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City Mayor Council speech - July 2018

Good Morning Chair and Members of the Council.

Since our last Full Council meeting myself and members of the Mayoral Team have been focusing on delivering the 2019/20 budget. Members will be acutely aware of our budget position and the expectation that we will have to make a further £16m in 'savings' for 2019/20.

This means that by the end of 2019/20, Salford Council will have cut approximately £214m since 2010, driven by a reduction in government funding of over 50% and unfunded budget pressures.

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I welcome the government's recent announcements to increase NHS funding by 3.4% in real terms each year from 2019/20 to 2023/24, also providing an additional £1.25 billion each year to specifically cover pension pressures. However, I also note the Office for Budget Responsibility's (OBR's) comments yesterday: "that there will be no "brexit dividend" for the UK"

With their Financial Sustainability Report highlighting that public finances are already weakening with concerns being raised about reduced tax revenues.

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For Local Government it is critical that recent announcements and commitments don't translate into further cuts for councils up-and-down the country and that government also urgently consider the need to properly fund local government.

This is especially vital given the context of:

Rising demand for services amidst economic stagnation,

Attacks on welfare recipients,

Contracting budgets across the public sector,

…and a crisis in both adults and children's services.

In my opinion, the 'greatest political tactic' (if you can call it that) of the Tories in office has been to delegate the responsibility for cuts to local authorities.

When libraries and swimming pools are closed, When nurseries and parks are under threat, When heritage buildings and cultural amenities are staring down the barrel, all too often it is the local councils which bears the brunt of the public outcry, rather than the government which forced us into this situation.

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Not one of us got into politics to make cuts on behalf of the Tory government.

Yet year-in-year-out, we are faced with the same heartbreaking decisions as to which much-loved and essential service is next for the axe. We are already seeing the short-sightedness of this policy. The non-statutory preventative services which many Local Authorities once provided were, in many instances, the first to be taken away when budgets began to be cut.

Whether these were intermediate care packages, children's and youth centres, local health and lifestyle initiatives or homelessness prevention services these services often acted as early intervention against social exclusion and the costs that come with it.

This year will be one of Salford's most difficult budgets since 2010 – and I do not intend to simply be the face of the Tory cuts for another year. With this at the forefront of my mind, I am seeking to raise a joint local-authority led campaign to raise awareness of the impact of government austerity in local government with like-minded Leaders of Local Authorities.

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However, even with horrific reductions in our budgets, Salford continues to lead the way and the dedication, commitment and public sector ethos of our workforce should be recognised. I want to congratulate all our staff and elected members involved in a number of national awards we have won lately.

At the end of June we won Digital Council of the Year (alongside Birmingham City Council) for using digital technology to transform services to the public and our Digital You work with Good Things Foundation to get almost 8,000 digitally excluded residents online. We were also named the overall Digital Leaders 100 list winner, an award which recognises those leading digital transformation in the UK.

Last month the City Council also picked up a further two awards at the prestigious Municipal Journal Local Government Achievement Awards. These were the Delivering Best Outcomes Award for work to reduce poverty in the city and Senior Management Team of the Year for building strong partnerships that benefit local communities. We also came runner up with Council of the Year.

This is a tribute to the hard work and dedication of our staff.

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Members will be aware of the rail chaos that has hit the region and our residents. At the height of the crisis, complaints were received on a daily basis from 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.

Together with the city's three Members of Parliament, Councillor Roger Jones, Executive Support for Transport and myself wrote to Chris Grayling outlining the issues and frustrations that rail travellers in the city are facing and have brought to our attention. We see this as an unacceptable situation made worse by the fact 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 have demanded reassurances that everything in the government's power is being done to remedy the crisis in rail provision, and that the residents and commuters of Salford and Greater Manchester will not have to indefinitely suffer from the poor service on our railways.

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On a more positive transport note….

At the end of December 2017 all 10 Greater Manchester Leaders endorsed Chris Boardman's Made to Move initiative which identified the need to spend £1.5billion over the next 10 years on walking and cycling.

At the end of May, Chris Boardman, in his role as the Cycling and Walking Commissioner, Andy Burnham and myself launched Beelines; Greater Manchester's Strategy for walking and cycling on Chapel Street in Salford.

The strategy aims to quickly deliver improvements across all areas of Greater Manchester to make walking and cycling the natural choice for short journeys such as to school or the shops…

…or, indeed, to the tram stop or train station as part of a longer journey.

People in Greater Manchester make around 250 million car journeys of less than one kilometre each year – the equivalent of a 15-minute walk or a five-minute bike ride so enabling people to switch to walking and cycling will help to tackle congestion, improve air quality and get people more active and healthier.

We have ambitious plans for Chapel Street East as one of the first schemes to be submitted to the new Cycling and Walking Challenge fund to deliver the Beelines strategy. The scheme is modelled on the best Dutch streets including continuous footways and cycle tracks, implied zebra-crossings, traffic-calming, street trees and rain gardens. The proposals will create an environment where walking and cycling are attractive alternatives to driving and will support the sustainable development of city centre Salford.

All of this is in addition to the significant investment the City Council has already made in recently restoring our looplines for walking & cycling.

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Later today I will be joining the students graduating from Salford University. They are joining a global community of over 165,000 alumni from the University of Salford who have graduated before them and who now represent every industry at every level; locally, nationally and across the world.

We are rightly proud of all the city's graduates and each year, the Alumni Achievement Awards provides a wonderful opportunity to celebrate and recognise the diverse achievements of a small, but exceptional, handful of this growing and vibrant alumni network. As a longstanding friend, supporter and colleague, I was delighted when I heard the news last year, that the late Councillor Paul Longshaw would be receiving one of these prestigious awards.

As many of you know, Paul had worked for Salford Council for 25 years before becoming a councillor and was wholly committed to improving the quality of life for people in Salford. The University had chosen Paul to receive an award due to his exceptional work on the nationally recognised partnership between the University of Salford and Salford City Council. Paul really was an exemplary advocate of the University of Salford; a wonderful example of how passionate individuals can help the University to achieve their vision for greater collaboration with industry and the local community.

Sadly, Paul passed away before receiving his Alumni Achievement Award. It is with a heavy heart and pride that today, we have the opportunity to celebrate Paul's many successes, presenting his daughter Ella with his award later today.

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Finally, I am sure you will all join me in wishing David Herne all the best as he leaves Salford to take up a national position at Public Health England. David joined Salford Council as part of the leadership team that oversaw the transfer of the public health responsibilities to Salford City Council in 2013. David has been extremely passionate about improving the lives of Salford residents, tackling the big health and wellbeing challenges and I'd like to thank him for his commitment to the City of Salford and wish him all the best for the future.