I will be doing a further blog about the merits of a directly-elected mayor system of local government and why I believe we should vote YES in January 2012.
However, I have been reminded in the past few days of how nasty, biased and misleading local media can be in relation to matters of importance, for example how our city will be managed in future years. This is very important.
Therefore, it is imperative that local media are impartial and report the facts.
The mayoral referendum was triggered in the city by a gentleman called Geoffrey Berg. He is a business man with properties in the city of Salford. He was also responsible for triggering the referendum in Bury.
I became inolved because I became aware of the referendum and it is something that I have been passionate about for many years. I truly believe it is a better system of local government. Like I said another blog in time with my reasons.
Around the 9th November 2011, Derek Antrobus, Swinton North Councillor, as Press Officer for the Salford Labour Party issued a Press Release which made public information about ongoing legal issues between Mr Berg and Salford City Council, in that Mr Berg went to court to challenge a decision made by Salford Council to enforce Mr Berg to clean up a property that is apparently an eyesore in Irlam.
The motive of outing Mr Berg was to discredit him by Salford Labour trying to question Mr berg's motives for triggering the referendum.
To be quite honest, I do not give two figs about mr Bergs motives as my view a mayor is something I passionately believe in. However, now the referendum is triggered I am campaigning for a YES vote because I believe in it.
Mr Berg has no legal issues with Bury and he triggerred the referendum there first I believe in 2008 ish. Therefore, I am in no doubt that Mr Berg believes in the system too, hence why I believe that other than questioning the motives of Mr Berg, it is Derek Antrobus' motives we should be challenging for outing him and trying to link outstanding issues with Salford Council, his premises and the mayoral referendum when the issues are totally separate.
It is clear that Antrobus made public legal battles between Salford Council and mr Berg because they are trying to save their own skins.
On the 10th November the manchester Evening News released a story in their newspaper about Mr berg, his property, legal battles and linked this with the mayoral referendum. The same article was printed in the Salford Advertiser on the 17th November 2011.
In their desperate attempt to discredit Mr berg and by association YEs team an incorrect fact was printed in their papers. They said in the event of a YES vote in January 2012 a mayoral election will take place in October 2012 at an additional cost of £200,000. On the 16th November 2011 Salford Council held a meeting where they confirmed that in the event of a YES vote any mayoral election would in fact take place at the same time as the local elections in May 2012 and not October 2012 as published by the Advertiser/MEN.
Why is this important ? Because if we are holding elections in May anyway then holding another election at the same time would mean the additional costs that were reported in the papers to the tune of £200k do not apply. The articles were written that ended up deceiving people and thereby no doubt some people as a result would be voting NO.
I spoke to a reporter from the MEN and he confirmed that the info they printed came from the Leader of Salford City Council, Councillor John Merry. In response to receiving this information I wrote to Merry because I believed he gave out false information and as a result of this deceived the people of Salford, thereby fundamenatlly trying to affect the result of the referendum.
I told him he should resign. My reason is that I believed he breached code of conduct in relation to honesty and integrity where the code clearly says that an elected member must behave with honesty and integrity at all times. I believed he breached this code.
Cllr Merry responded. Admitted he gave out false information but refused to resign as he says that he gave out the information in good faith thinking it was right at the time !!!
I reported the newspapers to the Press Complaints Commission. I have reported Cllr Merry to salford City Council's Standards Committee and all are under investigation. I informed the same newspapers of the admission by Cllr Merry which is a serious matter which in my view should result in resignation, and all media organisations in the city, without explanation have decided not to publish the information they hold even though they clearly know it is in the public interest to do so. Cover up or what ???????