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:

24 April 2020

Letter from myself to the Secretary of State to raise concerns about the impact of coronavirus on care homes and community care settings.

See the latter to the Secretary of State 

Dear Secretary of State

I am writing to raise my concerns about the ongoing impact of COVID-19 across the City of Salford, and especially within our care homes and community care settings. Care workers are doing an exemplary job in challenging and unprecedented times to ensure the wellbeing and safety of our vulnerable residents, and we are doing our very best locally to support them. However, I’m deeply concerned that government support, advice and guidelines are not robust enough to either protect them fully, or enable them to protect the residents under their care.

The data released by ONS on Tuesday 21 April 2020 is truly shocking for those families, friends and colleagues that have tragically lost loved ones as a consequence of the COVID-19 pandemic, and my thoughts and prayers are with all families, friends and colleagues at this time. 

However, the information shared by the ONS on Tuesday was not a surprise to those working in the City of Salford. The ONS statistics show Salford’s care home deaths attributable to COVID-19 as reported on death certificates at 46 – but we believe there are local factors which illuminate the deficiencies of national reporting and government support, advice and guidance at this time. Particularly, we believe Salford’s local response regarding testing significantly influences these figures and points to a desperate need for more community, care homes and mass testing and contact tracing to be urgently rolled out nationally, especially if we’re to start contemplating lifting the lockdown and entering the recovery phase.

In Salford we have been tracking the level of infections and deaths in our care homes since the very early days of the current pandemic, utilising a strong integrated partnership between the city council, the Clinical Commissioning Group, Salford Royal Foundation Trust, and care providers.

We know that Salford saw outbreaks earlier than in other areas and our figures for both infections and deaths in care settings reflect this earlier pattern. For far too long there was no community testing and as we know contact tracing within official PHE guidance was dropped as we exited the containment phase, with outbreaks being managed on symptoms alone. Without this testing, and on the advice of the Director of Public Health, in Salford we took the early decision with our care homes to isolate all residents regardless of symptoms and to have a high level of suspicion that any atypical symptoms could be COVID-19. This approach means we understand the spread of COVID-19 well. Similarly, we’ve also noted from national and international media/press coverage and research into the COVID-19 pandemic that people can present as asymptomatic and exhibit other symptoms than the often cited fever and cough, which in our opinion further supports the need for urgent testing and contact tracing within our communities, care homes and generally.

Thankfully, local analysis shows the numbers of residents with symptoms is reducing in most care homes that had experienced initial outbreaks. This suggests the position in Salford’s care homes is potentially beginning to stabilise. We have had robust reporting of infections and deaths from the very beginning, and we believe this work is potentially reflected in our higher than average mortality figures.

Locally, we are being proactive in the integrated support and partnerships we have with our care providers – including the reporting and management of symptoms; planning the use of scarce PPE, and other resources; and more recently, the local provision of testing to ensure that our staff and colleagues can work safely.

Our good practice includes:

  • Every Salford care home has appropriate end of life care plans with all their residents. Individuals, their families and their GPs shape these end of life plans.  This means that people can choose their preferred place of dying, even in these really difficult times.
  • Salford has done a lot of work over the past four weeks to ensure those non-Covid patients that are medically fit have been discharged into the community. This was to ensure there was enough beds in the hospital to cope with the expected peak in demand of COVID-19 admissions. Once discharged, patients are being supported at home by our District Nursing team who are providing a seven day service.
  • We have developed our own local testing facility for health and care staff, and their families. Our facility is operated and run by local council and hospital staff, to CQC and PHE national standards, and is able to return reliable results quicker than the national sites. We were able to have this facility up and running within 48 hours over the Easter bank holiday. It ensures our front line staff can safely stay in work. 
  • We have a local support package for the army of unpaid carers across the city, recognising the incredible role they are doing supporting family and individuals in the community. Carers are being supported through our local Spirit of Salford (SOS) Helpline; we are developing specific support for vulnerable carers with our voluntary sector, particularly Gaddum, one of our oldest voluntary sector organisations in the city, including specific support for carers of people discharged from hospital and older carers for people with learning disabilities. And we have invested extra funding to provide additional weekly online support for carers and people living with dementia.

We have done this locally because of a passionate belief in the value and importance of our care workers and of all carers – which must be placed on equal footing nationally with the priority that is rightly placed on the exemplary work of our NHS colleagues. 

We are not complacent. Despite everything we are doing locally, the pressure on staff within the care system as a result of ongoing national shortcomings cannot be underestimated. I would urge you to rectify these urgently.

  • Pressures for staff, residents and families of the continuing changes to PPE guidance together with the constant pressure as to whether supplies will be available and sustainable continues to cause huge anxiety. Despite repeated assurance, the safe and regular supply of PPE remains inadequate. It is simply not good enough. 

We are in contact with every care home in the city daily. Ensuring an adequate supply of appropriate PPE is a constant challenge. National supplies via the GM LRF are simply insufficient to meet need. Too often what is delivered is well short of the orders placed or the delivery expected. We are only able to provide what our care homes urgently need because of the additional efforts of partners locally to secure PPE direct from international and national suppliers, with our Greater Manchester system currently and expected to continue to source more PPE than we’re receiving from government.

We further believe that government guidance recommending that ‘sessional usage’ of PPE masks is inadequate and puts both care receivers and carers at risk, encouraging over-use of PPE equipment and a diminution in its efficacy.

Six weeks into the current crisis this is simply not sustainable or acceptable.  Government must as a priority ensure a sufficient and reliable ongoing supply of essential PPE to both the NHS and care homes and all those providing essential care in the community.

  • Despite your repeated reassurance, the position on testing for key front line workers and for community testing remains woeful. It is leading to unreliable and potentially distorted public reporting of figures.  Similarly, the ONS figures reported on Tuesday have been compiled from death certificates reported through the General Register Office and we know that all deaths since the pandemic broke haven’t and currently aren’t mandatorily being tested for COVID-19.  

It is shocking that government have not introduced mass testing and contact-tracing for at least all symptomatic people as the current numbers of cases at best creates false pictures. It keeps from people the true scale and impact of this pandemic on real people, families, friends, colleagues and loved ones.  At worst this means we do not have an accurate understanding of the disease and how to support our key workers residents now or during the next few weeks and months as we hopefully move to recovery.

  • We strongly challenge and deplore the link between numbers of cases and “poor performance”. In reality those like us who are testing more, have seen more cases and this needs to be reflected across the country. National communications must be better informed.
  • Social Care should no longer be treated as a poor relation to the NHS. Both are critical front-line services, essential to the wellbeing of people in Salford and especially in this era of integrated health and social care. As an accredited Living Wage Employer, Salford is committed to ensuring all our staff continue to receive at least the real living wage. Future financial settlements for local government must ensure that funding is in place so that all care workers in all settings can be paid at least the real living wage. With more than five million people paid less than the real living wage, a third of key workers earning £10 per hour or less and more than 50% of care workers paid less than the real living wage I would strongly urge you to support this argument with the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government and with the Chancellor, especially if we’re serious about recovery and the heroic and invaluable role played by our NHS, care workers and key workers during this crisis. 

Our care staff have continued to provide outstanding personal care to the city’s older and most vulnerable residents. They have done this is in the face of unprecedented challenges and personal risk. They deserve nothing but the very best support from Government – and I would welcome your reassurance that the issues in this letter will be urgently resolved.

20 April 2020

Letter from myself to the Prime Minister to highlight the impact coronavirus is having on the city and the urgent need for more funds so vital services are not affected.

See letter sent to the Prime Minister

Dear Prime Minister

As City Mayor of Salford I am writing to emphasise how important it is that local government is fully supported in our efforts to fight the Coronavirus. Let me also say at the very outset that Salford City Council, and all our partners across the city, are totally committed to doing everything we can to support our residents at this critical time. Please also accept my well wishes for your ongoing personal recovery.

The NHS is rightly at the centre of our national effort to tackle this crisis – its work is exemplary. So too has been the wide ranging work of local councils which has been less in the spotlight. In Salford we have benefited from our enduring partnership with our colleagues across health and the wider public, private and voluntary and community sector, so that we can put in the additional services and support that is needed at this critical time.

It is imperative that Government fully funds the additional costs of this local response to this challenge.

I welcome the initial £1.6bn funding that was provided to local councils at the beginning of this crisis. Alongside this the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government was clear – that councils should spend whatever it takes to support people, and that costs would be fully reimbursed by Government. The announcement this weekend of a further £1.6bn support is also welcome – and I wait to see details of how this will be allocated. I am though concerned by the changing language of your Secretary of State that local government must now ‘share the burden’ of this crisis.

Anything less than full cost recovery would leave local councils in a perilous financial position after ten years of austerity. Salford has lost 53% of its funding from central government over that decade which has led to budget reductions of £211m from our budget – and many of our critical services have already been cut as a result. Salford’s initial estimate is that the additional costs of Coronavirus will be approx. £33m, for the first six months of 2020/21 – from a loss of income and the additional demands placed on all of our services, from adult social care, children’s safety and welfare, ensuring children can access education, support for victims of domestic abuse, to waste and recycling and the provision of business advice, guidance and support. There is a real risk that this cost will increase which will be reflected in any future financial submissions. As a minimum, councils must be no worse off as a result of the Coronavirus response.

Councils have provided food and wellbeing support to our vulnerable residents, including all of those on the Government’s shielded list; we have set up a community help line as part of the city’s Spirit of Salford Network ensuring no-one is isolated or alone at this time; we have administered new business grants on a scale not seen before; we have kept parks and our green spaces open; Salford has been able to maintain a full waste service; we have managed the delivery of PPE; and we have continued to support our vulnerable children and older people across the city. Our staff have maintained critical front-line services to ensure our residents are supported.

We are legally required to set a balanced budget. Anything less than full funding for the costs of our response to Coronavirus will only mean one thing – further cuts to local services, impacting some of the most vulnerable in the city and exacerbating job losses and unemployment after ten years of austerity and cuts in local government. Cuts to the very services we - and you - have relied on to support our residents in this crisis. 

Salford Council stands ready to continue to support our residents through this crisis. But I want to be clear – any shortfall in funding support from the Government will mean cuts to front-line services, job losses and increased unemployment, impacts for our local supply-chains, the community and voluntary sector, local businesses and a diminution in the support we are able to provide to our most vulnerable residents. 

This is not just a short term issue. Local councils have proven throughout this crisis just how important our role and services are in our communities. Now more than ever, Government must put local government funding on a secure long term future. Before the pandemic, Government was planning an autumn Spending Review, we were in the middle of a Fair Funding Review; a partial or full reset of business rates; a review of the New Homes Bonus; there was discussion of a Devolution White Paper; and of course a long term sustainable approach for adult social care is long outstanding. All of this creates long term funding uncertainty for local government.

Local Government will continue to support our communities throughout this pandemic. But we will also be central to the long term economic recovery that must follow. Recovery cannot mean using council tax and increasing regressive charges on our residents to pay for crucial local services.  Nor can it be recovery on the cheap. As an accredited Living Wage Employer Salford is committed to ensuring all our staff continue to receive at least the real living wage. Future financial settlements must ensure that funding is in place so that all care workers in all settings can be paid at least the real living wage.

Anything other than full funding of local government for our response and funding for longer term financial stability would be a betrayal of the critical front line workers in local government, and of the people of Salford.

I look forward to hearing from you urgently on this issue.

7 September 2019

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.

Yours Sincerely,

Paul Dennett                                                    

City Mayor of Salford                                      

NB: Also signed by the Councillors of Swinton and Pendlebury:

  • Councillor Stuart Dickman,
  • Councillor John Ferguson,
  • Councillor Bill Hinds,
  • Councillor Derek Antrobus,
  • Councillor Sophia Linden,
  • Councillor Jim Dawson,
  • Councillor Heather Fletcher,
  • Councillor Barry Warner,
  • Councillor Jim Cammell

24 August 2019

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:

  • Immediately invest £2bn in children’s services and £2bn in adult social care to stop these vital emergency services from collapsing
  • Reverse the changes to the council funding formula that have forced the biggest cuts on to councils in the most deprived areas
  • Pledge to use the Spending Review to restore council funding to 2010 levels over the next four years

We would welcome the opportunity to discuss this with you.

Yours sincerely,

  • Cllr Nick Forbes - Leader of the LGA Labour Group and Newcastle City Council
  • Cllr Louise Gittins – Leader, Cheshire West and Chester Council
  • Cllr Chris Read – Leader, Rotherham Council
  • Cllr Judith Blake – Leader, Leeds City Council
  • Cllr Danny Thorpe – Leader, Royal Borough of Greenwich
  • Cllr Sharon Taylor – Leader, Stevenage Borough Council
  • Cllr Sir Richard Leese – Leader, Manchester City Council
  • Cllr Susan Hinchcliffe – Leader, Bradford Council
  • Mayor Joe Anderson – Mayor, Liverpool City Council
  • Cllr Steve Curran – Leader, Hounslow Council
  • Mayor Rokhsana Fiaz – Mayor, Newham Council
  • Cllr Graham Morgan – Leader, Knowsley Council
  • Cllr Richard Watts – Leader, Islington Council
  • Cllr Sir Steve Houghton – Leader, Barnsley Council
  • Cllr Simon Henig – Leader, Durham County Council
  • Cllr Ian Moran – Leader, West Lancashire Borough Council
  • Cllr Nesil Caliskan – Leader, Enfield Council
  • Cllr Rob Polhill – Leader, Halton Council
  • Cllr Richard Metcalfe – Leader, City of Lincoln Council
  • Cllr Alyson Barnes – Leader, Rossendale Borough Council
  • Cllr Tom Beattie – Leader, Corby Borough Council
  • Cllr Debbie Wilcox – Leader, Newport City Council
  • Cllr Lewis Herbert – Leader, Cambridge City Council
  • Cllr Georgia Gould – Leader, Camden Council
  • Cllr David Molyneux – Leader, Wigan Council
  • Mayor Marvin Rees – Mayor, Bristol City Council
  • Cllr Clare Coghill – Leader, Waltham Forest Council
  • Cllr Simon Blackburn – Leader, Blackpool Council
  • Cllr Shaun Davies – Leader, Telford & Wrekin Council
  • Cllr Tricia Gilby – Leader, Chesterfield Borough Council
  • Cllr Mohammed Iqbal – Leader, Pendle Borough Council
  • Cllr Ann Thompson – Leader, Barrow Borough Council
  • Cllr Miles Parkinson – Leader, Hyndburn Borough Council
  • Cllr Mohammed Khan – Leader, Blackburn with Darwen Borough Council
  • Mayor Norma Redfearn – Mayor, North Tyneside Council
  • Mayor Paul Dennett – Mayor, Salford City Council
  • Cllr Christopher Hammond – Leader, Southampton City Council
  • Cllr Muhammed Butt – Leader, Brent Council
  • Cllr Ian Ward – Leader, Birmingham City Council
  • Cllr Julie Jackson – Leader, Nuneaton and Bedworth Borough Council
  • Cllr Darren Rodwell – Leader, Barking and Dagenham Council
  • Cllr John Clarke – Leader, Gedling Borough Council
  • Cllr Erica Lewis – Leader, Lancaster City Council
  • Cllr Peter Chowney – Leader, Hastings Borough Council
  • Cllr Graeme Miller – Leader, Sunderland City Council
  • Mayor Ros Jones – Mayor, Doncaster Council
  • Cllr Steve Siddons – Leader, Scarborough Borough Council
  • Cllr Tudor Evans – Leader, Plymouth City Council
  • Cllr Julie Dore – Leader, Sheffield City Council
  • Cllr Neil Moore – Leader, Vale of Glamorgan Council
  • Cllr David Poole – Leader, Caerphilly Council
  • Cllr Peter Box – Leader, Wakefield Council
  • Cllr Chris Emmas-Williams – Leader, Amber Valley Borough Council
  • Cllr Sean Fielding – Leader, Oldham Council
  • Mayor Sir Peter Soulsby – Mayor, Leicester City Council
  • Cllr Russ Bowden – Leader, Warrington Borough Council
  • Cllr Bob Cook – Leader, Stockton on Tees Borough Council
  • Cllr Iain Malcolm – Leader, South Tyneside Council
  • Cllr Peter Lamb – Leader, Crawley Borough Council
  • Cllr Shabir Pandor – Leader, Kirklees Council
  • Cllr Jack Hopkins – Leader, Lambeth Council
  • Cllr Martin Gannon – Leader, Gateshead Council
  • Cllr Andrew Western – Leader, Trafford Council
  • Cllr Huw David – Leader, Bridgend Council
  • Cllr Gavin Callaghan – Leader, Basildon Borough Council
  • Cllr David Ellesmere – Leader, Ipswich Borough Council
  • Cllr Brenda Warrington – Leader, Tameside Council
  • Cllr Graham Henson – Leader, Harrow Council
  • Cllr Andrew Morgan – Leader, Rhondda Cynon Taff Council
  • Cllr Simon Greaves – Leader, Bassetlaw District Council
  • Cllr Matthew Brown – Leader, Preston City Council
  • Cllr Nancy Platts – Leader, Brighton and Hove City Council
  • Cllr James Swindlehurst – Leader, Slough Borough Council
  • Cllr Doina Cornell – Leader, Stroud District Council
  • Cllr Anthony McKeown – Leader, High Peak Borough Council
  • Cllr Elise Wilson – Leader, Stockport Council
  • Cllr David Jones – Leader, Bury Council
  • Mayor John Biggs – Mayor, Tower Hamlets Council
  • Cllr Yvonne Davies – Leader, Sandwell Council
  • Cllr Allen Brett – Leader, Rochdale Council
  • Mayor Damian Egan – Mayor, Lewisham Council
  • Cllr David Mellen – Leader, Nottingham City Council
  • Cllr Stephen Brady – Leader, Hull City Council
  • Cllr Alan Waters – Leader, Norwich City Council
  • Cllr Julian Bell – Leader, Ealing Council
  • Cllr Tim Swift – Leader, Calderdale Council
  • Cllr Peter Marland – Leader, Milton Keynes Council
  • Cllr Stephen Alambritis – Leader, Merton Council
  • Cllr Ian Maher – Leader, Sefton Council
  • Cllr Tony Newman – Leader, Croydon Council
  • Cllr Hazel Simmons – Leader, Luton Borough Council
  • Cllr Stephen Cowan – Leader, Hammersmith and Fulham Council
  • Cllr George Adamson – Leader, Cannock Chase District Council
  • Cllr Sam Corcoran – Leader, Cheshire East Council
  • Cllr Mark Ingall – Leader, Harlow District Council
  • Cllr Ian Brookfield – Leader, Wolverhampton City Council
  • Cllr Ian Gilbert – Leader, Southend-on-Sea Borough Council
  • Cllr Huw Thomas – Leader, Cardiff City Council
  • Cllr David Baines – Leader, St Helens Council
  • Cllr Milan Radulovic – Leader, Broxtowe Borough Council
  • Cllr Anthony Hunt – Leader, Torfaen County Borough Council
  • Cllr Peter John – Leader, London Borough of Southwark
  • Cllr George Duggins – Leader, Coventry City Council
  • Cllr Martin Stears-Handscomb – Leader, North Hertfordshire District Council
  • Cllr Joseph Ejiofor - Leader, London Borough of Haringey

16 August 2019

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:

  • 3 years’ service
  • 5 years’ service (2 days)
  • 10 years’ service
  • 15 years’ service
  • 20 years’ service
  • 25 years’ service
  • And each subsequent 5 years milestone thereafter.

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.

Yours sincerely

Paul Dennett                                                                       

City Mayor of Salford       

5 July 2019

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

Dear Sir/Madam,

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.

Yours faithfully

Paul Dennett                                                                       

City Mayor of Salford

15 April 2019

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

Dear Sir/Madam,

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.

Yours faithfully

Paul Dennett                                                                       

City Mayor of Salford

13 November 2018

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.

Yours sincerely

Paul Dennett                      

City Mayor of Salford
Greater Manchester Portfolio Lead for Housing, Homelessness and Infrastructure

Appendix 1

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:

  • For the short-term, to specify that the 2014-based data will provide the demographic baseline for assessment of local housing need.
  • To make clear in national planning practice guidance that lower numbers through the 2016-based projections do not qualify as an exceptional circumstance that justifies a departure from the standard methodology; and
  • In the longer term, to review the formula with a view to establishing a new method that meets the principles in paragraph 18 above by the time the next projections are issued.

23 October 2018

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.

Yours sincerely,

Paul Dennett

City Mayor of Salford

5 June 2018

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:

  • Delays and cancellations leading to journeys to and from work taking significantly longer than timetabled. Last week alone rail passengers were arriving late for work over 5 consecutive days. This must be seriously affecting the productivity of workers and the economy of the region.
  • Passengers unable to carry their journey in full by rail due to delays and cancellations and having to complete the remainder of their journey by either bus, metrolink or taxi at their own personal cost, despite having a valid rail ticket.
  • Services shown on timetable information as ‘on-time’ only to be delayed or cancelled with several minutes notice. In some instances several trains in succession have been cancelled whilst passengers are stood waiting at stations. I have also been sent screenshots showing departures where every train is running over 30 minutes late.
  • Seriously over-crowded services and in some instances trains that simply couldn’t accommodate any more passengers because they were so full.
  • Station platforms that are seriously over-crowded. We have seen photographs where hundreds of people stood at Salford Central Station are unable to board trains as they were already full when leaving Manchester Victoria Station.
  • Poor air quality at stations due to emissions from outdated, stationary diesel rolling stock.
  • A high proportion of the announcements at the railway stations as the reason for a delay or cancellation being due to ‘the lack of a train crew member’. This would suggest either under-staffing or poor logistical organisation.
  • Despite station staff doing their best to help there is a serious lack of information and a great deal of confusion around what is happening.

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.

Yours sincerely

Paul Dennett
City Mayor of Salford

Councillor Roger Jones
Executive Support for Transport

Barbara Keeley
Member of Parliament for Worsley and Eccles South

Rebecca Long Bailey
Member of Parliament for Salford and Eccles

Graham Stringer
Member of Parliament for Blackley and Broughton

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