting conversation about the roles that the Armed Forces play on University Campuses both in terms of offering training for the future and also giving students an insight into life in the forces should they be thinking of taking one of the services up as a career.
Sunday 13 September
After a day of to celebrate my youngest daughter's 21st I resumed duties without the Mayoress who had a bad back. It was another lovely sunny day and my first engagement was in Roe Green at the invitation of the Friends of Roe Green who had organised a Family Day and Fun Run. I spent some time going round the various stalls and talking to everyone who had put so much effort into making the day such a success.
I also learnt a lot about the Real Lancashire Society but I must say I felt a bit of a fraud awarding the prizes to the athletes after the Fun Run as I cannot run to save my life and I am so envious of these very fit and indeed not so fit people who gain so much pleasure from running.
After leaving Roe Green I visited the second day of the Eccles Festival and became involved in judging the various dog competitions and awarding the prizes.
There were some lovely dogs there but I did have a problem choosing the dog which looked most like its owner - I mean I didn't want to upset anyone!! I was ably assisted by local neighbourhood workers and we seemed to make the right decisions as there were no complaints from the participants.
Friday 11 September
Our first engagement was a repeat visit to the YMCA Learner Award Presentation. We had attended last year and had been very impressed at the work the organisation was doing to help young people in Salford make their way in the world of work.
This year built on that as we met another group of people who had blossomed under the tutelage of the staff at the centre. The YMCA Training mission provides a range of courses which include: apprenticeships; entry to employment programmes; adult key skills; and train to gain.
On a beautifully sunny day, such a rarity this year, we were delighted to be able to visit Ordsall Park Veterans Bowling and Social Club. I hadn't played a game of bowls for many years but with some excellent tips from one of the members I was able to thrash the club president, Albert Follows before enjoying a lovely buffet at Ordsall Fit City.
It was really interesting to meet the members of the club who were clearly using bowling to keep active and enjoyed both playing and the social side. They need more members and are hoping that some of the new housing in the area will produce willing recruits for next season. For more details contact: email@example.com.
In the evening the Mayoress had great pleasure in attending the Mayor of Tameside's Civic Dinner. The Mayor of Tameside, Cllr John Sullivan, and his wife Françoise are really nice people and it was great to enjoy their hospitality in the regal splendour of the Town Hall, Ashton-under-Lyne.
They had invited all the Mayors of Greater Manchester and some of the outlying areas as well as the High Sheriff and his wife. It was a good opportunity to get to know the rest of the ‘chain gang', the name we are all given because of the chains of office we wear on official business, a bit better and hear some amusing stories from their careers as local politicians.
Thursday 10 September
This morning afforded another opportunity to meet up with Rudi and his Rebels. The Mayoress and I had already met Rudi when we went to St John's Sheltered Housing Scheme some weeks ago to hear his intergenerational band formed in collaboration with Albion High.
This time the meeting was to celebrate the fact that Rudi's Rebel's had won a Mayor's Citizen Award in the Community Groups category. We had a very enjoyable lunch with Rudi and his team as well as Peter Hacking from the St John's Sheltered Housing Scheme and Mandy Sellars, the inspiration for the project, who is an Intergenerational worker for Age Concern. More details of how to nominate someone for a Mayor's Citizen Award can be found elsewhere on this website.
After lunch we went to an event to celebrate the 70th Anniversary of the Citizens Advice Bureaux. Not only were we there to celebrate the organisation's birthday but also to make awards to some of the incredible volunteers who give of their time so freely to make the organisation and also to offer help and assistance to so many people in the city. Without organisations like the CAB the City would indeed be a much poorer place.
In the evening we went to the AGM of the Zionist Central Council. Apart from the business of the meeting we were also able to hear views from a number of perspectives on the situation in the Middle East and appreciate just how difficult it is to produce a way forward which is acceptable to everyone.
Wednesday 9 September
Today was devoted to a tour of Bolton at the invitation of the Mayor, Cllr Norman Critchley. We started off at the Reebok Stadium before we went to Smithills Hall. Smithills Hall is obviously the jewel in Bolton's crown and we had a fascinating tour round with plenty of detail of ghosts and hangings in the history of the hall. Well worth a visit.
After a view from a high point in Bolton where we could see the Chill Factor and the Beetham Tower we went on to the Last Drop Hotel for a lovely lunch before rounding off the day at Park Fold Animal Farm which is a very innovative project set up by a long time milk farmer who decided he wanted to try his hand at something new. There are lots of animals to look at and, health restrictions permitting, pet as well as very knowledgeable staff to give details of all the animals and their habits!
In the evening the Mayoress and I attended the launch of an anthology of stories and poems written by members of an amateur group, Words in Edgeways. The difference about this anthology was that someone had the brainwave of inviting local primary school children to do the artwork.
My job was to award the best artists with their prizes a framed certificate and a £5 gift voucher. This was a real pleasure as everyone was obviously very pleased with their achievements. The evening started off with some of the contributors reading out their own works and then there was the prize giving and lots of photos.
It was also good to hear that every child who had participated was to be given a set of pens. The latest anthology from the group is called: ‘Crutches for lame ducks'!
Monday 7 September
The Mayoress and I were delighted to be invited to visit one of our local schools today, Fiddlers Lane Primary, to open a mini-gym. At the suggestion of some of the pupils and after a lot of hard work applying for funding the school has turned a redundant IT Suite into a gym for pupils and their friends.
The gym is really well equipped with scaled down models of equipment you would see in the very best gyms only suitable for infants and primary aged children! Some very willing members of the school council demonstrated the equipment to the visiting dignitaries and I got to cut the ribbon to officially open the gym.
I really wish the school every success with this innovation and hope the after school sessions work out so that pupils can share the facilities with their friends. To find out more about the gym email firstname.lastname@example.org.
In the evening the Mayoress and I welcomed a delegation of medical professionals from Chengdu and Bejing to the Civic Centre. It is always a pleasure to co-operate with our friends from Salford Royal and Manchester University and this was no exception.
Professor Redmond from the Hospital had led a team to Chengdu to help provide emergency medical care after a major earthquake near the city in 2008. He had also made a subsequent visit to deliver workshops on disaster preparedness and the management of spinal injuries.
The visit continued the development of goodwill and friendship between the two Chinese cities and professionals in Salford and Manchester. It was a real pleasure to host the occasion and we received a very nice letter after the event thanking us for the warmth of our welcome.
Sunday 6 September
A visit to St Paul's Church on Moor Lane, Kersal was today's only engagement to attend the 93rd Anniversary Service for Broughton House. St Paul's is notable for two things: it has two spires and was also burnt down some years ago and rebuilt in such a way as to be a very modern warm and welcoming building.
The service brought together supporters of Broughton House from all the services as well as some of the residents and the volunteers that help keep the home doing its excellent work.
Saturday 5 September
Most of the outdoor activities that the Mayoress and I attend seem to have problems with the weather and today's event in Heaton Park was no exception. After heavy rain on Friday had caused problems for the people erecting marquees it looked like the whole event could be washed out but the weather held out until just after the finale. We were in Heaton Park to attend a ‘Party in the Park' which was to mark the beginning of a year of celebrations to mark 100 years of Girl Guiding in this country. 9,000 guides, brownies, rangers, rainbows and their leaders had arrived in the park and they were having a fantastic time as the Civic guests arrived. Mayors from most of the local authorities in Greater Manchester were in attendance and we had a good opportunity to have a look at some of the activities before attending the spectacular finale, a parachuting display by the Royal Artillery Parachute Team.
Friday 4 September
We attended the launch of GamCare's North West base at Buile Hill Park Banqueting Suite. GamCare is a confidential counselling, advice and information service for those affected by a gambling problem. The event was attended by Gerry Sutcliffe MP, the minister with responsibility for gambling, as well as Ian Stewart MP. It is clear that gambling is a ‘hidden disease' which affects many families. It really is an important step to get such a facility based in Salford and we wish them well in their attempts to address the problems caused by gambling.
Thursday 3 September
Another local event for the Mayoress and I as we represented the City at the funeral of Fuselier Simon Annis who was killed whilst rescuing a fellow soldier in Afghanistan. Fsr Annis was given a full military funeral and hundreds of local people lined the streets of Irlam & Cadishead to pay their respects. From the tributes that were paid during the service it was clear that Simon had been quite a character during his short life and I was really proud that so many local people were prepared to support his family at this incredibly difficult time. As his mother, Ann Annis, put it in her tribute to her son, ‘The lads are all heroes; they do a job that's so brave and so special. We feel they need more support and recognition from our country. If we are British, let's be proud of being British and show all of our special heroes we are here for them'. At the funeral I think local people did just that and I hope Simon's family were able to take strength from this amazing show of support.
Wednesday 2 September
The Mayoress and I were very proud to welcome to the parlour the first winner of the Young Person's section of the Mayor's Citizens Award. Katy Donohue was the eventual winner with the Mayoress and I having to choose from a wide selection of excellent nominees.
Katy was chosen due to showing maturity way beyond her 14 years and playing a significant role in improving a key service within the city. Her valued contributions were recognised by a lot of different people within the local community. Katy is an excellent ambassador for young people in Salford and is exactly the sort of young person the Mayoress and I want to highlight and encourage by giving them the Mayor's Citizen's Award.
Tuesday 1 September
A first this morning as I was interviewed on the radio for the first time. I was a guest on Jean Blaney's programme on Salford City Radio. The programme is called ‘Jean's Elevenses' and was a very relaxed affair with my answers to Jean's questions being interspersed with musical interludes. The hour went very quickly and I'm sure Jean and I could have chatted for ages more. I was very impressed with the very professional set-up at Salford City Radio and I hope I get the opportunity to work with them in the future.
After finishing the radio show and clutching my CD of the proceedings it was off to Sainsbury's on Regent Road where the Mayoress and I attended a very special event where we helped unveil a plaque commemorating the remarkable evacuation of 20,000 children from Salford immediately prior to the start of the war. We met with Eric Youd who had campaigned for some considerable time to get the plaque erected as well as some of his fellow evacuees who had amazing tales to tell of their experiences. All credit to Sainsbury's for getting behind this project and also to Timpsons who donated the plaque.
In the evening we were at Salford Civic Centre for the Greater Manchester Police Long Service and Gallantry Awards. The Chief Constable Peter Fahy and I made the awards and I was very impressed with the citations of the police officers who were given awards. It was clear from the activities described that Salford's police force not only attracts people from outside but they stay and enjoy working here. After the ceremony we were provided with an excellent buffet by Citywide Catering who always do such a splendid job at Civic functions.
This page was last updated on 29 October 2009