Positive change in places like Lower Broughton and Swinton needs to be maintained for Salford to shake off its historic reputation, writes Esme Roberts of Newgate Communications.
Once described as a “dirty old town”, Salford has transformed itself into a thriving city in recent years. MediaCity alone is now home to the BBC, ITV and 250 businesses, and by 2040 city mayor, Paul Dennett, says we should expect to welcome an extra 40,000 jobs.
As someone who grew up in the area, this is reassuring to see. At the same time though, parts of Salford are not reaping the benefits of this transformation. I was educated at St Ambrose Barlow RC High School in Swinton and I was saddened to hear the town hall’s plans to close the school’s sixth form in 2020 due to ‘lack of demand’. It didn’t even exist when I left in 2005, yet it was due to close so soon.
The prospect of new job opportunities is exciting, but have we prepared younger generations to move into these roles?
Although the council has done a brilliant job of replacing tired educational facilities by introducing new sporting areas, building high-tech classrooms and employing fantastic teachers, this community is still struggling from society’s unconscious bias. Budget cuts have resulted in a lack of after-school facilities for the young people. Such facilities are indispensable.
You only have to look at work carried out by local charities such as the NCS to see the benefits. The organisation runs summer programmes for 16-18 year olds, in which they spend time team building, creating ideas and developing skills for working life. As a society, it is essential we nurture young people and encourage career progression.
We should look within our own communities too. As a child, I spent the school holidays with my grandparents on a council estate in Lower Broughton. An area that was so deprived, the burnt-out cars, derelict housing and grim tower blocks became a breeding ground for anti-social behaviour.
In 2010, I was thrilled to hear my grandparents would be moved into a home in a mixed-tenure ‘urban village’. Located one mile from the city centre, the council and its partners had ambitions for the area – to make it a desirable place to live and work. A brand-new school was introduced too – one in which the pupils would be proud of. Mixed-tenure developments can have huge benefits to a community.
They bring together mixed-income families and people of different backgrounds to create a sense of place – which consequently raises aspiration and removes the concentrated pockets of poverty.
I have faith that Salford Council will continue to focus on the delivery of mixed-use developments, invest in schools and always consider community space for young people. The council clearly has huge ambitions for my hometown, and rightly so. If we are going to achieve the growth expected, we need to ensure we’re nurturing and encouraging the next generation within our communities.
After all, we’ll be relying on them to continue to move Salford forward beyond 2040 and ensure the ‘dirty old town’ tagline remains a thing of the past.