Unison rep writes to Salford Mayor, ‘Spend windfall defending services’

Following this week’s announcement of a £48m windfall from the Manchester Airport Group to be shared between the ten Greater Manchester Authorities, Steven North, Salford Unison Branch Secretary wrote the following letter to Salford City Mayor, Ian Stewart (Labour):

Date: 2nd August 2013

Dear Ian

Re: Manchester Airport Group Announcement of Windfall for Local Authorities

It was fantastic to read that the ten Greater Manchester Councils will soon receive a share of the £48m windfall declared by Manchester Airport Group this week. The announcement is a real testimony to what public ownership can deliver for the public purse.

I understand that Salford City Council is one of nine Councils that collectively own a 29% share in the Airport Group (with the tenth, Manchester owning a larger share than others) and as such we in Salford are expecting our local authority to receive roughly £1.55m following this announcement.

As a publicly-owned entity the Airport has long been supported by Salford residents – along with others of course from across Greater Manchester. As such, we hope to see those residents benefit from this return on their long-standing investment.
Salford UNISON believes that the £1.55m should be put to good use in protecting services and jobs for the people of the city – starting with those areas where campaigns already oppose certain cuts.

We believe a great first step would be for the Council to announce that it will pledge a small amount of that money to allow respite care to continue for children and young people at The Grange in Eccles. As you know this is an issue that the parents and carers of disabled children have been campaigning on and we believe it would be fantastic news for them if the Council were to guarantee on-going respite care at The Grange for their loved ones.

Please could we further suggest that some of the money is used to maintain care for Salford residents with “Moderate” care needs. As you know, the Council is currently considering withdrawing support for people with moderate care needs and cites reduced resources as the principal reason for doing so. Salford Council has long had a positive reputation for how it has provided care for vulnerable people and we should not lose our status as the only Council in Greater Manchester to provide such support easily. This year’s Council budget tells us that the Council will save £300,000 if the proposals to withdraw that care go through. The unexpected announcement if this £1.55m should mean that we no longer have to do that; which would again be fantastic news for the most vulnerable in our city.

These are just two suggestions that we hope you will consider.

Overall, I want to say on behalf of our members that an announcement from you as our Mayor, saying that Salford City Council will put back every penny of this money into services for the people of our city would be a welcome announcement for all Salfordians.

We hope you can consider our suggestions and we would welcome the opportunity to be part of the discussion on where this money can be put to best use.

Yours sincerely,
Steven North, Branch Secretary, Salford City UNISON