It is my view that Councillor John Merry, Leader of Salford City Council should resign. I am not saying he is corrupt or anything like that as far as I know but he has in my view simply mis-managed our city. There are many reasons why I think he has done this but I want to concentrate on two area's of policy where I believe our city is out of control and the evidence is overwhelming.
Firstly, the financial mis-management of our city ! Salford City Council is not far off being nearly 600 million pounds in debt. This is not an amount that has built up in one year but over many years. Therefore, it is very very clear that Salford City Council is spending more than it receives as income year on year on year !
And how far is the Council prepared to go ? In an online debate with me Councillor Merry states and in fact bragged that the Council enjoys good credit ratings as though that is a signal that the Council is able to continue to borrow more and more each year forever increasing debt burdens to Salfordians in future years who are going to have to pay this debt back some day.
In fact, in the Manchester Evening News only late last week another headline "Cash-strapped council borrow £1.7 m for Media City UK". Can you believe it ? WE are 600 milion pounds in debt and the Council is going to borrow another 1.7 millions to pay for more regeneration down Salford Quays, if they have not had enough already ?
34 million pounds of our money is spent on regeneration each and every year. In Trafford its 1 million per year. One extreme and another extreme.Salford has one of the highest Council Taxes in Greater manchester yet receives one of the highest government grants in Greater Manchester. So where and who is benefitting from all this money and regeneration ?
On my daily travels and I speak to local people who are dismayed by all the money being spent down inner (old) Salford. Little or no money is spent in outer townships like Swinton, Eccles, Worsley, Irlam, Cadishead and others. In fact, many people strongly believe that since Salford City Council took over management of these towns they believe they have been neglected and deteriorated. So it is clear to everyone that all or the vast majority of any money gets spent down Inner (Old) salford.
Oh hang on SWinton ! We did get £500,000 sorry wasted on a pink ice rink for 3 weeks each year at Christmas up until last year.
But there is an irony in all this ! You would think that true Salfordians would benefit from all this regeneration of "Old" salford. The fact is that they are not. What has actually been happening is that whole area's like in langworthy where communities have been ripped apart in the name of regeneration where whole communities where compulsarily purchased by the Council, shifted westwards and their houses knocked down and rebuilt.
Outsiders then moved in. Nothing wrong with that as such but why are Salford people not being allowed to return or given the opportunity to return ie the people that had their homes taken from them in the first place ? Why could not the homes be upgraded and the people allowed to stay ?
Its clear what is happening in this city. Our money is being spent to try and turn a significant part of "Inner" "Old" Salford into a Manchester overspill for city dwellers. And we are paying for it. True Salfordians are being shifted out of their "Old" city into "New" Salford and this has been happening for many years.
An example of the Council's incompetence led by Councillor Merry is the purchase of The Langworthy Hotel which cost the Council (us) £410,000. The owner before the Council apparently bought it for around £70,000. A very nice profit indeed ! I wonder whether he was or became a Labour Party member ?
I am told that The Langworthy Hotel was one of the finest public houses in Salford and architecturally the building had some merit. And what happened ? The building ended up in a state of disrepair so bad that it had to be demolished. Half a millions pounds down the pan !
At a time when many famileies are having to watch every penny our council continues to waste more and more of your money without a care in the world. That is my opinion.
Salford Quays and Media City UK is Councillor John Merry's baby. Whilst he and the Council are getting us into an ever more financial mess he continues to pump money down there and even money that the Council doesnt have because this is his baby. He is trying to create a legacy for himself and we are paying the price. he should go before we go bust !
My second reason is community cohesion. Community cohesion is the responsibility of everyone. You, me, housing providers, police and the Council. If community cohesion breaks down we all suffer. I know this at first hand. However, I believe that even though community cohesion is the responsibility of everyone if it breaks down the buck stops with those responsible at the top. That person is the Leader of Salford City Council, Councillor John Merry.
He leads the Council that has had responsibility for the education of our children for many years. He leads the council that has and leads on strategies in relation to community safety. GReater Manchester Police chief Peter Fahy said crime and anti-social behaviour has come down in Salford last year by 8%. What a load of rubbish. A GMP that reports as 1 crime when a shop gets robbed by 22 people for example. No wonder they say crime has come down ! Laughable.
Yet, in 2011 we had the Salford riots. Young people completely out of control in the city causing mayhem and destruction in our city. Our City became the butt of jokes by many celebrities on our television screens, some you can ignore, but some I dont believe you can. Many people have their own opinions as to why we had the riots in Salford but nomatter how hard times can get this is no excuse for what happened. Was it a lack of parental control, Salford education failing or a combination of this and GMP just not doing their jobs effectively enough ? Either way the riots happened, brought national ridicule to our city.
And to close 2011 off.......the vile and disgusting murder of Anuj Bidve, shot in the head in the most callous way possible. In simple terms he was executed. This vile act happened in our city. The city of Salford. On national and international TV screens. A hate crime where a young man allegedly from Ordsall Salford perpetrated this awful crime.
In 2011 we had the riots in Salford and probably one of the most henious crimes ever committed in the city on one innocent individual. A community that is cohesive ? A community that is safe and violence free ? The evidence is very clear for all to see.
The buck stops with the Leader of the Council. Spending out of control, crime and anti-social behaviour out of control. he should go !!!!
I will be delivering a leaflet to every household in Swinton during January calling for Councillor Merry's resignation so that this city has the chance before its too late to bring a sense of respectability back to our financial affairs as well as some civic pride to our city where we the people are given the chance to choose who we want to run our city.