Good Morning Chair & Members of the Council and welcome to the first Full Council meeting of 2019.
I hope each of you has had a refreshing Christmas break and I would like to wish you all a Happy New Year!
Before we begin with the main body of my speech, am sure you would all like to join me in congratulating both residents and people that work in the City of Salford who have been honoured with OBE’s in the Queens New Year Honours List.
Within the City of Salford, we have long recognised that the “Spirit of Salford” are the people that live and work in our City their dedication to each-other, their community, the city and their work
and it’s hearting to see it being recognised in this way.
Paula Dunn, Eccles: The Paralympic Head Coach UK Athletics recognised for her services to Athletics who has been honoured for her excellent services to education.
Victoria Anne Dickens: Consultant Physiotherapist and Clinical director of Orthopaedics, Salford Royal NHS Foundation Trust recognised for services to Physiotherapy.
Barbara Griffin: Trustee at the Citizens’ Advice Salford recognised for services to the voluntary sector and to the community in Salford.
Lewis Thomas Brown: Police Community Support Officer, British Transport Police recognised for services to Policing.
And Tracey Elizabeth Walsh: recognised for services to Culture and to the Community in Manchester.
Firstly, I wanted to provide Members of the Council a brief update following the publication and consultation on the Provisional Local Government Finance Settlement for 2019/20.
Members of the Council are aware that this City Council has seen its revenue budget cut by £198 million (nearly 50%) since 2010 as a consequence of cuts to the Revenue Support Grant and un-funded budget pressures.
The Provisional Local Government Finance Settlement for 2019/20 acknowledges in a small way the need to redistribute resources to Local Authorities on the basis of need by intending to distribute £180 million of the levy surplus on business rates income (£1,096m).
I also welcome that the government intends to maintain the current arrangements for New Homes Bonus (retaining 0.4% Threshold but we have a £436k negative variance) and has provided further one off support for winter pressures (£1,318m) and the on-going social care pressures (£2,251m) Local Authorities are facing informing us that we should be seeing a Green Paper on Social care funding soon.
However, it seems my letter in connection with my concerns on Negative Revenue Support Grant has been overlooked with the government intending to allocate £152.9 million to Local Authorities by allowing them to retain money that would have otherwise been redistributed. Incidentally, Surrey Country Council is the prime beneficiary of Negative Revenue Support Grant:
1. Surrey £17,259 million
2. Buckinghamshire £10.949 million
3. Dorset Council £10,789 million
4. Richmond upon Thames £7,470 million
5. Cambridgeshire £7,170 million
Members of this Council will be familiar with the government’s cronyistic and politicsed approach to Local Government Financing you’ll recall that back in 2016/17 the Secretary of State, Greg Clark MP announced similar intentions under what was referred to as Transitional Grant funding at the time, seeing £300 million allocated over two financial years:
1. Surrey £24,10 million
2. Buckinghamshire £9,22 million
3. Dorset Council £5,92 million
4. Richmond upon Thames £5,83 million
5. Cambridgeshire £6,38 million
However, to add further insult to injury in the Provisional Local Government Finance Settlement for 2019/20 the Secretary of State, James Brokenshire MP in the Ministry of Housing, Communities & Local Government stated “Councils in England are to share in an extra £1.3 billion under funding plans published ” going on to state: “The funding allows councils to deliver the services residents need while protecting taxpayers from excessive increases in bills. Measure will help the most vulnerable in society, support and reward local economic growth while setting out a more sustainable path to future funding”
But what the Secretary of State forgot to tell members of the public in the press release from his department is that the government has assumed in its spending power calculations for Local Authorities in England that they will increase Council Tax by the referendum limit (2.99%) generating £1.6 billion for Local Authorities in England and allowing the government to actually reduce their settlement funding by £1 billion.
In addition to this the government are also proposing to put a further £16 million into the Rural Services Delivery Grant and as I highlighted to Members yesterday by e-mail, there is no extra money for policing within our communities and on our streets. Members of this Council will know that the central government grant for policing has been cut by £250m since 2010, which has seen the loss of 2,000 police officers and 1,000 non-police staff. This is against a backdrop of increasing crime and complex demand such as cybercrime, child sexual exploitation and human trafficking.
Unfortunately, central government have only provided enough money to cover pension costs in 2019/20 (arising arguably as a consequence of austerity/cuts), telling Police and Crime Commissioners and Local Authorities that if they want more police officers in their communities and on their streets they’ll have to use the precept within Council Tax bills to pay for it. Although I welcome some of the elements of the Provisional Local Government Finance Settlement for 2019/20 I think overall it represents more obfuscation, injustice and unfairness on the part of the Tory government. I’m deeply concerned that central government think it’s acceptable to use regressive forms of taxation such council tax and precepts to finance local government, whilst at the same time pretending to put and extra £1.3 billion into local government, when in fact all of this an more will be raised through Council Tax hikes it’s disingenuous and deceptive and we will not fall for it in Salford!
At the start of this year (7th January 2019) Leaders from across Greater Manchester joined the Mayor of Greater Manchester to set out a clear vision for Greater Manchester, to drive prosperity, opportunity, health, hope and happiness across Greater Manchester. In this time of national uncertainty, socially and economically, Greater Manchester is taking the initiative to give people, communities and businesses hope and confidence for the future.
The Greater Manchester Strategy sets out our ambitions to deliver good quality, high-skilled jobs. Ongoing work on the Local Industrial Strategy will develop this further. We are serious that our wider plans and strategies deliver more inclusive growth to benefit all areas of Greater Manchester.
Alongside the Greater Manchester’s Local Industrial Strategy, we’ve also been consulting on Greater Manchester’s Good Employment Charter a plan intended to improve business productivity as much as people’s working lives.
The impact of new development on existing infrastructure has focused our minds as the majority of new development will be in the urban area,
the capacity of the existing infrastructure is particularly important. An Infrastructure Strategy for Greater Manchester is in the process of being development.
In Salford we’ve also received positive news from Transport for Greater Manchester (TfGM) following their high-level study for new rail and Metrolink stations across Greater Manchester Little Hulton has been chosen as one of eight sites to be taken forward to the next stage of detailed design work, which is welcomed and great news for the residents of Little Hulton, Walkden and beyond.
New thinking on integrated transport is crucial if we are to help people change how they move around Greater Manchester, bring levels of road congestion under control and achieve our legal obligations to clean up our air. Andy Burnham announced from this September, on a two-year trial basis, as part of our progress towards bus reform, we will give all 16 to 18 year-olds here an Opportunity Pass free bus travel to ensure that opportunities for our young people are not limited by financial barriers a passport to study, apprenticeship or work but more than that; free or reduced entry to participating sporting, cultural and leisure venues.
The vision for Greater Manchester announced at the start of this year is radical, offering coherence and new thinking on the big challenges we will face.
Moving on, I would like to address a topical issue which I am sure will be on many people’s minds: the launch of the draft Greater Manchester Plan for Homes, Jobs and the Environment (revised draft GMSF) for consultation. Members of the Council will be aware that the revised draft GMSF is available on-line from Monday of this week with the 8 weeks consultation starting from Monday 21st January and ending at midnight on the 18th March 2019.
The revised draft GMSF is finally out for consultation, despite delays because of a lack of clarity provided by government and related methodological issues on what Greater Manchester’s Local Housing Need is.
The revised draft GMSF has analysed the 27,000 responses received to the initial draft and taken into account the ever changing evidence base ensuring that we provide a Plan that ensures compliance with the government’s Local Housing Need of 201,000 homes (+8.6% buffer) for Greater Manchester over the period of the plan.
The draft GMSF also places a strong emphasis on Town Centre regeneration and a preference for brown-field development. The re-draft also reduces the net loss of Green belt by over 50%, whilst also providing stronger protections for important green spaces across Greater Manchester. The draft GMSF also commits Greater Manchester to becoming a carbon neutral city-region by 2038 also requiring new homes built to be net zero carbon from 2028.
In addition to this, the draft GMSF has placed a target on Greater Manchester to deliver 50,000 affordable homes, with 30,000 of these being social homes over the period of the plan. In addition to this there is a planning presumption contained within the plan against fracking within Greater Manchester and a strong emphasis on the short and medium term infrastructure needs of Greater Manchester.
Having a Plan for Homes, Jobs and the Environment across Greater Manchester is critical to safeguard ourselves against planning being undertaken by appeal.
The draft Plan allows all Local Authorities to benefit from urban density at the core of our city-region in meeting our Local Housing Need protecting our Green Belt and important green spaces ensuring each district has a 5 year land supply in allocation and deliverability terms. whilst enabling us to collaborate across Greater Manchester on realising inclusive growth.
Having a plan also provides us with the strongest opportunity to maximise investment from central government in revenue and capital terms to deliver our brown-field development preference and attract much needed funding for infrastructure. I genuinely believe that the re-drafted GMSF represents a radical re-draft on the original draft and I would like to encourage everyone’s engagement with the consultation.
Salford City Council’s consultation on The Local Plan, set to go our for consultation on the 25th January 2019 is a detailed set of local polices unique to Salford that influence decision making. The Local Plan sits alongside the GMSF and has to be consistent with it in addition to other supporting documents such as the GM Housing Vision, GM Infrastructure Framework and the GM 2040 Transport Strategy.
In the past 15 years Salford’s population has increased by 16.2 per cent compared to Greater Manchester which has risen at 10.9 per cent, or the north west at 7 per cent. But despite the growth and development Salford is still the 22nd most deprived local authority in the country. This is despite the success of Salford Quays, MediaCityUK and the University of Salford University along with the development of Port Salford.
The new Local Plan aims to tackle inequality issues through planning policy by creating a fairer city. The first policies in the document set out the ambitious demands that the planning authority will make on developers:
• To ensure developers are inclusive by working with communities to draw up their proposals
• To ensure developers sign up to the council’s social value principles so that developments contribute jobs and training and benefit local communities
• To ensure developers create inclusive places which are safe and accessible to all
• To ensure fairness for future generations by addressing climate change
The new plan enhances the requirement for affordable homes requiring all major development to deliver at least 20 per cent, rising to 50 per cent on premium sites where land values can sustain it.
The social policy changes aim to tackle issues Salford is facing such as inclusiveness, homelessness and the increase in housing waiting lists. The new Local Plan aims to address the planning system which is skewed in favour of developers and is in drastic need of reform. This is our opportunity to plan for the future and make sure it is done in the most appropriate way that benefits local people – not developers.
But the challenge is to make this fit with the need for more housing and development. No other place in the country is going as far to develop a policy that pushes a better and fairer city. And changing planning policy means we can tackle inequality by putting poverty and social value at the heart of our aim and make sure that no one is excluded in the city’s life.
Now we need local people to engage with the consultation(s), reading both the GMSF and Local Plan and make their comments during the consultation phase. Both the GMSF and Salford’s Local Plan should also be considered in conjunction with other supporting documents such as: the GM Housing Vision, GM Infrastructure Framework and the GM 2040 Transport Strategy. This is all our chances to shape the future of this fantastic city.
Labour has a vision for Salford and Greater Manchester unlike the Prime Minister, her Cabinet and the Conservative government who last night we saw receive a shocking defeat on the Withdrawal Agreement by 230 votes, further compounded by 118 Conservative MPs voting against the Prime Minister’s proposals.
This has been the biggest government defeat in UK Parliament history the Tory government should now stand aside, call a General Election and make way for a Labour government so we can get on with delivering a functioning government the country so desperately needs.