As the controversial finance for Life in Salford was being approved by Salford Council late last year, Salford Star editor, Stephen Kingston, spent an hour with Salford Council Leader, John Merry, debating the merits of the Council magazine and Salford Star.
Here’s the, er, highlights?…
It was late November last year when Salford Council’s own Scrutiny Committee rejected John Merry’s plans for expanding the Council’s Life in Salford magazine to 12 issues a year with a cost of £175,000. During that period, income figures were changed from the original budget and it all seemed a bit iffy. We’ve left out the baffling sums and will cover that at some point in the future but the actual banter was highly entertaining. What did we think of Life, and what did John Merry think of the Salford Star?
To print the whole transcript would run into thousands of words so we’ve edited it and included the best bits. Hopefully we’ve been fair to Mr Merry and the Salford Star…
Seconds Away: Round 1
“I think that the kids of St George’s have had rather enough publicity, don’t you?”
John Merry: You feel that Life in Salford is biased?
“The Advertiser will be sacking journalists who might be scrutinising the Council…”
SK: We can’t afford to print our magazine and you’re talking about withdrawing over £50,000 of advertising from the Advertiser which is the equivalent of two or more journalists. So the Advertiser will be sacking journalists who might be scrutinising the Council.
Seconds Away: Round 2
“I’ve always said that the Salford Star is quite well written…just misleading and untrue in places”
SK: The Salford Star is having problems because people are too scared to advertise with us
Seconds Away: Round 3
“You’ve fiddled the figures…”
SK: You’ve messed about with the figures for Life magazine, there’s no doubt about it.
SK: Is it legal to withdraw advertising from local papers? There’s never been a test case
JM: Why don’t you come and write for Life?
SK: You couldn’t afford me…
David Blunkett, the former Home Secretary, called for the scheme to be scrapped and a senior Cabinet minister told a newspaper that it’s unlikely to go ahead.
Meanwhile, the Home Office continued to insist that the ID card scheme will go ahead.
Tory Shadow Home Secretary, accused Labour of being “all over the place” on the issue:
“They have been telling us for years that they are essential, but now it’s clear they are split down the middle over the issue.”
He called on Labour to “accept the inevitable” and scrap the ID scheme right away.
Sources within the Conservative Party told the BBC Michael Howard has always been in favour of ID cards, and tried to introduce them . Thats Tories for you change at the drop of a Hat anything to get elected and than wow you see the real side/…..
Emma Parry-Thorpe was the victim of a break-in last month, and was appalled by the police response.
The mum, who has a two-year-old daughter, was out at the time of the burglary, but says her neighbour saw the break-in and called police immediately, not knowing if anyone was in the house at the time.
When Emma and husband Stephen returned to their property, in The Westlands, Swinton, they called police again but they did not attend until 7pm.
The family were told that a police officer would be there within an hour but when that time elapsed, they phoned again.
Emma, 37, said: “This whole experience has been made extremely distressing for all my family members due to the lack of attendance and support by the police.”
The family say their distress was worsened when they heard their neighbour had called the police as the property was actually being broken into.
Emma said: “Our neighbour saw three youths acting suspiciously on the park opposite our home.
“After watching them for a while he felt that they were eyeing up our property and immediately dialled 999.
“While he was on the phone to the operator he talked them through what the youths were doing.
“He advised the operator that it was obvious they were looking to break-in and could they send someone as soon as possible to deal with this crime.”
Emma, who works from home one day a week, said: “On a normal Tuesday I would have been in my office in the loft.
“If I heard this smash then I would no doubt have confronted the burglar as he made his way up the stairs.
“As no one bothered to deal with the call, I could have been left injured, dying or worse no thanks to GMP.”
Inspector Stephen Gerrard, of Swinton police, said: “At about 1pm on Tuesday, March 3, police received a report of three suspicious youths seen on The Westlands, Swinton.
“The caller stated they had seen three youths wearing dark clothing with their hoods up in the area, but no further description or details of an offence was given.
“At about 3.25pm that same day, police were called to a report of a burglary on The Westlands, Swinton.
“The burglary had happened between 11.15am and 3pm that day. There was no suggestion the offenders were still at the scene.
“Due to a large number of emergency calls received by police in that area at that particular time, an officer wasn’t able to attend the scene immediately.
“Greater Manchester Police operate a graded response system, which means that incidents where there is an immediate threat to life are given a higher priority than other calls.”
Comment is this same stock answer, i have heard this time and time again, Question how many emergency calls did you recieve?
Question do you not have enough officers to cope with demand.
Labour’s leaflets are a Tony-free zone
Labour candidates across Britain have been campaigning without Tony Blair’s photograph on their leaflets to avoid upsetting voters.
Any Comments perhaps Brown will get the same treatment ,perhaps Labour in Salford will do the same for there leader?
Wife wrongly told husband dead
April 30, 2009 source the MEN
AN elderly woman was wrongly told by town hall bosses her husband had died in a care home.
Barbara Flinton, 73, burst into tears as she read the Salford council letter expressing condolences.
Her husband John, 77, had moved into the home weeks earlier after suffering a mild stroke.
Mrs Flinton, who requires daily medical treatment, said: “I read the first line and started crying. It was such a shock. I thought, if anything had happened to John the home would have told me. But seeing the letter I didn’t know what to think.
“I didn’t know whether it was true or not – it was a bombshell.”
She only found out her husband was still alive when her son Nick phoned the council. The council has now launched an investigation into the `appalling’ error and apologised.
Mrs Flinton, who is recovering from major surgery at her home in Lords Avenue, Weaste, received the letter on headed notepaper from the council’s community health and social care department.
The letter, signed by an M M Barley, said: “Dear Mrs Flinton, I was sorry to hear about the death of Mr Flinton, please accept my condolences.
“I understand that you will have a lot to deal with at this time but I am writing to confirm that the direct payment agreement will now end and what needs to be done to finalise the account.”
Nick, said: “All of the family went to see him in the home and he seemed fantastic, then we got this letter from the council.
“I saw my mum just after she opened the letter. It knocked her for six.”
Nick contacted the council to query the letter and the mistake was confirmed. It is understood the error was made by Suggest, an agency which administers care payments on behalf of the council. It is thought the agency mixed up Mr Flinton’s case with another.
Coun Bill Hinds, of the council’s customer and support services, said: “A human error resulted in Mr Flinton’s situation being confused with another person in a message received from one of our partner agencies.
“The council was wrongly informed that Mr Flinton had died when, in fact, he had been taken into permanent residential care.
“My heart goes out to the Flinton family. It is an appalling mistake and we apologise unreservedly to them.
“We will be making strong representations to the agency concerned and will review procedures to prevent similar mistakes in future.”
Comment perhaps when someone dies the personal touch could help like a knock on the door see if that person is ok coping with the issue, seeing if they need help, as a council what do we normally in this situation apart from a letter saying sorry your husband died we are stoping payment to you! not good enough. .
Just spent some Time walking around the ward and on Barton Road we had a new road surface put down about twelve months ago. This week it’s being ripped up to put Gas mains down. My question what would happen if they leased with each other saving us time in traffic and Money.
Gordon Brown’s government has suffered a shock defeat in the Commons on its policy of restricting the right of many former Gurkhas to settle in the UK.
MPs voted by 267 to 246 for a Lib Dem motion offering all Gurkhas equal right of residence, with the Tories and 27 Labour rebels backing it.
Lib Dem leader Nick Clegg called the government’s position “shameful”.
Immigration minister Phil Woolas told MPs new proposals would be published before Parliament’s summer recess.
In a statement, he said: “This government respects the will of the House of Commons.”
He added that all outstanding applications for UK residence by Gurkhas would be dealt with by the end of May.
Mr Brown’s first significant defeat as prime minister came despite last-minute concessions being offered to rebel Labour MPs.
The Commons vote is not binding, but it represents an embarrassment for the government.
It comes at a time when Mr Brown is facing criticism over other issues, including his reform plans for MPs’ expenses, which will also go to a vote on Thursday.
It is the biggest Commons victory achieved by the Liberal Democrats since their formation two decades ago, and is the first time a government has lost an opposition day debate since James Callaghan in January 1978.
There were shouts of “resign” as the numbers were announced. The Lib Dems said 28 Labour MPs had voted for their motion – although that is thought to include one Labour MP who voted both for and against the motion.
After the vote Mr Clegg and Mr Cameron joined actress Joanna Lumley, who has been campaigning on the issue, and Gurkhas outside Parliament.
Mr Clegg said: “This is an immense victory on a series of fronts: for the rights of Gurkhas who have been waiting so long for justice, a victory for Parliament, a victory for decency.”
He added that it was “the kind of thing people want this country to do”.
Mr Cameron said it was “embarrassing” for the prime minister because his efforts to strike a “shoddy deal” with Labour rebels had failed.
He added: “Today is a historic day where Parliament took the right decision. The government have got to come back with immediate proposals so that the Gurkhas can have an answer.”
Among Labour MPs voting for the Liberal Democrat motion were home affairs committee chairman Keith Vaz, ministerial aide Stephen Pound and former cabinet minister Andrew Smith.
Mr Pound said he had resigned as a parliamentary private secretary to vote against the government.
Labour MP Martin Salter, chairman of the Parliamentary group on Gurkhas’ rights, abstained.
He told the BBC he refused to support the government but wanted to acknowledge the concessions made.
He added: “It is the amount of abstainers that did it. Comparatively few Labour MPs actually voted for the Lib Dem motion but an awful lot of people sat on their hands as a way of showing their determination to finish this issue.”
Some 36,000 former Gurkhas have been denied UK residency because they served in the British army before 1997.
Ministers had introduced new rules allowing more soldiers to settle here based on long service, medals received, and those injured in battle.
The Home Office said that new rules would allow about 4,300 more to settle, but the Gurkha Justice Campaign said it would be just 100.
Defending the policy at prime minister’s questions earlier, Gordon Brown said: “Since 1997 we have taken the first action to give justice to the Gurkhas.
“During that period of time the first ever Gurkhas to have rights of settlement in Britain has been agreed and 6,000 have now applied successfully and come into the country.”
He said they had created equal pay and pensions for the Gurkhas and doubled the pensions of people staying in Nepal.
But he said: “We have got to balance our responsibilities to those who have served our country with the finance that we need to be able to meet these obligations – and not base our offer on money we cannot afford.”
Ms Lumley said the campaigners were “elated” as they had expected to lose the vote.
“When it came through we saw it on the screen and I can’t tell you the sense of elation,” she said.