Part of the City Mayor’s work is to campaign on behalf of the people of Salford to change national policies and laws for the better for local people. Here are some examples:
Letter sent from myself with the councillors of Swinton and Pendlebury to Swinton Lions Rugby Club in response to their recent board statement and specifically the proposal to rename the club: “Manchester Lions”.
See the Swinton Lions Rugby Club letter
Dear Mr Andrew Mazey,
I have read with concern “Board Statement: The Future” regarding the marketing and branding issues faced by Swinton Lions Rugby Club, in particular the proposal that Swinton Lions rename themselves the “Manchester Lions”. In addition to my own concerns about this move as Salford’s City Mayor, I have also noted wide-spread dissatisfaction amongst fans regarding this proposal, particularly given the lack of fan consultation over the decision.
Swinton Lions are a historic club with long-standing connections to the people of Salford and Swinton. The club is a fixture of the cultural and sporting heritage of our city, and I firmly believe that a name change excluding Swinton and Salford will do serious damage to that heritage – both in the eyes of current fans and subsequently to the club’s own economic prospects.
Your statement notes that: “Success will not come just by introducing the brand playing name of MANCHESTER LIONS RLFC. The best chance of success comes from engagement with key partners such as tourist agencies, local authorities, educational bodies, other sporting associations and clubs…” etc...
I would suggest that in respect of Local Authorities, further discussions are yet to be had with Salford City Council and I would politely note that the Council’s recently agreed loan of £60,000 in 2017 is an indication of our willingness to work with the club to assist where possible (within the imposed constraints of government austerity and local government cuts) and find solutions that would work.
However, despite the City Council’s willingness to work with the club I’m not aware that there has been any invitation to myself as City Mayor, to Councillors nor City Council officers to discuss with stakeholders avenues through which to search for potential alternatives for the club’s future.
As you will be aware, the Town Hall recently celebrated Swinton Lions Rugby Club’s 150th anniversary in Salford by flying the club’s flag; this was not merely an empty, symbolic gesture but a genuine recognition of the importance which this club has for so many of our residents. We fully support the club’s success but as a team which continues to represent the community of fans, the township of Swinton and the City of Salford’s proud long-standing sporting heritage. Swinton and Pendlebury Labour Party branches sponsor Swinton player Matty Ashton, such is the strength of feeling for the team.
As custodians of the club, it is my belief that the board must listen to its fans. I firmly believe that the decision to rename the club the Manchester Lions is a regressive move, and one which could damage this amazing institution in years to come.
City Mayor of Salford
NB: Also signed by the Councillors of Swinton and Pendlebury:
This is the last letter I added my name to from the Local Government Association Labour Group of leaders up-and-down the country, which highlights the crisis situation in local government since austerity in 2010.
See the letter to the Prime Minister about austerity
Dear Prime Minister,
As Labour council leaders we run councils that millions of citizens rely on to deliver good quality public services - protecting vulnerable children and older people, keeping streets clean, and running much-loved parks and libraries.
But since 2010 our funding from government has been cut by more than 60p in every £1 we previously received, and many council budgets have now reached breaking point. Hundreds of thousands of hard-working council staff who deliver our services have lost the equivalent of £1 of every £5 they earned before, and are now the lowest paid in the public sector. Adult social care is crumbling, more children are being taken into care than ever before, and there is a dire shortage of council housing. In each of the last few years the only response from the government has been to produce sticking plasters – small short-term pots of money designed merely to paper over the cracks for another year. This can’t go on.
In your campaign to become our new Prime Minister you claimed that you would bring our country together. There is no better way for you to prove that this was more than empty rhetoric than by truly ending austerity in local government. No more sticking plasters - we need a serious long term re-investment to ensure a sustainable future for councils.
Therefore as Labour Council leaders we are calling on you to:
We would welcome the opportunity to discuss this with you.
I sent a letter to the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of ASDA about the issues trade union GMB has raised and I stand in solidarity with all ASDA workers.
See the letter to the ASDA CEO
Dear Mr Burnley,
A number of MP’s have written to you regarding the serious concerns constituents and their Union, GMB have raised with myself about the imposition of a new contract “Our Asda Contract” that they believe will leave them significantly worse off for a number of reasons, not only on a monetary basis.
It does appear that longer serving employees are losing the most, particularly in terms of holidays.
Your own policy on Long Service clearly shows additional days for:
Anthony’s letter to all Colleagues states:
“The additional days of holiday entitlement you earn for long service would remain unchanged”
The last significant change to your holiday entitlements provision, as I understand it, occurred in 2009 with the implementation of the Working Time Directive, enforcing 28 days leave for all employees.
At that time, in your policies, a new starter was entitled to 22 days leave. A Colleague with 10 years’ service in 2009 was entitled to 26 days leave.
All Colleagues regardless of length of service also received a floating day for Christmas, to be used any time from November to end of March the following year.
To meet the legal minimum holiday requirement Asda awarded a system of “top up days”. The longer serving the Colleague the less “top up days” they received.
Since 2009, up until now, a Colleague with 10 years’ service then, has earned/been awarded, in line with Company policy, a further 2 days, taking them to 28 days, plus the top up day, whilst new starters still have 22 days, plus 5 top up days, plus the floating day.
Therefore, if new starters are now to be moved to 28 days, and long serving staff’s “entitlement earned would remain unchanged”, surely an employee with 20 years’ service would be entitled to 34, i.e., the statutory minimum plus the 6 they have earned.
If that is not to be the case perhaps you can explain to me, and more importantly, your loyal, long serving employees, why this appears to be the case? They do appear to have been misled.
I make no apologies for the length of this correspondence, the matter seems to have been made unnecessarily complicated and it need not be.
It is very straightforward and your employees should keep their earned entitlement, as promised, and in-line with your policies.
Low pay is a scourge in our economy, as our economic ‘recovery’ has overwhelmingly been built from low-paid and insecure work on poor terms and conditions.
This is especially highlighted by the recent work of the Low Pay Commission in April this year drawing attention to an estimated 439,000 people in the UK being illegally paid below the hourly minimum wage, representing 30,000 more people when compared with the previous year, the highest since the government’s national ‘living wage’ was introduced in 2016.
According to the TUC, average UK earnings are still £1,000 a year below their pre-crisis peak. The Bank of England has described the last decade as being the worst period for pay growth in two centuries, and around one in five employees is paid below two thirds below the median wage. Similarly, the Living Wage Foundation also highlight that approximately 6 million people earn less than the real living wage of £9.00 per hour (or £10.55 per hour in London), struggling to keep their heads above water.
Within this context, the protection of decent terms and conditions of employment and pay where they have survived is all the more important. The shocking return of in-work poverty in 21st Century Britain as the norm must be avoided at all costs.
I look forward to your response.
City Mayor of Salford
A further open letter from myself to the Board of Directors at Swinton Park Golf Club following emails and letters received by residents and Rebecca Long-Bailey seeking clarity to their plans in light of the pre-planning request recently received by the city council.
See the further letter about Swinton Park Golf Club
Swinton Park Golf Course
I am writing in follow-up to my letter of the 15th April 2019 regarding the consideration seemingly being given by Swinton Park Golf Club to the potential sale of the club and golf course for the purposes of development. To date I haven’t received a reply to this letter but receipt of my letter has been acknowledged and I understand it has been shared with the board of Swinton Park Golf Club.
Following my original letter it has recently come to my attention that a pre-application planning request has been received by City Council officers from Bellway Homes regarding the potential use of the site to develop residential accommodation.
You may have also seen the recent open letter addressed to myself, following the pre-application planning request from Salford and Eccles MP, Rebecca Long-Bailey, requesting clarity on the City Council’s position.
To reiterate, as stated in my previous open letter, the golf course land is not currently included in the City Council’s Unitary Development Plan (UDP), nor are there any development proposals within the draft Greater Manchester Plan for Homes, Jobs and the Environment (the Spatial Framework) to allocate this land for the purposes of meeting local housing need.
You also may be aware that within the draft Spatial Framework, the city-region is looking to prioritise brown-field development through its brown-field preference policy and although this has no status currently, the city-regional Mayor’s Town Centre Challenge, continuing urban density in the city-region’s centre and the work we’re doing on small sites within Greater Manchester’s Housing Strategy are all indicative of our prioritisation of a brown-field preference approach to development within Salford and Greater Manchester. As it stands currently the Spatial Framework is planning for 75% of all the new homes to be built in Greater Manchester by 2037 to be on brown-field sites, whilst within Salford that percentage will be even higher – nearly 90%.
Within the UDP under Policy R1 we make it clear that on sites such as Swinton Golf Course, “development will not be permitted unless” … “it has been clearly demonstrated that the site is surplus to recreational requirements, and the development would facilitate the wider regeneration of the local area”. Such evidence has not been presented to the City Council thus far, and as such the City Council’s starting position in the event of any potential sale for development is that the land should remain as recreational/leisure space.
As residents are increasingly expressing concern towards these plans, and as neither the City Council nor myself have received any correspondence from yourselves in relation to either the financial situation of the club or the seeming desire to consider selling the club and golf course for the purposes of housing development, I would really appreciate hearing back from yourselves at your earliest convenience.
As I’m sure you can appreciate there is significant public interest in conversations and developments that are clearly happening between the owners of Swinton Park Golf Club and seemingly Bellway Homes and given the recreational/leisure value that residents have derived from this club/golf course over many years it’s imperative that information and any intentions pertaining to its future are shared in a timely and open manner.
To this end, I look forward to hearing from the board.
City Mayor of Salford
It was brought to my attention from residents and social media that consideration is being given by Swinton Park Golf Course to sell their course to a house-builder. Please see a letter I sent to Swinton Golf Course asking for clarification of their intentions.
See the letter about Swinton Park Golf Club
RE: Swinton Park Golf Course
It has been brought to my attention through residents and social media that consideration is being given by the owners of the golf club to selling your course and club-house to a house-builder.
This is as much as I know at the present time, although today I have been made aware that a house-builder is seeking information about the planning status of the site.
The Golf Club and its course are well established in Swinton, and to my knowledge successful. In the week of Tiger Woods victory at the US Masters, it is very disappointing to hear that the future of the Club is in real doubt.
I understand that the site of the golf club is not included in the existing City’s Unitary Development Plan, and there are no development proposals for it in the Local Plan or Greater Manchester Spatial Framework. This makes sense, as there has never been any intention on the City Council’s part of promoting the site for housing development. If you or a house-builder are looking to advance a proposal for housing development on the site, then you need to know that the City’s starting position will be that this well-established golf course should remain as a golf course. This would be supported by the council’s planning policies.
I would be very grateful if you could let me know what the current position is regarding your intentions regarding the future of the golf course, what is true and what is not true in terms of information being exchanged on social media and by residents.
City Mayor of Salford
Just sharing the open letter I sent to Mr Chris Green MP regarding the Greater Manchester Spatial Framework (GMSF) and his recent comments in the Manchester Evening News.
See the letter to Mr Chris Green MP regarding the GMSF
Dear Mr Chris Green MP
I write in connection with the recent comments you made about the Greater Manchester Spatial Framework process in the Manchester Evening News on Tuesday 30th October 2018 and felt it was important to reply to you as Greater Manchester’s portfolio holder for Housing, Homelessness and Infrastructure.
Your recent comments suggested that local Leaders are “wasting time”, “faffing around”, “need to be decisive” and that they even “allowed events to overtake them”. You also stated that “It seems that national government has set a target of 300,000 houses, so I’m concerned that the changes in the ONS figures haven’t been reflected in the government’s expectations,”
These sensational, headline-grabbing and unfounded comments are exceptionally disappointing to read and I feel demonstrate a real lack of understanding as to what is precisely involved in city-regional spatial planning and the challenges we’ve been facing in Greater Manchester.
I am particularly surprised at your comment around the ‘apparent’ government target of 300,000 homes. As a Parliamentary Candidate you campaigned in 2017 on delivering a million homes by the end of 2020, whilst also delivering half a million more by the end of 2022. The Conservative Government’s Chancellor of the Exchequer presented the Autumn Budget in November 2017 setting out the Government’s commitment to deliver 300,000 homes per year by the mid-2020s in England.
The Mayor of Greater Manchester and I wrote jointly to the Secretary of State, James Brokenshire M.P. requesting further information on how this 300,000 figure had been arrived at and seeking reassurance the revised Local Housing methodology was linked to demographic projections rather than to meet a political imperative. This letter was copied to all Greater Manchester MPs including you. We have not had a reply to this letter to date.
Despite your hyperbolic comments, as a Greater Manchester Member of Parliament I am keen to update you on precisely how we’ve got to this point.
The Greater Manchester Combined Authority wanted to go out to consultation at the end of October/start of November 2018, however the Government have not been able to provide us with a definitive Local Housing Need figure which is fundamental to determining how much housing we need to be providing for across Greater Manchester.
The GMSF is a statutory Plan, following a statutory process. It has to be evidence based, and that evidence will be tested through a Public Examination in front of an independent inspector. It has to conform to the government’s National Planning Policy Framework, and we have been taking it forward at a time when the government has consulted on, and then finalised, a standardised methodology for determining Local Housing Need. The government’s methodology relies heavily on assumptions about population growth and household formation, and those assumptions have also been changing over the last 6 months. A more detailed chronology of events is attached at Appendix 1.
The government has recently issued a further consultation about what assumptions local authorities must use in calculating their Local Housing Need to ensure that at a national level its manifesto commitment of 300,000 new homes a year is planned for. The government is also saying that we must not use the latest ONS projections, because they are flawed as a basis determining housing requirements. If we fail to take into account your government’s Policy Framework and how it tells us we should plan for new housing, then we will have an unsound Plan which fails through Public Examination, which would be “wasting time”
As I’m sure you can appreciate, this has been deeply frustrating from my point of view, illustrating how definitive Central Government ‘methodologies’ (or lack of at this point in time) can have significant implications for consultation timetables and our ability to make progress and get on with evidence-based strategic planning at a city-regional level in Greater Manchester.
May I therefore politely suggest that Greater Manchester Leaders and the Greater Manchester Combined Authority are certainly not “wasting time”, nor are they “faffing around” and our desire to be decisive is being significantly hampered by a lack of clarity from the Government.
Hopefully this response also robustly demonstrates that Greater Manchester Leaders and the Greater Manchester Combined Authority certainly haven’t “allowed events to overtake them”, but that the systemic uncertainty created by the Government, the Office for National Statistics’ population and household projections and your own political party’s 2017 manifesto commitments has primarily been the logical and rational reason behind Greater Manchester Leaders and the Greater Manchester Combined Authority having to consider delays.
The Greater Manchester Spatial Framework will be a plan for jobs, homes and the environment that will help to make our city-region one of the best places in the world to live and work. I’m committed to making sure we make that vision a reality and hope you’ll work with us to make this happen.
In light of this, you may wish to take up your concerns and seeming frustration with the Government and members of the political party to which you belong. I therefore hope this detailed update on the Greater Manchester Spatial Framework proves to be useful in any of your future endeavours.
Finally, given the importance of these issues to people in Greater Manchester, I have taken the decision to publish this letter.
City Mayor of Salford
Greater Manchester Portfolio Lead for Housing, Homelessness and Infrastructure
GMSF CHRONOLOGY OF EVENTS
The initial draft Greater Manchester Spatial Framework was published for consultation on 31st October 2016 and ran until 16th January 2017. This initial consultation generated over 27,000 responses from across Greater Manchester. Following this initial consultation we also had a Mayoral election across Greater Manchester as required by the Coalition Government /Devolution Deal and consequently a commitment to a radical re-write.
In light of the volume of responses received and the publication of the revised Greater Manchester Strategy: Our Place Our People in October 2017, (which reflected the manifesto commitments following the Mayoral election), Leaders took the decision on the 28th July 2017 to consult on the next initial draft of the GMSF in June 2018.
On the 14th September 2017 the Government published a wide ranging consultation entitled: Planning for the right homes in the right places, which included a proposed standardised national methodology for calculating Local Housing Need and ran until 9th November 2017. This followed on from the publication of the Government’s Housing White Paper, Fixing our broken housing market, in February 2017.
The Government’s response to the Planning for the right homes in the right places consultation, was published in March 2018, which included the standardised national methodology for calculating Local Housing Need. Sub National Household Projections are a key input to the standardised methodology
The most recent delays to the Greater Manchester Spatial Framework have been necessary due to the Office for National Statistics’ publication of new official Sub-National Population Projections on the 24th May 2018, which indicated a reduction of around 43,000 (15% lower than anticipated) people across Greater Manchester by 2036. These projections inevitably raised legitimate concerns about whether or not it would be prudent to go out to consultation in June 2018 given the implications of such population projections for the purposes of spatial planning in Greater Manchester.
Following the Office for National Statistics’ publication of the Sub-National Population Projections the Government also published the revised National Planning Policy Framework in July 2018, acknowledging the issue raised by the Office for National Statistics’ Sub-National Population Projections, pre-emptively stating:
“The Government is aware that lower than previously forecast population projections have an impact on the outputs associated with the method. Specifically it is noted that the revised projections are likely to result in the minimum need numbers generated by the method being subject to a significant reduction, once the relevant household projection figures are released in September.
In the housing White Paper the Government was clear that reforms set out (which included the introduction of a standard method for assessing housing need) should lead to more homes being built. In order to ensure that the outputs associated with the method are consistent with this, we will consider adjusting the method after the household projections are released in September. We will consult on the specific details of any change at that time.
It should be noted that the intention is to consider adjusting the method to ensure that the starting point in the plan-making process is consistent in aggregate with the proposals in Planning for the right homes in the right places consultation and continues to be consistent with ensuring that 300,000 homes are built per year by the mid 2020’s.”
The Office for National Statistics published the Sub-National Household Projections on the 20th September 2018 which resulted in a reduction of 58,055 households across Greater Manchester over the 20 year period.
The Ministry of Housing Communities & Local Government published a further Technical consultation on updates to national planning policy and guidance in October 2018 running until December 2018.
This is seeking views on the following:
Letter to Prime Minister and Chancellor in advance of the Autumn Budget announcement on. This is specific to the on-going funding challenge we continue to face in our council budget, threatening the future of five Local Authority Maintained Nurseries in the City of Salford.
See the letter about the threat to five Local Authority Maintained Nurseries
Dear Prime Minister and Chancellor,
I write to you both in advance of the Autumn Budget announcement on Monday 29th October 2018 in relation to a specific on-going funding challenge we continue to face in our council budget, threatening the future of 5 Local Authority Maintained Nurseries in the City of Salford.
In previous meetings and correspondence with the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Children and Families, Nadhim Zahawi (MP) we have raised our on-going financial concerns. Each of these 5 nurseries are rated ‘Outstanding’ by Ofsted and provide an incredible service to the local community - highly valued by local schools and parents. They operate in some of the most impoverished areas of the city, and provide specialized services for children with SEND, making them an irreplaceable public asset.
However, changes to Early Years funding have made it impossible to continue to finance the nurseries through traditional channels. The requirement that 95% of the Early Years Direct Schools Grant (DSG) be ‘pass-ported’ to the Private Voluntary Independent (PVI) sector leaves too little resource in the budget to finance the nurseries. In addition, the commitment for 30 hours free childcare for working parents has put a huge burden on our PVI Early Years sector in Salford – meaning that remaining money which would otherwise have been available for our Nurseries is now committed to propping up that funding gap.
We entirely endorse government’s commitment to expanding childcare provision, however we do not believe that either Local Authorities or the Early Years sector in general have been provided with the necessary resources to make this commitment a success. The crisis facing nurseries up and down the country, several hundred of which are facing closure, has been recognized by experts and government’s already. In particular, the funding situation faced by publically owned nurseries in the aftermath of budget changes has been noted by government, leading to its commitment of annual £55m ‘Transitional Funding’ for nursery schools up until 2019-20 (after many of those organisations faced closure). There is continued talk of more investment in Early Years, and on the 3rd July, Nadhim Zahawi (MP) expressed on the Today Program his desire that councils refrain from making ‘premature decisions’ on nursery closures, before conversations were completed on the future of early years spending.
Yet in Salford we are still to be reassured that government, or indeed the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Children and Families, fully appreciate the distinction between Local Authority Maintained Nurseries and Nursery Schools, a distinction which has rendered Salford’s 5 Maintained Nurseries thus far ineligible to access the £55m of ‘Transitional Funding’ provided to prevent publically owned nurseries from closure. We are also given no concrete commitment that a serious attempt to properly fund Early Years is under consideration.
Entering into our 8th consecutive year of austerity, we simply cannot afford to keep the nurseries open in their current form, without severely impacting other essential services for residents of our city. You’ll also be aware that Salford is the 22nd most-deprived local authority in the country according to the government’s own Indices of Multiple Deprivation. Since 2010, we have seen £198m taken from our spending power as a direct result of cuts to the Revenue Support Grant and other changes to Local Government financing. This equates to nearly 50% of our budget, in a city where demand for essential caring services, health improvement services and services to tackle social exclusion were already much higher than the national average.
I note with some hope the comments made by yourself during Conservative Party conference regarding the ‘our hard work paying off’ and the ‘end of austerity’. We also await the Chancellor’s Autumn Budget statement later this month to see whether or not this commitment means any tangible resource for Local Authorities, and particularly our nurseries.
However, the time approaches when the council must set its annual budget for the year. We still have no clarity on the future of nursery funding, nor whether or not Local Authority Maintained Nurseries will be included in any money dedicated to that sector.
We also have no further information from government on the realization of their 2017 manifesto commitments to help primary schools develop nurseries where they do not already have one, and support maintained nurseries supporting them to grow.
If there is any serious chance that more resources will be made available for our nurseries, it is imperative that this news reaches us soon. Decisions must be made to keep the city council solvent – and unfortunately, the future of our outstanding local nurseries still hangs in the balance.
If it were possible to gain any clarity on the chance for further support for these amazing institutions from government, it could make all the difference.
City Mayor of Salford
Letter to the Secretary of State in connection with the severe problems being experienced by rail travellers across Salford, which have become significantly worse since the introduction of the changes to the timetable on the 20th May 2018.
See the letter about problems being experienced by rail travellers across Salford
Dear Secretary of State,
Rail travel across the City of Salford
We are writing to you in connection with the severe problems being experienced by rail travellers across Salford, which have become significantly worse since the introduction of the changes to the timetable on the 20th May 2018.
In recent weeks, our inboxes and social media pages have been inundated with messages and images from Salford residents and commuters, furious at the state of the services being provided.
Complaints are received on a daily basis from Salford residents and commuters about the terrible rail service that is being provided. These complaints include delays and cancellations to services, over-crowding, issues of health and safety and under-staffing.
Despite now being one week into the new timetable, the situation is not improving and we have returned from the bank holiday weekend receiving even more complaints.
We have highlighted below examples of the issues and frustrations that rail travellers in the City are facing and have brought to our attention:
The provision of a clean, safe and efficient rail service is becoming increasingly important to the lives of residents in Salford and Greater Manchester, as our increasing population brings more cars and congestion on our roads. Northern Rail and Network Rail have a huge responsibility to the people of this city-region, a responsibility on which they are falling short.
We further understand that Northern Rail receive one of the highest rates of taxpayer subsidy for any line in the country, when calculated at pence-per-passenger by kilometre. State subsidy for rail is now around 3 times the amount given to British Rail at the end of the 1980s, receiving an average of £5bn in subsidy over the past 5 years. And yet, services are overcrowded, trains are old and the price of a standard single fare has increased by 208%.
We would like reassurances that everything in your power is being done to remedy the current crisis in rail provision set out in this letter, and that the residents and commuters of Salford and Greater Manchester will not have to indefinitely suffer from the poor service on our railways.
Finally, there needs to be an agreed and urgent deadline for when the significant backlog of outstanding Delay Repay claims will be dealt with, along with the introduction of a broader compensation offer for regular users given the scale of the disruption, paid for by fines levied at Arriva Rail North.
City Mayor of Salford
Councillor Roger Jones
Executive Support for Transport
Member of Parliament for Worsley and Eccles South
Rebecca Long Bailey
Member of Parliament for Salford and Eccles
Member of Parliament for Blackley and Broughton